Welcome to the ManVanNoPlan Motorhome Travel Blog.
We hope you enjoy reading about our UK & European travels in Bessie, our Swift Bessacarr 597.


The Motorhome Blog

“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
Ibn Battuta

Our motorhome travel blog is a place where readers can discover new destinations, plan their own trips, and get inspired to hit the road. The blog aims to feature engaging and informative content, including beautiful photos, detailed descriptions of locations, and useful tips for motorhome travel in the UK and Europe. The Navigator and I are experienced travellers we hope we can convey the sense of adventure and freedom that comes with exploring the world on wheels. Please feel free to share your own experiences in the contact section below and connect with other like-minded motorhome / campervan travellers. Our aim is to be a go-to resource for anyone who loves hitting the road and exploring new horizons…



Motorhome Adventures: – The Epic ManVanNoPlan Three Month Motorhome Road Trip To The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia.
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Campbell, Angus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 212 Pages – 01/08/2024 (Publication Date)


\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nFYNE EDITIONS\n\n\n\nPlease take the time now to visit Fyne Editions for the best selection of Motorhome, Campervan and Camping Journals in the UK. We also produce a huge range of Notebooks and Diaries so be sure to visit to buy for yourself or as an inexpensive gift for friends, family or a colleague. \n\n\n\nFYNE EDITIONS\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\/*! elementor - v3.12.2 - 23-04-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Oct 14, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-10-14 15:01:02","modifiedDate":"2023-10-14 17:08:25","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-10-14 16:08:25","commentCount":"0","commentStatus":"closed","categories":{"coma":"2022<\/a>, Alsace<\/a>, France<\/a>, Motorhome<\/a>, Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>","space":"2022<\/a> Alsace<\/a> France<\/a> Motorhome<\/a> Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"Alsace<\/a>Colmar<\/a>Eguisheim<\/a>Kaysersberg<\/a>motorhome road trip<\/a>motorhomeadventures<\/a>motorhomeblog<\/a>Obernai<\/a>Ribeauville<\/a>Selestat<\/a>Strasbourg<\/a>Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>travelblog<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":32,"sec":44},"status":"publish"},{"id":15095,"link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/manvannoplan-visits-harz-mountains-kassel-cologne-maastricht-den-bosch\/","name":"manvannoplan-visits-harz-mountains-kassel-cologne-maastricht-den-bosch","thumbnail":{"url":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/wp-content\/uploads\/2023\/10\/20230914_144053-scaled.webp","alt":"ManVanNoPlan at Kassel Commonwealth Cemetery"},"title":"ManVanNoPlan Visits The Harz Mountains, Kassel, Cologne, Maastricht & Den Bosch","excerpt":"","content":"ManVanNoPlan Visits The Harz Mountains, Kassel, Cologne, Maastricht, Den Bosch & KinderdijkSome of the following links are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a sale.\n\n\n\nThis is the final blog post in our 2023 road trip to the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. We hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventures and seeing the pictures of all the places we visited. We have one mini trip planned for November and although it involves a ferry, it is not to Europe...You should read this blog to the very end as there is a relevation that you may not be expecting... But first, the blog...\n\n\n\nDay 67 - Saturday 9th of SeptemberBeelitz to Quedlinburg (51.791178,11.139831) (106 Miles)\n\n\n\nBack on the road today to the picturesque town of Quedlinburg on the northern edge of the Harz (low) mountain range in northern Germany. Quedlinburg is said to have the largest number of timber-frame houses in Germany, more than 1,200 of them. The number and high quality of the buildings dating from the medieval period, and the town's history, have earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area, which lies between the Elbe and Weser rivers, is famous for its historic silver mines which brought prosperity to the region and to the nearby city of Hanover.\n\n\n\nThe journey of just under two hours started on the same motorway we took to Beelitz, only in the reverse direction this time. Well before Leipzig we turned off and headed west through some very flat agricultural land and Google Maps being Google Maps it took us through a section of narrow road through some deserted looking villages.\n\n\n\nOf all the crops being grown along our route the one that stood out was hops, which were strung up on tall poles and there were lots of fields of them. Hops are the flowers, or cones, of a plant called Humulus lupulus and they help to keep beer fresher, longer and retain its head of foam\u2014a key component of a beer's aroma and flavour; and, of course, add \u201choppy\u201d aroma, flavour, and bitterness. The Germans drink a lot of beer and by far the most popular type of beer in Germany is pilsner, generally known as 'Pils' which is a light-golden beer with a dry hoppy aroma.\n\n\n\nThere is a six van stellplatz within two hundred yards of the main square in Quedlinburg and we were lucky to get one of the places. Busses and cars park in this area as well, however the motorhome section is clearly marked. One of the busses parked near us was a vintage tour bus which looked in immaculate condition.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIt is yet another scorcher today, so after opening all the roof hatches we set off for the short walk into town. It was really busy and there was a stage in the square with sporadic entertainment on and the outside seating areas of all the restaurants were packed as well.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAfter a walk about we settled for a bratwurst sausage on a crispy roll, which, for only \u20ac 3.50 each, is one of the staples of German street food. We kept on walking about marvelling at the dates above the doorways of the buildings, with most being from the 1500s and 1600s and in remarkably good condition.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 20-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-image{text-align:center}.elementor-widget-image a{display:inline-block}.elementor-widget-image a img[src$=\".svg\"]{width:48px}.elementor-widget-image img{vertical-align:middle;display:inline-block}\n\n\n\nAt three o'clock it was time for a reviving cuppa and although Quedlinburg is a relatively small town, it still had a Tchibo, but this one was the smallest we've been in and the consequence of that was it did not have any of their delicious cakes for sale.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nBy almost four o'clock the crowds had diminished greatly although we did hear quite a few English voices and it got us wondering where they flew into and what sort of tour were they on. Back at the van \/ sauna I watched a bit of the unevenly matched rugby game between Ireland and Romania while The Navigator read.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nChoose A Fyne Editions Journal For Touring Germany...\n\n\n\nCheck Out The Fyne Editions Website HERE\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDay 68 - Sunday 10th of SeptemberQuedlinburg to Ilsenburg via Wernigerode (51.854756, 10.669550) (24 Miles)\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWhen we planned this trip it would be fair to say that consistent temperatures in the eighties and nineties were not what we were expecting. Yesterday, because we were parked so close to the market square in Quedlinburg, we only walked half of the steps we normally do on a town or city visit, but, because of the intense heat it felt far more, especially for The Navigator as it knocked her for six yesterday.\n\n\n\nWith another scorcher forecast for today, The Navigator wanted to get the driving out of the way as early as possible before the heat became too uncomfortable. The nearby church aided in this plan as at seven o'clock it started chiming loudly and consistently for ages so we were wide awake then. By the time we had breakfast and had the van ready for moving on it was nine o'clock so we were in the car park in Wernigerode with a section for motorhome parking by half past nine!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWernigerode, with its historic town centre and lavishly restored and colourful half-timbered houses is a popular town lying on the northern edge of the Harz Mountains. The epithet \"colourful town of the Harz Mountains\" was coined by the German writer Hermann L\u00f6ns at the end of the 19th century. The town hall on the market square, the crooked house, the smallest house and the oldest house are just some of these features that make up Wernigerode's rich half-timbered idyll.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nFrom the car park we followed what seemed to be the main street into the centre but all the shops were shut and it was only a few cafes that had any customers. The central market square is fairly compact compared with others we have seen, but was pretty none-the-less even though its centrepiece, the town hall is still being renovated. The Wernigerode town hall was first mentioned in a document in 1277. The half-timbered building of late Gothic origin, which has been preserved to this day is from the middle of the 16th century.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAs we walked around the town we saw many refurbished half-timbered houses but one in particular had a plaque beside the door claiming it was bombed in 1944 which I found surprising for such a small town, but it turned out that this area was developed into an important location for the Nazi armaments industry due to its natural conditions by the National Socialist leadership in World War II. More than 7,000 forced labourers, prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates worked and lived under often inhumane conditions in the city of Wernigerode and its surrounding villages. Hard to believe when you see all these beautiful ancient colourful buildings today.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe original plan was to stay here overnight, but as we parked it struck us that we could see all there is to see in Wernigerode, have lunch, then move on to our next planned destination of Goslar. As The Navigator made lunch I had a look to see if there were any other towns or villages in this immediate area which were worth seeing with the added bonus of a stellplatz and that's how we ended up on a stellplatz at Ilsenburg.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe stellplatz is in a wooded valley on the outskirts of the town and has a very Scottish feel to it with walking and mountain biking trails leading off from it. You drive onto the site through an automatic barrier then choose a pitch. The office is at an outdoors equipment store on the other side of the road and it was \u20ac 17 a night with power and water metered.\n\n\n\nWe had chosen a pitch in the shade of some tall trees next to a woman on her own in a new Malibu campervan. We got talking to her later on and she even gave us a tour of her van which was compact but beautifully fitted out.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIt was lovely sitting out in the shade of Bessie looking out at the tree covered hills surrounding us but the downside to this hilly beauty is a poor internet signal. I have unlimited data on by phone so can use this data to tether to our TV so have no problem watching British TV via Apps. In this situation however where the signal is not strong enough I can switch onto the site's wi-fi but then our TV Apps pick up that we are using German wi-fi and therefore not in the UK so we could not watch live TV which meant I had to miss Scotland's first game in the Rugby World Cup.\n\n\n\nI later saw the highlights of the game on YouTube and the kindest thing that can be said is, Scotland weren't at their best! The Navigator fell asleep first and slept through the calling of an owl, which was so close it could have been perched on the roof of the van!\n\n\n\nDay 69 - Monday 11th of SeptemberIlsenburg (0 Miles)\n\n\n\nIt was noticeably cooler last night which aided a good night's sleep and in the morning there was a heavy dew. After a hectic couple of months we treated ourselves to a relaxing day and did nothing so foregoing any pleasures that Ilsenburg had to offer!\n\n\n\nDay 70 - Tuesday 12th of SeptemberIlsenburg to Goslar (51.888358, 10.397757) (22 Miles)\n\n\n\nIt took less than half an hour to drive to Goslar and find our next campsite, Harz Camping. Unlike the last campsite where the woman on reception was hard work, this one spoke good English and had a cheery disposition. Today we are going to catch up with some admin, The Navigator is making use of the site's washing machine and I am hoping to finish off the last blog which will bring it more or less up to date.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe site is on the side of a valley heading up into the Harz mountains out of Goslar and the facilities are state of the art and could well be the best of this whole trip.\n\n\n\nI suppose that if you are in a mountainous region you should be prepared for some fluctuations in the weather conditions and that is what we've had. After all our admin tasks we sat out after dinner and enjoyed the scenery around us and the mild climate. Then, at about 1am, all hell broke loose and it felt as though we were in the epicentre of World War III. The thunder and lightning was incredible and the noise of the thunder and the heavy downpour of rain carried on for another couple of hours before the thunder stopped leaving just the rain to keep us awake.\n\n\n\nDay 71 - Wednesday 13th of SeptemberGoslar (0 Miles)\n\n\n\nWhen you book into this site you are charged extra for a local tourist tax but one of the advantages of this is that you are given a ticket for free bus travel in this area so we made use of this benefit to take the bus into Goslar for a walk about.\n\n\n\nI'll be honest and say we had never heard of Goslar, or the Harz mountains for that matter, but we're glad we found both on this journey.\n\n\n\nGoslar is one of the best preserved towns in the world and the former Imperial city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once an administrative outpost of the Holy Roman Empire with a thriving silver mining economy, the town now houses some of the most beautiful public buildings in Germany and its 1,500 half-timbered houses making this well-preserved medieval townscape a tourist mecca.\n\n\n\nGet Ready for 2024 Touring In The UK & Europe...\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe had no real idea what to expect getting off the bus but quickly realised Goslar was bigger than we imagined it would be with a combination of good shops and tourist attractions. As we continued to walk through the prosperous looking streets we ended up in the market square.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIn addition to the town hall with the magnificent homage hall and the Kaiserworth, the former cloth merchants' guild house, there is a glockenspiel with a circulation of figures which chimes four times a day to the tune of the Steigerlied, the colourful characters representing the history of the mining industry and the city.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe met a couple who were on the bus from the campsite and the woman told us we should not miss the noon glockenspiel performance, but we were a bit underwhelmed by it as we've seen better on our travels. The nearby church tower can be climbed for a fantastic view of the entire city but we passed on that opportunity in favour of just wandering about to discover the ancient buildings, the medieval hospitals and the city fortifications.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe historic prosperity of the town and region was based on silver mining and there is a UNESCO World Heritage Site nearby at Rammelsberg, which explains 1,000 years of mining history in four museum houses and offers guided tours underground. We will be on the ferry home in two weeks today and are running out of time to see places on our list and this silver mine was sacrificed to concentrate more of the sights of Goslar itself.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIf you are new to these blogs and for the avoidance of any doubt, that is my lovely wife on the left of the above picture!\n\n\n\nAnother place we would have liked to visit was the Imperial Palace which was built between 1040 and 1050 under Henry III, but again time did not permit a visit inside.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe had lunch a few streets away from the market square with The Navigator having rotisserie chicken and I had a schnitzel in a paprika sauce and both were delicious. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering about before getting one of the hourly busses back to the campsite.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIt had been a lovely sunny day, without being too hot and we sat out on our chairs on our return to enjoy a cuppa before a few spots of rain forced us inside. The weather then flipped from being bright and sunny to drizzly, misty dampness for the rest of the evening.\n\n\n\nDay 72 - Thursday 14th of SeptemberGoslar to Niederweidbach via Kassel (50.702024,8.468269) (162 Miles)\n\n\n\nWe thoroughly enjoyed Goslar and this superb campsite in the hills. Granted its one of the most expensive we've been on, but you need a bit of luxury once in a while! This was to be an expensive day for us as after paying the site for the last two nights it was then on to Lidl in Goslar for a 'big shop' and once on the motorway we stopped to top up both the diesel and LPG tanks. There is hardly any difference between the prices at a motorway services and in a town but it is expensive at the moment at \u20ac 1.84 a litre (\u00a3 1.58) where we paid \u00a3 1.19 in Poland.\n\n\n\nToday's journey is split in two with the first leg a lovely drive down the 7 motorway. Usually driving on a motorway is a tedious affair with a limited view of the countryside but this journey took us through some beautiful countryside with rolling wooded hills and pristine farmland on view.\n\n\n\nOur first stop today was Kassel and we first visited here in September 2007, just a few months after buying our first motorhome, Louis the McLouis, and our visit was for a specific reason. Kassel is no one's favourite tourist destination as it is a sprawling industrial city, although it is ringed with attractive wooded hills. Kassel was heavily bombed from February 1942 to March 1945 with the single deadliest raid taking place on 22\u201323 October 1943 where at least 6,000 people died when the city centre was destroyed. At that time Kassel was home to a lot of Germany's factories producing military hardware, including the Fieseler aircraft plant, Henschel & Sohn facilities, the maker of the Tiger I and King Tiger heavy tanks and their locomotive plant as well.\n\n\n\nTo cap it all the Battle of Kassel was a four-day struggle between the U.S. Army and the German Army in April 1945 and so all of this wartime activity means that the buildings you see today are all build post war in a functional way, although we were not going into the city on this trip.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe had made good time to get to Kassel which gave us more time to visit and pay respects to my grandfather who is buried here. Angus Alexander Campbell was a piper with the Royal Scots and we believe he was injured and captured at the Battle of Loos near Lille in northern France. I know he died in captivity and was first buried near the banks of the Rhine before being moved to this Commonwealth War Grave when it was begun by the Germans in 1915 for the burial of prisoners of war who died at the local camp. During the war almost 3,000 Allied soldiers and civilians, including French, Russian and Commonwealth, were buried there.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIn 1922-23 it was decided that the graves of Commonwealth servicemen who had died all over Germany should be brought together into four permanent cemeteries. Niederzwehren was one of those chosen and in the following four years, more than 1,500 graves were brought into the cemetery from 190 burial grounds in Baden, Bavaria, Hanover, Hesse and Saxony. There are now 1,796 First World War servicemen buried or commemorated here in the Commonwealth plot at Niederzwehren.\n\n\n\nWhat struck us back in 2007, and again today, is just how well the graveyard is maintained, although the one disappointment is that in 2007 we bought a heather plant and put it in front of the headstone but it wasn't there today so we planted a 'Hebe Pimeleoides' which originates from the South Island of New Zealand. Hopefully it will thrive and we can return to see its pale lilac flowers one day.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nBack in Bessie I looked for a suitable place to spend the night and chose the town of Marburg which is kind of on the way to our next major destination of Cologne. Marburg looked an interesting place when we arrived after a drive of just over an hour but there was no room at the inn, or stellplatz, as all twelve bays were taken. After consulting the Stellplatz App I found somewhere that looked promising and half an hour later, and a drive with quite a few hair-pin bends, we arrived at a lakeside location near the small town of Niederweidbach.\n\n\n\nThis area is quite high without being mountainous and it was still fairly mild when we arrived at the stellplatz and had an hour or so sitting out. The nights are fair drawing in as we Scots say, with the temperature dropping as well, and there are signs that autumn is close with the trees beginning to show their autumnal hues.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDay 73 - Friday 15th of SeptemberNiederweidbach to Cologne (50.891042, 7.022839) (92 Miles)\n\n\n\n It would turn out to be a day of two halves, in the morning it was chilly and autumnal with steam rising from the surface of the lake and in the afternoon in the centre of Cologne it would be as sunny and hot as ever.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nBefore that however, we had to get to Cologne. The first part of the drive was through wooded hills and little villages before joining a motorway that would take us all the way into Cologne. The campsite we were aiming for is on the banks of the Rhine to the south of the city centre. It is a huge site and they claim to be the oldest campsite in Germany and its still in the ownership of the original family.\n\n\n\nOn arrival the friendly staff informed us, that because the forecast for the weekend was good, they were fully booked. We must have looked disappointed as after consulting a colleague in German we were informed they had one pitch that might be suitable if we wanted to go and see it. It was about as far back from the Rhine as you could get, but at least we would be in. We took it and although it wasn't in the most scenic part of the campsite, it would do perfectly well.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe reason i was so keen to stay on this site was that it had access to a cycle path which goes all the way along the side of the river right into the city centre, so after lunch we got on our bikes and made our way into Cologne. This was perfect for The Navigator as she hates cycling on roads with vehicles passing close to her. It was about five kilometres and took just under half an hour with stops to take in the view and take some pictures.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nNow at this point I will note for the record that the Navigator although remembering she has been to Cologne, remembers nothing of it whatsoever, so to jog her memory the following pictures show The Navigator with 'les petits enfants' at Cologne Cathedral in 1991 when we were on a fly drive holiday to this part of Germany...\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nI knew we had been here before but even my memory of the Cathedral and its surroundings were very different to what we saw today. I seemed to remember it in a square surrounded by cafes and bars but the open space I remembered was a figment of my imagination as it seemed crowded by a football tournament on one side and massive crowds of people in the space in front of the entrance.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAnother change was the appearance of 'street artists' of non-German origin all drawing the same things which was flags of different nations. The whole city centre was heaving with people and nowhere more so than the pretty square in front of the town hall where a number of wedding receptions were taking place with impromptu bars set up on the top of wooden barrels.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere have been lots of articles published recently about the negative impact of working from home and the fact that no-one seems to work on a Friday anymore. OK, Cologne is a massive tourist destination, but the amount of people milling about and sitting outside at the restaurants and bars was incredible and maybe Germany has the same four day week problems as elsewhere!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAnother noticeable thing, which I've mentioned before is the number of, mostly men, rummaging through waste bins for plastic bottles to return for a credit in supermarkets. I'm not sure how they manage to get a refund as most of the bottles here were bought from various takeaway outlets. We were refused a credit yesterday at a Lidl as we had deposited the returns at another Lidl and this one refused to accept it.\n\n\n\nWe have tried many new, to us, foods and drinks on this trip and we ticked off another one today as, instead of our mid-afternoon cuppa, we had two tubs of frozen yoghurt, which for some reason we had never tried before, and they were enjoyed sitting looking out at the river traffic on the Rhine.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWhen we eventually returned to the bikes and started the return journey The Navigator said she fancied a coffee at one of the many little kiosks along the route so we stopped at one, whereupon the coffee machine broke as the person in front of us was being served. It couldn't even boil water to make my English Breakfast Tea so we had a soft drink by the riverside.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDay 74 - Saturday 16th of SeptemberCologne (0 Miles)\n\n\n\nNormally we would spend two full days in a city the size of Cologne but we are having to make do with a day and a half as time is pressing for us now. As we set off to cycle into Cologne again it was soon obvious that there had been a lot of people very busy in the early hours of the morning as the cycle path along side the Rhine had been divided in half by miles of metal barriers for what we later found out was a very well organised half marathon. There was a police presence but nothing like we would see as the day progressed.\n\n\n\nWe chained the bikes up at the same place as yesterday afternoon and continued on foot towards the city centre. The first square we found had a stage set up and there were gazebos and tables for the assembling crowd to register for what turned out to be a march later in the day for 'pro life.' The crowd seemed benign enough, consisting of mostly young student types and women but there were dozens of police vans with their occupants wearing what seemed to be riot gear.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThis square led into the one we found yesterday in front of the town hall and it was still churning out married couples who were celebrating their nuptuals in the sunshine with a few beverages.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe continued walking towards the Cathedral and the football themed activities were still going strong with two five-a-side teams playing blindfolded and trying to find and kick a ball with a bell inside. The 1991 pictures featured a fountain which we found to the side of the cathedral and we had a seat on the rim of it to marvel at the incredible skill of the original craftsmen and to wonder why we can't build such beautiful buildings like this nowadays.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAnother difference from our time here thirty two years ago was the incredible amout of people milling about today compared with back then. Even when we went inside the crowds were there en masse to marvel at the sheer scale of the building and its stained glass windows.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDuring WW II, the cathedral played a role in the bombardments, in that its twin spires were an easy navigational touchstone for Allied bombers. The cathedral endured 14 bomb hits and was heavily damaged, but the structure remained intact, looming above the rest of the ruined city.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWhen you see the above picture it is hard to imagine this prosperous bustling modern city was once so devastated in the aftermath of WW II. \n\n\n\nFrom the Cathedral we entered the main shopping streets and they were mobbed with a combination of locals, tourists, arriving demonstrators and football supporters as FC Cologne were entertaining Hoffenheim in their fourth game of the season in the Bundesleiga. The fans were all in good humour, although what mood they would be in later after losing 1-3 with a man set off in the process!\n\n\n\nThe heavy police presence made sense now as they had to contend with a half marathon, a huge demonstration and a lot of half-cut football supporters. The police looked the sort you don't mess with but we saw no trouble from any of the factions.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe Navigator started looking at restaurant menus and she was looking for a German dish that she had never had before but nearly all the restaurants had the same offering of sausages, schnitzels, pork knuckles etc, and although everywhere was packed, always a good sign, nothing grabbed her fancy. Being a carnivore, I am not hard to please in Germany but The Navigator needed to be tempted with something different.\n\n\n\nWe walked back down to the line of restaurants overlooking the Rhine and she got excited when she saw an Argentinian steak on offer and my favourite of spare ribs, so at last we found something we both wanted. The meal was delicious and as it was another scorching hot day, a few cool lagers washed it all down.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nLast year we visited Madrid and as a souvenir I bought a cheap t shirt from Primark and I did the same in Berlin a couple of weeks ago. Our mission after lunch was to find the Primark in Cologne and see if they had a Cologne branded t shirt but sadly they did not.\n\n\n\nAfter this we decided to call it a day as it was far too hot and crowded to be walking about in the shopping district so we headed back to the bikes in the hope that the half marathon was over and we could cycle back the route we knew alongside the Rhine.\n\n\n\nThankfully it was and we stopped at the little kiosk to see if the guy had managed to get his machine fixed and as he had, we had an English Breakfast Tea and a Coffee to round off our day in Cologne.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDay 75 - Sunday 17th of SeptemberCologne to Maastricht (50.874563,5.681314) (166 Miles)\n\n\n\nThe plan today was to visit Aachen, the last German city on this road trip. I say was, as it never happened, due to finding out at the last minute that the stellplatz we were heading to was 500 metres inside the Aachen LEZ Zone for which you had to have a specific Aachen issued sticker on our windscreen, which of course we didn't have. Instead we headed to the Maastricht marina site we were on on last year which would have been our next stop anyway.\n\n\n\nBefore we left the site, we made use of the electricity going into Bessie to top up the bike's batteries and for the first time used a machine that washes out your toilet cassette for the princely sum of a euro. The journey was just over an hour and the noticeable thing crossing the border into the Netherlands was that no one passed us at 150 miles an hour.\n\n\n\nDriving through a Dutch city is a combination of a pleasure and bit of a nightmare with cyclists everywhere who take it for granted that they have right of way at every crossing and junction so it was a relief to make it to the campsite without knocking anyone off their bikes. The procedure at this site is that you phone the office who open the electric gates, but not on this occasion as they were fully booked tonight.\n\n\n\nI knew of a motorhome site on the other side of Maastricht so we headed there, and thats where the fun started. Over the years we have checked into loads of unmanned campsites using a machine, that, if you're lucky, has instructions in English, as this one did. So far so good. I entered our details and it took our payment but it didn't issue a ticket with the code to lift the entry barrier.\n\n\n\nNo amout of button pressing would produce a ticket so I checked our Santander account and they had taken payment so with no employees on site I phoned the telephone number on their website (in Belgium) and the woman I spoke to lifted the barrier remotely. When we were parked and sitting outside we watched as a mix of Dutch, German and Belgian motorhomes and campervans being baffled by the machine as well. A man turned up in a car and taped a notice to the machine saying it was broken and to book in via their website which some managed and others turned and left.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe were in, but would need a code for the exit barrier, but that was Tuesday's problem! We sat out and chatted to our Danish neighbours and one of the nuggets of information they told us about that a caravan dealer has started selling LPG in Denmark, which, if we had known about it would have extended our Danish road trip last year. Later on a fellow Brit, Mick, passed and had a chat and told us of his mechanical problems which was impacting his holiday with his van randomly going into 'limp mode.'\n\n\n\nDay 76 - Monday 18th of SeptemberMaastricht (0 Miles)\n\n\n\nWe are no strangers to Maastricht as this is our third visit in as many years. There was rain overnight and it's a grey morning but we are going to cycle into the city for the Dutch delight of frites with sate sauce, if nothing else.\n\n\n\nSpoiler alert - it was nothing else!\n\n\n\nOn our two previous visits to Maastricht we stayed to the south of the city but we are parked up to the north this time which means The Navigator has to navigate (see what I did there?) a new cycle path with no prior knowledge of whether the route is actually a cycle path or on a road. It turned out that it was a proper cycle path apart from the last hundred yards or so which was a cobbled street only used by busses.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nBeing a Monday morning the city was still coming to life and the streets and pavements were not busy. The bikes were chained up on the edge of the market square where last year a Saturday market was in progress, but it was deserted this morning.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAs we walked towards the centre of town one of the first shops you pass is a fairly big Hema department store, which you should know by now is The Navigator's favourite Dutch shop, so she was straight in. Granted this is one of the bigger Hema stores, but she was in one on Saturday afternoon in Cologne, but I dutifully followed anyway!\n\n\n\nWe wandered about the pretty lanes and squares until it was time for our much anticipated lunch. I knew exactly where the caf\u00e9 was, so confident was I that I'm sure I could have walked there blindfolded, but we couldn't find it. Once we established the caf\u00e9 wasn't where we thought it was we widened the search to the whole city centre but to no avail. It wasn't that we couldn't find the caf\u00e9 we were looking for, we couldn't find anywhere that sold frites with sate sauce so we gave up and headed back to Hema and had a snack there.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAs the day wore on the city centre became busier and we headed to the river Meuse to sit and watch the activity on the river before heading back to the bikes and the easy cycle back to the site. The machine at the entrance was still not working but vans were managing to gain entry by going online to pay and get an entry code. We sat out for the rest of the afternoon watching the coming and goings until we had our evening meal.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nJust after seven oclock it started to rain and we had to scramble to put the chairs and bikes away before the rain became torrential, which it did pretty quickly. A German man kept us entertained by walking up and down past Bessie in t shirt and shorts and holding a glass of red wine which must have been severely watered down in what was now a monsoon.\n\n\n\nDay 77 - Tuesday 19th of SeptemberMaastricht to Den Bosch (51.693931, 5.280301) (78 Miles)\n\n\n\nAs expected, I had to phone the number on the website to get them to open the barrier to let us out but it wasn't an issue and we were soon on our way. The route from Maastricht north is one we know quite well and, apart from a few miles around Eindhoven, is an easy drive and there are far fewer speed junkies on the Dutch motorways than in Germany so overtaking lorries is less of a hazard.\n\n\n\nWe arrived at the next campingplatz in Den Bosch just before noon and found that entry to this site was by way of the same type of ticket machine as at Maastricht, only this one issued a ticket with the code to lift the barrier.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAfter servicing the van, we took the bikes out from the garage and headed the few hundred yards to a shiny new Lidl that we passed on the way in. It has to be said from the outset that The Navigator loves a Dutch supermarket and as well as buying for our immediate needs, we are stocking up on goodies to have at Christmas when our family join us in Argyll.\n\n\n\nOne of our favourite things in Lidl is shown on the next picture and we had this for our lunch when we arrived back at the van. We are here for two nights so have set aside all day tomorrow to explore Den Bosch which means I made use of the free electricity to work on Fyne Editions and type up this blog to date.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAs the afternoon progressed it became blustery and rain was threatening, although it didn't come to very much. With the leaves being blown from the trees and the temperature dipping, it's certainly becoming more autumnal by the day.\n\n\n\nDay 78 - Wednesday 20th of SeptemberDen Bosch (0 Miles)\n\n\n\nA day in Den Bosch beckons today, or to give it its proper name, s-Hertogenbosch, and this is yet another new (to us) city for us to explore. Thankfully the weather is still dry although not as hot as we experienced earlier in this trip, but we are happy enough with it being dry.\n\n\n\n\"Den Bosch, the colloquial name for s-Hertogenbosch, is one of the oldest medieval cities in the Netherlands. The maze of narrow medieval streets and alleyways can be explored on foot. Another option is to marvel at the picturesque bridges and perfectly preserved historical buildings from a small boat: admire Den Bosch from its waterways, the Binnendieze. You will gain an entirely different perspective floating beneath the walls of the fortified city. When you visit the capital city of Brabant, make sure that the Den Bosch delicacy is on your menu. Find a table at one of the many outdoor cafes and order a \u2018Bossche Bol\u2019 (chocolate ball) with your coffee. The Korte Putstraat in the historical city centre is a street known across the country for offering culinary treats in a variety of cuisines. Throughout the year, all the eateries have extensive outdoor seating areas.\"\n\n\n\nFrom the campingplatz it only takes eight minutes to cycle into the rather lovely city centre by cycle lanes which The Navigator was delighted with. The bikes were chained up outside Hema, although The Navigator was forbidden to enter until we were ready to begin our return journey!\n\n\n\nIt was market day and all the stalls and trucks that you expect to see at a Dutch market were in attendance with the cheese stalls being the most numerous, as you'd also expect. We haven't eaten much cheese on this trip so when one of the stalls had samples out to try, one of which was particularly good, we succumbed and bought a portion.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDen Bosch ticked about every Dutch box that you could think of with lovely architecture, historic buildings, a stunning cathedral, a huge range of shops both local and national and lots of places to eat.\n\n\n\nAfter completing a few laps of the market and the buildings surrounding it we went in search of the nearby Sint-Janskathedraal cathedral, the largest cathedral in the Netherlands, which impresses through its sheer size and enormous wealth of sculptures. In addition to being a National Monument, Saint John's Cathedral, officially christened the Cathedral Basilica of Saint John the Evangelist, is also a Marian pilgrimage site.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nOnce I had marvelled at the incredible architecture and The Navigator had completed her contemplations it was time to explore a bit more of Den Bosch. As we passed through the market again we saw one of the vans advertising Kibbeling so we shared a portion which The Navigator thought was every bit as good as her Kibbeling supplier of choice in Gouda.\n\n\n\nA little later we found a caf\u00e9 selling another great Duch snack, the one we couldnt find in Maastricht, frites smothered in sate sauce so we bought a portion to share and they were delicious too.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe were told that you can\u2019t leave Den Bosch without tasting a Bosschebol at the Jan de Groot bakery. Bosschebollen are large profiterole like pastries, filled with whipped cream and covered in chocolate. A bit messy to eat, but it's well worth the effort. The bakery is also well known for 'appeltaart' so we halved one of each with our customary afternoon tea and coffee. Three very Dutch snacks at three different locations and we would definitely have the same experience again.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nFinally, The Navigator was let loose in Hema and she always finds something different to buy as everything is good quality at very good prices. The bikes were unchained and we set off for the return journey back to Bessie. The forecast is for rain later in the evening and overnight so we were thankful that we managed to see Den Bosch at its best and being there on a market day was a bonus.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nOn this trip we have for the most part tried to visit new and different towns and cities in the countries we have visited but we thought we had seen the best of The Netherlands on all our previous visits but Den Bosch was new to us and I'm sure we will return as it seemed to have everything to see and do in a compact area, and there is a lot still to discover.\n\n\n\nDay 79 - Thursday 21st of SeptemberDen Bosch to Vijfhuizen (52.344314, 4.683121) (66 Miles)\n\n\n\nIt rained solidly all night and was set to pour down all day so we decided to move on as it would be pretty miserable walking around Den Bosch again today. Bessie was serviced and we set off for the small town of Vijfhuizen, close to the city of Haarlem. I mentioned earlier that we are no strangers to Maastricht and the same can be said of Vijfhuizen, the site of the memorial garden to all who perished in the MH17 flight shot down over Ukraine that had originated at nearby Schipol.\n\n\n\nOn our way to Denmark last year we stayed here to collect daughter Emma from nearby Schipol when she flew in to spend a week with us. We stayed at this campingplatz when we dropped her off and again on our way back from Denmark. The owner is such a friendly man and it was an easy choice to return as we want to re-visit Haarlem on Saturday as it is such a beautiful city and its great to be there on market day.\n\n\n\nThe journey from Den Bosch took about an hour and a half as the rain was relentless and the traffic was moving slower than usual. With the van already serviced we could drive on to a pitch, plug in the electric cable and settle down for an afternoon indoors. I worked to update the Fyne Editions website as the final quarter is fast approaching when sales spike considerably so it needs to be up to date and new titles added.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDay 80 - Friday 22nd of SeptemberVijfhuizen (0 Miles)\n\n\n\nThere is only one thing of note to report today and that is the fact that I slipped and fell coming out of the shower in Bessie today and ended up in a painful, crumpled heap on the floor hitting my thigh, arm and head on the way down!\n\n\n\nOne minute there was blue skies as far as the eye could see and the next there was torrential rain battering down so we just hunkered down for the day. The Navigator did managed to walk to the supermarket in the afternoon in a lull between downpours while I worked, making use of the inclusive electricity and the site's strong wi-fi signal.\n\n\n\nDay 81 - Saturday 23rd of SeptemberVijfhuizen (0 Miles)\n\n\n\nThe rain battered down all night and all day and we never set foot outside the van. Our entertainment for a while was watching a young rabbit nibbling grass at the pitch opposite us. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDay 82 - Sunday 24th of SeptemberVijfhuizen to Gouda (52.011043, 4.717097) (48 Miles)\n\n\n\nThe rain had relented and it was a pleasant, mild morning. We serviced Bessie and had a chat with the owner who makes you feel welcome. This was our fifth time on this site and it won't be the last.\n\n\n\nThe journey to Gouda took less than half an hour and not only did we get a space at Klein America but we managed to plug into the electricity bollard so for an \u20ac 8 day parking ticket we are parked within a five minute walk to one of the prettiest little cities in the Netherlands for a fraction of what we've paid on some sites on this trip. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIn the above picture you can see we are parked facing the opposite direction from the other vans in this row. This is something I do as often as possible as it gives anyone walking or driving past us the opportunity to read the decal on the back of Bessie advertising Fyne Editions! Fully expecting everything to be closed, this being a Sunday, we had a walk over to the market square which was packed with funfair vehicles, and some fairly intimidating ones at that. We had a walk about for a while before heading back to Bessie for a relaxing afternoon.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe car park was now chock a block and the empty motorhome places of an hour ago were now taken up by cars, even though there are signs to say this section was for motorhomes only.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDay 83 - Monday 25th of SeptemberGouda (0 Miles)\n\n\n\nToday's mission was to cycle to a Lidl and stock up on the Dutch goodies we like, not just for immediate consumption, but for Christmas when the family are with us. The Dutch cycle paths are a work of genius and vehicle drivers are very considerate when the paths are actually on the road. At junctions cycles even have their own traffic signals and all of this means that old and young alike all seem to have a bike. Obviously the terrain being pancake flat is a further aid to cycling!\n\n\n\nWhen we returned and stowed our purchases in Bessy's nooks and crannies, we headed over into the city again as this would be The Navigator's last chance to enjoy her favourite Dutch lunch of Kibbeling in her very favourite fish emporium, Monkfish. We had Kibbeling in Den Bosch and The Navigator rated it as potentially the best she's had, but the first mouthful of Kibbeling at Monkfish confirmed her long held belief that here has the best Kibbeling in the Netherlands, a deserved accolade by a connoisseur of all things fishy.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nMonkfish is conveniently situated on the opposite corner from Hema so a final visit had to be made there as well as her other favourite nearby shops. One of the shops that was added to The Navigators list of favourites in Gouda was a Polish supermarket, which up to now we would have passed by, but we went in to buy some of our now favourite Polish goodies.\n\n\n\nDay 84 - Tuesday 26th of SeptemberGouda to Kinderdijk (51.858511, 4.676465) (27 Miles)\n\n\n\nWe seem to be ending this trip at some of our favourite Dutch sites and the final one is the campingplatz at Kinderdijk. The journey is less than half an hour so before setting off we headed back to the Lidl we were at yesterday to buy the heavier items we couldn't carry on the bikes, ie wine and lager!\n\n\n\nAnother British van was there when we arrived but soon departed leaving us as the only Brits on this popular site and this has been a recurring theme of the last three months, the lack of fellow Brits. I suppose with the Rugby World Cup being played in France just now and the eternal lure of the Costas, its maybe to be expected!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe sat outside for a while in the warm sunshine before I went inside to work when I had a good signal and the electricity connection. It is metered here but a \u20ac 1 coin lasted almost twenty four hours.\n\n\n\nDay 85 - Wednesday 27th of SeptemberKinderdijk to Harwich (51.941409, 1.290512) (36 Miles)\n\n\n\nOur last day on foreign soil for this year dawned warm but very autumnal with a heavy dew. We had a relaxing start to the morning then serviced the van which should do until we get home, although we will be making a few stops on the way back to Scotland. As yet another example of galloping inflation we paid \u20ac 18 as opposed to \u20ac 17 in March but it is still good value for this pristine site which is only a short cycle from the world famous Kinderdijk windmills, built in 1740 and a UNESCO world heritage site since 1997. We didn't visit them this time as the bikes are packed in the garage ready for the journey home.\n\n\n\nThe journey to the Hook of Holland took forty minutes and we parked up just past the Stena terminal along with quite a few other vans, some of whom looked as though they had been there overnight. I'm not sure if they are on this afternoon's ferry or whether they are ship spotters. As we found out in Cuxhaven last year, ship spotting is quite a popular hobby beside the major ports and the online websites give you all the details of the passing ships including the port of origin and destinations etc.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe sat for a couple of hours watching the ships of all shapes and sizes pass and were glad to see that conditions were flat calm out to sea as the news from back home this morning is all about Storm Agnes and the cancellation of ferries and flights to Ireland.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe shouldn't have had any concerns about the crossing as it turned out to be flat calm, as on all of our previous Stena journeys. The ship on this route always seems to be nowhere near capacity so it is quiet and relaxing. You may remember that we met a fellow Brit at the Maastricht site who never made it to his planned destination of Colditz because his van kept going into 'limp mode.' We had just settled into our seats for the crossing and Mick and his wife Kate appeared, which was a surprise as he was due to sail yesterday but contacted Stena to extend his holiday by a day and in doing so didn't have to pay a supplement, in fact he obtained a \u00a3 12 rebate!\n\n\n\nTo pass the time I had downloaded the Mark Cavendish documentary from Netflix which was fascinating then we had a meal just after six o'clock and had another enjoyable chat to Mick and Kate. This was the first Netflix programme we had watched in the last three months but no doubt as the Scottish winter draws in we will be entertaining ourselves with it with the log fire on!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe ship docked at 7.45pm UK time so the crossing was six and a half hours in total. Usually when we land in Harwich we drive all the way to Castle Donington in the East Midlands but tonight we returned to the beach parkup via Asda to fill up with diesel and leave the first part of the drive home in daylight until tomorrow. I can't remember the last time I had driven Bessie in darkness, certainly not in the last three months.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAs I write this we are back in Argyll after what can fairly be described as an epic road trip, which, door to door, was 5,461 miles at an average speed of 39mph and 27.6 miles per gallon. We loved every minute of it and enjoyed every place we visited, even Berlin, although we wouldn't rush back there.\n\n\n\nJust some of the highlights were Gdansk, Riga, Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, Potsdam and Cologne. Our favourite country, by a country mile, was Poland, with Germany and the Netherlands worthy runners up.\n\n\n\nWe enjoyed our time in the Baltic States and the three capital cities would all be contenders for a long weekend break, but having said that, all three countries are incredibly boring to drive through, as, in the main, they are all flat and featureless.\n\n\n\nSo what's next for Man Van No Plan I hear you all ask as in unison...\n\n\n\nWell, and this may be a surprise to some, WE HAVE SOLD BESSIE, the undoubted star of all of our journeys over the past five and a half years. The reasons are many and varied, but in a nutshell, we have been thinking of downsizing for quite a while and the new van is much smaller at 6.8m long as opposed to Bessie's 8.1m.\n\n\n\nThe new van is also under 3,500kg which means I won't have to take a medical to retain my C1 license next year when I'm seventy (not that will be a problem) and we will now have three years without an MOT. The new van (no name for it yet) has a radically different internal layout and its based on a Ford chassis as opposed to the Fiat and Renault of our last two vans.\n\n\n\nSome of you may remember we bought Bessie on our way back from a pre Brexit six month tour and we have bought this van our way back from another epic adventure.\n\n\n\nAlthough winter is already with us here in Argyll as we have experienced the most incredible rain since we came home, culminating in many landslips blocking many roads in this area, we hope to get away in the new van for a few weeks in November to put it though its paces. We pick up the van on the 19th of this month, so, If we do get away (weather permitting), I will do a mini blog with pictures to let you see our new van and if anyone had an idea for a name for it, please let us know...\n\n\n\nExciting eh!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nGreat Christmas Gifts - Order Now!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nTo See The Full Range Of 2024 Week-To-View Diaries\n\n\n\nCLICK HERE\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThis map shows the approximate route we have taken on this blog as part of our 2023 Road Trip...\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nSome of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\n\n\n\n
\n\n\n\n\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 20-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}\n\n\n\nCOMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...\n\n\n\nAs I mentioned above, we hope to set off in our new van for a few weeks away and that will be the last blog for this year...\n\n\n\nStay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online.\n\n\n\nHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Oct 13, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-10-13 14:58:26","modifiedDate":"2023-10-15 12:25:13","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-10-15 11:25:13","commentCount":"1","commentStatus":"open","categories":{"coma":"
2023<\/a>, Germany<\/a>, Motorhome<\/a>, Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>, The Netherlands<\/a>","space":"2023<\/a> Germany<\/a> Motorhome<\/a> Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a> The Netherlands<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"cologne<\/a>Den Bosch<\/a>harz mountains<\/a>Kassel<\/a>Kinderdijk<\/a>Maastricht<\/a>motorhome road trip<\/a>motorhomeadventures<\/a>motorhomeblog<\/a>Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>travelblog<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":45,"sec":51},"status":"publish"},{"id":14868,"link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/manvannoplan-visits-dresden-meissen-colditz-beelitz-berlin-potsdam\/","name":"manvannoplan-visits-dresden-meissen-colditz-beelitz-berlin-potsdam","thumbnail":{"url":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/wp-content\/uploads\/2023\/09\/20230831_203549-scaled.webp","alt":""},"title":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Dresden, Meissen, Colditz, Beelitz, Berlin & Potsdam","excerpt":"","content":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Dresden, Meissen, Colditz, Beelitz, Berlin & PotsdamSome of the following links are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a \n\n\n\nDay 54 - Sunday 27th of AugustKarpacz area to Dresden (52.2336500, 12.9850100) (175 Miles)\n\n\n\nToday we are leaving Poland and heading back into Germany to visit some towns, cities and areas of countryside we have not been to before. Before heading west however there was one building we wanted to see nearby so the satnav was set for the 'Wang Church.'\n\n\n\nThe Wang Stave Church, or Mountain Church of Our Savior is a stave church located in Karpacz in the Karkonosze mountains in Poland. It was transferred to its present location from Vang in the Valdres region of Norway and re-erected in 1842 and today is Poland's only stave church and a notable tourist attraction.\n\n\n\nUnfortunately, we soon abandoned the journey as the route the satnav was proposing was too narrow for Bessie, and The Navigator thought it would be closed to tourists in favour of the Sunday morning service so I reset the satnav for Dresden and set off. Here are a couple of pictures from the Internet to show what we missed.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 20-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-image{text-align:center}.elementor-widget-image a{display:inline-block}.elementor-widget-image a img[src$=\".svg\"]{width:48px}.elementor-widget-image img{vertical-align:middle;display:inline-block}\n\n\n\nIt almost defies belief that this wooden structure could be dismantled in Norway and transported to southern Poland in the late 1800s.\n\n\n\nWithin ten miles there was a police road block and all the traffic was diverted off the main road and onto country lanes. The Google Maps satnav had a hissy fit and kept wanting us to turn around and it did this for ages but I decided to follow the other diverted cars in front of us with the hope that they were heading in the same direction as us. There must have been an event on somewhere on our original route rather than an accident as we passed through a few small villages where every lane off our route was cordoned off and manned by a person in high-viz. We were now in a long line of traffic heading north and it took ages before we were able to head west but when we did it was on a motorway so we started to make good time again.\n\n\n\nChoose A Fyne Editions Journal For Touring Germany...\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere was one final mission to achieve before leaving Poland and that was to call at a Biedronka supermarket to spend the last of our Zloty notes on some of the products we had come to enjoy in Poland so we pulled off the motorway into a small town and completed the mission. We had lunch in the Biedronka car park and then carried on with the drive into Germany. There were three sections of road works which held us up as the traffic filtered into one lane and this, along with heavy intermittent rain slowed progress.\n\n\n\nThe stellplatz we were aiming for was behind a motorhome \/ caravan dealership and was fairly full when we arrived. We found a space, plugged in and hunkered down as it was raining heavily.\n\n\n\nDay 55 - Monday 28th of AugustDresden (0 Miles)Day 1\n\n\n\nWe woke to a grey day and more rain was forecast so instead of getting up and on the tram into Dresden when it was still dry we had a lazy morning and a walk around the dealership to see the shiny new vans on offer including a Morello and a Concord at over \u00a3 350,000 each. After lunch when the rain was lashing down we went for the tram. Go figure as they say!\n\n\n\n\"Many people only know Dresden for one thing, the controversial bombing by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) between 13 and 15 February 1945. On the night of 13\u201314 February 1945, 773 RAF Lancaster bombers dropped 1,181.6 tons of incendiary bombs and 1,477.7 tons of high explosive bombs, targeting the rail yards at the centre of the city. The inner city of Dresden was largely destroyed. The high explosive bombs damaged buildings and exposed their wooden structures, while the incendiaries ignited them, denying their use by retreating German troops and refugees. Widely quoted Nazi propaganda reports claimed 200,000 deaths, but the German Dresden Historians' Commission, made up of 13 prominent German historians, in an official 2010 report published after five years of research concluded that casualties numbered between 22,500 and 25,000.\"\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nGet Ready for 2024 Touring...\n\n\n\nGreat Journals For Anyone With A Motorhome Or Campervan\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe tram dropped us off beside the river Elbe and the first thing we saw was the famed statue covered in gold leaf of King August II dressed as a Roman Emperor riding on a horse. Even on a dull, grey, dreich day it shone brightly.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nFrom there we walked up a tree lined pedestrian avenue interspersed with fountains. There was a large market hall half way up the avenue which we had a look around, as much to get out of the rain as anything else. We've seen better.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe crossed the Augustusbr\u00fccke, the Augustus Bridge, over the Elbe into the main part of the city and our first view of the impressive riverside buildings. It wasn't a lot of fun walking about in the rain and eventually we succumbed to the shelter of a massive shopping mall, and you guessed it, had our afternoon tea and apple cake at a Tchibo.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe Navigator was not at her best today, so we decided to cut our losses and head back to the dry and warmth of Bessie where we both had a late afternoon nap, something The Navigator never does, but she was zonked within minutes of her head hitting the pillow.\n\n\n\nDay 56 - Tuesday 29th of AugustDresden (0 Miles)Day 2\n\n\n\nTwo things thwarted our plans for a full sightseeing day in Dresden. First was the rain which showed no sign of relenting and second was The Navigator still not feeling well, so we decided to stay on the campsite all day in the hope that both of these issues would be better tomorrow.\n\n\n\nDay 57 - Wednesday 30th of AugustDresden (0 Miles)Day 3\n\n\n\nWell, one issue was better, and it wasn't The Navigator! The rain had stopped thankfully, and although there were no blue skies, it was warm and muggy. The Navigator was feeling marginally better but still not up to a day's sightseeing so I took the tram into Dresden city centre on my own for a walkabout with the mission to find a chemist for a remedy for her ills.\n\n\n\nDresden doesn't have the wow factor of other cities in Germany and obviously that has a lot to do with the heavy bombing of February 1945.\n\n\n\nAnother factor is that after the war Dresden found itself in East Germany and the rebuilding under the socialists was not as successful as Warsaw and other bomb damaged cities in Europe. It was rebuilt twice, once immediately after the war and then starting in the 1990s which tried to fix the many things socialism got wrong. What we see today is an attempt at creating a traditional market square and historic quarter with imposing buildings, but you don't have to walk far before you see the bland post War buildings.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThat said, it was good to be out sightseeing again after two days of heavy rain and I enjoyed my curry wurst lunch meal-deal before I found a chemist, where with the help of Google Translate, I bought The Navigator's elixir and returned hot foot so she could start the treatment and get back on track.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe both think that the cause of the problem was the trout that she ate on our last night in Poland as it was the only thing that we had differently in the time frame to cause the symptoms she has. As we were leaving the site, I couldn't resist making The Navigator pose for the following picture and bless her, she obliged! \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDay 58 - Thursday 31st of AugustDresden to Meissen (51.167457, 13.473743) (18 Miles)\n\n\n\nMeissen was never on our radar but the city that was, Pirna, was in the wrong direction so we opted for Meissen and the bonus was it was less than half an hour away from Dresden. We serviced the van before leaving the campsite as tonight's overnight location was just a car park, with a dedicated motorhome section.\n\n\n\nYou can never really tell when looking at the Google Maps satellite view how good a location will be, but at least I could see that it was on the banks of the Elbe so that was a bonus. A feature of using Google Maps to navigate is that it usually gives a warning of a speed camera ahead, but as we passed through a little village on the way to Meissen we were surprised by a red flash from a camera so there may be a fine waiting for us by the time we get home!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nNot only was the riverside location a great place to park, what Google Maps didn't show up was on the other side of the road was Albrechtsburg Castle, a late Gothic castle erected between 1471 and 1495 which is built on a hill above the river Elbe, adjacent to the Meissen Cathedral. It is believed to be the first castle built in Germany and 'August the Strong' used it as a porcelain factory from 1710 onwards to keep the manufacturing process a secret before manufacturing was moved to a factory in the city in the mid 19th century.\n\n\n\nWe set off for a walk into the nearby city centre and were immediately impressed by the well preserved buildings and layout. A river cruise boat had dropped off some passengers and we recognised some people who were on the campsite in Dresden. Meissen reminded us of Bernkastel-Kues on the Moselle Valley with its position on a wide river and its Medieval architecture and lovely square.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nMeissen porcelain has been made here for over three hundred years and is referred to as \u201cwhite gold\u201d because of its high price, rarity and desirability. The porcelain has been considered the finest by European aristocracy as well as decorative arts connoisseurs for centuries. Today, these rare, intricate pieces from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries are particularly in demand but what surprised us was the lack of shops selling this small city's best known product.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe Navigator was still not quite 100% so could not face a proper lunch but we had some delicious pizza slices sheltering in a doorway as the heavens opened. The rain became torrential so the brollies were retrieved from The Navigators backpack and with no sign of it abating, we made our way back to Bessie.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nSome motorhomes came and parked here and left again after a few hours but about half a dozen joined us to stay overnight. I mentioned the Moselle earlier, which along with the Rhine are great to park beside and watch the busy river traffic, but on this section of the Elbe anyway, there are no commercial barges, only a few sizeable tour boats from Dresden as apparently the fluctuations in the depth of the river hinder its use by the larger river barges.\n\n\n\nWe settled down later to catch up on a few editions of Only Connect where honours were even and then The Navigator watched Masterchef. We then fell asleep but around midnight we heard the voices of youths nearby although they never came anywhere near the parked motorhomes, but you never really settle until they move on.