Thursday, 21 November 2019

Maiden Voyage for a Neo, Homeward Bound. Part 5

Strange how 7 weeks flies by! Suddenly we have 2 weeks to make it back to the Tunnel and home. 

We arrived in Ancona and were quickly heading back to Camping Belamare for a night stop! What a different place off season. It was a week before the camp closed for the winter. Luckily for us the restaurant was open so we went for a pleasant meal. Lots of space on the campsite so we were soon settled in and had a quick stroll on the now deserted beach. Not freezing cold but definitely a nip of Autumn in the air, at least it wasn't raining.

After a good nights sleep we were soon back on the road heading for Bologna. 

We had decided we needed a stop before heading for Milan. Camping Bologna was another "camping in the city" site. Very well placed for travelling into the city centre with a handy bus stop just outside the site.

Easy access and parking. The facilities were good with a small shop and restaurant. Bologna is a beautiful city to wander around. Loads of churches, museums and fabulous architecture. Not as busy as some of the other places we have been to in Italy and compact enough to stroll around in. A selection of some of the sites on our whistle stop tour.

Churches and statues in abundance.

And of course towers.

Plenty of old fashioned amazing real food shops.

Loads of fabulously expensive clothes shops! Bologna is on our return list and a good halfway stop on the way to Ancona.

We were really on our way to Milan to meet Den's cousin Margaret.  So another camping in the city stop. Camping Milan, an easy bus ride to the centre of the city.  Next door is a water park which would be great in the summer. 

The campsite in Milan was not in the best area of the city but was convenient. We had met very few Brits on our travels this year but the Milan site was full of the travelling community who had set up home there. We watched all the comings and goings, there were dozens of small children playing on bikes and scooters but the site was pretty well run and we had no problems. The travelling community were sited at one end of the campsite with their own toilet block, the rest of the visitors were at the other end.

Camping Milano is well placed for visiting the city with a bus stop by the campsite which went straight to the metro. A 45 minute journey into the heart of Milano.  We caught the bus into town and had a good look around. The Duomo was stunning and not too busy. We bought a combination ticket ( with wrinkly discount!) which took us into the Duomo and around the archaeological site which was fascinating.

There is so much to see and do in Milano. The shops are unbelievable, but so interesting just watching the people. They are all so well dressed. We spent a lovely few days with Margaret, met the family and had a beautiful traditional meal cooked by Margaret's amazing mother-in-law. Certainly Irish hospitality with a real Italian twist. Thank you so much to Margaret and Luigi for their kindness, we have learned so much more about the family!

Very aware that the time for the Tunnel was approaching fast and we would soon have to leave Italy to travel northwards. 

We decided to have a final two days in Pescheria del Garda before heading through Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and France, on the final run home. Lake Garda was much as we remembered it from last year. We were able to have a better look around the town this time.

Not quite Venice but still the odd gondola.

Water racing on the lake. Pretty scary stuff.

An evening stroll by the river.

The lake at it's best when the tourists have gone.

Krystal bags another prime spot overlooking the lake.

The last stage of our journey was through Austria and Germany. We headed towards Innsbruck for our next stop back to Camping Nattersee.

 Another prime spot overlooking the lake with the best shower block we have ever experienced including piped music and under floor heating!

Austria never fails to stun, with beautiful scenery and everywhere is so clean and tidy. We caught the bus into Innsbruck courtesy of the camp site, you get a free bus pass. We had a lovely afternoon browsing around the city in the cool sunshine. The buses were of course all perfectly on time.

Around Innsbruk. I would like to come back early in the season, perhaps another year.

The final trip from Austria was over the Fern Pass into Germany and a night just outside Stuttgart. We were hoping to use the campsite in Stuttgart and visit the Mercedes museum. However, the campsite appeared shut and after driving through the traffic we gave up! Camping Wald Park just outside would have to do. A happy accident as it turned out. We found a very nice Italian restaurant a 10 minute walk from the site so had an excellent meal and a good nights sleep before setting out for Luxembourg.

The thing I really enjoy about travelling in our van is the few small unexpected pleasures. We headed for Luxembourg ( cheap fuel) and decided to stay at Camping Bonne Actuel another short bus ride to Luxembourg City. 

The village had a few shops and bakery and after a tiring day looking at what Luxemburg City had to offer we found a delightful little restaurant where we had a great meal, reasonably priced with fantastic desserts. all in all a lovely stop and one we will certainly do again.

Our final destination was the tunnel so we headed for France and spent the next night at Serrancourt Le Grande and Camping Les Vivier Carpes. 

We had been to this site before, so walked up through the village to the tiny military cemetery, always so touching and peaceful.

Finally we were on the last leg of the journey. Calais, we decided to try the new municipal site just outside town so we could walk into Calais and have a proper look around. The weather had turned quite cool and damp.

The campsite was brilliant. Excellent facilities and an easy walk to the centre of Calais.

