Europe 2023

Lauren and Gareth's Wedding

Owen and Julie in the UK

France 2013.


2023 will take us from London to Denmark, Sweden and Norway, via France, Belgium and Germany.

Photos 1 Photos 2 Photos 3 Photos 4 Photos 5 Photos 6


28 April 2023. Russell and Bec kindly gave us a lift to the airport with a 10pm pickup prior to our 1:10am departure. Nothing of any real consequence to say about the flights really, except that Julie's sleep on the Singapore to London leg was ruined by a screaming child behind. Conversely, I was undisturbed thanks to my amazing Sony noise cancelling headphones. We didn't get as much sleep as we hoped for either before the flight or during, so we arrived OK but could have been better.
Hayley and Craig are meeting us at the Victory Services Club (VSC) and we will all be staying there for 5 nights, H&C at the end of their Scotland and England trip and us at the start of ours. A quick shared plates light dinner in the VSC lounge bar before we all turned in.

29 April: After a great VSC breakfast, we all met up at 0940 for the trip to Buckhurst Hill to visit Peter and Margaret. We had to plan a different route as the Central Line was closed in a vital section. We ended up using the Victoria Line to Walthamstow then the route 20 bus to the Hill. Longer, but conveniently dropped us off within 100m of their place. A quick morning tea and then a 3Km walk through Epping Forest to "The Owl" for lunch. Quite a muddy walk there, but after a good lunch, it was muddier on the way back via a different route. The bus driver this time was driving it like a sports car, got to the station in no time at all. I am sure he drifted the double decker on one corner! All good fun and thanks so much to P&M for their great company and generous hospitality.
Home via the same route and we were all pretty exhausted and settled for a snack supper.

30 April: Today we intended to see the "Changing of the Guard" at Buckingham Palace as it is normally done at 1045 on a Sunday. We waited along with about 20,000 other people until 1100 and decided it wasn't going to happen, as these events are normally timed to the minute. We started walking along the Mall and found a steward who advised that it would be tomorrow, Monday being a Bank Holiday (Public Holiday for us Aussies). We then went through St James Park and stopped for coffee at the cafe. Going through the archway of the household cavalry to Whitehall, we were entertained by one of the guards marching to the gate to relieve his colleague, needed to get the public out of the way and bellowed "MAKE WAY". The reaction was an immediate parting of the tourists. I am tempted to try that on Oxford St footpath! We were starting to run tight with time as we were meeting nephew Andrew at a Sri Lankan restaurant for lunch. A stroll through the park to Whitehall and up to Trafalgar Square before arriving at Liecester Square. Everything is close here. Wandered through Soho to the restaurant and met up with Andrew who did the ordering because none of us knew the first thing about the menu. A good meal and back through Carnaby St and then Mayfair to avoid the crush on Oxford St. A much more pleasant walk and back to the VSC. Andrew had to come with us because I had forgotten to take his drivers licence with us that we brought from home. Great catch up. Tonight will be another light dinner.

1 May: Hayley and Craig were taking it easy this morning with Hayley coming down with a bit of a cold, so Julie and I went to the Tower of London to check out the moat gardens. Last year, hundreds of thousands of flowering plants were planted in the area but when we saw them in July, they were all nearly dead with the drought and heatwave. This year, they obviously hadn't planted them again so it was just green grass. We didn't stay long but decided on the way home to take the Elizabeth Line from Liverpool St station to Bond St. The Elizabeth Line is very new, only fully opened within the last 8 months or so. We had watched a series on the construction called "Crossrail" and were keen to see it. It is light years ahead of the rest of the Tube network. Computer driven with matching sliding doors on the platform and the train. It is smooth, quiet and very impressive.
Did some shopping on the way home then a quick turnaround to Covent Gardens to see "Back to the Future, the Musical". All four of us went. It was an amazing show with great acting, singing and sensational stage prop settings. A lot of fun. H&C met up with some friends afterwards and we had an early dinner in St Christophers Place and tubed home. It was only one stop but we had hit our maximum fare for the day so it was essentially free.

2 May: This morning I had a lot of paperwork to do. Paid our motorhome insurance, booked an MOT for the scooter at a place in Folkestone for 1545 on Thursday, paid for the vehicle service and MOT on the van and a heap of other stuff. Julie went for a wander around and a bit of shopping while I was doing that. Around lunchtime, we caught the tube to St Pauls and went to a viewing platform on top of the One New Change shopping centre next to the cathedral. A good view of the area and the larger buildings like the Shard. Then a walk across the Millennium Bridge and back again to get the tube home. Come 4pm, Hayley, Craig, Julie and I went to Covent Gardens for a pub walk. Julie has a great book called Pub Walks of London, which I think should be a best seller. We did the Covent Gardens walk. Great pubs, very intimate, including Mr Fogg which is based on the Jules Verne book, Around the World in 80 Days as its theme. Sensational. We ended up at the food hall in the Gardens which was so good. Both the pubs and food hall would put anything Perth has to offer to shame. We all walked up to Tottenham Court Rd station and there was a light and sound display there that kept us entertained for quite a while. Home and bed then.

3 May: Check out day at the VSC. H&C had a flight out around 6pm, so they had a bit more time to hit London, while Julie and I headed to Cranhams to pick up the motorhome. We walked to Bond St station to catch the Central line train which is one stop down from Marble Arch but has step free access to the platform. When you are towing a 30Kg suitcase and a 9Kg backpack, steps are a big no no. Pretty good run through to Upminster where we caught a cab to Cranhams. Everything was waiting ready for us, though we did have to hitch the trailer and tie down the scooter to my satisfaction. Hit the road to Folkestone and had what can only be described as an almost impossible dream run. No hold ups anywhere. Best run we have had in all the times we have done this route. I hope Karma is not waiting to bite us on the arse later. Did a big shop at the Tesco Super in Folkestone then went to the Black Horse Caravan Park for three nights. We need to have a bit of a break before crossing the channel, especially after the full on London times and that we also have to have an MOT inspection on the scooter tomorrow.
Our first home cooked meal since we left home. Julie was hanging out for it. Going to be cold tonight so I'll have the heater ready to go!

4 May: More administrative stuff today. I booked 3 nights at Theobalds Park for the end of our journey. We always go there to do our final clean up and it's important for us to make sure we get in. We also booked our channel crossing for Saturday (today being Thursday). Everything is falling into place until Karma arrives. I got the scooter off the trailer, connected the battery, pumped up the tyres and noticed some oil on the front brake controls. I suspected a leak on the front forks seals and did my best to use spray and wipe to clean it off. I rode around the caravan park and tested the brakes, quite OK. Rode in to do the MOT test and, lo and behold, it failed because of a leak from the front forks endangering the front brakes. I asked if I could get it fixed tomorrow and they just laughed. Booked solid for 3 weeks. I called another local bike shop and they laughed too. So we have a quandry. The reality is that it is not good, the issue with the leak, but we can't wait 3 weeks in Folkestone to get it fixed. The good side is that while we are in Europe, no one is going to stop us for having a failed MOT. So, we will carry on, fix it at the first opportunity (probably Germany as they get things done efficiently) and get another MOT when we come back across the channel. Annoying, but not a crisis.
On a lighter note, we finished watching the first "Back to the Future" movie, which was what the musical was based on and decided that the stage show, while using some poetic licence, did a damn fine job of turning it into a stage show.
After that, Julie smashed me at both Yatzee and Zonk (both dice games) so at least she will sleep well. Speaking of which, we did sleep well last night being the first night in the van.

5 May: A laid back day and we couldn't take the scooter out on the road. Did some clothes washing and I managed to work out a way to stop a dripping drain hose. The drain has a tap but it was dripping enough to drain all of the half tank of water that was put in a couple of weeks ago. That fixed, we can now fill the tank again. Did a local walk that we had instructions and a map from the campsite. It was supposed to go through some woods but we didn't get to them. The instructions were not on imprecise, they were out of date with there descriptions and straight out wrong. Turn left at the end should have been right, that sort of stuff. Anyway, I summised that we should have turned right, not left but that was a very muddy track. No thanks, we walked back home. Off to the Black Horse pub for dinner.

6 May: Happy Coronation Charles, sorry we had to decline the invitation. We cleaned up and set off to Dover for the 1200 ferry to Dunkirk. Here nearly an hour early but that's OK, better than missing the boat. 45 minutes late departing and with the clock winding forward an hour in France, it was 1545 before we disembarked. A quick little comment about the Brit's sense of humour (I love it). We went through the French passport control and when we got to the UK booth, the guy just waved us on. I said "Are you sure?" holding up our blue Aussie passports. His reply was "Even more so now, the sooner you leave the country the better!", all with a smile of course. We thought it was an excellent retort.
About an 80Km drive to Jabbeke (pronounced "ya baker"), in Belgium, where we will stay tonight. Normal price is €40 but with the ACSI card, it was a mere €23. We filled the water tank to half full before we left England and it is still half full, so that is a small win. Settling in to driving on the right was easy, almost automatic these days.
Staying here the one night and off to Essen, Germany tomorrow.

7 May: We had set up our pitch here so we could just drive straight out, trailer already hitched. After the usual morning routine, we set off about 10am for Essen. 335Km. We made it through with one stop in the middle for an early lunch and a walk around to loosen up. When we got close to the campsite, Tomtom decided to give us vague instructions and we ended up on the wrong side of the river. We followed her instructions to go around the block to turn around but one side of the square was closed. Pulled into a car park, unhitched the trailer, turned the van around, rehitched and off again. No further dramas and we got to the site. Overall it was a very easy drive today, mostly sitting in the right lane with cruise control on. The receptionist didn't speak English, but Julie managed to let her know that we wanted a pitch for one night with a motorhome and 2 people using the ACSI card. All worked out and we are on a hard stand (almost like parking in a car park) and we wont get mud inside. I thought I would have a crack at reversing the trailer which is normally very difficult, but with room to move, I managed to get where we wanted without unhitching. Good for the ego when that works. It's a nice campsite on the river which we haven't seen yet because of the thunderstorms (it rained most of the way here from Jabbeke) but we will have a look when there is a break. We did get that break a little later and walked down to the Ruhr River. Very pretty with lovely forest and adjacent canal.

8May: Headed off towards Hamburg, 370Km away. It was a nice clear day and the traffic was moderate to heavy but no real problem. A lot of roadworks going on but again, that didn't slow things down too much. It 's not too bad when you only have to slow down to 80Kph in the roadworks. We made a couple of stops on the way and at the last stop, we looked up campsites near Hamburg and found one that was an ACSI site (always a lot cheaper) and called them to find there were plenty of spots available. Rerouted the Tomtom to a nearby Lidl store in Geesthacht where the campsite is. Bought about 18 litres of red wine for about €40 to tide us over for a few days. Got to the campsite and booked in for one night with an option for one more. Only €19 a night plus another €2 for 2 showers, so pretty good value. We have since decided to stay another night rather than continue driving into Denmark tomorrow. The driving has been fine, but it does get tiring. Imagine driving from Perth to Augusta in full on peak hour traffic. It takes a lot of concentration. Yesterday was good because there are limits on trucks on Sundays, but today it was full on. On Sundays, you can sit in the slow lane with the cruise control set on 90kph. Today it was solid trucks in the slow lane, which I was happy to sit with until it came to an uphill climb when they drop back to 75. So, not only would I pull out to pass in the middle lane, so do many of the trucks, wanting to pass other trucks. Because they are speed limited, it's like overtaking on Valium. One needs one's wits about them that's for sure. It's still amazing how everyone makes it work though. Lane discipline is exceptional and everyone just gets along.
At the campsite, got talking to a local guy, lives about 40 minutes away. Arno is about 50 at a guess and we ended up chatting for ages about everything from politics (which encompassed many facets) to work, family, travel, you name it. We both enjoyed it.
Doing the dishes inside the van tonight, Julie couldn't get any hot water at the sinks.
Tomorrow is a day of leisure and research into the next leg of our adventure.

9 May: We didn't do anything exciting today, but we did a lot of research into Denmark and what we should see and where to stay. We are still about 500Km from Copenhagen so we are splitting into 2 days. Today is a rest day after 3 days of driving, and tomorrow we will start another 2 days of driving. We had dinner at the campsite restaurant tonight which was very local, food wise, and very nice. Julie finally got to have her white asparagus, a local product. Tomorrow, we are aiming for Middelfart in Denmark. Jokes to come later.

