Monday 28 December 2015

Back in Blighty

France and UK, 6th – 21st December 2015

We have just completed a two week trip back to the UK, which we did to fit around my PhD graduation ceremony which I’d deferred from the summer when we were down in Greece, and meant we could see family approximately midway through our trip after over seven months away. We had a busy time getting jobs done and stayed a few days longer than originally planned to be able to fit in medical appointments for injections so that we’re prepared for if we decide to go over to Morocco next year. A positive side effect was it meant we avoided the premium rate ferry crossings during the busy weekend before Christmas.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Making Our Way Back to the UK

Spain and France, 1st – 5th December 2015

This post is a couple of weeks behind after I didn’t get it finished while on the ferry back to England due to our crossing being in terrible sea conditions during Storm Desmond; more on that in the next post. Back in the UK we didn’t stop getting on with working through our list of jobs and had my PhD graduation to attend, so we’re catching up to resume normal service again now we’re back on the road.

Back to where we left off...With being in northern Spain we’d been thinking we would get a ferry from Bilbao or Santander to Portsmouth for the convenience, less driving and less mileage covered, but in the end decided we couldn’t face paying the extra cost. I set up a spreadsheet to calculate the fuel and ferry costs for the alternative routes, which showed that even with the extra fuel to travel 700-odd more miles up through France it was projecting the cost to be basically £200 less to go via Dover or Dunkirk. Putting it another way it would’ve cost over twice as much, and it would have used up one week’s worth of our budget each way, which realistically should cover two weeks living costs down in Portugal in winter. So by doing the Dover route both ways will effectively mean we can afford an extra two weeks to a month’s travel! Additionally we’d only be losing about a day in extra travelling, aiming to get across France in two days. This therefore is the option we went with, so the majority of this five day period was spent travelling north.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

In and Around A Coruña

Spain, 27th – 30th November 2015

When we woke up on Friday at our clifftop spot at Praia de Os Castros, we found ourselves looking out on a different landscape to our arrival.  Gone were the huge waves assaulting the coastline beneath us, and in its place, a beach.  All of a sudden the fact that the place was called Praia made a little more sense.  A couple of brave locals attempted a morning swim while the tide was out, but we didn’t quite find the motivation to get out there and join them; whilst the skies were holding off from raining for the first time in a while, the sun was still nowhere in sight and jumping in the sea doesn’t quite have the same appeal when the skies are dim.

Thursday 26 November 2015

The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on Us

Spain, 22nd – 26th November 2015

Praia de Os Castros
It seems the weather has turned off for winter here now, with some days of almost constant rain, the rest with grey skies and showers, and temperatures hovering around 15°C. My shorts have made way for trousers, I’ve had to dig out my thicker fleece and even had my woolly hat on yesterday. We didn’t make it into the Picos Mountains as it was down to 7.5°C in the evening at our campsite at the edge of them, and forecasts gave minus temperatures up there so we’ll have to do them another time. Instead we continued west to Cangas de Onis and Gijon, then continued along the coast to a couple of nice cliff top spots with great views of the stormy seas that I’m looking at now as I write this. If it wasn’t for having to return to the UK in a week and a half’s time, we’d have started making a dash south for some better weather, which is what we heard from Ellie and Matt today is their imminent plan.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Elephant Hunting in Cabárceno, Spain

Spain, 19th – 22nd November 2015

We’re currently parked up writing this from a campsite on the northern perimeter of the Picos mountains.  This marks the end of our 52 day No Campsite streak, during which period we’ve only been on electric hook-up once.  We could have lasted longer but after waking to bleak drizzly skies we knew we were going to be spending the day indoors, and the thought of getting somewhere where we could have electric and free WiFi suddenly became rather appealing.  The weather here has taken a real turn for the worse, with the past two days being a mixture of hailstorms, van-shaking thunder and temperatures in the single digits.  However, looking at the poor forecast for the UK, it doesn’t look like we’re missing a great deal back home. Before this though we've had a good couple of days at an Aire by a wildlife park and spending time with more new friends.

Thursday 19 November 2015

Pamplona and San Sebastian

Spain, 15th – 18th November 2015

From our previous spot at Sos del Ray Catalico we headed via Pamplona to San Sebastian and from there started travelling west along the northern coast, staying at a series of free Aires, except San Seb which cost a whole €3.25.

San Sebastian - Donostia

Sunday 15 November 2015

Meeting Fellow Travellers in Northern Spain

Sos del Ray Catolico

Andorra and Spain, 12th – 14th November 2015

We’re currently parked up on the outskirts of Pamplona, Spain, having left France behind and crossed two country borders.  The temperature’s dropped to 10 degrees outside now that it’s dark, but it’s been a clear sunny afternoon.  Confession: we’re feeling a little worse for wear today, having been up late with new friends and fellow motorhomers Julie and Jay of OurTour last night and maybe—maybe—having possibly consumed a little too much wine.

