All posts by chrismpix

The Market Town

Making our way slowly back to Calais across Northern France, we stopped in a small village called Boiry Notre Dame. The area around here is loaded with War cemetaries and references to both wars where the Germans absolutely hammered the place and often for no reason apart from to destroy the culture.

Fiona puts a poppy down at an unknown Soldiers grave on the way to Arras

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Hymer caravans coming in to the camp.

The camp we were staying at was on the edge of the village with a Maize growing area which went for miles on the other side. From there we could also see about 40 odd giant Wind Turbines grinding away and they were earning their keep as it was blowing. They had really bright LED lights at the centre and at night these change red and they all blinked at the same time. Quite a sight!

Our park out of town

In the morning, we caught a cab into Arras which was about 17 odd k’s (30 euros in the cab) and headed for the main square where there was a huge market on. Arras has three big squares all linked together and there are stalls everywhere you looked.

Lovely Crepe lunch

We sat down and enjoyed a Crepe lunch which the area is famous for in the main square. The square is dominated by an amazing old building which is the town hall, which has been rebuilt after the Germans dealt to it during the war.

The Town Hall

The main square is called Place de Heros which gives you an idea of where the locals stand with the history.

Fiona, Gary and Dianne getting into the shopping

After checking out more shoe and dress shops, we worked our way towards an old Cathedral around the back of the old square.

There are photographs and the story behind the cathedral is posted to the railings of the Cathedral which the Germans destroyed during the war. The Cathedral like many others has been rebuilt and looks fantastic.

At The Markets

We were going to check out the Wellington Tunnels but the people who run would only let us go in at a time that was too late for us so unfortunately we couldn’t do it. The Wellington Caves are a series of Tunnels dug by Kiwi Soldiers during the war under the town to surprise the Germans. Now part of the towns history and named after the soldiers who dug it out who came from Wellington, NZ.

Great atmosphere

We caught a cab back to the camp and sat outside for a while before tea.

A great day out in Provincial France.

The Village Bike Run

One of the things that we’d decided to do when we left Luxembourg was to find a spot we could stay in that gave us close access to some french villages.

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Ralph can be seen slightly behind the small tree in the middle

Dianne found a lovely community run campground in a little village area about 20 k’s west of Reims called Courmelois. There were two other villages close by within 10 minutes of biking and the fee at the camp was very reasonable. It was 20 euros for both of us with EHU (power or electric hook up) and nice showers, toilets and dumping facilities.

Harry and Ralph

It was all very relaxed and they basically gestured us to two power boxes and said we could park anywhere between them which gave us heaps of room. There were no sites marked out.

Pastries and Free Wifi. Dianne, Gary and Fiona.

We settled down on the first night and made loose plans to do the bike thing around the local villages.

The Village and the Campground. Canal along the bottom.

The next morning came around and it was time to get organised. I couldn’t find the key for the lock on the bikes. After an hour or so of stewing and turning the place upside down for the said key, we turned to plan B. I won’t say how we got the bikes down except to say it involved a toolbox and and the lock was useless afterwards but as Gary does, he had a spare ๐Ÿ™‚ We could use it to secure the bikes until we got back to the UK. Fantastic!!

Gary checking the map on his phone by the Pastry shop – Thuisy

We set off and within 10 minutes or so, we were in a lovely little village called Thuisy and there was one shop only there.. a Bread and pastry shop. Just what we were looking for so after a few minutes, we were off again to another village called Wez. As we came in to the village, we found a neat wee Pub on a corner and popped in for a cup of Coffee.

Gary, Dianne and Fiona outside a closed champagne place in Wez around the corner from the Pub.

They had a nice attached Restaurant so we decided to go for a ride and come back for lunch and it was amazing. We ended up staying here for several hours.

Gary giving Fiona encouragement to get up the hill!
Stopping at the canal to watch someone going through the lock

Leaving there, Gary found another village a little further away by the canal so we headed off down there but the village was deserted. Lots of lovely homes but no action at all and no sign of any people apart from the odd farmer. This was on a weekday too.