\n\n\n\nDay 59 - Friday 1st of SeptemberMeissen to Beelitz (52.233616, 12.984765) (155 Miles)(via Colditz)\n\n\n\nToday's ultimate destination was going to be the major city of Leipzig but the stellplatz we were going to stay on was closed this weekend to upgrade its services so we decided to give it a miss as it is not really a tourist destination anyway, more a modern manufacturing city.\n\n\n\nWhere we are heading for first is a castle far more famous than the one we were in the shadow of yesterday and that is Colditz Castle. There has been a castle at Colditz for almost seven hundred years serving different uses down the centuries but the castle gained international infamy as the site of Oflag IV-C, a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II for \"incorrigible\" Allied officers who had repeatedly attempted to escape from other camps.\n\n\n\nAlthough it was considered a high security prison, it had one of the greatest records of successful escape attempts. This could be owing to the general nature of the prisoners who were sent there; most of them had attempted escape previously from other prisons and were transferred to Colditz, because the Germans had thought the castle escape-proof.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIn 1955 the film 'The Colditz Story' was made starring John Mills, Lionel Jeffries, Bryan Forbes and Ian Carmichael and then in 1972 the BBC made a series, Colditz, which starred David McCallum, Edward Hardwicke and Robert Wagner, that focused on life at Colditz.\n\n\n\nThe drive to Colditz was one of the better ones as we travelled through a mixture of agricultural fields given over to crops and rolling wooded hills with small villages to keep me on the lookout for pesky speed cameras. The actual little town of Colditz could be described as 'sleepy' as there did not seem to be much sign of life, and as we needed shopping, we stopped at a Netto to top up on groceries for the weekend. The Castle could be seen from the car park as it towers over the town but Netto had lots of signs indicating that there was a one hour maximum time to do your shopping, so, although there was plenty of room, we couldn't leave Bessie here to visit the Castle.\n\n\n\nThere is an expensive campsite a little bit out of town but there is also a free motorhome parking area, with no facilities, a few hundred yards from the Castle so we headed there to find only one elderly Dutch motorhome there. From this parking spot it is a downhill walk to the Castle of just over ten minutes. We were amazed that there was no one about as the name Colditz is known by anyone of an age to remember the film, BBC series and an interest in history, especially of WW II.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe were there for probably a couple of hours and if there were a dozen other people there that would be the sum total of visitors. There was a guided tour in English in an hour's time but we decided to pay \u20ac 4 each which is the entry fee to wander about yourself. The museum is very interesting with lots of pictures of the men who were there from all nationalities including the household names like British fighter ace Douglas Bader, Pat Reid, the man who brought Colditz to public attention with his post-war books, Airey Neave, the first British officer to escape from Colditz and later a British Member of Parliament, New Zealand Army Captain Charles Upham, the only combat soldier ever to receive the Victoria Cross twice, and Sir David Stirling, founder of the wartime SAS.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe castle sits on a steep hill overlooking the Mulde River as it flows through the small Saxon town of Colditz, about 30 miles southeast of Leipzig. A former residence of the kings of Saxony, the castle was used in 1939 as a prisoner-of-war camp, and in 1940 it became a maximum security prison for escape-prone Allied officers.\n\n\n\nThe internal buildings and courtyards were perched 250 feet above the surrounding terrain and were enclosed by steep stone walls 7 feet thick at their base. Staffed by numerous armed guards and located some 400 miles from friendly territory, Colditz seemed to offer no hope for escape. Yet, through ingenious tunnelling and various ruses, prisoners on some 130 occasions managed to clear the fortress grounds. A total of 32 prisoners managed to reach the frontier without recapture. Colditz fell to the U.S. Army in April 1945.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe contrast between here and Auschwitz could not be more stark, Colditz was a POW Camp, not an extermination camp and although the Allied prisoners tried, and often succeeded in escaping from Colditz, there were no serious acts of revenge by their German guards.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe walk back to Bessie was tougher than the walk downhill, especially as it was very warm again, but we made it. The Dutch van left the parking space leaving us as the only motorhome there. We had lunch before driving down into the town to visit a large Lidl to check out their wine selection as that's not Netto's best category. A bonus of parking in Lidl's car park is that you get a great view of the Castle which dominates the town.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe Castle was built around 1510 and you would think that the centre of the town would be full of half timbered medieval houses, but it wasn't so we started the journey to the town of Beelitz, a historic town in Potsdam-Mittelmark district, in Brandenburg, Germany, chiefly known for its cultivation of white asparagus. The drive there was nearly all on motorway so was easy enough and we arrived in Beelitz at 4pm. There is a brand new stellplatz within walking distance of the town centre and its so new that they haven't even connected the payment machine yet, although the electricity and water are both connected.\n\n\n\nDay 60 - Saturday 2nd of SeptemberBeelitz (0 Miles)\n\n\n\nSo why are we in Beelitz I hear you ask when you've never heard of it and it's not asparagus season yet? Good question and it is more to do with where we're going next and the age old problem of not wanting to arrive in a major city on a busy Friday or Saturday, especially when its Berlin, the capital of Germany, so we are biding our time here in Beelitz, which is only a forty five minute drive from our intended stellplatz in Berlin.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIf you look at this stellplatz on Google Maps satellite view it is just looks like a farmer's field but since the satellite mapped this area there has been a fair bit of development, including this stellplatz and a huge carpark. As I mentioned, the ticket machine (believed to be \u20ac 19 a night) is not working but the electricity and water are connected and free to use, but whoever designed the facilities has never used a motorhome as there is nowhere to dump grey and black water.\n\n\n\nThere is a modern fire station next door and it was obvious there was going to be an open day today with all the activity taking place from an early hour. Little did we know just how good the displays would be, or how well the event would be attended. After a lazyish morning we set off for a walk into the town centre and on the way had a walk through the exhibits, which were very impressive, from the oldest historical fire fighting devices right through to the very latest state of the art fire engines and support vehicles.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe town itself is not particularly historic, although the church is, but the town gives the impression that it's prosperous. We had a walk about and couldn't believe that most of the shops were either closed or in the process of closing at noon but one business that wasn't closing was a little Chinese restaurant and we had lunch there and it was delicious. The town boasts four supermarkets, Aldi, Lidl, Rewe and a new one on us, Norma, so as we needed a few items we gave Norma a go and it was very much a copy of an Aldi \/ Lidl and was good value.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe open day at the fire station was in full swing with lots of demonstrations, bands playing and food being served. In the early evening the families dispersed and we thought it would wind down from there but a DJ started blasting out music and the alcohol fuelled festivities carried on until 11pm!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nOn the other side of the street the highlight of the day for the crowds was the setting fire to some pallets in a skip with the firemen using all sorts of equipment to put it out looked over by a huge drone!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThat evening, I managed to finish off the next blog, the 6th in this series, and it will be online on Monday morning.\n\n\n\nDay 61 - Sunday 3rd of SeptemberBeelitz to Berlin (52.549133, 13.382958) (35 Miles)\n\n\n\nAnd so to Berlin, the fifth capital city of this tour after Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius and Warsaw. We filled up with water for free before leaving and we're on the road fairly early as we wanted to drive into Berlin in the morning while the traffic would be light.\n\n\n\nThe fire station had returned to normal after yesterday's festivities and apart from a food trailer still on the forecourt, you would never know anything had happened there recently. We had a drive of about eight miles before getting on the motorway heading to Berlin and in that short distance managed to get flashed by a speed camera again, at least I think it was us that got flashed, but we never saw the camera on the other side of the road and can only hope it was a car going in the other direction.\n\n\n\nIt didn't take that long to get into the outskirts of Berlin and it was a fairly painless journey to find the site, although we did take a wrong cut off at a junction when Google Maps told me to turn right instead of left, not the first time that's happened. There was a queue to get booked in at the site as the oldish guy with a pony tail on reception had great difficulty typing our details into his laptop and at one stage I had to lean over the counter and type in some details upside down for him.\n\n\n\nThis is the most expensive site we've been on on this whole trip and he would only accept cash, which has dwindled our Euros, but we are in a capital city within a short walk to an underground station so it's not without its advantages.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe were allocated a pitch next to a Dutch couple who we chatted to for a while before they cycled off to visit the city centre and we had lunch and relaxed before we headed to a park just across the road from the campsite for a walk up to the top of a hill for a viewpoint over the city. We'll that was the theory only tall trees blocked the view towards the city centre, although as a bonus, we did get a view of Bessie in the campsite.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\"The monstrous anti-aircraft towers were built in three places in Berlin between 1940 and 1942 to defend the city centre against Allied air raids with heavy guns. Inside the towers there were also shelter for thousands of the civilian population. In the post-war period, the Berlin anti-aircraft towers were blown up by the Allies as military structures. The north side of the Humboldthain anti-aircraft tower remained only as a ruin and then partially disappeared under a \u201cMont Klamott\u201d made of over 1.5 million cubic meters of rubble.\n\n\n\nBehind the hill the park contained a rose garden where people, mostly couples, were chatting on the many benches around the gardens. We walked on and out of the park to the get our bearings at the Underground station where we will start exploring Berlin tomorrow. There is a massive mall here and we had a brief look in before returning to Bessie where we enjoyed dinner sitting outside on what was another mild evening.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDay 62 - Monday 4th of SeptemberBerlin (0 Miles)Day 1\n\n\n\nSeptember the 4th and the weather is still sunny and warm which is great for sightseeing as there is no chance of rain today. Berlin is the largest city we have visited so we bought 48 hour transport tickets which are valid on the underground, busses and trams and we definitely got our moneys worth today as we hopped on the underground and busses to get around.\n\n\n\nFirst stop was Alexanderplatz, or \"Alex\", as Berliners affectionately call it, is the largest square in Germany and the fourth busiest square in Europe apparantly. More than 360,000 people are on the move on Alexanderplatz every day. As well as a tourist attraction in its own right, the square is a shopping mecca too with a variety of shops, malls and department stores of which Primark is one of the biggest.\n\n\n\nAfter a cuppa and a look at the map to get our bearings we walked the short distance to see the TV Tower and the red brick Town Hall, Neptunbrunnen (Neptunen's Fountain), which were all in the same square.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nOnce we had taken in all of these sights we descended into the underground again to cross the city to the famous Brandenburg Gate which is 26 metres high, 65.5 metres long and 11 metres deep, and supported by two rows of six Doric columns. In 1793, the gate was crowned by the Quadriga statue, designed by Johann Gottfried Schadow.\n\n\n\nAs befitting the number one attraction in Berlin, if not all of Germany, it was busy with tourists taking pictures, including us of course.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThese was a snack stand nearby and it was too difficult to resist a bratwurst in a bread roll topped with tomato sauce, two of the most iconic symbols of Germany, the Brandenburg Gate and a bratwurst on a roll!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere is a room under one of the arches called the Room of Silence on the right side of the Brandenburg Gate. Here you can rest in the soothing, simply decorated room and have time to think, relax, to rest or to meditate and consider this historically significant place. There were no cathedrals or churches on the itinerary today so The Navigator was straight into the room for some contemplation!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIt is only a few minutes walk from the Brandenburg Gate to the Bundestag, the modern day (from 1949) German parliament and not to be confused with the Reichstag which was the former parliament of previous regimes, like the German Empire and the Third Reich. This building was heavily damaged by Allied bombing in WW II and was renovated from 1994 to 1999 to plans by British architect, Sir Norman Foster.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere is an area in front of the Bundestag commemorating the Roma and Gypsy population who perished in WW II which was well attended and respected.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe then took a bus the short distance to see a nearby monument which turned out to be a Carillion, only the second we have seen after the one in Loughborough.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nUndecided what we should have for lunch we took a bus all the way back to Alexanderplatz and one of the malls where we shared two different dishes at the food court.\n\n\n\nAfter the late lunch we decided to only see one more sight and Checkpoint Charlie was chosen, so another subway journey and a short walk took us there. Checkpoint Charlie was the best-known border crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. At the height of the Berlin Crisis in 1961, American and Soviet tanks faced each other here.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe former border crossing Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most important and most visited sights in Berlin and we were surprised that with all tourists who come here to see this historical site that the road is still used by traffic.\n\n\n\nThere are many display boards explaining the significance of this border crossing and also many shops selling overpriced souvenirs, including chunks of the Berlin Wall. Today there are no American tanks here but only a few yards from Checkpoint Charlie is the all conquering McDonalds which we frequented for a coffee, but no tea as they only had Earl Grey, which doesn't lend itself to milk and saccharin.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWith the intense heat again taking its toll, we decided to call it a day and take the underground back to Bessie which was not so easy as the nearest underground station wasn't on the line we needed. Eventually we made it back to the shade of Bessie and sat outside until it began to get dark around eight o'clock.\n\n\n\nDay 63 - Tuesday 5th of SeptemberBerlin (0 Miles)Day 2.\n\n\n\nWe had ticked off some of the top tourist 'must see' attractions yesterday so today there were a few more to see and first on the list was a section of the Berlin Wall that has been preserved and has information boards and a nearby museum.\n\n\n\nThe Berlin Wall was 96 miles in length (27 miles within Berlin), and two walls rose between 11 and 15 feet high. Between them was a 160-foot \u201cdeath strip.\u201d The wall included 302 watchtowers, 20 bunkers, 55,000 land mines, 259 dog runs, and machine guns activated by tripwires.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere is a lot to see and take in here and we spent a good couple of hours reading up on what exactly happened in this exact location in our own lifetime. There was a gardener strimming the grass around slabs denoting the direction of an underground escape tunnel running from the east to the west sector and it jogged our memory that we had seen a film about this event, but the details are lost on us now...\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe folly of our past is highlighted in the following picture where young children are playing on the \"death strip\" and having fun on a spot that not so long ago, certainly in my lifetime, was a minefield to separate the communities of east and west Berlin.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere is a memorial showing the pictures of those of all ages who were killed trying to escape over, through or under this wall.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIt was lunchtime by now and we decided to head into the city centre on the underground and the line we were on took us to where we were yesterday at the Brandenburg Gate so we had Currywurst and fries at the same kiosk where I had my Bratwurst yesterday. I'm a ketchup person and The Navigator prefers mayonnaise on her chips!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nFrom there we walked in the baking heat up Unter den Linden, the route we took in the bus yesterday, to see all the impressive buildings we saw on that journey. First was the British Embassy, which was quite impressive given it was a modern building and not far away was the Russian Embassy which had barriers erected to stop anyone walking on the pavement outside it, apart from a police woman.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere were other impressive buildings to be seen, some German Government and some Embassies which had been restored in the years after the war. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nOne of the sights we had read that was not to be missed was the Gendarmenmarkt, which is acclaimed as one of the most stunning squares in the city, located close to Friedrichstrasse, Berlin's exclusive shopping street. It would be fair to say that Gendarmenmarkt was not looking at its best today as the following picture will attest!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDue to this construction work, the Berlin Christmas market will be held on nearby Bebelplatz from 2022 to 2024. Every year, the Christmas market attracts around 800,000 visitors to the historic setting on Gendarmenmarkt, but not this year!\n\n\n\nBebelplatz was at least restored but looked as though it needed a market or some event to bring it to life.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nOn the other side of Unter den Linden was a distinctive restored building called the Neue Wache, described as a \"moving memorial to war dead\" but it left The Navigator decidedly unmoved as it was a bit too stark and uninspiring for her liking.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere were quite a few museums in this area and the one that took the eye was the oldest building on this Strasse, the pink Zeughaus, a history museum.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe river Spree and the Spreekanal flow through this area and boat trips are available on the jetties here.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe other major attractions that we just don't have the time to see are all the museums and they are certainly housed in very impressive buildings.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAnother impressive building in this area is the Berliner Dom, (Berlin Cathedral) which is a monumental German Protestant church and dynastic tomb (House of Hohenzollern) on the Museum Island in central Berlin. The present collegiate church was built from 1894 to 1905 by order of Emperor William II and the listed building is the largest Protestant church in Germany and one of the most important dynastic tombs in Europe. In addition to church services, the cathedral is used for state ceremonies, concerts and other events.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe heat and all this walking were taking its toll, as it usually does around the middle of the afternoon so we headed on towards the nearby Alexanderplatz again and, you guessed it, to Tchibo for two of their finest black teas and a slice of cake.\n\n\n\nLike the other major European capital cities of London, Madrid, Paris and Rome, two days is never enough to see everything you want to, but we came, we saw, and while not conquering Berlin, we saw what we wanted to see in the time available to us. We could of course have stayed longer but the stellplatz is the most expensive we have been on this whole trip and is not worth what we are paying. It's obviously cheaper than a hotel would be, but with a terrible internet signal limiting what I can do online, it is time to move on tomorrow.\n\n\n\nOf all the major cities and capital cities we have visited on this trip, Berlin is probably the least likely we would revisit. Yes the buildings are grande, and so much history has been enacted out here, but it is quite dirty and gives the impression it is uncared for. For anyone wanting to visit Berlin you should come and make your own mind up but learning a few words of German would help, but probably Turkish or Syrian would be of more use as they seem to outnumber the native Germans!\n\n\n\nDay 64 - Wednesday 6th of SeptemberBerlin to Potsdam (52.412256, 13.028651) (25 Miles)\n\n\n\nWe are in no hurry this morning as Potsdam is only 25 miles away and I want to visit a nearby cycle shop to try and buy a bike pedal as a replacement for the one that I broke back in Vilnius.\n\n\n\n\"Potsdam is the capital and largest city of the German state of Brandenburg and is part of the Berlin \/ Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. Potsdam sits on the River Havel, a tributary of the Elbe, downstream of Berlin, and lies embedded in a hilly landscape dotted with many lakes, around 20 of which are located within Potsdam's city limits. It lies some 25 kilometres (16 miles) southwest of Berlin's city centre.\"\n\n\n\n\"Potsdam was a residence of the Prussian kings and the German Emperor until 1918. The city, which is over 1,000 years old, is widely known for its palaces, its lakes, and its overall historical and cultural significance. Landmarks include the parks and palaces of Sanssouci, Germany's largest World Heritage Site, as well as other palaces such as the Orangery Palace, the New Palace, Cecilienhof Palace, and Charlottenhof Palace. Potsdam was also the location of the significant Potsdam Conference in 1945, the conference where the three heads of government of the USSR, the US, and the UK decided on the division of Germany following its surrender, a conference which defined Germany's history for the following 45 years.\"\n\n\n\nI had success with buying the replacement pedals so we happily set off for the shortish drive to Potsdam in another scorcher of a day. The site was easy enough to find and the only negative about it is the lack of electricity points as we could do with charging up our electric bikes now that we can use them again.\n\n\n\nOn the other hand with so much free sunshine Bessie's leisure batteries are getting charged up via the solar panel.\n\n\n\nDay 65 - Thursday 7th of SeptemberPotsdam (0 Miles)\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe batteries on both bikes are flat but we set off to explore the nearby Palaces and Parks of Potsdam, which covers about 1,235 ares of parkland and encompass 150 buildings dating from 1730 to 1916. It was the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great (1712 - 1786) who built his summer palace, Sanssouci on this site and it served as his primary residence and private refuge. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles but Sanssouci is little more than a large, single-storey villa\u2014more like a small chateau than Versailles.\n\n\n\nAs well as Sanssouci, Frederick had numerous temples and follies built in the surrounding park and it was built to meet his need for a private residence where he could escape the pomp and ceremony of the royal court in nearby Berlin, emphasising that the palace was meant as a place of relaxation, rather than a seat of power. The palace and parkland were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status back in 1990, and as well as the history of the area, the big plus point is it is all flat, so we won't miss the power assisted pedalling.\n\n\n\nWrong! Fifty yards into the park and we are struggling up an incline to see the first historic building, the Belvedere on Klausberg.\n\n\n\nIn 1769, Frederick the Great had the Belvedere on Klausberg erected as part of a beautification plan for Sanssouci Park and was designed as a lookout point in the royal residential city. In translation \"Belvedere\" means \"beautiful view.\" Klausberg provides delightful views out across Sanssouci Park to the landscape rich with lakes and the city of Potsdam. In keeping with Frederick the Great's wishes, the two-story rotunda, augmented with two balconies and crowned by a dome, was an attempt to reconstruct Emperor Nero's imperial palace in Rome.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nFrom this vantage point we could see the roofline of a large building, and thinking it was Sanssouci we headed in that direction. It wasn't Sanssouci but the 'New Palace' which was built twenty years following the creation of Sanssouci. This far larger palace was in direct contrast to the relaxed ethos behind Sanssouci, and displayed Frederick's power and strength to the world, in the Baroque style.\n\n\n\nAs you emerge from the woods this building is in a clearing with a formal garden to the front with trees and statues placed in a symmetrical formation to add to the incredible stature of the Palace. We found a seat in the shade to sit and take in the sheer scale and decoration of this 'New Palace.' It was surprising that so few people were here, but as we were later to discover, it's Sanssouci that's the main attraction here, even though this building is by far the more impressive.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nYou would imagine that round the back there would be stables and other small buildings in support of the Palace but when we cycled around to see the back of the Palace, there was another incredible imposing building, the 'Nil Studentenkeller,' now used by the University of Potsdam.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe ticket office for the Palace was nearby and we had a snack there before resuming our cycle through the grounds.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nBy the way, if you thought the architect had blown the budget on making the front of the New Palace as pretty as possible and the back would be not worth looking at, granted it's not as attractive as the front, the rear aspect is still better than the front of a lot of other palaces and country houses!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere is a long avenue through the trees starting directly in the middle of the New Palace heading towards a fountain in the distance. \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThis was the location of the eagerly anticipated Sanssouci Palace and it was not to disappoint when we arrived in front of it. You can understand why Frederick preferred the more intimate Sanssouci Palace over the much larger and more formal New Palace, with the wine terrace setting the building off perfectly.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe gardens are magnificent. The terrace in front of the Palace have alternate vines and fig trees while statues, flower beds and fountains set the whole place off as befits a Royal Palace.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nIt was mid afternoon by this point and the heat was now taking its toll (how ofter have I said that!) so we set off again in the general direction of Bessie but stopped to take in some more magnificent buildings including a working windmill which was next to a small cafe where we had our afternoon cuppas.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAt this caf\u00e9 no teabags were used, instead the tea was in a round metal infuser and the server did ask if we wanted milk in our tea, so we were obviously not the first Brits here, she did however make the continental error of trying to heat the milk before we schooled her in the British practice of adding cold milk to our tea. The Navigator was flagging in the heat and lack of battery power and used this as an excuse to order a cake to boost her sugar levels.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nBack at the van we sat out and had our dinner before packing the bikes and table and chairs away as we have decided to move on tomorrow.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDay 66 - Friday 8th of SeptemberPotsdam to Beelitz (again) (52.233650, 12.985010) (15 Miles)\n\n\n\nThis site in Potsdam has the potential to be a really good stopover due to its location within a few hundred yards of the Sanssouci Palace and the city centre beyond, but only having eight electricity hook ups and a payment machine that only accepts notes and coins is not ideal.\n\n\n\nWe serviced the van, without taking water on board as it will be free at our next stopover in less than half an hour from here. Today we are heading back to Beelitz again as we need to hook up to electricity to charge the bikes and allow me to work on this blog and upload the previous one, the sixth of our road trip.\n\n\n\nBefore any of that however we walked the short distance to the Norma supermarket for some groceries for the weekend. Our return ferry is in less than three weeks now so we are beginning to stockpile a few German goodies including some good value wine. Back in the day I was fortunate enough to work for two wine companies who hosted the annual sales conference in the Rhine Valley and since then I have a taste for German white wine. We were told at one of these conferences that our top selling German wine, Black Tower would be going up in price and would no longer be sold for \u00a3 2.99 and we all thought it was the end of the world as we knew it and would be disastrous for sales, but is one of the few wine brands from the eighties still to be found on supermarket shelfs, even If it is over \u00a3 5 nowadays.\n\n\n\nBack at the van I got a fair bit done, as did The Navigator. At one stage there were only two vans parked up but a few more joined us as the afternoon wore on. After dinner we watched some YouTube videos and The Navigator watched Masterchef and I watched France beat New Zealand in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup.\n\n\n\nWe still have a few beautiful and interesting places to visit in Germany before heading into the Netherlands so lookout for the next blog, coming soon...\n\n\n\nGreat Christmas Gifts - Order Now!\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nTo See The Full Range Of 2024 Week-To-View Diaries\n\n\n\nCLICK HERE\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThis map shows the approximate route we have taken on this blog as part of our 2023 Road Trip...\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nSome of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\n\n\n\n
\n\n\n\n\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 20-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}\n\n\n\nCOMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...\n\n\n\nThe next blog will be another action packed episode as we make our way slowly towards the Netherlands and the ferry back to blighty on the 27th. Before that however we have a few more cities and attractions to see in Germany...\n\n\n\nStay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online.\n\n\n\nHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Sep 17, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-09-17 15:53:41","modifiedDate":"2023-09-17 22:06:33","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-09-17 21:06:33","commentCount":"0","commentStatus":"open","categories":{"coma":"
2023<\/a>, Germany<\/a>, Motorhome<\/a>, Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>","space":"2023<\/a> Germany<\/a> Motorhome<\/a> Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"Beelitz<\/a>Berlin<\/a>colditz<\/a>Dresden<\/a>Meissen<\/a>motorhome road trip<\/a>motorhomeadventures<\/a>motorhomeblog<\/a>Potsdam<\/a>Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>travelblog<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":37,"sec":28},"status":"publish"},{"id":14512,"link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/manvannoplan-visits-krakow-salt-mine-auschwitz-wroclaw\/","name":"manvannoplan-visits-krakow-salt-mine-auschwitz-wroclaw","thumbnail":{"url":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/wp-content\/uploads\/2023\/08\/20230825_170500-scaled.webp","alt":"ManVanNoPlan visits Poland"},"title":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Krakow, a Salt Mine, Auschwitz & Wroclaw","excerpt":"","content":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Krakow, a Salt Mine, Auschwitz & WroclawSome of the following links are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.Day 44 - Thursday 17th of August Mszczon\u00f3w to Krakow (50.047940, 19.880431) (172 Miles)We were awake at 6am and instead of turning over as we usually do at this time of the morning, we got up to face the day. Our Lithuanian companions set off at 6.30am with a cheery wave to us and we set off just after 7am.Today's destination is Krakow which is a three and a half hour drive away, but first we headed for a Biedronka supermarket to top up on groceries to see us through our stay in Krakow. Biedronka is our supermarket of choice in Poland and are everywhere as it's the largest retail chain in Poland, with 3,283 stores located in over 1,100 towns, which is good going as they have only been in existence for 27 years. Their stores are very distinctive as they all feature a ladybird logo as you can see below.\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.16.0 - 12-09-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-image{text-align:center}.elementor-widget-image a{display:inline-block}.elementor-widget-image a img[src$=\".svg\"]{width:48px}.elementor-widget-image img{vertical-align:middle;display:inline-block}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe weather today was not the usual blue skies and boiling hot but instead grey clouds covered the sky but that didn't really affect the temperature as it was still very warm and humid. At least my old bald head won't be getting burned today.\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tAfter leaving Biedronka I stopped for diesel and managed to find the first garage where the payment screen did not translate into any other language than Polish. Thankfully a lorry driver exited the next door cafe with his coffee and roll and he was pressed into service to help us.It took half an hour to get back on the Warsaw to Krakow motorway we started off on yesterday, and rather than the usual wheat fields what we saw was mile after mile of apple trees with different coloured apples and by the look of it there was a bountiful crop in prospect.The motorway was the typical Polish offering of dead straight roadway which is both very efficient and slightly boring to drive. Two thirds of the way I had to pull into a rest area to have a break and a cuppa before continuing towards Krakow. Just before the city we were diverted off the motorway as a section was still being finished off and we now drove on ordinary roads into Krakow, then, in the suburbs,\u00a0 it all kicked off!The road into the city through the outer suburbs is being upgraded and is a mess and pretty narrow but Google Maps decided that I should turn sharp right, maybe to avoid the miles of roadworks, who knows! This would have been a wonderful shortcut if one problem hadn't occurred as soon as I made the turn. It was a single lane road and also one way, and I was now driving the wrong way down it! In the following picture you can see the no entry sign which I didn't until I was committed to turn!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter a hundred yards or so the roadworks stopped and it opened up to two lanes again. Then the fun started. Three cars came towards me and the first was driven by a woman who got very very irate that a British motorhome was driving towards her. We both stopped and there ensured a stand off. She could have gone round me but refused to do so and eventually no amount of gesturing on my part for her to go round me was working so The Navigator was dispatched out to convince her to go round, but to no avail and the woman unleashed what was probably a torrent of abuse at her. The two cars that were behind the woman lost patience with her and they passed me with no issue and, as I couldn't move, she eventually had to as well.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI drove on another fifty yards and turned, picked up The Navigator and as I drove down in the correct direction Google told me to turn right as if nothing had just happened, no apology, nothing! All of this was captured on my dash cam but my language is probably too ripe to post the clip on here!After another half an hour negotiating the fairly narrow streets I eventually found the campsite we were aiming for, Camping Adam - and it was full!The receptionist gave me a slip of paper with the details of another site about a mile away and we eventually settled in there and had lunch sitting outside. I duly fell asleep after my early rise and the earlier drama, while The Navigator got to grips with the site's washing machine! A massive thunderstorm blew over and forced us indoors.The same weather is forecast tomorrow so we will be up sharpish and on the bus into the Old Town of Krakow.Day 45 - Friday 18th of AugustKrakow (0 Miles)Day 1\"Krak\u00f3w, a southern Poland city near the border of the Czech Republic, is known for its well-preserved medieval core and Jewish quarter. Its old town is ringed by Planty Park and remnants of the city\u2019s medieval walls and is centered on the stately, expansive Rynek Gl\u00f3wny (market square). This plaza is the site of the Cloth Hall, a Renaissance-era trading outpost, and St. Mary\u2019s Basilica, a 14th-century Gothic church.\"\"Krak\u00f3w is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River, (as is Warsaw) the city dates back to the seventh century. Krak\u00f3w was the official capital of Poland until 1596 and has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, economic, cultural and artistic life. Cited as one of Europe's most beautiful cities, its Old Town with Wawel Royal Castle was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, one of the world's first sites granted the status.\"\"In 1978, Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Krak\u00f3w, was elevated to the papacy as Pope John Paul II \u2013 the first Slavic pope ever, and the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. Also that year, UNESCO approved the first ever sites for its new World Heritage List, including the entire Old Town and historic centre\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tHaving been to the beautiful cities of Gdansk, Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius and Warsaw, we will see if Krakow lives up to all the hype today...Spoiler alert - it does - with bells on!When we go into a new city on public transport there is always an element of trepidation with doubts about being on the correct bus, and if it's going into the city or heading out into the countryside. Today we have to get a bus from near the campsite for four stops then change onto a tram for three stops to get near Krakow's Old Town. Regular readers will know that I'm a toyboy by a few months and we are still the right side of seventy, until next year anyway. However, for the benefit of any Polish transport employees who may read this, we have added not only an hour to our clocks to be in Europe, but also a year to our ages to enjoy your free public transport for the over seventies.Public transport in Poland is plentiful and runs on time so we were in the centre of Krakow before we knew it. After a short walk we were in the medieval old town which is centred on the stately, expansive Rynek Gl\u00f3wny (market square) but first a bit about Krakow.Thankfully, unlike many of Europe's great cities, Krakow was largely spared the devastating bombing raids that laid waste to large parts of Dresden, London, Berlin, and other cities so there are many old and historically interesting buildings to be seen everywhere. Like most tourists we were drawn to the main market square first and it is incredible. We have seen a few old town squares on our travels and this one is the best by far.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\"Krak\u00f3w\u2019s Rynek G\u0142\u00f3wny (Central Square) is the nerve centre of the city\u2019s medieval Old Town. Forever a hive of activity, this 40,000 square foot medley of caf\u00e9\u2019s, museums, clubs, pubs, music bars, souvenir shops, historical landmarks, hotels and hostels, is punctuated with some of the most magnificent middle age architecture the city has to offer. At its centre the elongated medieval Sukiennice Cloth Hall is a reminder of Krak\u00f3w\u2019s historical place as a hub of trade and commerce in Eastern Europe. Today, the hall houses the stalls of local tradesmen selling handicrafts and cloth products that echo the oriental imports that were once toted under its roof. The Sukiennice runs neatly through the entire length of the square from north to south, having the effect of dividing the Rynek into two equally sized sections.\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe spent most of the morning wandering around the square, including all the craft stalls and there were many unusual and interesting products on sale - at touristy prices it must be said, although Polish touristy prices are still less than equivalent European cities.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe next port of call was to see the impressive remnants of the city walls, which make an interesting backdrop for a local artist's paintings. We walked through another imposing square called Maly Rynek which was only a few yards from the main square, it had nothing going on and only a handful of tourists walking through it.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOops, I forgot to mention that on the way to the city walls we had our first Bubble Tea which I had seen a lot of in the Philippines, but never got round to trying it out there. Earlier in this trip I said to The Navigator that she must try raw herring, being such a pescatarian, so she said she would if I had a Bubble Tea. She upheld her side of the bet and now I had done the same. It's a very odd thing but very fruity and refreshing. It won't be my last! \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBy now it was time for lunch and we studied the menus in both squares but nothing grabbed our attention until we stumbled upon a restaurant whose name I forget in a street I forget, but it was near the main square, but far enough away to have a 'Zestaw Dnia' which is 'set of the day' for anyone who doesn't speak Polish...For 33 Zloty (\u00a36.32) you could have two courses, soup and a main, so The Navigator had the sorrel soup, which I thought was a brave choice, followed by the cod. I chose the tomato soup, which was more like minestrone, and the pork schnitzel which was unlike any pork schnitzel I've ever had before. Great food and value which is typical of Poland away from the tourist traps.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe carried on walking 'with no particular place to go' admiring the impressive buildings every where you looked and found the impressive Grunwald Statue. \"The Battle of Grunwald, fought between the joint armies of Poland and Lithuania against the Teutonic Knights on July 15, 1410, is considered to be one of the greatest battles ever to take place in medieval Europe. A defining moment in Polish history, the battle was immortalised in Krak\u00f3w with the unveiling of this weighty monument in front of an estimated 160,000 people on the 500th anniversary of the event in 1910. The original masterpiece was, not surprisingly, destroyed by the occupying Nazis during WWII and the copy that now stands in its place dates from 1976, having been faithfully reproduced using sketches and models of the original. At the top on his horse is the King of Poland W\u0142adys\u0142aw Jagie\u0142\u0142o, his sword pointing downwards in his right hand. At the front is his cousin the Lithuanian prince Vytautas (Vitold), who is flanked on either side by victorious soldiers from the joint army. The dead man at the front is Urlich von Jungingen, the Teutonic Order\u2019s Grand Master, who lost his life during the battle.\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAt the end of this street stood a lovely looking white church and The Navigator correctly observed we hadn't been in any of Krakow's impressive churches today so why don't we have a look in this one, to get out of the scorching heat if nothing else! Wow. What a building. St. Florian's Church was built between 1185 and 1216 but was burnt down many times in the 12th, 16th and 17th centuries. What we didn't know when we entered it, that from 17 September 1949 to September 1951, Father Karol Wojty\u0142a, who later became Pope John Paul II, worked there as a vicar. As Pope, in 1999 he elevated the Church to a minor basilica. He also visited the Church on his papal pilgrimage to Poland on 18 September 2002. Apart from a nun and an old lady praying none of the hoards of tourists in the nearby old town took the time to see the magnificent interior.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe modern day temple that people were worshiping however was the nearby, the Galeria Krakowska, a massive retail mall with 250 assorted stores and restaurants on three levels. I must admit it was impressive and can see why it was so busy. We found our favourite dispenser of black, or English tea, Tchibo, so treated ourselves to two cuppas as we were beginning to flag a bit by this time.On our way back to the tram stop to head back to Bessie, we found another square, this one almost deserted then took a diversion through the main square as we heard live music which was in celebration of forty five years of being a UNESCO World Heritage site. The four women singing in harmony were very good and we lingered for a while until we saw black clouds coming over and headed for the tram. It did rain later in the evening, but it didn't come to much.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDay 46 - Saturday 19th of AugustKrakow (0 Miles)Day 2Another morning of blue skies and warm weather for our second day in Krakow while Storm Betty, the second named storm of August hits the west of the UK.We decided that today was not going to be as full-on as yesterday and only a select few landmarks would be visited so we were in no hurry to go into Krakow early. Since landing at the Hook of Holland on the 4th of July we could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of meaningful conversations in English we've had with other Brits. Today we can add Katherine and James to that select band of people we have met on our travels.The Navigator was in the front of the van tidying up after breakfast and I was still in bed when I heard a voice saying, \"you must be The Navigator!\" And that was how we met Katherine who amazingly is one of the subscribers to our blog and we are now subscribers to her interesting blog as well, www.clunegapyears.com We chatted for ages, and yes I did get up and dressed for the occasion. Katherine and James are heading to the Baltic States and hope they enjoy the experience as much as we did.Day two is always easier visiting a city as you don't have to concentrate on the logistics of getting there as the bus and tram details were committed to memory yesterday. The main place we wanted to see today was the incredibly imposing Wawel Royal Castle so we got off the team at Jubilat, within easy walking distance.The castle has had a long and interesting past and you can read about it HERE. We walked along the pathway from the tram stop which gave great views of the castle and the river Vistula with the tourist boats lined up ready to take their passengers on a river cruise.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOn the other bank of the river we could see in the distance a London Eye type wheel and a tethered balloon which ascended to 150m to give the thirty people in the gondola a great view over the city.As we came closer to the parapets above us, a sizeable throng of people were crowding around a large metal statue of a dragon. Parents were lifting young children onto the rock plinth to have their pictures taken and some children were obviously terrified, especially when flames shot out of the dragon's mouth with a roar every so often.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tEntrance to the castle grounds are free but you pay to gain entry to the main building and cathedral, or to give it its Polish name, Katedra Wawelska, billed as a Gothic cathedral, national sancutary and the coronation site of the Polish monarchs of old. The incline is fairly steep but the view was well worth the effort. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFrom the ramparts you pass into a large open space but the local police who patrol on segways, keep you from straying onto the inviting grass. At this point I will mention two things, the heat and the crowds of both tourists and Poles. You will always see The Navigator with a backpack and two of the items she carries on days like this are drinks for both of us. They didn't last long today, so more drinks were purchased in a conveniently located Post Office and we edged around the buildings trying to keep in the shade. Yesterday I made the schoolboy error of going into the city without my hat, but today, even with my hat on I could feel the intense heat frying my brains!A management decision was made to forgo the undoubted pleasures of the interior and the exhibitions of the castle as the crowds would not have made it a pleasurable experience so we stayed outside. What was a treat however was to see the colourful flower beds that bordered the grassy area, not just here, but in nearly all the major buildings and parks we have visited in Poland, the flower displays have been superb.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBy this time it was after one o'clock, although neither of us wanted a meal as such, so we headed back for the main square where yesterday we had seen people eat a snack that looked interesting. We found the stall selling what turned out to be called Pajda, which means \u201cthick slice\u201d \u2013 of country bread, upon which is smeared lard, garlic, onions, and spicy sausage.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt would have been easy to head to a fast food place, but this was another hearty Polish delicacy we have tried. At The Navigator's insistence we retraced our steps of yesterday to 'Crazy Bubble' to have another two bubble teas. It's an expensive way to rehydrate, but they are so refreshing, it was worth it.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBy mid afternoon we were flagging and the fact that we had passed some interesting churches and other buildings without the notion to enter any of them told us that we needed to relax for a while in the shade and fortunately the Old Town is ringed by trees and gardens so we headed there to sit in the shade for half an hour or so.After that we decided to call it a day and head for the tram stop by way of the main Market Square for one last time. As we approached it from a different angle this time along side the imposing St Mary's Basilica, we noticed a well dressed woman standing outside the smaller more intimate looking Church of St Barbara and what made me do a double take was that she had two white doves in a wicker basket at her feed so we presumed there was a wedding in progress. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe lingered and sure enough a few minutes later the congregation came outside and formed a pathway for the bride and groom to come out for the obligatory confetti and the releasing of the doves and I'm not quite sure the bride released hers properly as it flapped its wings a good few times before it eventually flew off. With one last walk through the impressive main square we headed for the tram...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBack at Bessie I unfurled the awning and we sat out in the shade for the rest of the evening before The Navigator made use of the site's washing machine and we packed everything away as we are moving on tomorrow, but only about half an hour this time.Day 47 - Sunday 20th of AugustKrakow to Wieliczka Salt Mine (49.985412, 20.055971) (18 Miles)ThenTo Auschwitz (50.027166, 19.199071) (45 Miles)Sunday is considered a day of rest for some, but not for us today as we are heading to the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a major tourist attraction where over two million people a year visit. Our oldest daughter, Jill had visited it a few years and had recommended we visit it. I had always associated salt mines with Siberia, but here we are...Katherine and James were on an 8am tour but we picked a 12.30pm time so we had an early lunch in Bessie before setting off. Although there are supposed to be 800+ steps in the mine to be negotiated, it will be a relief to be out of this incredible heat for a few hours.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOnce you are inside and ready to go the guide takes you down an impressive wooden staircase six steps on each flight all the way down 380 steps to the first level and on from there. The tour takes 2-3 hours over a distance of 3.5km to a maximum depth of 135 metres and the temperature underground is a manageable 17-18 degrees.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOne of the most impressive things in the mine was the amount of wood used in propping up the ceilings. There must be tens of thousands trees used over the centuries and they are all sizeable so must have been difficult to put in place.All the way round there are carvings made of salt by the workers and specialist carvers.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\"Back in the mists of time, brine \u2013 salt water drawn from springs \u2013 used to be boiled in small clay vessels, on modest hearths. In this simple way, salt was obtained already in the Neolithic times. The oldest salt working tools in Central Europe, discovered in the village of Barycz, near Wieliczka, come from this period.\"In the centuries that followed, the secret of evaporated salt production was passed down from generation to generation \u2013 and the people involved were a specialised professional group. The salt obtained served as a preservative for meat and fish, and with time it became a means of payment in trade with those who did not possess this valuable raw material. There were also representations of what working in the mine must have been like through the ages too.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe pi\u00e8ce de r\u00e9sistance however is the St Kinga\u2019s Chapel which is located 101 metres underground and is one of the biggest attractions in the entire mine. The chamber is about 12 metres high, 18 metres wide and 54 metres long. The floor was carved in a uniform salt mass, and the ceiling is decorated with intricate salt crystal chandeliers.\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOver 700 years the mine developed into a industry the brought wealth to the region and Poland as a nation. You can read all about the development of the mine HERE.It was a fascinating tour, led by a knowledgeable guide who made it an interesting few hours.Before leaving the mine we had lunch in the restaurant 125 metres underground which was incredible value for money. As I quoted, the route is approximately 3.5km long (which is only 1% of the total tunnel distance underground) and from the restaurant area we walked along corridors to get a lift back up to the surface. That walk seemed more than 3.5km itself but we were flagging by this time.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBack at Bessie we rehydrated and set off for tomorrow's destination, Auschwitz, a name synonymous with the most evil acts of barbarism that man has committed throughout history. PS - Don't judge my parking. I was told to park over these three parking bays...The drive to Auschwitz was through some very pleasant countryside and I actually got to turn the steering wheel and negotiate hills and valleys on a normal road rather than the dead straight motorways we've been used to recently.The journey was just under ninety minutes with a pit stop at a BP garage to top up the LPG tanks for the first time on the trip. We also passed ENERGYLANDIA which is the largest amusement park in Poland, offering 123 attractions located on an area of 70 hectares, including some huge roller coasters.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe arrived near the Auschwitz Museum to find the overnight car park I was aiming for closed, but soon found another for \u00a3 10 a night, with electricity, and in full view of the security hut, so we booked in for two nights.I went online to book the tickets to find that they advise you book two months in advance and I was trying to book for the next day! Long story short, there were no English language tours available so I had to book two tickets for a guided tour in Spanish at 2.45pm!Day 48 - Monday 21st of AugustAuschwitz (0 Miles)Another blistering hot day so we did not venture outside in the morning and I took advantage of the electricity to work on the next blog. On the Auschwitz website it advises you to turn up at least half an hour before your tour is meant to start so we went to walk part of the way to time how long it would take to walk to the museum entrance. That accomplished, we went into a nearby Biedronka for a few things, mostly drinks before heading back to Bessie.We duly turned up half an hour early, passed the first security point then sat and waited. At 2.45 the Spanish tour passed through the next check point and followed the guide to the area where we were given our headsets. There were five tours departing at 2.45pm but we were told we couldn't swap onto the English tour, but eventually at the last minute The Navigator managed to get the headset re-tuned onto the English frequency and the English speaking guide told us to join her group.There were twenty odd in our group and the funny thing was that English speakers were in the minority! Our guide was a young Polish woman who was very calm and serene in her delivery and was always telling us to \"walk slowly behind her.\"Our road trip has been both planned and flexible enough to incorporate new places to visit, like the Salt Mine which we didn't know about when we left home. That said, when I outlined the proposed route to The Navigator before we left home, her initial reaction was that she would stay in the van and I could visit Auschwitz on my own. We watched two other motorhoming couples on YouTube who have visited here in the last year and watching their videos gave her the confidence to go in with me.There is no point in me describing in detail what we saw there, safe to say it was a harrowing experience, which as many people as possible should visit to remember the atrocities committed in this camp, so that it should never happen again.The main camp is Auschwitz 1 which is where the mass murders began, before another camp was built nearby, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, to accelerate the killing. The tour is more detailed in Auschwitz 1 and as I said, it's not for the faint hearted. The tour begins by walking under the famous Auschwitz Gate and later the end of the Auschwitz 1 tour the final few minutes are spent walking in silence through the actual gas chamber where probably hundreds of thousands died, and that's a sobering experience.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThousands of prisoners passed the\u00a0Auschwitz Gate twice every day. First time was early in the morning when they were going to work and the second time, when they were coming back, often carried by friends because of extreme fatigue. Every morning they glanced at the mocking sign \u201cArbeit Macht Frei\u201d aware it could be their last time to pass this gate. Work which was said to liberate them, was in fact bringing a premature death.\nThe words above the gate mean \u201cWork will set you free.\" The gate of the Auschwitz 1 Camp is still one of the best-known symbols of the holocaust.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAnd finally, we were walked through the only remaining gas chamber at Auschwitz 1.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThere was some shade as you went in and out of the buildings in Auschwitz 1, but the temperature was now in the mid-nineties and we were now heading, after a fifteen minute rest, onto a\u00a0 transfer bus to Auschwitz II-Birkenau.\"Birkenau was the largest of the more than 40 camps and sub-camps that made up the Auschwitz complex. During its three years of operation, it had a range of functions. When construction began in October 1941, it was supposed to be a camp for 125,000 prisoners of war. It opened as a branch of Auschwitz in March 1942, and served at the same time as a centre for the extermination of Jews.\u00a0The majority\u2014probably about 90%\u2014of the victims of Auschwitz Concentration Camp died in Birkenau. This means approximately a million people. The majority, more than nine out of every ten, were Jews. A large proportion of the more than 70,000 Poles who died or were killed in the Auschwitz complex perished in Birkenau. So did approximately 20,000 Roma and Sinti, in addition to Soviet POWs and prisoners of other nationalities.\"In Birkenau, which was built anew on the site of a displaced village, only a small number of historic buildings have survived. Due to the method used in constructing those buildings, planned as temporary structures and erected in a hurry using demolition materials, the natural degradation processes have been accelerating.\nThe Auschwitz Birkenau camp complex comprises 155 brick and wooden structures (57 in Auschwitz and 98 in Birkenau) and about 300 ruins. There are also ruins of gas chambers and crematoria in Birkenau, which were dynamited in January 1945. The overall length of fencing supported by concrete poles is more than 13 km.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThere was no shade and the heat was intense, and that, combined with walking on uneven hard gravel was taking its toll, and after three hours of walking we were glad to be on the bus back.The walk to Bessie was torture and she had been baking in the sun all day too, so it was like a sauna inside. Our two days in Warsaw were probably slightly hotter than today, but only by a fraction, and overnight it was roasting in the van.It has been a fascinating time in Krakow, as well as the back to back visits to the Salt Mine and Auschwitz and we are exhausted, but have an almost four hour drive tomorrow to Wroclaw, said by some to be the prettiest city in Poland.Day 49 - Tuesday 22nd of AugustAuschwitz to Wroclaw (51.116241, 17.091558) (145 Miles)\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\tNo sightseeing today thankfully, instead we are driving west for the best part of four hours to Poland's third largest city, Wroclaw. A lot of my recognition of European place names has to do with my interest in geography, history and European football teams but as \u015al\u0105sk Wroc\u0142aw are fourth from bottom of the Polish league I had never heard of Wroclaw before, but some online research led us to visit it.Known affectionately as The Venice of Poland, Wroc\u0142aw offers all the buzz and history of Krak\u00f3w with an extra splash of Silesian charm and hospitality. There\u2019s plenty to see and do in Wroc\u0142aw, whether you want to go on a hunt for the 600 bronze dwarves dotted around the city, relax in a grassy park by the Oder River, or simply admire the pastel toned buildings of the beautiful old town square.\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.16.0 - 12-09-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-divider{--divider-border-style:none;--divider-border-width:1px;--divider-color:#0c0d0e;--divider-icon-size:20px;--divider-element-spacing:10px;--divider-pattern-height:24px;--divider-pattern-size:20px;--divider-pattern-url:none;--divider-pattern-repeat:repeat-x}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider{display:flex}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{font-size:15px;line-height:1;max-width:95%}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__element{margin:0 var(--divider-element-spacing);flex-shrink:0}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-icon{font-size:var(--divider-icon-size)}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider-separator{display:flex;margin:0;direction:ltr}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator{align-items:center}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:before{display:block;content:\"\";border-bottom:0;flex-grow:1;border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:first-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider-separator:before{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider__element{margin-left:0}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:last-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider-separator:after{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider__element{margin-right:0}.elementor-widget-divider:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text):not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon) .elementor-divider-separator{border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern{--divider-border-style:none}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern.elementor-widget-divider--view-line .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not([class*=elementor-widget-divider--view]) .elementor-divider-separator{width:100%;min-height:var(--divider-pattern-height);-webkit-mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;-webkit-mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);background-color:var(--divider-color);-webkit-mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url);mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url)}.elementor-widget-divider--no-spacing{--divider-pattern-size:auto}.elementor-widget-divider--bg-round{--divider-pattern-repeat:round}.rtl .elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{direction:rtl}.e-con-inner>.elementor-widget-divider,.e-con>.elementor-widget-divider{width:var(--container-widget-width,100%);--flex-grow:var(--container-widget-flex-grow)}\t\t\n\t\tInexpensive Birthday Gift Ideas...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTitles for the four nations also include, Best Wife, Best Son & Best GolferSee the full range of titles\u00a0HERE.\t\t\n\t\t\"Wroc\u0142aw is a city in southwestern Poland and the largest city in the historical region of Silesia. It lies on the banks of the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Central Europe, roughly 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the Sudeten Mountains to the south.The history of the city dates back over 1,000 years, at various times, it has been part of the Kingdom of Poland, the Duchy of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Habsburg monarchy of Austria, the Kingdom of Prussia and Germany but it became part of Poland again in 1945 as part of the so-called Recovered Territories, the result of extensive territorial changes of Poland immediately after World War II.