Saturday 14 November 2015

Last days in France

France, 7th – 11th November 2015

We’ve now finished our time passing through France, visiting several places on our way around the western corner of the south coast before going inland to head for Andorra. Picking up from where we left off last time we’d got to Aigues-Mortes, which a very well preserved fortified town that dates back to the 13th century crusades. King Louis IX traded land to get a French port on the Mediterranean shore (which at the time belonged to either the Roman Empire or Spain), eventually turning it from swamplands into a successful trade port.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

The Camargue

France, 4th – 7th November 2015

The Camargue national park is a wetlands area that covers 100,000 hectares and only reaches a maximum height of 4m above sea level.  Because it is so flat and near the sea the basin is very salty, so as well as being a major processor of salt, it is also a very important area for wildlife, particularly birds.  Three quarters of French bird species have been found in the area, but the most famous of which is probably flamingos, with the Camargue being the only site in the country in which they reproduce.  It’s quite a pleasant place to spend a few days... provided you don’t spend the night at Salin-de-Giraud, unless having your van attacked by locals is your sort of thing.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Aix-en-Provence, The Calanques and around

France, 30th October – 3rd November 2015

We had intended for one of our next posts to be a financial report to help give a guideline for motorhomers thinking about long-term travel.  However, today we’ve been blessed with a wonderous combination: a relatively cheap Aire located within a booser aerial’s reach of the tourist office’s WiFi signal.  Given that it’s much more data intensive to upload photographs than it is a couple of pie charts, I’ve opted to work on getting our travel updates back on track.  So, time to talk about our time in western Provence.

Friday 6 November 2015

The Verdon Gorge: Too Good to Leave

France, 26th – 30th October 2015

We ended up staying in the Canyon de Verdon area for a week as we liked it so much, plus were held back by a spell of bad weather. This week was a cheap one as we didn’t travel much, haven’t had any overnight costs and had most of our food in stock. Linked to this, this point marks six months away continuously travelling for us so Jo has been working on our accounts spreadsheet in preparation for a mid-term financial report post that we’ll be posting soon when it’s complete. This should give an insight into the costs involved for long term travel like this, showing how it can be done quite cheaply, and provide an aid to budgeting if you’re planning your own trip.

Thursday 5 November 2015

A Weekend Walking in the Verdon Gorge

France, 24th – 25th October 2015

We’ve enjoyed a great weekend with friends in the Canyon de Verdon, or Verdon Gorge, the widest and deepest in Europe. The scenery in the gorge is beautiful, some of the nicest we’ve seen, and it’s great walking territory. It was good to spend time with friends too, after six months on the road this is the first time we’ve seen people that we know so made a welcome change.

Monday 2 November 2015

More Time along the Côte d'Azur: St. Paul-de-Vence to St. Tropez

France, 20th – 23rd October 2015

When we’d arrived at our overnight spot at Saint-Paul-de-Vence, we really hadn’t been expecting a great deal.  After finding a lack of places to stay in a motorhome around the stretch of the Côte d’Azur between Nice and the Italian border, we’d simply been relieved just to find somewhere to spend the night that was quiet and wasn’t going to cost us a fortune.  Seeing as we were in the area, we decided we might as well find out if there was anything around and it’s safe to say we were pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Piedmont to the Côte d’Azur

Italy and France, 16th – 19th October 2015

Apologies that it’s been a while since the last post as we’ve struggled to get free WiFi while in Italy. They all seem to require registration, and we’ve not been on any campsites, so as a result we have been running short with our mobile internet data allowance this month that has been used up with uploading previous entries and for essential route and stopover planning. We’ll be up to date again as soon as we can though. We’ve been busy, starting here with our last couple of days in Italy visiting Alba and Bra before heading out of the country over the Maritimes Alpes mountains into the south of France. From here we started making our way along the Côte d’Azur.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Turin and the Piedmont Region

Italy, 11th – 15th October 2015

Our latest location: a small motorhome Sosta, in the heart of Piedmont winemaking territory.  We’ve arrived here after visiting Turin a couple of days ago, as part of a meandering route down to the coastline before crossing over into France.  Directly east of our van is the small town/village of Castiglione Falletto, a town with a fortified castle, a wine cellar, and not much else.  To the west, we have sweeping views over fields of vineyards.  A few miles up the road takes us into Alba, known for its white truffles, or 3km to the south-west is the small village of Barolo.  We’re no wine connoisseurs, and so I’m just going to have to take the Lonely Planet’s word for it when it claims Barolo is Italy’s favourite red.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Italian Lakes: Como, Maggiore and More

Lake Mezzola

Italy, 6th – 10th October 2015

When we travelled down through Italy in April-May, we visited the lakes seeing Lake Garda and Iseo, and weren’t very impressed with them as places to visit in a motorhome when not going on campsites. Only going as far west as Iseo, we left the other lakes to come back to at some point. As we were in the area again, now we’ve spent the past few days around several of the lakes and have been more successful and enjoyed it more this time thanks to the smaller or quieter lakes.