Gary following Fiona up the canal tow path

With it all being quiet, we decided to head back to the camp and had an early tea with the stuff we got from the pastry shop. Yum .. A nice day out biking in the fresh air dodging showers. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our route around the villages

On the Border

Right on the river border between Germany and Luxembourg is a fantastic MotorCamp in a town called Echternach.

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Gary and Dianne walking through 500 odd campsites to our site..

The camp is huge with more than 500 sites, most of them powered and quite a few are permanent. We managed to get two spots near the river and they were huge and included a couple of trees between us.

Ralph and Harry at Echternach

In the morning we walked over the bridge into Luxembourg and caught the bus into Luxembourg city with all day passes each for 4 euros.

The bus in the narrow back streets

Luxembourg has one of the highest earning ratio by GDP anywhere in the world but despite this, we didn’t find it that expensive.

Luxembourg City is like the Czech Republic where it didn’t suffer from bombing during the war like the rest of Europe so many of the old buildings are still in good shape.

Gary Dianne and Fiona walking through the shops..

After lunch in a quiet Cafe, we had a good look through the town. After running out of more shoe shops to look at :-), we walked down to have a look at the Notre Dame Cathedral. What an amazing building. You can feel the history.

Outside Notre Dame
Notre Dame

We headed back to Echternach on the bus and stopped off in a bar for a drink and then a walk through town. Again, more lovely old buildings and all of them in good shape.

In the Echternach Village

In the main square on the wall, there was a picture of the square taken in 1899. I did one of the same angle and there is very little change between the two.

Echternach in 1899 (Before)
Echternach now (After)

We had a great day and enjoyed checking out Luxembourg. Nice people who mostly speak English so its easy everywhere and plenty of interesting stuff to see.

Overlooked by History

This is probably the best campsite that we’ve stayed at the whole time we’ve been away for both position and facilities. It was however probably the most expensive camp but as Fiona would say โ€œHey ho!โ€.

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Ralph and Harry

There were probably over 200 sites and it is on the side of the river at Koblenz, overlooked from the other side on the hill by an old castle. You can reach the castle by Gondola’s which run most of the day and are reasonably priced with access to the castle for only 12 Euros.

Harry holding up the washing

We weren’t sure about whether we would get in to the campsite and when Gary rang the night before, we opted for the โ€œcomfort sitesโ€ rather than standard which would have added to the price but the sites were great as well as huge ๐Ÿ™‚

On the ferry about to head to Koblenz in the background

On our first morning, we set off to the edge of the camp where a small ferry would take us over to the Old Town and from there we could catch the Gondola up to the Castle. The Castle dates back to Roman times and with its attached fort has seen battles all the way through to WW2.

From the Gondola looking down on Koblenz

After an hour or so of having a good look around and checking out the view, we had lunch up there and made our way back down to the Old Town. The views from up there are stunning.

A Panorama from the Castle

Walking through the Old Town was really interesting although much of it has been rebuilt after being bombed during the war. It is still a very charming and interesting town with lots of history.

Koblenz square

After an Ice cream in the square, we made our way back to the ferry and to the camp.

William the 1st Monument in Koblenz

We were sitting down outside Ralph having a cold drink when some new neighbours arrived. They were Danish and really nice people. After they’d spent 15 minutes or so discussing where they would pitch their huge tent, they started spreading it out and standing it up with what seemed to be hundreds of pegs. It was a thing of beauty and well set up.

About an hour went by when we noticed that they had set it up about 2 metres into the next park which was only quite small but given the sterling effort that had been made,ย  no one wanted to break the bad news to them.

About another ยฝ hour went by and the Danish Chap came around our side and started pulling the hundred or so pegs out saying that they’d sat down for a beer and realised what they’d done.
After they’d pulled all the pegs out, we worked out a way if we gave them a hand, where all of us could drag it a meter or so along the ground without them completely starting from scratch so they were pretty happy at that.