\"We were up fairly early, and already at 8am as we left the temperature was in the eighties and heading upwards. Thankfully the car park we have been on had a few electricity points which allowed us to keep a fan on in Bessie which helped, although it's only recycling warm air really.First stop today was an Aldi to stock up on some groceries and drinks for the next few days before heading out of O\u015bwi\u0119cim, the town that contains Auschwitz towards Katowice, where we originally planned to visit. However my research showed Katowice to be a more modern city so it was being bypassed. We had driven on normal roads with the occasional stretch of dual-carriageway until we reached the outskirts of Katowice where we joined the three lane A4 \/ E40 motorway. We passed a massive Auchan supermarket and equally massive Leyroy Merlin DIY store, both owned by the French Mulliez family, who also own Decathlon!We made good time until my Google Navigator took us off the motorway and into the large town of Gliwice andvout into the countryside on normal roads. The satnav is permanently set to avoid toll roads and this must have been the reason for taking us off the motorway heading directly for Wroclaw. As we were in no real hurry it wasn't a problem and it allowed us to see more of the real Polish scenery, towns and villages we passed through. I made a pitstop for diesel at 6.24 Zloty (\u00a3 1.19) which seems to be far better than back home at present.After three hours of driving with the cab air conditioning keeping us cool, I was getting tired so we pulled into a rest area for a break and had lunch. This was enough to keep me refreshed and attentive for the final hour into Wroclaw where we found the large campsite we were on without any issues. I say campsite, but it is a huge grassy area where you can park anywhere near to an electricity bollard, where one again I had to get an adaptor from the reception to hook up.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI've mentioned before how few Brits we've met on this road trip but this morning we got chatting to a British couple parked near us in their campervan. We talked for a while and had a peek inside each other's vans and discussed all things touring and routes taken and still to go.There is a massive area of sporting venues next to the site including football pitches, tennis courts, an athletic stadium and a stadium for the city's speedway team, who were practising from the noise coming from the stadium' direction.Once we were set up, the chairs came out to sit outside in the shade created by Bessie where I promptly fell asleep! It was still hot but a breeze was blowing gently which made the conditions bearable. Our German neighbour, with the precision you expect from that nationality, said it would rain in half an hour and right on cue the thunder and lightning preceeded the rain putting paid to the barbecue that we were looking forward to.Day 50 - Wednesday 23rd of AugustWroclaw (0 Miles)Day 1Hands up. Who has heard of Wroclaw? Not many I bet.On this trip we've raved about Gdansk, Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius, Warsaw and lately Krakow, but this city is absolutely incredibly beautiful and will give any of the above a run for their Zloty or Euros!\"During World War II, Wroclaw was the German city of Breslau. It saw heavy fighting and widespread destruction as it came under heavy Soviet bombardment before Germany's surrender. In August 1944, Adolf Hitler declared the city of Breslau to be a fortress, ordering that it must be defended at all costs. The siege of Breslau, was a three-month-long siege, lasting to the end of World War II in Europe. The city became part of Poland when borders were redrawn after the war, with the defeated Germany forced to give up territory.\"Walking around the city today, you would not realise any of the above happened, it has some of the best buildings we've seen anywhere and the Poles must be congratulated for their skill and effort to restore and improve the city. We took the nearby tram into the city centre for free again as over 65s do not pay anything on public transport here. Our Day 1 tactics in any city are just to wander and see what we can find, but especially the main square. We had a good idea what we wanted to see as we had watched an excellent YouTube video which listed the top attractions, one of which was a church which had a wooden bridge joining the twin spires of Mary Magdalene church, called the Penitent Bridge at a height of 45 metres.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tNow The Navigator is not one for heights, and to date we have resisted the temptation to climb any church spire with a viewing platform, but for some reason she wanted to go up this one. It was only \u00a3 2 for a seniors ticket, so it would not be a great loss if she got cold feet, as she did at the top of a cliff-top lighthouse in Hirtshalls in Denmark last year.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWhen the concrete steps turned into metal grill steps and you could see down through, she got a bit concerned but soldiered on with quite a few, \"are we nearly there yet\" questions asked of me. I had no problems with the height, just the effort to get up there so regular stops were taken to catch my breath. Thankfully there were not a lot of other people climbing the spire this morning so we didn't feel rushed on the climb or on the bridge itself. The view was worth the effort and we picked out some of the locations we would be visiting later.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBack on terra firma, we had a look around the church, which did not really compare with others we had seen on this trip before we found the main square, or Rynek as it's known in Poland and this one has the distinction of being the third largest in Poland with only Krak\u00f3w and Olecko bigger. However, the Gothic Town Hall with its 66m tower is the biggest building of this kind in Poland and underneath it is Piwnica \u015awidnicka, one of the oldest restaurants in Europe.PS - More on these small metal sculptures later...We did a few laps of the square trying to take in all the detail on the colurful buildings that surround the square and it is simply stunning...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSome factoids on the Wroclaw Rynek...- Rynek is a place of Chirstmas Fairs, New Year\u2019s Eve celebrations, religious, academic and military events.- Rynek was a big 2012 EURO fan zone, with as much as 30 thousand people to watch Poland play.- Rynek is 213m long and 178m wide.- Rynek is surrounded by 60 tenement houses.- Rynek is surrounded by 11 streets.- Rynek had 200 thousand people during the New Year\u2019s Eve in 2013.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe had been looking for somewhere cheap and cheerful to have lunch and chose a Turkish restaurant in the square for a filling snack. After lunch we strolled down to see the river Oder, Poland's second-longest river in total length and third-longest within its borders after the Vistula and Warta. We sat on a shady park bench for a while and watched the tour boats of all sizes go up and down the river.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThere were many little islands and bridges in this area and it was a popular location for setting off on a river cruise. There were a couple of impressive looking churches on the outside but they failed to live up to expectations on the inside.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was mid afternoon by this time and I was in need of a cuppa so we chose a riverside garden behind an Italian restaurant and I had my usual black tea and The Navigator had an iced coffee to accompany a slice of apple tart. The hydrangeas were impressive and full of bees and a beekeeper appeared in full kit but we never saw where the hives were.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tGiven the heat and another day of walking about we were both feeling better than many days at this time of day but decided to head for the tram back to the campsite. We did get on the correct tram, the No 17, but in the complete wrong direction so after a few miles of realising this we got off and waited on a No 17 going in the correct direction!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe had a new van beside us when we got back to the campsite, or rather an estate car converted to sleep in, with a tent on the roof where the two boys slept. They were German and all four spoke good English and we chatted to them as we sat outside until almost eight o'clock when the sun started to go down.Day 51 - Thursday 24th of AugustWroclaw (0 Miles)Day 2Modes of transport so far on this trip have been motorhome, train, tram, bus, bicycle, and today we add a boat to that list. The Oder river flows through The centre of Wroclaw and is referred by some as the 'Venice of the North, which is a bit harsh on Amsterdam and Bruges!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThat said, there are currently from 118 to 130 bridges and footbridges in the city, not just over the Oder but also the O\u0142awa River, \u015al\u0119za River, Widawa River, Bystrzyca River, several dozen of smaller and larger rivers, brooks, plenty of drainage ditches and the City Moat which gives the opportunity to get about on a boat.You can hire a kayak, boat or take an organised cruise which is what we did after arriving in the city centre on the tram. There were a total of three passengers on said boat when we set off on our 45 minute cruise. Our \"captain\" was a young student type who chatted away on his mobile for ages before casting off. Once under way he put earphones in and did not utter a single word of welcome or commentary. We passed some very impressive buildings, but had no idea what they were so accepted that we'd have to do our own research later.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was pleasant being on the river as the cooling breeze was a relief from the heat of another day in the nineties but the trip came up short of our expectations. After the cruise was over we wandered about some lovely riverside areas killing time before heading to the market for lunch. The market hall was completed in 1908 when the city was still part of the German Empire and at the time the hall was renowned for its then-innovative application of reinforced concrete trusses, which was unique in Europe at the time.We had nipped in to see the market hall as our tram had stopped there before we had our boat trip. As markets go it was pretty standard apart from the flower sellers who all had impressive displays of flowers and at very reasonable prices. It was on this early morning visit that we saw a couple of restaurants with menus featuring our Polish favourites at great prices so decided that is where we would eat.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe pointed at a few things and asked what they were before choosing and the server told us whether it was chicken or pork as that is what everything seemed to be. Our two courses and a Pepsi came to \u00a3 8.88 and they were delicious. We later met the German family next to us at the campsite and recommended this place to them too.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFrom the market hall we walked the short distance into the centre of the city and passed the church where yesterday we climbed up to the bridge between the spires and today there was a flea market on in the little square beside it. After another lap of the beautiful main square we headed off in a direction we had not been to yesterday but the heat was beginning to slow us down. We came across the statue of Papa Gnome which has the distinction of being the first of the entire Wroc\u0142aw gnome phenomenon. He was first, and he's still the largest, boosted even higher atop a giant toe. There are hundreds of little gnome brass statues all over the city and children love spotting them. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI mentioned earlier that I would saw more about\u00a0Wroc\u0142aw\u2019s dwarfs\u00a0or\u00a0gnomes which\u00a0are small figurines (20-30\u00a0cm) that first appeared in the streets of\u00a0Wroc\u0142aw in 2005. Since then, their numbers have been continually growing, and today they are considered a tourist attraction: those who would like to combine sight-seeing in Wroc\u0142aw with \"Hunting for dwarfs\" can get special brochures with a map or Apps showing the location of the 400+ dwarfs in the city.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBefore heading back on the tram we had our afternoon tea at a Tchibo in a huge and impressive mall, or gallery as they call them here. Back at the van I sat outside with my laptop and finished off the latest blog ready to go out tomorrow.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe have loved Wroclaw and when we do the final appraisal of all the towns and cities we have visited it will be high on the list, if not at the top! We move on tomorrow for a relaxing weekend in the mountains to recharge our batteries before heading back into Germany to visit some more big cities and do touristy things.Day 52 - Friday 25th of AugustWroclaw to near Karpacz (50.793708, 15.769574) (85 Miles)Throughout this whole road trip through the Netherlands, Northern Germany, Poland and the three Baltic States, Bessie has not had to contend with many hills, far less mountains, but today she may have to contend with both as we are heading southwest from Wroclaw to a region around the small ski-resort of Karpacz in the Karkonosze Mountains.Who knew Poland has ski-resorts?The mountains form a natural border between Poland and the Czech Republic, aka Chechnya. Although we will be in a National Park we will resist the temptation to go mountaineering or hiking, instead the plan is to relax and do nothing, as from Vilnius we have had back to back visits to Krakow, the Salt Mine, Auschwitz and Wroclaw so some relaxation is called for before we head back into Germany to visit some cities we have never been to before.Wroclaw is a big city, the third largest in Poland, so getting out of it took more than half an hour, but once that was achieved we were soon back on, first dual-carriageways, then country roads. I had a campsite in mind but before that we had two places to visit en-route. We were stopping in an unremarkable city called Swidnica, first at a Biedronka to buy some groceries for the weekend and then we were visiting an incredible building near the city centre.The Church of Peace in \u015awidnica was named after the Peace of Westphalia of 1648. This treaty permitted the Lutherans of Silesia to build three churches from wood, loam and straw outside the city walls, without steeples and church bells and the construction time was limited to one year. What was achieved in that year is simply breath taking, so much so that the church is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.\nIt is the largest timber-framed Baroque ecclesiastical building in Europe. It was built in the mid-17th century to a scale and complexity unknown in European wooden architecture before or since.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Church of the Holy Trinity in \u015awidnica was built in 1656\u20131657 as a three-aisled basilica with a Greek cross ground plan. Another two similar wooden churches were built in this region. One survives but the third burned down a hundred years after it was constructed. As you will see in my pictures, the church\u00a0features multi-tier galleries, thanks to which the capacity of the building was extended to about seven thousand people!\nThe rich d\u00e9cor, which developed over the ensuing decades, integrates exuberant Baroque forms and complex imagery into their architectural framework in a unique way that celebrates the coexistence of Baroque art and Lutheran theology, and reflects the social hierarchy of the time.\nAn unparalleled tour de force, the Church of Peace is a masterpiece of skilled handicraft. Because of its technological complexity and size, the Church of Peace was never duplicated elsewhere and remain without peer.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tA piano tuner was working on a grand piano on a stage and I was told there was going to be a concerto performed that evening of music from the Baroque era, which in these surroundings, will be a magical experience.We continued our journey from Swidnica through a changing landscape from pancake flat agricultural fields to rolling wooded hills to, in the last few miles, into an Alpine like area of very distinctive wooden ski chalet houses and tourist hotels. The properties we have seen in Poland have not really had their own style as you would see in other regions of Europe, but this area around Karpacz was very distinctive and different from what we've seen to date.The last six hundred yards or so to the Camping 66 campsite was along a narrow single-track road where we met a campervan heading towards us but thankfully he was able to reverse past the entrance to the campsite to allow me to turn in. We've never booked ahead on this trip to allow us to be flexible and my initial thought was that this strategy might have backfired as the young receptionist took ages to confirm she had an available pitch for the next two nights.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThis region is not on a direct route from Wroclaw to Dresden in Germany, our next destination, but was close enough to give us a two day break without sightseeing or driving so we immediately got the table and chairs out and started to relax in the afternoon sunshine. We could see some quite high mountains not too far away with a ski-lift and slopes to ski down between the trees and sitting in the warm sunshine it was hard to imagine deep snow here, but obviously it must be the case.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe forecast was not great for the weekend with rain on the way so we decided to make the most of it being dry and warm by having another barbecue.Day 53 - Saturday 26th of Augustnear Karpacz (0 Miles)The rest of the campers were Polish, Czech and German with one solitary British van, us, but everyone who passed Bessie was friendly and said hello. The main buildings were well laid out with a bar \/ restaurant in one wooden building and the toilet \/ shower \/ camp kitchen in another with a covered outside seating area between them which was very popular.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Navigator made use of the cheapest washing machine of this trip (\u00a3 2) so she was hoping the clothes would dry quickly as although today was still warm, but the blue skies of yesterday had given way to grey clouds with rain forecast for overnight. The fifth blog of this trip was posted online this morning and I finished typing up the next blog ready to marry up with the pictures taken in the last week which is never easy as there are always more pictures than space to include them.The rest of the day was spent sitting out enjoying the views and relaxing. This is the first day we can remember on this trip that we have not been sightseeing or walking and the only time we left the vicinity of Bessie was to have a stroll around the site. Not only does the site accept motorhomes, camper and and tents, but they supply different forms of accommodation like wooden chalets, big green Army tents, and the Polish equivalent of wooden gypsy caravans. There was a pool for children, a fire to sit around and other things to keep you amused like an outdoor chess set.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThis was our last planned overnight stay in Poland so we decided to use up some Zlotys by having a meal in the restaurant. Thankfully they had a menu translated into English and as it wasn't an extensive menu it had enough for us to find something we each could choose. The Navigator, predictably, chose the fish dish which was her first trout of the trip, and I had turkey fillets coated in an almond crust, like the amazing chicken we had in P\u00e4rnu, Estonia and a couple of local lagers washed it all down. What we didn't know at this stage was the role that trout would have in the next few days.....\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe have stayed in nine different locations in Poland, from the northern Baltic coast to the mountainous south with the beautiful cities of Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow and Wroclaw in between, along with the Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz. Poland has been a revelation and we have loved every second of our time here and would urge everyone with a motorhome \/ campervan to consider touring here in the future. If you don't want to drive this distance consider flying to the four cities I mentioned, as they are as beautiful as any other city in Europe, and much cheaper for food and drink!Today we are leaving Poland and heading back into Germany to visit some towns, cities and areas of countryside we have not been to before...\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tThis map shows the approximate route we have taken on this blog as part of our 2023 Road Trip...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSome of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\t\t\n\t\t\t
\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.16.0 - 12-09-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}COMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...\t\t\n\t\tThe next blog will be another action packed episode as we head back into Germany to some more beautiful cities and tourist attractions...Stay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online.\t\t\n\t\t\tHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Aug 25, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-08-25 21:31:45","modifiedDate":"2023-09-13 18:14:27","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-09-13 17:14:27","commentCount":"0","commentStatus":"open","categories":{"coma":"
2023<\/a>, Motorhome<\/a>, Poland<\/a>, Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>","space":"2023<\/a> Motorhome<\/a> Poland<\/a> Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"Auschwitz<\/a>Krakow<\/a>motorhome road trip<\/a>motorhomeadventures<\/a>motorhomeblog<\/a>Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>travelblog<\/a>Wieliczka Salt Mine<\/a>Wroclaw<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":46,"sec":3},"status":"publish"},{"id":14315,"link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/manvannoplan-visits-vilnius-etk-warsaw-mszczonow\/","name":"manvannoplan-visits-vilnius-etk-warsaw-mszczonow","thumbnail":{"url":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/wp-content\/uploads\/2023\/08\/20230811_184110-scaled.webp","alt":"ManVanNoPlan visits Etk"},"title":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Vilnius, Etk, Warsaw & Mszczonow","excerpt":"","content":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Vilnius, Etk, Warsaw & MszczonowSome of the following links are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.Day 35 - Tuesday 8th of AugustZorgi to Vilnius (56.674670, 25.228181) (157 Miles)After yesterday's horrendous rain we were expecting more of the same today but it never materialised thankfully. We had a three hour drive ahead of us so we set off just after 9am and headed southwards to Bauska which we had passed through on our way north to Riga thirteen days ago. From there the road headed south east through the usual scenery of wheat fields and forests and although the road surface was good, the conditions were not, as a really strong wind was buffeting us side on all the way, which was not ideal.As we approached Vilnius through the industrial estates and suburbs, the buildings looked more modern than the other two capital cities and the road system was good. What wasn't so good was the attempt Google Maps made to pilot us to the campsite as twice I was given wrong lane information and had to make detours to get back on course.\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tWe made it to the Vilnius City Camping at lunchtime and immediately got talking to a lady who was born in South Africa but had lived in many countries around the world, including a few years living in Loughborough, close to where we once lived in the East Midlands.The camp site is actually a sectioned off part of a huge car park with the adequate facilities housed in converted metal containers. After lunch I had a sleep as I was knackered after the drive and The Navigator made use of the washing machine and an ironing board.\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 20-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-image{text-align:center}.elementor-widget-image a{display:inline-block}.elementor-widget-image a img[src$=\".svg\"]{width:48px}.elementor-widget-image img{vertical-align:middle;display:inline-block}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSome really odd outfits of all shapes, sizes and nationalities came in all afternoon and evening, but no Brits, which is surprising given Vilnius is a popular tourist destination. One of the strangest outfits was from France and was a fairly old motorhome towing a trailer with what looked like props for a street performing act. The couple were probably in their late twenties or early thirties with a young girl of four or five years old.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIn the evening the father practised juggling and different exercises while the little girl captivated everyone by flying around the car park at great speed on in-line roller skates and then on a uni-cycle!PS - more on the TV mast in the background later...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe had a relaxing afternoon \/ evening ready for our cycle into Vilnius in the morning.\"Vilnius is the capital and the largest city of Lithuania, with a population of almost 600,000 as of 2023. Vilnius is situated in southeastern Lithuania and is currently the second largest city in the Baltic States by population after Riga. It is also the only one of the Baltic States' capital cities not on the Baltic coast.Vilnius is known, among other things, for the architecture of its Old Town, one of the largest and best preserved old towns in northern, eastern, and central Europe, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 because of its Baroque architectural style making it largest Baroque city north of the Alps, and the farthest one to the east.Before World War II and the Holocaust, Vilnius was one of the most important Jewish centres in Europe. Its Jewish influence has led to its nickname \"the Jerusalem of Lithuania\" and in fact Napoleon called it \"the Jerusalem of the North\" as he was passing through in 1812.\"Day 36 - Wednesday 9th of August Vilnius - (0 Miles)Day 1The Plan - Cycle all of six kilometers into Vilnius and spend the day exploring its delights. Actually, I'll call it Plan A.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was a lovely day for it, bright and sunny, but rain was forecast for this afternoon. The bikes were extracted from the garage and off we set ending up at a dead end after about a kilometre, and after getting back on track, disaster struck when my right pedal snapped off.There was no way I could cycle the remaining five kilometres and the return six so there was nothing else for it but to return to Bessie and stow the bikes away to be repaired at a future date.Plan B - There is a bus stop about a ten minute walk from the campsite and once there, a No. 16 bus magically appeared and for the grand sum of \u20ac1 each, we were whisked into the centre of Vilnius. You would think from the bus \/ train station there would be signs directing you to the Old Town, but if there were we couldn't see them, so we resorted to a previously tried and tested solution, ask a local!An old dear (older than us that is) was approached and looked at us as if we were speaking Martian so we tried a young student type who you would think would understand the King's English, but we drew a blank there as well. I resorted to Google Maps on my phone and headed off slightly downhill with no real confidence we were heading in the right direction.The first building of any significance we stumbled upon was the city's main market so we headed inside to check out the local delicacies, and some odd ones there were. As we had a mildly traumatic morning getting here, a cuppa was in order so we had an Americano and a black tea, which impressed me as it was the first time anyone had actually put the teabag into the cup before serving it, although in the end it was a meaningless gesture as he didn't dunk it about so it was still really a cup of hot water with a listless teabag in it.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTwo little fairy cakes and the two drinks came to \u20ac 4 which was great value, so suitably refreshed, we carried on. The market was a mix of the usual foodstuffs but had a sizeable number of clothing stalls but the designs were akin to something your mother would have bought from a catalogue back in the 1970s. To be fair though, Lithuania was still under Russian control until it became independent on the 11th of March 1990 so it is still a very young country, but it is catching up with modern European ways pretty fast.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAt this point we had no idea what the city centre would look like, stark Soviet era buildings or glorious Medieval architecture with the odd ancient religious building thrown in for good measure. It turned out that the \"odd religious building\" would be a massive under forecast as it seemed that every where you turned there was an impressive church of various faiths, more than we'd ever seen in any other city until now. In fact the city map lists thirty significant religious buildings that can be visited!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe first one we ventured into was the Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit and Monastery built in the late 18th century. Nothing much to look at on the outside but it was spectacular on the inside.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs is standard in Orthodox churches, there were no pews and the people we saw preying stood in front of an altar and pulled themselves forward after gripping a bar and kissing the painting.\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tVery close by was the Catholic Church of St Terresa, which was in the format we are used to with pews, but again, the decoration displayed outstanding craftmanship.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFurther up this same street there was an even more important religious building, Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn Mother of Mercy, apparently one of the most significant religious, historical and cultural buildings in Lithuania. It was built above one of five defensive gates in the 16th century. There is a famous painting inside of the Virgin Mary from the early 17th century. Pope John Paul II in 1993 and Pope Francis in 2018 both preyed here but we could not go inside as there was a service on when we passed through the Gate of Dawn.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOnce we passed through the gate we saw a sign pointing us in the direction of a 'viewpoint' so headed in that direction and came across a hill top castle which indeed had a great view over part of the city.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\"The Vilnius Castle Complex is a group of cultural, and historic structures on the left bank of the Neris River, near its confluence with the Vilnia River. The buildings, which evolved between the 10th and 18th centuries, were one of Lithuania's major defensive structures.\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe pathway leads you around it to reveal great views over Vilnius and its impressive buildings. As we looked down towards the river there was a great throng of people and vans with music playing so we headed down to see what was happening. It was mobbed and there were people queuing up at the many street food vans and stalls, so, as it was lunchtime by now, we decided to eat here.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe later found out we had stumbled upon the annual one day burger festival, a food that The Navigator is not a great fan of, but when in Rome... \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI joined the queue for the most popular van where the choice on offer was a pulled pork burger or a pulled chicken burger, so we both opted for the latter. To be fair it was about as good a burger you will ever have and there was a local TV crew there to record the event, but by not approaching us for an interview, missed out on the scoop of two OAPs travelling all the way from Scotland for the annual Vilnius Burger Festival! The OAP reference is pertinent as we were the oldest people there by far, with everyone around us at least half our age.We sat and took in the atmosphere for a while before noticing it was clouding over and rain might be on the way so we continued walking along the riverside until we saw a bridge with a signpost declaring that you were crossing into the Republic of U\u017eupis.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\"The self-proclaimed \u201cRepublic of U\u017eupis\" is Vilnius's bohemian and artistic district and was created on the 1st of April 1997. It has its own anthem, constitution, president, bishop, two churches, the Bernadine Cemetery, seven bridges, and guardian, the Bronze Angel of U\u017eupis. U\u017eupis is one of Vilnius's oldest districts and dates to the 16th century.\"It was a quirky area with lots of paintings and statues on display and we walked through it until we crossed over another bridge and back into Lithuania again. Just before we left the 'Republic' we saw a little round building painted in bright colours on the riverside with links to Tibet of all places, and found out it has been visited by his holiness the Dalai Lama, not once but twice!The Catholic Church of St Anne was nearby and it was another impressive building dating from the 16th century. We could see a distinctive castle on the other bank of the river but decided to leave that for tomorrow and after nipping in to see the interior of St Annes, we headed back in the direction of the Old Town, which we had been skirting around all day.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe next area we came across was the the former Jewish Ghetto, established and operated by Nazi Germany during WWII.\"During the approximately two years of its existence starvation, disease, street executions, maltreatment, and deportations to concentration and extermination camps reduced the ghetto's population from an estimated 40,000 to almost zero. Only several hundred people managed to survive, mostly by hiding in the forests surrounding the city, joining Soviet partisans, or sheltering with sympathetic locals.\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt is incredibly hard to comprehend that such atrocities were committed in these narrow, attractive streets in fairly recent times, historically.We continued walking in the direction of the bus station through part of the Old Town, stopping for another reviving cuppa, three to be precise as my black tea was served in a teapot this time! We called it a day at this point as there was a few sporadic rain showers.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe centre of Vilnius is quite large, and although we saw quite a bit, there is still a lot to see tomorrow so we were heading to get on the No. 16 bus and back to Bessie.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDay 37 - Thursday 10th of August Vilnius - (0 Miles)Day 2Phone - check.Wallet - check.Umbrella - check.Sunglasses - would not be needed.The forecast was not good with showery weather predicted all day so we headed into Vilnius fully prepared for whatever conditions we were about to encounter, except for one which I'll describe later!The bus into the centre of Vilnius is great value at \u20ac 1 flat fee no matter how many stops you are on for and maybe some bright spark back home should come and see how continental busses, trains and trams are packed while the high fares in the UK are no incentive to use public transport.I had ringed the tourist map with the sights we wanted to see today and the first few were about as far from the bus station as you can get so we set off with the brollies pressed into service right away. We had visited a fair few religious buildings of various denominations but today there was going to be only one, Vilnius Cathedral.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\"The Cathedral Basilica of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus of Vilnius is the main Catholic cathedral in Lithuania. It is situated in Vilnius Old Town, just off Cathedral Square. Dedicated to the Christian saints Stanislaus and Ladislaus, the church is the heart of Catholic spiritual life in Lithuania.\"A church has stood on this spot for many centuries but the one we see today dates from 1801 although it incorporates masonry dating back from the 13th to 15th centuries, and the oldest Lithuanian fresco, painted in the 14th century. The adjacent bell tower dates back to the middle of the 13th century: the defensive tower that stood here in the 16th century became a bell tower and got its current appearance at the beginning of the 19th century. The city\u2019s oldest clock at the top of the tower chimes its bells to invite people to mass. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Navigator reminded me that in Argyll there is also a bell tower that is separate from a church, and it's in Inveraray! Give yourself a gold star if you knew that.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tNext to the Cathedral is the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and was originally constructed in the 15th century for the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the future Kings of Poland. The original Palace evolved over the years and prospered during the 16th and mid-17th centuries. For four centuries the palace was the political, administrative and cultural centre of the Polish\u2013Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was demolished in 1801. Work on a new palace started in 2002 on the site of the original building and it took 16 years to complete it in 2018. The palace was rebuilt in a Renaissance style.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tNext to the Palace is Mount Gediminas, the first brick castle was completed in 1409 by Grand Duke Vytautas. The three-floor tower we see today was rebuilt in 1933.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tStanding 48-metres tall, the hill is one of the highest points in Vilnius Old Town, making it a perfect spot to get a 360\u00b0 view of the city. On one side you can see the red rooftops of the Old Town, and on the other the modern city with glass skyscrapers and the Neris River flowing. This is also your chance to see the Vilnius Cathedral from above. Thankfully there is a funicular round the back of the hill which is also just \u20ac 1 to ascend the steep hill.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Scotsman in me thought we'd save \u20ac 2 by walking down the hill after taking in the sights, but maybe this wasn't the brightest idea I'd ever had as the first half of the descent is on a steep wooden staircase which was murder on our knees and then halfway down the staircase gives way to the roughest ever cobblestones, which were murder on our feet!You may have seen in the pictures I took over Vilnius that there was more blue in the sky than clouds now and consequently the temperature cranked up and it turned into a scorching hot afternoon.Last night we watched a few YouTube videos just to check we weren't missing anything worth seeing on our last day in the city. One of the videos showed a couple who were trying Lithuanian traditional dishes in Vilnius and one of the meals was billed as Lithuania's national dish and caught our attention.Cepelinai or \"zeppelins\" as they are popularly known, are potato dumplings made from grated and riced potatoes and stuffed with ground meat, dry curd, cheese or mushrooms. When in Lithuania as they say, so we put the restaurant in Google Maps and headed there, as by this time we had worked up a hearty appetite and this looked like the very meal to fill us up!It was a good old walk to get to the restaurant and when we arrived it did not look the most promising venue but in we went. It was one of those restaurants that was themed and the place was full of old farm equipment adorning the walls. The recipe for the zeppelins says it takes at least sixty minutes to prepare them, but ours were served in about six minutes.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThey were surprisingly delicious and we enjoyed them, but, although we were both starving, they beat us even though we had forgone our mid morning cuppas and cake. In hindsight one would have been enough, but we never imagined they would be that big or filling.We went back to one of the main streets and had a seat in the sunshine to let the zeppelins digest a bit more and do a bit of people watching. There were probably a few more sights we could have seen but felt that our feet had suffered enough in walking over 30,000 steps over the last two days.The bench we were sitting on was in the same street we had our afternoon tea \/ coffee in yesterday but The Navigator swore blind it wasn't, but then again navigation is not her strongest attribute as was confirmed when we walked the fifty yards to the same place as yesterday...When we were walking back towards the bus station we saw a young guy with a very expensive looking camera taking pictures of an ultra expensive Maybach car with the distinctive number plate, 'TONY G' and my curiosity was aroused and asked him who it belonged to and was told it was owned by Antanas Guoga, more commonly known as Tony G, a Lithuanian-Australian businessman, poker player, politician and philanthropist. Tony G's net worth is reportedly above $36m USD, and though plenty of that comes from the poker table, it's his businesses that really rake in the cash for him as the principal owner of major online poker sites.As we walked on we passed him and his party sitting outside a very expensive hotel enjoying drinks in the afternoon sunshine. We walked on through the Old Town and headed for the bus.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe too enjoyed the afternoon sunshine sitting outside Bessie back at the campsite but I eventually had to go inside as it was too hot for me and I needed a siesta. The campsite was surprisingly quiet with not many new arrivals and just before we shut the blinds at ten o'clock we watched the TV tower light up red tonight as opposed to the blue of last night.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFor locals, the Vilnius TV Tower is more than just a notable landmark, it\u2019s also an important symbol of resistance. In 1991, during Lithuania\u2019s fight for independence from the Soviet Union, crowds of unarmed Lithuanian civilians turned out to protect the TV tower from being taken over by Soviet troops. The ensuing events saw 14 civilians lose their lives and more than 700 were injured. Today, a memorial and exhibition is dedicated to them on the ground floor of the tower.Day 38 - Friday 11th of August Vilnius to Etk (53.815566, 22.354026 ) (179 Miles)Today we leave Vilnius, Lithuania, and the Baltic States, and head back into Poland to continue touring there. We have enjoyed visiting all three Baltic States and especially their capital cities, Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn which were all different, and all very much worth visiting. All three countries have gained their independence from Russia in very recent times as it was only on the 6th September 1991 that the Soviet Government finally recognised the independence of all three Baltic states. It was followed by complete withdrawal of Russian troops from all Baltic States and was achieved first in Lithuania on 31st August 1993, followed by Estonia and Latvia on 31 August 1994.They are now all striving to catch up with modern European standards and we cannot really fault any aspect of our time here. Only today in one of the UK papers it is reported that travel giants TUI are forecasting more people will holiday in this region instead of the Med countries.After servicing Bessie we set off from the site and before getting on the dual carriageway out of Vilnius I topped up with diesel at \u20ac 1.44 (\u00a3 1.24) which is the cheapest we've seen in the Baltics. It didn't take very long to leave the city and head along the motorway towards Kaunas in pretty dismal conditions as it was raining quite heavily.After about an hour the rain stopped and the skies turned blue making the driving conditions much better. We saw the first deer of this Baltic part of this trip but were disappointed not to have seen an Elk in the flesh as opposed to the hundreds of road signs we've past warning us of their presence.After skirting around Kaunus, we headed along the E67 motorway towards Poland, which is a different route from the one we came here on. This motorway was perfect to drive as it had a good surface and little traffic so we made good time. The last thirty miles or so before the border is still being constructed and the Lithuanians are throwing everything at it to get it completed as the amount of machinery and men working on it was incredible, no doubt funded by EU money.Apart from farms, there are few towns or villages to be seen outside the bigger towns and cities so there is little getting in the way of them building a dead straight motorway.When we reached the border, the transformation was instant. From the old road and a thirty mile construction site, we were now in Poland on a recently built pristine motorway. There were loads of trucks parked up on the Lithuanian side of the border at the old customs post buildings and as we crossed the border I saw a sign which indicated that in Poland there is a toll for vehicle over 3,500kg, which Bessie is...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThis was a surprise to me as I hadn't thought there were toll roads in Poland and I had missed the exit anyway to register for the toll so I carried on driving passing a disinterested looking Polish border guard. Within a mile or so into Poland we saw a massive accident on the other carriage way involving at least one truck which must have been fatal with the amount and size of debris lying about blocking the road into Lithuania.Later on I would research for information on toll roads in Poland and found out that there are a few sections of motorway that do have tolls, but this one wasn't on the list, although the sign had indicated it was, so maybe as it was a brand spanking new motorway it wasn't in force yet. That was my hope, and when we get home, hopefully there won't be a brown envelope with a Polish postmark containing a fine waiting for us!Our destination was a large town called Etk and a lakeside campsite to break the journey. We had driven almost four hours and that was enough for today. Warsaw, Poland's capital is where we are heading next, almost three hours further on and as I didn't want to arrive there on a Friday or Saturday, we are stopping staying here for two nights.There would have been no other reason to come off the motorway and stop here as there is not much online about it or YouTube videos to see, but our initial impression was very favourable. We stocked up on groceries for the weekend at a Netto and are still in awe at how cheap food is in Poland, although booze seems to be pretty expensive, apart from vodka and beer.\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\tThe woman at the campsite reception spoke good English, having lived in New York and Watford for short periods so we had a long chat to her before settling down for the afternoon. On a technical motorhome aside, the electrical connection here was different to any we have encountered before on our travels. Most campsites in Europe have the 'normal' three pin connection but on this trip we've come across a few with two pin connections but this usually isn't a problem as we have a two pin converter to allow us to plug in. This site was slightly different as, although it was two pin, it also had a pin sticking out of the socket and our convertor didn't have a hole for it to go into.Our Polish neighbour tried to help, with no luck, so I went to see our new Polish bestie on reception who loaned us a converter to fit into our convertor to fit onto our three pin cable and all was well with the world again.\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 20-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-divider{--divider-border-style:none;--divider-border-width:1px;--divider-color:#0c0d0e;--divider-icon-size:20px;--divider-element-spacing:10px;--divider-pattern-height:24px;--divider-pattern-size:20px;--divider-pattern-url:none;--divider-pattern-repeat:repeat-x}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider{display:flex}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{font-size:15px;line-height:1;max-width:95%}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__element{margin:0 var(--divider-element-spacing);flex-shrink:0}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-icon{font-size:var(--divider-icon-size)}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider-separator{display:flex;margin:0;direction:ltr}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator{align-items:center}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:before{display:block;content:\"\";border-bottom:0;flex-grow:1;border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:first-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider-separator:before{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider__element{margin-left:0}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:last-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider-separator:after{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider__element{margin-right:0}.elementor-widget-divider:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text):not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon) .elementor-divider-separator{border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern{--divider-border-style:none}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern.elementor-widget-divider--view-line .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not([class*=elementor-widget-divider--view]) .elementor-divider-separator{width:100%;min-height:var(--divider-pattern-height);-webkit-mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;-webkit-mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);background-color:var(--divider-color);-webkit-mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url);mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url)}.elementor-widget-divider--no-spacing{--divider-pattern-size:auto}.elementor-widget-divider--bg-round{--divider-pattern-repeat:round}.rtl .elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{direction:rtl}.e-con-inner>.elementor-widget-divider,.e-con>.elementor-widget-divider{width:var(--container-widget-width,100%);--flex-grow:var(--container-widget-flex-grow)}\t\t\n\t\tInexpensive Birthday Gift Ideas...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTitles for the four nations also include, Best Wife, Best Son & Best GolferSee the full range of titles\u00a0HERE.\t\t\n\t\tThe site's wi-fi signal did not reach where Bessie was parked and the Internet connection via my phone was pretty slow but I managed to work for the rest of the afternoon on Fyne Editions as there are loads of new titles on the way for the Christmas period. Later on we sat outside in the warmth and enjoyed a barbecue.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter tidying up we headed over to an area where a rock group from Warsaw were playing. I'm not a great lover of rock or heavy metal but these guys, called Rokker, were very good so we got two bottles of lager and sat on deck chairs on the sand and watched the sun go down behind the stage. When I bought the two bottles of lager the barman rang them up on the till and asked for 'eighteen.' I immediately thought \u00a3 18 for two bottles of lager was outrageous, even though there was no entrance fee to listen to the band, but then I finally realised I was in Poland and it was eighteen Zloty which was only \u00a3 3.60 in real money!!Later on, a guy, who I assumed was the band's roadie, came round with 'the hat' so I chucked in a ten Zloty note so that the four band members were enriched by 50p a head, which I'm sure they'll squander on their rock and roll lifestyle instead of investing in a pension plan!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDay 39 - Saturday 12th of August Etk (0 Miles)Etk was only ever meant to be a stopover to break the journey between Vilnius and our next major destination of Warsaw, the Polish capital. Surprisingly for a town in the middle of nowhere, the lakeside is the main focus for the locals and it is well laid out. We've seen before that inland towns and cities on rivers and lakes usually have an artificial sandy beach which the locals make use of for water sports and relaxing and Etk was no exception.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe had a lazy morning relaxing outside Bessie as it was another scorcher today. After lunch we set off to walk the short distance into the town centre to see the delights of Etk which did not take too long. The only area that was notable was a public park which was very well laid out and maintained, and it centred around a large statue of Pope John Paul II who came to preach in Etk in 1999.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFrom the park it is a short walk over a river bridge into the town passing another homage to the Pope, a large portrait painted on the gable end of a building. The town is nothing to write home about and the only shop we were enticed into was to buy two tubs of Flurry ice creams with The Navigator adding KitKat sprinkles and I had the M&M sprinkles, all for \u00a3 2 each, a real bargain in such a hot day.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe main street didn't detain us too long before we headed down to the lakeside to walk back in the direction of the campsite. This area alongside the lake was really lovely and was a stark contrast to the rather austere town centre. Lots of people were walking along the path and stopping at cafes for drinks and we sat on a bench thankful for the cool breeze coming off the lake.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAn old man came and started fishing in front of us but I thought his chances were pretty slim given a clown on a jet-ski was whizzing about disturbing the tranquillity of the afternoon.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tLater on we had another barbecue using the last of the flavoured Netto chicken and The Navigator pimped up some couscous to accompany it. It was almost 9pm before we packed everything away in anticipation of the drive onto Warsaw in the morning. Day 40 - Sunday 13th of August Etk to Warsaw (52.213591, 21.101681 ) (143 Miles)The routine now is that on a driving day we get on the road sharpish to get the driving over and done with in the morning to arrive and get set up at lunchtime then spend the afternoon relaxing ready to explore our new destination the next day.It would take just under three hours to reach Warsaw on mostly motorway, although we did get diverted off a couple of times to get round some unfinished sections of the motorway and through one large town in particular, but this being Sunday, the traffic was light.The campsite we were heading for was fairly easy to find but turned out to be closed permanently so I found another on the other side of the city and headed there. Camping Sum is in the southeast of Warsaw on the banks of the Vistula and has seen better days, but we didn't have much choice so booked in. The old lady did not speak a single word of English but between them, The Navigator and her managed to sort out our three night stay with a lot of pointing and gesturing and we had to pay in cash as no credit cards are accepted.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThat first afternoon was spent relaxing in the shade of Bessie and after lunch I made use of the strong 4G signal to update the fourth blog ready to post in the next day or so. We had an Italian van on one side of us and a Dutch van on the other with other more nationalities here as well, but still no Brits!Since travelling to, or through, the Netherlands so often we have become very accustomed to eating satay in one form or another and tonight The Navigator rustled up a delicious meatballs, noodles and satay sauce meal that we enjoyed sitting outside in the warm evening.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\"Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. The metropolis stands on the River Vistula in east-central Poland. Its population is officially estimated at 1.86 million residents within a greater metropolitan area of 3.1 million residents, which makes Warsaw the 6th most-populous city in the European Union.The city rose to prominence in the late 16th century, when Sigismund III decided to move the Polish capital and his royal court from Krak\u00f3w. Warsaw served as the de facto capital of the Polish\u2013Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1795, and subsequently as the seat of Napoleon's Duchy of Warsaw. The 19th century and its Industrial Revolution brought a demographic boom which made it one of the largest and most densely populated cities in Europe. Known then for its elegant architecture and boulevards, Warsaw was bombed and besieged at the start of World War II in 1939. Much of the historic city was destroyed and its diverse population decimated by the Ghetto Uprising in 1943, the general Warsaw Uprising in 1944 and systematic razing.\"Day 41 - Monday 14th of August Warsaw - (0 Miles)Day 1Today is the halfway point of this trip and it will be spent exploring Warsaw, if we can get on the correct busses that is! The old lady had told us to cross the dual carriageway and get a 146 or 147 bus and get off at the stadium where the Polish national football team play. Piece of cake that bit was.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tUnfortunately our hostess did not tell us what bus to get on now to cross the river into the city centre but thankfully an equally bewildered looking French couple were in the same position as us so The Navigator conversed with him in fluent French to say we were in the same position. OK, maybe school girl French, but it did the trick as he found out it was a Z-9 bus we needed for five stops and voila, just like that a Z-9 appeared. The other nugget of information The Navigator extracted from the French man was that seniors travelled free on the busses here so we had a freebie into the city. Later I found out you had to be over seventy, but what difference does a year make!We got off the bus near the the grand Palace of Culture and Science which was built in 1955 as a \u201cgift of the Soviet people for the Poles\u201d by Joseph Stalin. It is an imposing building but looks dated compared to the modern skyscrapers nearby.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFrom there we walked through a huge park and what was the Jewish Ghetto in WWII. \"On 2 October 1940, Ludwig Fischer, Governor of the Warsaw District in the occupied General Government of Poland, signed the order to officially create a Jewish district (ghetto) in Warsaw. It was to become the largest ghetto in Nazi-occupied Europe.The results were truly horrific \u2013 between October 1940 and July 1942 around 92,000 Jewish residents of the ghetto died of starvation, diseases and cold which accounted for nearly 20% of the entire population. The dreadful conditions in the ghetto forced many Jews to escape. The German response was predictable.\"It is incredibly difficult to comprehend the evil atrocities that were committed here by the Germans less than eighty years ago as the area is now rebuild and nothing like it was back then.It had taken almost half an hour to get to the Old Town Square after we got off the bus but the anticipation was worthwhile as the rebuilt buildings are stunning and the area was busy with tourists and locals alike.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tA quote attributed to the 1st Century Roman culinary expert Apicius suggests: \u201cThe first bite is with the eyes\". To prove the point we found a restaurant that had a menu outside where every dish was accompanied with a picture and the photographs sold them so we sat at a table for two outside, but not for long as a handful of wasps started attacking the couple who were eating at the next table so we moved inside to the cool interior.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI had pork with a goulash sauce and gnocchi while The Navigator had a schnitzel, fries and a popular side dish in Poland, cucumber in mayonnaise and dill.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThere was a Royal cathedral next door to the restaurant and we popped in to see if the interior was more impressive than the rather plain facade, and it was. We retraced our steps through the Castle Square and headed down the Royal Route.\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe\u00a0Royal Route in Warsaw begins at the Royal Castle in Castle Square and the guides say it can be walked in thirty minutes and maybe you can walk it in that time if you put your head down and yomp down the pedestrianised street. However, nearly every building is either a Royal Palace, a Presidential Palace, a church or other buildings of historical interest that you can't just walk past without admiring the architecture and the following pictures are just some of the ones I took on our \"thirty minute walk.\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe did go into one of the churches on the walk down the Royal Way as it contained a memorial to the great Polish composer, Frederic Chopin.\u00a0When Chopin died in France in October 1849 at the early age of thirty-nine his famous deathbed wish was that his heart should be cut out from his body and sent to Poland where it now rests in the Holy Cross Church.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDay 42 - Tuesday 15th of August Warsaw (0 Miles)Day 2Today is forecast to be even hotter than yesterday, if that's possible! In the light of the forecast we are not going to be too ambitious and limit ourselves to seeing an area just beyond where we were yesterday, have lunch, then walk back along the riverside to the bus stop. Sounds like a plan but what we didn't know in our innocence is that half the population of Poland had roughly the same plan!\"It's too hot for a Scotsman.\" Is that a saying or did I just make it up?Our journey into Warsaw went like clockwork as we knew what bus to get, where to change, and where to get off. We began by retracing our steps up the Royal Way, noticing a very heavy Police presence with lots of vans parked up, all with their blue lights flashing. Noticing a few policemen coming out of a Carrefour Mini supermarket carrying what was probably their breakfast, we thought no more of it and carried on walking.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAbout half way up the Royal Way I noticed some white canopies near the tomb of the unknown soldier and a lot of people heading in that direction tion, so we followed then to see what was happening, a lot as it turned out and it radically changed the nature of our day.What we didn't know was that today was Armed Forces Day, known also as the Feast of the Polish Armed Forces which is a national holiday celebrated annually on the 15th of August in Poland, commemorating the anniversary of the 1920 victory over Soviet Russia at the Battle of Warsaw during the Polish\u2013Soviet War.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe area around the statue of the unknown soldier was cordoned off and there were loads of police, military, and secret service all milling about. It was about 11.15am and I asked one of the secret service guys what was going on and he explained about the day and there was a ceremony here at noon so we decided to stay and see the event. It was blistering hot and we stood in the shade of a building before taking up our prime position at the crash barrier. We had been entertained by the arrival of the dignitaries in their chauffeur driven limousines all in their dress Military uniforms and the secret service people trying to organise the chaos. The secret service were nearly all in ill fitting blue suits caused by their hidden weapons no doubt, and talked into their lapels or cuffs! We could see people on the roof of the Sofitel hotel watching the crowds through binoculars and then, later than planned, it all kicked off.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt had been obvious that with this level of security, that no less than the President would be in attendance and after performing a ceremony at another nearby statue he and his entourage walked towards us surrounded by a massive security cordon. To be honest it was hard to pick the President out among about fifty other people in dark suits, white shirts and dark ties surrounding him, but it was his tall blonde wife in a white two piece outfit who made it obvious who he was.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs I was in such a great position I decided to video the occasion and here it is for you to enjoy as well...https:\/\/youtu.be\/7DErlRjIM5wOnce the ceremonial wreath was laid, bugles and drums played and that was it. Mrs Duda was whisked away in the back of a limousine and President Duda walked off down the street we had come up an hour earlier. The crowds dispersed quickly and as we walked back down to the Royal Way we thought our chances of getting lunch somewhere was fairly limited due to the massive crowds heading the same way we were.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tYesterday we had walked as far as the Royal Palace and nearby Cathedral but not as far as the Old Town Market Place and that had been our objective today so we headed on to there.\"Warsaw's Old Town Market Place is the central and oldest part of the Old Town of Warsaw. The district was first damaged by the bombs of the German Luftwaffe during the Invasion of Poland in 1939. The ancient Market Place was rebuilt in the 1950s, after having been destroyed by the German Army after the suppression of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.\"The following pictures show how the square was in the late 19th century then what the Germans did to it in 1944 then two picture I took today.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWhen you see the picture of how it was at the turn of the 19th century, how it looked after the War and how it is today you have to admire the skills of the architects who were in charge of the reconstruction. In the centre of the square stands a statue of a mermaid, the symbol of this city, some 287 miles from the nearest sea on the Baltic coast!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe found a restaurant with a good menu at reasonable prices so we went inside to the cool interior out of the intense heat. I had a traditional Polish dish of fried potato with a goulash sauce accompanied by red cabbage and sauerkraut and The Navigator had cod which she enjoyed, her first fish in a while. The waiter offered us a digestiv with two strengths but thought the 70% one might be a tad too strong so plumped for the 30% one instead. When I asked for the bill he brought us another two with the compliments of the restaurant, this time a cherry brandy.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe thought of going back out into the afternoon heat was not an appealing prospect, but we were heading for a riverside stroll so maybe there would be a cooling breeze there. Wrong on so many counts!First, the riverside was going to be the scene of a parade of Poland's military might so the entire nation it seemed, had turned out to see the spectacle.Second, with all these people present, and no shade, it seemed hotter than ever.There was no way whatsoever that we would see anything, even with giant TV screens, so we continued walking back to the bus stop however we did find a place to stand near the Presidential Palace and could hear the bands marching past followed by the turrets of tanks followed by a fly past of helicopters and planes of the Polish Air Force and it all sounded impressive given we couldn't see much that wasn't flying past us.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe were now inland a bit from the river and walking down a street with loads of other people. We came across a Carrefour and joined the conga line of people also trying to buy cool drinks and we succeeded, which was a huge bonus given the temperature was in the mid 90s.The busses back to the campsite were packed like sardine cans but we made it back just after 5pm and to our surprise saw a long line of tanks on flat bed trucks heading into the city which was confusing as they couldn't have been the ones taking part in the procession earlier.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI had a total of five cups of tea to try and quench my thirst as The Navigator wouldn't let me drink any of the Coke we had queued so long for earlier. On a medical note, apart from tired feet from all the walking we've been doing, a strange thing happened to me this morning when we were waiting for the wreath laying ceremony. I started to hear myself breathing and my voice was distorted and it was like this until later in the evening and my tea binge. With two back-to-back capital cities seen within a week or so and a long drive we are in need of a rest before the next major city and so we are heading to a town not a million miles from here, forty to be precise, to have that much needed rest, for a day at least.Day 43 - Wednesday 16th of August Warsaw to Mszczon\u00f3w (51.9785298, 20.5252196) (40 Miles)Here's your starter for ten - pronounce Mszczon\u00f3w!Thankfully I didn't have to ask for directions as Google Maps just needs a pin on the map and it takes you straight there. We were in no real rush today as the journey was only 40 miles on dual carriageway all the way.We first saw the place we were going to on the YouTube video of a couple we follow and it stuck in my mind that if we were ever in central Poland near Warsaw then we had to visit it. The website describes it as follows - \"Located only 40 km from Warsaw, Termy Mszczon\u00f3w was built with the inhabitants of central Poland in mind. They are supplied with water at a temperature of 26 to 34C, extracted from a depth of over 1,600 m. The entire complex consists of 5 swimming pools: two year-round thermal pools, a recreational pool, a sports pool and a children's pool. The offer also includes water slides, saunas, a salt cave, beach volleyball courts, a playground for children and many other attractions.\"The YouTube video must have been filmed in the depths of winter as no other cars or vans were in the car park when this other couple visited, but today it was bedlam. There are six parking spaces set aside for motorhomes with water and electricity points, the problem was cars were parked everywhere but thankfully there was one Polish campervan already there and he had parked so badly that there was just enough room for Bessie to fit into a space next to him, but I had to make a million cuts to get in the space.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tMission completed,\u00a0 we decided to have lunch and then go in and make use of the facilities. As I write up today's activity later that night I am still not sure what happened today safe to say we had a fantastic time in the pool complex and that's a non swimmer talking.The woman on reception spoke not a word of English so gestures, pointing and speaking slowly on my part managed to get us through the barrier with a sort of watch strapped to our wrists. Then another woman guided us towards a cloakroom for want of a better description where our sandals were put in a carrier bag and a plastic number corresponding to the peg was given to us.The changing room had lockers and your numbered watch was scanned to release the corresponding locker door. Once changed it was first into an indoor circular pool with was lovely and warm and this led through a plastic curtain to a connected outdoor pool which was considerably hotter where we spent most of the time but the sun was baking hot again today and my old bald head suffered without my cap on.The Navigator managed a swim which she enjoyed, more so than her recent Baltic Sea effort!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe had only booked an hour as we had no idea that there was so much to do so we reluctantly came out. Once dried and dressed we handed in our 'watches' and were charged another \u00a3 2.77 I think for returning the watches over the one hour we had paid for.That brought the grand total for our pool entry and overnight parking with electricity and water to \u00a3 10.36. Poland is simply amazing value and it astounds us that we have not seen another British van in Poland since we were in Gdansk a lifetime ago, well it seems that long anyway.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and I uploaded the latest blog post, the fourth of this trip which will go live tomorrow morning when our subscribers will get an email to announce its arrival.At 9pm the complex closed and the car park emptied and we were joined by a young Lithuanian family who were stopping over on their way to Vienna. We are also heading south tomorrow but only as far as Krakow, allegedly Poland's prettiest city which has the most annual tourists, beating Warsaw and Gdansk so we are looking forward to it, although not the three and a half hour drive in this tropical weather we are having. In the morning\u00a0The next blog will be our last one in Poland, which will be a pity as we have enjoyed every minute of this fantastic country.\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tThis map shows the approximate route we have taken on this blog as part of our 2023 Road Trip...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSome of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\t\t\n\t\t\t
