Showing posts from April, 2009

Day #15 - Oops!

Today we packed up all our camping gear bright and early and headed back to the Calais Crossing to catch the ferry back to England. Easy, it was supposed to be. Organised, we thought we were....mmm. This story deserves to be told so that fellow travellers be more careful.

As planned we drove into the Gated Crossing area and headed off to check Storm in through the pet control section. We knew we had all of her vaccinations up to date and had done them withing the allocated time frame demanded by customs (at least 24 hours but less than 48 hours before departure) problems there! As we stood at the control counter waiting to be served we overheard the gentleman in front of us protesting to the lady behind the counter. It seems that the vet he saw in Europe failed to tell him that the dog he had just fostered out of a pound would need particular treatment before heading home. After many red faces he was sent away with his wife and dog to find the vet (who we had already used ourselve…

Day #14 - Rain, rain, go away....or NOT...ahhhh, R&R day!

Very seriously...there is nothing to do in Calais! Despite the fact that many travellers stop here on there way between France and England there is not much to see, besides the flowers growing in the gardens. Yes, it's on the coast, but even that is very quiet and not very exciting. We decided to do what the travel books suggest to do when in! Very disappointing indeed. The 'great' shopping complex we found wasn't even full to it's capacity with shops and what they did have was less than exciting.

So, after searching the streets for something to do, and finding nothing, we decided that relaxing in the tent was just the thing to help us unwind before we head back to school and work next week. Then it started raining...and raining...and raining. Luckily, the tent just managed to hold out in the wind and wet. We got a little bit of water inside but nothing to really worry about. So, we spent a very relaxing day watching movies on the laptop from inside th…

Day #13 - Chocolate City!

Once on our way again today we discovered that we had actually slept just over the border of The Netherlands last night. We must have been quite a sight to see for the other sleepers there. We were in a huge road side car park/truck stop, Matt in the back with the boys, Kerry and Storm in the front. But, once we covered the windscreens with our towels to stop the headlights waking us, we all slept quite well...warm too!

Our time in The Netherlands was short lived though...we came, we saw (a very little), and we kept on driving. Next stop...Bruxelles (Brussells) in Belgium. Yet another country to check off our growing list of places visited. We parked the car just outside the Cathedralis SS Michaelis et Gudulae Bruxellensis (Cathedral of St Michael). We decided not to go in yet but to head into the city centre and visit the cathedral before we left.

For those ealy risers like us...BEWARE!!!...Brussells should be nicknamed the 'sleepy city'. Nothing (asside from the Information Ce…

Day #12 - Cologne, Germany

This morning we said goodbye, sadly, to Kerstin, Stefan and Kjell as we readied ourselves for the final leg of our long journey through Europe. We hope to come back again in September to visit when we do our next European Vacation. The boys had a last play with the local kids while we packed up the car...then it was time for some group photos before heading off for last sight seeing together before we left.

First stop for Matt and Stefan was the Hűtt Brewery to do a quick tour of the brewery and buy Matt some German supplies (a proper hűtt beer glass and 6 bottles of beer to go with it). Then it was on the VW Factory. Though the museum part of the factory was closed we managed to get an idea of the sheer enormity of this amazing's the size of a small suburb...WOW!!! Stefan gets to drive a car around the factory to get from one place to the next (that's how big it is). We drooled over a few new model VW's and then headed back out to the car park for our f…

Day #11 - more fun with the Barthel family!

Off to the city of Kassel today! More and more history seems to find us each day. Kassel, home to story writers The Brothers Grimm, was very severely bombed back in WWII and had many of it's historical buildings destroyed. Consequently, today it consists of only a few of those very old buildings, surrounded by newer (less historic) buildings that were constructed after the war. Some say Kassel is boring but this is definately not true. Where else can you go to find a massive statue of the hunky Greek God 'Hercules' the words of Disney...'honey, you mean huncules'

We parked the cars in a very misty car park and wondered if the heavy mist that was shrouding then entire area would ever rise enough for us to see anything worthwhile. After a rather large walk through a beautiful parkland we discovered a massive old castle perched on a hill. The mist (that had been slowly rising through the beautiful green canopy of trees above us) finally disapeared t…

Day #10 - Go Wild!