10 May: There are lots of roadworks going on everywhere. We got away from Geesthacht about 10am and I think Tomtom wanted to avoid those so it took us right through the middle of Hamburg. Wan't as bad at it sounds because most of the roads were 6 lanes. A couple of times I had to change lanes with short notice bt the nice German drivers always let me in. It was full driving though, watching for lights, lane markings on the roads, pedestrians, you name it. As I mentioned to Julie, I quite enjoyed the challenge. Once we got on to the motorways, it was pretty easy and casual.
We got to Middelfart, in Denmark, where we planned to stay in a Campingplatz right on the waters edge at the harbour. Nice view of the marina and the massive bridge in the middle distance. All automated, it includes power and ablutions. It wasn't the cheapest, but is right in the middle of town. No problem working the system out and we were set up in no time. Took a wander around the town and the first thing we noticed is that they don't get too many tourists here, unlike Copenhagen. Everything is in Danish with little option of other languages. Pretty town.
Tomorrow, Copenhagen, where we plan to spend about 5 days.

11 May: After a great shower, as hot as we want for as long as we want,we packed up from the site in Middelfart and hit the road by 10am for the 215Km drive to Copenhagen. It was an interesting drive, starting off with grey skies and low cloud. That became more interesting when we got to the massive bridge that connects Fyn Island to Zealand Island which is where Copenhagen is, where we were IN the cloud on the bridge. This bridge is at least 8Km long, if not more. Amazing structure. Awesome Toll on it too, $90 one way. We have to come back the same way and we didn't notice any toll gates on the other direction so we are hoping it is a one way toll. I am expecting the Oresund Bridge/tunnel to cost us in the region of $150.
We got through to our campsite of choice without too much drama. It is another marina campsite where we park in a car park right on the water. It is not cheap, like everything else here, but it has everything we need and it is in walking distance to the Metro so we can get into Copenhagen easily. So easily that we really don't need the scooter. We arrived early enough to get a spot (it is first come first served) and once we set up, we had enough time to go into the city. We walked the 700m to the Metro station and took the train (light rail, autonomous operation, so you could sit up the front and get a drivers view) to Christiana. Christiana is an odd place. It was once a defence site that was abandoned over 50 years ago and then the hippies of the time squattered on it and eventually took control of it. It has become a separate state within Denmark. It is an area within the city, very close to the city centre. It is still a hippie enclave where dope is legal, but hard drugs are frowned upon by the residents of Christiana. Suffice to say that Julie and I were not particularly enamoured with the place. We had an iced coffee and a flat white and it cost $19, not exactly hippy prices, but then, the whole place has become a tourist destination so the capitalist rule applies. Prior to getting there though, we did the spire climb at Church of our Saviour. This is a famous Copenhagen site. When I get around to uploading the photos, you will see why. I walked up the first 400 steps to the first external level of the spire. Great view, but there were another 150 steps to the top. My acrophobia told me to go down again and who am I to fight it. Julie went to the top and got some great photos of the city and surrounds. While on that subject, you are supposed to book online to go up. We went to the counter and apologised for not having made a booking and when they found it was only 2 of us, they let us pay and come back in 10 minutes. All worked well. By the time we finished both these sites, given that we had also driven from Middelfart, we were just knackered and took the next train home. Took a scenic detour from the one we walked to the station and this one gave us great views of the marina and also of the Oresund Bridge in the distance with Sweden a little past that. Worth the detour. We got home, had dinner in (we can't afford to eat out, it is hideously expensive) and will hit the main city tomorrow.

12 May: Left the park at about 10am and walked to the Metro station. Bought 2x48 hour public transport tickets equating to about $30 each and went to the Forum station, one past the main station. We soon worked out that we should have got off at the main one, so we caught the train back there. Walked down to the Royal Castle and got to see the changing of the guard who march from the Castle to the Palace. Only about 12 guards and they have about a 15 to 20 minute march to the Palace. Not in the same league as the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, but good to see none the less. We contemplated having a look through the castle but like everything else here, stupidly expensive. We may do the combined Castle and Palace tomorrow if we have time. You can walk around the gardens for free which we did, but nothing spectacular. Then off to the Round Tower which is attached to a church which used to be the first University in Copenhagen dating back to the early 1600's. In 1642 the tower was added as an observatory. Cool walk up, it was a stepless climbing path all the way (except for the last few metres) and the shallowest climb is the outer edge. Good view from the top.
Then it was time for lunch and with burgers costing over $30 each, we opted for the $6 Danish hotdogs which more than satisfied us. After lunch, we caught a train the Central station (not to be confused with the one in the middle of the city) and found our way to Tivoli Gardens. It is touted as a major place to visit, and we knew it was a large amusment park (second oldest in Europe, and inspiration for Disneyland) but expected large garden areas as well. We bought tickets for the non ride catagory and found the only gardens were miniscule. nice, but not worth the entry fee. They did have some sensational rides, most designed to make the average person want to throw their hearts up, but for those who like that, and a know a few, it would be an amazing day out. Better than Paris Disney in that regard. By then we were getting tired and sore so it was back home. Tomorrow, we have a few places selected to visit. Copenhagen is a place of many faces and character.

13 May: Today our plan is to go to the harbour area of Copenhagen and also do a canal cruise and the hop on hop off bus. We took the Metro to the nearest point in the harbour and were not disappointed. The city here is what gives Copenhagen the reputation it has as a wonderful city. Sensational. We bought a double ticket for both the canals and the bus. We did the canal tour first as they were far less frequent on their departure times. We managed to get on one that was leaving soon and got going in a short time. Good tour showing off some very nice highlights. We wanted to visit the Royal Palace, which is actually 4 palaces, depending on where you fit in family. They have a museum there which we wanted to see and got talked into paying a little more for a double ticket to include the Castle which we did the outside of yesterday. The girl at the desk said the Crown Jewels of Denmark are amazing. We took her up on the offer and did both. The museum was good, but over crowded with the antiques from the family, almost like they used it as a storage place for the stuff that they didn't want in the Palace. Got on the bus. This took us to a few points of interest, one being "The Little Mermaid" statue, made in honour of Hans Christian Andersen who wrote the book. A small statue on the waters edge but its popularity was obvious. Then it was off to the Castle to see the museum there plus the Crown Jewels. The Castle was pretty good, again, a storage for unwanted furniture. We finally got to the Crown Jewels and were seriously disappointed. The girl at the Palace said how amazing they were. If you have ever seen the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London (as we have) you would feel the same way we did. The Danish jewels are about 5% or less what the English ones are. They were still interesting, but not a WOW moment. A bit more on the bus, then trained home. We had to use 2 lines on the Metro and on each of these lines we had ticket checks. Denmark is a lot like Germany with their trains, there are no turnstyles, no tagging, and it is an honour system, but don't get caught. Fortunately we had paid for the 2 day ticket so we were cool. Got home feeling tired but OK, unlike yesterday when Julie particularly was exhausted and slightly injured.
Tomorrow we will drive over and under the Oresund bridge/tunnel to Malmo in Sweden then another 140Km to campsite on the road to Gothenburg. We will have a day off there, do some washing and generally recover.

An observation about Copenhagen. It is a very pretty city, it the right areas, and has many similarities with Amsterdam. Lots of bicycles, dangerous for the unaware pedestrian, lots of water and canals, and same free and easy attitude. Because we were a bit of a walk and a train ride into the city, we didn't see the night life but we expect it would be right up there with the best.

14 May: We left the marina about 1030, not in a rush because we were only a bit over 2 hours from our planned stay for tonight. It is in a village called Haverdal about half way between Copenhagen and Gothenburg. We will stay 2 nights and have a free day to do washing, cleaning and just relaxing. The drive there was interesting, within minutes of leaving the marina, we were on our way through the tunnel then over the Oresund Bridge into Sweden. Quite a structure, though actually less impressive than the bridge between Fyn and Zealand Islands. It was a bucket list item that needed ticking off. The toll on the bridge is equivalent to A$192, so it's not a cheap option for crossing between the 2 countries. The rest of the drive was easy, though it was on a 4 lane motorway, when most others have been 6. A 6 lane is much more efficient for traffic flow, especially when everyone drives appropriately, but the lighter traffic made it OK. We got to the campsite and it is a beauty. All the services we need and more, and all of it good quality. With the ACSI card it was only about $34 a night which is great value.

15 May: A day of rest, even if it is a Monday. We try to fit in down days every now and then to reduce travel fatigue and today is one of them. We still did a lot around the van, clothes washing, and getting all the tanks emptied or refilled. We walked to the local supermarket which, considering this really is just a village off the main road, was very well stocked. Did the necessary buying and walked home at a quick pace because the nearby thunderstorm was getting threatening. It started raining just as we got home, nothing heavy but the potential for it was high. We were going to take a walk to the beach about 80m away but the showers kept up. Seeing beaches however is pretty low on our priorities. Tomorrow, Gothenburg for at least 3 nights. We are already booked in.

16 May: Another casual start. We are only 2 hours from our next stop, Gothenburg. We can't arrive before 1200 so no rush. We checked out of Haverdal with glowing praise to the owners of the campsite. They added to their kudos by giving us a map and a very large booklet of campsites in Sweden. Wonderful business nouse. The drive to Gothenburg was interesting in that the first 15km or so were through farming country with small hamlets and narrow roads. No dramas because we were following a truck. All we had to do was keep following him. Opposite direction traffic became irrelevant. A good run up to the campsite on the main road and no problems going through the city. Arrived at the campsite which had an automatic check in linked to our booking number. Was all pretty easy going, we are starting to get used to the Scandinavian way of doing things. set up then went for a walk to the local lake which was nice but not a wow moment. We did however, come across the 512 bus which is the one we need to catch tomorrow to go into the city. An easy night in. Tomorrow we take on Gothenburg.

17 May: We caught the bus in to the city. It is a local bus to the local town centre then an express into the city. Very nice buses, good seats, smooth and relatively quiet. Some are hybrid and some are all electric. It is all very convenient for us. That's the Scandinavian way. We first went to the tourist office to get maps and general info on what we should see while we are here. A walk down the main drag to the art gallery where we went through it all in a fairly short time. It was good, but not a patch on the National Gallery in London. Not that you would expect it to be, but it's an offshoot of having seen too much over the last 11 years. From there it was down to the area of Haga, the oldest area of Gothenburg. Quite quaint but very tourist orientated. More walking to the waterfront where we intended to go to the maritime museum but it was closed. Not that it matters, the Viking ship we want to see is in the National Museum. We took a ferry across the river/harbour, to the otherside and back as that was included in our 3 day travel ticket. More walking around then we headed to the Nordstan Bus port to make our way home.

18 May: Bus again into the city then we continued on for another half hour to the Aeroseum, or Aeronautics Museum. This place is a Cold War bunker under 30m of rock which can store probably 60 to 80 fighter jets. They used to taxi out through one of 2 entries to the bunker which also had blast doors and radiation protection. Amazing complex. There is a very good display of mostly Swedish aircraft but also many helicopters. I had never seen a SAAB Viggen in the flesh and it is quite a monster. Way back in the 50's when it was first built, it was ahead of its time and a unique look with dual delta wings, smaller ones at the front to operate the elevators. Way bigger than I expected. Other ones of interest to me were the Gripen, the Draken and the Lansen. By the time we got back to the city, we had had enough for one day and went home. I organised another night at the campsite which was no problem except that we have to move pitches. That's not a tough ask.

19 May: We had to wait until 1130 to move pitches when the others on that pitch moved out. No issues. Because of the automation here, we had to "check out" and "check in" electronically. Managed to make it happen, then headed back to the city. Julie had dropped her glasses in the shower room and one lens fell out. She is blind without them. I managed to fix them up, but her spare pair she was wearing were a pain behind the ears. When we arriven at Nordstan in the city, we found an optometrist who reset them to be more comfortable at no charge so that was a bonus. then off to the Gothenburg Museum which was a delight. The information overload almost got to us but we did the whole lot. Very impressive and we now know a lot about the history of this place. Afternoon tea at the Brogyllen Cafe for a drink and their famed cinnamon buns (Kanelbullar). They deserve the reputation. We shared one bun and one Princess Cake. That filled us up for the afternoon. Down to the Fish Church, which is really a market. As is our luck it was closed for renovations. Walked back into the Nordstan area and got the bus to Partille. More shopping for dinner and back home. We have booked our stay in Stockholm which is very convenient because once we are there, we stay until we want to leave and settle the bill at the end. We have no idea yet how long we want to stay there so it works well. It is about 450Km from here to Stockholm (we are much closer to Oslo from here!) and that is a big ask in one day, so we will stay somewhere a bit over half way tomorrow.