\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 20-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}COMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...\t\t\n\t\tThe next blog will be action packed as we visit Krakow and Wroclaw, two of the prettiest cities in Poland with two full days to explore both...Stay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online.\t\t\n\t\t\tHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Aug 17, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-08-17 16:08:24","modifiedDate":"2023-08-26 13:44:47","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-08-26 12:44:47","commentCount":"0","commentStatus":"open","categories":{"coma":"
2023<\/a>, Lithuania<\/a>, Motorhome<\/a>, Poland<\/a>, Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>","space":"2023<\/a> Lithuania<\/a> Motorhome<\/a> Poland<\/a> Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"Etk<\/a>motorhome road trip<\/a>motorhomeadventures<\/a>motorhomeblog<\/a>Mszczonow<\/a>Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>travelblog<\/a>Vilnius<\/a>Warsaw<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":42,"sec":27},"status":"publish"},{"id":13730,"link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/manvannoplan-visits-rmk-krapi-parnu-tallinn-tartu\/","name":"manvannoplan-visits-rmk-krapi-parnu-tallinn-tartu","thumbnail":{"url":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/wp-content\/uploads\/2023\/07\/IMG_0896-scaled.webp","alt":"ManVanNoPlan visits Tallinn"},"title":"ManVanNoPlan Visits RMK Karpi, Parnu, Tallinn & Tartu","excerpt":"","content":"ManVanNoPlan Visits RMK Karpi, Parnu, Tallinn & TartuSome of the following links are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.Day 27 - Sunday 30th of July Riga to Karpi Camping (57.938785, 24.391036) (76 Miles)Today was another momentous day for us as we are heading into Estonia, new country number four for us on this trip. Before that however we had to service Bessie for the journey and it was while filling up with water that we met fellow Brits who were waiting behind us to do the same.\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 09-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-image{text-align:center}.elementor-widget-image a{display:inline-block}.elementor-widget-image a img[src$=\".svg\"]{width:48px}.elementor-widget-image img{vertical-align:middle;display:inline-block}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThey had set off from Cornwall, driven to Scotland and completed the NC500 before heading to Harwich for the ferry to the Hook of Holland, then to Scandinavia before taking the ferry from Helsinki to Tallin so they were now heading south with three weeks left of their ninety day Schengen allowance. What a trip, and all that distance in an old 'E' registered motorhome!\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tSo, what did we think of Riga? Due to the compact size of the Old Town, it is easy to walk around so if you wanted to fly in for a weekend city break it is perfect in that respect. Being a capital city it is fairly cosmopolitan so whatever food you like you will find it here, but the Latvian cuisine is well worth trying. We didn't drink any alcohol, but beer is widely advertised at \u20ac 4 a pint but we noticed in the shops bottles of wine start at about \u20ac 7 upwards, which is at least double that of Germany and Poland, so we will wait before topping up Bessie's cellars on the way back.The languages of all the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are often grouped together due to historical and regional similarities, but each has its own distinct language - and none of these countries\u2019 official languages belong to the Slavic language family, which Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian belong to, but to be honest they do sound a bit Russian to the untrained ear. Most people you come into contact with either speak, or understand, English so there are no problems in that respect.The currency of all three Baltic States is the Euro so on this trip it is only Poland that still has its own currency, the Zloty, but because there are five Zloty to the pound it is simple to work out the value of everything, as long as you remember your five times table.Riga is certainly worth visiting, I'm not so sure about the rest of Latvia however as from what we've seen so far, it is very flat and featureless!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThese Journals are available at Fyne Editions as are millions more, so click on the image to see the full range of motorhome, campervan and caravan journals...Getting out of Riga was fairly straight forward as it was basically the one road out of the city until it turns into a motorway on the outskirts. Even when the motorway ends the single lane carriageway is wide and straight as a die for mile after mile. Although most of the roads are single carriageway there is a narrow hard shoulder and lorries especially drive half on it to let other cars etc get past.We were heading up the coast to a campsite about an hour and a half north of Riga but I managed to overshoot the left turn into the entrance so we just kept on driving for another 17km to the next stopover we had planned just over the border in Estonia.It would be an over simplification to say that all the Baltic countries are only covered in forests and wheat fields, but they ARE all covered in forests and wheat fields!\u00a0Estonia has an organisation called RMK which is the state owned forestry management organisation, similar to our Forestry Commission and they have many places in amongst the forest where you can camp for free and it's on one of those sites that we are parked tonight, called Karpi Camping. There are few facilities, although there are loads of metal barbecues scattered about with free wood for burning, and there are some covered picnic tables along with a few huts containing a toilet for campers.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe parked in the main car park at the entrance and The Navigator rustled up lunch while I had a walk to see if the track was suitable for Bessie. Convinced it was, we drove into the forest for a few hundred yards to find a level spot under some huge pine trees. The sandy beach runs for most of the Latvian and Estonian coast and is only about twenty yards from the van.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIf you think The Navigator looks concerned in the above picture - she is! We watch a lot of YouTube videos of people touring about in motorhomes and campervans and most take the opportunity to swim wherever they are, be it in rivers, lochs or the sea. I had said to The Navigator that we were going for a swim in the Baltic Sea and this was probably going to be the last opportunity to do so.We had a walk onto the beach which was deserted now as most people, who were here for the weekend, had left for home. Our plan to take a dip in the Baltic Sea to see if it was 'Baltic' as we Scots say, was thwarted by quite heavy rain which is also not ideal if you're parked under trees!Maybe we can have a dip tomorrow if its dry, but the forecast is not good for the rest of the week. At this point I will note for the record The Navigator's reluctance to even dip her toes in the sea!Day 28 - Monday 31st of July Karpi Camping to P\u00e4rnu (58.385294, 24.525600) (50 Miles)I'm not sure if it rained during the night or not as I fell into a deep sleep after lights out. Because there was no wind to speak of there wasn't any rustling sounds coming from the trees all around us but you could hear the waves lapping onto the beach nearby. All in all a great place to camp.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSo much for the weather forecast! The expected rain has not materialised and the sunrise is casting a dappling effect through the trees. As it was dry, if not exactly warm, I informed The Navigator that I was going for a dip in the Baltic which, against her better judgement it must be said, she decided to do as well. Only one of us can swim, and it's not me, so the dip was really only going to be walking into the sea, and probably straight back out again, especially if the Baltic lives up to its reputation for being freezing cold.And that's exactly what happened. Straight in to waist level and straight back out again! In Scottish and Irish slang we use the word 'Baltic' to denote a freezing cold windy day and although this was the last day of July and quite mild, the water was 'Baltic' in all senses of the word.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tA hot shower revived us followed by breakfast and a relaxing morning. After lunchtime we set off for the City of P\u00e4rnu, about an hour further up the coast. Just before we left, I went over to examine a wheelchair that had sat since yesterday apparently abandoned and I thought it strange that if you are in a wheelchair it would not be the sort of thing you'd forget to take with you!\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was obvious that it had been there for some time by the condition of it but what made me laugh was the above drawing on a piece of card that someone had left on the seat. It reads, \"Jeta & Rasmus, Nils & Karl, Madli & Vallo, then below, Heidi No Man only ugly.\" Judging by the drawing the wheelchair looks as though it might have belonged to Vallo, but we will never know...\"P\u00e4rnu is the fourth largest city in Estonia and is situated in the southwest of the country, some 128 kilometres (80 miles) south of the Estonian capital, Tallinn. The city sits off the coast of P\u00e4rnu Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Riga, which is a part of the Baltic Sea and the P\u00e4rnu River drains into the Gulf of Riga at this point, bisecting the city.\"P\u00e4rnu beach is the reason that the city is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every summer. It is the biggest and most beautiful beach in Estonia. In 2018, Lonely Planet included P\u00e4rnu in its list of top ten lesser-known beach cities in the world. With its warm (?) and shallow water and sandy beach, and thanks to the good conditions, P\u00e4rnu beach has been named one of the Scandinavian tourist paradises.\"Yesterday we left the main road and travelled up a country road for about 5km to the parking spot in the forest, crossing a border point from Latvia into Estonia as we did so. Today we are retracing our steps to get back onto the main road, so crossing the border back into Latvia, before then heading north on the main road and through another border crossing into Estonia!An hour later we were in what looked to be a brand new Lidl and it was pretty busy. Food prices were on average higher than at home, but one bargain was a bag of frozen meat filled Pierogi which cost all of \u20ac 2 and will probably make three meals, one of which we had later.The campsite was easily enough found and it was well situated on the banks of the P\u00e4rnu River. The girl on reception said there were only two spaces left as most pitches were reserved so we settled on the best of the two she showed us. We sat out in the shade created by Bessie and over the course of the next couple of hours we watched the same girl show about a dozen vans into the area we were on for unreserved vans. By the evening all one hundred of the pitches were taken and a Conservative estimate is that at least eighty of them are taken by Finnish vans.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs we are pitched next to the entrance to our section, everyone passed us and we had chats to three of the Finnish campers especially one man who spoke very good English as our Finnish is a tad rusty. Estonian is the sixth different language we have encountered on this trip and we've managed to be understood so far thanks to English (with a Scottish twist) being the universal language.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe campsite is right on the river and we had an evening stroll before the approaching deluge of the next few days arrived.Day 29 - Tuesday 1st of August P\u00e4rnu (0 Miles)\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tP\u00e4rnu is a beach resort, which means it needs to be bright and sunny to be seen at its best. Unfortunately it poured down all night and showers were forecast for most of the day.The plan was to cycle into the town and the beach but not while it's chucking it down. We had breakfast and watched the exodus of most of the Finnish vans who were heading for the Tallin to Helsinki ferry this afternoon.There was a brief respite from the rain around about 10am so we dressed appropriately and headed off cycling along the riverside cycle path. We came first to the town gate and a parkland area before arriving at the mouth of the river. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tP\u00e4rnu has always been an important harbour. To prevent sand build-up at the mouth of the river, in the 19th-century merchants ordered the construction of breakwaters and jetties made of logs to be built.After they collapsed, local farmers brought large stones from their fields and the two-kilometre long jetties have remained unchanged and have become popular walking destinations for holidaymakers. The jetty on the left bank of the river has even become the symbol of P\u00e4rnu. You can walk there along the boardwalk from the beach park. At times, the jetty may be completely underwater, but when the water level is low, you can see the ends of the wooden poles of the previous structure.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAccording to one legend, walking to the end of the jetty and kissing there brings good luck to couples. Needless to say that never happened in our case as sadly the sea was breaking over the stones so we could not get out to the end...From there we cycled along through a well kept park to the beach but although it was very mild, bordering on warm, the threat of rain meant not many people were there today.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe town centre of P\u00e4rnu is not particularly impressive. There is one long pedestrianised street and for some reason wool shops are in proliferation, maybe its the long dark nights! What is also in abundance are restaurants and cafes with outside seating areas and a few hardy souls were sitting out under big umberellas or awnings. What is remarkable about the rain is it goes off for a period then it instantly becomes torrential.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Navigator was on the lookout for an authentic Latvian restaurant for lunch but we passed a pizza restaurant which had a picture of a pizza in the window which intrigued her as it was a salmon and avocado pizza, two of her favourite foods, but the restaurant was closed. Plus, she could not reconcile the fact that the avocado might be hot, so we moved swiftly on.We then found a restaurant, the Nikolai Lehtla, that ticked all the boxes, a great menu and sitting outside under an awning. We both ordered the same thing, 'Mandli Paneeringus Kanafilee' which is translated as, chicken fillet in almond crust with turmeric and chilli sauce on a bed of carrot and potato puree. It was a taste sensation, and along with my birthday lunch in Gdansk, was a very memorable meal.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe description of the restaurant says, \"By the way, folklore says that Tsar Nicholas II's gazebo once stood on this spot, where he quietly sipped beer on hot summer days. Nicholas II is said to have been a gentle man, and we also have a lot of respect for him, not as a ruler, but as a person who liked good food and drink.\"If we had been staying over another day I'm convinced The Navigator would have been back for another Mandli Paneeringus Kanafilee which I would not have objected to, but at least she has\u00a0promised to recreate this meal when we get home, and I'll hold her to that promise!Following another walk around the town again, sheltering from the rain at some points, we headed back to the bikes and cycled back to Bessie via a huge new looking shopping complex where I bought a delicious cake to have with a cuppa later.The bikes were stowed in the garage right away on our return as another shower was not far away, and in fact it rained most of the evening and through the night.Day 30 - Wednesday 2nd of August P\u00e4rnu to Saue (59.330573, 24.540223) (72 Miles)Tallinn, the capital of Estonia is not well served with places to park a motorhome officially, apart from normal car parks, which we would never use in a city, so we are staying at the Vanam\u00f5isa Caravan Park, which is to the south west of the city in the countryside and the plan is to explore Tallinn for two full days making use of the train connection from the village.After servicing the van in P\u00e4rnu between rain showers, we headed off northwards on the E67 which is a great road to drive, having a good smooth surface and long straights. It's single carriageway most of the way and only turns into dual carriageway about fifteen miles from Tallin. The scenery is not particularly interesting, just flat fields and forests, but at least it looks to be well managed.About ninety minutes after leaving P\u00e4rnu, we arrived at the campsite on the outskirts of Saue. It was only opened in 2015 after the owners toured Europe in their own motorhome and noted the best features of the campsites they stayed at to incorporate in the campsite they were going to build.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAnd they have thought of everything and we can honestly say it's the best equipped campsite we've ever been on and for \u20ac 28 ( \u00a3 24.08) it is far better than UK Caravan Club sites at twice the price. It rained on and off all afternoon and I used the strong wi-fi and power to finish off the week three blog.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tA few of the vans that came in after us we recognised from the site at P\u00e4rnu including a Finnish couple. We had talked to the woman, who spoke good English as she passed our van but she was not a happy bunny and was complaining about the mosquitos and rain in the east of Estonia where they had toured. As things hadn't really improved for them in P\u00e4rnu they had booked a ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki tomorrow, although I'm not sure either the weather or mosquitos will be any better back in Finland!Our neighbours are Finnish YouTubers and he came to ask questions about touring England as they are heading there for a month's holiday soon. The couple have two cats with them and it's always an odd sight to see people walking cats round a site on a lead.We had a walk around the site in the evening and saw outfits from almost every northern European country except the UK and that was the case on our last two stopovers as well. This is the furthest point away from home and according to Google Maps we are 1,468 miles from the Hook of Holland and our return ferry, while it's only 246 miles to the beautiful city of St Petersburg in Russia. I wonder if the political situation in the region was 'normal' would we have been tempted to make the five and a half hour drive to visit it. We will never know now!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDay 31 - Thursday 3rd of August Saue (0 Miles)Tallin - Day1Today we are heading into Tallinn for the first of our two day visits to what we've been told is the prettiest of the capital cities of the three Baltic States. The forecast isn't great and its meant to rain at some point later in the day but we are togged up and prepared for whatever the heavens may throw at us. The problem with that is that although we have prepared for rain, it's still very warm so the added waterproof clothing doesn't add to the comfort of walking around a city centre.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe train station is a good fifteen minute walk from the campsite and its not really a 'station', just a platform with no buildings and no ticket machine. Once on the train a conductor helped me figure out the ticket machine and it cost \u00a3 4.44 into central Tallin for both of us. The machine did not issue a ticket and if she hadn't been standing beside the machine when we got on I'm not sure how we would have convinced her I had bought the tickets!The train looked brand new and was smooth and almost silent. It had a huge toilet compartment and hooks above one window which baffled us until someone got on with a bicycle.It took about half an hour to get into Tallinn as it never really got a good head of steam up (boom boom) as it made stops every few miles. Transport in Tallin is well coordinated as the train terminus is next to stops for both busses and trams.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAcross the road from the station is a state of the art market on three levels with fresh fruit and vegetables on display and a food court that we would return to later on. Once we had a look around we headed into the city centre and the Old Town. This is the second of our Baltic State capital cities and it will be interesting to see how Tallinn compares to Riga and with Vilnius still to come next week. One of the guide book states,\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\"All three cities have unique offerings and cultures and it can be tricky to decide between visiting Tallinn or Riga or Vilnius. Tallinn has the medieval charm of the Old Town and fantastic craft beer, Riga boasts incredible Art Noveau architecture and an elegant and cosmopolitan vibe while Vilnius has one of the largest Old Towns in Europe and an inviting laidback culture.\"Well, we are not here for the craft beer, so the Old Town would be our main focus of attention, and to be honest it was a slow burn. There are many old buildings and those of any significance had information on a clear plastic notice on it with details like who built it, what was it used for etc, etc.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 09-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-divider{--divider-border-style:none;--divider-border-width:1px;--divider-color:#0c0d0e;--divider-icon-size:20px;--divider-element-spacing:10px;--divider-pattern-height:24px;--divider-pattern-size:20px;--divider-pattern-url:none;--divider-pattern-repeat:repeat-x}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider{display:flex}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{font-size:15px;line-height:1;max-width:95%}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__element{margin:0 var(--divider-element-spacing);flex-shrink:0}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-icon{font-size:var(--divider-icon-size)}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider-separator{display:flex;margin:0;direction:ltr}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator{align-items:center}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:before{display:block;content:\"\";border-bottom:0;flex-grow:1;border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:first-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider-separator:before{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider__element{margin-left:0}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:last-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider-separator:after{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider__element{margin-right:0}.elementor-widget-divider:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text):not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon) .elementor-divider-separator{border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern{--divider-border-style:none}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern.elementor-widget-divider--view-line .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not([class*=elementor-widget-divider--view]) .elementor-divider-separator{width:100%;min-height:var(--divider-pattern-height);-webkit-mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;-webkit-mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);background-color:var(--divider-color);-webkit-mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url);mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url)}.elementor-widget-divider--no-spacing{--divider-pattern-size:auto}.elementor-widget-divider--bg-round{--divider-pattern-repeat:round}.rtl .elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{direction:rtl}.e-con-inner>.elementor-widget-divider,.e-con>.elementor-widget-divider{width:var(--container-widget-width,100%);--flex-grow:var(--container-widget-flex-grow)}\t\t\n\t\tInexpensive Birthday Gift Ideas...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTitles for the four nations also include, Best Wife, Best Son & Best GolferSee the full range of titles\u00a0HERE.\t\t\n\t\tThe first building we went in was St Olav Church which has a substantial tower which you could climb for \u20ac 5 or visit the church for free, and we chose the latter option not surprisingly. We would go on to count five church towers that could be climbed in Tallinn and we resisted the temptation at every one!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was only when we reached the Raekoja Plats (main square) that there was a genuine wow factor and you had to sit in the conveniently provided seating in the square centre to appreciate the old town hall and all the other historic buildings.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBy the time we were in the heart of the Old Town it was lunch time but although some of the menus looked tempting, they were priced to fleece the tourists so we decided that our pensions could be better spent back at the market near the train station and that's where we headed.There is a good selection of places to choose from, and being a food court you could mix and match your choice. There were many tempting foods on offer and we decided first to share a Pierogi type with a salmon and shrimp filling which was superb and The Navigator rated it the best she's tried on this trip. After that I had a Honey Chicken dish and The Navigator had Noodles with Shrimp, again both were excellent and at least half the price we would have paid in the Old Town.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe then headed up to the district that's on a hill top with great views over the city, the harbour and out to sea in the distance. There were four huge ferries in the harbour and we watched a Viking Lines ferry depart for Finland. Out of curiosity I priced a sailing to Helsinki tomorrow for us and Bessie one way and it was only \u00a3 118.00 which is not too bad for a two hour crossing.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe stand out building in this part of the city was the Aleksander Nevski Kathedraal, a hugely impressive Russian Orthodox Cathedral with a very different look on the outside with its black tiled domes and mosaics. Inside was stunning with many golden objects on display, but oddly no pews to sit and take in the magnificent interior. There was a strict no photograph rule which was enforced by a caretaker who watched everyone carefully, and rightly threw out a man who refused to take his baseball cap off.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs we left the Cathedral the forecast heavy rain started to fall so our umbrellas were pressed into service. We had walked up a steep street to get to the view point and Cathedral but came down a very steep set of stairs made treacherous by the rain making them slippery. The steps brought us down through a part of the old city walls and impressive they were.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was three o'clock by this time and the prospect of trudging round in the teeming rain was not appealing in the least so we headed for the station, but got drawn back to the market where we had our usual three o'clock cuppas and a shared honey cake which was probably the most expensive cake we've had, but probably the best as well. I mentioned previously the Europeans reluctance to actually make tea for you and this picture highlights that fact!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt wasn't raining when we got off the train at Saue, but we just made it back to Bessie before the most incredible torrential rain came on and lasted for a couple of hours.The weather dependant plan is to head into Tallinn again tomorrow morning but the forecast is for thundery showers all day!Day 32 - Friday 4th of August Saue (0 Miles)Tallinn - Day 2\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe intention today was to take the train back into Tallinn and see some of the Old Town we missed out on yesterday, only it was raining rather heavily, so Plan A was on hold until the rain eased. The third blog in this series was almost ready to go online so this morning I finished it off and The Navigator checked it before I uploaded it at lunchtime.The rain gradually eased and by the time we were ready to set off for Tallinn there were blue skies and it looked as though this afternoon would be dry for walking around the city centre. The trains are pretty frequent on this line and one turned up within ten minutes of us arriving at the station and off we went. There is an easy to use ticket machine which can be used in English and credit card only, however it doesn't issue a printed ticket or receipt as I found out yesterday.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThere is a conductress on board and we were unsure how we could prove we had bought tickets from the machine so we waited to pay her as her machine printed a ticket, and gave us a discount for being seniors! Within half an hour the blue skies of Saue had given way to grey skies in Tallinn but our first stop was indoors, the superb indoor market to have lunch again. We thoroughly enjoyed what we had yesterday and the temptation was to have the same again but we both chose something different. I had a very tasty kebab meat with chips of a sort (not very Estonian I know) but The Navigator over compensated for my lack of culinary adventure by having two Estonian courses, the first was Borsch, a beetroot based soup followed by Pierogi again, this time with a lamb and garlic filling, which was good, just not as good as yesterday's salmon and shrimp filling.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDuly fortified we headed off to explore the city but had to linger at the exit of the market as the rain was lashing down. The rain showers back home seems to last longer and phase on and off, where here they are fairly violent and shorter in duration, so within fifteen minutes we could leave the confines of the market.First stop was to take in the impressive city walls where the oldest sections were started as far back as the 13th century. During the next three centuries, it became one of the largest and strongest defence systems in entire Northern Europe. More than half of the magnificent defence system has been preserved as a city wall - this includes 1.85 km of the wall, 26 defence towers, 2 gates and fragments of two front gates and a number of towers are open for visitors.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFrom there we gravitated back to the Central Square which was seemingly busier today, before continuing on along a wide pedestrian street called Harju, which had been heavily bombed in a Soviet air raid back on the 9th of March 1944, although for the next fifty years the Soviets disputed that it was their 280 aircraft!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOver 700 people were killed and 20,000 were made homeless overnight as 5,100 buildings were pulverised or subsequently demolished. Today, one side of the street has been left as gardens and an area to rest and remember those who perished here. Further on there is a large open space with the St John's Church, a 19th century Lutheran Church on one side and the War of Independence Victory Monument, which is impressive, but apparently more so at night when it lights up.\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAlso in this area close to the Cathedral is a monument to Eduard Vilde, a revered Estonian writer.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBy this time it was late afternoon, and as the skies were darkening over again we headed back through the main square and on to the station where a train was waiting to take us back to Saue. This is our fourth train journey to and from Tallinn and every journey has had a 'mature' conductress with dyed ginger hair, which hopefully is their choice and not a condition of their employment!Reflections on Tallinn. Weather plays an important part in your memories of a place and it was not as kind to us in Tallinn as it was in Latvia's capital, Riga.Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia and was first established in the early medieval era, today\u2019s Tallinn is an impressive mix of old and new and with it being such a compact capital city, you can cover a lot in just a couple of days.Tallinn Old Town is one of the best preserved Hanseatic town centres in the world but there is also a modern business centre with glass towers and luxurious hotels, trendy neighbourhoods and large shopping centres, although we never made it out to these areas. Another area we never made it to was Tallinn\u2019s coastline which is dotted with promenades and sandy beaches. Tallinn is the first point of entry to Estonia for most visitors, and regardless of you arrive by motorhome, plane, train or ferry, it is well worth at least a two day visit. To think Estonia has only been independent from Russia since 1991, it has come a long way to come up to western standards since then.Day 33 - Saturday 5th of August Saue to Tartu (58.369505, 26.743348) (116 Miles)From Tallinn it is all down hill from here and the start of our journey back to the Hook of Holland, although we still have 52 days left of this trip and ambitious plans to see a lot more places we have never been before. Today we head south east to Estonia's second largest city, Tartu. No, I've never heard of it either, but Estonia is more than its capital Tallinn and visiting the country's second biggest city will give us a more rounded view of Estonia.The site we were going to didn't accept arrivals until 1pm according to its website so there was no need to leave at the crack of dawn, so it was just after 10am before we left the site at Saue. The Vanam\u00f5isa Caravan Park must be one of the best sites in Estonia and it was the perfect base to explore Tallinn via the nearby railway line.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tToday's journey was fairly straight forward as the capital and the number two city are connected by a great road system, or, it will be once its finished! The motorway \/ dual carriageway looks to be fairly new and is a road that the Roman road builders of old would be proud of as its as straight as a die for mile after mile.As per the rest of the Baltic States the scenery is dead flat and a mix of forests and massive fields, mostly in wheat. The only thing that made us pay attention as we trundled along were the regular signs warning of Elk potentially leaving the cover of the forest to wander onto the road. Apparently there are 12,000 wild Elk in Estonia but there were none to be seen in the fields, forests or on the road which is a probably a good thing as you wouldn't want to hit one at speed as they are a big old beasts.The pictures and YouTube videos I've seen of Tartu concentrate on its Old Town but as we approached the outskirts and drove through the city centre it was surprisingly modern and bustling, but given it was a Saturday lunchtime that shouldn't have been a surprise.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Karlova Harbour Caravan Park is half Caravan park and half marina for the small armada of speed boats that ply the inland waterways here. Probably because it was a Saturday and very warm there were dozens of people out on the water, either fishing or just cruising up and down.We had had a busy and tiring couple of days pounding the cobbled streets of Tallinn so we decided to sit out in the shade of Bessie and relax, and I relaxed so much I fell asleep! As per usual we were the only Brits here in the company of one Estonian van, two Finnish vans, one micro Dutch Caravan and two converted Dutch fire engines. Probably being the only Brits here was to be expected given Tartu is not on a direct route to Tallinn and is off to the east of the country, and less than an hour's drive to a huge lake that forms the border with Russia.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe had a barbecue washed down with a fairly decent bottle of Riesling and sat out until eight o'clock when a combination of midges and a few spits of rain forced us indoors. The rain was forecast and not as severe as we've had and continued overnight before it cleared up to another warm sunny day.\"Tartu is the second largest city in Estonia after Tallinn. Tartu has a population of 97,435 (as of 2023). It is 186 kilometres (116 miles) southeast of Tallinn and 245 kilometres (152 miles) northeast of Riga, Latvia. Tartu lies on the Emaj\u00f5gi river, which connects the two largest lakes in Estonia, Lake V\u00f5rtsj\u00e4rv and Lake Peipus. From the 13th century until the end of the 19th century, Tartu was known in most of the world by variants of its historical name Dorpat.\"The overnight rain gave way to a bright sunny morning and the plan today was to cycle into the city to see the Old Town Square in particular as it is the photograph you see if you Google Tartu. There was no point going in too early as, this being a Sunday morning, most places will be slow to open. This is how the Old Town Square should look like...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was an easy enough cycle in as there was a combination of cycle paths and wide pavements which was a relief for The Navigator. We cycled straight to the Old Town Square and, oh dear, it was not looking its best for two reasons. First. There was an open air film festival on here last week, finishing last night, so workmen were busy taking down all the seating and equipment as well as the frames of stalls that catered for the crowd.Second. Tartu is European City of Culture in 2024 so the whole town is getting spruced up, including the Old Town Hall, which was a disappointment but understandable. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe had a walk about the historic area just off the main square and crossed the river to see some statues in a park. It was a pleasant area and it would have been better if we had come to see it yesterday afternoon when all the activities were on, but we had no idea it was on, and we needed the relax after two fairly hectic days sightseeing in Tallinn.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter seeing as much as we could in this area we cycled along the riverside to the more modern area of Tartu and were surprised to see all the shops and supermarkets in the malls open, but then again Estonia is historically a Lutheran Christian nation, and today is one of the \"least religious\" countries in the world in terms of declared attitudes, with only 14 percent of the population declaring religion to be an important part of their daily life.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was a scorcher today and as it was now lunchtime it was getting busier with people making the best of the weather and the chance to treat themselves to lunch as we would do too. We only needed a snack as The Navigator was making a meal later so we chose to eat at Hesburger, a major rival to McDonalds in all of the Baltic States, although they hail from Finland. The meal was excellent and the chips in particular got a five star review from The Navigator.There was a farmers market on beside the river but it didn't detain us as it was mostly flowers and fruit and vegetables and we were not needing any today so we continued cycling back to the campsite. We were the only van there when we left this morning, everyone else having moved on, but there were another five vans beside us when we returned.The temperature had really cranked up and it was sweltering as we sat in the shade of Bessie and we had our regular video call with the family who were also enjoying good weather in Leeds and Northern Ireland. We had dinner outside then I sat out until nine o'clock but a wasp took a particular liking to The Navigator so she retired indoors. We packed away the chairs and bikes as we are moving on tomorrow and crossing into Latvia again.Day 34 - Monday 7th of August Tartu to Zor\u0123i (56.563543, 24.168013 ) (184 Miles)This was meant to be a fairly mundane driving day, but it became far from mundane as the day progressed! We woke fairly early as the temperature was sauna like, even at 7am with the roof hatches open. It hadn't dropped below 70\u00b0 overnight and as the sun rose it quickly went into the 80s, which is crazy given we are at the same latitude as Wick in the far north of Scotland. Where the temperature is in the 50s today.We were the first van to leave the site today and that's a statement I don't often make. Now the first far from mundane thing to occur was with Google Maps. Previously I had checked today's route and it was just over two hours door to door but when I entered our destinations coordinates this morning, the time to get there was going to be nearer four hours!It turns out that because we were parked at a marina right on the river bank, for some bizarre reason Google thought Bessie was a boat and was on the river Emaj\u00f5gi and that we had to 'sail' to a slipway in completely the wrong direction towards the Russian border before we could get back on dry land and a road.Within a few yards of driving out of the marina Google twigged its mistake and re-routed us and pointed us in the right direction. Today was one of the best drives we've had in the Baltic States as it was on a great surface and through some very scenic countryside, and surprisingly, through rolling countryside. Estonia wins hands down for having the best road surfacesThe site I had picked was in the Gaujas National Park and looked a superb site from the brochure we had, but we were going to be there just after 11am and I thought that it would be a waste of a day to stop this early in the morning, so I kept on driving in the general direction of Riga where we'd skirt round the bypass to head south.We came to a fairly large town called Varga which had some interesting old wooden houses with some in a better state of repair than others. As I turned a right hand corner The Navigator informed me we were now in Latvia as I had missed seeing the standard country roadsign which was really strange as when you cross what was a border between two countries you usually see the dilapidated buildings that used to house customs and other border officials, but in Valka as it was now called in Latvian, there was nothing like that at all.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI should have guessed we had crossed into Latvia as the road instantly became rougher and had pot holes which had to be avoided. When we were through the town and back out into the countryside we hit road works which would last more than twenty odd miles for resurfacing work to be carried out.The outside temperature gauge on the dash board recorded 90\u00b0 and we had the air conditioning on full blast trying to keep cool but that was about to change. We stopped at one of the junctions on the Riga bypass at a Circle K service station and had a quick bite to eat before continuing on. We soon recognised the road we were now on was the one we had driven on the way from Rundales Palace into Riga but things were about to get a tad hairy driving wise. Heading south from Riga we encountered this road sign which freaked The Navigator out as she thought I might turn left, but its not everyday you see a road sign for Moscow...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n \n\t\tOff in the distance we could see some inky black clouds and the temperature gauge tumbled from 90\u00b0 to 65\u00b0 in a matter of minutes and it started to rain like you have never seen. I should at this point say that we were following a white British registered Peugeot van driving without lights on and I lost sight of him even though I knew he was right in front of me as our wiper blades could not clear the windscreen of the deluge.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tHe eventually put his lights on which gave me a clue how far in front he was but thankfully Google was telling me that the campsite I had picked was only about ten miles away on the other side of the town of Icecava, which I remembered as having an outstanding building with a blue tiled roof and a gold dome, called (I looked it up) Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.A few miles further on there had been an accident, probably in the worst of the conditions, and a tanker lorry and a car were in a field on my right hand side. It looked pretty serious for the car as the roof was squashed down and the police van in attendance had covered the windows with blankets. Not a good sign unfortunately.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Labirinti campsite is in the little hamlet of Zor\u0123i and we were glad to get off the main road as the conditions were still horrendous and our mundane day cranked up a notch. As we drove into the campsite we could instantly see it was a working farm and there were four farm workers standing about in the rain like drowned rats. The chief drowned rat turned out to be the farmer himself and he motioned for us to pull over where he explained in passable English that we couldn't go onto the campsite field as it was too wet, but he did guide us on to a bit of grass beside a metal barn that was less of a quagmire than the rest of the place.The Navigator was more than apprehensive at this point as we were obviously the only campers here, but relieved that we were off the treacherous main road. She thought that she would not be able to get out of Bessie due to the underfoot conditions, but the farmer said he would go and get a 'carpet' to place outside the door. The 'carpet' turned out to be a pallet!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe farmer turned out to be the loveliest man you could ever meet and was so helpful and friendly, made even more so when in conversation it came out that he had once visited Edinburgh on a trip with other farmers. Not only did he help The Navigator programme the washing machine (No 11 is the best programme by the way if you are ever here) but he then let her hang the wet clothes in an upstairs rental property that was not let tonight.After we were settled for the afternoon, the torrential rain came on again in earnest with the most amazing thunder and lightning just above us which literally made The Navigator jump at one point. The consequence of this was the electricity cut off but the farmer came over to tell us it was the whole village that had a power cut and it should be back on within three hours, which it was. We are using this site purely as a stopover on our way from Tartu to Vilnius but the site is so well equipped with things to do, especially for children that it merits staying longer, including seeing the three resident white storks.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe next blog will be action packed as we visit two capital cities with two full days exploring both..\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tThis map shows the approximate route we have taken on this blog as part of our 2023 Road Trip...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSome of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\t\t\n\t\t\t
\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 09-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}COMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...\t\t\n\t\tThe next blog will be action packed as we visit two capital cities with two full days exploring both...Stay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online.\t\t\n\t\t\tHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Aug 16, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-08-16 07:13:00","modifiedDate":"2023-08-26 13:44:15","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-08-26 12:44:15","commentCount":"0","commentStatus":"open","categories":{"coma":"
2023<\/a>, Estonia<\/a>, Latvia<\/a>, Motorhome<\/a>, Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>","space":"2023<\/a> Estonia<\/a> Latvia<\/a> Motorhome<\/a> Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"motorhome road trip<\/a>motorhomeadventures<\/a>motorhomeblog<\/a>Parnu<\/a>RMK<\/a>RMK Krapi<\/a>Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>Tallinn<\/a>Tartu<\/a>travelblog<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":38,"sec":38},"status":"publish"},{"id":14002,"link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/manvannoplan-visits-malbork-kaunas-hill-of-crosses-rundales-palace-riga\/","name":"manvannoplan-visits-malbork-kaunas-hill-of-crosses-rundales-palace-riga","thumbnail":{"url":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/wp-content\/uploads\/2023\/07\/20230725_145616-b-scaled.webp","alt":"ManVanNoPlan visits the Hill of Crosses, Latvia"},"title":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Malbork, Kaunas, Hill of Crosses, Rundales Palace & Riga","excerpt":"","content":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Malbork, Kaunas, the Hill of Crosses, Rundales Palace and Riga.Some of the following links are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.Day 19 - Saturday 22nd JulyGdansk to Malbork Castle (54.045072, 19.026561 ) ( 37 Miles)After saying our good byes to our Kiwi and Dutch neighbours we set off before 9am, which for us was unnecessarily early given we were only driving just under an hour. It was with some reluctance we were leaving Gdansk today as we have thoroughly enjoyed visiting this beautiful city, at least the centre is!There is a huge festival beginning today and hundreds of stalls have been erected over the past few days and it would have been great to attend it, but we must move on or we will grind to a halt...\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 09-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-image{text-align:center}.elementor-widget-image a{display:inline-block}.elementor-widget-image a img[src$=\".svg\"]{width:48px}.elementor-widget-image img{vertical-align:middle;display:inline-block}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIf I were to ask what was the world's biggest castle, what would you have replied? My money would have been on Windsor Castle, but I'd have been wrong, and no Scottish castle comes close, so where is it I hear you all ask?\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tWell today's destination is Malbork, located on the Nogat river, in the historical region of Pomerelia, an hour south east of Gdansk and home to the world's largest (brick) castle, believe it or not, covering 52 acres. Like so many places on this trip, we had never heard of it before, but its listed on all the guides to Poland as a sight not to miss and as it was situated in the general direction we are heading we thought we'd check it out, having seen a fair few castles in our time.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTo be honest, we weren't going to stay here tonight, but simply visit the castle and keep driving, but when we arrived there was a campsite right on the other side of the river from it and only a five minute walk to the castle so we booked in and paid all of 70 Zloty (\u00a3 14) for the night!We had a spot of lunch then set off to explore the castle, along with half the population of Poland, because what we didn't know, was that once a year, on the third weekend in July (this weekend) there is a historical re-enactment display with hundreds of people dressed in mediaeval costumes doing all sorts of activities and it was quite a spectacle.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTo get from the campsite you cross footbridge, and although it looked substantial enough, it bounced slightly as we crossed it due to the number of people crossing it. As we crossed the bridge a rowing boat race started and it was quite entertaining watching them row to the beat of a drum and much vocal encouragement.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThere were hundreds of tents in and around the castle, some had craft demonstrations and some had all sorts of things for sale. There were knights in armour having sword fights, jousting on horseback and some very noisy canons being fired regularly.More than thirty food trucks were selling every type of street food you could imagine and dozens of activities for children, all of whom got a certificate when they completed a task. A bird of prey display was pretty impressive and you could hold some of them for a small consideration.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAll of this and more was completely free to see and wander around and you only paid for entry to the castle, which we did, with a superb audio guide describing everything as we followed the route around the rooms of the castle. There are no rooms with antique furniture and artefacts as you would see in many castles and palaces, but the sheer scale and variety of the rooms was fascinating. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs I described when touring Gdansk, this whole Baltic Coast is famous for Jade and there is an amazing display of Jade objects and jewellery which was spectacular, as was the Armoury display. The tour lasted around two hours and was well worth it, but exhausting at the same time.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIn 1945 the retreating German Army and the advancing Russian Army had a battle in and around the town of Malbork and the Castle was a casualty and the picture on display above shows how well it has now been restored. By late afternoon we had seen enough and decided to head back to Bessie and sit outside with a refreshing cuppa until a sudden downpour forced us inside. The timing of our visit to Gdansk was off by a day or two and we missed the festival that was taking place this weekend, but we were fortunate to be at Malbork Castle on the one weekend in the year when the place comes alive with historical events.Day 20 - Sunday 23rd of JulyMalbrok (Poland) to Kaunus (Lithuania) (54.916029, 23833852 ) (303 Miles)Today we are crossing into the first of the Baltic States, Lithuania and our longest one day drive to date. When I was planning this trip, the objective was to visit the three Baltic States, but events not a million miles from here in neighbouring Ukraine gave us second thoughts last week when it was reported that the Russian Wagner mercenaries were now in Belarus and threatening to block the strip of land that makes up the Polish \/ Lithuanian border. This was followed up by reports yesterday that Poland was sending extra troops to fortify its border with Belarus in the area where the Wagner Mercenaries are training in Belarus.So, if it all kicked off, I had devised a Plan B which would abandon the Baltic States and head south in Poland, maybe visiting the Czech Republic and back through Germany but two events convinced us to stick with Plan A. First, was receiving a Rough Guide to the Baltic States guide book for my birthday from daughter, Emma, and the other was speaking to Gary and Dianne, our Kiwi neighbours in Gdansk, who had just come out of the Baltic States and were enthusiastic about the time they had there visiting the three countries.So, today we are heading off bright and early for Lithuania, and the delights of the Baltic States. I say bright and early, but in reality, although early, it's far from bright as its dull and raining! The first part of the route took us north on the road we had come down yesterday from Gdansk until we hit the motorway 7 which we joined to head east. The journey was due to be the best part of six hours but would end up being seven and a half taking in a lunch break and a mid afternoon cuppa.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe journey was uneventful, if long but we did have a few wildlife encounters along the way. Small Deer were to be seen in the wheat fields with only their heads visible if they were in the crops but many were at the edge of the fields and easily visible. White storks are a given in this part of the world and we're too numerous to count, either perched on street lights or in their massive roadside nests on top of poles erected by locals to encourage them to breed locally.The Navigator began to get a tad uneasy when she saw road signs for towns in Russia (in Kaliningrad) and no signs for towns in Lithuania where we were supposedly heading, and she was relieved when she saw the first sign with a Lithuanian town on it.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAlso a given, were birds of prey perched on the fences beside the motorway keeping vigil next to the wheat fields for mice or rabbits. What we didn't spot until the last hour, were other British vehicles then a campervan and two cars passed us in Lithuania.The Poles are spending a fortune on new motorways but probably about a hundred miles in Poland were on normal country roads which had to be driven with care as they were not the widest, but in a couple of years the motorway should be fully completed from the German border to the Lithuanian border. There was only one memorable town we passed through, Mikotajki, a bustling holiday town that was packed with tourists enjoying the riverside cafes and restaurants.The last twenty or so miles of Poland was on the new motorway again but as soon as we passed the sign saying we were in Lithuania, the motorway abruptly stopped and Lithuania welcomed us with a scruffy, pot holed road. There were loads of petrol stations on both sides and scores of lorries parked up, probably more because it was a Sunday than because of customs checks.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter a few miles roadworks started on a new stretch of motorway which in time should join up with the Polish motorway and it eventually will be a seamless drive through Poland and into the Baltic States. As I said, earlier in the drive we saw quite a few deer and as we approached our destination of Kaunas we saw the head of another deer in a wheat field and it looked odd to see just the head above the crop.Did you know that when you cross the border from Poland into Lithuania the clocks go an hour further forward so we are now two hours ahead of the time in the UK. However, for some reason, and don't ask, The Navigator is lingering on Polish time this evening, but hopefully when she wakes up tomorrow her brain will be re-calibrated! Mind you, finding out what time zone she is in is a marginal improvement on the usual question of what planet is she on!We found the campsite without any issues and booked in for two nights to give us a full day to explore Kaunas tomorrow. The campsite is good value at \u20ac 21 (\u00a3 18.14) including electricity. The first pitch we picked was perfect with good views over the lake but our electricity cable wouldn't reach to the mains outlet so we had to move.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe are on the side of a lake with an artificial beach of fine sand and there is a cabin on the beach and when we went down to check it out a guy was barbecuing what looked like pork kebabs and if they tasted as good as they smelled, they will be delicious.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDay 21 - Monday 24th of JulyKaunas (0 Miles)After such a long drive yesterday we both slept well, but woke at 7am as the road behind the campsite burst into life with Monday morning commuters. This is our first full day in Lithuania and we are looking forward to visiting Kaunas.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBefore we proceed any further though, a few words on Lithuania itself. Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in the Baltic region and is one of three Baltic states and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Lithuania shares land borders with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Russia to the southwest (Kaliningrad).In 1772\u20131795 the Russian Empire annexed most of Lithuania's territory. As World War I ended, Lithuania's Act of Independence was signed on 16 February 1918, founding the modern Republic of Lithuania. In World War II, Lithuania was occupied, first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany. Towards the end of the war in 1944, when the Germans were retreating, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania. Lithuanian armed resistance to the Soviet occupation lasted until the early 1950s. On the 11th of March 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania passed the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, becoming the first Soviet republic to break away when it proclaimed the restoration of its independence.Nowadays, Lithuania is a developed country with a high income, advanced economy, and ranking 35th in the Human Development Index. Lithuania is a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Eurozone, the Schengen Agreement, NATO, and OECD.We chose to visit Kaunas first in our foray into Lithuania rather than the capital Vilnius, the capital, which is a two hour drive further east. Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania after Vilnius and an important centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. During the interwar period, it served as the temporary capital of Lithuania, when Vilnius was seized and controlled by Poland between 1920 and 1939. During that period Kaunas was celebrated for its rich cultural and academic life and fashion.When we checked in the guy gave us a city map and full instructions on which bus to take and where we were to get off near the old town. The fare was only \u20ac 1 and is probably the reason the bus was busy, although it seemed we were the only ones parting with cash, everyone else having passes.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter only a couple of minutes we found the remnants of Kaunas Castle, a Gothic remnant along with an impressive statue known as the Vytis Monument, the \"Warrior of Freedom.\" It is one of the most iconic monuments in Kaunas and was designed by Lithuanian artist Antanas Vivulskis and was erected in 1931 to commemorate the independence of Lithuania. The monument is a symbol of Lithuanian freedom and is a source of national pride for the Lithuanian people.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThis whole area beside the river Neris is beautifully maintained and a squadron of remote grass cutters were keeping the grass neat and tidy. From this area we walked the short distance to the main square which was almost deserted, understandable for early on a Monday morning. We walked on to see the other river, the Nemunas which floods part of the town from time to time.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tA pedestrianised street heads towards the main tree lined shopping street which seems to be miles long, and we walked to the very end.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tLunch was taken sitting on a bench with sandwiches bought from a little supermarket and for less than \u20ac 7 it was well worth it. The Navigator had to cool down as it was a warm day, and of course, visit every Flying Tiger she can find!The Church of St. Michael the Archangel is the focal point at the end of thus street but is not looking its best as its being renovated at the moment.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was now mid afternoon and as we retraced our steps we could see it much busier than earlier with many people sitting outside having lunch and enjoying the sunny weather.