More relaxation with Kerstin, Stefan and Kjell today! After a much needed sleep in a real bed we enjoyed a nice slow start to the morning with breakfast. The boys then went off to play with the local children (who they met yesterday while were enjoying the back garden). After the boys had a play we headed out with the Barthel's for a the Knull Wildlife Park, a wildlife park not too far from their home. We got to see two real bears (really glad we didn't stop to see the ones locked up in Switzerland now)... in a nice large enclosure which they share with a pair of wolves. We had a lovely time walking around the deers as they enjoyed being hand fed, then checked out all the other regular wildlife park animals before heading off again.

Later on Kerstin took us to a nearby town, called Melsungen, which has been protected by one of the historical groups. Every single building in this town is built in the old style (lines criss crossed over an old chalet) and n…

Day #9 - off to visit with Kerstin, Stefan & Kjell

After another good nights sleep on airbeds in the tent in Munich we woke refreshed and ready for the next leg of our journey...has it really been 9 days already? Wow! We fixed ourselves a nice breakfast of toast, cereal and juice before packing up the tent while the boys went and had one last play with the other kids at the caravan park.

After a few hours of lovely scenery we finally arrived in Guxhagen, home of Kerstin, Stefan & Kjell. Overall , a pretty low key day. Once we arrived, feeling very excited about seeing our friends again, we sat in the garden enjoying a beer and nibblies with country views in one direction and the village in the other....could easily spend days doing this! For dinner we had a BBQ outside....bratwurst and kebabs with salad...yum! Tomorrow night is Schnitzel (Kerry's favourite German food). Once the boys were settled in bed for the night we relaxed inside with some more beer, then schnapps, then beer, then schnapps....mmm, while we looked over Kers…

Day #8 - Munich, Germany

This morning we woke up feeling well refreshed after a good nights sleep. After a great breakfast of wurst, cereal and juice with toast we headed off the find the nearby tyre shop. This was certainly an experience and a half. Trying to order tyres in a language that Kerry once understood very well and is now quite rusty with was kind of like pulling teeth...thankfully the attendant spoke 'some english' as they like to say here (which translates to pretty good english in our books) so we were able to work out the details...whew! So, we left the car with the tyre shop and headed off to the underground railway station only 3 blocks walk away.

We took the train only 5 stops into the centre of Munich. We were getting quite anxious as we knew the one and only daytime showing of the Glockenspiel at 12 noon was coming up (we had now checked our little book for details). As it turns out, the train stop was directly underneath the Marienplatz (where the glock is located) so we quic…

Day #7 - The Hills Are Alive! - Salzburg, Austria

After sleeping in the car last night (getting better at this, we must say), we headed off for Salzburg to see this historic town where Mozart was born and The Sound of Music was filmed. As we drove we were surrounded by the Alps again...covered in snow...ahhh. Desperate to revisit all the placesKerry visited last time she was here (without her beloved 3 significant others) we wandered around the streets of this ancient town in search of history.

Salzburg is so much more than Kerry remembered. There are so many things a 16 year old girl just can't see....but then again, if 2 boys can see them...mmm How time changes us!

We started on the newer side of the river and walked across a bridge to then walk along the old buildings that surround Salzburg. The houses were built right into the rock walls around the outside of the town...some of them appeared to be carved out of the stone itself...who knows? We found our way into the centre of Salzburg where there were numerous churches, f…

Day #6 - Neushwanstein, Germany - Fairytale Castle

What a start to the day. At 5 o'clock the nearby church bells rang, one after the other (3 in total). No hope of sleep after that, especially when we looked outside the tent and saw the view waiting for us. Good Morning Lake Constance! Mist everywhere, it was truly inspiring. We enjoyed breakfast while sitting on the banks of the lake then packed up the tent and headed off to Fussen.

Fussen is nestled in Bavaria, Germany, very close to the Austrian border and the foothills of the Austrian Alps. The drive towards Fussen revealed snow covered Alps and even fairly fresh snow not far from the roads. We guess that the snow we saw coming from Freiburg probably landed itself here as well....amazing! Fussen was the home of the late King Ludwig II who died in 1886. It is famous for two huge castles that can be seen here: Neuschwanstein & Hohenschangau. Our target for the day was Neuschwanstein (meaning New Swan Stone). We set off in a wagon attached to 2 clidesdale horses to get up the …

