Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Twenty-Third Week

Monday 8-8-16 and Tuesday 9-8-16

This morning we had to drop the van off at the Fiat dealer which meant us getting up at half “bloody” six. Liz followed me in the car we'd hired. A vintage VW Golf with 250,000 km on the clock.

After leaving Brian the van in the capable hands of Valentino the mechanic we drove to the south side of Lake Balaton and got a ferry to Tihany on the North side. A little further on in the town of Balaton Fured we abandoned the car, ignoring the parking meters, and had a wander about. It was a very tidy place and a lot of money had been spent doing it up. It felt like money lived here and the presence of a marina with nice yachts moored up confirmed this.

I bought myself a hat and Liz paid to use the public loo's. We'd given the town enough of our cash so drove on around the lake. At lunch we found a German cafe where we shared a plate of Gyros and chips.

Then back on the road and by four we were back at the garage. They'd changed the radiator and replaced a turbo hose but the wheel bearing would have to be done tomorrow. So our back-up plan sprung into action. Tranquil Pines camping also had an en-suite B&B room. We declined the breakfast and paid for a bed for the night. That evening we treated Andrew and Sharon, the site owners, to a meal at a restaurant they recommended. It was run by a Swiss woman and served great steaks and great beer.

On Tuesday we hurtled south in the mighty Golf to a town called Pecs. Just outside the town was a TV tower that had a viewing deck at the top.

At the top we got a good view of the town and supposedly on a clear day you could see as far as Serbia. What it did show was how flat the country is south of there. I needed hills.

In Pecs we parked up and explored. We found fine old buildings, monuments, pedestrianised areas and street cafes. Altogether a very nice place. We dined out for the third time on the trot and had great pizzas while sat outside a restaurant called The Elephant.

After doing the touristy thing in Pecs we headed back to see how the van was doing. And it was done. For 528 quid we had a new radiator, radiator mounts, turbo hose, track rod end and wheel bearing. Driving back to the camping was like driving a new van.

Tranquil Pines Camping, Hungary. N46.59027 E018.10344

Wednesday 10-8-16

We said goodbye to Andrew and Sharon and headed for Slovenia. After crawling around the Lake in seriously slow traffic we eventually hit open road and by lunch were at the Hungarian – Slovenian border. If we'd of blinked we'd of missed it, just a sign, no guards or passport checks like the last three borders we'd crossed. Slovenia struck me as nice, very Germanic in the tidiness and building styles. We needed to recoup some of the expenses of the last six days, campsite fees, B&B costs, car hire, eating out and van repairs. So our 2013 edition of the Camperstop Europe book was dug out, the first time since Italy in March. It showed a few places in Slovenia and we picked one on our route north to Austria. As ever a couple of kilometres down a gravel path led us to it. It was a grassy field next to some fishing ponds and a pretty restaurant. The fine mustachioed owner of the restaurant confirmed it was free to stop and so we were sorted for the night.

We then decided to eat at the restaurant, which wasn't really part of the money saving plan. It was good food and they served good Slovenian beer called Union Pevo.

After the meal we took our drinks outside and sat chatting with the owner, who spoke good English. The motorhome stopover was his idea and he said it brought him trade during the week when he wasn't as busy with weekend fisherman at the ponds. He ran the bar and served the food and his wife did all the cooking, the salad and veggies came out of his garden. There was what I thought was a wood fired pizza oven outside but he said they used it to slow cook “small piggies and baby cows” I took this to mean suckling pig and veal.

Camperstop Grostilna Tmek, Slovenia. N46.55516 E016.21929

Thursday 11-8-16

There was mist on the fishing ponds when we woke up and a few workmen having an early coffee in the restaurant.

There were very few camperstops in Slovenia so instead of heading west through the country we headed north to Austria. We got to the border in an hour and found Austrian soldiers there. They searched inside the van and checked our passports. Perhaps worries about illegal immigrants had instigated this as we didn't expect anything at this border. Again we'd looked in the big book of camperstops and found three likely places all within 100km of our Slovenian fishing ponds. After a bit of shopping we realised that our days of cheap food were over, but it was nice to be using Euros again. We found the first of our stops and decided that it was good enough for us. A grassy area the local town had provided for motorhomes to stop at, and it was free.

The town was close and we nosied about looking at the immaculate houses, gardens and the tidy shops. It was the Austria I remembered from previous trips in our old VW camper.

Stelplatz at Schwanberg, Austria. N46.76342 E015.20632

Friday 12-8-16

We woke to sun and 20 degrees but the temp had dropped to 10 degrees in the night, we were glad we'd pulled the big duvet out of storage. Our next destination was a waterfall 100km west and the road ran along the Slovenian border. At one junction I took the wrong exit off a traffic island and next thing we knew we were back in Slovenia. Taking advantage of the mistake we found a supermarket and bought a slab of Union Pevo at 89 cents a can and 300 cigarettes, again cheaper than Austria.

A bit further on, the road entered Austria and we climbed through alpine meadows to a parking at the bottom of a trail to the waterfall. Boots got put on and we climbed up the very steep path to the falls. At the falls I did the thing where you take a photo of them so they look they're falling on your wife's head, then you wonder what else to do and then you decide going back down is the only option. I'm not very good at being a tourist.

Back down at the bottom of the hill a far more satisfying thing was on offer, Goulash soup in a cafe. Splendid stuff for lunch after a bit of a ramble.

The cafe allowed campervans to stop in the parking overnight and as it was quiet and they had a public loo where we could dump the contents of the bog cassette. We struck camp in a corner.

Stelplatz Wildenstien, Austria.  N46.53908 E014.50938

Saturday 13-8-16

It was quiet overnight and when I got up at seven there was one early bird marching up the hill to the waterfall. I made use of the immaculately kept toilets before wrenching Liz out of bed, the big duvet slips her into a coma every night. 

We hit the road and headed for the Alps. We'd sorted out a spot at a privately owned motorhome parking with four places that seemed more like a campsite. On the way we had quick visit to an Austrian Aldi, but they're called Hofer here. It probably had the best views out of the front windows of any Aldi in Europe.

By lunch we reached the camper parking. Yet again we found a Dutch couple running it. They showed us where to park, where to plug in for mains hook up and where the toilet and shower was. There was a washing machine and iron we could use. We got given a wifi code and I asked the price, expecting it to be at least 20 euro a night. It was 10 euro for everything.

We had lunch and then went back to the owner and asked for two nights. It seemed a shame to just spend one night here with views like this from the van.

So, thee countries this week. We're loving Austria and are in no rush to leave just yet. I've got a fridge full of beer and Liz is cooking me a potato and cheese omelette tonight. Happy days in Van Brian.

Stelplatz Gabby & Hank Struik, Obervellach, Austria.  N46.91941 E013.23507

Below are the numbers so far for 158 days away.

Cheers, the Van Brian Crew.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please comment if you want more info or would just like to say hello...