20 May: One last comment on Gothenburg, OK, maybe 2. Their buses are excellent, like travelling in a tourist coach, unlike many we have been on throughout Europe where they concentrate on how many people they can fit on by making them stand. The other is the Dutch influence. It is as significant here as it is in Copenhagen. Makes for interesting cities for sure.
OK, so we get to today. As usual, a casual start. Last thing we had to do before we left was to put the scooter on the trailer. The reason it was the last is because we had to move the motorhome out of our pitch to run the scooter up the ramp on the trailer. All the other people in the park were sitting outside watching, and I called out that the entertainment is about to begin. Fortunately I managed to run it up the ramp, and with Julie's help, secured it and locked it down. No applause, I was disappointed.
Our exit route did not rely on going back towards the city and before we knew it we were on the main motorway to Stockholm, which was where we are heading. Very pretty countryside, not spectacular, but pretty. Went along one of the larger lakes in Sweden which was about 60Km long and between 10 and 20Km wide. Made for a pleasant drive.
We got to the selected campsite (without a reservation) and got a pitch for the night for $53. The guy there was amazed that we were Australian. He has been there 8 years and we are the first he has met. Made us feel like pioneers! A bit on the expensive side, but it is a nice spot on a lake and the facilities are good. Dinner in tonight. Tomorrow, Stockholm, where we have made a booking.

21 May: A casual start again to the day. We had less than 200Km to go to the Stockholm campsite so we were in no hurry. The first 30Km or so of the drive was through rural backroads which was delightful. The downside of taking motorways is that you don't see the real countryside. Small lakes everywhere, little villages dotted all over the place, and the forest right up to the edge of the road. It was a winding road, most of it in 3rd gear but so enjoyable. Then we got onto the motorway and same old same old. One thing that surprised me was we came to some roadworks, and all that was required was for 2 lanes to merge into one. What a dogs breakfast. The worst merging I have witnessed in all our driving in Europe. I intended to do the right thing and let one in, which I did, and at least 4 others pushed in front, to the degree that they risked hitting us to get in. Swedish drivers up to then had impressed me with their patience and consideration, but this was a bun fight. I was very disappointed. I eventually got over it though, and the rest of the trip was easy. Set ourselves up in the campsite, it was a find your pitch and let us know which one you take situation. We took one that was a few pitches away from anyone else and we could do a drive through park so we didn't have to do any fancy moves or unhitch the trailer. We arrived about 1pm and by 4 we were surrounded. All nice folk though.
We dined at Ma-Thai, a restaurant inside the campsite which was very good. Tomorrow, we hit Stockholm.

22 May: We had lukewarm showers to start the day. Bought ourselves 2x3 day transport passes. We had to pay an extra $3 each to buy the equivilent of an Oyster Card in London. Took the train into Stockholm Centrum and tried to find a tourist information centre which was proving to be difficult. I needed to try to get a Garmin charging cable for our dashcam because Garmin like to be different, and the USB cables I had didn't do the job properly. Tried two electronics stores with no success, but then we did manage to find a tourist office in Stockholm Central station (not to confused with Stockholm Centrum!!). We worked out a plan for the day and spent most of our time on Gimla Stan island which is the old town. Very pretty, but just a little touristy. We think there were about 80 souvenir shops in two streets and that was probably being conservative. Outside that though, the rest of the island was really good and the architecture is gorgeous. Stockholm is a big city with a lot of modern buildings but there are many more that are period buildings. It is a delight to behold. Probably the most historic city we have seen in that regard, just beautiful.
We started to fade mid afternoon so headed home. The weather here has been amazing. We were expecting cool to cold with some rain but we have had most days in the high teens early 20's with beautiful blue skies. We didn't even take jackets today. Around 6 oclock though, the temperature drops like a stone and we are expecting 6C as a minimum tonight.
Tomorrow we will hit a few museums, of which there are about 50 in Stockholm, including an ABBA museum, but that one is not on our list. At that stage, I was wondering where the Museum of Museums was.

23 May: Not too much to report today. Julie twisted her back this morning and was in too much discomfort to take on anything. So we had a day off. Big hits of Ibuprofin to hopefully be OK tomorrow.

24 May: Stayed at the camp until after lunch. Julie was feeling a lot better so we took the train to visit the Nobel Prize Museum. We got there just in time to get on the English guided tour. Turned out well because the museum itself is quite small and having someone tell us what it was all about and the history of Nobel and the Prize made sense of it all. If we had just walked around it ourselves we probably would have been underwhelmed. Very interesting really. Julie wanted to see two other things while were on the Gamla Island, the narrowest laneway in Stockholm and a cannonball stuck into a building near the main square where the Nobel museum was. It took us a while to find it but we think it is a prank more than being real. The lane was OK, between two buildings and it took us a while to find it. About 900mm (3 feet) at the narrowest point. I think I know a few people who wouldn't have fitted through the gate at the end! It was after 1530 by this time and we didn't want to push Julie's back so we headed home. Gamli Stan is a sensational example of classic "Old Town". Almost everything there is old and is teeming with character.
So far we have been very impressed with Stockholm, quite different to other cities.

25 May: Today's target is 2 museums in the museum precinct. We took the train to Centraler and a tram to the museums. First port of call was the Vasa Museum. The Vasa was a warship that was launched near Stockholm in 1628. A huge vessel that was to be the pride of the fleet and terrorise the enemy. On its maiden voyage, it only got a kilometre or 2 out of port and started lising badly. It then took on water through the cannon windows and sank in 30m of water. It was rediscovered in the 1950's and recovered in 1959. Refloated and brought in to dry dock. The condition after 334 years underwater was almost pristine and it has been restored using 96% of the recovered vessel. An amazing effort. The ship sank because it had too much weight above the waterline and not enough below, plus the hull was too narrow for the height. So it was designed to fail. Anyway, a very interesting museum. Late lunch in the museum cafe then it was off to the Viking Museum. Not the same spectacle as the Vasa but very informative and very well done with good interactive displays. That was enough for us for one day and we took the tram and train back home.

26 May: A quiet start to the day. We had to do clothes washing and at this campsite, you need to book your spot. They have 3 machines and Julie booked 2 for 1030. It was enough (small machines though) to do all we needed, except the sheets. All that was done in quite quick time. We headed into the city, gosh we love Stockholm, about 1300 and I had a Thai massage (legit one) and Julie went to the National Museum. She read the description and I thought, given the option, I would rather have an elephant walk all over me than go to the museum. Seriously though, we were both happy with our options and Julie agreed that I probably would not have been too thrilled with the museum. I met up with Julie at the museum (when you have a time based ticket for public transport, you have to get bang for kroner) and then basically, we headed home. We still have some slack in our timing to arrive in Bergen, which is controlling all our plans, and we will stay another night here. If Stockholm is not on your bucket list, it damn well should be. What a wonderful city this is, right up there with best of Europe.

27 May: Our last day in Stockholm and Julie has picked out a few things to do to finish. We trained in again, being as it is the only way. We got off at Slussen station, 2 before Centraler and did a cliff top walk. The views were sensational. Lots of photos that we will have to go through. From there we walked across the bridge to Gamla Stan getting more wonderful views as well. We cut through the Metro pedestrian tunnel into Gamla town to go to the Royal Palace, which is the largest Palace in Europe. We took the Jubilee plus Palace option for a mere $70 for the two of us. June 6 (also D Day) this year is the 500th anniversary of the Swedish Monarchy. Almost makes us want to stay around for it but that would put way too much pressure on us to get to Bergen in 2 days. The Jubilee display was very good, then the Palace tour was very good. Not quite the extravagance of Versailles but not too far off it. Oh to be born into royalty! We enjoyed the tour but then it was time for a drink and a sit down. We found a cute little basement bar and ordered a strawberry sling gin for Julie and and Italian sangiovese red for me. A cool $50. Would have been OK if my red had not been from a bottle probably opened 3 days ago. I didn't complain, it's not worth the stress. We then went to a church about 80m from the bar, because Julie said she hadn't been to a cathedral here. They wanted $12 each to go in the door. Not a chance when you have seen as many churches and cathedrals as we have.
Took the train home again and ate in again as well. It is one of the few ways we can limit the cost impact that is Scandinavia.
Last comment on Stockholm. We think it is the most beautiful city that we have seen in Europe, and we have seen many, if not most. It has so much to offer and everywhere you look is another visual delight. Julie and I still think London is the best city, but if you want a beautiful city, with good vibes too, Stockholm it is. We leave tomorrow feeling that we have given it a good go and have no regrets of selling it short. Stockholm, we love you.

28 May: Headed off to a campsite in Karlskoga, part of the way to Oslo. The campsite is on the banks of a lake and used to be free, but now costs 100sek or $14 a night. That includes power and very good ablutions. The drive there was pretty easy. We arrived at 1330 and there were quite a few free spots of the 14 available. We had to set up an account on an app to pay for the spot, which was not easy with my Aus cards wanting to send me an OTP code to verify it. Being as our Aus phone number does not roam, and even though I had let them know our UK number, it meant we couldn't use them. Opted for our OK card which took about 3 or 4 goes for it to work. Very frustrating. Probably more frustrating for the numerous motorhomes who arrived later to find no spave available. Anyway, all's well that ends well. A very cheap nights accommodation for change and a pretty outlook to boot. Met a few interesting people by helping them wotk out the system at the site and had a few good laughs as well. A quiet night tonight, as long as the kids on the adjacent skate park go home for dinner and don't come back.
We are killing a bit of time before Oslo so we may stop somewhere between here and Oslo for a couple of nights.

29 May: A slow start again because we only had 140Km to go today. We wanted to buy some more wine today, as it is absurdly expensive in Norway. Think $100 for a bog standard bottle of Jacobs Creek wine. Sweden and Norway have an unusual way of selling alcohol. In the past they had social issues, so now the only way you can buy anything stonger than a light beer is to go to a Government owned (or controlled) outlet. They even call them a monopoly in their name! In Karlskoga they had one such outlet (they are seriously not commonplace!) so we thought we should stock up before Norway. We had excuses worked out for why we wanted to buy so much but when we went to the checkout with 5x3l of wine plus a couple of bottles, they didn't bat an eyelid. The prices were not too bad, more expensive than home but not over the top. We had ridden the scooter in for the shopping, the first time we have used it this trip and I think it paid its way just for this one trip. I rode the scooter back to the camp to drop off the wine and went back to pick up Julie again after she did some shopping in the supermarket in the same complex. We didn't have enough space to carry everything in one trip. We did a cleaning service of the van, emptying the waste water and filling up the fresh.
The drive to the next place, Grinsby Camping was another easy drive. We were on the motorway (used loosely) in two minutes and besides some roadworks, there was no problem. One of the delights of Scandinavia is the lack of traffic on the roads. I haven't used the cruise control as much as I have on this trip as I have on any previous ones. We got to the campsite which, surprise surprise, is on a lake. If you love lakes and forests, you will love Sweden. The pitch we chose has no one between us and the lake, and though we are not on the edge, we have a beautiful view of the lake which is all of 50m from us. This is the second campsite in Sweden where we have been the only Australians to visit. Almost makes us feel special, at least they certainly thought we were. Sweden is so picturesque without being stunning. It may sound average, but it's not. It is pretty from every angle. We plan to stay here at least 2 nights, probably 3. We are at the stage of this trip where we need to time our arrival in Bergen. We are a few days ahead of schedule but that's OK, easier to burn time than have to rush. We are only 2 hours from Oslo now.

30 May: We have worked out our schedule for the next week or so to ensure that we get to Bergen on time for our cruise. That means we stay here for another 2 days before going to Oslo for 4 nights, then 2 stopovers between Oslo and Bergen. We have booked our spot at a campsite in Oslo at the eye watering cost of $100 a night (a record high for us in 11 years). Today we caught up with laundry by washing our sheet and doona cover, with some underwear just fitting in. We took a short walk along the edge of the lake for about a kilometre as our daily exercise. Otherwise, it was basically a day off. We are in a remote location, so shopping or dining out is not an option. Fortunately, we knew this beforehand and are well equiped to cope. Tomorrow will be more relaxation before hitting Oslo.

