Category Archives: Europe 2017

Ralph and Harry Hymers

Ralph the Renter is from Milton Keynes in the UK. He’s a 1992 Hymer with a 2.9 litre, non turbo, 5 cylinder Mercedes Diesel with Auto Transmission with not too many gears ๐Ÿ™‚ He’s not a speedster but can quite easily do 90 k’s without too much stress and with the fills of diesel, seems comparitely competitive with Harry in terms of fuel economy.

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A happy wee Ralph

He’s got a drop down bed and you can drop the table and make up a double there too. We prefer to use the drop down bed as you simply flick it up out of the way fully made up and its quite comfy.

There is a loo and a shower at the back and the Galley is across the back with the habitation door on the opposite side. Ralph also has air conditioning too which has been great and we’ve pressed that into service a few times.

The View

Hot Water, Truma heating a 3 way fridge (under bench model) and it all seems to work.

Our little spot in Germany

 

Harry is a 2004 B654 Hymer. It was owned by friends of Gary and Diannes in the UK who had it from new. Gary and Dianne bought about 5 years ago and now store it just out of London. It has a 2.9 litre Turbo diesel and gets along quite nicely.

Harry all set up

It comes fully equipped including Air conditioning and Gary being Gary, has everything you could imagine hiding in its huge garage ๐Ÿ˜‰

They’ve had lots of fun in him and with this tour with us, has been hugely helpful for us being European Bunnies and them leading the charge ๐Ÿ™‚

The City of Bikes

And it is Amsterdam. Dianne found a great camping ground just on the edge of town surrounded by Canals. The campground sold 3 day tickets where you could swipe on or off the tram as much as you liked. This worked really well.

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Ralph and Harry in Amsterdam

The first night we went in to have a bit of look around and ended up having tea in the town and checking out the red light area.

Fiona, Gary and Dianne trying to find somewhere to eat

Day two we got up early and headed in so Fiona could check out the Art in Rijksmuseum.

On the way there was a car accident on one of the bridges so that was as far as the Tram could go. One of the downsides of Trams of course is they can’t go  around the obstruction so we walked the rest of the way.

We stopped at a pub on the first night by the Cathedral for a beer
One of the larger canals where the accident was.

While Fiona was at the Art Museum, Gary, Dianne and I got on a Hop on Hop off round and Round open roof ferry. For 19 Euros, we could go right around the city by Canal with an audio commentary which was fantastic. Not great for taking piccies as you could only shoot out of the sides.

During the Hop on Hop off trip

One of comments which came across was that the canals are 3 metres deep. One metre of Water, One Metre of Mud and another Metre of bicycles ๐Ÿ™‚

Madame Tussauds in the Dam square

On our third day there, Fiona and Dianne were keen to check out a Diamond Factory. I didn’t think I’d like it but I found it quite interesting. It was quite tourist tatty and the free coffee was awful but great to see.

Fiona with a big sample Diamond

One of the curious things I found with Amsterdam is Bikes have right of way over EVERYTHING!

One of the oldest foot bridges over a canal

The Bike lanes are everywhere and they go like the clappers and they simply ring the bell if you get in their  way. It is quite intimidating. Also in the bike lanes are scooters and small cars and they go even faster. Often there is only a few inches between the edge of the footpath and a scooter doing 30-40kph! .. Its not uncommon to see people speeding along on bikes on their cell phone with a child strapped on somewhere.

Bikes rule !

So much history.. most of the buildings are centuries old and some have a lean either forward or sideways ๐Ÿ™‚

Next to the campground.

Amsterdam is a really interesting city. Next were moving on to Germany.

Clogs and Windmills

In Arnhem, we met a friendly Dutch Motorhomer who told us about this wonderful little village called Zaanse Schans and that we must pop in for a nosey. So thats exactly what we did and it was stunning.

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Old Buildings on the other side of the river
From the Bridge

Original old buildings and Windmills all restored and many open to the public. It is very touristy but done very well.

Charming houses

We looked for the Motorhome parking but couldn’t find it so parked a few blocks away at a railway station parking area but it was an easy walk to and fro.

Many of the houses were set up as museums and all offered something different. We had a nice Latte and one house, and then a Waffle at another and checked out the inner workings of a windmill.

Fiona and Dianne share a pair of Clogs !

There was a great Clog making display with all the machinery and you could buy almost anything with a windmill or clogs on it ๐Ÿ™‚

Zaanse Schans

We spent about 3 hours here and then headed about 20 minutes south for Amsterdam.

Culture and Canals

Just north of Amsterdam is a charming little coastal City of Alkmaar. The central part of the town is basically on an island ringed by canals.

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Ralph and Harry. Gary getting his bike ready

We stopped at Alkmaar Camping which is just on the edge of town but an easy 20 minutes into town by bike. It is supposed to take 10 but as usual, we got lost but we got there in the end ๐Ÿ™‚

The Campground is well set up but for what it is, I thought it was a tad on the expensive side at 32 Euros a night for two but its very easy to get into town and a nice relaxing spot to stop.