Camping Gravelot. A municipal site fairly newly built, with an aire at the gate. Very friendly and clean with a lovely communal room complete with free wifi and a table football machine. We spent our last two nights here and had our last French meal in the Cafe de Paris. No problems and it was a quiet peaceful night. Next  morning a quick super van scan in the super new van scanner at the tunnel and we were homeward bound.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Maiden Voyage for a Neo France Italy & Greece Part 4

We were soon settled for the night on a Camper Contact spot called Camper Stop actually in Ancient Corinth. A nice little place found after following the Camper Stop signs through the very narrow approach roads of Ancient Corinth. Just when we thought we had come to a dead end, we were there. A good bit of shade amongst the olives and a friendly welcome.

The site is run by a Greek family. Basic facilities, just passable but only 13 euros so not much to complain about. An easy 10 minute uphill stroll takes you to the heart of Ancient Corinth. A very interesting place swarming with coach parties during the day but a traditional Greek place at night when the tourists have gone. We explored Ancient Corinth at our leisure the next day and spent a very pleasant few hours wandering amongst the ruins of the city and looking around the museum.

A great time to visit in the afternoon after all the tour buses have gone.

The place where St Paul preached to the Corinthian crowds.

The iconic view of the 7 pillars of the temple.

The baths with the sounds of the water churning below. It was amazing to see how advanced this city was in it's heyday and still awe inspiring today!

Modern Corinth also well worth a visit to browse amongst the souvenir shops and do a bit of shopping in the supermarket! Lots of good restaurants too. Dogs everywhere, loads of strays but also lots of pets. This one looked happy!

We really wanted to visit the Corinth Canal again but time was against us, perhaps next time. Our next destination Delphi.

Delphi was one of the places we really wanted to go back to. Camping Delphi was in a beautiful spot over looking the valley. The hike up to the town of Delphi was something we wanted to do again.We managed the hike up the mountain and it was an absolutely stunning hike there and back! Totally quiet and with breath taking views. The ancient footpath is well marked but good walking shoes definitely needed.

We made it to the top!

We did a whistle stop tour of Ancient Delphi, it was hot and busy! Back to town for lunch and the delightful stroll back down the mountain.

We were shattered but happy we did it! A quick relax in the pool.

Oh dear, our peace and tranquillity shattered. We had been taken over by the only Brits we had met all holiday. The Camping & Caravanning Club Escorted Tour had arrived! We decided to move on.

We decided to aim for an area of Greece we had not been to before. Using the very handy Sunshine camping map we had picked up at a previous campsite we headed for Lefkada and Camping Kariotes Beach. It looked promising on arrival.

 A friendly welcome on arrival and a nice pool.

Sadly the site was not quite what it seemed. The facilities were pretty basic and non too clean. The pool looked pretty but for us was ruined by the posses of pussies which seemed to have taken over the world and were constantly begging for food. They looked very well fed to us! 

The site was a short walk to the beach but not a very attractive one. Empty but lots of rubbish around.We did manage to spend a lovely day in the town of Lefkada and sat by the marina watching the world sailing in and out. Handy for shopping at the local Lidl but not a site I would rush to return too.

Very yummy ice cream shop in town though.

Tired of the pussies and feeling we really wanted a nice relaxing clean beach we headed for the next port of call up the coast a site called believe it or not "Enjoy Lichnos".

With some trepidation we drove down the very steep and twisty mountain road to the site hoping Madam SatNag was right and we wouldn't have to turn around. Yipee! we made it and bagged the best pitch on the site!

Seriously we did wonder why so many people were lurking around the pitch as we parked up. It soon became obvious, as one moved off the beach side pitches, the vultures gathered to move on! Park anywhere she we did! Right by the beach. We watched the water taxi for Parga across the bay come in twice a day. We enjoyed a trip our selves proper cruising for us!

A lovely beach with lots going on to watch and handy beach bars to relax in.

A bit bumpy but a lovely trip across the bay to Parga. 

Church by boat. Looked like a christening.

Parga was a lovely place for a day trip but not sure I would want to stay too long. The boat went from Parga back to Lichnos a few times a day so we enjoyed watching the day trippers. All good things come to an end and we knew sooner or later we would have to make our way back to Igoumensita for the ferry back to Italy. As the season at Lichnos came to and end, it was time for us to move on. We had enjoyed the break by the beach but I can imagine that this campsite in the summer is really hectic and probably not quite so pleasant.

Our final summer spot in Greece was Camping Depanos at Igoumensita. We decided that wanted another dip in the sea before heading home. We arrived at Depanos after a heavy windy night of rain and the site looked a bit unkempt, in fact we nearly left! However, by the next morning the sun was out and all was right with the world. It only goes to show first impressions can be wrong. The site was a bit untidy with a lot of permanent long stayers. The facilities were very good and clean and the beach was lovely. We got to swim in the sea and took a few trips into Igoumensita. The site restaurant served good food and they were friendly. Certainly perfect for a few days to catch the sun.

Camping on the beach. 

 Pitches were huge.

A lovely sandy clean beach. The sea was beautifully warm.

The sun goes down on our last few nights in Greece. Tomorrow back to the ferry for the return run to Ancona. We have had a fabulous time in Greece wall to wall sunshine, great sights and lovely food. Next year calls!