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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Take the world in a love embrace

Help with other suitable lyrics for our post titles would be appreciated: There are no prizes for guessing the song we're humming along to at the moment.

Despite being reassured that the Col de L'Arche was always open at the end of April, half way up we passed a sign informing us it was definitely closed for vehicles without snow chains, so we re-routed through the Verdun towards Nice and the coast, where there is little danger of late snow fall. The sunshine, tunnels and fast driving made us feel we had joined the Monaco Grand Prix, as we crossed the border into Italy.

To confuse our language skills even more, our first stop in Italy was on a Dutch owned campsite near to Albenga on the Ligurian coast. Albenga is a pleasant town, with a large market and a fantastic medieval town of narrow streets, with some streets used as a gallery, as the photograph shows.

We're excited about seeing olive trees, globe artichokes growing and eating fantastic focaccia bread with onions and olives for a picnic on the beach and drinking thick hot chocolate in cafes. We're horrified by some of the prices: Soya milk is 2 Euro 60 cents in the supermakets, so is on ration and we have paid 6 euros for a beer in Pisa. Of course, olives are cheaper, so all is not lost.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Lookin' for adventure and whatever comes our way

We have pottered through France over a few days; driving through villages and small towns and miles of cultivated fields.  We rarely met lots of traffic and the travelling has been pleasant and relaxed, with picnic sites to stop at and attractive views to accompany the music from the MP3 player.  Occasionally, we have stopped for a while and we spent a pleasant hour wandering along the Medieval walls of Langres in the sunshine on Friday morning, before continuing on our way.  The photo shows Anthony enjoying a tea break and the ancient art of pond gazing.

At Culoz, near Aix Les Bains, we decided to have a rest day from driving and spent a day sorting out laundry and enjoyed an afternoon cycle ride along the lanes to Lac du Bourget and through villages scented with blossom and wood smoke.  Cycling in France is always pleasant; the motorists give you lots of space when they overtake and here there is considerable safety in numbers; all the other cyclists looking as if they are practicing for the Tour de France.

We have had plenty of opportunity to remember absent friends, as we have already enjoyed some of the gifts we have received; The Champagne marmalade goes down very well with crusty bread in a morning; Sue, Janet and Luke won’t be surprised to hear that some of the shortbread didn’t even make it across the channel and the tin is already in use for keeping some of the bike spares we have with us.  We’ve also enjoyed a good bottle of red and Anthony, of course, won at our first game of Pass the Pigs.  Thank you everyone for your generosity.

We have seen Goldfinches, Red Squirrels and a Peregrine over the campsite (not together!), Red Kites and what we can only identify as Booted Eagles, although the variety of birds of prey that they could have been sometimes frustrates our bird watching.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Answers to lyrics used in the titles of blogs

Hover your cursor over the black boxes to see the song title and artist of the lyrics we have used in the Blog titles. A huge thanks goes to Matthew for making this complicated bit of technology possible.

We always had a ball on Mars-Space truckin', Deep Purple

Down up pedals, down up down-The pushbike song, The Mixtures

She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy-America, Simon & Garfunkel

Die Fahrbahn ist ein graues band-Autobahn, Kraftwerk

Getting older, looking back, still the fact is nothing changed at all-Four stone walls, Capercaillie

Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did-Candle in the wind, Elton John

If there's somethin' strange in your neighbourhood-Ghostbusters!, Ray Parker Junior

Take another shot of courage-Tequila Sunrise, The Eagles

I don't know where I'm going but I sure know where I've been-Here I go again, Whitesnake

And it feels like home -Like a prayer, Madonna

Everyone seems to know the score -3 Lions (on my shirt, Baddiel & Skinner/Lightning Seeds

When you're with me baby, the skies will be blue - Happy Together, The Turtles

Well tonight I'm gonna live for today - Old before I die, Robbie Williams

He looks through his window, what does he see - The Passenger, Iggy Pop

Where were you while we were getting high - Champagne Supernova, Oasis

Me, I'm just a lawnmower - I know what I like, Genesis

We're gonna bring a case of wine, hey let's go mess and fool around - Miss you, The Rolling Stones

Gee it must be great riding with him - The Leader of the pack, Shangri-La's

Roll up for the mystery tour - Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles

Now I won't settle for less - Bliss, Muse

I'm satisfied I've got this far - Driving in my car, Madness

I have scaled these city walls - I still haven't found what I'm looking for, U2

High, higher than the sun - Elevation, U2

The tolling of the iron bell -Time, Pink Floyd

From nine 'til five I have to spend my time at work -Echo Beach, Martha and the Muffins

There's so many places I want to see -Freebird, Lynyrd Skynyrd

Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way -Time, Pink Floyd

Your custard pie, I declare it's sweet and nice -Custard Pie, Led Zeppelin

With a little help from (our) friends -With a little help from my friends, The Beatles

Don't make me go home -This is an emergency, The Pigeon Detectives

Oh man, I need TV when I got T.Rex - All the young dudes, Mott the Hoople

By the fountain down the road -Disco 2000, Pulp

And all the roads we have to walk along are winding -Wonderwall, Oasis

Stay out drinkin' 'till the morning comes -Country Girl, Primal Scream

Lots of rural charm in the country -Country House, Blur

If you change your mind -Take a chance on me, Abba

I've been on the road so long my friend -Keep the customer satisfied, Simon & Garfunkel

Easy as 123 -ABC,Jackson 5

If you see a faded sign by the side of the road -Loveshack, B52's

I planned each chartered course, each careful step along the byway -My Way, Frank Sinatra

She's been living in her white bread world -Uptown girl, Billy Joel (covered by Westlife)

And we`re changing our ways,taking different roads -Love will tear us apart, Joy Division

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows -Subterranean Homesick Blues, Bob Dylan

And the sweet silver song of the lark -You'll never walk alone, Gerry and the Pacemakers

Well eight or nine, well, that's just fine -Perfect 10, The Beautiful South

No time for losers -We are the Champions, Queen

I'll be gone when the morning comes - Bat out of Hell, Meatloaf

Remember how we laughed away the hours -Those were the days, Mary Hopkins

Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled Rodeo -Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell

We called out for another drink, the waiter bought a tray -A whiter shade of pale, Procul Harum

When all the birds are singing in the sky,now that the spring is in the air -Seasons in the sun, Terry Jacks