Fiona on a mission

After we arrived from Arnhem, we got the bikes ready and headed off into town. As I said earlier, yep, we managed to get lost on the way but quickly found our way into town. We locked our bikes together at the big church in the middle of town and then headed off down the narrow streets. Its a charming place and being a Sunday afternoon market day, the place was chocker. It was alive and kicking!

The main “shoe shop” street with the Church at the other end.

About about an hour or so, after the girls had checked out nearly every shoes and clothes shop down the main street, we made it to the canal down the other end. It was just a great sight. Everything you see in the tourist brochures and some.

The Canal by the coffee shop

People enjoying a cuppa in outdoor cafes by the canal, people in boats and it seemed to be all about people watching and shopping, drinking and eating! Way to go:-)

People getting together

We eventually ran out of shoes shops and started heading back to the bikes and made our way back to the camp, nearly getting lost a second time !

Apparently there is a beach on the North Sea only 15 minutes bike ride from here but we’re heading towards Amsterdam next.

Airborne at Arnhem

We arrived in Arnhem mid afternoon after 2 easy hours driving on Motorways from Brugge. You don’t even know you are crossing the border. Its amazing.

Harry and ralph at the Arnhem campground

In Europe, it pays to book ahead with the campgrounds but we took pot luck and there was plenty of room. Great campground with all the facilities and reasonably priced I thought at 26 Euros for two per night.

Outside the campground figuring out the buses.

The next day, the weather was miserable and it was drizzly and threatening to rain so we caught a bus into Arnhem Centrum and then another virtually straight away out to Oosterbeek where the Airborne Museum is for the Battle of Arnhem.

An Allied tank outside the Museum

This was one of the battles the Allies lost in the final push towards Germany towards the end of the war.

Its a great tribute to the Allies involved and there is lots of memorabilia there. Its a must do if you’re in the area.

Shopping at Arnhem

One the way back, between buses, we checked out the town and then headed back to the vans at the camp. A really interesting city and one worth checking out.

Getting Lost in Belgium

We had sorted out a spot to stay in Brugge and entered it into both GPS units and we were on a mission with Gary leading the way in Harry.

Where are we. Fiona, Dianne and Gary looking for clues

Brugge is going through a huge road rebuilding and new motorway system and what we hadn’t counted on was that both GPS units were totally confused. It all adds to the fun!

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The Brugge canal

After going round and round and eventually ending up opn a dirt road on a farm in Holland an hour or two later, we headed back to Brugge and found a campground and its fantastic. All the mod cons and it was 27 euro’s a night for 2. Pretty good really.

Fiona and Dianne at the Market

Our first day in Brugge was fun. We got on a bus outside the campground and headed into the centre of the city. About 20 minutes later, Google maps suggested we’d been through the middle and were heading out the other side ๐Ÿ™‚ .. Time to get off and we found another bus to take us to Town where we stopped in to have a cup of coffee. The Markets were on in the Market Square and it was huge. Some amazing food and the cheeses and Nougat cakes were something else too.

Brugge is amazing. The buildings are sensational and they’re all very friendly here too, even the bus drivers. We walked around the town looking at the shops and eventually ended up in a Gourmet Burger Restaurant which was fantastic. I’m not a big Beer drinker but the Stella on tap was great. I even had a second one ๐Ÿ™‚

We spent the day looking in shops. Fiona bought some shoes, some trousers, a top and a scarf and I bought some shoes and a shirt.

Visitors enjoying the Canal

After a full day in the city, we headed back to the camp on the bus and chilled.

Fiona in a Chocolate Shop

Brugge is a neat city and although their Motorway system is currently โ€œNon GPS Compliantโ€ it is still pretty easy to get around with a great transport system.

Ralph in his corner
Dianne, Gary and Fiona with Harry opposite

The end of the day came and we caught  a bus back to our campground and had a laugh or two over a glass of wine.

The Chunnel Crossing

After checking out the new Niesmann and Bichoff at Telford, we all piled into Gary and Diannes, Harry the Hymer and headed to Milton Keynes through the traffic to collect Ralph the rental Hymer. We arrived just before 5pm and Peter the proprietor, gave me a run down on Ralph. Where the hoses were, the camp chairs etc and how everything worked.

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Ralph is a real hard case machine. Its a 1992 Hymer with a 5 cylinder 2.9 litre Mercedes with automatic trans. It starts first pop everytime despite its 250000 miles on the clock. Its a fun wagon.

The Hymers in the carpark at Bearsted

We stopped at a Caravan park in Bearsted after battling the M1 traffic for a couple of hours and we arrived 3 minutes late at 8.03pm. The sign said no admittance after 8pm so we spent the night out in the carpark but still had to pay what I thought were extortionate fees of 34GPB (NZ$70!) without power and not much else. What a welcome .. Dianne rang and we were basically told โ€œRules are Rules !โ€ .. not a nice welcome…no wonder the other Caravan Association calls themselves “the friendly group”.

We were close to the Channel Tunnel for the next morning and that was all that mattered.

We were away at 8:30 to get on the Chunnel Train. We arrived quite early and clocked in through both borders and parked our car in the C lane and went to get a cup of tea and look at the duty free stuff.

