875-877: Following the Nekar River

875 – Tuesday 24th October 2017: 

Drove to Schwenningen – the aire was found eventually in the Camper Stop book / app … Previously, we had called at a nearby Chinese restaurant – the staff had limited German and did not know of the aire …  The local tennis centre knew – it was beside a large car park for the expo halls. Not perfect but just the job for us non-weary Pikies!!! 

We walked along Neckar Park … by a diddly little stream and coffee in town. The very helpful lady in TIC (they always are) – we came away with walking and cycling booklets.  They told us initially that the Neckar is not so pretty as is still being excavated – much is underground.

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This was our last night at Kerstin’s:  she was at work and we lit and enjoyed her fire!

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A bridge over the dribble that is the start of the Neckar.

876 -Wednesday 25th October:  Oops … Wrong River Source!

EPikieBikes at the ready – we made a deal with Oscar (in recognition of his quoting the EuroK9vention at us!) – more treats and he promised no barking en route – we shook on it – job well done, we said. (We also informed him that Poppy and Boo never bark – neither do Shirley and Margaret!)  Did he keep his end of the bargain?  Well, not exactly…..in fact, not at all!  We biked and barked our way to Villingen with our picnic – sat on the steps of the “Rathaus” and had cakes and coffee….is there any coffee left in Brazil?   To Donnauschingen – and the source of the mighty Danube – which prompted the Strauss family to compose the waltzes – ‘The Blue Danube’, ‘The Twitch Tratch Polka’ and many others, too…  Hands up those who have ‘Tritch Tratched’ in public – we do it in private, because it can itch a bit – but you can get cream for it – ice cream, which you lick off the affected parts!  James! – remember the watershed – young persons are reading – Grahame, Diane, Shmags, Frances, Edward and others…..

Well, the ice cream was well, em, eaten… and we cycleambulated on a shorter route back to HQ.  Another peaceful night – 3 other vans joined us – one running his genny until late. They probably read K’s entry on the 2 apps she uses – the power of the www??? 

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The church with it’s non matching spires.

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… cakes to drink with our flask of coffee.  Healthy though as both contain fruit!

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At the source of the Danube.

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877 -Thursday 26th October:  And Finally Along the Neckar

The good ship Jez set sail to Oberndorf am Knicker, sorry, Neckar in a half hour – with one bike in the garage and one in the kitchen! I had cycled up and down the van eating my muesli – with Oscar looking for his nuts!  (To explain, he gets his nuts from me – is this getting too complicated…maybe…)  K inherited a new sun lounger from Kerstin – now we need extra sun… and space in the garage!

On arrival at a nice Stellplatz – we unloaded the bikes and cyclelogically headed back to Rottweil for the third time… Mega panic – no ice creams available at street-side cafes – message to Angele Merkel – please include in next Manifesto – no winter break for ‘Gelateries’!  K raided the nearest Norma market – pack of 3 – forced herself to eat 2 – she is so selfless… all for the cause, of course.  

The eastern Europe Green cards have now been posted to Kerstin’s – with bike bits – and – most importantly – K’s new Neckars!!!  (We were in danger of an underwear drought…) 

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Wonderful covered wooden bridges over the Neckar.  This first was our coffee stop.

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621: Buddha Eden and One Man’s Vision

621 – Buddha Eden 

Farewell to Santa Susana – northward bound… We had met an American lady (living in Portugal) at Bacalhoa near Setubal who told us about Buddha Eden – wow factor again!  Thousands of hectares devoted to Buddhism, peace and tranquility – perhaps Mr Trump should visit?  

Dogs (of peace not war) were allowed in the gardens – Oscar is eminently qualified…  K question – why is Buddha always male?  Someone out there will know.  Our K is always peaceful and tranquil – eh, Oscar?.  Even when you, Oscar snaffled the bag of treats in the van when K’s back was turned. Less rations in your dinner then, O.

Once again, no apologies for letting the photos do the talking…  I know we’re old fashioned – but when did we stop calling our pictures “holiday snaps”?

On to Peniche – home of Dictator Salazar’s prison and ‘interrogation’ chambers, fort, old town and harbour.

“Knock, knock” – “Who’s there” – a local fishermen selling fresh fish – £0.85 for a meal!  We are in Portugal…  K here:  think it may be sardines, but they all need gutting whatever they are!

Sorry, Oscar wants his say – again…..

 

Oscar’s Diary

Hi there – me again – just a quick catch up – I need to be on my paws in case her nibs leaves the bag of treats unattended – again!  Why should I get blamed if K is a bit remiss?  OK – 7 may have been a bit much to grab in one go – but… no, James – it was definitely not 17!!!