Monday 5 October 2015

From Venzone to Vicenza

Italy, 2nd – 5th October 2015

It’s been a while since we’ve given a more up to date version of our intended route.  We had a fairly concrete plan of the direction we were going to travel in on our way up from Greece (Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Croatia-Slovenia), but leaving Slovenia was always the crossroads point where we could have headed in a number of different directions, and so before we left we had to have a sit down and think about where exactly we were going to go.

Ultimately, we knew we wanted to be in Spain and Portugal over the winter.  There are a lot of places that we would have liked to visit before then, including heading north-east towards Slovakia and the Czech Republic, or north into Austria and then Switzerland.  Unfortunately the former would have sent us too far in the wrong direction, and the latter would have sent us into mountainous Alpine countries a little too close to winter when we have no snow tyres/chains (having spent longer than originally thought in countries from Greece onwards).  As a result we’d probably have ended up rushing our way through the places, doing the countries a great disservice and racking up needless miles on the van.

Saturday 3 October 2015

Lake Bohinj and Mount Vogel

Slovenia, 29th September – 2nd October

From Lake Bled it was on to the nearby Lake Bohinj next. This lake is much less developed and touristy than Bled due to its setting in the Triglav National Park. Any tourism from sports to gastronomy has to be focussed on being natural and sustainable, to be in keeping with the environment. I found an extract from one of our info brochures amusing; “Don’t go to Bohinj if you are looking for big hotels, budget restaurants, smoke-filled snack bars, swimming amidst shrieking hordes…a rubbish-strewn lake shore, deafening music booming out from every bar, markets selling junk to tourists…Bohinj is not a shopping centre in a desolate landscape of illegal rubbish dumps”. We really enjoyed our time here, in our opinion it’s a prettier area to Bled and we prefer it.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Lake Bled and the Vintgar Gorge

Slovenia, 25th – 28th September 2015

Today marks our third day around Lake Bled before moving onto Bohinj, and it seems bad things really do come in threes.  The first is that it would appear there is a clothing thief on the loose around the campsite and I have now been deprived of my favourite pair of jeans (more on that later).  The second was our trip across the Lake to a pizzeria we’d read offered English breakfasts ending in disappointment (short answer: didn’t sell enough, not on the menu any more).  The third was that we decided to test the durability of one of our camping mugs by giving it a collision with the ground en-route to the washing up sinks (short answer: it’s brittle, one of us will have to have hot drinks from a glass instead).  Given that these bad things are getting less serious with each encounter, I can only assume that things are on the way up.  So it’s time to focus on the positives: Vintgar Gorge, and Lake Bled.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Ljubljana and Northern Slovenia

Slovenia, 21st – 24th September 2015

Triple Bridge and Franciscan Church in Presernov Square
Our next stop was the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. It has an attractive city centre with lots of cafés on the riverside. It is compact so doesn’t feel like a capital city, also helped by not having hordes of tourists, so is easy to get around. It is one of the greenest capital cities in Europe, awarded the European Green Capital Award 2016, with a pedestrianised centre that has electric vehicles giving free rides around for the less able, green open spaces with four nature parks and one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe.

To visit Ljubljana we had two options, the first of which was a campsite that’s part of a hotel complex which is in the ACSI book but would be around €20/night with taxes etc included, or the second option was a restaurant in the village of Sostro just outside the ring road that has a Camper Stop which we found online. We went for the latter cheaper option as it is €10 per night including electricity and WiFi at Gostilna Pri Kovacu (GPS: 46.03144 14.60383), or free if you have a meal in the restaurant. Handily there is a bus stop right outside and it’s just a 20 min ride into the centre.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

The Skocjan Caves and the Slovenian Coast

Italy and Slovenia, 19th – 21st September 2015

As of today we have now officially been travelling Europe for six months.  Given that we had to come back for Matt’s work we’ve only been out of the UK consecutively for five months, but it still marks us being away for half of our original travel time.  The good news is that we’re only a hundred pounds over budget which should level out very soon; the bad news is we’re at the halfway point, and time suddenly feels rather short.  But there’s no use dwelling: we’ve got to make the use of the time that we have got, and so it’s time for some exploration of Slovenia.

Saturday 19 September 2015

Into Istria: Pula, Rovinj and the Kamenjak Peninsula

Croatia, 15th – 18th September 2015

The Forum (one of Pula's main squares)
In the north of Croatia lies Istria, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic sea.  Although a small part of it is over the border in Slovenia and Italy, most of the land is Croatian, and it’s where we’ve been spending the last few days.  Pula sits towards the southern end, and is the main city of the region with a strong tourist trade, no doubt helped along by its plethora of churches and Roman remains, such as a well preserved amphitheatre.

