Tag Archives: Small Towns

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 🙂

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.  A great day out. Thanks guys.

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 🙂

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.

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 in  Europe in a  Motorhome  following friends Gary and Dianne a few years ago…  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 🙂

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 🙂

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.

Little Downham

One of the main reasons we came up to Ely is that my English family were all originally from Little Downham which is about 10k’s out of Ely.

The main street of little Downham

Little Downham is a small farming village basically all centred around one main street.

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The church at the end of the road

At one end is the church which is like what you see on the TV shows and at the other end of the street is a pub called The Plough. Word has it that every generation in my family has had a drink in this Pub. It was shut when we were there so my turn will have to wait for another time.

The Church

One of my cousins Jan and her husband Bryan who are motorhomers too, organised the family to meet at another local pub called the Anchor. For Fiona and I, it was the first time that we’ve met most of them but I had known about many of them.

Outside the Anchor looking down the main street of Little Downham

Jan is a niece of my grandfather Bert and there were 11 brothers and sisters in the Miller family ! .. lots of cousins.

The whole family around the table

My grandfather Bert was a real hard case and was in the battle of the Somme during the first world war. He was a Tankie in one of the old diamond shape tanks in this battle and was one of the few to survive. He was listed as missing in action as they couldn’t find him!

Word has it that when he arrived back in Little Downham the town was deserted. He saw someone he knew and asked where everyone was. “Oh they’re all down at the church at your funeral Bert!”
So off he went down the road. His mother was so pleased to see him that she scraped the dirt of his great coat and put in a tin. This has been handed down through the family and is now in the safe hands of my son Alex with all the other family military memorabilia. The dirt is said to be from the Somme but is could easily be from a puddle anywhere 🙂 Good story anyway!!

Back to the reunion.. we had a great lunch .. it was neat meeting all those from my Grandfathers family. They’re a fun lot and we’re looking forward to doing another trip here to see them again.

Linda, Jan’s younger sister who lives in Ely very kindly gave us a ride back to the Lamb Hotel in Ely where were staying.

I just love these English towns with the history and the amazing buildings.

The man at the Ministers Tavern

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 in  Europe in a  Motorhome  following friends Gary and Dianne a few years ago…  about 15 odd posts!

Enjoy

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We were early to check in to the Lamb Hotel so we went for a wander around Ely...After checking out the Cathedral which is massive, we headed down the main street towards a market.

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Inside the cathedral

The buildings are amazing and the streetscapes just sensational. Everywhere you looked, there was a piccy.

The cathedral at Ely

We ended up in a pub called the Ministers Tavern right opposite from the cathedral and the Lamb Hotel along the road a bit. The barman was wearing a Lions rugby jersey and when I asked for a Chardy, he described it as cheap aussie stuff so I was really pleased to be able to tell him we were Kiwis but I’m sure he knew anyway.

Our friendly barman with the Lions jersey.

He was more interested in telling us that the Lions beat the Maoris with a huge smile on his face.
We talked briefly about the Lions tour and he was a real rugby follower. Nice guy too. He was pleased when I told him that the cheap Aussie Chardy was actually quite nice! It was the only Chardy he had! We checked in at a wine shop around the corner and they seemed to be light on the Chardonnay offerings too.

It was too hot for wandering around much more so we went back to the Hotel for a blob.

Trains past Baker Street

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 in  Europe in a  Motorhome  following friends Gary and Dianne a few years ago…  about 15 odd posts!

Enjoy

————————————————————————————–

The night we’ve been packing for finally rolled around and we were off to the airport for our almost midnight flight to Singapore from Auckland. We’d dropped the car off with daughter in law, Sarah earlier in the day and caught a shuttle to the airport.

What we didn’t know was that both of our sons, Drew, his girlfriend Jenna and Alex were on the same flight up from Wellington. We could have driven our car to the airport and they could have driven it home.. never mind. The shuttle was booked and paid for and it was too hard to undo.

At Singapore with our A380 about to take us to London

We left Auckland at 11:55 and about 2am, we both finally got some sleep. I find it really hard to sleep on a plane and dozy bouts is as good as it gets. I end up tired and grumpy at the other end and after a decent sleep, I’m right again:-)

Arriving at Changi at 6:30 odd, we had two hours before the next flight left at 9am. .. 13 hours !!

Both flights was pretty good though. I was watching the flight track and it was interesting to see that we flew over India and then up through Tajikistan and across to Moscow, out to the Baltic sea past Vilnius and then down to the English channel to Heathrow. .. well clear of the trouble spots!

The terminal transfer Train

Arriving at Heathrow was a doddle and what a massive airport. 5 Terminals all connected by trains in tunnels and you walk for miles between things.