31 May: A lazy day today but we did do a 5.5Km hike through the forest. Well a fair bit of it was along a gravel road but the rest was a narrow walk path. Lovely forest of a variety of pines and birch trees. The walk back was all downhill on the way back in and the views of the lake below were spectacular. It was hard work but well worth it. Other than that, nothing of consequence to report.

1 June: After the normal clean up and pack up, I went to the reception to pay for our stay. The girl there was blown away by the fact that I was Australian and we got carried away in conversation when I noticed a couple quietly waiting to be served. I managed to work my way to the door, it wasn't easy, and got out as I heard the couple ask where I was from and she said "Australia!!". It's good to be royalty, honest. Bill paid, we headed to Oslo. It was less than 150Km and we did it in 2 hits with a very short break. I know I have said it before, but the lack of traffic in Scandinavia is so different from the rest of Europe. A very easy drive and we got to the campsite 15 minutes after we were allowed to. We got given a really crappy pitch, only in the sense of the slope, but then. most of the pitches on this site have horrible slopes. We levelled out with the back wheels on the top level of our ramps. If that didn't work, we were going to ask for a non ski jump pitch. All good though. We have bought Oslo Pass tickets for 3 days, with seniors discount (over 67, we just made it) which includes travel on public transport and many museums etc, and will hit the city and its sights tomorrow. Interestingly, talking of sights, the campsite is on a hill above Oslo and has a wonderful view down to the city.

2 June: We activated our Oslo Pass tickets on our phone, which gives us free publec transport and free entry to all to Government museums plus a few others. We caught the 74 bus in to the city and after what seemed an eternity, we finally found the Oslo Visitors Centre and got some good info from them. We went to a site called Planet Viking which was not on the free list. It advertised a VR experience, which was actually a VR game, and the rest was just movies on a 270 degree screen. At about $120 each, we bailed. Walked back to the main mall and found a MAX Burgers place we had seen on the way down. Max is big in Scandinavia and we had been meaning to try it out, so we decided to try them for lunch. The verdict? Way better than Macca's and somewhat better than Burger King. All told, it was pretty decent. Then we took the number 12 tram to Vigeland Sculpture Park Vigeland was a prolific sculptor of mainly naked people with a random splashing of clothed people and more random violent beasts attacking naked people. It was interesting but to me, it became a bit repetetive. We also went to the Bymuseet in the park and the Vigeland Museum just across the road. Ok, Julie liked it, I was ambivilant.
From there we took the tram back to Central, did a bit of shopping (we are trying to only buy enough for what we need so we can leave the fridge empty once we go on the cruise, we wont have power on the van for 10 days) and got the bus home. Pretty knackered again but should be up and running again tomorrow.

3 June: Took the bus into town and got out at Central. We are booked in to the Clarion Oslo Hotel for a night on the 18th June so we thought we should find where it is. I also had a niggling feeling about it. We went to the Clarion The Hub because it was close to Central, and we had been told the hotel was very close to the Central Station where we need to get our train to Bergen. It is about an 8 hour turn around at the hotel from our flight from Kirkenes to getting to the train, so I didn't want anything to go wrong. We found out that we were not booked into this Clarion and when I showed the girl our itinerary, she said we were booked in at the Clarion Oslo Hotel which is about 500m from the station, unlike the 80m from the Hub. Again, same feeling, so we went to the Oslo and found that our booking had been cancelled. We suspect we know why, but got Russell on to it. Something will be worked out before we need to stay here. It would have been mildly catastrophic if we got in at midnight on the 18th with nowhere to sleep.
After that interesting sideline to our day, we walked to the Oslo Opera House. We didn't really want to go in, just up. You can walk up sloping walks to the roof which at our age is a substantial challenge, but we did OK. Interesting building and a hotspot for both tourists and locals alike.
Then it was back to Central to get the 12 tram to the waterfront and then get a ferry to Bygdoy, where there are 3 museums we wanted to visit. All of this was covered by the Oslo Pass so we have now made a profit on the card. The first was the Fram Museum (or Polar Exporation for full title). It was generally about polar exploration, both north and south, but mainly about Roald Amundsen and his ship, the Fram 2 which he sailed to Antarctica and became the first person to reach the South Pole. Fascinating stuff but not up my alley. Cold is not my thing.
The next was the Kon-tiki museum, dedicated to Thor Heyerdahl, who did both the Kon-tiki expedition and the Ra expedition in the 1950's. They had the original Kon-tiki raft in the museum and a re-creation of the Ra papyrus reed boat which sank on that voyage. Another good and interesting museum. Then off to the Maritime Museum. They are all right next to each other, so why not. This one was a bit different and some parts interested me, others didn't. It was fine though except the air was very close and eventually I had to do an Elvis and leave the building.
Ferry back to the city and a quick shop for tonights dinner before getting the bus home. A couple of plans for tomorrow, our last full day in Oslo, let's see what pans out.

4 June: Last full day in Oslo. Julie tells me there are still more museums to go to. First on the list though, is the Ski Jump facility near Holmenkollen. We took the number one line on the Metro and were treated to a delightful ride. It climbs around 1000' in elevation (bit over 300m) and then there is the casual 1300m walk to the site. I use the word casual very loosely. It was all uphill, sometimes very uphill. Everything else around it was closed, mainly for renovations, but the actual jump was open for business. Fortunately another Oslo Pass site (gosh, we have killed this Pass) and we went to the top. I wasn't overly comfortable knowing that the last 80m (at a guess) to the top is suspended over open air! I trust the engineering but it doesn't do much for my acrophobia. Great view from the top. There is a zip line you can take down but it's a long way and you start off very fast. I would have frozen in my light rain jacket. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. We watched one woman do it and that was exciting!
From there, it was an ice cream from the shop at at the jump and walk back to the station. It was about 23C today, which really surprises me, and an ice cream was appropriate. The walk back was so easy, we almost rolled there. Train back to Central and a light lunch in the terminal. So many eating places in the station it's crazy, have to pay $3 to use the toilet though, yeah, pass.
Last on the list was the Fortress and the associated Resistance Museum. The museum was very good such that we spent over an hour in it. Great history. Next to the Fortress where the resistance theme continued. Interesting place. Lots of Royal history, but resistance history as well. Certainly no Versailles, not by a long shot, but that made it more personable. Walked to the bus stop and got the 74 home. In other cities we would have gone to a bar for a drink, but not here. The prices are ridiculous (think $100 for a cheap bottle of Jacob's Creek, and glass price higher too) and we really can't justify the waste. Our supply in the motorhome should do us for our stay in Norway anyway.
Tomorrow, we are off towards Bergen but there is no rush, so we plan 2 stopovers on the way. One of them may be for 2 nights. 3 nights to kill before we need to be in Bergen. All looking good, I like to have time up my sleeve.

5 June: We left Oslo late enough to miss major traffic, not that there is much traffic in the city anyway. We took the cross town tunnel that goes under the city for 4.5Km. What a bonus. We ran into a lot of roadworks on this drive, but nothing that really held us up. It was about an hour into the drive that we saw our first glimpse of snow capped peaks. Not sure that it is really snow capped or what we have seen before, just a white sand that is formed by the ice caps. Either way, it looked good. We are sure there is more to come. It was a very scenic drive to Nesbyen and the campsite we chose to aim for. The campsite was good and is on a peninsula at the confluence of two rivers, so we have a river in front of us and a river behind. Which view to look at! Tomorrow, we will go to another campsite on a fjord about 150Km away and spend 2 nights there.

6 June: Tomtom told us we had 150Km to go to Eidfjord and it was going to take 3 hours. Tomtom was right. Lots of slow speed limits anyway, but most of the drive was winding mountain roads The scenery was fabulous. Snow capped mountains, lakes that were half iced over with fog rising from the surface and raging rivers. Mountains with massive cliffs, this place had the lot. Between Nesbyen and Eidfiode is part of the main highway from Oslo to Bergen, but you could be forgiven for thinking it was a lesser grade road. Mind you, we didn't expect to drive over the mountains and pass through some serious snowfields. At one point we entered a tunnel that was a left hand descending corkscrew. We certainly lost a lot of altitude quickly. We were well over 1000m at the top and less than 30m AMSL in the campsite which is right on a lake surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Best view yet and we have had some good ones.

7 June, a full day in Eidfjord so the washing could get done. We need to catch up on it before we go on the cruise to make sure have enough clean clothes for 10 days. We had a few hours free so we got the scooter off and rode into the town of Eidfjord, about 6km away. We were expecting a village but it was quite a bit bigger. The reason it is bigger was made obvious by the massive cruise ship which looked like it was parked in the middle of town. As with these size ships, it caused an instant crowd scene. This town is at the end of the fjord and sits where the rivers join the fjord. Very pretty place. We managed to buy a few things at the souvenir shop and by the time we finished (the lady behind the counter was very chatty with us, being Aussies and all) there was a long queue waiting to be served. Good timing.
Back to the campsite and got the washing done. Lazy afternoon now and we will head in to Bergen tomorrow.

8 June: We set off from Eidfjord a bit after 10. Stopped for fuel, we were still on half a tank, but we had seen it for 18.1 NOK which is the cheapest we have seen here. When we got there, it was 21.8. Must be a Perth type price cycle and we were a day late. Not to worry, we topped up anyway. The drive was another spectacular one, different from a couple of days ago, but still good. We went through many, many tunnels and came across two occasions where there were roundabouts in the middle of the tunnels. Never seen anything like it. Julie videoed the second one (the dashcam was playing up) so I'll put it up later. It still took just under 3 hours to do 150Km. With a national max speed limit of 80Kmph but most of the time it was 50, 60 or 70, so that slows things down. Often the state of the road dictates a lower speed anyway so the average is not quick at all. Got to the campsite OK and got set up. We have to move the van on Sunday to a non pitch area for the 10 days we are away. When we come back, we will have to put it back on a powered pitch for a night.
Julie's back was giving her grief again today so she was taking it easy this afternoon. I got the scooter off the trailer and went into Bergen to do a recce and find out if it will be suitable for our needs rather than the bus. As it turns out, the 15Km ride in was very easy and with the lower speeds here, it was non threatening. Parking the scooter is not a problem either so another bonus. We will ride in tomorrow and have a look around.
We have been considering options once we leave Bergen the second time and have settled on going via Stavanger to Kristiansand on the south coast where we will take a ferry to the north west end of Denmark.

9 June: We rode in to Bergen and parked in a discrete spot I had found yesterday. Walked to the tourist information office via a few souvenir shops. Julie picked out a few things but we would get them when we return to the scooter. The tourist office was amazing, about 10 desks staffed and still a queue. That's not to say we were disappointed having to wait, it meant they were geared up to cope. While we were waiting, a young guy came up and asked he could help with generic info or if we needed more. We didn't need more, so he looked after us aside from the rest. Very efficient. We then walked to the funicular railway which goes to the top a high hill in the town. On the way, I bought another cap. I left mine at home and neded to protect my bald spot. Needed a souvenir of Norway anyway. The train was very cool, nothing like the cog trains we have become used to. Smooth and quiet and got us to the top in short time. The view from there was excellent and the weather was kind enough to give us good light and visibility. Back to the waterfront and we had seafood at the markets. Interesting stuff available, including Whale and huge crabs that are about double the size of the North West Mudcrabs. Our meals were pretty good.
We walked around one of the wharfs and part of the older area. Bergen, like most of Norway, is not flat at all. More pressure on the hamstrings! We then went to the souvenir places for Julie to get what she wanted and I finally found a Norway polo shirt, something we had not found anywhere in Norway previously. You can get millions of Tshirts but polos are like hens teeth. We rode home and found the traffic banked up on the through route to the campsite again. Fortunately, I had discovered an alternative route yesterday plus the trick of riding right to the front at the lights. Worked a treat because the bit we skirted was about 3 Kms of stationary whereas we had no hold up at all.
Called Hurtigruten Lines in London and found out more about the cruise, basic information we didn't have and they were very helpful. Even to suggesting we join the Ambassadors Club which is like a frequent flyer scheme which gives us an instant 5% off any side tour we book. Tomorrow we will do more of Bergen.