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe stumbled, almost by accident into, what for us was the outstanding highlight of our visit to Kanaas, the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, a magnificently decorated church and the biggest building of Gothic sacral type in Lithuania. Although the Cathedral was built in the 15th century, it was reconstructed several times and acquired Renaissance, Baroque, Classicism, Neo-Gothic and Neo-Baroque architectural features. It was stunning.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBy this time we were flagging, having taken 15,500 steps so we took the bus back to the campsite, the best Euro spent today in Kaunas. The Navigator and I had mixed views of Kaunas, I liked it, but she not so much, although she did rave about the Cathedral-Basilica of St Peter and St. Paul and as ManVanNoPlan's resident religious expert, Kaunas's Cathedral-Basilica gets a big thumbs up, from both of us.We sat outside Bessie and watched the campsite fill up again, with the outstanding outfits a Finnish Adria Alpina caravan which was massive and a German Concord Centurian which was incredible. We spoke to our German neighbour who was on his way up to Tallin in Estonia to take the ferry to Helsinki then on to Sweden and Norway. A barbecue rounded of our day in Lithuania's second city.Day 22 - Tuesday 25th of JulyKaunas to the Hill of Crosses (56.014245, 23.408766 ) (115 Miles)The Navigator eventually woke at 9.10am this morning. After a night of heavy rain, it's another lovely day and we are moving on to the Hill of Crosses, a two hour drive away.\"The Hill of Crosses is a site of pilgrimage about 12 km north of the city of \u0160iauliai, in northern Lithuania. The precise origin of the practice of leaving crosses on the hill is uncertain, but it is believed that the first crosses were placed on a former hill fort after the 1831 Uprising. Over the generations, not only crosses and crucifixes, but statues of the Virgin Mary, carvings of Lithuanian patriots and thousands of tiny effigies and rosaries have been brought here by Catholic pilgrims. The exact number of crosses is unknown, but estimates put it at about 55,000 in 1990 and 100,000 in 2006 and it is a major site of Catholic pilgrimage in Lithuania.\"The first part of the journey was on the dead straight motorway that heads to the coastal city of Klaipeda, and although it was a bonus being straight and not too busy, the surface was terrible caused by a patchwork covering of different colours of tarmac. We came off after about seventy miles and headed north on a perfect surface on a road that varied between single track and dual-carriageway.It was a pleasant drive through the Lithuanian countryside and a chance to see the rural side of life here. We arrived during a rain shower and had lunch before venturing out. We will be spending the night in this car park so bought a 24 hour ticket for all of \u20ac 3. There are public toilets at 50 cents entry but we are self contained and serviced the van before leaving Kaunus in anticipation of \"wild camping\" for the next two nights.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe parked near the visitor centre with a view over a rapeseed field, and as you would expect it was busy during the day, but only three of us stayed overnight. When the visitor centre is open you have to buy a parking ticket as it has to be scanned to lift the exit barrier, but the barrier is lifted when the staff go home for the night!\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIn a way the Hill of Crosses reminded me of Stonehenge, with an underground visitor centre, and a short walk to the attraction, and what an attraction it is. We had seen YouTube videos of other motorhomers visiting it so we knew what to expect, but until you actually see it the scale of the number of crosses is hard to fathom.From the visitor centre you walk down a path and from a distance it does not look that impressive until you get right up to it.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs hills goes it is not that big, but the sheer number of crosses, both old and new, is staggering. The last official estimate was 100,000 back in 2006, but is now probably north of 250,000. Beside the visitor centre there are vendors selling both amber products and crosses too so that you can plant your own in memory of a loved one.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIn all honesty, although a spectacular sight, and a great testament to those of a strong religious belief, it is actually a bit tatty and in need of an upgrade. The wooden pathways are rotting and there are piles and piles of broken and discarded crosses which adds to the sense of neglect. From being a place of devotion and remembrance it is becoming just another tourist attractions where tour busses dislodge their passengers for an hour to stretch their legs.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Hill of Crosses became famous around the world when Pope John Paul II visited it on September 7, 1993. In the chapel built opposite the Hill of Crosses, John Paul II celebrated Holy Mass\u00a0for a gathering of 100,000\u00a0pilgrims. The Pope blessed Lithuania and all Christian Europe.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBy about 8pm there were only a few cars in the car park and the souvenir stallholders were loading their cars with their stock, I decided to have another walk down to the Hill to take some more pictures with the backdrop of what looked like a promising sunset. As it turned out the sun went down at the wrong angle but was impressive nonetheless.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBy 10pm there were only three motorhomes in the car park and we all enjoyed a quiet and peaceful night's sleep.All in all, it is worth the effort to come and see the Hill of Crosses, and that's a non religious person speaking. Apart from the miniscule payment for parking, it is free to enter and see the amazing spectacle, over a hundred years in the making.Day 23 - Wednesday 26th of JulyHill of Crosses to Rundales Palace - (56.414563, 24.021889 ) (115 Miles)Early to bed means early to rise and we were both awake by 7am to a grey sky, but at least it wasn't raining and another bonus this morning was that The Navigator made bacon butties, a rare midweek treat on foreign shores!Today's journey will take an hour according to Google Maps and will see us cross another international border into the second of the Baltic States, Latvia, and a visit to what is known as the Latvian Versailles, Rundales Palace. On the way I would stop for diesel and The Navigator cleaned the bottom two thirds of the windscreen!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 09-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-divider{--divider-border-style:none;--divider-border-width:1px;--divider-color:#0c0d0e;--divider-icon-size:20px;--divider-element-spacing:10px;--divider-pattern-height:24px;--divider-pattern-size:20px;--divider-pattern-url:none;--divider-pattern-repeat:repeat-x}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider{display:flex}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{font-size:15px;line-height:1;max-width:95%}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__element{margin:0 var(--divider-element-spacing);flex-shrink:0}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-icon{font-size:var(--divider-icon-size)}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider-separator{display:flex;margin:0;direction:ltr}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator{align-items:center}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:before{display:block;content:\"\";border-bottom:0;flex-grow:1;border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:first-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider-separator:before{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider__element{margin-left:0}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:last-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider-separator:after{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider__element{margin-right:0}.elementor-widget-divider:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text):not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon) .elementor-divider-separator{border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern{--divider-border-style:none}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern.elementor-widget-divider--view-line .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not([class*=elementor-widget-divider--view]) .elementor-divider-separator{width:100%;min-height:var(--divider-pattern-height);-webkit-mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;-webkit-mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);background-color:var(--divider-color);-webkit-mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url);mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url)}.elementor-widget-divider--no-spacing{--divider-pattern-size:auto}.elementor-widget-divider--bg-round{--divider-pattern-repeat:round}.rtl .elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{direction:rtl}.e-con-inner>.elementor-widget-divider,.e-con>.elementor-widget-divider{width:var(--container-widget-width,100%);--flex-grow:var(--container-widget-flex-grow)}\t\t\n\t\tInexpensive Birthday Gift Ideas...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTitles for the four nations also include, Best Wife, Best Son & Best GolferSee the full range of titles\u00a0HERE.\t\t\n\t\tA quick word on Latvia,\"Latvia is a country on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia. Its landscape is marked by wide beaches as well as dense, sprawling forests. Latvia\u2019s capital is Riga, home to notable wooden and art nouveau architecture, a vast Central Market and a medieval Old Town with St. Peter's Church.\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAnd an equally quick word on Rundales Palace,\"The palace was built in two periods, from 1736 until 1740 and from 1764 until 1768 for for the Dukes of Courland in what is now Latvia. After the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia was absorbed by the Russian Empire in 1795, Catherine the Great presented the palace to Count Valerian Zubov, the youngest brother of her lover, Prince Platon Zubov.\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Palace changed hands to another family and remained so until the German occupation in World War I when the German army established a hospital and a commandant's office there. During the French invasion of Russia in 1812, the palace was used as a hospital for Napoleon's army.\nThe Palace suffered serious damage in 1919 during the Latvian War of Independence and had a checkered existence from then on including being used as a school and grain warehouse, before the Latvian Government restored it to its initial glory.\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe are on a bit of a go slow few days in anticipation of visiting Latvia's capital, Riga after this stop, so after driving just under fifty miles to get here, we relaxed in Bessie until after lunchtime before heading the short walk to the Palace. There are four official car parks here and we are in number four, with a handful of cars and a few motorhomes. The word on the street, well, the Internet actually, is that you can park here overnight for free and that is our intention. There are five official spaces for motorhomes in the main car park with all the necessary facilities, but as Bessie was fully serviced before we left Kanaus, there was no need to shell out \u20ac 15 for facilities we didn't need.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt is warm, very warm, but there are clouds keeping direct sunlight off us thankfully. Latvia is pancake flat and the scenery consists of wheat fields and forests and so it puzzled me on arrival at Rundales Palace why the original gentry, the Dukes of Courland, came to chose this particular area to build their summer retreat as the landscape is completely featureless.That said, wow, what a building and gardens. After a turbulent period in its history when ownership fluctuated between the Russian Empire, various Russian noble families before Napoleon's Army used it and in 1919 the retreating Russians partially burned it down.The restoration is believed to have cost \u20ac 8.5m and today it is one of the major tourist destinations in Latvia as well as being the residence of visiting leaders of foreign nations, although it was not busy at all today. On entry you have to put blue disposable overshoes on, why is a mystery as you are walking on newish wooden flooring all the way round the Palace.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe had a couple of coffees before venturing out side to the incredible gardens. If you are a regular reader of these blogs you will know my hot beverage of choice is always tea but when ordering my cup of 'black tea' it somehow was translated in the woman's head as 'cup of chino.' Being British, I accepted the mix up with good grace as if nothing untoward had happened.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe gardens are every bit as stunning as the Palace and they too have been restored to their original glory. The rose garden, with over 2,200 varieties, including many from British nurseries, had peaked a few weeks ago by the look of it and it must have been a spectacular and colourful sight to see them in full bloom. The other outstanding feature of the gardens were the symmetrical lines of trees, all cut into a perfect shape which The Navigator admired greatly and I expect our one bush in our front garden will now be trimmed in such an expert fashion from now on.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThankfully we had seen everything we had wanted to see before the rain came on, but the bonus was, as people ran for cover I managed a few pictures with no-one in them.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter 8pm there were only us and another three vans in the overflow car park and it was a beautiful sunny evening which made me walk round to the Palace to take some more pictures, sans people!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe idea was good, unfortunately the sun was dipping in the wrong position to cast a glow on the best sides of the Palace but at least the side of the Palace was lit up and it was a pleasant walk before bed. The Navigator rightly commented that you would never get to park for free so close to a nationally important building in the UK, or, get to walk around it with no security guards challenging you.Having been lucky enough to have visited Versailles a few years ago, this Latvian version is worth visiting if you are in Latvia, but it's not a patch on the real thing.Day 24 - Thursday 27th of JulyRundales Palace to Riga (56.955898, 24.078180 ) (48 Miles)Nothing was planned for today apart from driving into Riga, the capital city of Latvia which was only fifty miles to the north. As there was no rush, we didn't set set off until 10am and headed towards Bauskas, the nearest town. Apparently there are a few Lidls in Riga but no Aldi or Netto stores in the whole of Latvia. We needed a few groceries and as we passed through Bauskas there was a large supermarket on our right hand side so I pulled into the car park.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs well as the large Rimi superstore there was what looked like a discount store called Maximus X so we tried there first. Obviously it had lots of products and brands we had never seen before but with the help of Google translate set to the camera function we managed to get everything on The Navigator's list. We put that shopping in Bessie then out of curiosity as much as anything we went into the Rimi store as well.It was a huge store and remined me of a large Carrefour and we bought a few things that Maximus X didn't stock. The prices in both stores were not cheap compared with the UK, Germany or Poland especially for fresh meat and wine.Bauskas was what I think an average provincial town in Russia would look like, but then again Latvia was controlled by Russia until fairly recently by historical standards. \"The First Latvian National Awakening began in the 1850s and continued to bear fruit after World War I when, after two years of struggle in the Latvian War of Independence, Latvia finally won sovereign independence, as recognised by Soviet Russia in 1920 and by the international community in 1921.\"\"Military presence and control by the occupying forces of the Soviet Union lasted from 1940 to 1991, when Latvia regained its independence. The Russian Army, the successor of the Soviet Army, left Latvia only in 1994, three years after independence was restored.\"We passed through other neglected looking villages and towns and it was really only on the outskirts of Riga that buildings of a modern design were seen. The road was single carriageway and had a surprisingly good surface for most of the way and on the approach to Riga there were long stretches of roadworks where it was being upgraded to dual carriageway, maybe even motorway.The campsite we had chosen was found easily enough and we serviced the van before booking in for three nights to give us two full days in Riga, which is on the other side of the Daugava River from the campsite. The Navigator, not the most confident of cyclists, has agreed to cycle into the old town tomorrow if it is dry but the forecast is for rain in the afternoon.The campsite had plenty of spaces when we checked in but was almost full by the evening. There is one other British registered motorhome on the site, a really old one with an 'E' registration and left hand drive.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDay 25 - Friday 28th of July Riga (0 Miles)Day 1A big day is in prospect for The Navigator as she cycles into Riga city centre but it turned out to be a piece of cake. There is a cycle path all the way, even over the huge bridge called the Vansu tilts, which keeps cyclists and motorists well apart. We chained the bikes up near Riga Castle under the watchful eye of a policeman who was on traffic duty keeping cars away from official looking buildings. Spot The Navigator in the picture below peddling like clappers!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tA short cycle brought us in the centre of the old town, and as you'd expect it was full of tourists with English being the most common language heard. There was a TUI owned cruise ship, the Europa, moored next to the bridge so a fair number of the tourists would have been from that ship.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThere were some fairly spectacular buildings in the old town, most restored to their former glory including the House of the Blackheads, built in early part of the 14th century. The Navigator knew a lunch out was on the cards so menus were studied avidly as we passed them outside restaurants.We lashed out \u20ac 3 a head to visit the imposing St Peter's Church, but it was a disappointment and was not as lavishly adorned as others we had seen on this tour, but on a positive note we had made a \u20ac 6 donation to its upkeep!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tEvery corner we turned led to another square with attractive buildings and restaurants with people sitting at tables outside. There was one new looking mall in the centre of the old town and we took the escalators to the 4th floor food court to see if there were any outlets serving traditional Latvian dishes but, although there were impressive looking dining establishments, they did not fit the bill (get it!).\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe wandered about a bit more before deciding to cut our losses and try and find a restaurant we had passed earlier in the morning which had a good selection of dishes at reasonable prices. It was eventually found again and we sat down at a table outside before realising it was self-service inside. With my hat and sunglasses left on the table to reserve it we joined the queue. Everything was self-service including wine and beer as you took a glass and filled them yourself.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWhen it was time to chose our main courses, and although we had studied the menu outside, either panic or memory loss kicked in and we were just pointed to whatever looked good, whatever it was! My choice was a rack of ribs (not particularly Latvian I know) with boiled potatoes smothered in a creamy mushroom sauce and The Navigator had a very meaty burger (again, not particularly Latvian) but with a mystery sauce with what could have been raisins adding to the flavour and she chose a mixed vegetables dish that was excellent. Two desserts and two soft drinks accompanied the main course and where the Cathedral was not value for money, this meal was well worth the \u20ac 27. (\u00a3 23)We lingered as long as possible, enjoying the ambiance but also resting our feet at the same time. We were both wearing Sketchers, the most comfortable shoes on the planet, but old town cobbles are pretty brutal on the soles of your feet.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe set off for another couple of hours of taking in the sights and one of them was the Freedom Monument.\"The Freedom Monument honours soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence (1918\u20131920). It is considered an important symbol of the freedom, independence, and sovereignty of Latvia. Unveiled in 1935, the 42-metre (138 ft) high monument of granite, travertine, and copper often serves as the focal point of public gatherings and official ceremonies in Riga.\"It is an impressive monument and is located next to an attractive parkland area. As we admired the monument and I took a few pictures, we were approached by a young woman who wanted us to answer some questions for the Riga Tourist Office and we were bribed by the prospect of a free fridge magnet if we gave up five minutes of our time to answer the questions.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t>Now the proud owners of a Latvian fridge magnet, we walked through the shady park adjacent to the monument. There were some lovely flower displays to be seen and there was a waterway where you could take an hours trip on a boat, or do it yourself by pedalo.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThree o'clock was approaching and that means a cuppa and a latte were required, along with another sit down. We found a superb bakers shop where the aforementioned drinks were accompanied by a superb apple strudel.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTwo tables from us was another British couple and it was fascinating listening to their conversation which consisted of him reading out a list of European cities where an unspecified artist \/ band were performing with the cost of the tickets and air fares to the designated city. The cherry on the top was when he discovered that said artist \/ band were performing at some point in the future in Australia and he worked out the logistics of a trip down under to see these mystery performers.I don't think I'd go to the end of our street to see any modern day performers, far less the other side of the world!And that just about wrapped up our first day in Riga. I'll give you our considered opinion of our first Baltic capital city at the end of play tomorrow. The cycle back was as uneventful as the cycle in and we sat outside for a while on our return until a light shower forced us inside.Did I just say light shower? It may have started as a light shower but it turned into a monsoon by early evening. We had managed to get the chairs and the bikes in the garage while the rain was still 'light' but I had left the bikes on charge from the outside power point with the cable trailing into the garage. Someone, had to go out in the monsoon to pull the plug out and put the cable in the garage, lock it, and return inside before drowning.That someone wasn't The Navigator!Day 26 - Saturday 29th of July Riga - (0 Miles)Day 2Today's mission is to explore the areas of Riga we didn't get to yesterday, starting with Riga's Central Market, said to be the largest covered market in Europe. Following yesterday's triumph for The Navigator cycling into the city centre, we set off from the campsite to venture further as the market is on the far side of the city from where we were yesterday. Fortunately there is a park that runs right around the old town and we cycled through it before finding a place to chain up the bikes.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was rebuilt in the 1930's using the former German Zeppelin hangers which obviously were no longer needed for their original purpose.The approach to the market is not particularly enticing as there is a massive construction project underway to rebuild the bus and train stations that has to be navigated before you reach the building.\t\t\n \n\t\tBefore you get inside the building, there are stalls outside, manned by mostly pensioners selling what appeared to be fruit and vegetables from their garden or allotment. Blueberries and blackberries were obviously in season as they were piled high on virtually every stall.The covered 'hangers' are themed in that one was for butcher meat, one for fish, one for clothing and the best one by far was the food court which also had cheese and dairy products.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe had seen a YouTube video of a couple of foodies who had visited the food court a few weeks ago and this had given us a good idea of what to expect. It was now late morning and we were peckish so the first stall we visited had traditional Latvian snacks of a sort of doughnuty consistency with assorted fillings. The Navigator had one with a cream \/ cottage cheese filling and I had one with a sausage inside. It was very different to a British flakey pastry sausage roll, and once you got used to the texture, it was pretty good, although I would still prefer one bought from John Law's. (Ardrishaig residents will know what I mean). \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe walked around the other halls before returning for another delicacy called Pelmini dumplings which you could get either boiled or fried and we chose the fried version filled with chicken, accompanied by a dip of sour cream And a tea and latte. My tea was the cheapest of this holiday at eighty cents, but would it be too much to get anyone in Europe to actually make the tea for you rather than give you a cup of boiling water and a teabag!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe got talking to our student table-mates as we heard them talking in perfect English, but one was from Spain and the other from the Netherlands. They had originally met when they were studying in Canada, and the Spaniard was now studying in Tallinn, Estonia so his Dutch friend had travelled to meet him and they were on a road trip to Riga, Latvia!P.S. They had the boiled variety but I think our choice looked better.After a further lap of the market we headed back to the bikes and cycled back towards the Old Town for another tour of the cobbled streets there. They do add to the ambiance of the narrow streets and are in keeping with the old buildings, but they are tough on your feet. It was a beautifully sunny warn day again and because it was Saturday afternoon, it was much busier than yesterday, with a fair few hen and stag parties walking about.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe did get lost on a few occasions as we wandered the lanes and alleyways, but there was always a local on hand for The Navigator to ask directions! We did see a new bride and her father taking pictures of them selves so I stepped in to take pictures of the two of them together as there was no sign of a groom or a photographer..\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIn the afternoon we headed back to the restaurant we had lunch in yesterday for a strawberry tart, apple strudel and two soft drinks for all of \u20ac 6! (\u00a3 5.17)The streets were getting really busy now and we headed back to the bikes to cycle the short distance to the shady park to sit and people watch for an hour or so before cycling back to the campsite where we sat out in the shade of Bessie until late in the evening. A young girl, Tabea, walked past and asked if I spoke English, (I'll do the jokes thanks) as she wanted to know if we knew where she could plug her 12v cool box in. It turned out she was another Kiwi in Europe to visit her friend who lived in Sweden and they had taken a ferry over from Sweden to visit Latvia. In the end after the guy in reception couldn't help her we offered to plug it into our 12v system as we were plugged into the mains.A chat with our Dutch neighbour who had just completed a tour of Scandinavia towing a caravan rounded off the evening before we stowed the bikes and chairs away as we are moving on tomorrow. We missed out the coast of Lithuania on the way here, but we're going to follow the Latvian coast north into Estonia, heading for it's capital, Tallinn.\t\t\n\t\tWe (I) have also been busy working on new ranges for Fyne Editions and one such new range is the 2024 Week-to-View Diaries There are over 50 published so far with more to come soon. You can see a small sample of titles below but check out the full range\u00a0HERE.\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tThis map shows the approximate route we have taken on week 3 of the 2023 Road Trip...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSome of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\t\t\n\t\t\t
\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 09-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}COMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...\t\t\n\t\tFrom Riga we will head up the Baltic coast and have two stops before we reach Tallin and the furthest point we will be from home.Stay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online.\t\t\n\t\t\tHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Aug 4, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-08-04 15:30:39","modifiedDate":"2023-08-26 13:43:05","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-08-26 12:43:05","commentCount":"1","commentStatus":"open","categories":{"coma":"
2023<\/a>, Latvia<\/a>, Lithuania<\/a>, Motorhome<\/a>, Poland<\/a>, Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>","space":"2023<\/a> Latvia<\/a> Lithuania<\/a> Motorhome<\/a> Poland<\/a> Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"Hill of Crosses<\/a>Kaunas<\/a>Malbork<\/a>motorhome road trip<\/a>motorhomeadventures<\/a>motorhomeblog<\/a>Poland<\/a>Riga<\/a>Rundales Palace<\/a>Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>travelblog<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":35,"sec":37},"status":"publish"},{"id":13508,"link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/manvanoplan-visits-rostock-stralsund-mrzezyno-gdansk\/","name":"manvanoplan-visits-rostock-stralsund-mrzezyno-gdansk","thumbnail":{"url":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/wp-content\/uploads\/2023\/07\/20230717_121301-scaled.webp","alt":"ManVanNoPlan visits Mrzezyno"},"title":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Rostock, Stralsund, Mrzezyno & Gdansk","excerpt":"","content":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Rostock, Stralsund, Mrzezyno & GdanskSome of the following links are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.Day 10 - Thursday 13th of JulyWismar to Rostock - (54.092988, 12.130426) (40 Miles)After stating yesterday that we are aiming for at least two overnight stays in each place we visit, that theory goes straight out of the window today as we are moving on to Rostock where we will only spend the one night. To give Rostock some justice we serviced Bessie just after 8am and headed off from Wismar, arriving In Rostock just after 9am. The facilities for motorhomes are non existent in Rostock but there is a designated area of a huge car park directly on the quayside, and only a hop, skip and a jump into the city centre.\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 09-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-image{text-align:center}.elementor-widget-image a{display:inline-block}.elementor-widget-image a img[src$=\".svg\"]{width:48px}.elementor-widget-image img{vertical-align:middle;display:inline-block}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt is free to park here overnight from 9pm to 8am and the day rate to park is \u20ac 18 at a machine that does not take credit cards or bank notes, so unless you have \u20ac 18 in coins you have to download an app and pay that way, which I did. As I was returning to the van to report my success at mastering the complicated payment method, a lady traffic warden was in front of Bessie tapping in the registration details into her terminal and looking concerned that she couldn't find it. I showed her my app confirming payment and we compared apps, but she was unimpressed until my registration pinged onto her screen and all was well.\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tIt is amazing how two people of different nationalities and languages, who can't speak a word of the others language, can resolve matters by talking in their own language anyway and pointing and gesturing at devices!There are two ships tied up at this point which can be visited, the ice breaker Stephan Jantsen, and a tall ship, the Santa Barbara Anna. We had a look at them in the passing but decided neither of them merited spending a sizeable portion of our pension on.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFrom the car park you cross a dual carriageway and up a slight incline where you arrive onto the main shopping street. We turned right as an interesting looking tower could be seen at the end of the street. It was a remnant from days, nay centuries, gone by and was a gateway of the once impressive town wall defences. As with everything in this country, it had been well restored and now served as a museum. I wandered off to get a better angle to take some pictures and on my return The Navigator reported that she had discovered that the museum served the cheapest tea and latte in all of Germany at \u20ac 1.20 and \u20ac 1.40 respectively so we indulged ourselves and the lady brought it out to us outside where we sat and admired the surroundings.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThere is one long shopping street with no empty units and the usual mix of upmarket, expensive (to us) shops and bargain shops, although they were very much in the minority here. Half way down the street is an area to sit around a fountain area and take in an even more impressive vista than back around the museum. It was warm and sunny and children were enjoying the cooling jets of water while we admired the renovated colourful buildings looking forward and the facade of the Univeristy behind us.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe eventually continued walking down the street and at the end it opened up into a fairly sizeable square with a few odd food vans. By this time it was lunchtime and the age old decision had to be made of what to have. The solution we arrived at was to revisit one of the malls which looked to have a food court where we could indulge our own tastes, me as a carnivore and The Navigator as a pescatarian. The first food court was simply amazing with none of the usual fast food outlets, but instead, independants offering a bewildering array of quality foods at prices to match so reluctantly we walked all the way back up to the end of the street near where we had our cuppas this morning. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAgain there were no fast food outlets but what did catch our attention were two side by side very reasonably priced Asian restaurants. One was Chinese and the other a Thai \/ Indian which is the one we chose. We both had a pork, noodle, vegetable combination with The Navigator having a Thai sauce and I had a Mango sauce. To say it was delicious is an understatement and for a total of \u20ac 15, a bargain as well and we've paid a lot more for not such good food in the past.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe fountain area beckoned again to sit and digest our food in front of the beautiful University\u00a0of\u00a0Rostock building which was founded in 1419, and it's the oldest in the Baltic Sea Region.\u00a0A\u00a0surprise heavy rain shower, which had been threatening most of the morning, sent us scurrying for cover until it abated. After the rain stopped we headed back to Bessie, content we had seen the best of Rostock, and impressive it was too.In the evening more vans arrived for their free overnight stopover and lots of people were out for a stroll along the quayside and quite a few people waved in to us when they saw Bessie's registration, or maybe the small Scottish flag beside it! There was a lovely sunset across the water in front of us and we stood on the quayside to take it in before walking a hundred yards to our left where people were relaxing with a drink in deck chairs, some were even dancing a la 'Strictly' and it was all very civilised.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOn the town side of the car park, a bar had outside seating and there was live music provided by a guy playing drums, keyboard and singing and very good he was too. All in all, we really liked Rostock and for a city that was heavily bombed in WW II, it has been well restored and\u00a0 would recommend it to anyone visiting this part of Northern Germany. For info there is another large quayside motorhome parking area, but its not near the city centre, instead it is beside the ferry terminal for ships to Sweden.Day 11 - Friday 14th of JulyRostock to Stralsund - (54.302730, 13.098633) (69 Miles)Today we are heading to Stralsund, another German city you have probably never heard off and you are in good company as neither had we. Stralsund is tucked up in the far north east corner of Germany and is another of the former Hanseatic League cities on the Baltic Coast of Germany.We had to be off the Rostock parking area by 8am or feed the meter to stay longer but because we had arrived so early yesterday morning we had seen most of the city centre and we are keen to make progress eastwards, hence the early start for Stralsund. We arrived at the Stellplatz in Stralsund before 9.30am but there was no problem getting a pitch, even that early as other vans were leaving to move on. Entry through the barrier once you take a ticket, which cleverly is also used for entry to the toilet and shower block by means if the QR code printed on it.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt is a big stellplatz with over a hundred pitches and we chose one on the edge in the shade of some tall trees. After sitting outside for a while to relax after the drive, we set off to walk to the harbour area where we intended to have our lunch of some sort of fish, naturally. It took just short of half an hour to arrive in the refurbished former docks area which are now given over to yachts, both for locals and visitors.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFor the land based visitors like us there were plenty of fish restaurants, with the ones doing the best trade on what looked like converted trawlers. The prices seemed to be very reasonable and we picked one and found a table under a big umberella for some much needed shade. The fish we had was not battered, and seemed to be smoked, but for \u20ac 8, including a good portion of chips and a home made tartar sauce, it was delicious.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe spent the rest of the afternoon wandering about and watching yachts, tourist boats and a huge big hotel boat arrive. The whole quayside has been redeveloped at huge expense with the biggest attraction a very modern Baltic Sealife building which has been built to offer a contrast to the red brick former warehouses.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe city centre was nearby but we decided to leave that until tomorrow so headed back to Bessie, buying a cake on the way back to have with a cuppa. Across the road from the Stellplatz is a caravan and motorhome dealership and we went over to kill an hour looking at the shiny new campervans, the outstanding one being a Malibu, made by Carthago, a premium German brand and it was two thirds the size of Bessie but was on sale for \u20ac95,000!The pitches were almost all taken by late afternoon and after sitting out for a while we had a snack and called it a night.Day 12 - Saturday 15th of JulyStralsund - (54.302730, 13.098633) (0 Miles)An earlier objective of not arriving anywhere on a Saturday has been achieved this weekend so we had a longish lie in knowing there was no driving today. Today's plan is to cycle to the city centre and explore the Unesco World Heritage buildings there, as the Old Town has many red-brick Gothic landmarks, like the 13th century Town Hall. First though, The Navigator wanted to make use of the washing machine, as yesterday afternoon we mastered the fairly complicated payment method, so she wasn't going to let that new found knowledge go to waste! By ten o'clock however we were ready to head off for the day and the first time we've used the bikes.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t<I've mentioned before on previous visits, but will reiterate for new readers, that you only pay for parking during the day (9am to 9pm and its only \u20ac 8 for a day ticket) and your overnight stay is free. Our dilemma this morning was, should we try and get on an official pitch and spend the day, here or head off and revisit Gouda on our way home in September. Decisions , decisions! In the end we decided to stay as The Navigator assured me her weather App was indicating the torrential rain was going to go off around lunchtime so I managed to get on an official pitch, but one without power which would have been useful to charge the batteries up.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIf I'm honest it was a bit of a struggle to walk into the port area and back in the baking heat yesterday, but today we are heading into the city centre on our bikes and we did it in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the effort! This was another pristine city centre with one main shopping street with the usual mix of quality shops along with quality bargain shops, one of which was Woolworths where we purchased another bottle of Italian wine for \u20ac 2 and a bottle of Coke for \u20ac 1.After all the fuss in Scotland about numpty Lorna Slater's DRS Scheme, it can be reported that it is fully implemented in Germany and my \u20ac 1 bottle of Coke actually cost \u20ac 1.25 with the .25 cents refunded when it was returned at a supermarket. Because of the intense heat we have been drinking more than usual and later this evening we took our plastic bottles to Netto, just around the corner from the stellplatz. The machine does not return cash but does give a receipt which is scanned at the checkout and deducted from your shopping bill.One of the unintended consequences of this scheme is that you see homeless and down and outs searching bins and picking up discarded bottles and cans to earn a few Euros! Every cloud...Back to today's visit to the city, one of the thing that previous generations of Germans were good at was building impressive buildings like churches, cathedrals and town halls and Stralsund was no exception as you can see in the following pictures.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was over thirty degrees by lunchtime and we called it a day in the city and cycled the short distance to the harbour area where we both had a roll on shrimps which were delicious, served with lettuce and mayo.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe had one last walk around the harbour area and were in time to watch a Dutch sail training ship cast off with a crew of smartly dressed youngsters learning the ropes as it were!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBack at the van I had a doze in the shade of Bessie and The Navigator ironed this morning's washing load - a woman's work, etc, etc! I watched the end of an exciting stage of the Tour de France and was about to get the barbecue fired up when a shower of rain came on putting an end to my turn to cook!We have been to Germany many times down the years and have really enjoyed visiting Minden, Hamburg (almost), Schwerin, Wismar, Rostock and Stralsund on this trip. They are not the household names you have heard of before but that doesn't mean they are not worth visiting, in fact they are all worth visiting and I commend that notion to the house m'lud.Day 13 - Sunday 16th of JulyStralsund to Mrzezyno - (54.145610, 15.285963) (201 Miles)Poland, land of plumbers and potatoes awaits us... The plan for the next week or so is to make our way up Poland's Baltic Coast visiting more places no one has ever heard of until we reach the major city of Gdansk, which, certainly everyone of a certain age should know about as in August 1980 the Gda\u0144sk Shipyard was the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union movement. Its opposition to the Communist regime led to the end of Communist Party rule in 1989, and sparked a series of protests that overthrew the Communist regimes of the former Eastern Bloc, and the movement's leader leader, Lech Wa\u0142\u0119sa, later became President of Poland in 1990.As you would expect, the journey from Stralsund in Germany to Mrze\u017ayno in Poland was motorway most of the way with the roads in pristine condition, especially in Poland where the road heading to Gdansk looked brand new. There were no issues at the border crossing and we simply drove straight through, but then immediately peeled off to fill up with diesel, not really knowing if it was dearer or cheaper in Poland, but the amount of German cars filling up led us to assume it was cheaper, and it was.At this point I will give a glowing endorsement to our Revolute debit card which works in any currency and gives a great conversion rate. The only issue is keeping an eye on your spending and maintaining a balance on it but the transfer process from your own bank account is simple to use.The satnav said we had about an hour and a half to our destination so we were looking forward to the drive in this new country for us. A short while later the traffic in front of us ground to a halt and with a junction about a mile ahead we assumed it was either roadworks or an accident. At this point a strange thing happened. The slow lane traffic that we were in moved onto the hard shoulder leaving a gap up the middle of the road, presumably for emergency vehicles, but we are used to them using the hard shoulder.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was indeed an accident just past the intersection and the police had blocked the motorway and everyone had to take the slip road off, and that's when the fun began! My phone lost the signal which meant the satnav didn't work so we were heading into the Polish countryside heading south when we should be heading north up to the coast.\u00a0About two miles later everyone in front of us seemed to be turning left so we decided to follow them in the hope that their satnavs were working. What we had turned onto was a forest track no better than single track and heavily rutted with huge potholes. The incredible rattling caused the screen for our rear view mirror to stop working and the next twenty minutes or so were horrendous to drive but at least at the end of it we arrived at the next junction where got back on the pristine motorway. It was one thirty by this time so we pulled into the next rest area for some lunch and our regular Sunday three way video call with the family.Once we came off the motorway to head north to the coast it took about half an hour to reach Mrzezyno through some pretty countryside and some sleepy villages, this being Sunday afternoon after all. There is a large campsite in this small town but we were heading for the quayside where motorhomes can park with full facilities. We were fortunate to get the last space and it was a tight fit to get Bessie into the pitch but after a fair few cuts I managed to get parked.And boy was it worth the effort!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe were right on the quayside but as I had to reverse into this space our door was on the wrong side but we were just glad to be here. Mrzezyno is an out and out holiday resort and is split by the river Rega with most of the town on the other bank from us. On either side of the harbour entrance are two of the most pristine beaches you will find anywhere and because this was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, they were both packed.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tA few yachts came and went but mostly it was trip boats from the other bank that kept going out and in with passengers going for a trip around the bay. We were knackered by the almost six hour drive in boiling sunshine so we had an early night.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe did sit out for a while and were treated to a great sunset.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 09-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-divider{--divider-border-style:none;--divider-border-width:1px;--divider-color:#0c0d0e;--divider-icon-size:20px;--divider-element-spacing:10px;--divider-pattern-height:24px;--divider-pattern-size:20px;--divider-pattern-url:none;--divider-pattern-repeat:repeat-x}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider{display:flex}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{font-size:15px;line-height:1;max-width:95%}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__element{margin:0 var(--divider-element-spacing);flex-shrink:0}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-icon{font-size:var(--divider-icon-size)}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider-separator{display:flex;margin:0;direction:ltr}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator{align-items:center}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:before{display:block;content:\"\";border-bottom:0;flex-grow:1;border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:first-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider-separator:before{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider__element{margin-left:0}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:last-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider-separator:after{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider__element{margin-right:0}.elementor-widget-divider:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text):not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon) .elementor-divider-separator{border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern{--divider-border-style:none}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern.elementor-widget-divider--view-line .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not([class*=elementor-widget-divider--view]) .elementor-divider-separator{width:100%;min-height:var(--divider-pattern-height);-webkit-mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;-webkit-mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);background-color:var(--divider-color);-webkit-mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url);mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url)}.elementor-widget-divider--no-spacing{--divider-pattern-size:auto}.elementor-widget-divider--bg-round{--divider-pattern-repeat:round}.rtl .elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{direction:rtl}.e-con-inner>.elementor-widget-divider,.e-con>.elementor-widget-divider{width:var(--container-widget-width,100%);--flex-grow:var(--container-widget-flex-grow)}\t\t\n\t\tInexpensive Birthday Gift Ideas...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTitles for the four nations also include, Best Wife, Best Mum, Best Son, Best Dog, Best Golfer & Best Cat!See the full range of titles\u00a0HERE.\t\t\n\t\tDay 14 - Monday 17th of JulyMrzezyno - 0 MilesWhat a contrast from yesterday looking across to the busy side of the harbour as it was far from busy this morning. The weekenders and day trippers of yesterday were back home or at work and the town had reverted to normal, however as the morning wore on it did get busier.We had been speaking to a Polish woman yesterday two vans up from us as she spoke passable English and this morning they were moving on further up the coast which was a bonus for us as I wanted their space. The big advantage would be that I would have far more space to allow me to turn Bessie around to put our habitation door at the the side of the quayside, which would give us privacy from the car park.That achieved we decided to walk over to the far bank and explore the town, and a very pleasant little town it was. We walked along the jetty and tried to decipher the menus on display, without much luck it has to be said, but whatever the dishes were, they were reasonably priced.Here's The Navigator expertly pointing out that Bessie has now been turned around.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was another warm day and we picked one of the quayside restaurants to have a tea and a latte which seemed easy enough to order and that came to 21 Zloty, just over \u00a3 4 (5 Zloty to the pound). After that we walked away from the quayside to see the rest of the town and the shops and stalls were mainly catering to the tourist trade although we did find the local supermarket and bought a few things to keep us stocked up on Polish goodies. Again we were surprised at the value of our purchases and are really warming to Poland in more ways than one.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\"Houston, we have a problem!\"After Gdansk we were planning to go on to visit Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, aka The Baltic States but we woke this morning to a newspaper report that, \"Putin is planning to use Wagner fighters to invade key strategic strip of land straddling border between Poland and Lithuania in move against NATO's Baltic states', a Putin crony reveals.\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOn Poland's northern border is an enclave of Russia called Kaliningrad with a million or so Russian citizens living there. There is a gap of 104 kilometres which forms the Poland - Lithuania border known as the Suwalki Gap and then it is Belarus, effectively Allied to Russia, and it is this gap that we were due to go through early next week to tour Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, but...Our conflicting thoughts are,1. If World War III is about to kick off, we really shouldn't be behind enemy lines!or2. There's no way that World War III is about to kick off and we should proceed as planned!Decisions, decisions lol. All will be revealed in the next blog...We are really loving Mrzezyno and management (The Navigator) has thrown the whole three month tour into complete disarray by insisting that we stay another day, so we relaxed, enjoyed the sunshine, the harbourside activity and had a barbecue.\u00a0To be fair, this\u00a0is such a perfect location and the weather is so good that it would be a shame to waste it driving somewhere else. By the way, the candle tin you see on the table has a peat fire aroma, not to remind us of a peat fire in a Highland Bothy, but to keep some pesky flies away!\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDay 15 - Tuesday 18th JulyMrzezyno - 0 MilesSo, our unplanned extra day was spent mostly relaxing with The Navigator reading and knitting and I fished for the first time in a long time, with no luck.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI say no luck, but does foul hooking count as a catch? This is me by the way. The Navigator thought my head was surplus to requirements in this pictures.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe extra day with electricity gave me the opportunity to finish off the last blog, the first of this series.Surprisingly, after being overflowing last night there was an exodus of vans this morning and only two vans came in all day. In the evening we had a barbecue for the second night running and we sat out again watching the activity as boats came and went from the harbour.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe forecast is for rain tomorrow which is hard to believe as we were treated to another beautiful Baltic sunset.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDay 16 Wednesday 19th of JulyMrzezyno to Gdansk - (54.369370, 18.728845) (177 Miles)With rain forecast for most of the day we changed our route today and headed for Gdansk, which I'm sure everyone has heard of. If not, I admire your youth, but not your education!The original plan was to visit another one of Poland's Baltic Coast resorts but that wasn't an option now that the inclement weather had made a seaside resort not the best use of our time, so after servicing the van in the lashing rain, we set off eastwards. Google Maps was forecasting the journey would take between three and a half and four hours, but that turned out to be wishful thinking.Mrzezyno had been half an hour north of the new motorway but we were routed eastwards passing through an area which was heavily forested and interspersed with massive wheat fields on some of the worst roads we have driven on. We think the roads in Argyll and Bute are bad, but these were much, much worse, and we were glad when we were guided back onto the pristine motorway after about an hour.All was going well until we approached a huge city called Koszalin where the motorway by pass was still being built causing us to be diverted through the fairly nondescript city. First chronicled in 1244, Koszalin nowadays is an industrial town and from what we saw of it not worthy of a visit, especially not on such a dreich day.The motorway is being built all the way from the German border to Gdansk and will be a superb road to drive, in maybe two years time but today we drove on what was mostly single carriageway through flat and unremarkable countryside, the only highlight was to see the odd stork perched on a lamp-post. The Poles are taking a no prisoners approach to road building and for the most part the new motorway is being built alongside the existing road and straight through the middle of the wheat fields which must be soul destroying for the farmers.We stopped for lunch at a busy petrol station then carried on. Google Maps gives you a countdown to the time left to your destination, but even though we were back on a stretch of the completed motorway, the time hardly moved from an hour and a half to go. As we approached the outskirts of Gdansk, we saw why the time to go was not counting down as our route turned from a blue line into a red line, meaning stationary traffic ahead.On any other day it might have taken thirty minutes to reach the campsite we were aiming for, but the quoted hour and a half on the screen turned out to be very optimistic. Even Google Maps got frustrated with the lack of progress and 'she' re-routed us away from the bypass and through the city. Even this new route had long stretches of road works and this, combined with the beginning of the rush hour(s) meant we hardly saved any time but because we were moving, albeit slowly, we felt this was a better option than being grid locked.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSix hours it took in the end and we booked into the campsite for three nights to give us two full days in the city centre. The campsite, Camper Van Stogi 114, is located in woods near the beach and it was packed but we managed to get in OK, although others were turned away later.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter dinner we ventured out for a walk as the rain had abated and we wanted to work out how to get tickets for the nearby tram into the city centre. That done, we went to the beach which was surprisingly busy and had excellent fine sand. There are resorts all around the world that would kill to have sand as good as this, but they probably don't have a massive container port adjoining it, which completely spoils the view, and sunset.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDay 17 Thursday 20th of JulyGdansk - (0 Miles)Today is my birthday and The Navigator has kindly offered to buy me lunch, which is an occasion in itself. She loves when its my birthday as I am now the same age as her, although my retort is that I'm still a toyboy!First a little bit about Gdansk, a city most of us have heard of because of the historic events that happened in our lifetimes.\"Gda\u0144sk (Danzig in German) is a port city on the Baltic coast of Poland. At the center of its Main Town, reconstructed after WW II, are the colourful facades of Long Market, now home to shops and restaurants. Nearby is Neptune Fountain, a 17th-century symbol of the city topped by a bronze statue of the sea god. Gda\u0144sk is also a centre for the world\u2019s amber trade and boutiques throughout the city sell the ossified resin.\"\"One of Poland\u2019s most beautiful cities, Gdansk has played major roles in history, especially in the 20th century. It was the 1939 flash point of World War II, and then in 1980, the birthplace of the Solidarnosc labour movement, ushering the end of Communist domination in Eastern Europe. Gdansk\u2019s Old Town, painstakingly reconstructed to its Hanseatic League glory after being levelled during World War II, is a highlight.\"Gdansk sounded promising, so after opening cards and presents from my family and reading good wishes from friends online, we set off from the campsite. A small shop in a nearby campsite sold tram tickets (approx \u00a3 1) and then it was a ten minute walk to get the tram for the 15 minute trip into the city centre.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWithin a few steps from the tram station you pass through an archway originally built in 1614, but the War damage was beautifully restored in 1957 and immediately you are in Dtuga, one of the most impressive streets you can imagine, beautifully restored and thronged by people enjoying the lovely weather.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThere are no large department stores or recognisable branded shops, instead there are individual businesses catering for all the tourists and locals alike and the two main outlets seemed to be restaurants and amber shops. Halfway down this long street is the impressive Neptune Fountain. As you walk down the street you catch glimpses of churches and other impressive buildings at the end of lanes to your left and right. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAt the bottom of the street you pass though another impressive archway and find a canal where you can hire motor boats shaped like cars to take you around the canal system. There are dozens of restaurants lining the canal and the historic crane is in here but still being restored. A modern and stylish footbridge crosses the canal at this point and further down past the boats of all shapes and sizes that take tourists for a trip is another impressive footbridge, this one lifting up on the hour to let the tourist boats and yachts out of the city centre.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe forecast had been for some rain and it began to fall just as we reached my chosen restaurant for lunch. It has rave reviews, both on Facebook and Google and the online pictures of the food looked fantastic. Although it was my birthday treat, the choice of restaurant was endorsed by The Navigator as they had Pierogi on the menu.\"Pierogi are an important part of Polish culture and cuisine today. They are filled dumplings made by wrapping unleavened dough around a savory or sweet filling and cooked in boiling water. They are served in a variety of forms and tastes (ranging from sweet to salty to spicy) and are considered to be the national dish.\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI had a tartar salmon starter, which looked too good to eat and The Navigator had a herring based starter.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFor the main course I had a breaded cod fillet on creamy mash while The Navigator had the Pierogi. To say it was delicious is a huge understatement and I would recommend the Bazar restaurant if you are ever fortunate to travel to Gdansk.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter lunch, the sun came back out and we spent an hour lounging on a wooden recliner seat near the lifting footbridge and had a tea and coffee and very nearly a nap!We slowly retraced our steps heading for the tram, and found an ice cream shop on Dtuga doing great business selling a sort of flavoured 'whippy' type cone and that finished off the treats for the day.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBack at the van a German registered motorhome was parked near us, but what made it stand out was the New Zealand stickers and emblems and (long story short) we spent a lovely evening in the company of Gary and Dianne from New Zealand's north island. They keep a motorhome in northern Germany and use it as often as visas allow. Schengen eh!As luck would have it their travels had taken them from Finland by ferry to Tallin in Estonia and south through Latvia and Lithuania and were kind enough to supply us with a motorhome guide book for the Baltic States, as well as lots of other useful information.Day 18 - Friday 21st JulyGdansk - (0 Miles)We started the week in Poland with three nights at Mrzezyno and we are ending it with three nights in Gdansk as each of these destinations has merited two full days in their different ways.Today we took the tram back into the city centre and tried to find some other sights to see. The first of those was the Great Armoury, an elaborate, restored 1600s building, housing rotating exhibits from the Gdansk Academy of Fine Arts.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFurther on we found the covered market, which was underwhelming, but the stalls outside had an incredible display of colourful fresh fruit and vegetables.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe then walked down another beautiful street full of amber shops and stalls until we came to Saint Mary's Basilica, or to give it Its full name, Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a massive brick built building, currently one of the two or three largest brick churches in the world.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBuilt between 1536 and 1572, St. Mary's Church was used for Catholic and Lutheran services simultaneously and from the 16th century until 1945 it was the second largest Lutheran church in the world. It is 105.5 metres (346 ft) long, and the nave is 66 metres (217 ft) wide and can hold a staggering for 25,000 people.The church was severely damaged late in World War II, during the storming of the city by the Red Army in March 1945. The wooden roof burned completely and most of the ceiling fell in. Fourteen of the large vaults collapsed, the windows were destroyed and in places the heat was so intense that some of the bricks melted. Today you would never know it had been damaged and it is a truly magnificent building and well worth a visit, whether you are religious or not.Entry is free but you can climb the tower for a small fee. The Navigator offered to take a pew for some contemplation if I wanted to climb the tower, but I declined her kind offer.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWe walked on and eventually crossed the lifting foot bridge and had our lunch overlooking the canal. Thankfully, we were under a huge canopy as a heavy shower of rain came on as we were eating. After lunch we slowly meandered back towards the tram, but could not pass the ice cream shop and had another two cones.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBack at the campsite I met Joop the Dutch man we had met in Wismar and we invited him, and wife, Frida into Bessie for a cuppa and a chat. Having a motorhome and travelling far and wide exposes you to some lovely people and we have been fortunate to meet two such couples here.\t\t\n\t\tWe (I) have also been busy working on new ranges for Fyne Editions and one such new range is the 2024 Week-to-View Diaries There are over 50 published so far with more to come soon. You can see a small sample of titles below but check out the full range\u00a0HERE.\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tThis map shows the approximate route we have taken on week 2 of the 2023 Road Trip...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSome of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\t\t\n\t\t\t
\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 09-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}COMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...\t\t\n\t\tWe have one more planned stop in Poland before we have to make the final decision about passing through the Sulwalki Gap into the Baltic States or explore more of Poland and Germany. This is as close as it gets to a cliff hanger on this blog...Stay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online.\t\t\n\t\t\tHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Jul 21, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-07-21 15:26:58","modifiedDate":"2023-08-26 13:42:36","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-08-26 12:42:36","commentCount":"0","commentStatus":"open","categories":{"coma":"