We received a tourist map of Pula from our campsite’s reception which had all of the main sites to see which was helpful (given that we saw the same map being used by others all over town, presumably it’s also the main map provided by the tourist office).  Buses run to the centre every 20 minutes for 11 kuna, but it’s around a 3km walk/cycle for anyone who is so inclined.  We took the bus, and the driver either

Thursday 17 September 2015

Plitvice National Park and Heading North

Croatia, 11th – 14th September 2015

When checking out from Auto Camp Uvala Borova in Zaostrog after two nights there this was the first time here that tourist tax has been built into the ACSI price which earns them bonus points and saved us a few Euros. We decided this would be our turning point to start heading back north with Plitvice National Park (NP) our next destination. We stopped at Lidl in Makarska to do some shopping and had lunch in the car park before deciding which way to head next. We considered cutting inland from Split but might have had trouble finding somewhere to stay the night (as it was too far to travel the whole way in this afternoon) so took the coast road for a start to give us more options. In our Camperstop book the only free overnight parking spot listed for Croatia is near Krka so we followed the GPS hoping to stay

Thursday 10 September 2015

Krka National Park and Southern Croatia

Croatia, 6th – 10th September 2015

Freecamping or no freecamping: at least the views are great
We’ve now officially been in Croatia for over a week, and have now started to warm a little more to the place.  To give the country credit, the coastline itself is very beautiful, with lots of pebbled beaches and a crystal clear sea.  The people are very friendly and the weather has improved significantly; after the heatwave and downpours of our first few days, we’ve had blue skies and temperatures somewhere between 25 and 30 degrees: perfect.  As a place to go on a holiday it would be great (although maybe not in July/August when it’s packed).  It’s just not really somewhere you can spend extended periods in a camper if you’re trying to keep to a tight budget like we are as freecamping is pretty much non-existent here and many of the campsites are still extremely busy and pricey in September.  As it stands, we’re running a little over budget.  Without our ACSI discount card, the budget would have been blown out of the water completely.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Goodbye Hungary, Hello Croatia

Hungary and Croatia, 31st August – 6th September 2015

We’ve now moved on to another country, Croatia, which was one I was looking forward to, expecting nice scenery and sandy beaches, but so far have been unimpressed. Maybe it’s just the areas we’ve seen this far, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot here, mainly a series of villages geared up for tourists with a few shops/restaurants and lots of rooms and apartments to let, along a rocky coastline, or it could be because it had a lot to live up to after Greece. Plus there’s the disadvantage of freecamping not being allowed so we’re forced to stay on campsites every night which is restrictive and not good for the budget. There are lots of campsites along the coast here, of which normal ones are huge with 400-1200 pitches, and mini-camps are the size of regular ones that we’re used to. Time’s gone quickly and it seems I’ve got a week to cover in this entry since last time.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Miles from Budapest

Hungary, 27th – 30th August 2015

The view from Gellért Hill
We’re currently parked up in Tihani on the northwest side of Lake Balaton, having just spent four great days in Budapest.  Our original plan was to only spend two nights with one day visiting Budapest as we’re not really city people and we wanted our stay in Hungary to be under the weekly budget to make up for the next country—Croatia—which we expect to be expensive.  However we found ourselves quite taken with Budapest, and after the two days we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave when there was still so much more to see.

For our stay, we travelled into the city from Visegrad (via a Lidl, where we were excited to find real bacon for the first time since the UK!) until we reached Camping Haller (GPS: 47.47610, 19.08364, 6900Ft, approx. £16/€22, including electric, WiFi and washing machines, every 4th night is free).  There were a few campsites in our

Sunday 30 August 2015

First Days in Hungary

Romania and Hungary, 24th – 26th August 2015

After our last night in Romania we set off towards the border, stopping to use up our remaining Romanian currency by filling up on LPG and stocking up on a few bits from Lidl. I hid some bottles of beer away in case we were searched at the border but needn’t have bothered as I think the faded sign said the limit was 17L of alcohol! We crossed the border near Oradea with just a check of our passports.

As we entered Hungary everything suddenly felt more like Western Europe again; buildings were tidier, the appearance of the country roads, roads were in better condition,

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Sighisoara and Northern Romania

Romania, 21st – 23rd August

Our overnighting spot at Sighisoara was pay and display parking from 7am.  In preparation we set a 6:45 alarm, at the sound of which I promptly rolled over and went back to sleep.  Thankfully Matt has a more sensible attitude to alarms, so we succeeded in equipping the van with an all day ticket (5 Lei – about 80p/€1.10), and rested up for a couple more hours before going to see the town.

We walked up the nearby hill in pursuit of a fictitious castle that existed only in our imaginations (forgetting that the signs had actually specified Citadel and not castle), and found ourselves in the old town of Sighisoara.  The citadel/old town was made up of lots of cobbled streets and painted houses, and was altogether quite an attractive

Monday 24 August 2015

Vidraru Dam and Transfagarasan Pass

Romania, 18th – 20th August 2015

Seeing the Vidraru dam and driving the Transfagarasan Pass got set back a day due to the weather turning and bringing a lot of rain. We heard it in the night and it continued until lunchtime so we stayed put at our camping spot by the river. When it had faired up in the afternoon we walked around the corner to the nearby Poenari Fortress, another one that’s sometimes referred to as Dracula’s Castle. There’s 1480 concrete steps set into the hillside to get up to it and it’s 5 Lei (81p) to get in when you get to the top, but I managed to get a 2 Lei (32p) ticket with my student ID card. The building didn’t have a lot to see but there were great views from here over the start of the Transfagarasan. Near to it is a hydroelectric power station which will be for the Vidraru dam,