10 June: We rode into Bergen again. Julie wanted to see the Kode art museums, of which there are 4 of, each fairly small, but at least in the same area. I didn't want to go, so I dropped Julie off as close as I could get, which wasn't easy with all the one way streets in that area. I went back to the wharf area and parked the scooter up. On the way in we could see some sort of Pride event being set up but knew nothing else about it. By the time I got back to the area, it was obviously something big. People everywhere in their rainbows and dress ups. The numbers were swelling too. By the time Julie called me to say she had finished with the museums, I suggested she walk to the wharf, it was way too chaotic and with road closures it would be much quicker to walk anyway. We met up and walked around taking in the sights before stopping for lunch. As we were doing that, the parade got into full swing. We watched it all because we couldn't get the scooter out anyway, it was blocked in the middle of the parade. It was definitely a serious Mardi Gras. I would guess in excess of 60,000 people, it was packed. After it had all passed through, we headed home, after which I refuelled the scooter for the first time this trip. The poor thing has not beed ridden much and this was the first place where we have done multiple trips. Julie did some last minute washing before our 10 days away from the motorhome.
Tomorrow we will stay at the camp and do our packing for the cruise. We have to be boarded by 2000, but we can arrive anythimg after 1600 and they have a lounge at their terminal for passengers similar to a business lounge for airlines, so we will use that. We can't access our cabin until 1800 and dinner will be served after that. We are seriously looking forward to a total change of our normal modus operandi of traveling.

11 June: We had no plans for this morning, prefering to take it easy before going to the Hurtigruten Terminal in Bergen around 1600. All was going well until we tried to call for a cab sometime around 1520. All attempts to call one was failed with a message, not a known number. Odd, because we have called Norway from Sweden even and had no problems. I tried 4 different numbers all with the same result. So, in desperation, I found a Norwegian registered caravan asked the guy there about it. He was really good about it and called them on his local mobile with no problems. That done, we were picked up just before 4 and were driven 15Km to the terminal for the cool price of $85. The checking in was pretty straight forward and we sat through the safety video then boarded. We weren't due to depart until 2030 and our room was not available until 1800, so we did some exploring of the ship. It is not a big ship by normal cruise standards but that suits us just fine. We got our room on time, had a sly glass of red then went upstairs for dinner. It was a buffet style, but very good, and was open to all from 1800. Our assigned dining time for dinner otherwise is 2015. Later than we would normaly eat, but with sun still up nearly all night, it shouldn't be too much pain. While we were setting up our room (more cramped than the motorhome) we were looking out the window and watched as a guy on a jetski tried to do big wave spray on a large vessel, only to mistime it and smacked side on into it. We think he hurt himself because he rode very gingerly after that and eventually headed for shore. Lesson learned? Maybe.
The cruise got away on time ans set up a good speed. There are hundreds of islands around Bergen so a lot to see on both sides. Tomorrow, we leave the ship for a shore excursion of about 6 hours and meet up with the ship 2 stops down. Should be interesting.

12 June: Our excursion is from 1425 to 2230 which is not exactly a short one. The way it works is that the ship sails from Alesund to Geiranger, drops us off, then goes back to Alesund for about an hours stopover for those not on the excursion. It then goes to Molde where we will meet up again at 2235.
We did a transfer to a tender ferry in the fjord without mooring and were staken to the wharf on that. We then transferred to a tour coach for the rest of the trip to Molde. Geiranger is a beautiful place, nestled at the end of a very deep fjord with high steep mountains all around. It was a steep climb out of the town with a few decent rairpin bends. Half way up we managed to pull over and we got out for photos. Geiranger is even more spectacular from altitude. Hopefully the photos will do it some justice. We carried on through valleys, forests and a few mountain passes, all wonderful. Waterfalls and rivers abound.
The hightlight was a lace called Trollstigen, or Trolls Pass. It is a dead end valley that stops at the foot of the mountains. One of those places where every angle is a spectacular view. Too hard to explain, I hope the photos help, It had rocky outcrops, snow covered montains, raging waterfalls becoming raging rivers, green valley and a wow winding road which would have been fun on a motor cycle but very interesting in a tour coach. Hairpin bends everywhere, only a problem when someone wants to come the other way. We spent about 50 minutes at the top of Trollstigen and then very slowly worked our way down into the valley to a stop for tourist coaches. We had a late afternoon tea there, it was about 1830, then continued on to Molde, having to take two ferries on the way. At Molde, we left the coach and had dinner at a local hotel restaurant. By now is was after 2100 and we were all a tad hungry. The meal was part of the tour package and everyone had the same meal. Tough if you don't like fish. The ship was over 10 minutes late arriving at the wharf and it was nealy 2300 before we reboarded.
It was a very good day but a couple of hours too long. A quick red from our stash and off to bed.

13 June: Our next stop was at Trondheim, a very large town, We could have taken a tour of the town for $200 each, or we could walk in ourselves and do our own thing. No surprise we chose the latter. We had about 3 hours free so we walked in and wandered through the town, visited the old church and Julie did the old cathedral. I baulked at the $15 entry so I did the outside tour while Julie did the inside. Trondheim is a nice coastal town with some lovely older architecture and a nice feel about it. The latter being hard to quantify because it was pretty deserted.
Back to the ship and lunch. In the afternoon we hit a bit of chop on the water and while the change in the movement of the ship was not major, it was a significant change from the first part of the voyage. Julie felt a little queasy. I was OK as long as I kept my head up. Leaning over the laptop typing this didn't help so I put it on hold for a while. Calmed down less than an hour later and all was good. Tomorrow we are stopping in Bodo, above the Arctic Circle, for 2 hours 15. We'll do the same as we did today and show ourselves around.
We ate at our allotted table tonight for the first time and it was obviously set as an Aussie table. The table of eight had 2 from Melbourne, 2 from Brisbane and 4 from Perth. It was a fun crowd.

14 June: We crossed the Arctic Circle just as we were waking up about 0800. The only thing we had planned for today was to look around Bodo when the ship docked for a couple of hours. Usual breakfast, no bacon except a small sliver on a fried egg, shame, and then lunch, then we took on Bodo. Bodo won, it had almost nothing to offer. There were a few street art paintings that were pretty cool, but other than that, we visited the local Vinmonopolet to see just much a bottle of wine costs. They start at $85 for a red on board the ship. You could get a reasonable Aussie red for $17 to $30 which is over the mark, but not as hideously expensive as I had been led to believe. As it is, we have enough to get us out of Norway anyway, but it was an interesting exercise. We tried to chill out on level 7 in the lounge facing the front of the ship but the sloping down of the windows made it a greenhouse effect so instead of chilling out we sweated it out. Easily solved by moving to a side seat. Nothing interesting to see outside for a while, it is unchanged for the last 2 days, well, except for the odd spectacle. The other issue is that the cloud has been a solid overcast between 200 and 300 feet, so all the mountains are flat top.
After dinner we were told that we would be going to Svolvaer for a reasonable time and then going through Trolls Fjord about midnight. We decided we would stay up and see what it was like. Svolvaer was a very pretty town, almost dead because it was about 2130 when we got there, but that was OK. Quite a modern town but done nicely. The trip in and out of Trolls was very interesting with the width of the entry being quite narrow. The other interesting part was that the fjord is a dead end so the ship did a slow 180 where it opened up a little so we could do the return run. Just as well they have stern and bow thrusters otherwise is would never work. Exited the fjord after midnight and got to bed at half past.

15 June: Slept in until nearly 9. Managed to fit breakfast in before they closed the dining room and then just watched the world go by for rest of the time until lunch. We arrived in Tromso about 1415 and had 4 hours free before the ship sailed again. After leaving the ship, we found the Tourist Information office in the arrivals part of the terminal. Couldn't miss it really. We bought a day pass for public transport which included a return ticket on the cable car and admission to the Arctic Cathedral, a modern structure that is so different to any traditional one. We took the bus to the cable car, did the trip up and back with a photo session and a short walk in between. From there we could see the spot where the Turpitz was sunk. Dad was on one of the missions to bomb the battleship. We would have been on the second but his name was not drawn out of the hat.
Then it was another bus to the Arctic Cathedral and another back to the city. Tromso is a nice mixture of old and new buildings. Worked our way back to the ship and grabbed a tea and coffee. Tomorrow will be our final full day on the cruise.

16 June: We had a quick breakfast this morning because there was an information meeting for those getting off at Kirkenes tomorrow at 9am. Then we were having an early lunch at 10 because we had the Nordkapp tour at 1045. That being otherwise known as the North Cape. It is the northernmost point in Europe. We left on the tour from Honningsvag and got a bus to the cape. Interesting scenery with the whole area being Actic Tundra, not a tree to be seen. We also saw a few reindeer which surprised us because we thouoght they were a brownish colour but these were literally snow white. It appears that they turn white over winter and then a grey or brown over summer. It is still spring here despite the date.
The cape itself is good. There is a globe style monument there to mark it out and the surrounding coastline is rugged. It was cold, but not bitterly so. Probably about 4C but colder when the wind came up. The puffer jackets came into their own today. I managed to find a Nordkapp polo shirt which amazed me, as we have only seen one other available in Norway. Millions of Tshirts but almost no polos. Bought a few other things too, best souvenir shop we have seen for a while. Nearly fell asleep on the drive back in the overheated bus.
Hopefully we will get a good sleep tonight. Our queen bed has individual single doonas with no top sheet, and the doonas just slide everywhere, usually towards the floor. An odd arrangement that doesn't work at all well.
Another stop at Kjollefjord. There are so many medium to large settlements all the way up the Norwegian coast which surprises us because it would be seriously inhospitable in winter.

17 June: We set the alarm for 0700 so we could shower and pack the suitcases before 0800. A bit of a surprise when the ship started listing, as all the water in the shower decided to pour across the floor and flood the carpet in the main cabin. Just as well we were leaving. We took the cases to the storage room and set off for breakfast. The previous evening after dinner I was chatting to one of the chefs that I have chatted with before, and said, this is my last supper. We asked if I would be back for breakfat and I said I would, and a nice bowl of bacon would be great. He told he would have one ready for me. As a man of his word, he went out the back and came out with a cereal bowl full of bacon in the morning. Champion. We had to rush through breakfast as there was another sitting coming up but got through what we needed. When it came time to disembark for the last time, we grabbed the cases and got on the shuttle bus to the Thon Hotel. We arrived there about 1000 and the paperwork said check-in was from 1500. I asked if an earlier check-in would be possible, she told us our room was ready now and gave us the keys. What a winner.
We took a walk around Kirkenes, noting before where the attractions, such as there were, were located. The bomb shelter museum was not open until 1230 so we took a look at the Soviet memorial a short walk away. This memorial is in honour of the Soviets for liberating Kirkenes in 1944. The big difference with this liberation is that once the Nazis were defeated there, they went home to Moscow and left the inhabitants free. A good display and a great narration and story telling from the guide. Most informative. Afternoon tea at a town centre cafe. It's a small town centre but they are not short of cafes or restaurants. We will go to one of them for dinner tonight, just not sure which yet.
Decided on the Thai which was good and had resonably priced wines. Tomorrow, Oslo again.

18 June: Little did we know what we were in for today. Our flight to Oslo was scheduled for 1125. We got a text from SAS (Scandinavian Air Services) to say that the flight was delayed until 1215. The shuttle bus was still picking us up at 0925 so we would have to kill a bit of time at the airport, no problem though. While we were waiting in the terminal, after going through check in etc, there was a call on the PA for Mr Martin Owen to present to check-in services. I knew it was me, I get it all the time. I had to exit the secure area and the guy there asked if I had a power pack in my suitcase. I didn't think I did, but unlocked the case and went through all the electronic stuff, to find that I did indeed have an old power pack that I haven't used for years. I put it in my pocket and everything was fine. Julie was very worried that it was the wine in my case that they were concerned about, but we dodged that bullet. Finally got going on the flight, which was another first for us, first time on a Boeing 737-700. This aircraft is the same vintage as the 737-800 which is in common use in Australia. The difference is that the 700 series is much shorter and lighter. That's only significant to Aero buffs, but I noticed.
We arrived in Oslo and went towards the baggage pickup, only to decide we wanted to use the toilets, so we followed the signs. After that duty, we found we couldn't get back to the baggage area. Managed to get a staff member to let us through and waited for our bags, and waited and waited. Took over 40 minutes for the luggage to arrive. Others in our cruise group were getting seriously worried because they had other airline transfers to do. I suspect a few would not have made the change. So, we got our cases and went to the ticket machines and bought 2 one way tickets to Oslo central. Seniors prices (seniors here is 67, so we both just make it) which was half price. Then we get advised that there has been an incident on the tracks and all trains have been cancelled, with a review at 1700, now being about 1430. So, we now need to convert our train tickets to bus tickets. We wait in the line for 20 minutes, only to be told we need to go to another place. We go to the other place and are waiting in the queue to work something out when a worker comes running up saying the track is now clear and they are boarding on platform 3. We were about 4m from the escalator to platform 3 and fortunately Julie followed my lead and we were among the first to get on the train. Talk about "right time, right place" because there were hundreds waiting by that time.
Arrived at the Clarion Hotel about 2 hours later than we had expected and checked in. The foyer of the hotel is sensational, really eye catching. When we got to the room we realised that they spent all the money on the foyer and bugger all on the rooms. Very disappointing after the very good Thon Hotel in Kirkenes. We are only here for a night though and it is just across the road from the Central Station where our train leaves from tomorrow at 0825. That should give us time to get up early and have a good breakfast, seeing we have already paid for it. Tomorrow will be a long day, I hope we can catch some rest on the way.