2023<\/a>, Germany<\/a>, Motorhome<\/a>, Poland<\/a>, Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>","space":"2023<\/a> Germany<\/a> Motorhome<\/a> Poland<\/a> Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"Gdansk<\/a>Germany<\/a>motorhome road trip<\/a>motorhomeadventures<\/a>motorhomeblog<\/a>Mrzezyno<\/a>Poland<\/a>Rostock<\/a>Stralsund<\/a>Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>travelblog<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":29,"sec":51},"status":"publish"},{"id":13209,"link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/manvannoplan-visits-gouda-minden-schwerin-wismar\/","name":"manvannoplan-visits-gouda-minden-schwerin-wismar","thumbnail":{"url":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/wp-content\/uploads\/2023\/06\/20230706_094941-scaled.webp","alt":"Gouda Cheese Market"},"title":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Gouda, Minden, Schwerin & Wismar","excerpt":"","content":"ManVanNoPlan Visits Gouda, Minden, Schwerin & Wismar\nSome of the following links are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\nFriday 4th of July.\n\nHello and welcome back to another ManVanNoPlan motorhome road trip. We plan to be away in Europe for the full three month Schengen allowance and push the boundaries by visiting four new countries, but more of that later...\n\nYou may be wondering why we are only making one foreign trip this year and I'll spare you a rant about the state of the health service in Scotland as I suppose there are waiting lists in every part of the UK. So what went wrong I hear you ask? It's a long story, but in a nutshell, The Navigator has had a cataract in her right eye, which over the course of the last year became so bad that she was effectively blind in one eye. A SNHS consultant put her on a waiting list in March 2022 but by April 2023 there was no sign that she was anywhere near the front of the queue so we bit the bullet and had the operation done privately so that we could get on with our lives and back on the road again. And here we are, about to set off for pastures new...\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nA relatively simple fifteen-minute operation has made such a difference for The Navigator and after waiting a month for the all clear we could now start to plan our only three-month trip of 2023 so the pressure was on to find new and interesting places to visit. I have at least three trips I would like to do in the coming few years and I weighed up the pros and cons of each of them before settling on the one I will be describing over the next three months.\n\n\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 20-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-image{text-align:center}.elementor-widget-image a{display:inline-block}.elementor-widget-image a img[src$=\".svg\"]{width:48px}.elementor-widget-image img{vertical-align:middle;display:inline-block}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\nOnce The Navigator had her four week eye test following the operation in late June we were ready to go almost immediately. In preparation for the trip we watched loads of YouTube videos on each of the countries we are going to visit, as well as those made by fellow motorhome \/ campervan owners which were a great help, not only on where to go and what to see, but also the best places to park overnight. When we found somewhere to see or stay, the coordinates were pinned on Google Maps which then more or less dictated the route we should take.\n\nBessie had passed her MOT in March with no issues and we had been on weekend trips to Beecraigs Country Park near Linlithgow, Kirkcaldy and even locally on the Kintyre Peninsula to keep the batteries topped up and make sure there were no problems with Bessie being in storage over the winter months. One of the issues that these little breaks highlighted was that the leisure batteries were not charging to their full capacity so they will have to be replaced in the near future, but we ran out of time before we set off. Bessie had her fifth birthday recently so the leisure batteries are overdue to be replaced but it will have to wait until we return from this trip.\n\n\n\n\nThe above pictures were taken a few weeks ago at one of my favourite wild camping spots on the Mull of Kintyre where you can park on a spur of the old section of road overlooking (on a good day) the islands of Gigha, Jura, and Islay along with Rathlin Island off the coast of Northern Ireland, which can also be seen in the distance. It was a bit overcast where we were there this time but at least it was dry and we managed our first barbecue of the summer.\n\nAs I said, the final box that had to be ticked before we could get everything booked to get off on this next adventure was on Monday the 19th of June when The Navigator had to head up to Oban to Specsavers for her eye check up to confirm everything was as it should be. After a spell of really great, hot weather, we set off in heavy rain and were about half way to Oban when the car ground to a halt!\n\nVery long story short, it happened on a rare straight piece of the road so the traffic could get past us easily enough. Our faith in human nature was restored by the amount of people who stopped to see if they could help. One was a couple of tradesmen in a van who kindly took The Navigator up to Oban leaving me to wait for a tow truck.\n\nThe tow truck driver informed me that it can take up to two weeks for a garage in Oban to look at a car but he had a \"mate\" who would look at it right away and diagnose the problem. Another long story very short - the \"mate\" took a week to fix it and a sizeable chunk of our holiday spending money had\u00a0 gone in the process!\n\nWith The Navigator patched up again, we could now get Bessie ready to go, and we eventually set off from home on Friday the 30th of June. The first stop was our usual first overnight stop in the Kingstown Industrial Estate, Carlisle. (54.923762, -2.950427).\n\nWe then headed on to Pool Bank Farm, (53.894543, -1.628444) a Caravan Club CL near Otley, Yorkshire and we stayed there for two nights. This CL has seen better days, but it's the nearest to daughter Emma and partner Adam, so we spent some time with them including a walk around Roundhay Park in Leeds.\n\n\n\n\nThe next two pictures were taken in Roundhay Park and the eagle eyed among you will spot a penthouse flat over Adam's right shoulder which was once owned by Jimmy Saville, and is allegedly still empty!\n\n\n\n\nWe set off on the Monday morning to head for our ferry port of choice now, Harwich. Our sailing to the Hook of Holland was at 9am on Tuesday morning so we had all day to get to Harwich and took out time getting there. The last time we had an early morning sailing we wild camped on the seafront (51.942139, 1.290673) a short distance from the Stena Lines terminal and enjoyed a good night's sleep before our early rise.\n\n\n\nDay 1 - Tuesday 4th of JulyHarwich to Gouda - 131 Miles (52.010755, 4.717218)\n\nIt was a dull, grey morning as the alarm sounded for our early start as our ferry, the Stena Britannica, was departing at 9am. We were showered and had breakfast in record time before we set off just before 7am to head for the nearby Asda where I topped up on fuel before heading for the port. A few vans and caravans were there before us and once we had our passports stamped, Bessie was given a cursory search by Port Security. You wonder what was the point of it is as they only looked in the toilet compartment and garage, I suppose to see if we were subsidising this trip by smuggling people out of the country.\n\nLast year The Navigator was frisked, but I'm not sure if she was disappointed or not as she was not patted down this time!\n\nThe ship was not any where near full and it even left the berth ten minutes early. This is our fourth crossing on this route and, as on previous occasions, the crossing was smooth and uneventful. Because it's a seven hour crossing there are not the bus loads of excited school kids that you get on the much shorter Dover - Calais route so it is a relaxing experience.\n\n\n\nAs you sail out of the River Stour between Harwich on the starboard side and Felixstowe on the port side it is time to put your phones and \/ or tablets on aircraft mode as once you lose the land based signal your device picks up the ship's maritime satellite signal which is horrendously expensive so you have to endure a seven hour digital detox, unless you want to pay for wi-fi, which we passed on.\n\nIt is surprisingly entertaining just looking out of the large windows as there is always a ship to be seen, but no whales or dolphins this time. In fact, as we neared the Dutch coast The Navigator started to count the ships at anchor, but she got bored after thirty five, so I can't tell you how many we saw in total. I had downloaded a two part documentary from Netflix called The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist, which was well made and passed a couple of hours, and in the course of it we learned what catfishing is!\n\n\n\nWe treated ourselves to lunch and the fish and chips were excellent, and, to be fair to Stena, the food is good and fairly priced and we've not had a bad meal onboard yet.As well as the usual selection of vehicles that made the crossing, one stood out, a Dutch campervan towing a trailer containing a rowing boat. I do it a disservice by calling it a rowing boat as it is much more than that and is built and equipped to cross the Atlantic between the Canary Islands and Antigua, all of 3,000 miles which must be a punishing ordeal for the four person crew. Thirty crews will make the crossing in December, brave souls that they are.\n\nOn arrival, the Dutch Customs Officer asked us how long we were on the continent for and where we were going and The Navigator rhymed off all the countries we hoped to visit in the eighty seven days, but she only heard the 'seven days' and looked bemused at the thought if doing all of that distance in a week!\n\nAfter clearing customs we nipped into a nearby Lidl for some of our favourite Dutch treats before setting off for Gouda, some forty five minutes away and two hours later we duly arrived at the Klein America motorhome Aire in the centre of this pretty little city. There were no accidents or road works en-route but for some unknown reason Google Maps decided to take us on a massive detour before depositing us in Gouda. Usually Google Maps takes you on the shortest route possible, but on this occasion it did the exact opposite!\n\nDay 2 - Wednesday 5th of JulyGouda - 0 Miles (52.010755, 4.717218)\n\nThe Aire has been upgraded since we were last here in October and there are now thirty designated parking spaces for motorhomes \/ campervans but even with the welcome additional spaces, it was full. We parked on a car parking space and held our breath as a police patrol car circled the Aire a little later but we were not asked to move on so we had a quick snack and settled down for the night after what had been a long day.\n\n\n\n\n'July 2023, (Oh What A Night)' does not have the same ring to it as the Frankie Valli classic hit, but what a night it was! Torrential rain battered down on the roof of the van and strong gusts of wind shook Bessie although I managed to sleep through most of it, unlike The Navigator who didn't fare so well.\n\n<I've mentioned before on previous visits, but will reiterate for new readers, that you only pay for parking during the day (9am to 9pm and its only \u20ac 8 for a day ticket) and your overnight stay is free. Our dilemma this morning was, should we try and get on an official pitch and spend the day, here or head off and revisit Gouda on our way home in September. Decisions , decisions! In the end we decided to stay as The Navigator assured me her weather App was indicating the torrential rain was going to go off around lunchtime so I managed to get on an official pitch, but one without power which would have been useful to charge the batteries up.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\nWe had a relaxing morning watching and listening to the rain batter down, but, as if by magic, it went off as predicted just after noon so we headed off for the short walk into the centre of Gouda. If you are a regular reader of these blogs you will have a good idea where we headed for first, yes you guessed, the fish shop \/ takeaway, Monkfish, where we enjoyed two generous portions of kibbeling, which at only \u20ac 5 each is a fantastic bargain.\n\n\n\n\n\nAfter lunch we wandered about the town centre which had come to life after this morning's downpour and visited the shops we usually visit here, especially The Navigator's favourites, Hema and Flying Tiger.\n\nDay 3 - Thursday 6th of JulyGouda - Minden - 203 Miles (52.287000, 8.924300)\n\nToday we set off into the unknown. From here on it will be pastures new for us until we return to our usual Dutch haunts in just short of three months time, which is both exciting and daunting in equal measures!First stop today is the town of Minden in northern Germany, a three and a half hour drive away, but before that, we paid for parking until 11am then walked into Gouda as today (Thursday) is market day in Gouda, and it's not just any old market, it's the world famous Gouda cheese market which has been held in the central square since the 14th century.\n\n\n\n\nIt was a surprisingly lovely, warm morning after all the heavy rain of the past few days and when we arrived in the square the scene was set for the 'show' to start at 10am. We were lucky enough to get ringside seats and watched the spectacle that unfolded for about an hour before walking around the various stalls, buying some cheese as we did so, well it is Gouda after all. By the way, Gouda is pronounced How-da in these parts, although we Brits pronounce it with the hard G.\n\n\n\n\n\nTall Dutch girl or shrinking Navigator?\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\n\nA few spots of rain fell but we were heading back to Bessie anyway to service the van and get on our way into Germany. The route was straightforward enough and Google Maps guided us to Minden in just over four hours with a quick pitstop for lunch on the way.\n\nMinden was chosen at random for our first stopover in Germany as it looked an interesting town just off the motorway with a riverside stellplatz within walking distance of the town centre. The original thought had been to get parked up, plugged in, and head off for a walk into town but it was so warm the chairs were extracted from the garage and we sat watching all the activity in the field in front of us and the river.\n\n\n\nWe were surprised at how busy it was for a Thursday afternoon as families had picnics, barbecues and played games. It has to be said that most people were of Arabic descent and none were speaking German. That said, they were all enjoying the afternoon and one group in particular seemed to be celebrating the birthday of one of the children, which was confirmed when they played 'Happy Birthday' with the words in English but the music had a funky Arabic beat behind it.A few minutes later the little boy of about four or five carried a paper plate over to us with two pieces of a delicious chocolate cake which we had later after our dinner. He spoke to us but we told him we didn't understand him as we were from Scotland at which he ran back to his family shouting 'Scotland, Scotland!' Later we ate outside and polished off a bottle of wine before retiring indoors, just as the light was beginning to fade.\n\n\n\nDay 4 - Friday 7th of July Minden - 0 Miles (52.287000, 8.924300)\n\nMinden was only meant to be a one night stopover but we decided to stay over another night after our relaxing afternoon yesterday. Once we caught up on some van admin it was time to explore the town of Minden.\n\n\"Minden sustained severe damage from Allied bombings during World War II. These attacks were minor during the early phase of the war. The raid on 26 October 1944 on the canal aqueduct damaged the wall of the Mittelland Canal, and numerous workers in a nearby air raid shelter were drowned. The last and most devastating air raid was conducted by United States Army Air Forces Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft on 28 March 1945 and destroyed great parts of the town centre, including the town hall and cathedral, and resulted in the death of over 180 people.\"\n\n\n\n\nThe result today is a town that looks fairly modern because of the post war reconstruction. The town centre is pedestrianised and this gives it the opportunity to have many outdoor seating areas to eat, drink and relax.\n\n\n\n\nRunning for most of the main shopping street is the massive department store, Hagenmeyer, which makes a John Lewis look downmarket by comparison. Germany is suffering economically at the moment and many stores had sales on with huge mark downs on their ranges.\n\nOne of the shops we had a walk around was a Woolworths where we purchased an Italian bottle of white wine for all of \u20ac 2.00 (\u00a3 1.71) and it was surprisingly good and didn't last the afternoon. We had a currywurst sitting in the sun, which was baking hot, so hot it forced us into the Cathedral to sit in the cool for a while. As you will know from previous blogs, we tend to visit most Cathedrals as we find them but this one was nothing to write home about, so I won't!\n\n\n\n\n\n\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 20-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-divider{--divider-border-style:none;--divider-border-width:1px;--divider-color:#0c0d0e;--divider-icon-size:20px;--divider-element-spacing:10px;--divider-pattern-height:24px;--divider-pattern-size:20px;--divider-pattern-url:none;--divider-pattern-repeat:repeat-x}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider{display:flex}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{font-size:15px;line-height:1;max-width:95%}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__element{margin:0 var(--divider-element-spacing);flex-shrink:0}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-icon{font-size:var(--divider-icon-size)}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider-separator{display:flex;margin:0;direction:ltr}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator{align-items:center}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:before{display:block;content:\"\";border-bottom:0;flex-grow:1;border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:first-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider-separator:before{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider__element{margin-left:0}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:last-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider-separator:after{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider__element{margin-right:0}.elementor-widget-divider:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text):not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon) .elementor-divider-separator{border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern{--divider-border-style:none}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern.elementor-widget-divider--view-line .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not([class*=elementor-widget-divider--view]) .elementor-divider-separator{width:100%;min-height:var(--divider-pattern-height);-webkit-mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;-webkit-mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);background-color:var(--divider-color);-webkit-mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url);mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url)}.elementor-widget-divider--no-spacing{--divider-pattern-size:auto}.elementor-widget-divider--bg-round{--divider-pattern-repeat:round}.rtl .elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{direction:rtl}.e-con-inner>.elementor-widget-divider,.e-con>.elementor-widget-divider{width:var(--container-widget-width,100%);--flex-grow:var(--container-widget-flex-grow)}\nInexpensive Birthday Gift Ideas...\n\n\n\n\nTitles for the four nations also include, Best Wife, Best Mum, Best Son, Best Dog, Best Golfer & Best Cat!\nSee the full range of titles\u00a0HERE.\nMinden town centre is on the other side of the river Weser from the Aire so we headed back over the nearby impressive footbridge where Bessie was waiting with much needed cool drinks. We sat outside in the shade of an impressive chestnut tree for the rest of the afternoon, people watching the many groups who were having barbecues and enjoying cooling off in the river.\n\n\n\n\nIf you look carefully you can see Bessie parked beside a large chestnut tree, which The Navigator called a coconut tree at one stage. Wine may have been consumed by this stage. You will also see a bar on the riverside which was popular and although a hundred yards or so in front of us, the music they were playing did not disturb us at all.\n\n\n\n\nAfter dinner outside we sat out until just after nine o'clock which, were we back home we wouldn't be doing as there has been heavy rain and some flooding around Mid Argyll.\n\nThe tables and chairs etc were stowed away as we are making a relatively early start to head for Germany's second biggest city, Hamburg. In doing so we are breaking one of my golden rules which is not to arrive anywhere new on a Saturday as most places are busy, if not full with both holidaymakers \/ tourists like us, but also people escaping in their vans for the weekend. Fingers are crossed that we will find a place to park for the next two nights and that's why we are heading into Hamburg before lunchtime to hopefully get parked.\n\nWe've enjoyed Minden, and would certainly return if we were ever in this area again. It is a functional town, and certainly not the prettiest we have visited in Germany. The stellplatz is on the riverside with lots to do, especially if you have a family with children who want to run about and let off steam after a long drive. That said, of all the twenty odd vans that have been here on the last two nights, all were 'mature' campers like us!\n\n\n\nDay 5 - Saturday 8th of July.Minden to Hamburg to Schwerin - 219 Miles (53.629911, 11.420349)\n\nThe day that didn't go to plan!\n\nMinden to Hamburg. Two and a half hours on mostly dual carriageway and motorway so what could possibly go wrong I hear you all say!\n\nWell, what we didn't know was that Hamburg was celebrating the Festival of Love: The Number 1 among all European Schlager spectacles, called the Hamburg Schlagermove.\n\n\"You can't stay 17 forever\", but that's not true at the Schlagermove in the heart of Hamburg, when the Festival of Love is celebrated once again on the 7th till 8th of July 2023 on the streets of Hamburg between Heiligengeistfeld and St. Pauli-landing bridges. Up to half a million Schlager fans dance around the 45 colourfully decorated music trucks. \"If the Sun shines in your heart\", you're between Kiez and the harbour. The colourful Schlager Parade sets off at 3pm and makes its rounds until evening. Schlager fans from all of Germany and neighbouring countries meet with sunflowers in their hair, fancy shoes, flouncy hems and miniskirts, to have a great time and frolic away the afternoon together.\n\n\n\nSo, apart from an accident which held up traffic on the motorway and a massive queue to get off the motorway and into the city centre, the above festival was happening in the very district the stellplatz we were heading for was located. We made it to within less than a mile of the stellplatz before we encountered a police road block. A very helpful police officer gave us another name to put in the satnav and that should take us there by another route.\n\n\n\n\nGoogle maps is not easily fooled however by a German police officer, no matter how blonde and how pretty, so Google re-routed us back in a loop to where the road was blocked. It was obvious at this point that we were not going to beat half a million people dressed as if they were at a hippy festival in mid sixties San Francisco!\n\nI admitted defeat with Hamburg and re-routed (again) to Schwerin, which was the next planned stop after Hamburg so we would be getting there a couple of days before we originally should have. The journey took another hour and a half, including a lengthy detour off the motorway to search for cheaper diesel than an expensive service station. We eventually made it to the marina \/ stellplatz more than a little frazzled with the heat and the long journey only for the lady in charge to tell us every pitch was taken!\n\nIt turns out the German schools have closed for the summer holidays and that, coupled by the 85 degree heat, had filled up all the campsites for the weekend! She told us about a car park in town where we could park for the night at the princely sum of \u20ac 30 with no facilities so we had no choice but to head there. We did, and the one thing in its favour was the proximity to the lovely town centre and the magnificent Schwerin Schloss.\n\n\n\nAfter dinner we had a walk past the Schloss which looked magnificent in the evening sunlight.\n\n\n\n\n\n\"Schwerin is known for Schwerin Castle, a neo-Renaissance palace with ornate rooms and elaborate gardens. The castle sits on an island in Lake Schwerin, one of several picturesque lakes.\"\n\n\n\nWe walked through part of the old town and had a soft eis or a Whippy cone as we know them. Suitably refreshed, we headed back to the sauna known as Bessie for a refreshing cup of tea. We Brits know how to cope with a heatwave abroad!\n\n\n\n\nToday, we had driven for the best part of seven hours in baking heat without achieving too much, so after catching up with the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are, The Navigator was fast asleep at nine thirty, bless her, and I got peace to type up today's episode.\n\nDay 6 - Sunday 9th of JulySchwerin - 5 Miles (53.647716, 11.428049)\n\nEven though we were in a car park close to the centre of this busy tourist town, we both had a good nights sleep and woke to yet another blistering hot morning.\n\nAlthough we were parked only 100 yards from a Lidl it was closed, as are most German supermarkets on a Sunday so we walked into the town centre to find a small tobacconists that had bottles of water in a fridge. We were running low on drinks to quench our thirst due to the intense heat.\n\nA long lie and this walk into town passed the morning before we moved on to the marina stellplatz we booked yesterday. The expected \u20ac 30 overnight car park price turned out to be only \u20ac 10 which was a good start to the day.\n\nOur pitch at the marina was ready for us and after servicing the van we plugged into the electricity supply and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting out in the shade. We didn't have a view out onto the lake, but we did have shade, which was more important today.\n\n\n\nOur elderly Dutch neighbours warned us that it was due to rain during the night and continue for much of Monday before drying up by mid afternoon.\n\nDay 7 - Monday 10th of JulySchwerin - 0 Miles (53.647716, 11.428049)\n\nAs predicted, it did rain during the night and some of the morning but it had cleared up by lunchtime. The Navigator paid the helpful lady in charge and found out the times of the busses into town, so after lunch we headed off to explore more of Schwerin and the Schloss.\n\nOur Dutch neighbour had explained that the unified German Government had spent billions of Euros restoring Schwerin to its former glory after years of neglect under the post war communist rule and that it was well worth seeing.\n\nWe wandered around the shopping area in the centre of town and were impressed with the quality of the shops, if not the prices. That said, there are a fair few bargain shops although we resisted the temptation to buy another \u20ac 2 bottle of wine from Woolworths again!\n\n\n\nThere is a large square in front of the Cathedral and we spent some time watching two street performers entertaining a sizeable crowd before we headed to the Schloss for a walk around the gardens.\n\n\n\nAs well as an incredibly impressive building, as you can see in the photographs, the gardens surrounding the Schloss are equally impressive and the rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the grounds. It had cleared up to another beautiful afternoon, but because we were beside the lake, there was a lovely breeze that we've not had in the past week.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDay 8 - Tuesday the 11th of JulySchwerin to Wismar - 27 Miles (58.893077, 11.445815)\n\nSchwerin was a place we had never heard of before researching this trip and it should be on everyone's 'must see' list of places anyone visiting this area of northern Germany should visit. Booking in advance would be advised though...\n\nToday's drive was less than forty minutes via a Netto where we stocked up on some essentials. Netto never really became established in the UK due to the dominance of Aldi and Lidl, but here in this part of northern Germany they are numerous, and the one we were in was new and had loads of bargains, including the 'essential' wine!\n\n\n\nThe stellplatz in Wismar was easy enough to find, thanks to Google Maps and it was one of the biggest we've been on in Germany. We didn't know that much about Wismar but if this many motorhomes are here the town must be worth the effort to get here.\n\nAfter lunch we set off for the short walk into the centre of the town and we immediately saw why the stellplatz was full - it was architecturally stunning with many of the buildings dating from the 1600's and, like Schwerin, all beautifully restored. At times you can be forgiven for thinking you are in a Dutch town as there are similarities in the architectural style.\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThere was a market on in the main square but by mid afternoon it was on its last legs by the time we got there. From the centre of town we headed down to the harbour which was busy, and again, beautifully restored with what were once warehouses, now converted into desirable apartments.\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWe took the opportunity to relax and take it all in with a latte, tea and a rather delicious shared cherry cake. Later, back at the van, we sat out in the shade and relaxed before having our meal outside. Although we were in the shade, thanks to Bessie, it was still very warm and we sat out until well after nine o'clock.\n\nThe one and only British couple on the site came to chat for a while and we had to marvel at their ambition in coming this far from Lancashire on a two week holiday, but then again, they were much younger than us, and not retired yet!\n\nAnother person we chatted to was a Dutch man from a campervan opposite us who had owned a yacht that had sailed around the west coast of Scotland and had also cycled along the Crinan Canal to Ardrishaig. Small world!\n\nBetween 3am and 4.30am we were wakened by an almighty thunder and lightning storm with a tremendous downpour of rain. It is better these conditions happen during the night rather than spoil the daytime sightseeing, but it does hinder a good night's sleep.\n\nDay 9 - Wednesday 12th of JulyWismar - 0 Miles (58.893077, 11.445815)\n\nYesterday marked a week on foreign soul and we both feel that it has been much longer than that since we arrived in the Hook of Holland last Tuesday.We are trying to get into the routine of two overnights in each town or city which will give us at least one full day to visit the sights in that place. Yesterday we arrived earlier than we usually do in a new place so we had a look around Wismar in the afternoon, but that was only a scouting mission for a more detailed visit to the harbour area today.\n\nThat was the plan anyway, but first we had a walk around to the next door Netto for a few things, then, when we got back to the van, we sat and relaxed outside watching all the comings and goings of the other vans around us. Although it was warm today, there was a welcome breeze which made it more comfortable to sit outside, rather being frazzled in the baking heat of the last few days. We are tanning nicely but when you expose more flesh than you would back home you run the risk of being bitten by almost invisible insects, and we have both succumbed to their bites!\n\nBefore we knew where we were, it was lunchtime and that was the morning gone! Suitably refreshed and rested, we set off for the nearby marina and harbour area before heading into the main touristy bit of the harbour are where we walked about before finding ourselves back at the bakery we frequented yesterday and had a refreshing cup of Assam tea which The Navigator preferred today instead of the coffee she usually has.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nAs you will know, The Navigator loves her fish snacks and meals and in Wismar we saw for the first time a novel way of selling fish. In the harbour there were three converted trawlers moored and selling fish, both fresh and cooked, as well as all kinds on bread rolls and they were all doing great business. It struck me that if some enterprising soul did this down the road from us in Tarbert it would be a great hit with tourists and locals alike!\n\n\n\n\nThis is the end of our first week and we hope you have enjoyed seeing the places we have visited. As I type this we have been to another three places and each one is better than we could have hoped for. You won't want to miss the next blog...\n\nWe (I) have also been busy working on new ranges for Fyne Editions and one such new range is the 2024 Week-to-View Diaries There are over 50 published so far with more to come soon. You can see a small sample of titles below but check out the full range\u00a0HERE.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThis map shows the approximate route we have taken so far on the 2023 Road Trip...\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\nSome of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\n\t\t\t
\n\n\/*! elementor - v3.15.0 - 20-08-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}\nCOMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...\nThe next blog will start off in Germany then progress into Poland, and what a massive surprise Poland is already, our first time in Poland and this far east in a motorhome.\n\nWe will also bring you up to speed on a dilemma for us that could totally affect this trip!!  \n\nStay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online.\nHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Jun 14, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-06-14 16:02:46","modifiedDate":"2023-08-26 12:40:44","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-08-26 11:40:44","commentCount":"0","commentStatus":"open","categories":{"coma":"
2023<\/a>, Germany<\/a>, Motorhome<\/a>, Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>, The Netherlands<\/a>","space":"2023<\/a> Germany<\/a> Motorhome<\/a> Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a> The Netherlands<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"Gouda<\/a>Hook of Holland<\/a>Minden<\/a>motorhome road trip<\/a>motorhomeadventures<\/a>motorhomeblog<\/a>Schwerin<\/a>Stena Ferries<\/a>Swift Bessacarr 597<\/a>travelblog<\/a>Wismar<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":27,"sec":40},"status":"publish"},{"id":12561,"link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/solo-man-no-van-visits-the-philippines-week-3-and-a-bit\/","name":"solo-man-no-van-visits-the-philippines-week-3-and-a-bit","thumbnail":{"url":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/wp-content\/uploads\/2023\/04\/20230218_122046-scaled.jpg","alt":""},"title":"(Solo) Man (No) Plan Visits the Philippines - Week 3 (and a bit)","excerpt":"","content":"(Solo) Man (No) Van Visits the Philippines - Week 3 (and a bit)Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.This is the third and final blog post detailing my 'trip of a lifetime' to the Philippines. The previous blog described my journey to Tagaytay and a few days exploring Bonifacio Global City, Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago, the ancient heart of Manila.Thursday the 16th of FebruaryI was confined to my room this morning with a touch of the dreaded Delhi Belly, but thankfully it didn't persist beyond mid morning.When I thought it was safe to leave the confines of my room I took a cab for a return visit to the Power Station Mall for a walkabout and a spot of lunch. Given I had the Delhi Belly overnight the choice of what to have for lunch was a big decision. It would be a big decision at the best of times as there must be fifty plus restaurants of every nationality imaginable in the Power Plant Mall. I decided to forego anything bland and ate at a Malaysian restaurant where the chicken curry with potato was superb. Not a curry as we know it, but pieces of chicken and potato in a mild creamy satay sauce. It was superb and I suffered no after effects thankfully!\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.12.2 - 23-04-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-image{text-align:center}.elementor-widget-image a{display:inline-block}.elementor-widget-image a img[src$=\".svg\"]{width:48px}.elementor-widget-image img{vertical-align:middle;display:inline-block}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe taxi fare to the Mall had only been 50 pesos but on checking Google Maps it was telling me it was only a fifteen minute walk back to the hotel so I did that, in 90 degree heat. Mad dogs and Scotsmen!The rest of the afternoon \/ early evening was spent relaxing as I have to be up earlier than normal tomorrow and head to the the airport for an internal ninety-minute flight to the island of Negros Occidental for the final main adventure of this trip.In the evening I did nip out for a walk about the Poblacion neighbourhood surrounding the U Hotel for what I thought would be a quick main course at somewhere I hadn't tried before and found a Korean restaurant up a back street. I ordered a Katsu chicken curry which The Navigator makes from time to time and sat back with my Coke awaiting its arrival. Within a minute the waitress appeared with a tray of six dishes containing an assortment of starters.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI tried to explain I didn't order them but she insisted I try them as they were included in the price of the main dish. Well that changed things, so I had a go, even though I had no idea what they were. Three of them were really good and I finished them off in no time. The waitress was loitering nearby and saw I had finished the three dishes and came over to take them away, only to reappear a few moments later with the dishes replenished again!The meal was delicious, as they all have been to date in the Philippines, even the pizza that caused my Delhi Belly!.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFriday the 17th of February.When we lived in the East Midlands I worked for a year at a call centre for EON and sitting at the next desk was Kevin, who although five years younger than me, was the nearest age wise in our team by what seemed like thirty years!We would chat about all sorts but as we both had Mazda MX5s at the time that took up some of our conversations. Another topic of conversation was the house being built in the Philippines which was to be his retiral home when the time came. Emma, Kevin's wife, was born in the Philippines and the house was being built not that far from her home village, so every week new pictures would arrive showing the progress being made.After we moved back to Scotland I heard the news that unfortunately Kevin had a stroke, so after making a recovery, and as the house in the Philippines was complete, decided to sell up and retire there in 2019, just before the pandemic struck!So, for the first time on this trip I set the alarm as I was checking out of the U Hotel (again) and heading for the airport to go and visit Kevin and Emma.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAt Manila Airport when I checked my bag in, armed with my E Ticket and boarding card, the attendant could not find me on 'the system.' With a lengthening queue behind me and now four attendants huddled around the computer screen my name magically appeared on 'the system' after about ten minutes. This was a relief, as although I showed them the ticket on my phone screen and a printed boarding card, they said that if I wasn't on the 'system' I couldn't fly!Negros Occidental is an island about ninety minutes flying time from Manila and is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Manila, so much so that the Cebu Airways flight was the only plane at what is called an \"International Airport\". As the plane descends, it flies over green fields as far as the eye can see which I later found out were mostly sugar cane as this island grows 60% of the sugar cane grown in the Philippines.\u00a0Kevin and Emma met me at the airport with their driver, and a short time later I was in the house I had seen being built for them near Talisay City.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe house is big and spacious inside and has to be as it hosts Emma's relatives from time to time for family occasions. After a guided tour of the property and surroundings we had a siesta in preparation for going out in the evening for a meal at a restaurant which was owned by a Welshman!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tMy first experience of Red Horse lager, but not my last on this part of the trip!Saturday the 18th of February.It was warm, but overcast this morning and the plan was to visit a beach resort about a half hours drive north of here. The difference between this island, Negros Occidental, and what I had seen of the main island, Luzon, cannot be overstated. The beach resort was not what we would call a beach resort, instead it was a collection of huts where families can come together to spend the day and have a picnic or barbecue. It is easier for extended families to meet at a place like this than at a house.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs you can see in the above picture it was blowing a bit of a hoolie coming in from the sea making it a bit airy, which ultimately cut our visit shorter than it might have been otherwise. After a fortnight being in the blistering heat of Manila I quite welcomed the breeze and anyway it was still warmer than the warmest Scottish summer's day!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWhile Kevin and I were wandering about, Emma summoned two guys with a cart full of coconuts to buy some for a refreshing fresh drink. In the UK by the time coconuts are shipped half way round the world the white coconut insides are hard, but here, after drinking the juice, the coconut itself was soft and tasty.\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI thoroughly enjoyed drinking the fresh coconut liquid through a straw, but in putting this blog post together and going through the tons of pictures I took, I have just noticed that the straws were kept down the back of the young guy's shorts. The resort's 'Elf and Safety Policy' could probably do with being updated!\u00a0\u00a0The sand was quite a dark colour and not too appealing, although there were children happily playing on it. With our coconuts finished and a spot of rain now felt through the breeze it was time to move on.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tEmma has a large family in this region and our next port of call was to visit her cousin who has the distinctive pink Overdoze Cafe on the water's edge in the town of Manapla and we had a \"snack\" there while taking in the view of the local fishing fleet at anchor for the weekend.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI say 'snack' as that's how it was described to me but the snack turned into a full scale lunch which was delicious. Most of the food I've eaten up to this point has been in proper themed restaurants but this was the first restaurant selling proper food native to the Philippines. When the first plate was put down in front of me I have to be honest and wondered what on earth this would taste like but I can assure you this was one of the very best things I ate in my three weeks in the Philippines.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBy the time we finished lunch it was early afternoon so we headed for our final visitor attraction which was aptly called 'The Ruins.' The Ruins was the ancestral mansion of the family of wealthy sugar businessman Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson built on his 440 hectare sugar plantation on the outskirts of Talisay City, in the early 1900s. It was built in memory of his Portuguese wife, Maria Braga Lacson, who died during the birth of their 8th child. During the Second World War, Filipino guerrillas burned it down as a countermeasure to prevent the invading Japanese forces from using it as a military headquarters. It burned for three days and today it is just the shell of the building that remains.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tToday, it is still owned by descendants of the Don and is a popular tourist destination. We managed have a walk round but as we sat and had a cooling drink (and another snack) in the visitor centre, the rain started to fall quite heavily, putting an end to any further exploration of the grounds.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBack at the house it was time for a quick siesta before heading out into the fairly major city of Bacolod for dinner at the Viking buffet restaurant in the SM Mall. It was a lovely meal of mostly Asian food, as you would expect, with a bit of Mongolian stir fry thrown in for good measure.We were fortunate to get back to the house before the rain became torrential.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSunday the 19th of FebruaryThis was to be my last full day with Kevin and Emma and after another muggy warm evening with heavy intermittent rain showers I woke to another warm humid overcast day. What the heat must be like here with no clouds and direct sunlight doesn't bear thinking about! (Wishful thinking - it was like that the next day!)After breakfast we drove to Bago City, a waterside resort to the south of Bacolod City, which is a proper major city, where Bago had more of the feel of a large town. I'm not sure if Kevin and Emma knew there was a festival on in the town but there were lots of people milling about and waiting for a parade later in the afternoon. There was a great atmosphere at the riverside location and of the thousands of people here, Kevin and I seemed to be the only Westerners!\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWhat it did have was a well laid out and busy waterside are where a local festival was gearing up for later in the afternoon. We had a walkabout and soaked up the atmosphere but decided to cut our losses and move on as it was threatening to rain. The dark cloud you see in the following picture was an omen for what was to come - a torrential downpour, which was a pity as a lot of people had put in a fair amount of effort to prepare for the festival.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFrom Bago City we headed back in the direction of Bacolod before turning off the main road to a \"floating\" restaurant which specialised in seafood. Rojo's was packed with families enjoying Sunday lunch and being together, which seems to be a real passion in the Philippines. It was noticeable that once again, Kevin and I were the only Westerners in this packed restaurant.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe food was delicious and the highlight for me was the fifteen scallops I ordered, cooked in a sauce which was hard to describe but lovely none the less. Although much smaller than we are used to back in Scotland, you could not beat the value of fifteen scallops for \u00a3 3.00.It was lashing down and from Rojo's we headed to the impressive Ayala Mall in Bacolod.\u00a0Ayala, SM and Robinsons Malls are to be found in most of the larger towns and cities and they are are all of a very impressive standard and would give most western Malls a run for their money.To date I hadn't bought anything much as the baggage allowance on Cebu Pacific is only 20kg and my plan was to use my final few days back in Manila to do a bit of shopping, that said, I managed to find a few presents for my granddaughters.Back home for a siesta and shower before heading out to dinner at another waterside restaurant, which was very imposing and we were just in time to see the evenings entertainment, a fire dancing display, and to be fair it was pretty impressive.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tEmma has taken responsibility for ordering the food when we've been out and about and has done a fantastic job of it, but as she orders it in Tagalog, the main language of the Philippines, Kevin and I are never quite sure what to expect!At lunchtime my only request was to try the scallops and tonight my request was for a portion of ribs, but little did I know that a veritable meat feast had been ordered and my dreams had come true...The fire dancers came back for another impressive performance to top off another memorable evening. A mention in dispatches for the local 6.9% lager, Red Horse which was a refreshing accompaniment to the food.Monday the 20th of February.My final day with Kevin and Emma dawned and yesterday's heavy rain had cleared and there was not a cloud in the sky making the temperature rocket again.I had a quick walk around the block as I wanted to check out a house we drive past near the entrance to the gated community as it had an impressive collection of noisy cockerels in the garden area. In the Philippines the three major sports are basketball, volleyball and cock fighting. If you switch a tv on at any time, day or night, there is either a basketball or volleyball game on, be they live or recorded. As Kevin pointed out this is somewhat curious as the Filipinos are not the tallest of athletes but it is probably more to do with the influence of American culture than anything else.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe above picture shows some of Emma's brother in law's birds and the one being held by our driver was his most expensive. These particular birds were bred to be sold on and others would enter them into the fighting competitions.The following pictures show far more birds in the garden of another nearby house and these would probably be fighting birds. You might just be able to see that each bird is tethered by their leg to keep them from wandering off or fighting with each other!\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter another of Emma's delicious breakfast we had a relaxing morning before it was time to take me to the airport at lunchtime for my two o'clock flight back to Manila.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI am really glad that I flew to the island of Negros to see Kevin and Emma and see the life they have made for themselves back in the island where Emma was born. The island of Negros was such a contrast to the mega city of Manila and it gave an interesting glimpse of life in this island community.\u00a0After our goodbyes I checked in and headed for the lounge to await the arrival if the inbound flight from Manila.Once we were boarded the captain announced that there was a \"technical issue\" which is not really what you want to hear as you settle down for your flight!It turned out that the issue was nothing to do with the mechanics of the plane but that the air conditioning wasn't working\u00a0and they would try and fix it before taking off. So there we were sitting in a metal tube in blistering hot conditions getting more and more frustrated as he had also said that once we were airborne the air conditioning should kick in. (It didn't). We took off an hour late and sweated all the way to Manila. When we landed the captain held us onboard until a mobile air conditioning truck turned up to pump cool air into the plane when what everyone wanted was to get off this flying sauna and into the air conditioned terminal!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe delay in arriving in Manila meant that by the time I got into a taxi it was rush hour (4pm to 9pm) and the traffic was even more manic than usual. My grandaughters are 4 & 2 and it was an eye opener to see young girls of that age wandering about the four lanes of stationary traffic knocking on car windows for a few coins.I am back in the IHotel on the outskirts of BGC, Bonifacio Global City, for the next four nights before my flight home on Friday.It was drizzling when I went out to dinner and so headed for the nearest Korean restaurant for a quick, cheap and delicious meal there. The Koreans do love a flavoured coating on their chicken and this place was no exception.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTuesday the 21st of February.I had a relaxing morning in my room catching up on emails with a bit of work on Fyne Editions thrown in for good measure and a video call with The Navigator before heading out to explore areas of BGC I never saw the last time I was here.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI got as far as the Uptown Mall before the heel strap on my sandals gave way making walking very difficult. The Uptown Mall is a bit too 'uptown' to find a reasonably priced pair of sandals so I flagged down a taxi and headed the short distance to the nearby Market Market Mall where there was a far better chance of finding a replacement pair.There were plenty of shoe shops but they did not really have what I was looking for as it seems the Filipinos prefer a flip flop or slider to the proper sandal I was looking for.The Mall was much busier than the last time I was here due to a sale of assorted goods in the centre of the Mall. I have either lost or misplaced my sunglasses and managed to find a replacement pair at a reasonable price.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter about an hour of trudging around the five floors of shops and I found what I was looking for and walked off with my new sandals. It was late afternoon by this time so I revisited Dairy Queen and bought a carton of Rocky Road ice cream and sat outside and enjoyed some people watching as I enjoyed my treat.It gets dark about six o'clock and the transformation in the buildings is something to behold as they are lit up for the evening. I decided to walk back to my hotel to both take in the sights and put my new sandals through their paces.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs I was passing Uptown Mall again I nipped back into Marugame Uton and had a cheap main course of Teriyaki Chicken and rice with a Coke for the princely sum of \u00a34, my third meal there...Wednesday the 22nd of FebruaryI did not venture too far today as there is so much to see close by. I had seen on a YouTube video that there was another Mall nearby which I had actually walked past a few times but never noticed it as it was covered in scaffolding.The Mitsukoshi Mall seems brand new and is not fully populated with shops yet, but it is quite fascinating. The Japanese sounding name, Mitsukoshi, gives a clue to the theme of the Mall as every shop and restaurant is Japanese and very different from the other shopping centres I've seen.Japanese design for most products is fairly unique and some of the items on sale were tempting to buy but my baggage allowance for my upcoming flight home prevented me from indulging myself too much.Later, back at the hotel I had a video call with The Navigator in Belfast who was blaming some Black Pudding for being laid low with a tummy bug. It would later transpire that everyone was laid low with it so it wasn't the Black Pudding!\u00a0The standard of food in the Philippines has been incredible and any apprehensions I might have had about getting a tummy bug have not come to anything.Check out the NEW RANGE\u00a0of Any Day Diaries from Fyne Editions\u00a0HERE.\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tNext to the Mitsukoshi Mall was a very impressive supermarket called Landers and when I took a short cut through it earlier, their Italian themed restaurant had slices of amazing looking pizza on sale, but by 8pm when I went back to get a slice it was all gone so I had a lasagne, which was tasty but had collapsed to less than half the height it should have been!On the way back to the hotel I passed the BGC local police station and outside it were 36 policemen lined up in six rows, six deep and they were being briefed by a rather imposing officer. I've said before how impressive the security is here, with almost every street and shop guarded by security personnel, many armed. I would find out the next day why there was this seemingly extra police presence tonight. At night the streets come alive with the street food vendors and all the guys on scooters and motorbikes who normally deliver food stop to eat.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThursday the 23rd of February.This is my last full day in Manila and I had thought of taking the Pasig river ferry back up to Metro Manila but decided against it in favour of a lazyish day before the long slog home, beginning tomorrow.So, the new sandals were pressed into service and I had a 1.4km walk to the nearby Pasig river and over a bridge into the Guadeloupe District, not one of Makati's most scenic areas, I'll grant you, but 'interesting' all the same.The following two pictures show some of the random things you see on the streets of BGC - a street guard armed with a rifle and a delivery guy delivering a package to an office building with a large pink teddy bear strapped to his back!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIn the three and a bit weeks I've been in the Philippines the people have been incredibly friendly and I've felt totally safe wherever I've gone. Like any big city worldwide, there are areas that should be avoided and only five kilometres from where I am, in another part of Makati a man from New Zealand was shot dead last night by two armed robbers on a motorbike in what appears to be a robbery gone wrong. Apparently he and his Filipino girlfriend were going to a laundry in the early hours of the morning when it happened, but as I'm in bed by nine o'clock most nights, I was never at risk, and I'm certainly not brave enough to tackle armed gunmen, as he seems to have done!Having said how friendly and welcoming everyone in the Philippines is, I passed the Makati City Jail within a few minutes of starting my walk so there must be a few bad boys about the place. What the conditions must be like in there in this extreme heat doesn't bear thinking about.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter passing the jail, the bridge over the river comes into view and I stopped to watch one of the fast riverboats pass under on its way up to Metro Manila. The contrast between this side of the river and the gleaming high rise towers of Bonifacio Global City only a few minutes drive away on the other side of the river is really stark.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThis is my final night and the big decision was where to have my last evening meal. Go back to somewhere where you know the food is good, or take a gamble and try somewhere new?In the end, I actually made the main meal lunch as there were lots of recommendations for a local restaurant in Pasig City that specialised in ribs, and for a carnivore like me, that was enough to make my hike in the ninety odd degree heat worthwhile.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI wasn't sure they were open as there were no customers when I looked through the window, but there were four blokes looking eagerly at me, so I made my way inside to see if the online hype lived up to expectations.In a nutshell it did and the ribs were delicious and the meat fell off the bone as soon as the knife touched it. I should say at this point that knifes in restaurants in the Philippines are a very rare occurrence. They eat with a fork and spoon so if you eat at a KFC, Jollibee or McDonalds for example, you have to cut up your chicken with your spoon! It takes a bit of getting used to, but it does make eating the rice easier if nothing else.Now mid afternoon, and with the heat off the scale, I hailed a taxi to take me back over the river to the Uptown Mall where I met the YouTube legend that is Mergim, a young Londoner who has settled in BGC and makes very good videos of his life in the Philippines and if you enjoy watching YouTube videos search for Mergim Vlogs.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter a long chat with Mergim, and my final walk around the Uptown Mall, I headed back to the hotel for my afternoon siesta, which I'm getting used to I must admit, although back home I would probably need the heating on rather than the air conditioning!The Navigator has made enough of a recovery to fly back to Glasgow this afternoon, but she has caused havoc by passing the bug on to everyone else in Belfast! Apart from her passing illness, The Navigator enjoyed her stay in Belfast and the North Coast where she had a great time on the beach with Eilidh and Callie.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs I had a decent lunch, I headed out again for a snack at the Korean fast food place a few hundred yards away before retiring for the night.Friday the 24th of February Time to go home, unfortunately. I have to vacate the room at the iHotel by 11.30 am, but my flight is not until 11.30 pm, so there will be a fair amount of time to kill this afternoon.As I was packing up my things, a movement caught my eye, and it turns out I was sharing my bed last night, not with some nubile young Filipino beauty, but with a baby lizard. Hey Ho.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSo, what to do before heading for the airport. The restaurants are highly efficient, so the prospect of finding one with slow service to kill a couple of hours was not a viable prospect. It's not that far to wheel my case back to Uptown Mall and find a seat to people watch for the afternoon, but finding a seat is not easy in this Mall as men tend to sit out their partner's extended shopping sessions!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter checking out of the hotel I sat down in their air conditioned lobby to consider my options for the rest of the day and decided to get a taxi to the Market Market Mall as there were far more options for lunch there and it has a shaded outdoor area to sit out and kill time.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Mall was busy as ever and the choice of restaurants is almost overwhelming but I decided on an Italian themed place that was as cheap as chips, or should that be pasta?\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tClassic lasagne, a garlic bread stick and a drink was 134 pesos, a few pence over \u00a32, and it was exceptionally good, as every meal in my time in the Philippines has been. One of The Navigator's signature dishes is lasagne so I am spoiled at home and this was great value and quality. I went to the Dairy Queen outlet for my final ice cream, mango flavour this time.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI've had quite a few visits to Dairy Queen in my time in Manila but never before registered what their unique proposition was. The ice cream has the consistency of a Mr Whippy, but thicker. When they hand it over to you the assistant always turns it upside down, and apparently, if the ice cream falls out your replacement is free!It's not much fun lugging a case around a busy Mall so decided to head outside to sit and pass the next few hours. If you sit anywhere all of human life passes in front of you and here was no exception.I had noticed this before but there seemed to be more of them here today - nappies on dogs! Some had only one covering its rear end and others had two, the other being wrapped around in front of its hind legs which I assumed was for male dogs.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAn hour or so into my people watching vigil, Mergin, the YouTube vlogger walked past, camera in hand, and came over to chat. He was at the Mall to buy some light bulbs of all things but I advised him that he would have to spice up this vlog as buying light bulbs was hardly riveting entertainment!Around 5pm I decided to jump in a taxi and head for the airport, which did not best please the taxi driver as by now it was the height of the rush hour and the airport was one huge bottle neck.I still had 6 hours before take off and check in was still a couple of hours away so I found a seat and settled down for more people watching.The Nimoy Aquino airport is a silent airport so there are no announcements and I missed the notice board informing that check in had commenced, which was a school boy error as the queue was massive by the time I joined it. The next 90 minutes were spent shuffling forward at an agonisingly slow pace. Once checked in it was upstairs to passport control and my heart sank when I saw the long snaking queue there, but it moved quite quickly and then after that the final obstacle of the security scanners had miraculously no queue at all.\u00a0I changed the last of my pesos, actually getting a much better rate than what I paid for then in the UK!\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.12.2 - 23-04-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-divider{--divider-border-style:none;--divider-border-width:1px;--divider-color:#0c0d0e;--divider-icon-size:20px;--divider-element-spacing:10px;--divider-pattern-height:24px;--divider-pattern-size:20px;--divider-pattern-url:none;--divider-pattern-repeat:repeat-x}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider{display:flex}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{font-size:15px;line-height:1;max-width:95%}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__element{margin:0 var(--divider-element-spacing);flex-shrink:0}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-icon{font-size:var(--divider-icon-size)}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider-separator{display:flex;margin:0;direction:ltr}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator{align-items:center}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:before{display:block;content:\"\";border-bottom:0;flex-grow:1;border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:first-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider-separator:before{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider__element{margin-left:0}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:last-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider-separator:after{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider__element{margin-right:0}.elementor-widget-divider:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text):not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon) .elementor-divider-separator{border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern{--divider-border-style:none}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern.elementor-widget-divider--view-line .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not([class*=elementor-widget-divider--view]) .elementor-divider-separator{width:100%;min-height:var(--divider-pattern-height);-webkit-mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;-webkit-mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);background-color:var(--divider-color);-webkit-mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url);mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url)}.elementor-widget-divider--no-spacing{--divider-pattern-size:auto}.elementor-widget-divider--bg-round{--divider-pattern-repeat:round}.rtl .elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{direction:rtl}.e-con-inner>.elementor-widget-divider,.e-con>.elementor-widget-divider{width:var(--container-widget-width,100%);--flex-grow:var(--container-widget-flex-grow)}\t\t\n\t\tInexpensive Birthday Gift Ideas...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTitles for the four nations also include, Best Wife, Best Mum, Best Son, Best Dog & Best Cat! See the full range of titles\u00a0HERE.\t\t\n\t\tThe packed flight eventually took off at midnight and took nine hours to reach Dubai where I gained back four hours time difference. The transfer process was fairly seamless and the only concern was that the baggage transfer was just as seamless.The contrast between Dubai and the Philippines is quite stark. To keep hydrated in the Philippines you have to consume a lot of liquid and water is only 20 pesos a bottle and the likes of Coke, Sprite etc was 40 pesos (75p ish) where in Dubai airport a bottle of Coke and a Kit Kat was just over \u00a3 6...Just beside my last hotel was a sari-sari store which is defined as a neighbourhood sundry store and in Tagalog means 'variety'. I used this shop at least once a day to buy soft drinks and water for the hotel and can confirm that it was incredibly cheap.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter a two hour layover in Dubai, the next flight to Glasgow was held on the runway for an hour with no announcements which was frustrating, but eventually took off and the seven and a half hour flight was another Emirates triumph, although getting a full meal after only an hour in the air was a bit odd, given it was one o'clock in the morning, Dubai time. The landing into Dubai was in darkness but it looked an incredible city. The take off was in daylight and the Emirates terminal was full of planes waiting to take off. These 777-300s were $150,000,000 a pop...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI has a window seat on the left side of the plane and over Scotland we broke through the clouds as we flew up the Ayrshire coast at Girvan and the view over to Arran and Argyll was spectacular. It looked a lovely morning with clear blue skies but this was Scotland in late February and it would turn out to be bitterly cold.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOnce reunited with my case I opened it up to put on another couple of layers of clothing and caught the Campbeltown bound West Coast Motors bus for the two hour journey to Ardrishaig.\u00a0I hadn't slept on either flight and tried desperately to stay awake on the bus as I didn't want to fall asleep and wake up in Campbeltown but I made it\u00a0home in time to watch the France v Scotland Rugby International, in front of a roaring log fire, before a meal and an early night with the electric blanket on. What a difference a day makes...So, in hindsight, was the trip worth the effort?It certainly was, and the long flights aside, the Philippines was an amazing country to visit for all sorts of reasons. Manila, and especially the Makati area, is being transformed into one of the great cities of the Far East.\u00a0The contrast between the poorer areas and the incredible wealth of Makati is stark. Leaving a freezing Scotland in early February to land into ninety degree heat took some time to get used to and the intense heat outside to the chilled air conditioning of inside did leave me with a cough which I had for a couple of weeks after my return.Once I left the main island of Luzon and flew to the island of Negros to meet Kevin, Emma and her family I saw another more relaxed side of the Philippines which was in contrast to manic Manila. Kevin and Emma showed me wonderful hospitality and took me out and about for my all too short visit and I appreciated it greatly. In hindsight I should have spent more time out of Manila and if there is to be another 'trip of a lifetime' I will. The Navigator is now hooked on Mergim's blogs so who knows...I hope you have enjoyed these three blogs which has been very different from the usual ManVanNoPlan motorhome stories. That said, we will be back on the road in the next couple of months for another epic three month trip, so stay tuned for that epic adventure...PS - The Navigator has been waiting for a cataract operation since June last year and there seems no immediate prospect of it happening any time soon. Depending on when it can be done will determine where we head off to as our first choice destination is weather dependant!\t\t\n\t\tSome of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\t\t\n\t\t\t
