1598-1603: Bimbling to Biot

1598:  And So Out of Italy

Tuesday 21st July 2020

Briancon is a pretty town … we didn’t walk up to the Vauban style part … too hot and too lazy.   A large LeClerc, so I pulled the shopping trolley and stocked up on a few essentials for self catering. Amazing how often the trolley gets used!

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Upper Vauban Briacon.

Not a long drive, just down and then up to Ailefroide.  We lunched and then walked back down through the huge campsite amongst the trees to the reception to pay the municipality our EUR10.  An ice cream stop was EUR10 for 2 ice creams with cream … not too bad.  But the coke was EUR3.30!!!  Really going to struggle with these prices.  A lot of eating in!  If I don’t fancy cooking, it will be a trip to the supermarket deli counter!

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On the drive, cant help but get excited when you see hills like these.

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Really must clean the windscreen!

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River walk  the water looks so icy and we spotted people swimming in it the next day!!!

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1599:  Shifting Down the Mountain

Wednesday 22nd July 

An active start to the day.  J ran up the road …. a steady slow up hill.  I pilates’d and then walked CO2 back along the river.  We used the motorhome service on the way down ..always a good feeling when you are empty and full in all the right places. We stopped in L’Argentiere-la-Bessee to visit the silver mine and museum.  A detour up to it, so we stopped about 1.5km away.  Left CO2 and walked up to the museum.  It opened in 10 mins … we waited.  No, you had to pre-book and we hadn’t.  Ho hum!  So back down the hill to lunch in Jez.  At least I scrumpied apricots – the tree was laden and overhanging the path!  Not in the mood for a town, we parked up beside a small pond on a gravel car park.  

A bit of dog walking and knitting completed the day.

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Large pond.

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we had it to ourselves for a while, but overnight joined by another 4 vans.  

1600:  Entrevaux Again

Thursday 23rd July 

Another running morning … along the River Durance.  A leisurely start all round.  We rarely do the “up and at ‘em” early mornings.  Although, we have been recently so that it is not too hot to exercise.

A drive down through the mountains to Entrevaux.  We’ve stayed here a few times and really like it.  Stunning medieval town on the river, with a free parking complete with services.  It was one of the places we looked at for property purchase.  

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The sun may be shining, but that water looks cold and not about to test it!

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Drive down to Entrevaux.

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Entrevaux citadel over seeing all.

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We had a wander in more for a dog leg stretch, but then were tempted by a couple of glasses in the small square.

1601:  Antibes, or Rather Biot

Friday 24th July 

Supermarket shop on the way down, past Nice and straight to our camping site.  We’ve used a number of site around Nice and Antibes over the years but Camping Les Treilles was new to us.  We’d booked it as it was a LOT cheaper than the others we’ve used before in peak season and it was closer to Sarah.  Small, no pool, basic and old fashioned, but without all the frills to attract loud families.  It is only open until the end of September as it is in the flood risk area – you may remember the Nice area floods a few years back … 9 people from Biot died and many campsites were destroyed.  The only negative is that it is right next to Marineland, a huge water park.  But the noise of this is drowned out by the cicadas!

Having set ourselves up, Sarah came and fetched us.  Supper with her and the children.  Sarah explained she is cooking a lot for a Joe Wicks low carb book … I had a flick through, impressed and then ordered 3 of his recipe books.

I drove us back to the campsite in the spare car.  A VW Golf that has done 135,000km and is going strong.  It is insured for all Sarah’s visitors.  We had missed Gareth by about a week.  Jade was heard to explain to Cian that Daddy had to go back to work as they’d run out of money to buy things like electricity and sausages … the essentials in life!

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Cian aged 2.  He starts big school come September and they will both travel on the school bus.

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Princess Jade, aged 5, just!

1602:  Bimbling in Biot and Getting Lost in Antibes 

Saturday 25th July  

A run for both of us in the park, great as CO2 can be off lead.  I headed out into Antibes to buy dog food and visit a huge Carrefour, which left me bad tempered.  So big and busy that I couldn’t find everything I wanted, but I lost the will to live.  My temper was not improved as I took a couple of wrong turns … all the roads look the same and I was trying to drive in traffic and navigate from the iPhone.  A late lunch and then I prepped dinner to take up to Sarah’s.  Great to cool off in the pool … did I mention, they have a pool!?!