Flags, rags, ferryboats, scimitars and scarves -The Whole of the Moon, The Waterboys

All that Rugby puts hairs on your chest -Eton Rifles, The Jam

Life is so full of sweet, sweet things, I'd like to do some tasting - Hooray!Hooray! It's a Holi-holiday, Boney M

It's a mixed up muddled up shook up world except for Lola -Lola, The Kinks

Let them Truckers roll, 10-4 -Convoy, C.W Mcall

Oh,Father of the four winds fill my sails -Kashmir, Led Zeppelin

She might be in Tangier, she left here last early Spring is living there I here- If you see her say hello, Bob Dylan

People say we monkey around - Theme from the Monkees (Hey,hey we're the monkees)

Cause it grows stronger, like a river flows - River Deep, Mountain High, Ike and Tina Turner

I don’t pop my cork for every man I see - Hey Big Spender, Shirley Bassey

Well Ronda, you caught my eye, caught my eye, and I can give you lotsa reasons why -- Help me Ronda, The Beach Boys to bend not break the rules - Baggy Trousers, Madness

Look at those cavemen go - Life on Mars, David Bowie

Once upon a time you dressed so fine, didn’t you - Like a rolling stone, Bob Dylan

For I must be travelling on now, ‘cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see - Free Bird, Lynyrd Skynryd

Let's move before they raise the parking rate - All Right Now, Free
On New Year's Day - New Year's Day, U2

I see my memories and feel their warmth and know that it is good - Spiral Architect, Black Sabbath

… casting his shadow, weaving his spell, funny clothes, tinkling bell - The Wizard, Black Sabbath

If you want a better place to live in spread the word today – Children of the Grave, Black Sabbath

May your days be merry and bright – I’m dreaming of a white Christmas

And his money he was counting – Whisky in the Jar, Thin Lizzy

A day in December, picture this freezing cold weather – Picture this, Blondie

It’s not about you joggers who go round and round and round – Park Life, Blur

Things that the everyday folks leave behind – The Wombling Song, The Wombles

Think of what you’re saying. You can get it wrong and still think its right – We can work it out, The Beatles

He sits in the tree tops all day long - Rockin' Robin, Michael Jackson

Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall – Merry Christmas, Slade

Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel – Roadhouse Blues, The Doors

Can we climb this mountain? I don’t know – When you were Young, The Killers

A bathroom I can play baseball in – Rockstar, Nickelback

All you did was wreck my bed – Maggie May, Rod Stewart

You said you read me like a book, but the pages are all torn and frayed – I'm not OK (I promise), My Chemical Romance

We gotta move these refrigerators, we gotta move these colour TVs – Money for Nothing, Dire Straits

I see friends shaking hands – Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong

Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash – Money, Pink Floyd

A man comes on and tells me, how white my shirts could be – Satisfaction, Rolling Stones

When I get older, losing my hair many years from now – When I’m 64, The Beatles

Things ain't cooking in my kitchen - Weather with you, Crowded House

Darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand – Thriller, Michael Jackson

Holding hands and skimming stones – Crocodile Rock, Elton John

Once bitten twice shy – Once Bitten Twice Shy, Ian Hunter

We’re halfway there, living on a prayer, take my hand and we’ll make it I swear – Living on a Prayer, Bon Jovi

I took her to a supermarket, I don’t know why – Common People, Pulp

Come on with me cruising down the street, who knows what you’ll see who you might meet – Streetlife, Roxy Music

When she walks by she brightens up the neighbourhood – Pretty Flamingo, Manfred Mann

Standing at the fork in the road – Watershed, Indigo Girls

And keeps all your dead hair for making up underwear – Jean Jeanie, David Bowie

Mama take these guns off me, I don’t need them anymore – Knocking on Heavens Door, Bob Dylan

Well there’s technicolour and cinemascope – Saturday Night at the Movies, The

Where do we go now? – Sweet Child of Mine, Guns ‘n’ Roses

Summer has gone and passed … - When September Ends, Green Day

Red, Red Wine, go to my head – Red, Red Wine, UB40

One of these mornings that chain is going to break – Chain of Fools, Aretha Franklin, The Commitments(and others)

Paint your palette blue and grey – Vincent, Don McLean

To live without my music would be impossible to do – Music, John Miles

We tumble and fall, together we crawl – Tumble and Fall, Feeder

If there’s a letter in your bag for me – Please Mr Postman, The Carpenters

Just purse your lips and whistle that’s the thing – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Monty

Je habiter la, a la south of France – Je suis un Rock Star. Bill Wyman

They call me baby driver – BabyDriver, Simon and Garfunkel

Glaciers melting in the dead of night – Super Massive Black Holes, Muse

Who are you? – Who are you, The Who

Stopped into a church I passed along the way – California Dreamin’, Mamas and Papas

A bridge over troubled waters – Bridge over Troubled Waters, Simon andGarfunkel

The hills are alive – TheSound of Music

I read the news today, oh boy – Day in a Life, The Beatles

You don’t want no money, you don’t want no bread – Lazy, Deep Purple

Can we fix it? – Can weFix It, Bob the Builder

It is the evening of the day, I sit and watch the children play – As Tears Go By, The Rolling Stones

The history book on the shelf is always repeating itself – Waterloo, Abba

I said do you speak-a my language. He just smiled … - Down Under, Men at Work

This means nothing to me … - Vienna, Ultravox

But for now I’m down with ornithology, grab your binoculars come follow me – Kids, Robbie Williams

We rely on each other aha – Islands in the Stream, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

The representative from California has the floor – American Idiot, Green Day

There aint a cloud in sight - Mr Blue Sky, Electric Light Orchestra

Such a lovely place – HotelCalifornia, The Eagles

Get myself absolutely soaking wet – It’s Raining Men, The Weather Girls

Watch your honey drip – Rock‘n’ Roll, Led Zeppelin

Hans plays with Lotte, Lotte plays with Jane – Games without Frontiers, Peter Gabriel

A very big house in the country – Country House, Blur

Take a long holiday, watch the children play – Riders on the Storm, The Doors

Imagine there’s no heaven, no religion too – Imagine, John Lennon

Try to set the night on fire – Light my Fire, The Doors

He takes a whisky drink, he takes a lager drink – Tubthumping, Chumbawumba

Where do you get your hair cut? You look like a Rolling Gnome – Laughing Gnome, David Bowie

