Monday, 7 September 2009
Sunday, 6 September 2009
We hit the road from Brugge around 10.45pm bound for Dunkerque. The plan was to catch the 4am ferry to Dover. This meant that with the time difference we would get back into the UK at 5am and after the 2 1/2 hour drive back into London, we would get back into Wimbledon at 8am, pick up some stuff out of storage at 8.30am, and the arrive at the London campsite at 10.30am. It also meant that we would get about 3 hours sleep before we had to board the ferry. Unforetunately things didn’t got as planned.....
We arrived at Dunkerque at around 11.30pm and headed straight for the ticket booth. We assumed that seeing we would be boarding a ferry at 4am that we would have no issues getting a spot...after all that is how it worked when we left the UK 12 weeks prior. When we got the counter we found out all the ferries were booked and the next available was at 10am the next day. We decided that this wouldn’t suit what we had planned and head 30 minutes down the coast to Calais Port. This was a much bigger and busier Port that Dunkerque and we had our fingers crossed that they would have a spot on a ferry that suited our plans slightly better. Luckily they did, the 4.15 am ferry....Unluckily it was 3 time the price of the Dunkerque ferry....So, after paying €180 we were going back to the UK.
We set up the beds for a quick power nap and then boarded the ferry at 3.15am. (after being grilled by boarder security).
We all attempted to get a bit more sleep once on the ferry but i think were all to glad, amd in a way sad, that we had made it around Europe. The official reading on the Navman was 10464.4 kms. (check out that top speed!!!). This was reset on the ferry coming over from Dover 12 weeks earlier and the photo was taken on the ferry back. So this was the European total. To be completely accurate you would need to add 140 kms for the trip from Wimbledon to Dover at the start and another 140kms for the trip back from Dover to Wimbledon. So nearly 11000kms over 12 weeks (20 days of which Sarsha was resting at Rome Airport). Not a bad effort for the old girl.
So at around 5.30am Sarsha’s wheels touched down on UK bitumen. From the ferry it was only the drive back to Wimbledon left....and after re adjusting to driving on the left hand side of the road, Jake had the relentless task of taking us home on minimal sleep.
We did a few chores and then headed straight for the campsite in London for very deserved rest!
Saturday, 5 September 2009
From here it was a long drive to Brugge...only made long by the fact that there was no direct freeway there and we had to change roads about 6 times which took sometime. We also got stuck in a traffic jam for about 30 mins but after seeing to cars that had flipped off the road we were definitely not complaining about it.
We arrived in Brugge at 6pm, just in time to get into the last souvenir shop and chocolate shop. After wandered the streets of the old town, watched the hungry swan attack every person that approach them for a photo and looked at every menu to find the most budget friendly restaurant we finally settled on a little place down a side street that sold pasta. And although we felt bad for eating pasta in Belgium and not Mussels, we were all being very money conscious. We finished up our meals around 10.30pm and walked back to Sarsha. This would be the last drive for Sarsha in Europe other than the drive onto the ferry a few hours later....or so we thought.
Today was our last full day in Europe. The plan was to see some of the Dutch country side on the way to Belgium where we would stop in at Brugge before heading into France around midnight to catch the 4am ferry from Dunkerque.
There was a little Clog and Cheese Farm just outside of Amsterdam so we left to campsite around 11am and headed there for a look around.
We had an explanation of how they make the cheese on the farm tried on some clogs and met some very hungry and smelly cows.
Any trip to Amsterdam would not be complete without taking a ride on a bicycle. It isn't called the city of bikes for nothing. We went into the city early on the train and picked up a shiny red bike each to be used for the day. We jumped back on the train and headed back out to the campsite and the country side. We road around the lakes and found a windmill. The green fields and fresh air was nice. After about 3 hours of solid riding and a few wrong turns we headed back to camp to start getting things organised as this would our last chance to get things sorted before we got back into London.
We all headed back into the city to drop the bikes back around 5ish. Jake and Aims stayed in the city and got some dinner while Jo and I headed back to the campsite for an easy dinner and an early night.
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
After a much needed sleep in we hit the road again, this time only a short drive into Amsterdam. The weather was against us this day and pissed down pretty much as soon as we got to the campsite. This campsite, 1 of 2 in Amsterdam city, was crap. It was expensive and had minimal facilities. You also had to pay €0.80 for 5 mins of water in the showers! Rip Off. Due to the weather we decided to have a quiet night, and get to bed early, then head into town the next morning. We walked to the local servo and got some snacks and settled in for the night with a couple of movies.
