Monday, October 29, 2012


Day 217... The nights are getting colder and we were blessed with a covering of snow last night.  Our Kyham Igloo tent really did live up to its name.

Our last campsite was also very cold, and it wasnt just Vick and I that felt it either.  A tiny vole decided it would be a good idea to burrow under our tent and use our bodies as a blanket.  I imagine he was cursing me as I took the tent down above him.

We have been in Papa, Hungary for the last 4 nights.  Camped in what has been the busiest campsite since Benidorm.  It was the first campsite again where people all stop and stare at us in the weird and funny looking car (we haven't had that in a while)  It seems everyone was here for the thermal baths just outside the gate.  Everyone was wearing dressing gowns on the campsite, Vick and I started to feel a little overdressed at times.  We had a little stroll into Papa on Saturday to see what was around.  I'm sure when it's finished the town square will look great.  All we got to see was a mud square.

Heading to Budapest tomorrow where the weather will still be cold.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ooohhhhhh Vienna.

We planned to stay in the Czech Republic for another 3 days mainly because it felt like a shame to spend so little time in such a nice country.  After checking websites for open campsites in the area we found one only an hour away.  A nice and easy day after the long drive from Krakow.  However the campsite had other plans.  According to their website they were open until the 30th October,  but decided to close 10 days early due to cold weather.  She thought we were mental turning up to camp in a tent.

We had two choices - there were a few campsites in the area but miles around the mahoosive lake, and we couldn't guarantee that they would be open.

In the end we decided to cut out 3 days of our plan and head for Vienna in Austria.  Saturday was Vick's birthday so we headed into the capital for a day out.  If your ever heading into Vienna on a tight budget like us, expect a day of walking around shops and restaurants saying ''ooo that looks nice'' and doing nothing about it.  We did feel a little underdressed walking around.  I felt like a needed a cardigan, some Raybans and a little yappy dog to really look the part.

As it was Vicks birthday, ever the gent, I decided to treat her to a meal.  A takeaway pizza in the back of the van.  Probably the best pizza in the world.  We decided we should have something we couldn't make whilst camping.  Due to the shortage of ovens in the tent we decided on pizza. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What's the Krakow?

We travelled the least distance ever after leaving camping Smok in Krakow.  A whole 5km.  We arrived in the city around 11.  Having driven into the main square and got lost a little we eventually found a parking space close to where I thought our friends were staying.  Turns out I parked near the head office of the place and not the actual apartment.  We were only a few minutes away though so close enough to walk over and meet them. 
We arrived at the apartment to meet Stuart, Amy, Dave, Emma, Chris and Harriet who were all very tired from a 6am flight.  The apartment was massive.  4 huge bedrooms, a massive living room and kitchen and... a bath!  
We had planned to stop the first night in another campsite but with the offer of the spare bed in one of the rooms we jumped at the chance.  We hadn't spent the night in a bed for about a month and a half.

Staying in the apartment left us with one issue though... where to put the car?  We needed a secure and cheap place to leave it for 5 nights.  Luckily the company who dropped our friends off knew of a good place only 15 minutes down the road.

When we arrived we had a choice of car parks... one with a man sat in a booth and no gate or one with a man, a gate and about 15 security cameras.  I chose the latter.  125zl for 5 nights was a very good price.  I imagine I could have got the price lower but 25 pounds for secure parking in a city seemed reasonable to me.  (GPS 50.051196,19.94928)

If you ever do plan to go travelling and meet up with friends make sure you go with the knowledge that you are going to overspend.  You quickly slip back into old habits and it turns into more of a spending holiday than you're used to.  But that said, we wouldn't have changed a thing.

The first night we went out for a few drinks and then returned back to the apartment for a meal which Dave cooked for us.  Everyone except Vick, Chris and myself went to bed due to being very tired.  I stayed at the apartment while Chris and Vick went out for a few more drinks and to explore.  Ever the charmer Chris ended up taking Vick to a strip club.