And when you’re stealing clothes from Marks and Sparks – All The Young Dudes, Mott the Hoople

If its wasn’t for the good souls that make life better – Good Souls, Starsailor

There were plants and birds and rocks and things – Horse with no Name, America

Going underground – GoingUnderground, The Jam

Love is like a butterfly – Love is Like a Butterfly, Dolly Parton

People are strange when you’re a stranger – People are Strange, The Doors

Middle of a chain reaction – Chain Reaction, Diana Ross

Small and white, clean and bright – Edelweiss, from The Sound of Music

Must be funny in a rich man’s world – Money, Money, Money, - Abba

Because there’s something in the air – Something in the Air, Thunderclap Newman

Hear this Robert Zimmerman, I wrote a song for you – Song for Dylan, David Bowie

I think I saw you in an icecream parlour – Five Years, David Bowie

I’m going to walk on up to the waterfront – Waterfront, Simple Minds

We take a holiday, lie around all day – Have a Nice Day, Stereophonics

Loving you, whenever times are good or bad, happy or sad – Let’s Stay Together, Al Green or TinaTurner

Into the night came a blue flashing light – Strong Arm of the Law, Saxon

Heaven is a place on earth – Heaven is a Place on Earth, BelindaCarlisle

There’s a sign on the wall – Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin

My plug-in baby – Plug in Baby, Muse

You’re gorgeous – You’re Gorgeous, Baby Bird

You’d see them wearing their baggies – Surfin’ USA, The Beach Boys

Planet caravan – PlanetCaravan, Black Sabbath

I want to be elected – Elected, Alice Cooper

Life is a Minestrone – Lifeis a Minestrone, 10cc

We don’t need no education – Another Brick in the Wall, Pink Floyd

She's only a broken down Angel, she's only a bird – Broken Down Angel, Nazareth

Walking on the beaches – Peaches, Stranglers

Shake, rattle and roll – Shake,Rattle and Roll, Bill Haley

Highway to Hell – Highway to Hell, AC/DC

Cool for cats – Cool for Cats, Squeeze

Walk on the wild side – Walk on the Wild Side, Lou Reed

They call it paradise ... – The Last Resort, Eagles

One more cup of coffee for the road – One More Cup of Coffee (valley Below), Bob

Robert De Niro's waiting – Robert De Niro’s Waiting, Bananarama

Take the world in a love embrace – Born to be Wild, Steppenwolf

Lookin' for adventure and whatever comes our way – Born to be Wild, Steppenwolf

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Camp site overview

We have stayed on 123 different camp sites during the trip, from the fantastic to the dreadful.
This link will take you to a fun article I had published in Motorhome Monthly Magazine about the variety of shower facilities on campsites.
The overnight charges by camp sites vary widely and do not always relate to the facilities they provide. However, for those of you planning a similar trip the following information may be of interest to you.
The range of prices
The cheapest camp site we stayed on was the Municipal site in Tomar, Portugal that was 4.53 Euro per night for a site with hot showers and good, clean facilities. The most expensive was in Ptuy in Slovenia at 36 Euro per night; this price included unlimited access to the swimming pool complex of 10 pools, indoor and out.
More details about each campsite are in posts for each country.
Broken down by country, overnight charges on camp sites have been within the following ranges:
Cheapest – camping St James les Pins, Guillestre at 11 Euro per night, a lovely site and very good value
Most expensive – Camping Chantecler, Aix en Provence at 23 Euro per night
Cheapest – Corigliano at 9.50 Euro for a stay of more than three nights (this was cheap because not all facilities were open in May).
Most expensive – Camping Piccolo Paradiso in Sasso Marconi at 29.50 Euro per night, this was an incredibly over-priced site.
Cheapest – Camping Wieshof, St Johann im Pongau, 22 Euro per night with electricity and one of our favourite sites
Most expensive – Camping Stigger, near Innsbruck, charging 32.80 Euro a night for a cramped space with poor facilities and best avoided
Cheapest – Natura Campground in Podcetrtek at 18 Euro per night in high season, without access to the aqua park and very good facilities
Most expensive – Terme Ptuj, Ptuj charging 36 Euro per night in the high season, but this includes access to a huge swimming pool complex
Please note that staying on a site in Spain during the winter months for longer periods can give you very good savings. We did not stay anywhere long enough to qualify for such savings.
Cheapest – Camping Sierra Espuna, El Berro at 13 Euro per night, a beautifully positioned site with reasonable facilities
Most expensive – Camping Marjal, Guardamar at 30 Euro per night in November is expensive although the facilities are very good
Cheapest - Parque Municipal in Tomar is unbeatable value at 4.53 Euro per night in the winter and only double that in summer
Most expensive – Vale Paraiso Camping in Nazare at 18 Euro per night, expensive for fairly average facilities

Campsites in Spain March 2010

Camping Perlora
Candas, near Gijon, Asturias
In a lovely position by the sea and near the small resort, the site is terraced and grassy with reasonable size pitches. The facilities are clean and good, with hot showers and hot water for washing up. Free wi-fi.

Camping El Hielguero
Ruilora, near Santillana, Cantabria
A grassy site in pleasant surroundings. Facilities OK and plenty of hot water everywhere. Wi-fi available at a charge.

Camping De Haro
Haro, La Rioja
A large site on the edge of the pleasant town of Haro. The site is flat and has marked and un-marked pitches. The facilities are good, with plenty of hot water where you need it and in April they were heated. Wi-fi available at an extra charge.

Campsites in Portugal February and March 2010

A list of campsites used in Portugal:

Camping Olhao
Olhao, Algarve
A large site with some trees and different sized pitches, from smallish to large, in winter it is a busy and rambling site. The facilities are dated, but clean. Hot water is variable, sometimes only warmish. Good supermarket on site and bus service in to Olhao or 10 minutes easy cycle ride. From there you can catch the train to Faro and Tavira. The site has a lively bar.

Camping Canelas
Armacao de Pera, Algarve
Tarmac roads and grassy or sandy pitches, divided by hedges and trees. Facilities dated, but clean and plenty of hot water, jet propelled in the showers. Small shop on site with fresh bread.