Friday 21 August 2015

Bucharest and Several Transylvanian Castles

Romania, 14th – 17th August 2015


Our trip into Bucharest didn’t start well due to on the bus ride in getting our tickets checked which we didn’t have at this point due to having nowhere to buy some. Bus tickets here are bought from booths on the street then validated by holding them up to a scanner on the bus, but from where we got on near the campsite there wasn’t anywhere to buy tickets so we thought we’d just get on and buy tickets when we could. Watching other people getting on the bus, very few of them validated tickets so we assumed most people hadn’t got any either so we’d be ok. Near the end of the journey though we got our tickets checked so explained we had nowhere to buy tickets where we got on and thought that we’d be able to get them on the bus. The ticket inspector said there was a ticket booth one stop on after ours, however we didn’t see one, (maybe you’re meant to get on a bus, get off to buy a ticket as

Thursday 13 August 2015

The Black Sea to Bucharest: Roaming Romania

Bulgaria and Romania, 11th – 13th August 2015

On our last day in Bulgaria, we went a little wild and allowed ourselves the luxury of a 10am lay in.    At our spot in Rusenski we were sheltered by trees and rocks on both sides, which meant the morning stayed a little cooler and made sleeping in very appealing.  I have never been able to call myself a morning person, and when we started this trip I was a little worried we’d end up spending a lot of mornings lazing about in bed because we didn’t have any schedules to be sticking to; so far

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Walking, Sightseeing and Camping in Bulgaria

Bulgaria, 6th – 10th August 2015

It’s like we’ve been driving on different roads in Bulgaria to everyone else, I can’t get over how good they are after expecting pot holes everywhere from what we’d heard, but barely encountering any. They’ve been in better condition than Greece and even Italy I’d say. Either there must have been a lot of road improvements in the last couple of years or we’ve somehow managed to avoid all the bad roads. The only exception has been some slip roads off the motorway in Sofia that had some nasty potholes. I’ve been keeping a closer eye on the speedo in Bulgaria in the lower speed limits, after Greece where nobody’s bothered, as I’d heard from other blogs that there are a lot of speed traps. A one point we got flashed frantically by an Audi Q7 coming the opposite way so guessed there was Police ahead, which

Thursday 6 August 2015

Monasteries and Mountains: Our Induction into Bulgaria

Greece & Bulgaria, 3rd – 5th August 2015

After a little over two months in Greece, it was time to move on and see some of Eastern Europe.  We entered Bulgaria expecting something of a blind spot; we have no campsite or freecamping books that cover the country, and our only map of the place is a small section in our Europe atlas that is less than A5.  For a country that is one of the poorest in the EU, we were expecting to want to get through the place rather quickly.  So far it has been surprising us, with lots of interesting things to see.  The fact that our sat nav happens to have fairly accurate road maps despite not listing the country in the terms and conditions is certainly an added bonus!

Sunday 2 August 2015

Halkidiki - Our Last Week in Greece

Greece, 25th July – 2nd August 2015

Halkidiki to the east of northern Greece has a central area of land with three peninsulas protruding to the south. Originally we planned to visit each but later heard that the first peninsula was highly developed so has little opportunities for motorhome parking and the third peninsula is owned by the church and covered with monasteries with restricted access only for men so was out of the question too.

Saturday 1 August 2015

The Monasteries of Meteora

Greece, 21st – 25th July 2015

One of the sights of Greece that had been recommended to us as a must-see was the grand monasteries at Meteora.  Far from the coastal routes we were used to taking, Meteora is sited several hours inland in the middle of the Thessaly plains—an area that would otherwise have little to appeal to sightseers.  This is changed by the existence of the rocks with sheer vertical faces that ascend into the skies, with improbably placed monasteries built at their peaks.

Friday 31 July 2015

A Weeks’ Windsurfing Holiday in Vassiliki

Greece, 13th – 20th July 2015

Vassiliki Bay
We left Krioneri with the aim of getting to our next main destination during that day, the island of Lefkada where there’s one of the world’s top windsurf locations at Vassiliki. On the journey we kept seeing evidence of a new motorway being built following the same route up the west coast, presumably to connect Igoumenitsa to Patra. A section of it was marked on our map and was open, which our sat nav took us along before coming off at a slip road just before where the road stopped a

Central Greece South Coast: Delphi and Nafpaktos

Greece, 8th – 12th July 2015


We were planning to head to Athens next and spend a couple of days exploring the city but with the temperatures we’d had for the last few days being consistently in the high 30’s(°C), decided to skip it as it wouldn’t have been pleasant for traipsing around all day. It’s one we will have to save for next time. Instead we planned to get around to Delphi to visit the ancient ruins then start to move more quickly north in the hope of slightly lower temperatures.