The next day we ventured into the city, having no real idea of what to expect except the main square that we had briefly passed through the previous day.  We did the usual walk around to get a feel for the place like we usually do.  Except this time there was 8 of us.  We visited the Cathedral but unfortunately we couldn't visit inside as there was something going on.   For lunch we had the pierogi with a choice of 3 fillings: meat, cheese or cabbage and mushroom.  I asked for meat, and I received cheese.  They were still good though.

We then headed back into the square to take part in one of the free walking tours.  Now a lot of you may think I'm an idiot writing this part but I may as well be honest with you.  I got bored very quickly.  The tour started at 3 and finished at 6.  3 hours was a lot of walking and a lot of listening.  The plus side of the free tour was that we saw a lot more of Krakow than I think we would have done without the tour, especially Kazimierz, the Jewish quarter, which is now a lively bohemian district of Krakow in both the night and day.

On Saturday both Vick and I had nothing planned, everyone else had planned to visit a shooting range.  As it wasn't Amy's thing she decided to pull out and stay at the apartment with Vick.  I decided to go along for the ride and to take some photos for everyone as I wasn't going to shoot.

 On arrival it felt a little like a horror movie.  We were driven into the middle of nowhere into an industrial estate where the driver got out and leaned back in and said ''wait here'' so we did.  Our minds started to wander and our imaginations got the better of us.  Turns out we were just waiting for another group to finish.  After a half arsed safety talk the guys started shooting.  The first guns (Glock 17, S&W Combat Revolver) were shot by all 5 people, then the organiser said ''OK do you want your go now?'' although everyone had paid up for 5 people the organiser had included me in the count.  I got some free shooting.  Result.  We then went on to shoot the AK47 Kalashnikov and the IMPERATOR Shotgun.  Even though I wouldn't have paid for it (because I'm tight) it was amazing.  It's loud and you get to destroy bits of wall.

During the night we went out for a meal, when you're in such a big group it''s quite hard to find a place that everyone is happy with.  We eventually all agreed with a place in the square.  The food was ok but as expected a little expensive for what you get.  In a complete contrast to the days activities after the meal Stuart took Amy aside into the square and popped the question and asked her to marry him.  She said ''Are you serious....Yes.''

Seeing as it was so close we had planned to make a visit to the salt mines in Wieliczka where we were going to meet up with our friends from the apartment who were visiting after their morning trip to Auschwitz.  A lot of people had told us it's really worth the visit.  When the day came we didn't go.  At £30 each a visit we decided to be sensible and not make the trip.  We had spent way too much already and had to see it as another weeks living cost.  However we may return another day.

We left Krakow on Tuesday and planned to head to the Czech Republic border, about a 2 hour drive. We ended up driving for around 6 hours.  It seems all of Europe's campsites are closed from October.  It's understandable why as it has dropped in temperature quite considerably.  We are now having to plan our trip around what campsites are open which may mean stopping in places for longer than we usually do.

Next stop Austria.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


With no real campsites near Auschwitz we went straight from Katowice, camping 215. (GPS  N 50°14'37"  E 19°2'52") and at only £10 a night it was a really nice campsite with awesome showers.  It was next to a busy slip road though so don't expect a relaxing night. It's open all year round and only half an hour away from Oswiecim.

We visited Auschwitz on Tuesday.  We both had mixed feelings, and didn't quite know what to expect.  It doesn't sound right to say that we were looking forward to visiting - we were looking forward to learning more.  It was that mixed feeling of curiosity and dread.

Our first stop was Auschwitz I (GPS N - 50.0266  E - 19.20363 ) On arrival a few people try to wave you into their car park. Obviously we chose the actual car park right outside of the museum.  A days parking cost us 8zl which was very reasonable and I even managed to get it a little cheaper by dropping some of the coins in the van.  The parking attendant let us off luckily.

Entry to the museum is free.  However if you arrive between 10.00 and 3.00 you have to pay for a tour guide.  Before or after these times you are free to walk around on your own.  The tour guides are every hour from 10.30 till 15.30 (In peak season they are every half an hour) We had just missed the 12.30 tour so we had to wait around for an hour.  We didn't notice until the last minute but there is a cinema right at the end of the entrance hall showing videos about Auschwitz.
Our tour started and straight away we were split into groups as the English tour was the only one running fully throughout the day. 