Camping Turiscampo
Espiche, near Lagos, Algarve
Tarmac roads and gravel or sandy pitches. Some trees for shade, but plenty of light for the winter. Lots of hot water and clean facilities, one toilet block with doors, windows and heating! Wi-fi 15 Euro for one week, shop and restaurant on site. One of the best sites we have stayed in for winter camping. We did not want to leave!!

Camping Milfontes
Vila Nova de Milfontes, Atlantic coast
The site has lots of trees and level, sandy pitches. The toilet blocks are clean, but shabby. There is plenty of hot water.

Camping Serro da Bica
10 kms south of Ourique, off the N264
A site run by a Netherlands family in a quiet, rural setting. Facilities are clean and good, with hot showers and hot water for washing up. Bread can be ordered and wifi is available for 2 euro for 3 hours.

Camping Municipal Serpa
Serpa, Alentejo
The facilities are dated, but clean. Showers have good hot water, but only cold water for washing up. The pitches are sandy and roads are cobbled. The site has some trees and is within easy walking distance of Serpa, a lovely little town. Supermarkets nearby too.

Orbitur Camping Evora
Evora, Alentejo
A flat site with some paved roads and grassy pitches. Hot showers, but no hot water for washing up and facilites alittle scruffy. Free wifi. Within 20 minutes walk of Evora town centre and supermarket 10 minutes walk away.

Parque de Campismo
Alcobaca, Estremadura
A terraced site, with some trees for shade and some open pitches on gravel and grass. The site is by the road in the town and the traffic can be intrusive. The facilities are basic, but acceptable, with very hot water for washing up. The electricity is mostly 3 amps, with just one box with 6 amps. The site is near to shops and only 10 minutes away from the Monastery.

Camping Vale Paraiso
Navare, Estremadura
A large site with terraces; pitches are on gravel, some roads are tarmac and the site has tall pine trees for shade. The facilities are clean and OK, but only one block has hot water for washing up. Free wifi and a TV room with UK TV. Around 2 kms in to Navare, but a very steep climb back to the site.

Camping Redondo
Poco Redondo, near Tomar
A small and very green and pleasant site, with olive trees and donkeys, run by an Anglo-Dutch couple. The showers are hot, there is hot water for washing up and the wifi is free, so it ticked all our boxes. Not suitable for larger campervans as the access is steep and narrow.

Parque Campismo Tomar
A flat and grassy site with some trees for shade. Hot and powerful showers and hot water for washing up. The facilities are clean and good. The site is in the town, only 5 minutes from the shops and it is possible to walk to the Convento de Cristo from the site up the steep hill. Our cheapest camp site at 4.53 euro a night and fantastic value for money.

Camping Ponte das Tres Entredas
Ponte das Tres Entredas, near Oliveira do Hospital
A grassy and sloping site by a river in a small village. The facilities are dated, neglected and were not very clean when we visited, although it was wet and we were the only campers. Plenty of hot water.

Parque de Campismo Orbitur Mira
Praia de Mira
A large and level site with some trees for shade and some grassy pitches. The site is very pleasant to sit on and there is walking and cycling from the site. The facilities are dated, the showers are hot, but there is no hot water for washing up.

Parque de Campismo Orbitur Madalena
Madalena, Vila Nova de Gaia
A large, shaded site on sand. In March the site had an air of neglect and under-use. There is warm water for washing up and at the sinks, but the water in the showers is not very hot. The site is by a regular bus route in to Porto.

Pargque Campismo de Celorico de Basto
Celorico de Basto
A municipal site opened in May 2009, terraced with tarmac roads and under trees with grassy pitches. The facilities are new and modern, but no hot water for washing up. Free wifi. Pleasant walk in to the town by the river.

Parque Campismo Quinta do Rebentao
Vila Nova, Chaves
About 5 kms south of Chaves, this site is grassy and terraced with a stream running through. The facilities are old and scruffy, no hot water in the sinks and one hot tap for washing up. Wifi available. Fine for one night on the way in to Spain.

Campsites in Spain January and February 2010

Below is a list of camp sites we have used and our opinions of them.

Camping El Brillante
Cordoba, Andalucia
About 1 km from the city centre with a regular bus service, this site is ideal for visiting the fantastic city of Cordoba. It is a level site with clean toilet facilities and lots of hot water, including for washing up. Trees provide shade and some pitches have sun shades. No wi fi. Cafes and shops nearby.

Camping Marbella Playa
Near Marbella, Andalucia
Alongside the busy coast road, this flat site is popular with winter campers. The facilities are good with lots of hot water, although there is only one hot tap for washing up. Washing clothes is only available as a service wash. The site has a large shop and a cafe and is only 100m from the bus stops to Fuengirola and Marbella.

Camping El Sur
Ronda, Andalucia
Good site for visiting Ronda as the old town is an easy 1.5 km walk away. The site is in a rural setting and there is an information board about walks. The facilities are good, the showers are hot, but not all of them were working when we were there, washing up sinks have hot water. The site is terraced with some trees. Electricity is 5 amps, a few pitches have 10 amps.

Camping Los Alcornocales
Jimena de la Frontera, Andalucia
This site is in a fantastic spot, 10 minutes walk from the lovely village with charming streets and a caste. However, the site is mostly permanent caravans and has only three touring pitches. The facilities are basic, no washing machines or wi-fi, but the showers are hot. The site has a bar and bread is available there. The walking from here is very good and Griffon Vultures fly overhead.

Camping Parque Tropical
Estepona, Malaga, Andalucia
This small site is terraced and pleasantly laid out. It is next to the busy A7, where you can catch a bus in to Estepona about 6 kms away. The facilities are adequate, washing up sinks have hot water and you can pay for wi-fi.

Camping Rio Jara
Tarifa, Andalucia
Around 3 kms from the centre of Tarifa, this is a pleasant, grassy site with views of the fabulous beach and the sea. The showers are hot and there is hot water for washing up. The wi-fi is free, but not available throughout the campsite. Most people sit in the cosy bar and use their laptops. The site has a small shop and has bread every day. In January it wasn't too crowded and had a friendly and relaxed feel.

Camping Pinar San Jose
Los Canos de Meca, Cabo Trafalgar, Andalucia
Very good facilities, with plenty of hot water where you would expect it. The pitches are grassy and the site is in pine trees. It has an excellent supermarket and nearby are lovely beaches and Cabo Trafalgar.