The End of the Peloponnese: Exporing Epidavros and Corinth

Greece, 3rd - 7th July 2015

Archea Epidavros
Before leaving the Peloponnese, we still had the northern end of the Argolid to cover, which is home to a great deal of ancient sites to visit; the closest of which was Epidavros (Epidaurus).  Epidavros was once an important healing sanctuary for hundreds of years, and is primarily known today for its ancient theatre, which is still used today for performances.

Thursday 30 July 2015

Touring the Argolid: More Beaches and a little more Urban Exploration

Greece, 27th June – 2nd July 2015

After giant croissants that came from the Monemvasia bakery we left our beach parking spot and called at the port in Agios Andreas to fill up with water there (GPS: N37.37120 E22.78262). We drove through Paralia Astros which other than the seafront area which was busy with tavernas, was a bit rough so we kept on driving. We then came into Kiveri (above) which was made awkward to get in the final stretch of road due to plastic marker posts down the centreline of the road with the


Greece, 24th - 26th June 2015

Monemvasia is a town on the final finger of the Peloponnese that in Byzantine times was a major seaport.  It is built into the side of a hill on a small island connected to the mainland only by a causeway.  Once crossing the causeway, there is a single road approaching the fortified town, with one easily defendable entrance.  Historically, the town would have once been home to thousands; now, with the town’s purpose being made redundant by the end of the War of Independence and the opening of the Corinth canal, the town is populated by a few small clusters of families and a large quantity of cats.

The town was our next stopover point after leaving Paralia Astéri, after Matt’s obligatory morning dip. There’s a beach shower and tap here which had handily been replaced since we called here the other day when it was just a vertical water spout! We topped the water up with a water carrier full then drove to Monemvasia, where we found a place to park alongside a couple of other vans on the island just after crossing the causeway.  From here we took the walk to the town’s main gate for a look around.  The Lower Town is made up of tight streets and small alleyways, with one main stretch being taken over by souvenir shops, tavernas and hotels.  On

Wednesday 29 July 2015

The Dimitrios Shipwreck and our first venture into Urban Exploration

Greece, 19th – 23rd June 2015

Matt and I have always had a bit of a mutual interest in derelict, abandoned things.  Back in the UK, this is an interest that we have never really indulged, partially due to never having the time to seriously consider doing it, but also due to most closed-down buildings or similar being either immediately knocked down for new developments or patrolled by security thanks to the joys of health and safety.

After leaving our overnight spot in the port of Skoutari we drove through the town of Gythio, which we found was starting to get a bit busy with the summer season.  After finding a place to pull in, we decided that we wouldn’t really be missing too much if we gave the tourist town a miss, and instead headed north of Gythio in pursuit of something better aligned with our interests: an abandoned shipwreck.

Sunday 26 July 2015

The Inner Mani – Porto Kagio and Kamares

Greece, 16th – 18th June 2015

We continued on our way into the deep/inner Mani (the bottom half of the peninsula) calling at Mezapos. It was very tight through the village then after the last turning for the beach it looked too narrow to get any further so we turned around here whilst I just had space to. We continued to Gerolimenas, which was quite narrow to access but ok, it’s an attractive small village set around a white stone beach and small port with several tavernas and a hotel. There is a small car park area which isn’t clear whether it’s for the hotel and limited parking at the side of the road so wasn’t suitable as a stopover in season while everywhere is open.

The Mani peninsula is made up of a lot of rocky soil that is very poor for growing things in.  Historically, when the population of the Mani grew in the 14th century thanks to an influx of Byzantine refugees, the

Saturday 25 July 2015

Mystra and the Outer Mani

Greece, 11th – 15th June 2015

The Langadha Pass -  60km long winding mountain route with great views


The Langadha Pass and Mystra

We had a 7:45 alarm so we could get over to Mystra at a reasonable time as I’d read about a 3pm closing time, however we found when we got there that it was 8pm for summer opening hours. We drove via Kalamata over the Langadha Pass winding up and down the Taiyetos mountain sides to a peak of 4265ft, stopping a couple of times to take photos and look at

Monday 20 July 2015

The end of the Messinian Peninsula: Koroni and Petalidi

Greece, 6th June – 10th June 2015

Finikounda and Koroni

From Methoni, we continued to head anti-clockwise around the Messinian peninsula to the next main village on the list, Finikounda.  Our guidebook says very little on the fishing village other than it having a collection of campsites that are popular with backpackers and windsurfers, but we had read about a potential overnighting spot in the harbour, albeit down a few tight roads.  We arrived, parked up the van on the outskirts of town to investigate, and quickly decided that a

Sunday 19 July 2015

Tholo Beach and Methoni

Greece, 2nd – 5th June 2015

A cruise ship arrived in Katakolo in the morning so there were quite a few people about although most will have gone off to Olympia on coaches. We had a walk through the town which consists of one main street full of tourist souvenir shops, and a row of bars and restaurants facing over the port. There was a ‘Beer Bike’ waiting for some punters, a large 4-wheeled bike that seats about 12 people who pedal it whilst sat facing a bar in the middle and beer is served!