19 June: Up early, like 6am to make breakfast. Packed up and went to the station across the road to get the Bergen line at 0825. We had seats allocated so there was no rush there. The days schedule was the Bergen train to Myrdal, then the Flam train to Flam, an electric ferry to Gudvangen, then a bus to Voss for the night. The Bergen train was good, though the first 60% of the trip was following the roads we had driven a couple of weeks ago. Once we left that part, it climbed into the mountains with some great views. We changed trains at Myrdal to the Flam railway. Thia train has a worldwide reputation for being awesome. I'll be the first to admit I am a cynic, but what I will say is, it was a journey of mixed emotions. The scenery was absolutely spectacular. As good as you will see anywhere. The downside? You had about 3 seconds if you were lucky to take in the view before you went into a tunnel or otherwise had the view obscured. We did stop for one photoshoot early in the trip (it's not a long rail line) which was a win and lose too. The scene was an amazingly violent waterfall that was awesome. The downside is that it was so violent that getting off the train was like walking into a cold shower. Both Julie and I put our good cameras away and used our phones. Water everywhere, but it's OK, we thought we getting a couple of other "photo stops". Well, we didn't, and we missed out on some of the best views we could hope for. To know that was there and we couldn't see it properly was very frustrating. Enough of that though, I am sure there are many around who would call me a heretic.
From Flam we took the electric ferry to Gudvangen. While we were waiting, we thought about our accommodation for tonight. We had expected to meet up with someone representing the tour company but we hadn't, and reading the itinerary again, the accommodation was conspicuous in it's absence. OK, we needed to find a place to stay tonight. Found the Park Hotel Voss that was close to where we get off the bus and close to the train station for the last leg tomorrow. Worry about it when we get there. The ferry ride was excellent, very quiet until it needed reverse thrust, and new and smooth. Again, some would beating scenery. The fjords here are mind blowingly beautiful. The bus to Voss was also good with more fjord views and waterfalls and mountains. Went to the Park on arrival and got a room, but they didn't have the cheaper ones that had been cleaned, so we paid a bit more for a "superior room" which applied only to size, nothing else. Very dated, though some parts had been remodeled with mixed success. However, still cheaper and better than the Criterion in Oslo and it's only for one night. Tomorrow, it's back to the motorhome and in a lot of ways we are looking forward to that.

20 June: The room at the Park Hotel was jinxed. I had a shower last night and it was fine. Julie had a shower this morning and halfway through it turned hot, very hot. It is a typical European shower that has a tap for the pressure and another tap for the mix, The latter is supposed to be a temperature set, rather than a physical mix of hot and cold like we would have at home. The mixer obviously failed. Nothing we could do made a difference, so it was an early exit for Julie and a no go for my morning shower. We went downstairs for breakfast and had trouble finding a clean table, not because it was busy, they just weren't cleaning up after people left. A guy did eventually come and do it but by then most people had cleaned their own table of choice. Otherwise, breakfast was fine.
Our train did not leave until 1256 so we had plenty of time to kill. Walked a bit around the lake and did some window shopping in the town. Also visited the local church near the hotel. It was opened in 1277 so it has seen a few things. A unique church, the bottom was stone and the top timber. It was nicely decorated.
An early lunch at a cafe in the city, picked up our luggage from the hotel then off to the train station which was only about 200m away. The train ride to Bergen was a delight. We had driven the same route 2 weeks ago, but it is a different viewpoint from the train. More spectacular scenery and I was able to appreciate it without having to keep my eyes on the road. From Bergen, we got a taxi outside the station and had another quick $85 ride. When we got to the campsite, we had to relocate to a powered site which was no problem, but the first thing we found was that the fridge was mouldy. We didn't expect that after less than 10 days but there you go. We thought it would be OK closed for that time, from being cold before we left, but we were wrong. Learn something new every day. Managed to get some milk from the local servo a walk away and that's all we really need for tonight and tomorrow. We will need to do a big shop tomorrow though.
The plan for tomorrow is to head towards Stavanger and if we see a nice place to stop, we will. We have a pile of washing that needs doing so if we find a nice spot with machines, we will probably stay 2 nights. The last 10 days have been pretty full on so a day off would be good.

21 June: We had chosen a campsite in Stavanger and left Bergen before 1000. While we were enroute, which included 2 ferries, one 40 minutes, the other about 15, and 2 very long undersea tunnels, we called the campsite. They didn't have any free pitches but suggested another site not too far away. We drove to the new site and it is almost on the beach on the North Sea coast. The weather is not the best anyway, but with a 30Kt wind coming off the sea, it is not the place we want to stay 2 nights. We paid for one and so far have managed to do the load of washing we needed, but are having issues with the previous user, who walked away leaving the washing machine unemptied and the dryer likewise. Julie took their washing out and put it on top of the dryer. Now we need the selfish sods to come back and they will no doubt put their load in the dryer and leave that unattended too. Worst comes to worst we will do the drying in the morning before we leave. The upside is we managed to stop in at a town along the way to do some serious restocking on the food front at a supermarket with parking suitable for our motorhome.

22 June: We took a walk to the beach and noticed what initially looked like a deserted house on top of a sizable dune but it became obvious when we got closer that it was a WW2 German fortification. We climbed up to the top and were greeted by a network of tunnels, a gun emplacement and lots of concrete. It must have been part of the German "Atlantic Wall" of bunkers and guns that run all the way down Norway through to France. Interesting stuff. It is not a museum or anything like that, it's just there.
We called ahead to a campsite a couple of hours down the road and set off. The drive was more of the best of Norway. No snow covered mountains this time, but beautiful hills, valleys, lakes and rivers. Post card pretty. We arrived at the campsite and paid for one night, over $80 which we think is a bit steep. We had planned to stay 2 nights but there is really nothing to do here, even if it is on a fjord and the price was not right. Very nice ablutions though. We called ahead to another site closer to Kritiansand and booked the next 2 nights there. We have booked a ferry crossing from Kristiansand to Hirtshals in northern Denmark on Sunday afternoon 25 June.

23 June: We left the campsite and prepared ourselves for the 75Km journey to Mandal and our next campsite. Again, it was a stunning drive through the countryside. Interesting thing with Norwegian drivers is that they are never in a hurry. It could have something to do with the outrageous speeding fines here of course, but they are often more than 10k under the limit, and if there is a speed camera (of which there are a lot, but signposted) they slow down to 20k under the limit. A bit frustrating at times when the national max limit is 80Kph, though sometimes there is a 90 limit and very rarely a 100. Fifth gear doesn't get much of a workout here. Suffice to say it takes a long time to get anywhere in Norway. Today was OK though because we didn't have far to go and we needed to burn some time to get to the current site after 1200. We are staying here for 2 nights before getting the ferry to Denmark. It is a pleasant site and very friendly, to the extent that they are putting on coffee and cake for all residents at 1900. Never had that before.
The celebration is for the summer solstice and also a family show. This family have run this area for 19 generations, first as a farm, now as a campsite. The coffee was unusual, made in a big pot with some conifer type of vegetation in it. Was pretty good too, even if it was black without sugar. The cakes and buns were great too. We got a special mention as being from Australia which seemed to impress everyone there. A good evening with the Norwegian couple at our picnic table. Great local event.

24 June: A day off before departing Norway for Denmark tomorrow. Seriously chilling out although I did remount a powerboard that kept falling down with double sided tape. Now anchored with a couple of screws. Big day tomorrow.

25 June: Yes, it is a big day, but with a lot of waiting. When we booked the ferry crossing, the website was a little confusing, ending up with us declaring our length as under 6m when it should have been under 8m. When we got to the front of the queue, I declared the error and it was all sorted out, sort of. The guy charged us an extra 74NOK, or about $10.50, which we thought was very cheap, seeing as we paid 305 Euro in the first instance. Later, when I checked our bank transactions, we had indeed been charged 74NOK, but the confirmation email from the ferry company showed we should have paid an extra 74 Euro, which is around $110. That same email showed it as paid, so we will take the win. The ferry we went on was a high speed catamaran which covered the 140Km in 2 hours and 15 minutes which is pretty cool. Back to the waiting issue, we arrived 2.5 hours early (never want to miss a boat) and then the time on the ship waiting to get to Hirtshals. Amazing how tiring it is doing nothing.
We got off the ferry and drove the 52Km to Lokken and the ACSI campsite which is still current for the discount. Nice big pitch, marked by hedges and 3 permanent vns that seem to be unoccupied at the moment in our group of 4. Nice to pay $32 a night instead of $60+ that we have been paying in Norway. Tomorrow we will continue south and see some more highlights of Denmark.

26 June: Departed our pitch which was interesting because it was very tight. I opted to take the long way out rather than try to do an undoable 180. I had studied the map we had of the site and we went the long way. Alas, the map was inaccurate (imagine my surprise) and we ended up in a dead end. OK, unhitch the trailer, turn the van around, rehitch trailer then retrace our route. That was a waste of 15 minutes, but we got out in the end. We had chosen an ACSI site for tonights destination. We only have a couple of days left of the shoulder season where we get the discounted camping. The forecast was for some thunderstorms. The reality was severe tropical thunderstorms. For 2 hours we were in heavy to torrential rain. I've never run the wipers on high speed for so long. Vibility at times was less than 100m and trying to see the lane markings was almost impossible. I had to slow down to 80Kph, that's how bad it was. Actually at times it was back to a third gear idle.
We got to our destination OK and it's a nice campsite. Lots of room and what looks like pretty good amenities. Got the scooter off the trailer for the first time in a while and will use it tomorrow if the forecast is accurate.

27 June: Took the scooter to Jelling, a small town about 15Km away. It's claim to fame is the discovery of Viking stone runes and burial mounds, and now hosts a Viking history museum. As it turns out, Velling used to be the royal seat of power for a few centuries, the most famous king being Harald Bluetooth, who lends his name to the wireless protocol. Just to amaze us, it was free entry, most unusual in Scandinavia. Very good museum with interactive displays that told the stories in an interesting manner. It is a UNESCO heritage site which is how Julie found out about it. Julie is the senior researcher for our trips and does it very well indeed. We did some shopping on the way home, and for the first time in a long time, were able to buy wine at Aldi's. All we need to do now is get to Germany where we do the same but at less than half the price as here.
Back at the campsite, we set up the internet on the laptop and Ipad. We are loathe to use hotspots on the phones because every time we do, we have 2Gb ripped out of our allowance, even though we only use a few Mb. We paid $8 for 24 hours of net time for 2 devices and it is garbage. First time we have had to pay for WiFi since we left home and it was slower and less reliable than the old dial up modems we used 25 years ago. So bad it was next to useless, which explains why this page hasn't been updated for a few days.
Tomorrow we are heading to Ribe only an hour or so away. We have booked 2 nights to visit the town which is the oldest town in Denmark.