Jo here... The weather still looked grey at times but it was mainly fine day. We headed into Central Station and used our first vending machine that gave us our map. We followed the crowd onto the main street that sold souvenirs and food and housed the sex museum. After some breakie from the bakery we strolled around the city and headed towards the Anne Frank House. As we were walking through the streets something caught my eye in the window as I walked past. So I decided to walk back and have a look and to my surprise it was a lady in some lingerie sitting in a chair staring back at me. I don’t think I could look away fast enough as I didn’t think we were in the ‘red district’. At that point Ads pointed out to me at quite a few of the surrounding windows contained more half naked women! So after removing the shocked look on my face we continued strolling through Amsterdam until we came to Anne Frank’s house. I had studied her novel at school and it seemed that every other school all over the world had the same curriculum! The line to get in was around the block so we decided to come back to it if we had the chance. So from there we headed down to number 7 Singel straat to the smallest flat in the world. It was only 3 feet wide. Admittedly it was the back of the house but it was only wide enough for a door to be installed. We kept on walking through the shops and found our way to the floating flower markets. From there we headed for the main strip of the ‘red light district’ to check it out. From the moment we stepped onto the strip we were asked if we wanted to see a live sex show for €30.00!!!! Hell no! We were too busy checking out the girls in the windows. There was definitely a lady for every man’s taste! They came in all different shapes and sizes including transvestites in string bikinis!!! After spending sometime walking around with a dropped jaw or giggling we headed to a coffee shop as no trip is complete without a trip to one of the very many coffee shops in Amsterdam. For a few more giggles we headed into yet again one of the very many sex shops. We headed straight for the bargain bin and found 50% off butt plugs! Awesome! They also had an extensive range of sex toys and costume wear to make the mind boggle. So after a while of giggling or being mortified we headed back into the street for some fresh air and decided that we had all had our fair share of seeing the real Amsterdam city.
We left the Helmstedt campsite early bound for The Netherlands. We picked a campsite just across the border of The Netherlands in a town called Enschede. We went straight to the supermarket and grabbed some supplies. We then got to the campsite around 2pm which allowed us all some rest and time to chill. The campsite was very nice, having it’s own fishing lake and set in the country. We had a very nice BBQ meal for dinner and also had internet which allowed us all to get back in touch with the outside world for a bit.
They also had a huge amount of ducks that would always come looking for food...cute but annoying. Oh and we bought a case of Grolsh! Mmmmmm didn’t last long!
Thursday, 27 August 2009
We got up relatively early this morning and headed into town. We left Sarsha on the outskirts and caught a bus into the centre. We got off at the city zoo and from there is was about a 5km walk to the Berlin wall. Along the way we passed all the famous monuments, the Siegessäule, the Brandenburg Gate and then check point charlie. It was interesting reading all the information at checkpoint charlie. There is still the original us checkpoint in the middle of the road. This area was the only allied crossing and at the peek of the fighting it was the soviets pointing their tanks at the allied forces and vice versa. It is scary to think the wall only came down in 1989...I was 7 but don’t remember anything. What is even scarier is that 3 people were killed in 1989 for trying to escape across the border...so the hatred and killing continued up to the very end.
After wandering through the city...getting a little lost trying to follow the path of the old wall, we finally found the 1.3 kms that is left of the wall. Known as the the East Side Gallery, in 1990 artists were invited to come and paint a section of the wall to celebrate the wall coming down. We visited at a good time as the government have injected funds into doing up the site so all the artists that did the original works in 1990 have come back and repainted and fixed up their original works.
After a big day of walking we caught the train back to the centre, jumped on a bus and hit the road again bound for somewhere between Berlin and Amsterdam.
So now we had the fun job of trying to replace the spare tyre...in Germany. We got to Dresden and went to a couple of places but no good. Turns out that we need a truck tyre and that not many places have it. When we got the spare tyre in Italy last time this happened we were obviously extremely lucky. We headed to a shopping centre trying to find free Wifi, eventually relying on the internet in a computer superstore to get us through. Jake got the numbers of 10-15 different tyre places. We headed to the campsite, getting there around 6ish. Working hours being as they are we would have to wait till the following day to start calling.
Jake called around in the morning but really had no luck. We went to a tyre place that the campsite receptionist had recommended. Jake did well to communicate to the mechanics and even drew them a picture. They were kind enough to drive to a place that had the tyre, collect it and then bring it back. By lunchtime we had a new tyre and ready to hit the road. We thanked the German mechanics repeatedly and then it was off to Berlin.
2 hours on the road and no blown tyres we arrived in Berlin. There are only a few campsites in Berlin as it is a capital city. I think we must have picked the worst...it wasn’t too bad but just very below the standard you would expect in Germany, especially considering the amount they charged.
It was set on a lake so when went for an explore around the area. We then headed to the campsite restaurant for beers and more Schnitzel. Again we were all quite exhausted from another stressful day. Hopefully the following day in Germany’s capital would help us get past the frustration of today. Oh and if your wondering what Dresden is like....the industrial area is lovely!