Camping Playa las Dunas
El Puerto de Santa Maria
This site has very good facilities that are kept clean and tidy, with hot water for laundry, washing up and showers. In winter the campers are on open grass with spacious pitches. In summer there are shaded pitches in pine trees. From the site you can cycle into El Puerto and to the beaches. It is easy to get to the railway station for trains to Jerez (20 minutes cycling and 10 minutes on the train) or to take the boat to Cadiz.

Camping Villsom
Dos Hermanas, Sevilla, Andalucia
South of Sevilla, but with a good bus service into the city. The site is flat with trees for shade and some grass. The facilities are acceptable, warm water is available. Wi fi is free, but only accessible from the bar. Carrefour and Lidl about 10 minutes walk away.

La Aldea
El Rocio, Huelva, Andalucia
Very good facilities, clean and lots of hot water. A flat site with hard standing, no shade. The site has wifi for 15 Euro for 7 days and a supermarket. Good position to visit Donana National Park.

Camping Giralda
Isla Christina, Huelva, Andalucia
Very shady site in pine trees. Near to a pleasant town. Washing up facilities very open to the elements. Free wi fi in the bar.

Campsites in Spain October, November and December 2009

Aquarius Camping
Sant Pere Pescador, near Figueres, Catalonia
A flat camp site by the beach with a little shade. The site is well run and has plenty of very good facilities, including a shop and restaurant. Opportunities for cycling in the area and water sports.

Camping Les Medes
L'Estartit, Catalonia
A level site with some shade and excellent, modern sanitary facilities. The friendly site has a shop with bread and an indoor swimming pool. The site is 2 kms from L'Estartit from where you can catch a bus into Girona. The nearby nature reserve is worth visiting too. Closes at the end of October.

Vilanova Park
Vilanova I La Geltru, Catalonia
This is a large site with touring pitches and bungalows and has all the facilities you could need. The toilets and showers are good, although starting to look in need of renovation. Reception staff can provide information about public transport to Barcelona from the site (about 1 hour 10 mins door to door).

L'Ametila Village Platja
L'Ametila, Catalonia
Large site with lots of bungalows in a lovely position by the beach and with lagoons and a nature park alongside. Facilities are good. Bread is available to order in the winter. Walks along the coast from the site.

El Eden de Peniscola
Peniscola, Valencia
Excellent faciliites, good hot showers and very clean. Large and level site with small hedges marking good size pitches. Short walk from the site to the beach and the pretty town of Peniscola with an old town. No washing machines, only service wash. Wi fi 9 Euro for 150 minutes.

Complejo Turistico Monmar
Moncofar, Valencia
Cramped pitches with no hedges or fences. Facilities acceptable, except no hot water for washing up sinks. Wi fi availalbe 4 Euro for 50 minutes.

Gandia, Valencia
Good size pitches on gravel. Hot showers and heated facilities, but facilities are dated. Washing up and laundry sinks only have cold water. The site has a small shop and wi fi at 15 Euro for one week. 2 kms cycle ride to Gandia, a pleasant town and trains to Valencia. Beach 15 minutes walk away.

Camping El Naranjal
Javea, north of Alicante
Very clean sanitary facilities, flat pitches, not marked out and a bit of a car park of a site. Lovely bay with restaurants, bars and shops within 10 minute walk, lively even in November.

Camping Marjal
Guardamar, south of Alicante
Excellent sanitary facilities, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, free wi fi. Flat pitches divided by small hedges and tarmac roads between. A pleasant site, but more expensive than some, 30 Euro a night in November. Beach and lovely sand dunes with pine trees nearby and Guardamar 20-30 min cycle ride away.

La Fuente
Banos de Fortuna, Murcia
Excellent camp site with a choice of your own bathroom on your pitch or shared facilities. The site has a swimming pool naturally heated by a hot spring at 35C. Cycling and walking from the site.

Camping Playa de Mazarron
Bolnuevo, Murcia
A large site, busy over the winter with long-stayers from the UK and Germany. Pitches on hard standing and closely packed. Toilet blocks are warm and showers are fine. No hot water for washing up. Bolnuevo has some shops and restaurants as well as a pleasant bay and walks along the coast. The site has many organised events.

Camping Sierra Espuna
El Berro, Murcia
A beautiful location with good facilities, although no hot water for washing up, again! Fan heater in the toilet blocks. The staff are very friendly and will give you a leaflet in English of walks in the area. The site is terraced with views over the village. The village has a bar and restaurant and bread shops.

Camping Los Delfines
Isla Plana Playa, Puerto Mazzaron, Murcia
Flat site with fairly large pitches. Not an inspiring site, facilities adequate. Wi fi 2 Euro a day.

Los Escullos
Near San Jose, Cabo de Gata Nijar Natural Park
A lovely position, with views of mountains and near to a lovely bay. The site is slightly terraced with hard-standing and plenty of shade from trees and sun-shades. This shade is too much in the winter, but would be much needed in summer. The toilets are clean, but not heated in winter. Plenty of walking and cycling from the site.

Camping Roquetas
Roquetas de Mar
A fairly flat site with hard standing pitches, some trees and sun-shades in the summer. Popular with long-stayers in the winter, but not packed and winter campers get double-sized pitches, so lots of space. Facilities are clean and showers are hot, just the usual lack of hot water in the washing up sinks.

Camping Don Cactus
Carchuna, near Motril, Andalucia
Nicely laid out campsite, with some trees and low hedges between hard-standing pitches. Plenty of hot water, but toilet blocks very cold in winter. Plenty of activities on the site and a German bakery van calls twice a week. The site is right by the sea.

Camping Torre del Mar
Torre del Mar, nr Malaga, Andalucia
Level pitches have hedges and some trees, access is narrow and unsuitable for an RV. Sanitary blocks are a bit dated, but provide hot water and good showers. The site is only a few minutes from the sea and from the lively resort. There is a small supermarket on site and a Mercadona a few minutes away.

Campsites in France September and October 2009

Camping Chambonettes Municipal
Vallouise, Ecrin National Park
A lovely position and good views from the site, near the village with shops and bars. Facilities basic. Very large site with some shade.