The museum is split up across the camp in the old buildings (blocks) where the prisoners where kept.  We were shown around 3 buildings with information about the three camps, how many people were sent there and where from, the life of a prisoner and the belongings they had. There were also photographs of some of the prisoners, with information about who they were, when they were imprisoned, and when they sadly passed away.  Many didn't survive longer than 3 months due to the lack of food and over working.  The block housing the belongings was definitely the part that will stay with us for a long time.  When leaving for Auschwitz people were told to bring as little as they could (baggage allowance) Many bought along their prized possessions, not knowing what they were about to face.  This building contained less than 1% of the overall amount of belongings that were in Canada (the sorting warehouse for all prisoners possessions) The room of women's hair was overwhelming, and the display cabinets filled with babies clothes was heartbreaking. It was hard to digest what we were seeing, and there are no words that can describe it.

After an hour and a half at Auschwitz I we then caught the shuttle bus to Auschwitz II Birkenau which in comparison to Auschwitz I is massive.  When we got off the bus we walked the way that the doomed prisoners would have walked after selection, not knowing that they were marching to their deaths.

It would have been good to walk around on our own as you can do things at your own pace, but without a guide you do miss out on certain things that you wouldn't find out on your own.  For example our guide told us a story of 2 prisoners that escaped Birkenau.  One was a Jewish girl and the other a Polish boy who met in the camp and fell in love. The boy managed to steal a SS uniform and smuggled the girl out as a prisoner. The girl went into hiding with various families in the area, and the boy decided to fight with the rebels and eventually were split up.  They couldn't find each other afterwards, and just presumed the other one hadn't made it.  They both went on to marry separately, and it was 39 years later (and i can't remember the exact story) but one found out the other was still alive and did everything they possibly could to get in contact with the other.  They were eventually reunited, and the gentleman met the woman at the train station, with 39 roses, one for every year that they had been apart.  From then on they visited Auschwitz together every year.  Both are now sadly passed away, the gentleman only last year.

We eventually left Oswiecim at around 5.  With only a small drive down the road we arrived at camping Smok (GPS N 50o 02' 47'' E 19o 52' 52'') where we met up with Ellie and Adrian.  It seems we have to drive out of the UK to talk to people we never really properly talk to in he UK.   Again Ellie and Adrian are both 2cv friends.  We knew them in a field and we could say hello and have a small chat.  It was really nice to spend another 2 evenings and listen about their time on the road and find out a little bit more about them.  It makes our time out on the road look novice compared to theirs.  They have been on the road for 17+ months now visiting countries from France to Albania, all in a Volkswagen T25 Westfalia high top camper.  Ellie also makes a killer curry which she very kindly made on the Tuesday evening when we arrived (Ellie, Adrian we owe you one curry. Thank you.)

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Welcome to Poland.

We have arrived in Poland.  After some long days on the road we pretty much missed out Germany, which is a bit of a shame really but due to time restraints we had to take the hit.  We will return to Germany one day, don't worry.

Our current location is Jelenia Gora in the bottom left hand corner of Poland.  We were welcomed into Poland by a nice Policeman who very kindly gave me a speeding ticket.  We were doing 75kph in a 50kph (up a hill may I add). We had an on the spot fine of 100zl which is roughly £20.  Much better than a £60 fine and 3 points but we could have done without it to be honest.  Never mind, these things happen.

Already camping is so much better here.  In Holland and Germany we have been paying between 12 - 16 euros and usually have to pay for hot water and use of the internet (which has been rubbish.)  First campsite in Poland is around £10 a night with use of the kitchen and TV room, free hot water, and awesome internet connection.  It is next to quite a noisy main road and I am a bit on edge at times but a bit of noise is not the end of the world. We'll happily take it in exchange for a nice cheap site.  Vick is loving Poland already, she is currently drinking her way through 2 litres of beer which cost us around £2.50. She would like me to add here that she's not an alcoholic, she just likes beer, and her last one was in Tongeren a few weeks back.