Just to get our luggage was a hike through several buildings. I was expecting to get our bag and then go through Immigration. Not here.. you get in a queue, yep, they love their queues and once through Immigration, you get your bag. There wasn’t any customs that I could see.. we simply walked out, amazing. The immigration guy was a great guy and was more interested in having a chat about some of the strange photos he’d seen of people coming through than holding up a big queue 🙂 .. nice guy.

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We were both knackered and made our way straight to the airport Hilton (terminal 4) where we were booked for the night and crashed.

At Paddington with the amazing roof

The next morning, we were up early and caught a train to Terminal 3 where we caught an Express train into Paddington station.

People going for it at Paddington

Paddington is amazing with one of the big wired WW2 looking hanger structures over the whole platform area. Just like you see in all the old movies. Great for piccies so I took a few here. It was busy too with people everywhere.

We caught another train from here to Kings Cross and then changed again to catch our prepaid train to Ely. Kings Cross station is very like Paddington with the huge Hanger like look .. amazing.

A visitor from Hawkes Bay checking out the Baker street sign

On the way to Cambridge was the Baker Street stop. My immediate thought was  Sherlock. When we stopped, the double entrance doors perfectly lined up for the Baker Street signs and while I took a piccy a young girl wandered into the shot to photograph it herself.. all this without getting out of my seat ! My lucky day.

After lunch, we rocked into Ely.  A few trains, cabs and stuff but we’re here and its fantastic.

Breaking the cabin fever – Coromandel

We’ve had a month or so of being housebound mostly due to Rafe’s Bumper project and also a full annual service. Getting it back meant we could escape !

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Rafe in the park with newly painted bumper!

Coromandel is somewhere we both thought would be great for a few days before Fiona had to return to work. We only had 4 days so we figured somewhere not too far and where we haven’t been for a while!

NZMCA park

The Thames Coromandel District Council are making some great improvements on the coast rd from Thames. Every time I come up here its different. This time they’ve widened the road north of Waiomu.. there are still plenty of narrow bits but I saw they’re dealing with some of those too.

Star and Garter pub

We arrived in Coromandel early in the afternoon on a Sunday so many of the shops were shut. The important ones like the bars and one of our favorite ones, the Star and Garter was open and they had a special on Gourmet pizza’s $10.. that was us for a late lunch!

After a walk around the town, we returned back to Rafe in the NZMCA park.

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You never get sick of Coromandel, the charm of the shops, even though most were shut as it was a Sunday, there were people wandering around and all of them very friendly. It has a great atmosphere with all the old buildings and everyone seems happy to have a bit of a natter.

We called in to an Metal Art shop which backed on to the NZMCA park and bought an amazing sculpture of leaves made using recycled parts of copper hot water cylinders. Clever use of old materials.

Where i was introduced to my first Husband Waiting chair 🙂

Later, it time to go down to get Fish and Chips for tea and we headed back to Rafe for the night.

A great Day in Coromandel town,  it never disappoints !

Rafe’s Tracker map to the NZMCA park – Armada GPS

Historic Greytown

Another one of those towns that we keep coming back to. The food and shopping is good, the real estate prices like everywhere else have skyrocketed but it is still a lovely little town.

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The Sun is out

We checked in at the local campground as we’ve stayed there a few times before and the manager Ken can’t do enough for you. It is also a Winter Campsaver site so that makes it very cost effective in the off season. Nice showers and toilets and nice flat sites with big high hedges to protect against the famous Wairarapa winds. There is also a swimming pool next door run by the council which you can use in the hot months.

Ken was very welcoming and basically is was park wherever you like. We settled Rafe and plugged in and went for a walk into town and started at the french Café for a coffee before moving on to the pub.

That night when we got back, we met our new neighbours Michelle and Patrick from Wanganui and other neighbours Karen and Ian who have recently sold their award winning Olive Grove. Juno Olives. Really nice people who we spent a lot of time with over the next few days.

Play Area

The next day, we took Rafe to Martinborough to have lunch at one of our favourite Vineyards, Margrains. The Chardonnay is fantastic as is the food.

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We started in the main square at a Café in the corner and from there walked around the square to check out the shops. Fiona took a shine to a dress shop there and ended up buying a nice black dress and a wooden necklace to go with it which looks good. We then moved on to Margrains and the slow cooked Pork Belly they do has never tasted better. Nice to wash it down with a great Chardy!

The Pub in town

We headed back to the Greytown Campground to catch up with our neighbours.

On our last day in Greytown we were going to bike up a trail 10 k’s or so to a historic railway station just out of town but we got to the other end of Greytown and it started to pour with rain so a change to plan B. ..

We spent the rest of the day walking through the shops and later had a fantastic communal meal in Michelle and Patrick’s awning with our neat neighbours.

Our Farewell dinner
LtoR Our farewell dinner. Patrick, Michelle, Karen and Ian.

A nice farewell to some super nice people and a great little town.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Greytown Campground – Armada GPS