St James Les Pins
Guillestre, French Alps
A lovely camp site, 15 minutes walk from the town and supermarkets. Facilities are dated, but clean. Flat site with plenty of shade. Friendly owners, bread available every day and free wi fi.

Camping Frederic Mistral
Castellane, Verdon Gorge
A busy crowded site as nearest to the village. Facilities only just acceptable.

Chateau de L'Eoviere
Montmeyan, south of Verdon Gorge
A neglected camp site with poor facilities. It was wet and September when we were there and it may be OK in the summer.

Camping Olbia
La Madrague, Provence
Facilities basic. Plenty of shade and lovely smell from eucalyptus trees. Good walks on the coast from the site.

Camping Chantecler
Aix en Provence
Facilities fine, shops 5 minutes walk away. Marked out pitches on terraces and good bus service into Aix.

Camping Durance Luberon
Mallemort, Provence
Lovely new facilities and good value on ACSI discount. Level site with large marked pitches.

Camping Bagatelle
The nearest site to the city and so a busy, crowded site. Facilities are a bit jaded, but OK. Marked pitches that are very shaded. Wif fi 3 Euro for 2 hours.

Camping Carpe Diem
Vaison La Romaine, Provence
A slightly terraced site with large private pitches and lovely facilities with lots of hot water and roomy showers. The site has a bar and swimming pools, including one indoors. Good value on camping cheques or with France Location card.

Camping Le Jonquier
Facilities adequate, a level site with grassy pitches. Close to the centre of Orange.

Domaine de la Bastide
Large grassy pitches with shade. Facilities adequate, but dated and lighting a bit hit and miss. Good bus service in to Nimes and bread available at the cafe.

Camping du Domaine de Massereau
Sommieres, Languedoc
Very good facilities and large marked pitches with shade. Very good cycling from the site, including in to Sommieres, a lovely small town.

Camping Cevennes-Provence
Anduze, Languedoc
A lovely and large terraced site on a hillside and friendly, run by three generations of one family. The site has plenty of facilities that are fine, a shop and free wi fi available on some pitches. Good walking from the site and access to the river for bathing.

Le Clos du Rhone
Saintes Maries de la Mer, Languedoc
A flat site by the sea with large pitches and some shade. Facilities not very clean, but plenty of them. Free wi fi.

Le Rebau
Montblanc, Languedoc
A shaded, flat site with marked pitches. Showers very good, but no hot water for washing up. Free wi fi from pitch. ACSI discount.

Camping Les Ayguades
Gruisson, near Narbonne, Languedoc
By the sea and 5 kms on cycle lane from Gruisson, a pretty town. The site is flat with little shade and has good facilities, including free wi fi at pitches. Limited bus service into Narbonne.

Camping L'Ombre des Oliviers
Lovely, clean facilities, although showers were not very warm and flat, grassy camp site with little shade. Shops 10 minutes walk away and Carcassonne 20 minutes cycle ride away.

Camping Val d'Aleth
Alet les Bains, near Limoux, Languedoc
A British run camp site by the river and in a pretty village with medieval parts. The facilities are fantastic, hot showers and very clean. The village shop had recently closed when we were there and only had a bread van visiting in the morning. Good walking in the area.

La Garenne
Nefiach, near Perpignan
Facilities dated, but clean enough. A flat, shady site with lots of mobile homes. The site has a swimming pool and restaurant in summer.

Campsites in Austria July and August 2009

Kotschach Mauthen, Italian/Slovenian border
Lovely camp site with friendly staff, very good facilities and good views of the mountains. A flat site with some shade. Wi fi from the pitch for 3 Euro/hour. Supermarket nearby and cycle routes.

Camping Central
Excellent site for visiting this attractive city, with good bus links. Free use of large swimming pool too. Flat site with very good facilities and wi fi at 2 Euro/day.

Near the Hungarian border and good cycling around the lake from the site. The village of Rust is very pleasant. Facilities fine with lots of hot water. Mostly long-term campers, with some touring pitches.

Aktiv Camping Neue Donau
Facilities plentiful and fine. Some luxury, more private pitches. Flat site, with limited shade. Good public transport in to Vienna.

Campingplatz Grein
Grein Donau
Nice position by the river and a pleasant town. A level site with new facilities which were good, although the hot water was hit and miss.

Camping Wieshof
St Johann im Pongau
A terraced, grassy site with lovely views over the town and mountains. Free wi fi available all over the site and fantastic facilities, always clean and with roomy showers for 1 Euro. Bread available in the morning. So many things to do in the area, we stayed for ages.

Camping Stigger
Vols, near Innsbruck
A crowded and over-priced site in August. 33 Euro for poor facilities and no space for an awning.

Campingplatz Imst West
Imst, west of Innsbruck
Site in a lovely position on the edge of the town with supermarkets nearby. Spacious pitches, good facilities and friendly staff. Lots of walking and cycling opportunities.

Campsites in Slovenia July 2009

Polovnik Campground
Not an attractive camp site, with no marked pitches, but near to the village of Bovec and shops and free wi fi. Facilities functional.

Camping Koren
We liked this camp site, it has lovely views, a pleasant bar and facilities are acceptable. Supermarket about 10 minutes walk away and lovely town of Kobarid with fantastic museum and places to eat about 15 minutes away.

Pivka Jama
The site is some distance from the town and is surrounded by trees. Plenty of hot water, facilities dated, but OK.

Camping Lucija
A popular camp site by the sea with marked pitches that are generally small. Facilities numerous and OK, with very good showers. Near to town and supermarkets and shops. Lovely walk to salt pans from the site.

Podzemelj ob Kolpi
This small site has a lovely setting by the river. The facilities are limited and basic and not always very clean. Cafe on the site and bathing in the river. Supermarket 5 minutes away.

Natura Campground
Very good and clean facilities. Flat site with some shade. Next to an aqua park which is noisy during the day.

Terme Ptuj
Good pitches, flat and grassy and arranged in circles. Good facilities and entrance to huge swimming pool complex with 10 pools, indoor and outdoor included in the price. Wi fi available in the hotel. A busy site that is well run.

Menina campground
Vorpolje, Recica Obsavinji
The facilities are new and kept clean, but no hot water for dish washing. Family run site and friendly owners who arrange many activities in the summer. Plenty of shade and bathing in the river. Lovely bar and village shop 5 minutes away.