I can’t remember if I mentioned how nice it was when Alison stayed with us for a week?  Maybe I’m repeating myself – but – she’s nice – called me ‘darling’ a lot.  Made the hairs inside my ears stand horizontal. I know with humans it’s ‘hairs on their necks standing up’ – but, we’re well, different.  Nice warm feeling – pity she had to go back to a very cold place called Bath?  Imagine cold Bath(s) in January… 

K and J are still OK (I’ve stopped calling them my owners – they know their place, I think…)  They are really kind people per se (I learned some Latin too) – philantropical or philandering, maybe – philaundering?  Fil-Something – filofoxily – wily old birds…

James has this geetar instrument that K kindly gave him for Christmas – let’s say, he practices most days. Now, I’m no great musician, me – but I do have an ear (or two) – and I say quietly, he needs to expand his repeatery, sorry repertoire…  He doesn’t censor my diary, I hope.  Sometimes, he quotes Shakespeare/Marlowe (don’t get him started on that subject!) – like when I knocked over something trivial – his wine!  “Get thee to a K9ery” he said!  I don’t want to be a nun, or a monk, either…

Gotta go – I heard my doggie bowl being lifted out of the saucepan cupboard… They have given me new dog food – reduced rations – 160 g down to 125g (!) – K has rebuked me for taking her fresh nail varnish of with my teeth when she offered me a measly (one) treat!  What lady applies nail varnish before K9care?  I’m hungry, a growing dog, after all…

 

Bye for now…

Oscar

xxx

Notes on Buddha Eden

35 hectares of Peace Garden created by the wealthy Portuguese Berardo (made his money in Africa, collects art and owns various galleries as well as wineries … don’t know what else) in response to the “cultural barbarity that forever erased masterpieces of the late Gandhara period from the C6th AD.  In 2007 around 6000 ons of marble and granite statues were commissioned in China to create this monumental homage to peace.”  What an amazing vision and generosity to share so much art with people and sponsor so many artists.

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The Palm Lake.

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The African Sculpture Garden dedicated to the Shona people of Zimbabwe, who have been hand sculpting stone for a thousand years.  They believe that every stone contains an ancient life spirit which influences what the stone will be carved as.

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A right royal King.

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We saw some of the blue terracotta army at the Moscatel winery near Setubal.

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Amazingly, people had scratched their names into the gold paint … Grrr!

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21m high and overlooking the whole park.

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Tile map of the wine regions.

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Both parts of the sculpture moved with the wind at different speeds.

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Days 83 – 87: In search of warm and sun

83 – Friday in Frederikstad

More running, followed by packing up and using the emptying and refilling station on the campsite.  We are hammered on toll roads as we are over 3.5 tons … somewhere around 3 times a car toll, so we set Sally Sat Nav for toll free.  No idea how much she saved us, but the views were prettier than the main road and motorway, if slower and bendier.

We had been ‘collecting’ Norwegian beer and cider cans.  You pay a ‘Pant’ (deposit) on them and then post the empties into a machine that prints a credit note for use in the supermarket.  The machines cleverly spot fakes … it rejected a Finnish Fosters can.  K went in with two bags full and came out with the tinies value in milk and cheese spread.  We did well leaving Finland with only about 50p in local currency; K had looked for something for 6 NOK, but could not find anything that cheap!

We stopped off at Frederikstad.  K thinks it vaguely familiar .. Must ask Mutt if we visited this … she WILL know.  It is incredibly twee and pretty, but worth the stop.  It was a fort for over 300 years.  Cafes and craft shops now;  see the crochet bench below.  K had to explain to James that there is always room for an ice cream or cheese as they go into a different stomach.  He was eventually persuaded to have an ice cream so K could … too embarrassed to pay for only one using a card!

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And so to Sweden, once more.

We have parked up off the main roads in an archipelago overlooking the Tjorn bridge, which opened in 1960.  A disaster in the 1980s when it was destroyed by a ship in mist, who could not alert anyone for 45 mins that the bridge was down.  8 people died in cars that drove onto the bridge … and off.

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84 – Saturday: Another Archie Pelago

We decided to stay on the island and explore a bit.  The plan had been to go onto Gothenburg, which is the 2nd city of Sweden and had 4 pages in the guide book to denote its importance.  However, we were feeling a little citied out after our two days in Oslo.  And the weather looked fair … time to enjoy being outside.  We drove to the the tourist information in the main town on the island and picked up a cycling map and were told there was the annual harbour festival going on.  We had a wee dander down there and an ice cream (separate stomach, remember!).  What was really lovely to see was there was not a booze bar in sight.  Lots of coffee and cake, music (including the diesel engine for the country and western railroad sound), local produce and arts and crafts stalls, old wooden sailing ships with joyful bunting.  People were having a really good time without the need to get off their faces.

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The whole of the Swedish Ford Mustang Club had convened and James was finally towed away.