\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.12.2 - 23-04-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}COMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...\t\t\n\t\tAfter a longer than usual winter break Bessie has passed her MOT and we have had a couple of short trips away to charge batteries etc and see what needs to be done for the next big trip...Stay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online.\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\tHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Apr 3, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-04-03 10:36:48","modifiedDate":"2023-04-25 16:28:41","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-04-25 15:28:41","commentCount":"0","commentStatus":"closed","categories":{"coma":"
2023<\/a>, Philippines<\/a>","space":"2023<\/a> Philippines<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"Bacolod<\/a>Divisoria<\/a>Luzon<\/a>Makati<\/a>Manila<\/a>Negros Occidental<\/a>Philippines<\/a>Tagaytay<\/a>Talisay City<\/a>travelblog<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":30,"sec":23},"status":"publish"},{"id":12326,"link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/solo-man-no-van-visits-the-philippines-week-2\/","name":"solo-man-no-van-visits-the-philippines-week-2","thumbnail":{"url":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/wp-content\/uploads\/2023\/03\/20230210_174518-scaled.jpg","alt":""},"title":"(Solo) Man (No) Van Visits the Philippines - Week 2","excerpt":"","content":"(Solo) Man (No) Van Visits the Philippines - Week 2Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.This is the second blog post detailing my 'trip of a lifetime' to the Philippines. The previous blog described my journey to the Philippines and my first few days in Manila before making my way down to the tourist resort of Tagaytay by bus. Wednesday the 8th of FebruaryThe reason for being here in Tagaytay is to see Taal Lake and Volcano, so that's was today's plan. I'm staying in an AirB&B on the 20th floor of a tower block facing the lake so the view is incredible. Tagaytay is located on a ridge 2,250 feet above sea level and it offers a breath taking panoramic view of Taal Lake\u00a0and Volcano, the \"lake within a volcano within a lake within a volcano.\" I'll give you a minute to work that one out...At 6am the sun began to rise and hopefully the time lapse video I took will work, (it didn't), and anyway the window is in need of a good clean so it wouldn't have been a clear shot anyway. What was fascinating to see was steam \/ smoke rising from the rim of the volcano, and I hoped it was not about to erupt before I'd had my breakfast!Joking aside, this volcano is the second of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines, with 38 recorded historical eruptions, all of which were concentrated on Volcano Island, near the middle of Taal Lake.\u00a0Taal Volcano has had several violent eruptions in the past, causing deaths on the island and the populated areas surrounding the lake, with an overall death toll of about 6,000. Because of its proximity to populated areas and its eruptive history, the volcano was designated a Decade Volcano, worthy of close study to prevent future natural disasters. All volcanoes in the Philippines are part of the Ring of Fire, made famous by Johnny Cash. I jest!\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.12.2 - 23-04-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-image{text-align:center}.elementor-widget-image a{display:inline-block}.elementor-widget-image a img[src$=\".svg\"]{width:48px}.elementor-widget-image img{vertical-align:middle;display:inline-block}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI was staying in the Wind Residences, which is a series of five tower blocks in a prime position overlooking the Lake and Volcano as well as a great view out to the rear to the pool and sports complex which could be used for a small extra fee.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt's a pity the tower has not got a viewing area on the roof as the windows of the flat are not crystal clean so the pictures are not as sharp as they could be. All is not lost on the photographic front however, as I'm off to one of the best vantage points to see the vista, and to get there I flagged down a trike for my first experience of this form of transport. The aptly named Tagaytay Picnic Grove is a 'must-visit' destination in these parts so I stocked up on some picnic items from the next-door supermarket and set off on the twenty-minute trike ride, which thankfully passed without incident.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tYou can see in the following picture the tower blocks on the horizon where I was staying and the white zip line tower. You can hire picnic benches, and huts of various sizes depending on the number of your friends or family. There are many locations like this that have huts where families congregate and bring a picnic or barbecue as you will see in future pictures...\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt is just over \u00a3 1 for a 'senior' to enter and after that you pay to use the cabins or other structures for your barbecue or picnic. The view is pretty spectacular but the heat of the day created a slight haze which was not ideal. For midday on a Wednesday in early February it was pretty busy but apparently it is packed out on weekends and the summer months.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tA revolving 'London Eye' type wheel and a zip line are the big attractions along with a horse trekking opportunity through the wooded hillside. I passed on all three of these tourist activities, settling instead for my picnic, although I supplemented it with a fifty peso hot dog on a stick, which was remarkably tasty.When it was time to head back for a much-needed siesta, I approached the first trike in line and he agreed to the one hundred peso offer, as I told him that was what I paid to get here. I had actually paid one hundred and fifty pesos but the fifty peso saving would buy me another hot dog on a stick at a later date!So far I have dined on Korean, Japanese, American, Philippine and Chinese food but tonight it would be Italian to add to my Far East culinary experience.Surprisingly, after such a lovely day, it was drizzling when I went to go for dinner but the restaurant was only a few hundred yards away at the bottom of the next tower.Thursday the 9th of February\nToday's Tagaytay experience was going to be the No. 1 tourist attraction here, the 'Sky Ranch Theme Park.' The theme park is well-known for its panoramic view of Tagaytay City and the Taal Lake and Volcano. It is famous for its ride, the Sky Eye, the tallest Ferris wheel in the country at the height of more than 200 feet (63 meters).That was the plan, however more overnight drizzle had turned into a full-blown downpour so all thoughts of going to an amusement park were hit on the head. Tagaytay is 2,000ft above sea level and when you add on another 20 stories your full-length bedroom window gets the full blast of the wind and rain so sleep was at a premium last night.It was a grey, misty, drizzly morning so I stayed in the room until around lunchtime when the normal hot sunny weather resumed. From the AirB&B room window you can see some dining huts and what seemed to be a viewing area so I had a walk across there in the afternoon and took in the view to the volcano from this vantage point.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe huts were in the grounds of a restaurant and the security guards said I had to pay 1,000 pesos (\u00a3 15) to enter the grounds. After a few minutes negotiating with them I managed to gain free access for 15 minutes to take some pictures.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt's incredible to think that one day this massive volcano might very well go BANG, but hopefully there's ample warning to evacuate everyone in the area. Tagaytay is a growing city and has a population of 85,000 which swells considerably at the weekend and in the summer months. Later that evening I had a superb Sweet and Sour Pork at the Robinsons Mall near the hotel. It had been a slightly disappointing weather affected day but the most was made of it...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI'm not sure if I mentioned it in the last blog, but as per the above picture, you never get a knife and fork for your meal, it's always a fork and spoon!Friday the 10th of FebruaryDecisions, decisions, decisions.Check out day at Tagaytay and my plan was to take a bus further south to the port of Batangas and a ferry to the neighbouring island of Mindoro but I had to cancel as the weather forecast for the next two days in these parts was for heavy rain, not what you want when the plan was to sit relaxing on a beach for two days!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tPlan B was hastily configured and a hotel booked in BCG, Bonifacio Global City, another suburb of Manila. So, after checking out of the aptly named Wind Residences, it was time to catch the bus back northwards to Manila. The 'senior' fare for the two hour journey was 90 pesos, just over \u00a31. This bus was much newer than the last one and I had the prime seat above and behind the driver. Once you leave Tagaytay, the first third of the drive is through countryside before it starts to get congested at Dasmarinas. At every stop the conductor got out and tried to round up more passengers.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFrom the bus terminus in southern Manila it was a half hour taxi ride to the hotel and it had to be negotiated in advance as they switch the meter off when the traffic gets too congested. Thankfully a long career in sales came in handy and a fare was agreed that was half of the driver's opening pitch!The IHotel is on the northern border of Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and was surprisingly inexpensive so had no great expectations, but I was surprised how clean and comfortable it was.It was pushing 90 degrees and the journey had taken its toll so a siesta was called for with the air conditioning cranked up as high as it would go.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBGC is home to residential high rise ultra modern condominiums and corporate office buildings. Many Filipino and multinational corporations have acquired properties and have committed to relocate their global, regional or national headquarters to this business district which is about seven miles south of Metro Manila.At about 5pm, and having skipped lunch due to the journey, it was time to head out to dinner at the nearby Megaworld Uptown Mall. This area was familiar to me as I have watched a load of YouTube videos by a young English guy who lives in this amazing suburb of Manila.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tA Teriyaki Chicken Special was the choice of meal at what would turn out to be my favourite Chinese Restaurant. You will see from the menu how cheap it was (divide the peso price by 65) washed down with my drink of choice, a Royal orange juice a really tasty refreshing Fanta like drink.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs your meal was being cooked you could select some starters which were just over a pound. \t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tAfter my meal and a quick walk around this fantastic Mall, I wandered outside just as it was beginning to get dark and there was an amazing transformation as the lights on the surrounding high rise buildings came on and made for a spectacular spectacle. In the above picture where you see the fountain, well this was transformed into a water, light and sound show which was incredible, with a flame throwing fountain the highlight. As well as taking these still pictures I took quite a lot of video and once I have more time my intention is to make a proper YouTube video of the whole trip!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI was back in the hotel and fast asleep again before 9pm!Saturday the 11th of February.Another day, another Mall to visit! This one is called Market Market and is a short taxi ride from the hotel. But first, breakfast and the only real choice is McDonalds which is on the other side of the dual carriageway from the hotel.The dual carriageway, or Kalayaan Avenue to give it it's proper name, is the boundary between the modern gleaming Bonifacio Global City and an area that is far from modern and gleaming. Where BGC is sleek and high rise, on the other side of Kalayaan Avenue it is, what some might refer to, as a bit of a shanty town with breeze blocks and corrugated iron the prevalent building style.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tFrom chaos like this...\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t...to this in a few hundred yards...\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThis McDonalds, as opposed to the one in Tagaytay only serves the breakfast menu where anything went in Tagaytay. What I also miss about the one in Tagaytay is the staff on the tills shouting out as one, \"Good morning and welcommme\" as you enter.The taxi ride to Market Market (so good they named it twice) was another journey where any lane was used in the attempt to save nano seconds in the quest to get me to the mall in record time, all to the sound of constant blaring horns.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tMarket Market is officially described as follows, \"Endless selections at affordable prices. Aside from the staple shopping, dining, and entertainment offerings, Market! Market! is home to a host of themed bazaars, a hawker's market, and a bounty of outlet and bargain stores. Oozing with character and brimming with energy; here great finds, exotic items, and a unique shopping experience is guaranteed.\"\nThis market is aimed at the ordinary everyday Filipina family and the shops are not as high end as the others I have frequented. The one common theme with all Malls in Manila, whoever their core market is aimed at, is the proliferation of places to eat. As well as the five storey, circular main Mall, there is an outside area of stalls, mostly selling fruit and veg and I had a refreshing iced freshly squeezed mango shake to offset the sweat leaking from every pore in my body. Did I mention it was over 90 degrees every day?It was an interesting Mall and busy with bargain hunters of all ages. As I had a decent breakfast and the temperature was so high my lunch was a Dairy Queen tub of strawberry ice cream which was a bargain at only 90 pesos.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBack at the hotel, it was siesta time as the heat is so draining that a few hours sleep with the air conditioning on full blast has a restorative effect. Dinner was at Jollibees for a quick, cheap meal.Did I say quick? The woman in front of me in the queue ordered 25 of everything and it took forever to be served.Jollibees is a fifteen minute walk away and by the time I was returning to the hotel it was still warm as opposed to be hot, but there was a lovely breeze which was welcome.Where Jollibees serves food which is good, cheap and popular, what is even more popular with the average poorer person is the street food that is readily available and what you see in the following picture is pretty typical of what's on offer - chicken, lots of chicken!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSunday the 12th of February. Another day, another Mall to visit, but this one was special. Called the Venice Grand Canal Mall, the name gives the clue as to the theme of this Mall.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tLiving up to its namesake, the mall sports an Italian-themed architectural design inspired by the Grand Canal in the classical city of Venice.The highlight of the mall is the man-made Grand Canal. The mall's grand canal offers mall guests an Italian experience with gondola ride tours by singing gondoliers, although they only seemed to have 'Volare' in their repertoire!The canal is 200 meters (660 ft) long, and 15 meters (49 ft) wide.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe mall also has replicas of\u00a0St. Mark's Campanile\u00a0in Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, which is inspired by the famous bridge in Venice and the Ponte de Amore Bridge.This place is well designed and draws in a huge daily attendance of people coming to see something very different for this part of the world, and of course, shop, eat and take millions of pictures, no doubt to be seen on Instagram later.I walked about for ages taking it all in and must admit it was an enjoyable experience, and so different from all the other Manila Malls. Lunch, as yesterday, was a tub of Dairy Maid ice cream with mango being the flavour of choice today.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tA taxi back to the hotel in the early afternoon followed by an air conditioned siesta is becoming a routine!For dinner I chose to walk back to the Uptown Mall and return to the Chinese restaurant I ate at on Friday night, Marugame Udon. The place was mobbed, which is always a good sign, and it was all locals, another good sign. It took about half an hour to eventually get served but the wait was worth it as the food was delicious and great value for money.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAfter dinner I wandered about in the mall then outside to see the activity around the fountain area and there was a girl singing outside a restaurant until she had to stop as the fountain display burst into life with accompanying loud synchronised music and flames for effect as well.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was a lovely evening and on the street next to the Uptown Mall, Uptown Parade,\u00a0 there are some very enticing street food stalls that were very busy with customers enjoying their food in the warm evening air.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tMonday the 13th of FebruaryI am moving back to Makati tomorrow to the U Hotel again so today was not going to be a 'Mall day,' instead I was going to get organised, sort out laundry, charge batteries and generally have a lazy day. After another McDonald's breakfast I had a bit of a lazy day in that I didn't go anywhere, instead worked on some new Fyne Editions titles, which hopefully add to the travel budget for the coming year!There are now 64 titles live on Amazon for this brand new format for Fyne Editions.\u00a0An any day diary is a type of journal or diary that does not require a specific time or date for entries to be made, you write the date as you make an entry. It can be used to record thoughts, feelings, events, and ideas whenever they come to mind.The full range can be seen HERE.\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tThe Navigator is now in Belfast after her week with Emma and Adam near Leeds and has assumed Granny duties for the next week or so. I had a video chat with her, Eilidh, and Callie before heading down to the Uptown Mall for dinner of Spaghetti Bolognese at Pizza Express, and as usual for the food in the Philippines, it was delicious.\u00a0To round off my lazyish day, I was in bed and fast asleep by 8 pm!Tuesday the 14th of FebruaryThis was the day I was meant to be returning to Manila from Puerta Galera and had already booked back into the U Hotel in Makati so just before lunchtime I checked out of the IHotel and took a taxi to nearby Makati.Check-in time was not until 2 pm so I took the opportunity to take my laundry over to the efficient little laundry across the street from the hotel for her to wash, dry and fold my clothes for only 200 pesos (\u00a3 3.00).As I mentioned in the last blog, the U Hotel has a different artwork painted by local artists on every feature wall and this one was better than the previous room.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThis time I'm on the 8th and top floor, not that it makes any difference as it's another room without a window!That said, there is a big window as you come out of the lift and the view is superb and it shows the contrast between the richer high rise\u00a0condominium areas and the neighbourhoods where everyone else lives.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThis was Valentine's Day and in the left picture above you can see the outside space at a local restaurant where there would be lots of couples enjoying a meal and dancing. I had a lazy afternoon before going out for dinner at a little nearby Thai restaurant and although it doesn't look it, it was a delicious tasty meal to add to the list of delicious meals I've had in the Philippines.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWednesday the 15th of FebruaryAfter yesterday's lazyish day, it was back to full on sightseeing mode today. After a Jollibee breakfast of chicken and spaghetti (you've never tasted spaghetti like this in your life) (fork and spoon again) I took a short taxi ride to the Hulo ferry terminal on the Pasig River for the free trip up to Metro Manila.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThere were two sights I wanted to see today, Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago. As you have seen in the pictures I have posted, Manila is transforming itself into one of the Far East's megacities and the modern state-of-the-art skyscrapers have to be seen to be believed.However, if you know where to look you can discover some of the historical buildings of Manila and that was today's quest.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe walk to the Cathedral was only half an hour from the Escolta Ferry terminal but it was hard going in the baking heat. As you can see from this plaque on the front of the building, Manila Cathedral has not had the best of luck down the centuries! It was good to get inside to cool down and I was just in time to see the start of the mid-day mass. Although not religious in the least I would have sat through the service if only to rest my feet and cool down, but the guard took one look at me and accurately classified me as a tourist and wouldn't let me past the barrier to the pews.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt didn't really matter as there were TVs everywhere and the service was in English so you could follow it easily enough.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tLike every tourist trap the world over, locals are trying to hustle you for everything from a horse and cart ride to a trike ride, to cheap religious souvenirs to umbrellas (for the sun not rain) and just out and out beggars.All of the above were resisted and I made the short walk to Fort Santiago.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tWikipedia describes Fort Santiago as follows...\"Fort Santiago\u00a0was built in 1571 and is a\u00a0citadel\u00a0built by Spanish navigator and governor\u00a0Miguel L\u00f3pez de Legazpi\u00a0for the newly established city of\u00a0Manila\u00a0in the\u00a0Philippines. The defense fortress is located in\u00a0Intramuros, the walled city of Manila.The fort is one of the most important historical sites in Manila. Many people died in its prisons during the\u00a0Spanish Empire\u00a0and\u00a0World War II.\u00a0Jos\u00e9 Rizal, one of the Philippine national heroes, was imprisoned here before his execution in 1896. The\u00a0Rizal Shrine\u00a0museum displays memorabilia of the hero in their collection and the fort features, embedded onto the ground in bronze, his footsteps representing his final walk from his cell to the location of the actual execution.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFort Santiago is located at the mouth of the Pasig River and served as the premier defence fortress of the Spanish Government during their rule of the country. It became a main fort for the spice trade to the Americas and Europe for 333 years. On August 13, 1898, the American flag was raised in Fort Santiago signifying the start of the\u00a0American rule\u00a0in the Philippines. The fort served as the headquarters for the\u00a0U.S. Army\u00a0and several changes were made to the fort by the Americans. One of these changes included the draining of the moats surrounding the fort. The grounds were then transformed into a golf course.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI hope you can appreciate the effort that that went in to taking the above picture. It was baking hot, there were loads of fellow tourists milling about heading for the archway and I resolved to wait until I could get a shot with no one in it. It took about an hour!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDuring\u00a0World War II, Fort Santiago was captured by the\u00a0Japanese Imperial Army, and they used its prisons and dungeons including the storage cells and\u00a0gunpowder magazines\u00a0for hundreds of prisoners who were killed near the end of the war in what was known as the Manila massacre. The fort sustained heavy damage from American and Filipino military\u00a0mortar\u00a0shells during the\u00a0Battle of Manila\u00a0in February 1945. Approximately 600 American prisoners of war died of suffocation or hunger after being held in extremely tight quarters in the dungeons at Fort Santiago.\"When you visit any historical site of any period, it is hard to visualise the events that have taken place there in the past, including the fairly recent events of WWII.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThankfully there were shaded benches where you could sit and take it all in. It was an interesting couple of hours and would recommend it to anyone visiting Manilla. By late afternoon the heat was off the scale and I did a deal with a trike rider for a 100 peso ride back to the Escolta ferry terminal and it was money well spent.The ferry goes like the clappers most of the way, apart from when it passes the Presidential Palace and under bridges and at one of the bridges I noticed some kids cooling off by swimming in the river. Not that I can swim, but I wouldn't even dip a toe in this heavily polluted river!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBack at the hotel, it was siesta time before I headed out for a small pizza at the nearby Yellow Cab American themed restaurant.\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.12.2 - 23-04-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-divider{--divider-border-style:none;--divider-border-width:1px;--divider-color:#0c0d0e;--divider-icon-size:20px;--divider-element-spacing:10px;--divider-pattern-height:24px;--divider-pattern-size:20px;--divider-pattern-url:none;--divider-pattern-repeat:repeat-x}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider{display:flex}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{font-size:15px;line-height:1;max-width:95%}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__element{margin:0 var(--divider-element-spacing);flex-shrink:0}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-icon{font-size:var(--divider-icon-size)}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider-separator{display:flex;margin:0;direction:ltr}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator{align-items:center}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:before{display:block;content:\"\";border-bottom:0;flex-grow:1;border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:first-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider-separator:before{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider__element{margin-left:0}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:last-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider-separator:after{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider__element{margin-right:0}.elementor-widget-divider:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text):not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon) .elementor-divider-separator{border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern{--divider-border-style:none}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern.elementor-widget-divider--view-line .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not([class*=elementor-widget-divider--view]) .elementor-divider-separator{width:100%;min-height:var(--divider-pattern-height);-webkit-mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;-webkit-mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);background-color:var(--divider-color);-webkit-mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url);mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url)}.elementor-widget-divider--no-spacing{--divider-pattern-size:auto}.elementor-widget-divider--bg-round{--divider-pattern-repeat:round}.rtl .elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{direction:rtl}.e-con-inner>.elementor-widget-divider,.e-con>.elementor-widget-divider{width:var(--container-widget-width,100%);--flex-grow:var(--container-widget-flex-grow)}\t\t\n\t\tInexpensive Birthday Gift Ideas...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTitles for the four nations also include, Best Wife, Best Mum, Best Son, Best Dog & Best Cat! See the full range of titles\u00a0HERE.\t\t\n\t\tWEEK 2 - IMPRESSIONSThis was a week of mixed fortunes. The trip to Tagaytay was a worthwhile expedition to make as it allowed me to see another part of Luzon, the main island of the Philippines, and escape from the heat of Manila. It was a disappointment however to miss out on what would have been taking a ferry to the nearby island of Mindoro to relax at a sandy beach resort, which are in short supply on Luzon, within striking distance of Manila anyway.\nThat said, it did give me more time in Manila to see the Market Market, Uptown Mall and the Grand Venice Mall which all had their own characteristics. As well as the Malls, I also had time to see the Cathedral and Fort Santiago and learn more of the history of the Philippines from the colonisation by the Spanish and Americans, through to the country gaining it's independence.\nThe development of Manila has to be seen to be believed and there is an energy about the place that is seemingly lacking back in the first world UK. The people I've met have continued to be friendly and welcoming which is making the whole Philippines experience a real pleasure. \nNext week actually may well top everything to date as I fly to the island of Negros to stay with with a former work colleague, Kevin, and his wife Emma and see another very different island so so look out for the next action packed instalment coming soon. PS - You will find out more about this ancient monument - The building that is!!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSome of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\t\t\n\t\t\t
\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.12.2 - 23-04-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}COMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...\t\t\n\t\tWeek 3 and a bit sees me fly to Bacolod on Negros Occidental to spend the weekend with former workmate Kevin, and his wife Emma.Stay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online.\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\tHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Mar 20, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-03-20 14:15:26","modifiedDate":"2023-05-01 12:09:08","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-05-01 11:09:08","commentCount":"0","commentStatus":"closed","categories":{"coma":"
2023<\/a>, Philippines<\/a>","space":"2023<\/a> Philippines<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"Bacolod<\/a>Divisoria<\/a>Luzon<\/a>Makati<\/a>Manila<\/a>Negros Occidental<\/a>Philippines<\/a>Tagaytay<\/a>Talisay City<\/a>travelblog<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":22,"sec":33},"status":"publish"},{"id":11944,"link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/solo-man-no-van-visits-the-philippines\/","name":"solo-man-no-van-visits-the-philippines","thumbnail":{"url":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/wp-content\/uploads\/2023\/01\/20230207_143931-scaled.jpg","alt":""},"title":"(Solo) Man (No) Van Visits the Philippines - Week 1","excerpt":"","content":"(Solo) Man (No) Van Visits the Philippines - Week 1Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.Now there's an unexpected blog post title for a motorhome travel blog, and, as it will no doubt raise a fair few questions, I'll attempt to answer them before getting into the description of this trip.The Navigator and I have worked hard and we are fortunate to have been able to travel extensively over the years, especially since we bought our first motorhome in 2007. Our travels have been mostly in Europe, but two trips to America at the turn of the Millennium has been the sum of our long haul travels, although, I had the good fortune to win a ten day Caribbean Cruise with one company and travel to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg Tennessee for a week long conference and from what I remember of it - it was a superb experience!Being in Sales all my career allowed me to travel extensively but the seeds of my love of travel was sown much earlier, in front of a black and white TV in a little one street village in Central Scotland where the world was brought into our living room thanks to the likes of Alan Whicker. Whicker in particular loved the Far East, and Hong Kong in particular and I have always wanted to visit there and had planned to do so on this trip, but it was not to be because of the strict Chinese Covid restrictions there at the moment. If you have the time come back and see this master journalist reflect on his travels to Hong Kong in the following YouTube video...\u00a0Because I was born in the mid 1950's, my formative years were witness to some major world events like the moon landing, which actually happened on my birthday in 1969. For some reason, my father was a passionate boxing fan, and the ultimate boxer of that era was of course, Muhammad Ali, and we watched all of his fights including the \"Thrilla in Manila\" and the \"Rumble in the Jungle\" and that was the first time I had heard of Manilla, or the Philippines for that matter. The other reason I have an interest in the Philippines is that just before we moved back to Scotland in 2011 I worked for a year with EON, the electricity supplier, and sat next to Kevin who was planning to retire out there one day, which he has subsequently done and I'll be flying to the island he is on to meet up with him again, but more of that later...Although I have spent time away from home on business trips in the past, this trip to the Philippines will be the first time in 47 years The Navigator and I will not be on a holiday together, but have no fear, we will be off on our biggest motorhome adventure to date later in the spring. The Navigator will be on her travels when I am away, albeit to the not so exotic destinations of Leeds and Belfast.Wednesday the 1st of February.The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said; \u201cThe journey of a thousand miles begins with one step\u201d. He wasn't wrong, because you won't get anywhere unless you actually start the journey and for me the journey started yesterday when I caught the West Coast Motors bus to Glasgow Airport from a very wintery Ardrishaig. \nI arrived at Glasgow Airport a full 24 hours before I was due to fly! The reason for that was, living in the wilds of Argyll there are only four busses a day which go to Glasgow in the winter, and only one goes into the Airport. It leaves Ardrishaig at 10am and gets to the airport at 12.30pm just as the check in is closing for the 1.30pm take off time, so it was too close for comfort, hence the journey the day before and a restful night in the Travelodge for a reasonable \u00a3 28 with a cooked breakfast for \u00a3 8.50, about \u00a3 5 cheaper than in the airport.\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.12.2 - 23-04-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-image{text-align:center}.elementor-widget-image a{display:inline-block}.elementor-widget-image a img[src$=\".svg\"]{width:48px}.elementor-widget-image img{vertical-align:middle;display:inline-block}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSuitably rested, I wandered across to the terminal building, checked my case through to Manila and headed for the departure lounge, just in time to see the Emirates plane arriving. The plane was a Boeing 777 and it was huge, with a capacity of over 400 passengers. In my naivety I thought it would be half full at best and I would get stretched out and sleep through most of the seven and a half hour flight. How wrong could I be, it was full and every seat was taken. When you think about it, which to be fair, I hadn't, Dubai is one of the world's major hub airports, so anyone flying onwards to New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand, and of course, the Philippines, change onto their particular destination here.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Captain did his usual announcement before take off and the only thing I remember is him telling us that there were thirteen nationalities in the cabin crew, which got me thinking about where they all lived and the logistics of how they all managed to be on this flight from Glasgow of all places!\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\t\t\n\n\t\t\n\t\tWe were well fed and watered for the duration of the flight and the entertainment system on the seatback in front of me was very impressive. You had a choice of what seemed like hundreds of films, TV shows, Radio stations, Podcasts, and genres of music to listen to. I watched the latest Tom Cruise film, Top Gun Maverick and was surprisingly entertained by it. What passed my time for the other five hours however was the simulated journey screen showing the route and where we were at any given minute so I can confirm that we were flying over Turkey when I lost all feeling below my waist and we still had more than three hours still to go! \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tDubai is four hours ahead of the UK so it was after midnight Dubai time when we touched down after circling for half an hour. Thursday the 2nd of February.The Dubai terminal was mobbed at such an early time of the morning, but transferring to the next connection was a very simple process with the most lax security check yet. As I had just over two hours to kill, I walked the full length of the main terminal which must be a mile at least. The shops and brands on display were impressive to say the least with every luxury brand you can think of represented, and the shop selling gold, jewellery, coins and ingots was queued out.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tNot knowing when I would be fed again, I had a KFC which was really good and the Fanta seemingly had more of an intense orange flavour and was very similar to Club Orange, on sale in Northern Ireland. I should mention at this point that at 1am it was eighty degrees in Dubai but the terminal air conditioning made for a comfortable experience.Once we took off the first thing the crew did was to come round handing out face masks which everyone had to wear, a marked contrast to the first Emirates flight where no one wore a mask. The window blinds were closed and the lights were dimmed but I couldn't sleep, only dozing for a few minutes at a time.Breakfast was served over the Pakistan \/ India border and it was a bit of a feast. The choice was billed as mushroom omelette or a prawn thingy which turned out to be a generous portion of prawns on top of noodles. I had the mushroom omelette which was a plain omelette with, in one corner, a creamy mushroom sauce and in the other corner, a sausage on a bed of creamed spinach. It sounds a weird combination but it worked. Chunks of fruit were also on the tray, as was a croissant with a sachet of Bonne Maman jam, Lurpak butter, with a Nature Valley oats and honey bar also squeezed onto the tray and this was all washed down with orange juice, tea and water.The sun rose as we passed between Delhi to the north and Agra and Jaipur to the south, but we only knew this from the seat back display as the blinds were still down. I mentioned earlier that I had wanted to visit Hong Kong but at least I got to see it first hand as we flew directly over it and the downwards pointing camera picked out every detail of the famous harbour area. After what seemed like an eternity, if just over nine hours can be deemed an eternity, we landed at Ninoy Aquino Airport at just after 4pm local time, some eight hours ahead of the UK.With over 2,000 inhabited islands out of a total of 7,400, and flights arriving from overseas, this airport is incredibly busy and when you have just spent over twenty four hours travelling, all you want to do is get to your hotel room, have a shower and change from clothes which were appropriate in Scotland to something a bit skimpier to cope with the ninety degree heat of Manila!With over four hundred people decanting from our flight and loads more from other flights, progress was slow to say the least. First a travel app had to be scanned to prove you conformed to the Philippines Covid rules, then queue for the immigration check and passport stamp, queue for baggage reclaim and pass through customs hoping not to get stopped, not that there would have been a problem, just the prospect of being further held up on the way to the refreshing and reviving shower.My first night was to be spent in an AirB&B within walking distance of the main terminal, which once found, and the security passed through for the block of flats, was on first sight ok. Once I had showered and changed into my shorts, t shirt and sandals I wandered back across to the main terminal building to buy a local Philippines Sim for my phone, which for the equivalent of \u00a3 30 gave me unlimited data, calls and texts for thirty days. After a snack in the airport it was back to the Air B&B for what was to prove a disastrous night's sleep.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAlthough I was very tired I decided to have a walk about the blocks of flats and stumbled upon a market selling street food which looked tempting. I phoned The Navigator to report that I had made it and all was well. The heat was incredible and at eight o'clock it was still over eighty degrees! \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI hadn't slept on either flight so thought I would zonk out but my room was on the fourth floor and this was at the same height as the elevated motorway a few yards away, and not only that it was right beside a toll plaza so the traffic was starting and stopping with lots of horns being tooted - all night long...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tFriday the 3rd of February.Was it the traffic noise, the noisy air conditioning unit, or my body clock being all over the place, whatever the reason, I hardly slept. In the morning I wandered back to the terminal building for breakfast and to get the Global Telecom people to take my BT Sim out of my mobile as I didn't want to be using it as it would have been horrendously expensive, but they showed my how to turn it off in settings and they advised I might lose it if I took it out. I had no idea my phone could take two Sim cards! In the following picture you can see the terminal on the left and my AirB&B flat on the right with the other picture showing a WH Smith shop a long way from home!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI didn't have to be out of the flat until midday so I had a relax in the shade beside the pool, but even in the shade it was incredibly hot.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI checked out and took a taxi to a hotel in Poblacion, a suburb of Makati, which in turn is a suburb of Metro Manila. Technically I was two hours early to check in but they had a room ready so I was checked in right away. The U Hotel's claim to fame is that when it was built all the rooms had a feature wall painted by a local artist so it billed itself as Manilla's only art hotel. My room did not have a window but I didn't mind this as the street outside was manic and noisy but no noise could be heard in the room. The U Hotel was great value and the lobby was always buzzing with residents and people nipping in for a coffee or a cool drink and to make use of the wi-fi.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBecause I had checked in earlier than anticipated it gave me time to jump into an air-conditioned taxi to an air-conditioned mall and had lunch at a Korean restaurant which was very good. I had just ordered chicken in a chilli \/ honey sauce but was also served six little bowls of Korean starters at no extra charge!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Greenbelt Mall, however was full of very expensive designer shops so I moved on to another Mall nearer the hotel called the Power Plant Mall and this was more of a middle class mall and had quite a few British owned shops, including Marks and Spencer and The Body Shop. Back at the hotel it was time for a siesta. I wasn't sure if this was a good idea as I might not sleep all night, but I was so tired that I felt I needed a sleep, but set my alarm to only have two hours. There was a Chinese restaurant across the street from the hotel and so had dinner there and it was excellent quality and value.Saturday the 4th of February.Residents of the Philippines love a shopping Mall and the daddy of them all in Manila is the Mall of Asia, so, after a Philippines version of a full English breakfast in the hotel, with the sweetest sausages I'd had in my life and the oddest tasting baked beans, I jumped in a taxi for the Mall of Asia. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI maybe didn't think this through properly, but to visit the Mall of Asia on a Saturday morning along with half the ten million population of Manila was eventful to say the least. The taxi driver was not too chatty as he was in a hurry to get me there and on to his next fare. The traffic in Manila has to be seen to be believed and no one has any patience and they continually switch lanes and have a hand continually on the car's horn - it was\u00a0an experience and a half, but a cheap adrenalin rush. As well as a massive Mall there is a concert venue and lots of young teenagers were walking about with souvenirs of a boy band concert that had just finished.The Mall of Asia is massive and very interesting. Inside the theme was a combination of Chinese New Year and Valentines and the decorations were top class. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Mall was cool and relaxing to walk around but I ventured out of the rear of the Mall to get a view of Manila Bay and the ships at anchor there. There is a promenade that seems to extend all the way up to Metro Manila where I would be going on Monday.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBetween the Mall and the concert venue is an IKEA. Recently opened in 2021, it is the only IKEA store in the Philippines and now takes the crown as the biggest one in the world at more than 700,000 square feet. I gave it a miss!Everything is on a massive scale to cater for the tens of thousands of people that come here daily, including a superb food court. There was also a busy ice rink which is a novelty given the 90 degree heat outside.Lunch was another delicious Korean fast food outlet specialising in seven basic flavours of chicken, including honey mustard, which I had, Caribbean jerk, cheesy bacon, smokey BBQ, hickory BBQ, lemon pepper and salt & pepper. Can you imagine KFC offering seven styles of chicken and another seven flavours if you have the premium meals? By mid afternoon I was flagging so got an other eventful manic taxi ride back to the hotel for a siesta and I managed a good sleep. Back home, Emma and Adam had been up in Argyll this week and they set off today, taking The Navigator on the start of her two centre break, starting in Leeds...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSunday the 5th of February.I decided on a quiet morning would be in order as I've been on the go since arriving in the Philippines. My first priority today however would be to find the nearest Jollibee and have breakfast.Never heard of Jollibee? Well according to their website, \"Jollibee is the largest fast food chain brand in the Philippines, and operates a network of more than 1,500 stores in 17 countries including six in the UK. A dominant market leader in the Philippines, Jollibee enjoys the lion\u2019s share of the local market that is more than all the other multinational fast food brands in PH combined. With a strict adherence to the highest standards of food quality, service and cleanliness, Jollibee serves great-tasting, high-quality and affordable food products to include its superior-tasting Chickenjoy, mouth-watering Yumburger, and deliciously satisfying Jolly Spaghetti among other delicious products.\"\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tJollibee outlets are nearly always found next to a McDonalds, as in the above picture, but you can also see the crazy electrical system there is in the poorer areas of Manila. Imaging having to trace a fault with any on those cables!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTheir actual breakfast offering was underwhelming compared with McDonalds, but unlike McDonalds, you can have anything off the full menu at any time, so I chose (don't judge me) their famous Jollibee Spaghetti and a piece of chicken, and although it comes as standard, I didn't cover the chicken in the accompanying pot of gravy. A refreshing pineapple juice topped off the meal. I can see why Jollibee is so popular as the food is great value for money and tasty with it. The rich Spaghetti sauce was amazing! The tallest tower you see in the following pictures is the Trump Tower and the contrast between the areas with modern tower blocks and the less well off districts is highlighted with the power supply and telephone cables.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tBack at the hotel I sat in the lobby for a long time to avail myself of the free wi-fi as the signal is stronger there than in the bedroom. Through the wonders of modern technology I caught up with everyone back home and wished Jill a happy birthday. I had deliberately missed out on lunch as tonight was going to be a visit to the famous 'Filling Station' which is only a five minute walk from the hotel. It's website describes it as \" Hearty dishes served in a kitschy American-themed diner decorated with 1950s memorabilia.\" It goes on to say it is \"LGBTQ+ friendly and a Transgender safes pace\" which I'm sure our Supreme Leader back in Scotland would heartily approve of!! (Thankfully now an ex Supreme Leader as I type this). \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe menu runs to 18 pages and is an incredible selection of dishes from around the world. I chose the ribs, fries and corn and it was amazing. As soon as the waiter put the plate on the table the meat immediately fell off the bone, a true culinary feat.The decor is an assault on your senses and their choice of music was spot on with the Franki Valli selection proving popular. Every now and then a loud siren would blare out and half a dozen staff would congregate at a table and belt out a rendition of 'Happy Birthday.'A great night and the Filling Station lived up to its well earned reputation.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was dark by the time I left the Filling Station and, although not in the best area of Manila, the area is buzzing with western tourists sampling the many bars and clubs surrounding the restaurant.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOn the walk back to my hotel I passed the Catholic Church of Peter & Paul which is probably the oldest building in this area of Manila and by contrast this young guy was selling a weird combination of peanuts and boiled eggs. Only they weren't boiled eggs but eggs with a complete embryo inside which people do actually peel the shell and eat.\u00a0In the Philippines, BALUT is generally incubated for 14 to 18 days before being boiled for consumption. At about 14 to 16 days of incubation, the embryo floats on top of the egg white and yolk, and the balut is called \"mamatong\". For most balut makers, the ideal incubation is said to be 17 days old.Monday the 6th of February.I am staying in the Poblacion area of Makati and have already visited some of the upmarket Malls which are as good as any you will find anywhere in the world, but today I was going to experience the polar opposite - a visit to the Divisoria shopping area of Metro Manila, ten miles to the north and slap bang in the centre of Manila. The Divisoria Market is\u00a0one of the best places to shop in Manila. It is often called the \u201cmother of all markets in Manila\u201d with a reputation as \u201cthe Mecca of value shopping\u201d for the variety of products and the extremely low prices it offers.Rather than jump in a taxi and be whisked straight there, I chose to travel up to central Manila by the nearby Pasig River Ferry. If the truth be told, it is more a waterbus service rather than a ferry, but it was free and a bit of an experience. It is said that the Indian State Railways is the most bureaucratic organisation in the world, but the Philippines have equally as many organisations where unnecessary hoops have to be jumped through and getting on this boat was one of them, including giving your life story to a lady who wrote everything down and handed me a slip of paper to be deposited in a box at my destination. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe Pasig River is a chocolate colour and varies in hue from milk chocolate to dark chocolate in places! The view from the boat is a mixture of massive modern high rise towers to the contrast of people living in shanty conditions 'off the grid' along the banks of the River.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTo further highlight how crazy the system is here, at one point when the boat is approaching the Presidential Palace, which is directly on the water's edge, the boat pulls over and a number of armed coastguards board and stand in the passageway between the seats to prevent anyone photographing the building. Once past, and out of sight of the Palace, they disembark to repeat the process on the return journey. Seemed daft to me but...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tOnce off the boat, a Chinese Arch is one of the first things you see, but unlike in the UK there were no restaurants to be found only a long line of bank branches lining both sides of the street, all guarded by armed guards, with at least one of them sporting what looked like a pump action shotgun, but was in fact a bullet firing gun. \t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tAs an obvious foreign tourist these guys were, to a man, hospitable, smiling and chatty and I was encouraged to have my picture taken by the guy with the cup. As I eventually walked on, a loud alarm went off inside the bank they were guarding which they all ignored and continued waving and smiling to me!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tI had arrived at the Hulo ferry terminal this morning by taxi but to finish off today's nautical themed adventure I crossed the river by a small boat at a cost of 5 pesos (7p).\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was baking hot so I retired to the sanctuary on my air conditioned room and had a siesta. After reporting into The Navigator, I had a tasty chicken teriyaki main course at a nearby Japanese restaurant.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTuesday the 7th of February. Today I am leaving Manila and heading on a two hour bus journey to Tagaytay, a busy resort and especially popular with weekend visitors from Manila.What's there, I hear you all ask? An online guide describes it as follows, \"Tagaytay City is always on top of the list of weekend destinations for Manila city dwellers. It's known for its\u00a0stunning views, gastronomic food trips, and family-friendly activities. Despite being just 2-3 hours away from the Philippines' capital, Manila, Tagaytay has cooler weather.\"I think it was the 'cooler weather' that swung it for me, but as it is the No. 1 out of Manila attraction, it had to be visited.After checking out of the U Hotel (highly recommended) I had a 15-minute taxi ride to the Pasay Bus Terminal where I managed to find the correct bus, which was not as easy as it might sound. As a 'senior' the fare was only 100 pesos, which at \u00a3 1.50, was again great value for a two hour bus journey.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.12.2 - 23-04-2023 *\/\n.elementor-widget-divider{--divider-border-style:none;--divider-border-width:1px;--divider-color:#0c0d0e;--divider-icon-size:20px;--divider-element-spacing:10px;--divider-pattern-height:24px;--divider-pattern-size:20px;--divider-pattern-url:none;--divider-pattern-repeat:repeat-x}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider{display:flex}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{font-size:15px;line-height:1;max-width:95%}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__element{margin:0 var(--divider-element-spacing);flex-shrink:0}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-icon{font-size:var(--divider-icon-size)}.elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider-separator{display:flex;margin:0;direction:ltr}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator{align-items:center}.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text .elementor-divider-separator:before{display:block;content:\"\";border-bottom:0;flex-grow:1;border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:first-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider-separator:before{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-left .elementor-divider__element{margin-left:0}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider .elementor-divider-separator>.elementor-divider__svg:last-of-type{flex-grow:0;flex-shrink:100}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider-separator:after{content:none}.elementor-widget-divider--element-align-right .elementor-divider__element{margin-right:0}.elementor-widget-divider:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_text):not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line_icon) .elementor-divider-separator{border-top:var(--divider-border-width) var(--divider-border-style) var(--divider-color)}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern{--divider-border-style:none}.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern.elementor-widget-divider--view-line .elementor-divider-separator,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:after,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not(.elementor-widget-divider--view-line) .elementor-divider-separator:before,.elementor-widget-divider--separator-type-pattern:not([class*=elementor-widget-divider--view]) .elementor-divider-separator{width:100%;min-height:var(--divider-pattern-height);-webkit-mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;mask-size:var(--divider-pattern-size) 100%;-webkit-mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);mask-repeat:var(--divider-pattern-repeat);background-color:var(--divider-color);-webkit-mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url);mask-image:var(--divider-pattern-url)}.elementor-widget-divider--no-spacing{--divider-pattern-size:auto}.elementor-widget-divider--bg-round{--divider-pattern-repeat:round}.rtl .elementor-widget-divider .elementor-divider__text{direction:rtl}.e-con-inner>.elementor-widget-divider,.e-con>.elementor-widget-divider{width:var(--container-widget-width,100%);--flex-grow:var(--container-widget-flex-grow)}\t\t\n\t\tInexpensive Birthday Gift Ideas...\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tTitles for the four nations also include, Best Wife, Best Mum, Best Son, Best Dog & Best Cat!See the full range of titles\u00a0HERE.\t\t\n\t\tThe bus pulled out of the terminal only about 20% full but within five minutes it stopped and about fifty people got on. The 'conductor' then came round and gave everyone a ticket based on where you were going (obviously) and this ticket was seemingly randomly punched by a pliers-like device. No money was exchanged at this point and after everyone had a ticket, he went to the front of the bus and then started collecting the fare based on how many holes you had on your ticket.While the conductor did his job, the driver was navigating us through the southern suburbs of Manila. To say it was an 'experience' would be an understatement of epic proportions.The first thing to say about driving in this country is that there is no lane discipline whatsoever. Every driver of every vehicle has a built in timer in their brains that buzzes if they have not moved for all of ten seconds so they automatically beep their horns and try another lane. If that is not a success the process is repeated continually which actually makes the congestion much worse! Our driver spent most of the journey either texting or talking on the phone. At least HE had a seatbelt on!\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tThe congestion is a sight to see and it must have taken an hour to clear Greater Manila and the bus stopped randomly to not only take on more passengers, but also snack sellers who rode the bus until no one wanted anything, which could be all too brief for some of them. The driver was compensated for letting them on board by a gift of whatever the vendor was selling.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tA few years ago Emma was on the bus from Glasgow on her way to visit us and a woman started selling pots of jam on the bus to anyone who wanted one! Having some old dear selling her wares is one thing but I wonder how the West Coast Motors passengers would react to the guy in the pink hat selling his wares!Dasmarinas was the destination for a lot of passengers and the bus became less crowded and we started to pick up speed as we drove through a more rural landscape. It had been an entertaining couple of hours but I was glad to get off when we arrived in Tagaytay. It was midday by this time and as i was too early to check in I passed the time having lunch at a nearby McDonalds.The apartment I am in is fairly basic but, being on the 20th floor, it has the most amazing views over Lake Taal and it's recently active volcano (2020). I've been suffering from a touch of bronchitis the last couple of days so bought a cough bottle, some paracetamol and had a siesta.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tIt was dark by the time I woke up so only ventured as far as the nearby supermarket for a few things and my first pork adobo at a small restaurant. This dish is a bit of a staple in the Philippines and can also be made with chicken. Here is a RECIPIE for it if you want to try it.WEEK 1 - IMPRESSIONSBeing a mostly Christian country, especially on Luzon, the main island, a stand out foreigner like moi feels very safe. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is incredibly friendly and nearly everyone speaks perfect English so the Philippines is a place where mostly Americans, Canadians and Australians come to retire as the cost of living is so much better than in their home country.Face masks are still worn here but they are not compulsory but it creates a problem when trying to converse with the staff in the hotel, shops or restaurants, especially the softly spoken female staff, as you can't see their lips move and their accent can take a bit of figuring out too.That said, the hospitality is amazing and they can't do enough to make you feel welcome. You are greeted by \"Sir\" constantly and I've been here a full week and have yet to open a door as someone rushes to open it every time.The intense heat is both welcome and an issue as you cannot help but sweat so much so can have three or four showers a day. We have experienced 100 degree heat in the south of France a few years back but this seems to be a different kind of heat. It's not a burning heat but more of a humid sweaty heat if that makes any sense. The variety of food is amazing and you have the choice of nearly every cuisine, especially the neighbouring Far Eastern countries with probably Korean the most abundant.All in all, a great first week with lots planned for week two so look out for the next instalment coming soon.\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\n\t\tSome of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn a small affiliate commission from Amazon if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.\t\t\n\t\t\t
\t\t\n\t\t\t\/*! elementor - v3.12.2 - 23-04-2023 *\/\n.elementor-heading-title{padding:0;margin:0;line-height:1}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title[class*=elementor-size-]>a{color:inherit;font-size:inherit;line-height:inherit}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-small{font-size:15px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-medium{font-size:19px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-large{font-size:29px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xl{font-size:39px}.elementor-widget-heading .elementor-heading-title.elementor-size-xxl{font-size:59px}COMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...\t\t\n\t\tWeek 2 sees me explore some of Tagaytay before returning to Manila for a few days. I then fly to Bacolod on Negros Occidental to spend the weekend with former workmate Kevin, and his wife Emma.Stay tuned, and if you are not already SUBSCRIBED sign up to be notified of the new blogs when they go online.\u00a0\t\t\n\t\t\tHOME","author":{"name":"manvannoplan","link":"https:\/\/manvannoplan.co.uk\/author\/manvannoplan\/"},"date":"Jan 17, 2023","dateGMT":"2023-01-17 13:08:37","modifiedDate":"2023-04-25 16:48:15","modifiedDateGMT":"2023-04-25 15:48:15","commentCount":"0","commentStatus":"closed","categories":{"coma":"
2023<\/a>, Philippines<\/a>","space":"2023<\/a> Philippines<\/a>"},"taxonomies":{"post_tag":"Divisoria<\/a>Luzon<\/a>Makati<\/a>Manila<\/a>Philippines<\/a>Tagaytay<\/a>travelblog<\/a>"},"readTime":{"min":26,"sec":19},"status":"publish"}];