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All forgiven.  Asleep after they’d had a falling out!

 

1603:  Lunch in Antibes

Sunday 26th July  

James did his longest run for a good while – 6km with Sarah on the sea front form Antibes.  I ran with CO2 in the woods.  We met Sarah and co. in the centre of Antibes for lunch.

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Clune running crew.

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Pudding was a visit to the ice cream parlour.

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Dog Handler.  Corrie trotted along nicely, but other pedestrians are expected to jump!

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Until October when we expect (hope) to come back on our way back out to Crete

 

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A pic I forgot to put up … our super meal in Maribor, Slovenia.

 

A Recommendation  …

A group of sensible people have formed a group called CAMpRA … Campaign for Real Aires UK.  We know a couple of folk who are involved in it … The aim is very much to encourage land owners, be it council or private, such as the National Trust to provide basic aires along the lines of those found in France, Stellplatz in Germany etc.  A supply of water, grey and black waste emptying.  They are working at putting a business case and costs to owners.  With the increasing numbers of motorhomes on the roads, more service areas are vital.  

Another aim is changing public perception.  It is rarely the motorhomers who leave rubbish, light fires and crap on paths … we have facilities on board … but we are blamed for the day trippers rubbish.  An example of the proactive nature of this group is to print a sheet and attach it to a rubbish bag, stating that the rubbish collected from the site was collected by a motorhomer.  

Please do look for them on FaceBook and join the group.

 

 

 

1593-1597: 4 Countries & and Epic Meal

1593:  Stilt House Detour on a Driving Day

Thursday 16tJuly 2020

Making full use of the water tap outside the toilet block, we showered and filled out tank.  Plan today was to start the journey out of Hungary, somewhat regretfully.  We opted the route along the Danube for as long as practical and saw the Esztergom Basillica, apparently the largest in Hungary.  Impressive but no inclination to stop and visit.

We did stop at the Bokod Floating Houses … on stilts actually.  

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Over 2 miles of cabins over the Lake.  They are used as summer houses or fishing huts. 

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Fishing is very popular as the lake never freezes  the power station recycles the water for cooling.

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Don’t much fancy coming home in the dark after a few glasses!  They were all a long way from shore.

After a fairly long day, we stopped just off the motorway at another lake car park.  Lots of room and quiet at night.  Off lead walking for CO2.

1594:  Slovenia, Maribor and Fine Dining

Friday 17tJuly 

We ate at Mak’s restaurant in September 2015 on the recommendation of a chance acquaintance.  We both agreed it was the best meal we’d ever had.  Not cheap then, at £123 plus taxi.  Knowing we would be passing nearby, I’d rung to book a table and they’d offered to open the gate so we could park Jez around the back.  We just hoped we wouldn’t get turned back at the border into Slovenia.  

A bit of a queue at the border as all the traffic was forced into one lane.  The Slovenian’s hadcreate a border point at the first service station.  Asked where we were going, we did not mention that we planned to stay a few days in Slovenia, and we were allowed on our way.  Being over 3.5 tons we elected to avoid buying the Go-Box equivalent and use the side roads.  We had managed 5 weeks in Slovenia not on motorways in 2015, and it’s not big.  Once off the motorway we climbed up a few hills and through villages.  Slow BUT so PRETTY.  We had forgotten just how lovely Slovenia is.  Very green and rivers full, so they’ve obviously had a lot of rain here too.

We arrived at Mak’s and parked up.  After a welcome glass of Sauvignon, I walked CO2 along the wide and fast flowing and the meal performance commenced.  

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On arrival at the restaurant you are told to open your mouth … I thought Chef / owner David was winding me up, so proffered my hands … too used to hand sanitiser!  No, really, your mouth … a spray of a brandy type alcohol … a lingering flavour. 