Day #5 - Black Forest, Rhine Falls & Lake Constance

This morning started out like many of our the car on the way to the latest adventure! On todays agenda was the Black Forest by cable car.
We set of to Schauinsland loop cable car to catch a lift up to Schauinsland Peak. We were looking forward to the views as we went, thinking we might spy a little bit of snow at the very top (as we saw it from the car), but were really surprised to find there was snow all the way up the mountain. Once we got to the peak we went for a walk and discovered a 'white winter wonderland'......everything was covered in a very thick blanket of snow and was oh, so gorgeous! The boys got to make snow angels (well, they tried, at least) and had a snow ball fight with Matt, right before he stepped, almost hip deep, in the snow.......very deep! The views from here were amazing but we had to cut it short as there appeared to be more snow coming and we didn't want to be stuck up there when they closed the cable cars down for the day. Def…

Day #4 - Strasbourg (France) - Freiburg (Germany)

This morning we headed off from where had slept at the truck stop in Nancy towards the historic city of Strasbourg. Strasbourg lays in the regions of Alsace & Lorraine, perched on the border between France & Germany.

Strasbourg comprises two main areas: 'Petite France' and the 'Grande Ile' (meaning main island).
'Petite France' is quite a sight to be seen. It is positioned in the south-west corner of Strasbourg and is home to many canals (much like Venice), cobble roads, outdoor cafes, old half-timbered houses and a general feeling that many centuries of life have moved through it's streets. We meandered around the streets in a kind of day dream as we simply soaked in this amazing atmosphere. It was quite a tranquil place, with only foot traffic allowed in certain areas. We stopped to buy a postcard at one of the lovely souvenir shops. As it is the Easter Season we saw stuffed bunnies in window boxes, alongside the regular flowers. Very cultural indee…

Day #3 - Paris - 'Happy Birthday Darian'

What a way to spend your 9th birthday! We started with croisonts for breakfast underneath the Eiffel Tower...chocolate filled croisonts at that. Then we waited for the best part of 2 hours in line to get tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower. Matt opted out and stayed with Storm (as she wasn't allowed, of course) so Zane, Darian and Kerry took the great adventure up to the second level (the third was closed). What a view! Wow! We could see absolutely all of Paris (except for the Eiffel tower which Kerry looked for...oops) - seemed very 'unreal' to be standing on this monument (easy to foget where you are).

Afterwards we walked through the park admiring all of the tulips which grow in abundance at this time of year in Europe. Then on to Nottre Dame by day. We stopped on the way to the Cathedral to buy the boys the biggest hot dogs I have ever seen. Clearly not 'petit' but neither was the price at 5 euros each...ouch!
We stopped to let the boys and enjoy them while Matt an…

Day #2 - 'Paris'

What can we say? Paris is everything it is said to be and more! Today we drove from Somme to Paris, a little sore from last nights rough sleep but bright eyed despite. Matt almost drove on the left side of the road but quickly put his mind back in gear and continued very successfully on the right hand side. Once in Paris we found a caravan park to rent a cabin for the night so we could have a good nights sleep tonight. Accomodation does not come cheap in Paris. One night in a very basic caravan cabin set us back €80($160Aus). As it turns out most things are quite expensive in Paris and most things are 'petit' - the bread was 'interesting' to say the least (very petit). Paris is not to be explored without some money to spare but it is definately worth the expense!
Once we were unpacked for the day we took a bus into the city. Storm came for the ride too (off course). Amazingly dogs are allowed on most (but not all) public transport in Europe. The bus dropped us off in th…

Europe - 'tour de everything' - day #1 - 'The Tour Begins'

Today we set off on our big adventure over to Europe. The car is really such a sight…great big thing already with loads of room…and then there’s the 450litre roof box on top for our camping gear….how did we ever cope with a little car?...mmm
Being the ‘extremely organised beings’ that we are we set off early to make sure we would not miss the Eurostar (the train that would link us to France).

As it turns out we were there 3 hours before we needed to be, which was great…this gave us a chance to visit the nearby ‘Dover Castle’ before departing for France.
Dover Castle was amazing…in 2 hours we only just scratched the surface really. It has underground tunnels (which we will explore on our next visit), turrets, a great big church (St Mary in the Castle)…and so many other things.

It was like a town within castle walls just as you would see it in a medieval movie. We can now see how you would fit tents and thousands of people within it’s guarded walls….truly amazing. Dover was shrouded in the …