 

 

 

Lunch back in Chardonnay and call it a reaction to warm weather, but we both went for a nanny nap.  The bike ride became a distant non-reality.  We drove to the sculptures / ancient burial mounds and then decided not to go in as it was £8 each.  Just as well we had not cycled after all!!!

Back to our pitch of last night and the view of the Tjorn Bridge.  A BBQ at the picnic tables – lovely.

85 – Sunday: Driving to Denmark and Hamlet castle

Little to report … we drove, passing Gothenburg …. this will be another trip.  Arrived at the dock for the boat to Helsingor DK… paid £72 and boarded almost immediately.  Castle in view on arrival so we followed our noses and parked up between it and a marina.  We had a leg stretch around the very pretty town and fair gawped at what seemed really cheap prices.

Another motorhome had checked it out with locals… yes it was free.  The toilets were free.  The chemical toilet disposal was free.  And the water was free.  And yet, the castle car park next door was fee paying and packed!   We did laundry and both showered … it makes such a difference knowing you can replenish water supplies the next day really easily.

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86 – Monday: Ferry Unexpected Ferry

We wandered into the town to replace part of James’ e cigarette and by the time we had done this it was properly raining (again).  Our urge to visit the castle was washed away.  Something about the rain as we feel we should use the day as a driving day … so we did.  Replenished water and set the sat nav for fastest route to Bordeaux, near our destination for 12 days time to meet up with K’s family.

It was not until the symbol of a ferry came up, that we became aware that Sally Sat Nav was taking us down to Rodby for the ferry to Germany … we had expected to go across the Storbaelt and Little Baelt – island hoping through Denmark.  A quick phone call to Scandlines and J discovered that the 45 min crossing was less than we had thought  it might be … £85.  Given the Storbaelt bridge was £36 we decided to go for it.  Unfortunately, we had a 2.5 hrs delay as one of the boats had broken down, fortunately we could see it gaping hull in the dock, so no one was stranded at sea.  We took a  thrown together salad up onto the boat and, as it was 9.00 p.m. when we alighted, we headed almost immediately to a Stellplatz in Burg auf Fehmarn.  Stellplatz are motorhome parkings in Germany.  Sometimes they charge and often have sanitary services and electricity.  We had to do a wander and get coins for the parking ticket of EUR10 …  does this count as a campsite?  We have stayed in campsites for only 22 nights and in a fee charging marina for 2 nights. Pretty good going.

 

87 – Tuesday: Shorts and Driving

Exercised and K spotted really cheap shorts and trousers in the centre of Burg – she was definitely not moving fast enough!   Given she is using string to hold some up, it really was time to replace some items in her wardrobe.  After breaky we set off and returned with 3 pairs of shorts and one pair 3/4 length trousers – all for a grand total of £32.  We do like Germany and its prices.  The town offered multiple choices of lunch for around EUR10.  We also stopped at Lidl and bought fuel on the way.  As we departed, the queues to get into the town were humungous.  Mostly S and some DK plates all on a much cheaper than home shopping spree.

A driving day and the rain came and went and returned and left again.  Was K too optimistic in buying shorts?

Having decided to stop by 7.00 p.m., we found a free Parking … with free, if slow, wifi, at a place called Neuss (nice and free) Ski Hallen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Days 74-75: Trondheim and Waterfalls

74:  Wednesday and the 1st of the month

Last night we arrived about 7.45 pm at the free motorhome parking near the Trondheim city centre.  We arrived AFTER everyone else though and all the free parkings were taken, so we had to pay until 8.00 pm last night and for an hour this morning.  There were quite a few of us up and ready to rush into a vacated free spot … James was spotting and dressed.  K was at the wheel in her nightie …. You have all seen the starting rows for the Grand Prix? We were initially on the second row – but surreptitiously nipped into the front row… A free space became available – the chequered flag was raised – and K shot away for the first corner – sorry, the free space! Now shooting away at speed in our 28 foot 4 ton van actually means doing zero to 5 mph in the same day! But, she warded off all comers – Lewis Hamilton take notice please…

It looks as if there is no time limit, so we will probably stay here tonight.

We both ran on  beautiful track along the river Nid … yes even K, although hers was more of a shuffle / plod. And the new trainers got wet as it started to rain 😦 and has hardly stopped since 😦 :(.  And we hear bristol is experiencing 24C!

Bought a combined ticket for the cathedral and Bishops’ Palace … Check mate my very own Bishop!  Some folk we met said Trondheim was not very interesting – but we loved it:   the history about St Olav, the Norwegian Patron Saint.  We sat for an organ recital in the Cathedral which included some Vaughan Williams as well as Bach.  In the Bishops Palace we saw the Crown Jewels.  As Norway only had its very own Royal family from 1905, most of the royal regalia is relatively new and sadly, made in Sweden.

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An old bridge to the … old town …  with waterside warehouses.