A the table, a glass of really dry champagne (Slovenian).  Then course after course … I really should have taken my own pix, so I ‘borrowed’ these from Tripadvisor.  We lost count of how many offerings, at least 12 course … canapé sized issued forth from the kitchen.  David’s standard phrase was ‘don’t be afraid’, and to put the whole item in your mouth … taste sensations.  Sometimes hard to identify exactly what the flavours were … not that it mattered.  Quail eggs, mousses, foams, black pudding with a fried cabbage leaf on top …. all interestingly presented.  Fortunately the main was not much bigger than the hors d’oevres … really tender beef that had been tea smoked.  

After the meal, the 6 of the 8 guests repaired to the cellar to play some of the vinyl records there.  And then another drink after I returned from the night time dog walk on the terrace.  We had had a lot of wine … 2 bottles PLUS various wines with different courses.  David also cooked us killer eggs benedict the next morning … bill including tip £288, but no taxi fares to pay this time.  Would we go back … yes, but you do have to brace yourself for David’s character … he is not everyone’s taste.  I am convinced he is on the spectrum, well he is a food genius.  But is it odd to take J and I through the kitchen and play songs to us outside on the back step.

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The draped ham was blow torched at the table and then eaten!

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A macaroon with foie gras. 

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A mousse and smoked fish inside, draped with another fish and caviar.

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You eat these by dunking them in the roasted corn.  It is all very hands on:  You eat most dishes with your hands and David was getting his hands into customers food and showing them how to eat as he intended.

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BBQ quail thighs with a spinach soup.

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Mushroom soup.

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David mixing Hendricks G&T  grated lime, blueberry and dry ice.  Honestly as a gin lover, these were amazing.

 

1595:  Driving Day

Saturday 18tJuly 

I walked CO2 before we had our eggs benedict, cooked by David – no charge for these!  We then set off, sometimes alongside the motorway and sometimes up through more hills and villages.  Having had a good breakfast, I really did not expect to be hungry by lunchtime …a quick pitstop for buns and snacks in Lidl.  We agreed to get past Ljubljana and then stop … found a parking in hills outside a tent campsite and restaurant.  We would have wild camped but we need to use the services more often as we managed to put a hole in the intact toilet cassette and are now using the one David (thegreygappers.com) repaired.  We don’t want to overfill it, so it needs emptying more often than normal.  

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1596:  And So Into Italy

Monday 19tJuly 

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View over the village on the morning dog walk.

With water in the centre of the tarmac car park … it would have been silly not to deploy the twin tub.  A little bit of stealth as we had it in the doorway and emptied the waste water by bucket down the drains.  It did seem rather public, but at least our hab door was away from the house.  And given we’d paid EUR20 to stay in a car park, I felt entitled.  James cleaned and I washed the floor … strangely, cleaning Sunday actually happened on a Sunday.  We also used the shower … there is a tent campsite in the back garden, but only 1 loo and shower … in the same room, so not sure how that works if there are lots of campers.  We left at 12.30, saying good bye to our hosts who were at lunch with family.  Oh is it that time already?  

A driving afternoon and quickly into Italy.  A border guard wandered across the border, lazily waving us on.  We stopped just into Italy for our soup.  A quiet parking overnight amongst the vineyards and not far off the motorway.  We have done Italy (6 months) with rarely using motorways, but it is slow as the towns are all busy and roads are bone shakers.  Good progress across Italy as the motorways are clear of trucks on Sundays.

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We HAD to conform  a Magnum at a service station.  Not the lovely Italian gelato we would have liked.

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Overnight was quiet amongst the vineyards.  Not far from Soave, but no tastings this journey.

1597:  And So Out of Italy

Sunday 19tJuly 

We had half a thought of stopping the Italian side of the border to grab an Italian meal, but this is the closure day for Italian restaurants.  A great route past Turin on the motorway and then left towards Briacon in France.  £48.85 class B to cross Italy from one side to the other.

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The sack of dog food was empty, bu Oscar just had to make sure!

We stopped in Briacon … a French aire with water 10 mins, for EUR2, but free to us as we didn’t use anything but the bins.  Supposed to be for 4 motorhomes, but there 15 of us and about 40 of the resident type in caravans.  Quite a complex of electricity feeding each caravan.  As far as I could establish, they were hooked into a lamp post.  The caravans were immaculate, I saw 4 being cleaned.  We wandered into the town, decided against a meal out as a) we’d had a big lunch and b) we really do NOT like French prices.  A pizza for EUR18, no thank you!