Smlednik Campground
Facilities small, but acceptable. Terraced site with free wi fi, accessible from some pitches. Shop on site and access to the river. Naturists area.

Camping Radovljica
A flat site with plenty of shade, free wi fi available at some pitches. The site is next to a public outdoor swimming pool that is free for campers. Facilities were kept clean and were fine. Supermarket 5 minutes walk away and pleasant town 10 minutes walk away with buses to Bled and trains to Ljubljana.

Campsites in Italy May to August 2009

Bella Vista
Ceriale, near Albenga, Lombardy
Dutch run camp site, very well managed and friendly. Small site, well kept and pretty, pitches fairly small. Only 3 amps available, free wi fi at the lovely bar.

Campeggio Acqua Dolce
Levanto, Cinque Terre
Access difficult for bigger vans. Well organised and popular site. Next to the the pretty town of Levanto and good for walking in the Cinque Terre. Plenty of facilities.

Camping Toscana Village
Montopoli, Tuscany
Terraced site with good hot showers and a shop. Near to an attractive hill top town and good for the train to Pisa.

Camping Soline
Casciano di Murlo. Tuscany
Wi fi internet access over the site and free. Facilities OK, but showers not always hot. Excellent views from terraces.

Saturnia, Tuscany
Large sosta with showers and toilets. Near to the hot springs and pretty village.

Camping Monti del Sole
Narni, Umbria
Pleasant, flat green side with shade. Facilities a bit dated, but good hot showers and friendly owners.

Campeggio La Genziana
Barrea, Abruzzo
Fantastic views from pitches, grassy, flat pitches. Facilities a bit scruffy and at 25 Euro a night not the cheapest. Very friendly owners and good walks from the site.

Il Vecchio Mulino
Opi, Abruzzo
ACSI discount available on this green, flat site. Facilities OK, although showers very poor. Good walking nearby.

Parking Europa
Good one night stop off, next to the railway line and walking distance from Cassino centre.

International Vulcano Solfatara
Pozzuoli, near Napoli
Camp site in an extinct volcanic crater. Very popular site with plenty of shade and a hint of sulphur in the air. Nice swimming pool and facilities good. Internet point, but no wi fi. Public transport nearby.

Camping Villaggio Ulisse
Paestum, Campania
Drab and lifeless site in May, facilities OK and only 2 kms away from the temples.

La Mantinera
Praia a Mare, Calabria
Shaded and flat site with good facilities. Railway line nearby.

Camping Thurium
Corigliano, Basilicata
By the sea and plenty of shade from the pine trees. Facilities fine and swimming pool in season. Reasonable price in May, 9.50 Euro if staying for three nights or more.

Campeggio Azienda Agriturismo Masseria del Panteleone
Matera, Basilicata
Basic facilities on hard standing. Good restaurant.

Campeggio Pineta al Mare
Lido Specchiolla, Puglia
Popular site with families and plenty of entertainment which could be noisy at times. Facilities good, although only 3 amps and pleasant bar.

Camping Holiday
Rodi, Gargano peninsular
Facilities very basic and limited, dark and uneven site. Close to the town of Rodi.

Campeggio Villaggio Punta Lunga
Vieste, Gargano
Terraced site, popular with Germans and those who enjoy wind surfing etc. Facilities very good and pleasant bar. Wi fi available at the bar.

Centro Turistico Isola Verde
Bomba, Abruzzo
Neglected facilities, small site with lots of shade.

Camping Sun Beach
Torino de Sangro, Abruzzo
Good, clean facilities, with roomy showers, flat pitches and pleasant bar and restaurant. By the sea.

Campeggio Villaggio Holiday
Giulianova, Abruzzo
A busy site with small, flat pitches and lots of entertainment. Facilities fine.

Quattro Stagioni
Sarnano, Abruzzo
Mostly permanent caravans and chalets, but small area for touring vans. Flat, grassy pitches with shade. Facilities OK, but old and have neglected air. However, lovely position near the lovely town of Sarnano and mountain scenery.

Il Collaccio
Preci, Tuscany
Very good facilities, terraced site that is very busy. Pleasant bar with good views and swimming pool.

Citta di Gubbio
Gubbio, Umbria
Flat, grassy site. Facilities dated, but clean and only 3 amps. Expensive at 25 Euro. Has a swimming pool in season and Gubbio is a beautiful place to visit.

Camping Piccolo Paradiso
Sasso Marconi, south of Bologna
Facilities good, plenty of shade on pitches, but only 3 amps and expensive at 29.50 Euro. Trains into Bologna from Sasso Marconi a few kms away.

Camping Belvedere
Lazise, Lago di Garda
A busy site with very good facilites that are well looked after. Pitches quite small and it is a noisy site during the day as the acqua park is next door. Wi fi 2 Euro for 5 hours.

Campeggio Priori
Malcesine, Lago di Garda
Fantastic camp site, one of our favourites. A small site, with small pitches and some new facilities. Right in the middle of the lovely town with shops and supermarket 5 minutes away.

Al Largo
Arsie, trentino Alto Adige
Plenty of shade on pitches and acceptable facilities, but limited hot water. Pleasant location by the lake.

Camping Rochetta
Cortina D'Amprezzo, Dolomites
Fantastic views and plenty of shade. Facilities very good, although only 3 amps on hook up. Approx 30 minutes pleasant walk into Cortina or there is a good bus service during the day time. Small shop on site and bread available.

Camping Presanella
Temu, Italian Alps
Lovely location in the mountains, some pitches with shade. Good facilities and lovely bar where wi fi is available at 5 Euro for 90 mins. only 3 amps.

Camping Village Citta di Milano
Facilities a bit dated, but adequate. A shady camp site with a pleasant bar.

Camping Solcio
Lago Maggiore
The site has a lake side situation and adequate facilities. It is flat and grassy with some shade.

Camping Gran Bosco
Salbertrand, Italian Alps
Lovely clean and warm facilities, but small pitches and can be cramped. Handy for those on route to France.

Campsites in France April 2009

Camping Municipal du Mail
Adequate for a one night stop.

Camping de la Croix d'Arles
Clean facilities and near to the lovely town of Langres

Le Colombier
Pleasant site with good shade and adequate facilities. Good cycling nearby

Des Princes d'Orange
Orpierre, south west of Gap
Free wi fi access, facilities a bit dingy, but adequate for an overnight. Lovely views from the site.