 

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Trondheim invented the worlds first bicycle lift!  A very steep hill – metal channel at the kerb side – you placed your foot on a disc – and the lift took you (and bike) slowly up the hill – K interviewed some of the eager participants and see results below!   if it had not been raining we would have cycled Trondheim, such a shame … would have loved a go.thumb_P1050310_1024.jpgthumb_P1050311_1024.jpg

Up the hill to the fortress.  Health and Safety has goon complete mad in the UK and here’s the proof.  The top of the walls of the fort do not have barricades to stop people falling off, just a polite sign reminding people to be careful.  Thus they have not destroyed the fort. thumb_P1050319_1024.jpg
And finally on the walk back to Chardonnay we passed through the old town and later the wooden ‘royal palace’ right in the centre of the town.  As Kings and Queens have to have the benediction (no longer a proper coronation, but similar) in Trondheim Cathedral, they stay here when in town.

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75 – Thursday: Longest in N Europe Waterfall Drop

After exercise and watching all the waiting vans skidaddle into vacant plots, as we had done the morning before, we set south.  We had read that the coastal road around Alesund was really expensive in tolls and a mega tourist rip off and the scenery no better than else where, so we set forth cross country and saw … some amazing scenery!  And even better, very few motorhomes and traffic generally.  Along rivers, up and down through passes.

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And finally to Mardalen waterfall.  A bit of a detour as it is a road in and then the same road out …. but really worth it.  It is the longest drop waterfall in N Europe.  Parked and walked up to the waterfall.

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So many lovely wild flowers everywhere.  In Finland the wild lupins were blue, and blue further north in Norway.  Now there are profusions of purple and pink.  And all sorts of other flowers; I recognise only the aquilegia and foxgloves …. so lovely.  The rolling fields in the valleys meet the steep and dark mountains.  Every scrap of land is being harvested for hay.  Even in large gardens and sometimes hung on wooden rows to dry.  Sanguine red cattle

Short drive to just north of Andalsness.  Very late now … nearly 9.00 pm.  Note to selves, must park up by 8.00p.m. latest – we are too tired and yet to eat!  The parking was right on the fjord and although busy, loads of space and peaceful.  Again wonderful reflections in the still water.

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Days 39-40: Fiskars and Fiagra!

Wednesday: Hanko, Fiskars and Helsinki

Why do I think of Hancocks Half Hour?  Hanko is the sunniest part of Finland – and the most southerly point – beautiful town.  It is where the important Russians built really elegant villas for their girlfriends in the early 1900s.  They are named after the girls – Villa Eva, Villa Katrina, etc. etc.  We parked overnight – on a marina…  They did not tell us that the Finnish Navy fired huge salvos from the port out to sea – towards Russia – every morning ! The ground shook – the earth moved at each round !  A good visit though…. on to…..

Our Hanko East Harbour pitch

Our Hanko East Harbour pitch

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Some of the Russian Old Ladies

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The house, not James, is one of the old Russian ladies!

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Heavily fortified at one time ... little left

Heavily fortified at one time … little left

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Best beaches in Finland apparently

Best beaches in Finland apparently

The Water Tower opened in the afternoon, so we did not feel obliged to climb the steps for the view!

The Water Tower opened in the afternoon, so we did not feel obliged to climb the steps for the view!

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Hanko Marina

Hanko Marina

 

Fiskars and Fiagra!

Fiscars town, home of the Orange handled scissors – would youze believe it!  Ironworks, crafty things ? A bit overdone and not enough explanations about how it all worked.  A bit of an excuse for another set of craft shops.

What was the knife factory

What was the knife factory

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But we are increasingly aware of strange signs on the Finnish roads….. How about this one –

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Eternal Erection!  Now I dont know what they are advertising, but if it’s for sale – say no more….

 

Drive onto Helsinki

A good drive into central Helsinki during rush hour – very busy – Satnav could have taken us on the ring road but no – we do it the hard way…  Very good campsite – we have to actually fork out some spondulix!

 

Day 40: Thursday and a Jamescalator!

Up early next morning and off we went on our bikes to meet our greeter Irmeli ! Now how do you get a bicycle up from the Metro platform to street level ? Ask James – you don’t use the lift – too easy that way… You put the bike on the up escalator and step on to follow – then you suddenly let go the bike – bike follows the gravitational pull – good old Isaac Newton and his apple….  James cartwheels down the escalator and gravity ends with James wearing the bike around his kneck! He has applied to join the Finnish State Circus ! A few scratches, bike and pride punctured…..

A few injuries

A few injuries

A cinemon bun makes it all better!

A cinnamon bun makes it all better!

Irmeli and James:  our Helsinki Greeter

Irmeli and James: our Helsinki Greeter

Engraved with (mostly) two names and padlocked 4ever to the Love Bridge

Engraved with (mostly) two names and padlocked 4ever to the Love Bridge

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