Time to slow down now, as we don’t have to be in Antibes until Friday.

 

 

 

15911592: The Danube Bend

1591:  A Three Museum Day

Tuesday 14tJuly 2020

We are spending a couple of days along the Danube.  The Danube Bend, no less!  For the uninitiated, the Danube Bend is known for pretty villages and where hills on both sides, force it to flow southward.  We visited the source of the Danube (Donauquelle) in Germany, crossed and stayed along it several times this trip.

The day started well – a run along the Danube up to the prison.  

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Vac Prison was high security and housed Rupert Murdoch at one time!  I think it is now a detention centre for 1000’s of refugees who cut Hungarian barbed wire and came in from Serbia.

Three museums would, on the face of it, be trop / OTT / too much.  However they were all small and absorbing.  

1.  Another Atlasobsura suggestion – the Mummies Museum / Memento Mori Exhibition

Buried between 1731 and 1838 in the crypt of the neighbouring church,  a number of naturally preserved and fully dressed mummies, in their decorated coffins were forgotten for over 150 years and only discovered in 1994 during the church’s renovation. Reflecting a wide sample of Vác residents, the mummies include three nuns, 30 priests, the wife and child of the local postmaster, surgeons, and the founder of the Vác hospital and first director of the town’s school for the deaf.  The mummies prooveed to be an entomologist’s dream … giving lots of evidence on health, cause of death (89% had at some time been infected with tuberculosis).  

Records detailed the corpses by name and, in many cases, their life stories and the manner of their deaths can be pieced together from written sources.   Most of the mummies have been transferred to the Hungarian Natural History Museum in Budapest for further research, but three are on display.

We visited the Capuchin Corpses on display in Palermo, Sicily, which we really did not like, but this felt less of a spectacle and more of a historic find.

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The main square and church where the mummies were found.

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2.  Micro Museum / Mikrocsodak Múzeuma 

After a sneaky burger, why is it a sneaky one … guilty, but yummy more like, we relocated a few miles south on the Danube bend to Szentendre.  Danny and Lisa, now a few days ahead of us, had sent us a pin for a handy car park … we were lucky as we got away with not buying a parking ticket.  Just plain forgot!

The museum was small, but not as small as the super tiny exhibits.  The last one viewed is on the dissected end of a hair, with decoration on the cut end! … I couldn’t even see the hair.  It is only possible to see the detail of all the exhibits with powerful microscopes.  And the detailing was phenomenal.  A Ukranian created all these by hand … often making a stroke between breaths.  Not often you have to shut one eye to see exhibits!  Worth looking also at Atlasobscura’s site as their images better show how tiny these works of art are.  It blew us away.

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Don’t drop it, youd hoover this up in a flash.

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And this is the book!


 3.  The Szamos Marzipan Exhibition

After walking through the patisserie and marzipan chocolate shop, I bought a ticket (J declined this one) and was given a sample.  I didn’t go back and buy some, but headed past the kitchens and display of equipment up to the marzipan models exhibitions.  Again and attention to detail and some models were a lot of fun.

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A full size of Michael Jackson too …were he and Diana really the most interesting to make into life sized characters?

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We will not visit Budapest this trip, but now I’ve seen the Houses of Parliament.

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This was my favourite.

Szentendre is a reasonable sized town with lots of narrow streets, attractive architecture and more craft shops.  Again, I thought them a little pricey, but this is a day trip from Budapest.  Lovely to wander around, but again it must be horrendous with crowds in non-Covid times.

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Hibiscus – one of my favourite shrubs.

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We drove north from Szentendre along the Danube in the search of a toilet and ended up slightly away from the river in parkland. – Hazelnut Hill Playground, near Mogyoro-hegi Vadaspark – a walk with wild animals.  Walking trails, toilets are open all hours, and there are taps too – camping and having fires is encouraged.   Alone here other than 3 young’uns with their tents and smoky fire.  Lovely, we even forgave the car with blaring music that arrived late and left at 3.30 a.m.  