La Ribiere
Warm and clean facilities, slightly quirky, but good. Small site with supermarket and small town of Annot very near.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Bicycles and kettles advice

We certainly don't claim to know everything, but thought we would share things we have learnt. However, please remember, what works for us may not work for you.

Bicycle spares and tools
We don't have very much room in the van for carrying lots of stuff and bicycle tools was one of the things we rationalised down to the bare minimum. Having spent money on a poor quality bike repair because we had not bought the tools required, we ended up buying the tools and doing the repair ourselves; it would certainly have been cheaper if we had bought the tools with us and we will re-think what we take for future trips.

Kettle de-scaling
Living in the north of England this has never been much of a problem for us. However, the kettle has needed de-scaling regularly all over Europe. Generally it is difficult to get hold of the chemical de-scalers, as mainland Europeans don't use kettles very often, so in future we might bring this with us. Wine Vinegar is widely available and this works well too, boiled up with some water and left to soak, although the van will smell as if you are pickling onions!

Technical IT related stuff

Some technical tips

Wi fi on camp sites
Sometimes it is worth paying for 7 days wi fi when you are only staying on a site for 3 or 4 days, as this can work out better value. It is then worth hanging on to passwords etc until the 7 days are up, as the next site may use the same Internet Service Provider and you may be able to sign on to the internet without paying any extra.

Back up photographs / documents etc
We upload photographs on to the laptop from the camera and have a pen drive and an external hard drive for back up. The external hard drive is kept in the van, but the pen drive comes out with us. Whenever we get the chance we also upload photographs to Facebook and our blog. Hopefully this way we won't lose the photographs.

TV card
We bought a Hauppauge WinTV USB adapter to use with the laptop and a small, cheap analogue aerial from Maplins, which also picks up digital TV. This set up has allowed us to watch TV occasionally; we have mainly used it to watch Grand Prix races in different countries, with varied success and have occasionally picked up BBC World. This set up will not pick up British TV and at a new location scanning for stations can take 15 minutes.

Motorhome Facts
For a small annual fee you can get loads of useful advice from fellow Motorhomers on this marvellous website, well worth subscribing to and lots of fun.

Blog counter
We only thought about adding a counter to our blog after eight months away. A counter can be found, at no cost; google blog counter, hit counter or stat counter for any number of possibilities.

We used Google's Blogger for this blog and it seems to have worked well enough. You can choose the layout you wish and it is easy to use. This is a good way to keep those back home informed about your travels and works as a journal for the trip and an additional back-up for photographs. It can be a good idea for this to one person's responsibility, to ensure continuity in the style of the blog.

Our route

Double click on the map to see a larger version. The map shows a rough sketch of the route we followed.
To follow the red line of the route, we first drove south through France and in to Italy. More detail can be found in the list of camp sites and the blog posts.

How much did we spend?

We have monitored all our spending during the past 12 months to enable us to budget. We used a notebook for daily spending, transferring this in to an Excel spreadsheet each week under different headings.

Of course, our spending priorities will be different from anyone else. Also, the time of year we have visited a country affects the cost and the length of time you are away from home. However, taking these matters into account the amount we spent is a useful guide for others planning a trip. You may wish to take the following in to account:
  • We ate out about once a month, but visited a cafe most days, for coffee, maybe cakes, maybe lunch
  • We rented houses for four weeks of our trip - 1 week in Italy, 2.5 weeks in Spain and 0.5 weeks in Portugal
  • We replaced front and back tyres on the van while we were away and had to pay £100 for the damaged window on the van
  • We always use camp sites
  • We travelled approximately 13,000 miles over the 12 months

Our total spending for the trip was 21,650 Euro or £19,900; the rate of exchange over the year has varied from around 1.06 to 1.20, we've averaged this out to 1.1 Euros to the £.

This breaks down in to the following categories (all prices are in euros and some costs have been rounded up or down):
Campsites - Total spending 6,200 and average spending each week 124 Euro
Supermarket and food shopping - Total spending 4,900 and average spending each week 100 Euro
Diesel - Total spending 1,900 and average spending each week 36 Euro
Cafes, restaurants, icecreams - Total spending 3,350 and average spending each week 67 Euro
Maps, clothing and equipment (including tyres) - Total spending 2,400 and average spending each week 44 Euro
Entrance fees and cable cars - Total spending 1,050 and average spending each week 21 Euro
Public transport - Total spending 722 and average spending each week 15 Euro
Internet access - Total spending 820 and average spending each week 5 Euro
Laundry - Total spending 225 Euro
Tolls, vignettes and parking - Total spending 150 Euro
Stamps, telephone cards and postcards - Total spending 139 Euro
Miscellaneous - Total spending 880

There is some variety regarding how much we spent in each country we visited and we have carried out some analysis of this spending.

Average spending by country

Average weekly spending 421 Euro per week. Italy seemed to be cheap for supermarket and food spending, we averaged 88 Euro per week on this category while we were there.

Average weekly spending 458 Euro per week. We spent an average of 177 Euro per week on camp sites here - it was July. We spent nothing on wi-fi in Slovenia, it was either free or not available.

Average weekly spending 469 Euro per week. Coffee in cafes was expensive in Austria and we had to reduce our visits. However, we still spent an average of 66 Euro per week in this category while we were there. 78 Euro of our public transport spending was spent in the four weeks we were in Austria. Austria is a beautiful and wealthy country and the cost of living is high.

Average weekly spending 383 Euro per week. Campsite spending in France averaged 120 Euro per week. Supermarket and food spending was higher in France at an average of 105 Euro per week.

Average weekly spending 398 Euro per week. Our average spending on wi-fi in Spain was 8 Euro per week. Other costs in Spain were fairly average.

Average weekly spending 357 Euro per week; Portugal was the cheapest country for us. 28 Euro was spent on internet access during the 6 weeks we were in Portugal. Campsites were cheapest in Portugal at an average of 101 Euro per week. Supermarkets and food was more expensive in Portugal than you might expect, at an average of 103 Euro per week.

Housing and other costs
In addition, we had a flat in England we continued to run and there were costs associated with this, as well as insurance for the van and additional health insurance for ourselves.