One of the cruise ships come in to dock, flooding the town
with life
The main street at Katakolo

The Beer Bike!
An old ship left to rust away in Katakolo harbour - if there was
 no-one about we'd have loved to explore the inside

Tholo Beach

Late morning we set off to a camper stop next to the beach near Zacharo but arrived to find it had closed down. As we

Saturday 18 July 2015

Killinis Beach and Olympia

Greece, 29th May – 1st June 2015

In Italy, the abundance of Aires meant that we never really struggled for a constant water supply in the van.  We knew that in Greece the number of camper stops was in smaller supply and we wanted to spend some more time freecamping to keep our costs down, so before leaving Kalogria Camperstop we made sure we were prepared to stay off site for as long as possible (full tank of water, empty waste tank and WC, freshly showered).  Matt went to pay up as well as to check up on

Friday 17 July 2015

A Grim time with Grimaldi Lines: The Ferry to Greece

Italy and Greece, 26th – 28th May 2015

The Ferry Journey

At the ferry port, after initially driving straight down to the security gates as it wasn’t clear where to go, the security guard pointed us in the direction of the ferry company ticket offices to get tickets and boarding passes first. We queued for quite some time at the Grimaldi Lines ticket office even though there were only 4 people in front of us, the staff took ages to sell them tickets and check them in. When we eventually got served it didn’t take long to get our tickets with our advance

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast and Southern Italy

Italy, 24th – 26th May 2015


We set off to Pompeii from our spot at Cava de’ Tirreni, once more travelling through the tight, car-laden roads around Naples.  Upon our arrival, we pulled in outside one of the campsites on the main strip (Fortuna Village) and asked about parking up just for the day.  The staff gave us a price of €10, no set leaving time.  We could have paid to stay here (or at one of the nearby ACSI campsites) for the night, but in my paranoia I didn’t much fancy the idea of parking in the vicinity of an active volcano.  Vesuvius itself can be seen from Pompeii, however in my opinion it looks a lot more impressive when

When In Rome

Italy, 20th – 23rd May 2015

Happy Village and Camping, north Rome
Given that we are not completely suicidal, we decided that attempting to drive into Rome in a motorhome was a terrible idea, and so would rely on public transport.  For our Rome visit, there were three campsites in our ACSI book to the north of the city: Flaminio Village Camping, Happy Village & Camping, and Tiber.  The former has a bus and metro station just over the road from the campsite, and the latter two had shuttle buses to the nearest metro station.  Given that Flaminio wasn’t discounted during the time of our visit and Tiber’s shuttle bus was €1 per ticket, we opted for Happy Village & Camping (N42.00336 E12.45198, €18/night with ACSI discount + €2 pppn tourist tax), as their shuttle service was free of charge.   After getting set up on the site, we caught the 10am shuttle and were treated to some stereotypically Italian style driving, in a minibus with over

San Marino and travelling South towards Rome

Italy and San Marino, 16th – 19th May 2015

The view out over the hills in the Chianti region
We started the day with a walk into the village before leaving Greve and heading south through the Chianti region heading for San Marino. The drive through Chianti was very scenic and we decided it would be a good place to come in future on a road trip in a convertible, stopping at the vineyards/wine producers for wine tasting and the nice looking hotels or B&Bs. The Lonely Planet highlighted the area as good for cycling but with the steep and twisty mountain roads we went along we

Saturday 4 July 2015

Traversing Tuscany: Pisa and Florence

Italy 13th – 15th May 2015


In the 12th century, Pisa’s cathedral lacked a bell tower.  In an attempt to right this, Pisan Berta di Bernado donated a large sum of money to help the city get to work on building the tower.  During the construction progress things started to go downhill when the foundations started to move, and despite many attempts over the years to rectify the problem, we are still left today with the famed Leaning Tower of Pisa—or, as I like to think of it, that tower where tourists do silly poses.

According to our Camperstop book, there was a motorhome Sosta around a five minute walk from the square in which the cathedral is located (Piazza Dei Miracoli).  Upon our arrival, we instead discovered an area that appeared to be dedicated to tourist bus parking with No Camping signs; perhaps the city didn't have enough room to accommodate all of the buses coming in.  We instead followed their signs to the new Sosta, which seemed to wind halfway around the city of Pisa, prompting several instances of ‘Are we still going the right way?’, including a detour to a Lidl where, after buying some bits, we went on the mobile internet to get some actual

Bologna and Lago le Tamerici

Italy, 9th – 12th May 2015

Our plan before we left the area was to have a look at the east side of the Lake Iseo so we drove up as far as Marone. It was much the same as the other side so we turned off and took the main road south heading towards Bologna. On the way there we came across a 2.3m width restriction on a bridge at Camatta which I thought we’d attempt being only 3cm wider

Tuesday 30 June 2015

In Fair Verona: Shakespearean Cities and The Lakes

Italy, 5th – 8th May 2015

Lake Garda as seen from Salò

Exploring Verona

After tackling Venice, the next target on our list was Verona.  The day after Venice, we didn’t do a great deal in terms of seeing things after leaving the campsite at midday.  Instead, our time was taken up with visiting an Interspar to stock up our cupboards and then making progress travelling back west across Italy, which was slow going thanks to travelling through a