Neither of us was sleeping well anyway … we had a third furry body in the bed.  Corrie had refused to come when called on an early evening walk; she’d been hovering up by a fire pit … guess she ate bones.  At about 10.00 p.m. she started licking the floor and trying to chew the edge of the carpets.  Refused water, and when I took her out, she frenetically tried to eat grass.  Obviously trying to be sick.  I rang our out of hours vet in the UK … really good advice from the on duty nurse … she will either vomit up, in which case check she doesn’t have it stuck or she will excrete it.  Keeping and eye on her turned into her sleeping in bed my side … stroking her tummy reminded me of a comforting a poorly Maddy, although always involves jam tarts!  The upshot was that Corrie had a super comfortable night, but neither J nor I did!  All this too after she’d rolled in something really stinky and had to have a washing up bowl bath, which she hates.  If only she understood cause and consequence!

 

1592:  Visegrad Views

Wednesday 15tJuly 

We had every intention of exercising, but poor sleep … and Corrie seems right as rain.  We walked to the top of the hill to the viewpoint.

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Walk passed snow blowing and clearing machines and the ski lifts.

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Walk destination was this tower for the views.

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CO2 waiting patiently.

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View of the Danube and across to Visegrad castle / citadel.

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The Danube in the other direction.

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The descent took us past the Forestry Centre designed by the local architect Utak Makovecz in 1984.  He also did the toilet block in our overnight parking.

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Interesting detail.

Soup back at the van and J caught up in some zzz’s.  I was pleased to get my knitting out … only to discover a dropped stick some rows back!  We drove up the the citadel, but no room at the inn, so headed down into Visegrad.  Rather than see if the town was as busy, we parked at a free car park by the Solomon Tower.  We all, CO2 included, climbed this for the views.

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Solomon Tower, mostly restored after a fire in 1950.  Rubbish museums in side, but the views were good.

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You can clearly see the hills that forced the Danube Bend. 

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The Palace, we opted to have an ice cream rather than go in.

Back to the same parking overnight … laundry done and BBQ, since we can.  And Corrie is now muzzled around here.


1589-1580: Stroll in Slovakia, Static Waterfall and Soulless Holloko

1589:  Castle and a Different Waterfall!

Sunday 12tJuly 2020

So long, rather than goodbye ,to Danny and Lisa … Danny has a new job to go to on 3rd August, via family in Italy, so they cannot linger any more.  But we will see them in the summer when we head up to Scotland.  We were a bit slower leaving the campsite: showers and I cooked a soup.

Up country towards a castle and basalt waterfall; Danny had reminded me of Atlasobscura – a great website of more unusual tourist attractions.  The rolling hills and mixed flora reminded us, at times, of the lush and green Britain, except for the number of sunflower fields.  

We parked up at Somosko Castle and paid our few HUFs to go in the castle and walk around the base to see the volcanic waterfall … much of this rock was used to make the castle – you can see the hexagonal extruded rock in walls and steps.

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Walking CO2, I passed a closed zoo of local animals  Danny and James had had boar stew the previous night  rather meet one on a plate that in the wild!

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Could be England – from a viewing platform.

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Somosko Castle: nothing special, but fab views.

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Basalt waterfall.

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We decided to stay in the car park.  They had kindly provided seating for us to have a pre-dinner drink soaking up the last rays of the sun. 

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Life is good.

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Can just make another castle on the distant peak.

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Corrie made a grass nest.

1590:  Accidental Slovakia Tourist!

Monday 13tJuly 2020

The castle is the border with Slovakia … no road access, but when I looked at maps.me, I realised we had walked into Slovakia. There was an info board showing a walk into the woods … so into Slovakia we went … no border controls or Covid questions!  Not what we’d planned to do, but this was one of those occasions where going with the flow really pays off.  And we’d got up and at ‘em, we were breakfasted and out the door by 8.50!  And that is another country we’ve visited!!!

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Scree from weathered basalt waterfall and surplus castle building materials.

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A really lovely walk with beeches and then holm oak.

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Oscar does like a stick.

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View off another platform of Somosko Castle.

After lunch we headed for our planned destination – Holloko.   A small village with a population of 380.  Unesco since 1987 to preserve the village of low and long white houses with verandas.  Quite a lot are owned by crafts people or wealthy from Budapest.  I looked at the crafts, but felt the prices were inflated.  We did stop for a snack and heard English spoken – another English lady and Irish husband.  He works for EuropCar in Budapest and had just driven back from the UK to avoid airports.  They agreed that Hunagry has a lot to offer and is a surprise. 