We ventured into Jelenia Gora today not really knowing what to expect.  In the town square there was a big event going on about recycling.  There was a lot of noise coming from the PA which i'm sure the wedding party around the corner were not too happy about.  Apart from the usual shops and cafes it was like most other towns, they all have a certain charm. We did manage to find some random tower though.  No explanation as to what it was but it was free so I took advantage and went for a look.  Was worth the climb even though I did think I was going to die.

We are moving onto Katowice tomorrow which gives us time to then take it easy as Krakow isn't too far from there.  We plan to visit Auschwitz on Wednesday and then we will meet up with Adrian and Ellie who have been out on the road for 17 months and are slowly moving the opposite way to us.  It will be nice to see them and hear about their travels on the road.  They also have a blog - it's definitely worth checking out - Wherever the road goes

Friday, October 05, 2012

Van Meeting

Guten Tag!  We are now in Germany (we were in Germany when we wrote this, but the internet seems to cost the world. We're now in Poland.)

We had a really nice weekend at the van meeting in Leersum, Holland.  It was a great little meeting, a brilliant contrast to the sort of meeting we're used to, and great weather to go with it.  After the week of rain and wind we had in Amsterdam anything would have been better, but luckily we had wall to wall sunshine.  We had only just arrived and our first parcel was delivered by Martijn, the camp organiser.  I had to order some parts for the van and got them sent to his house.  I love the 2cv circle, even if they don't know you from Adam they're always willing and happy to help as much as they possibly can we had a nice German guy talk to us at the weekend and offered us a room in his house.  We had never met him until this weekend and we don't even know each others names. Unfortunately it was the wrong direction otherwise we would have taken up his offer.

We popped off into town to get food for the weekend as we now plan our meals for the days ahead (it works out cheaper and we usually don't end up buying a load of stuff that we don't really need.)  Upon returning it appeared the Dutch camp had been over run by Brits.
I finally spoke to Tim Jessop.  We both know of each other from 2cv camps but have never actually had a conversation. we more than made up for this over the weekend! he had made the mammoth journey to the meeting from Lincolnshire just for the weekend and he was back on the ferry home on Sunday evening to arrive back at work the next morning.  Hardcore.

Sam Fieldhouse arrived on the Friday evening after catching the daytime ferry across.  The evenings were a little on the cold side, we spent the Friday night hiding from the cold in his tent and drinking.  I had tea.  If you were to ever need a drink of tea I would highly recommend speaking to Sam.  He has the whole collection of different flavours, which he presents to you in a lovely box. However, all I wanted was a normal tea.  He was also our second delivery boy who bought us our new Coleman generator for our single burner.  It wasn't playing ball so I decided to buy a new one and it's now like brand new.  Cheers Sam.

Saturday 29th September and we went on the convoy.  I always shy away from a convoy as  really it's just a slow moving traffic jam, but when you do join in they are always fun (and you tell yourself that from now on you'll stop being so miserable and join in a bit more) The convoy arrived at it's destination, what looked like a nice field overlooking the motorway.  It was in fact an old war bunker used by the Germans.

We really should have had a proper walk around but we just went and treated ourselves to a coffee.  While we were sat in the sun we were joined by another Brit John John who started talking to us about where we were from who we are etc. we then told him our current situation and plans.  He loved it and gave us some good destination ideas along the way.  He then very kindly treated me to a bit of chocolate cake.  A major treat for me.  It even had decorative chocolate on top of the chocolate!!  Thanks John John

The evening of the Van meeting involved a big fire and a questionable band.  It was a good evening though but very cold, Sam ended up wearing about 4 layers while I was still in shorts.   I don't know what it is about fires but you (and everyone else around you) end up staring into it, mesmerised.

The Sunday was a pack up and leave day.  We eventually bothered to leave at 1 after saying our goodbyes and headed to the Holland/ German border.

Vick and I have made a pact that we will make more of an effort to speak to people that we wouldn't usually speak to. It's not that we don't like other people, its just that at most 2cv camps we go to we just talk to the people we know (I don't know if its laziness, or not wanting to be out of our comfort zone, but either way I'm sure we aren't the only culprits.)

It's now back to the two of us and very quiet, although everything seems quiet after a week under the flight path of Amsterdam.  We have never slept better these past few nights.  One more week to go and then we meet up with more people.