Monday 29 June 2015

Amongst the Canals and Backstreets: Exploring Venice

Italy, 1st– 4th May 2015

One of the Venetian Canals
After our second night in Feltre, we were ready to move on to tackle Venice.  With a motorhome, I found there are two main options for getting into the city: a train, or a water bus (vaporetto).  The vaporetto option would have involved travelling to Punta Sabbioni on the end of the headland that protects the Venetian lagoon, and staying on a campsite.  Alternatively we found that the city of Treviso, as well as having two free motorhome Aires, has a regular train service into Venice that takes around half an hour at a cost of €3.30 for a one-way ticket.  Both Aires were a 20-30 minute walk from the train station, and so we decided it would be an ideal base point for visiting Venice as it was the cheaper option.

We went to look at the two free Sostas (Aires) in Treviso and decided to stay in the more popular quieter one

Saturday 27 June 2015

The Reschen Pass and the stupidity of a Traveller: Navigating Austria and Italy

Southern Germany to Northern Italy, 28th – 30th April 2015

Hello readers, Jo here.

The Wallet Incident

After our overnight stay in Ottobeuren, we were fairly close to the border into Austria, and so we could have quite easily crossed through Austria and been somewhere in Italy, our intended destination, before the end of the day.  So we got the pots washed, secured all the drawers and cabinets, closed all windows, and were almost good to go.  Shoes on, phones hooked up in the cab ready to charge, wallets ready if we need them—ah, wallets.

Nürburgring and Eura Mobil: Travelling South Through Germany

France to Germany, 25th - 27th April 2015

Hello Everyone,

The second leg of our trip started nice and early in order to get the ferry into Calais, which got us across to the content around 10:30am (GMT+1).  From there, our first task was to take care of tracking down some very important, life-saving essentials.  Yes, of course I am talking about croissants—as if that was ever in dispute.  So after making our way to the

A Detour to the Lakes

A view of Ullswater Lake

Cumbria, England, 12th - 14th April 2015

Whilst we needed to travel all the way to Carlisle we thought we may as well make a short trip out of it by having a couple of nights in the Lakes and it was a chance to give the van a test run after having not been used for living in for the past couple of months or so since we got back to the UK. As it had been stood during cold weather and in snow it was useful to check

Friday 26 June 2015

Time at Home

England, January to April 2015

After arriving home at the end of January because of Matt’s PhD commitments, our plan was to spend a few weeks with family whilst Matt finished his work, and then get the van sorted and be on the road again around the beginning of March.  However, the timescale for getting his PhD responsibilities sorted took longer than anticipated as well as making the time

The Journey Back: Algarve to East Midlands

Portugal, Spain and France, 15th – 20th January 2015

The Rock Incident

As we had to get back to the UK, on the 15th we finally started our long journey home.  We left the Aire on schedule after doing our water tanks, but things rapidly went downhill on our way out of Alvor.  We were driving down a fairly narrow road that had two lanes, but there was a box van coming the other way with very wide wing mirrors, so we moved to the side of the road to get out of its way.  In a fantastic stroke of bad luck, the one spot that we pulled to the side at also happened to

Hunting Wi-Fi and an Alvor Mini-Break

Portugal, 12th – 14th January 2015

Pursuit of Communication

We eventually left Bordeira as we needed to get our return ferry booked as well as pay off our travel credit card, so we wanted to visit a point with WiFi.  We went to the Aire in Lagos and parked up for an hour or so to use their WiFi point, however we found the signal strength to be very weak and the connection wasn’t secure, making it difficult to use for larger tasks.  The site was by a stadium and overlooked by a lot of main roads, and although the road noise wasn’t too much of a

Salema, Sagres, and an adventure in Laundry

Portugal, 7th – 11th January 2015

Albufeira Part 2

Albufeira Harbour
 The next day in Albufeira we decided to explore the harbour area, as we had driven past a neighbourhood that had a load of buildings in pastel colours that looked very unusual compared to the rest of the town.  The buildings were apartments and the whole harbour was built in the same style, with pale colours and lots of geometric shapes that looked very smart.  The harbour was quiet over the winter but was very clean and rather upmarket.

From here we went to the main shopping centre in Albufeira as we needed to get a replacement inner tube for Matt’s bike.  The centre...

Raposeira Beaches and into Albufeira

Portugal, 3rd – 6th January 2015

Shame we left the bodyboard at home!
The view from the van
The next day when we woke up Matt went out for a short walk along the beach and took some photographs, and then later on both of us went out for a bit of a longer walk.  There were some pretty big waves and not many obstructions in the water so the beach was popular with surfers.  Matt went in the water for a dip after lunch for the first time and played in the surf (although he was one of the few people crazy enough to go in without a wetsuit in January!).  It was quite a relaxed spot but we needed to stock up on food supplies and there was