28 June: Left the campsite in Riis and drove to Esbjerg to see the "Men by the Sea" statues. They are 9m high. We are not sure what they represent, but we'll do some research into it. After that, we drove into a dead end, thanks to roadworks and the live traffic on Tomtom not working in Denmark. Lost 10 minutes or so, not a disaster. Ribe was only a half hour drive from Esbjerg so we weren't in a hurry. The campsite at Ribe is excellent. Big pitches, good ablutions, nice staff and great infrastructure. We walked into the town to see if it would be walkable tomorrow and do some shopping. We decided we would take the scooter tomorrow. We are in countdawn mode now. We need to cross the channel on the 15th of July. Plenty of time, but we need to make it work well. We have 2 nights here then another 2 nights a bit farther down in the German coastal region. It will be interesting to see how it compares with some of the more famous coastal areas of Europe. Wont take much to be better than the French or Italian Rivieras.

29 June: Took the scooter into Ribe and we were not disappointed. A beautifully maintained old town centre with semi-pedestrian streets. I say semi, because few were pedestrian only and the rest looked like it should be the same, but cars still managed to mar the ambience. We did the old city walk and most of the sights we should, including the old castle ruins a bit outside the main centre. The church complex in the centre had its own square so made for an imposing sight. A late morning tea in the square and more walking. Once we had finished with the town, we did some shopping, enough to get rid of the rest of our Danish Kroner, though had to top it up with 8.90DNK on the card. That is all of $1.80. We leave Denmark tomorrow and didn't want to be lumbered with currency we would never use again.
When we got home, a cold wind and annoying drizzle started, so we timed it well. Really enjoyed Ribe, it is quite unique for Scandinavia. The town that is, not the enjoying! Tomorrow, Germany.

30 June: Not a long drive today. Tomtom wanted to take us out of the way by going east, getting on the motorway for about 60km then west again. We opted for the more direct route that went through a few towns, or so we thought. Roundabouts every few Kms, more towns that you can poke a stick at with the associated 50Kph speed limit. Add to this some heavy traffic and roadworks, it seemed to take forever. Finally got to Biehl and the campsite and checked in and sorted. This place is essentially a seaside resort, not the sort of place we would hunt out, but interesting to see how the Germans do it. It has a huge beach, probably 500m wide and it goes on forever. Sadly, I didn't take the camera when I went there so I will have to go again tomorrow. It's not far at all, the longest walk is across the sand to the water. We went for a walk through what we expected to be the towns main street but it was only the odd home and the rest was holiday accommodation. The town was probably another Km or more so we gave it a miss.
The campsite is perfectly adequate withh enough facilities to not have to worry about getting out and about.

1 July: Our only full day in Biehl and it rain like crazy last night. The morning wasn't much better. Miserable weather to say the least. We used the time to plan our run in to Dunkirk. We were thinking of going to Hanover and Kassel in Germany but there appears to be a dirth of campsites, nothing even close to either place. We've stated working backwards, so we have booked 3 nights at Brugge from where we will go to the ferry in Dunkirk. Before that, we will have probably 3 nights in Delft, Netherlands and visit both Delft and Rotterdam. So we will now have a target date and will work our way through the north west of Germany and then into Netherlands from the north. It's all coming together nicely.
This afternoon we took a walk along the beach. It was very windy but at least the rain has stopped. The only people enjoying themselves were the kite surfers and there were plenty of them. Got some photos anyway but with the grey sky, they are not as good as they would have been yesterday.

2 July: Last night was wild winds, close to gale force, in excess of 40Kts. The van was moving worse than the ship in Norway at its worst. Didn't stop throwing the van around all night. Add that to intermittent heavy rain and you have a recipe for a bad nights sleep. I managed better than Julie but it was still tiring. We managed to pack up the van without getting too wet and headed towards a campsite near Bremerhaven that we thought would be a good staging point. On the way we were buffeted again by wild winds and rain showers. Our route took us via a ferry that crossed the Elbe river. It saved us about 120Km and a lot of time, so the €27 charge was cancelled out by the amount saved on fuel. However, with the wind as it was and the ferry being open deck (we stayed inside the van) we were often doused in lots of sea water (it was where the Elbe meets the North Sea). The whole van is crusted in salt and will need a good hose down when we get the chance. We arrived at the campsite (not booked) at 1310. Reception takes a siesta from 1300 to 1500. Great, been there done that. I was in the process of calling the number on the window when a woman came out of reception and asked if she could help. I asked for a spot for the night and she said come back after 1500. I said we were not going to wait, and if we couldn't get in now, we would continue on to somewhere else. The response was, OK, bye. Most ridiculous customer service I have ever seen. Most others would say, set up on pitch 24 and drop in after we reopen. Crazy. SO, we moved on another 50Km or so and found a nice little campsite that was probably half the price and a lot nicer standard of people.
We set up camp and had dinner at the sites cafe. Julie had a ham and white asparagus schnitzel and I had the giant curry wurst. All very nice. Lovely people who run this place.
Tomorrow we will be in Netherlands.

3 July: We left the campsite in Jade and drove to Groningen. An uneventful drive with the weather being overcast to scattered showers. It all helps wash the salt off the van so it's not such a bad thing. The campsite in Groningen is quite nice. Cheap by comparison at €22 a night, with a few extras that are cheap anyway, like 50c for a shower and 20c for hot water for the dishes. Good size pitches with personal hedges so you feel isolated and private. After the rain stopped, we took a ride in to Lidl's about 7Km away. We needed to top up the bar and the fridge. Managed to find our way there with only 2 stops to check our position on maps. One of the biggest problems with planning a route with google maps is that you don't get a feel for distances, so turns may not be where you expect them. Remembering that we don't have the screen in front of us, so we need to remember the route and track from memory. On the way homw home we did it with one missed turn, so that was pretty good. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we will ride into the city and do the tourist stuff. Fingers crossed!

4 July: The weather was OK but threatening black clouds were ever present. We took our chances and rode into the city. It was a good run, using much of the route we took yesterday but going straight on instead of turning west to Lidl. Parked among the bikes on the footpath and walked into the main square. We were again reminded of our two visits to Amsterdam and also Utrecht. Walking anywhere, including footpaths was like having a WW1 dogfight when you are outnumbered 20 to 1. Wherever you turn, their are cyclists coming from all directions trying to take you out. They never ring their bells and pass so close from behind that half a step in any direction would mean a collision. At no time were we not under siege. Sounds crazy but it is very off putting. The only safe place is indoors. It was equally as bad rinding the scooter with both cyclicts and pedestrians getting in the way. Anyway, enough of that, but it was a refief to get out of the city.
While were in there, we walked all around the central city and it has a good feel to it. Popup markets in the 2 adjacent squares selling everything from cheese, fish, fruit and vegetables, food stalls, clothes, craft, you name it, it's there. Went inside a cafe for morning tea and coffee and that gave us a chance to regroup. Did the Groningen Museum which was good, highlighted by a timeline history of the city from 5000BC. Like most good museums, very educational. Later bought some lunch from one of the market vendors and walked to one of the parks outside the centre and ate it on the way. Back to the scooter and we were ready to go home.
We have organised a spot in Zwolle about an hours drive away where we will stay for 2 nights. It is good to be back in "normal" Europe where we don't have to mortgage the house for a night in a campsite.

5 July: It was windy as hell last night and this morning. Lots of rain too. We checked out from Groningen and drove to Zwolle. Normally would have been an easy drive but having a sail as we do, the 40Kts or more (around 80Kph) wind made it interesting. I was fighting the wheel for most of the trip. The rain came again and added more fun to the roller coaster. We got to the campsite in Zwolle and the road in was littered with tree debris. The girl at reception said please don't put out your awning. Preaching to the converted but I guess some people still would. We are in an exposed spot but with some help from the 2m high hedge. It took the edge off the wind but that was about all. We had been getting wind and rain alerts on our phones and the timing was amazingly accurate. Now at 1730, the rain has stopped and the wind has died down to a more respctable 20Kts or 35kph. A lot better than it has been. the winds today are as strong as I have seen without it actually being in a cyclone.
We killed time by watching a movie1w but still got the wine out early. There is pnly so much you can do when you are stuck in a motorhome from midday onwards. Quiet dinner in tonaight and hopefully the weather will improve enough to take the scooter in to Zwolle tomorrow.

6 July: Fortunately there was a huge improvement in the weather. I studied the maps on my phone and worked out a way to Zwolle centre. I find it difficult at times to guage distances when it's on the phone, a lot easier on the bigger laptop screen. This caused me turn much later than I thought and it cost us a few Kms by going the wrong way. We finally managed to get where we wanted though so all was well. As usual, we headed to the old centre and we were not disappointed. Wonderful old town, quite a bit of it from the 1600s. They really knew how to build beautiful buildings in those days. Like Groningen, Zwolle old town was surrounded on all sides by canals which nicely delineates the boundaries. Many good sights and a vibrant life in there. It helps that it is another University city. It seems students just sit around and drink coffee all day! Lots of bikes but nowhere near as bad as Groningen. At least here, where there was a bike lane on the road, they left the footpath free, mostly anyway. We had a very nice lunch with a wine in the town then headed home. The ride home was a lot quicker than the way in and it seemed so much shorter too.
We have booked 2 nights from tomorrow at a campsite between Rotterdam and The Hague. We wanted 4 nights to syncronise our arrival Brugge but not to be. They have other options across the road but they can't be booked, so we will play it by ear.

7 July: Left Zwolle and drove to Delft. Got into the site OK and got set up. We have 2 nights on a normal pitch but may have to move to an area outside the gates if we want to stay another 2 nights. I checked them out and they are fine, power and water and the same sort of pitch as we have inside. It's not "across the road" it is across a small creek but on the same side of the road as the main site. Actually more shade there too so with the heat set to rise over the next few days, it may prove beneficial.

8 July: We walked in to the old city centre, about 1.9Km according to Maps, but it felt a lot shorter. It was helped by being mostly tree shaded the whole way, and being in the Netherlands, flat the whole way too. Hardly worth getting the scooter off for. Like the previous two towns we have been in, this old city is also surrounded by canals. The main square is big with the new church at one end and the town hall at the other. Amazing bookends. There two churches (actually more, but 2 main ones) called the old and the new. The new one was started in 1396 and finished in 1496. A bit like getting a new house built in Perth. The old church was founded in 1246, and extended in 1325-1350. Awesome history in these places. The artist Vermeer is buried in the old church and Prince William 1 (William of Orange) was buried in the new one. William 1 was also assasinated in the town by a hitman sent by the Spanish, who were at war with the Netherlands (or Holland) at the time. Lots of sordid history. We visited the new church and then Julie did the Vermeer Museum while I checked out more of the town. On my walk, I found a shop selling suitcases, so later we went back and bought one. We need it before we return the van as Julie wants to bring more stuff back home after this trip. In the meantime though, we had lunch at one of the bakeries. After lunch it was off to the old church because our ticket got us into both. Both churches were big on displaying the local history so in many ways they were as much museums as churches. After buying the suitcase we walked to the last remaining gatehouse from the original fortress walls that once surrounded the city.
Dragged the suitcase home then went for a quick swim in the pool to drop my core temperature as it was about 32C which here is hot. Julie opted for a cool shower to achieve the same result.
We have organised another 2 nights here with an option for a third, which will take us up to the drive to Bruges which is less than 200Km away. We are booked in there from the 12th.

9 July: We moved the van to our new pitch out the front without any issues. Pretty easy when you really don't need to secure everything. We walked into town again with our umbrellas in the backpack due to the forecast for thunderstorms. We did the Delft Museum which was mostly about William of Orange, a Dutch hero in the war against Spain. Too detailed for a discourse here but suffice to say it was very interesting until it just became information overload. We then checked out the local tram line which was just outside the museum and found that it goes to The Hague. Tomorrow we will get day tickets and take the tram there.
Lunch at a different bakery today. The ones here are cafe/restaurant bakeries and the fare is pretty good. No pies or pasties or sausage rolls in these ones.
The weather was starting to look threatening so we headed home about 1400. By the time we got there, it was no longer looking threatening. That's the way it goes. We shouldn't burn ourselves out before The Hague anyway.