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
J.R.R. Tolkien


FYNE EDITIONS has the BIGGEST and BEST range of MOTORHOME, CAMPERVAN and CARAVAN journals which are the perfect way to record your road trip adventures at home or abroad. CLICK on the links below to see the full range. Never forget where you’ve been ever again by logging all your overnight stay locations!



Motorhome Adventures – 3 Months Touring France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany & Denmark: – Follow The Driver and The Navigator’s Road Trip Adventure In Northern Europe…
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Campbell, Angus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 118 Pages – 07/03/2022 (Publication Date) – Man Van No Plan (Publisher)
Motorhome Adventures.: – Six Weeks Touring Through The Netherlands, Belgium, France & Germany.
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Campbell, Angus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 99 Pages – 03/22/2023 (Publication Date)
Motorhome Adventures – 6 Months Touring France, Spain & Portugal.: The Driver and his Navigator leave Scotland in their motorhome in search of good weather, good food and new experiences.
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Campbell, Angus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 311 Pages – 05/26/2018 (Publication Date) – Man Van No Plan (Publisher)

The Man Van No Plan titles above are exclusively available to buy or read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited, if you have a membership.

  • Unlimited Access to over 1 Million eBooks.
  • Rotating selection of popular magazines.
  • Thousands of books with audible narration.
  • Read anytime, on any device with the free Kindle app.

After the 30-day free trial, the subscription will review on a monthly basis. Members have the option to cancel their subscription any time.


My 2024 Motorhome Overnight Locations in the UK & Europe.: – The Must Have Travel Journal For Your 2024 Motorhome Road Trip Experiences & Adventures.
  • Editions, Fyne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 101 Pages – 06/06/2023 (Publication Date) – Independently published (Publisher)
My 2024 Motorhome Overnight Locations in the UK & Ireland: – The Must Have Travel Journal For Your 2024 Motorhome Road Trip Experiences & Adventures.
  • Editions, Fyne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 101 Pages – 06/06/2023 (Publication Date) – Independently published (Publisher)
My 2024 Campervan Overnight Locations in the UK & Europe.: – The Must Have Travel Journal For Your 2024 Campervan Road Trip Experiences & Adventures.
  • Editions, Fyne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 101 Pages – 06/06/2023 (Publication Date) – Independently published (Publisher)
My 2024 Campervan Overnight Locations in the UK & Ireland.: – The Must Have Travel Journal For Your 2024 Camper Van Road Trip Experiences & Adventures.
  • Editions, Fyne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 101 Pages – 06/06/2023 (Publication Date) – Independently published (Publisher)


“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

The above quote from Susan Sontag, the American writer, is quite relevant in the context of our motorhome travels.

The blue pins on the map opposite mark all the places we have stayed over on our road trips since 2007.

The green pins are places we hope to visit in the not too distant future and some will turn blue on our 2022 Autumn tour.


“Take only memories, leave only footprints.”
Chief Seattle




Contact Us

We would love to hear from you.

Please use the form opposite to fill in your name, e mail address and your message and we will respond as soon as possible.

The Driver

I’ve been lucky enough to drive all over the UK & Europe throughout my career in sales. Nowadays I get to do it for fun!

The Navigator

Being the Navigator on our trips is only one of the many many tasks I perform to keep the show on the road…


Bessie is a 2018 Swift Bessacarr 597 with the added Hi-Line upgrade package from Lowdhams.


1. It saves time. You won’t have to check multiple blogs each day to see if they’ve added new posts.
2. You won’t miss any updates. It’s easy to miss some posts if you don’t visit a particular blog very often. When you subscribe to a blog, every single one of its new posts is sent to your e mail inbox. Even if you don’t check your e mails for a week, the posts you haven’t read will still be there waiting for you.
3. It creates a feed of stories interesting to you. You’ll be able to read posts on many topics, in our case, UK & European motorhome travel and associated interests.

We love sharing our adventures and inspiring others to have their own. We work hard to make the ManVanNoPlan Blog the best it can be. If you find it useful, please consider supporting what we do by buying The Navigator a coffee.

The Navigator will respond with a personal reply.

Thank you.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Saint Augustine