Tag Archives: worth doing

What was Hot!

It was all pretty Hot really.

Gary and Dianne did a great job as tour guides and we really appreciated their great company and the effort they went to so we could see a bit of Europe from a Motorhome.

Dianne and Gary in their old stamping ground, Prague. They were on the Charles Bridge here with the Prague Castle behind on the hill.

The original idea was to try for Estonia and back from the UK but once we got to Brugge from Calais, we decided it was going to be far too much driving and we simply wouldn’t see anything in 5 weeks for driving so we opted for a shorter course through Holland, Germany, a week in Prague, (Gary and Dianne lived here for 3 years) back to Germany to check out the Niesmann and Bichoff factory, Luxembourg, Northern France and back to the UK.

Gary and Dianne’s new Arto 88

It was all good but from a picture perspective, probably Stow on the Wold and some of older Architecture in Prague and Germany. The villages in Northern France were amazing too.

A happy Dianne in the living area while Fiona inspects 🙂

After seeing Gary and Dianne’s new Arto 88 Niesmann and Bichoff, Gary was able to organise a tour through the factory which was fantastic as they are all built by hand with minimal automation.
The factory is in Polch, Germany which wasn’t far out of our way from the Czech Republic to France. In the end we decided to go through Luxembourg as well and have a look there too.

A happy wee Ralph at Hanover

Ralph was fun but after 3000 odd km’s, I was starting to pine for something like Rafe as Ralph was hard yakka by comparison. I didn’t realise too when we hired it that it was flat out at 90 odd k so it slowed Gary and Dianne down too which was a bit of a let down but we had fun and everything worked. Its a classic case of if I was to do it again, I’d do it differently.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow of the Hot images..
click the x at the top right hand corner to close.

The whole trip was over nearly 2 months and cost a total of about $16000 NZ so was a cheap holiday given that we saw and did so much. Ralph was NZ$7000 of that for 5 weeks so it was pretty good really.

I picked up a bug in the last few weeks which I’m still trying to shake which was a bit of a bugger but still it didn’t slow us down 🙂

Singapore was fantastic.

One the way to Marina Sands

We always seem to be flying through here so it was nice to actually stop for a few days and see all the changes. Its a great city and we both really enjoyed seeing Chinatown, cruising up the harbour and all the new buildings. The Marina Sands area was amazing too.

Fiona at Marina Sands. The shopping centre on the left.

Over the whole trip though, I can’t say enough about Gary and Dianne and their patience with us as they really were fantastic and we had a huge amount of laughs and fun with them.

Gary and Dianne on the Mosul  River

Thanks heaps to you both again for everything and also storing Rafe in your XLI/Nibi shed while we were all away. We’re both looking forward to catching up with you both when you get settled with Nibi in NZ, or whatever you end up calling the new beast.

On the way home

After dropping of Ralph to Hireahymer in Milton Keynes, we caught a bus down to Heathrow directly and another local bus around to the Ibis at Heathrow for our last night. All very easy.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

In the morning we caught a cab to the Terminal and we were off.

The Singapore Skyline

In an effort to break up the long flights, we decided to stop off in Singapore for two days. We haven’t been here without just transiting for a long time so I was blown away by the changes.
Singapore was hot.. 32 C plus and it was only early in the day so the air conditioning was wonderful.

The Architecture was something else

The architecture is stunning. Trees in little pockets of glass 10 or more stories up and better. The most impressive of course is the Marina Sands Hotel area with the rooftop garden and pool.

One of the old famous Hotels

We got a ferry from Clarke Quay and cruised down the river to where they dropped us off at the Marina Sands shopping centre.

Marina Sands

We spent a couple of hours cruising around the shops and having a good look around. There is part of the shopping complex where there is a internal river with bridges over it for access to the shops. Locals will take you for a Gondola ride down this Pool/River as you can see from the photo.

We eventually made our way up to the Observation Deck on the 51st floor and had a drink at the cafe at the top. You’d only have one drink as it was expensive! .. A glass of wine was S$24!!

A panorama from the Observation platform.

We spent a good hour or so up there and then made our way down to the train station and back to the hotel.

The Marina Sands Hotel

The train system is fantastic. Unlike most places in Europe where the train pulls in to the platform, there is no platform. The train pulls in to the walkway area which is closed of to the track until the train comes in. The doors in the station line up and open with the doors on the train. Clever as there is no requirement for the platform.

The old and the new

As our hotel was on the edge of Chinatown, we spent the next day having a good look around there. The atmosphere was great and the people were fantastic.

Fiona at Marina Sands. The shopping centre on the left.

I came away feeling that we could have done with a couple more days there to have a better look around.

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 “Hey ho!”.

Click on the Images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

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 “comfort sites” rather than standard which would have added to the price but the sites were great as well as huge 🙂

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,  no one wanted to break the bad news to them.

About another ½ 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.

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.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

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 “Rules are Rules !” .. 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 “lovely accent”!

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.

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.

Buns on the Bridge

The temperature had dropped from the 30’s down to a nice 20C so we set out for a walk with Fiona’s school friend from Exmouth, Hilary.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

Hilary and Fiona in Bath

Fiona and  Hilary’s dads  were both in the NZ and British Army in Terendak Military Camp in Malaya when they were both about 8 years old.
This was the first time they had seen each other since then so it was a real occasion for them both.

Escape route for seagulls under the bridge
The shops on the bridge

We were heading towards the  Bath Bridge for a look and maybe have lunch around that way. It is amazing with shops and cafes all built on the bridge over a weir and a canal so the boats can pass on the Avon river below. Stunning place.

 

Back to the Abbey Hotel where we’re staying.

On the way back to the Hotel it was really nice to see people in deck chairs and just soaking up the views and the sun.

A Heatwave in Bath

32 degrees C and I thought they only have snow here. Its Hot!!

Click on the images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

We were up early to leave our London digs and to get to Paddington where the Bath train left from, we had to catch two Tube Trains. They are amazingly efficient and once you get your head around them, theyre fantastic. We were at Paddington with time left over for a thickshake and some free Wifi at McDonalds 🙂

The Bath Abbey

After an hour or so we arrived in Bath.  We caught a Taxi to the Hotel which has to go round the back of Bath due to the one way streets to get to our Hotel, and then later in the day during our walk, discovered that the Station is only just around the corner.  Oh well .. it was hot and we had a fair bit of luggage to drag around  😉

We dropped off our bags and went for a wander around to check out the town. This is one very old town which I think was built by the Romans and like the other towns has the same stunning old buildings. Some of these though are really old.

The Roman Baths arch over the street

We spent the afternoon sitting out the heat under an umbrella with some cold drinks watching all the tourists board their buses outside the hotel.

Fiona in the Umbrella Street. I’m not sure what this was all about but it is a bit different 🙂

A lovely town with more to do with the rental car over the next few days.