Fiona and Dianne with the Hymers waiting to board the train.

Gary and I stumbled on this amazing deal for internet for roaming all over Europe with a prepaid card from 3.  All the Truckies use it apparently but its great.

After an hour of cups of coffee we were asked to line up Harry and Ralph Hymers and get ready for the train. Its was amazing how quiet and how easy it was.. very streamlined. Dianne even got a wink from the French immigration man with his โ€œlovely accentโ€!

Dianne and Fiona at the Duty free terminal waiting for the boarding signal.

About 10 minutes early, we were asked to move the Hymers onto the train.

Our view of Harry on the crossing

We drove up over a small bridge and then straight down a ramp and the sideways onto the train. You drive through the carriages until you get as far forward as you can then they chock your wheels.

20 minutes later with what was a very easy smooth ride and we were in France. It only took about 10 minutes and we were cruising up the carriageway to Belgium.

The Chunnel station in France with Harry on the ramp

Fantastic service and so easy.

Nibi

Nibi is our good Motorhome friends newest thing of beauty. It is amazing. These are considered to be like the Rolls Royce of Motorhomes in Europe and one look over it, its easy to see why.

Gary and Dianne with the beast behind

We were meeting Dianne and Gary in Telford to check it out before it gets shipped to NZ and we were running late. I texted Gary with an update saying we’d just dropped off the rental car and on our way in a cab to see them. The reply was.. โ€œI’m in RV Heavenโ€ .. I could picture him drooling over it but its neat that both Dianne and Gary are pleased with it as its been a long time coming.

A happy Dianne in the living area while Fiona inspects ๐Ÿ™‚

It has a centre island bed with a centre Shower/Toilet bathroom arrangement and the living area in the front. Based on a Fiat Ducato, it is 8.8 metres long and has a custom Alko Chassis from front to back to give it car like handling. Gary also got the Air suspension option so it can self level and be raised to avoid damage on rough campsites.

We’re continuing on around Europe with them until early August and it will be back in NZ before they will so what a great homecoming present..

Gary in the garage

Nice one guys. I want one of these too ๐Ÿ™‚

Shakespeare Country

While had the rental car we found that we weren’t really that far from Stratford on Avon so we’d do a trip up there for a look around.

Shops at Moreton on Marsh

On the way we stopped at a neat wee town called Moreton on Marsh and also had a walk around there.

Moreton  on marsh Hotel

We noticed one of the pubs there was doing specials around the Sky showing of the Lions V the All Blacks so we asked if we could watch the Americas Cup as a back up plan and they were very welcoming. We managed to get our Sky Go app and internet issues sorted so it wasn’t necessary but very kind of them.

Stratford on Avon was an amazing town. It was chocker with people having fun everywhere and again some more of those lovely old buildings. These looked even older but more Thatched roofs and from basic building practices.

The Canal was busy with a couple of Narrow boats set up as Ice cream shops doing a great trade. There were canal boats parked on the river and moving in all directions along with tour boats and a larger restaurant barge left while we were there.

We had a good wander up through the shopping streets to look at some of the old buildings.

The Oldest House

There is one house there that is said to the oldest house still lived in. Part of it has been turned into a museum. It is just great seeing all these towns and they’re all different.

The Oldest Pub in England

With the Covid Germ still out there still and it stifling our travel plans, I thought it would be a good time to revisit our month inย  Europe in aย  Motorhomeย  following friends Gary and Dianne a few years ago…ย  about 15 odd posts!

Enjoy

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We arrived in Stow on the Wold early in the afternoon. I kept forgetting what it was called and reverting to Toad on the Hill but eventually I got there ๐Ÿ™‚

Tetbury Market Square

On the way there from bath, we stopped in a town called Tetbury which has an original old Market Square building which is still used for markets. I’ve seen pictures of it in touristy brochures so was really keen to have a good look at it. We sat over the road from it and enjoyed a nice lunch there.

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The Town square in Stow on the Wold
Fiona in the Square at Stow on the Wold

We later arrived in Stow on the Wold and what a neat wee town. We parked in the Market Square and pretty quickly identified what looked like a nice place on the edge of the Square. Amazing food and very reasonably priced and plenty of it. I had a Pork Pie and Fiona had a Tuna Sandwich with chips. We both ended up eating the other halves of this for tea ๐Ÿ™‚

After an hour or so, we walked down to our Hotel called the Porch Hotel. Outside there was no parking but we found out that they 4 parks around the back and it was pot luck as to whether you got one and there was an empty park. I ran up to the square, grabbed the car and we were in.

Later in the day, we had a good look around the rest of the square and then settled in to our room at the Hotel. Just amazing. This Hotel was originally built in 947AD and is reputed to be the Oldest Pub in England and it looks it. The ceilings are all old beams, some lashed together and there is even some witches marks on the side of one of the huge fireplaces in the Dining Room.

The fireplace with the witches marks on the left

The Americas Cup was on and we managed to get one of our ipads to clock in to watch it live.

The main square

Lovely Hotel, very helpful people running it and the village was stunning.. again lots of lovely old buildings.