A zoom in piccie of the campground from the castle

A fantastic park in a great position in a lovely town. Although pricey but well worth doing for its position and a nice setup.

Coffee by the Castle

Kitzingen is about 350 k’s from Prague and after stopping just inside the Czech Republic border to spend our last crowns on Diesel and lunch, we cruised on into Germany.

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Us before the rush

We arrived in Kitzingen about 2pm in the afternoon at a great Stellplatz by the river which was 9 Euros a night plus power at .5EU by kwh. It took two 50c coins to get through the night with just a fridge going and a couple of phones and a laptop charging.. pretty cheap. This works out about NZ$15 a night all up withย  free toilets and dumping and it was a stones throw from the centre of a charming village with more of those lovely old buildings.

Gary looking relaxed with Harry and Ralph

We settled down and made a start on a 5 litre bottle of Estrella Wine which I’d bought for about NZ$9 in a Tesco store in Prague. I was assured from another shopper that it was ok to drink but we were a still bit worried about it. It was actually quite nice when you think what it cost ๐Ÿ™‚

Fiona walking across the bridge on the right. Lovely old buildings

The next morning, Fiona was off early over the bridge to the baker to get some buns for us all for breakfast then we all went back for a look and a cup of coffee in the square.

Later in the day, the motorhomes started filling up the Stellplatz and parked where ever they could. The place was chocker.

Busy town

A park right by the river with barges to watch go by, close to town and nice and cheap.

Spend up for the Russians

Approximately 120k’s West of Prague is the resort town of Karlovy Vary. It’s airport used to be an international airport as the party privileged in communist times used to fly in for their spend up in the shops and for its spa treatment.

Also famous here is the Grand Hotel Pupp which is the Casino Royale Hotel in the James Bond Film.

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Looking down the river at the shops

It is famous for its spa and there is an underground thermal aquifer where people have come to fix all sorts of ailments. There are various wells with thermal water at different temperatures and different minerals do different things!

The Grand Hotel Putt is THE Hotel in this great wee town.

Like the rest of the Czech Republic, the buildings are just stunning.

The view of the town from the Grand Hotel

Its is an important tourist area for the country and everywhere seemed pretty busy but unlike Prague, you could still easily move about.

Fiona on a bridge by the spa.

It seemed every second shop was a Jewellery or a Dress or Shoe shop so Fiona and Dianne were having a great time.

We eventually found our way to a nice street cafe by the river where we had a chilled water to cool down from all the window shopping ๐Ÿ™‚

The Spa

The Hotels there are something else and I can only imagine what it would cost to stay in them.

The shopping street.

A lovely town and another place where without the local knowledge from Dianne and Gary, we would never have known about.

And a map so you can see where this is.

One the Czech Republics Hidden Gems

We got a rental while we were in Prague so we could leave the motorhomes at the campsite and have a look around. One of the planned outings if you like, was to Cesky Kumlov which is 150k’s southwest of Prague.

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One of the Squares. Gary, Fiona and Dianne on the right

It is now a UNESCO protected World Heritage site.

A weary traveller having a rest.. Gary in the blue on the right

We set off about 9am and after a stop or two along the way, we arrived at Cesky Kumlov. The town was established in the 1400’s and was then German. Most of the buildings in the town were built in the 1500’s due to a discovery of Gold by the castle.

The town is built on what is almost an island by the course of the fast flowing river that almost completely surrounds it. The castle was closed on the day we were there as it was Monday. I’m not quite sure how that works but never mind.

The Castle above the town

There were a few bus load of tourists there but nothing like other places we’ve been to. We had a great meal in a restaurant by the river and walked around the village.

A stunning wee town and if it wasn’t for the local knowledge of Gary and Dianne, we would never have known about it.ย  A great day out. Thanks guys.