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There was another castle above it, which gave CO2 (and us!) another leg stretch.

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Holloko.

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Typical house with veranda.

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Very pretty but a bit soulless, and must be mobbed in summer, judging by the size of the car park.

We could have stayed in the large car park overnight, but headed off instead for Vac on the Danube Bend, north of Budapest.  Despite the walking we’d done, we set off for an evening preamble after our supper.  A lovely town with a good vibe.  James needed the toilet, so we HAD to stop for a drink or two!  So much for a day evening!!!!

1587-1588: Eager for Eger

1587:  Cracking Day in Eger

Thursday 9tJuly 2020

The campsite staff were outstanding … gave us so much useful information on what to see and the practicalities … and in impeccable English.  After the previous evening’s festivities we were a little slow getting going!  A walk into town and we promptly dived in for a coffee.  Danny and I minded CO2 and had another coffee (close call for a Back McFlurry!) whilst the two J, R, P and G fans headed into the Beetles museum.  Lunch.  Minaret to be climbed.  Castle to be clambered and ice cream to be eaten!

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Where’s Wally?

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An attempt to cool down CO2.  Not sure who got wettest.

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Dobo Square.  His fame is that he was in charge of the castle when the Turks attacked and defeated them.  Actually sicknesss, lack of food and the weather finished off the Turks, so they retreated.  They came back a few years later with  a force of 100,000 and won.  As Danny, ex military, pointed out, campaigns are fought now with 8 soldiers.

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Apparently this is the most northerly minaret in the world.  98 steps, which Danny and I know about as we climbed it. 

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No passing places, so controlled batches of tourist allowed up.  Steps were steep so we used hands to help climb, and were slippery from wear.  Don’t know what their procedure is for getting people out who may have a panic attack or fall, as it really was narrow.

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 But I was the only one to step out onto the platform!  Such a hero!!!  Perhaps I just have no imagination.   

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View from the top of the cathedral.  Being renovated so couldn’t visit it.

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That minaret sure does look narrow and tall from the castle.  No wonder I had thigh ache.  

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Not your usual sign.

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A cracking day sightseeing! The day might be over, but the evening was to come.  One of the main attractions of Eger is its wine.  The Lovely Lady Street or Nice Lady Street, depending on your translation, is not, as you might suppose, a street of brothels, but a street and square of c.60 wine bars and restaurants.  Each wine bar represents a local vinyard.  This calls for a big night out.  Lisa and I did our hair and put on makeup!!!!  Some of the wines were good, some really not!  We purchased a bottle each for later … plastic bottles but cheap as chips.  And you knew what you were buying.  Really is a pub crawl with wine.  What’s not to like?!  

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Reckon he handed over his treasured violin thinking Lisa could play … wrong!

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Amazing what you can find in your hand bag!

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Despite a lightish lunch and ice cream,  or perhaps due to the wine … we still managed a meal out.  More traditional music and hearty portions, but tasty.

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Meaty!  But not ours.

1588:  Recovery Day in Eger

Friday 10tJuly 2020

Two heavy booze nights had taken its toll … for the second time we toddled into the campsite office and paid to stay another day.  Our tourist guide, aka the campsite chap, told us to visit the European version of Pamukkale … travertine terraces.  We had every intention of doing so … but didn’t.  The day oozed by with jobs.  Lisa and I dyed each other’s hair.  And then, bravely, Lisa volunteered Danny to cut my hair.  It had not been cut since September and I really don’t want to have trouble finding a hair dressers when we get back to the UK.  And Danny HAS cut Lisa’s before.  

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Im sure I only said 2″

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In the evening we wandered out again into Beautiful Lady Road … just the one sampling.  We were definitely flagging.   And back to the same restaurant for dinner. Good food again. I am missing fish though: lake fish is available, but not prepared how I would choose.  The traditional music band wandered over as we were the only people claping them … must be  cultural thing.  Having established that were were English and Irish, they proceeded to play Auld Lang Syne!  Not quite so late tonight!