10 July: We bought a day pass each for travel on the tram and buses of HTM company. That didn't include the bus from the campsite, that's a different company, so we walked in again which only takes 15 minutes and the bus is every 30 minutes so it was a no brainer. I knew we were relatively close to The Hague here but didn't realise it was only about 8Km and Delft is almost an outer suburb. The Hague was interesting enough, but about 99% of the city is post war, having been devastated in WW2. The old part of town was only a handful of buildings. Some nice parks dotted around the place which was nice. We walked to the International Court of Justice which was once a palace, not the modern building we were expecting. It is also known as the Peace Palace. Very impressive building. We couldn't get close because it is completely fenced and guarded, which is probably a good thing these days. We were going to take a tram back to the centre of the city but we realised it was the number 1 tram that went to Delft. He had seen enough by then anyway, so we took it all the way home. We had a late lunch in Delft, did a bit of shopping (where we had to pay cash because they only took Maestro cards, no Visa or Mastercard) and walked home. I think we need to give our legs a day off now.
We plan to stay another night here and do the run into Bruges on Wednesday.

11 July: Pretty much a free day today. Places in the Netherlands don't open too early so there is no rush. Julie did a load of washing while I set up a clothes line. We had lunch at home then went in to the old town. We have a lot of Euro coins that we have collected over the last 10 years and we thought we should take them to a bank and at least change them to notes. We went to the local ING Bank and told them what we had. We were told that no banks in the Netherlands handle cash ???? OK, we don't get it, but we now know that they are worthless other than actually spending them. €12 in 1, 2 and 5 cent coins are not going to be popular anywhere. The 10s and up are at least gold coloured but the same applies. We are now on the lookout for a busker or a beggar who we can offload a heap of coins to. There is probably a Kg of coins. Might be fun somewhere along the line. Odd that we have not seen a busker or a beggar since though. After that disappointment, Julie went shopping and I went for a massage. I couldn't get in for 50 minutes so we both had a drink plus a cake for Julie. Then it was off to shopping and a massage. Total failure for Julie, all the things she looked at were either rubbish or expensive. My massage was fine. I texted Julie afterwards and she was nearly home so there I went. Julie bought a litre of milk at the campsite with €2.25 in coins. Surprised the hell out of the staff. Here, almost everything is card (except as yesterday) such that even using a toilet at the train station, which cost 50c, was card only. Blows my mind. Dinner in tonight and Bruges tomorrow. Definately getting to the sharp end of this trip.

12 July: Got away from Delft in a timely manner. Besides some choke points on the drive, it was uneventful. Got to Brugge before 1300 and we had been sent a self check-in email. Like quite a few sites, this one uses Number plate Recognition to access the barriers. We had already been advised our pitch number so it was a case of drive in and set up. Worked nicely. Julie is having a recovery day today from all the walking we have done recently. I took the scooter to Lidl's which is really only a 10 minute walk, but I had already got it off the trailer so it needed a run, albeit a short one. We will be using it for the next 2 days that we have here in Brugge. Lazy afternoon now.
It is just as well that we booked this place a while ago because late afternoon the signs went up saying no vacancy except for tents with no power. Such a difference from 10 years ago when we only ever booked ahead for hot spots like Paris in the high season. Now it is everywhere. Takes away the spontaneity of motorhoming.
We did have a moment this afternoon when a German couple knocked and said we were in their pitch. Didn't take long to show that we were in the right pitch and they should have been in 77, not 72, like ours was. Just as well as their superlong motorhome would never have fitted in our pitch. Another way of meeting people!

13 July: OK, so this is our third time in Brugge (or Bruges, I think they are interchangable) so no new photos for now. The weather is passing showers, some heavy, so we wait for a break, jump on the scooter and ride in. Amazing how much I remember of this place. Rode right into the centre and even knew where to park. Not needing to do the normal tourist stuff, we just walked around and tried to buy some gifts to take home. As usual, that is not easy, but by the end of the visit, we had all we needed. Lunch at a burger restaurant was pretty good though the wine was average. We did some more walking then opted to head home. We will go back in tomorrow, and depending on the weather, we may do the canal tour again. The last time was in 2014 and with the historic value of this city, I am sure nothing has changed.

14 July: Our last full day in Europe. The weather was ordinary in the morning so we put off going to the town until after lunch. Fortunately it did clear up and we rode in to the centre. What felt like a reasonable ride yesterday felt terrible today. Once you go through the old city gates, the roads are cobbled but generally with flat stones almost like brick paving. Today I couldn't seem to find a smooth line to take and we were shaken but not stirred when we arrived. We bought our tickets for the boat trip, €12 each so it wasn't bad. While we were waiting in the line to board, a long line, that I expected would take us about 30 to 40 minutes to get on board, as in 2 boats later, they said they had room for 2 more and who would be in it. Nobody except me put their hands up so we really did jump the queue.
The cruise was memorable in the sense that we remembered most of it from 9 years ago but that was OK, it was still fun. After that, Julie wanted a Belgian Waffle for afternoon tea so that's what we did. A bit of shopping after that and we headed home. We love Brugge, it is a beautiful city, but having been here 3 times we think we have given it our all and our mission is complete. Advice to anyone thinking about Brugge... DO IT. You won't be disappointed.
After getting home, I took the scooter to the servo and filled it up. Probably won't need to refuel it this trip.
Tomorrow, England. The forecast is not great and it may be a rough crossing but if it is, it will be our first rough one, so maybe we deserve it.

15 July: We set a goal of an 0900 departure from Brugge and beat it by 15 minutes. We planned to get to Dunkirk with plenty of time to spare and we didn't disappoint. sat in the queue for 110 minutes and then another 25 minutes before we drove onboard. Just as well we have plenty of books to read. A good crossing of the channel, though with a little more sway than we are used to. We were almost first off which was a bonus and I had to convince myself to drive on the left. It is interesting that I had to train myself to drive on the wrong side of the road, then retrain to drive on the correct side. Fascinating psychology. I'm back in the groove now though. A few hold ups on the drive from Dover to Theobalds Park, all centred on the M25, or London Orbital, otherwise known as the M25 Parkway because of the time spent stationary. No real issue though and we got there in good time. The wind since we crossed the channel has been violent and the campsite did not miss out. The motorhome feels like the proverbial cork in the ocean, and it's parked!
We now have 2 days to clean everything up and get an MOT on the scooter on Monday.

16 July: We are in the shut process now. Today Julie did cleaning up inside and collecting together items to take home. I washed the outside of the motorhome and the scooter. Otherwise, it was pretty uneventful. That sums up the 2 days here, though tomorrow I will be taking the scooter in for a second chance MOT. That may test my gift of the gab.

17 July: Julie got stuck in to the laundry while I rode in to Enfield to get the MOT done on the scooter. I got to the place that does them and they were closed. This was about 0950 and I had an appointment for 1000. No answer on their phone, which didn't surprise me because it was a landline and I could see that nobody was home. I decided to wait them out which worked out OK because they arrived at 1015. An issue at home apparently. As it was, the MOT was completed successfully so I was a happy camper. It means that it will be valid until after we leave next year.
The rest of the day was taken up with cleaning everything else besides the outside of the van. All done, and off to the Pied Bull pub a kilometre down the road. A nice meal and affordable drinks, yoo hoo, to finish off the day. Tomorrow is the big one. Drop off our luggage at Peter and Margarets, drop off the van at Cranham's then train back to Buckhurst Hill. We have this down to a fine art now so we are not expecting any issues.

18 July: We finished the final clean up and did the packing. Even with an extra suitcase, we came very close to running out of room. We had to do some repacking to make sure we forced it all in. At least we have 40Kg allowance each so we'll get under that with no excess. Drained all the tanks in the motorhome and drove to Peter and Margaret's. A few holdups on the way with a burst water main and other roadworks but finally got there. Unloaded the cases and backpack and a few sundry items then back on the road to Cranhams to put the baby to bed. We had to go back the same way to get on to the M25 so it meant the same holdups but it was less than on the way in. Arrived at Cranhams and drove to our storage spot. Did the usual final preparations with the scooter and the inside of the van, then back to the office to hand over the keys and have a chat with Paul, one of the owners and the guy who sold us the van 11 years ago. We talked about selling the van and he suggested a buyout value that was much higher than I would have expected but that may change in 12 months when we are ready to sell. The value of motorhomes here is still very high since covid but it may have settled next year, time will tell.
Paul gave us a lift to Upminster station where had lunch then took the train to Buckhurst Hill where Peter kindly picked us up. A casual rest of the afternoon and then Toby's Carvery for dinner. So good to catch up with P and M again.

19 July: We all took the bus the Walthamstowe which is about 20 minutes away. Our destination was the William Morris Gallery, William being the designer, not the other William Morris who created the Morris cars. A wonderful old estate home on delightful grounds. We had morning tea there, did the gallery and museum, then stayed for lunch. Nice outing. Then back to Buckhurst Hill for a few drinks and dinner in. The weather has been kind so far in London.

20 July: Mid morning we took a walk to the lake in Epping Forest. This is a shorter forest walk than to the Owl which we did in April. I had my alarm set for noon, being 1900 at home when the bookings open for Thursday golf. I managed to get a spot and was joined by 3 other guys from normal crowd. I'll have a couple of days to try to get some sort of rhythm back. While at the lake we saw a couple of Coots on their nest with newly hatched babies. We also saw a Heron a bit further around on the lake. All very cool.
Back home for lunch then packed the cases again for the trip to the VSC. My main suitcase was around 30Kg which is seriously on the high side. The other 2 would be under 20Kg. Also had the laptop back pack weighing in at about 8Kg. It was going to be an interesting train trip to Bond St. Peter drove us to Woodford Station and we managed to get all on the next train. Surprised to find that I had room to set my 2 cases and my backpack with no problem. A lack of crowds on the train helped. We got off at Bond St which has stepless access from platform to street level and we were going to try and walk to the VSC. It became obvious pretty quickly that it was going to be very difficult so I waved down a cab and took the 6 minute ride to the club. All good and everything is working out nicely. Probably a light dinner at the club tonight.

21 July: We walked to Fortnum and Masons this morning to check out the Coronation souvenirs but nothing really caught Julie's eye, so we walked on to the Palace Shop. It was less than 1Km away through Green Park but took about 40 minutes to get there. Apparently there had been a changing of the guard or a trooping of the colours, but the drowds were huge and there were barricades everywhere. We caught a glimpse of a few soldiers but not much else. Julie had more success at the Palace Shop so that was worthwhile. Then walked back to the club via Hyde Park. Took it easy for a few hours and trained to a pub called Gordon's Wine Bar just south of Covent Gardens. This place is popular and there was a queue to get in which cost us another 15 minutes. Interesting that on the train here, and later on the way back, that were both offered seats by young people on both trips. Chivalry is not dead and there is hope yet.. The dinner at the wine bar was a cold British Board and a wine each. More than we could eat and it was pretty good so no complaints. Tomorrow will be our last full day in London.

22 July: Our penultimate day. We took the tube to Kings Cross/St Pancras station. The tube station serves both the main stations of Kings Cross and St Pancras which run national and international rail services. There is a Harry Potter shop right next to platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross. Sadly the current range of goods are not satisfactory to our requirements so we left empty handed. We then took a walk to the Kings Cross Canal where Julie had read about the "Book Barge" which is moored in the canal so we checked it out. All a little odd, but then the whole area is going through a gentrification phase, so it sort of fits in. This area used to be industrial with quite a few Gasometers. For those who don't know, a gasometer is like a massive concertina type tank where the concertina would use the weight of the roof to provide pressure to the gas. In the past they dominated the skyline, but now they are redundant. Some of the buildings created in that area are designed to fit inside the framework of the gasometers so the buildings are massive cylinders. Looks pretty good too. See the photos for a concept. We walked a couple of K's up and down the canal and the gentrification is working very nicely. Tube back to the club for a cup of tea.
Julie spent an hour or two in the shops along Oxford St for last minute gifts. I suggested nothing bigger than a 20c piece due to our size restrictions on our suitcases. Not much spare room at all.
Tonight will probably be dinner in the club restaurant as it is raining steadily here at the moment. All strike action on the rail services has been cancelled for tomorrow so we are expecting no problems. We will still leave earlier than needed just in case.

23 July: Managed to get a cab which actually took the short way to Paddington Station. This guy did one side of the square where others do the other 3 sides. Quicker and cheaper. We got on the express train and as we were about to get on there was a loud bang, not like an explosive but more like one train had backed into another one at slow speed. It turned out to be a transformer blowing which controlled our trains circuit so we weren't going anywhere, though it was fixed within a few minutes and the rest was uneventful. The flights were OK but we couldn't get as much sleep as we would have liked. We got back home early afternoon and Lauren picked us up at the airport. All good, but we have been sleeping long hours for the past 4 or 5 days then back to normal. Now to wait for next year.