2018-10-24 Day 43 Wed

Spent most of the day trying to get around not having to buy accommodation for the visa. Could not find any travel agent to write an itinerary for us so, after finally getting a contact at a caravan park he just told me to book accommodation and then cancel it when across the border…. Something I just don't like doing...
After a late lunch we headed off north to Poloniny National Park in the NE corner near Poland and Ukraine.

After about the 3rd gas station, while detoured to find water, we saw a Kaufland supermarket so stopped by for some more of the Mosel Riesling… then next gas station was able and willing to supply us with 100 lts of water.

We received our first few snow flakes of the season from a small grey cloud in a mostly blue sky!
Continued to the lake and found a camp in among the trees.We were well above the water and could not even see it.

Not quite what we were looking for but very pretty in the Beech forest in Autulm. A little windy, but we were mostly sheltered.


2018-10-23 Day 42 Tue

Stove still works. We started on some research to try again to get our Ukraine visa. We had both been turned down looks like we need to prove we are tourists. i.e. book some hotels.
Washing was done and the new wringer tried - it was not very good.. A huge disappointment. The springs not strong enough , a bend in the upper roller and the rubber on the loser roller slips, so does not pull clothes through.

Will need to send an email back to the guy who makes them.
Tyres were rotated and one of the steps fixed, still 3 more holes to enlarge for bigger bolt. Tightened the a auxiliary diesel filler pipe and hose clamp so fingers crossed.
A cold windy day but the washing was mostly dry. Hung it inside for a couple of hours and by bed time it was all dry.
Camped in the same spot. The stove went out again on over heat when I had it cranked up to half speed with the pressure cooker on with pork stew and dumplings….It started again though. A windy night.


2018-10-22 Day 41 Mon

A cold mornings task!!

Not a lot to photograph so I am taking photos of buildings. Have seen some great bus stops but never seem to get the camera in time.Some have Murals in them or flowerpots hanging on them
Rang webasto and the lady made an appointment with an agent in Kosice. But just before arriving had a message to say that there are no parts for our cooker in the whole of Slovakia. We continued to the appointment anyway. Again spoke to the agent who then came around. The only help they could offer was a new stove for €1300 plus 20% tax. A bit expensive. By this time it was after 16:30 so headed to a lake close by for the night.

Found a lovely little spot except they I think are dredging the small lake and every hour a tug pushed a barge one way full and the next hour back empty which went on till 9pm. Good internet here.

I pulled the stove apart and with John’s help pulled some of the connects off and blew it all out with compressed air. ( Think I dusted up the inside of EC a little). It works again….. Dust or loose connection?? or both?


2018-10-21 Day 40 Sun

Our neighbor last night!

We spoke to Muff and Puff. Puff is very happy with his new lathe. I told them of our stove problems and that the new glow plug got it going again, well unbeknown to me during the call it failed again…. Not sure if it overheated but definitely would not restart one blink orange glow plug error.
While speaking to Chris the parking attendant arrived and asked for €3.50. The same is paid for a days park.

It was a cold day so we headed to the caves. It took a little while to find them but once found we had an hour to wait. The caves at a cost of €8 were spectacular the biggest caves we had been into. Some of a height of 30m. Lots of stalactites and stalagmites and “water flow” shapes. A lot of work had been put into the path. We walked underground for over 1km and at times it reminded us of the Escher prints with stairs at crazy angles. One of the paths had been dug about 2 feet into the ground to enable enough height for walking.
This area is called the lower Tatras and has a lot of tourism infrastructure. Skiing, hiking bike trails, lifts, caves, boat rides etc. We had wanted to take the gondolier to the top for a view of the surrounds but still a very hazy day.
Leaving the area and drove south through the park on a white road still sealed but a small quiet road.
Cheekily we parked just above the road with a few firs between us and the road. With a view down the valley. Needed all the blocks plus John dug two wheel holes to get level.

As I was cooking I noticed a guy walk up. John opened the door to say "gidday". The guy hid something behind his back and John and he tried to communicate. The man was a little upset we were there, as he had dumped a load of corn just a little further on to attract the deer and we were in his hide!! However he had just come up tonight to hang his sensor camera in the tree to see what turned up. Every now and again he’d seemingly argue with himself and when john laughed and said he didn't understand there was more laughter. The man finally said it was OK as long as there was no squeaking of the vehicles springs and we must be quiet. (the international hand signals helped here). John went with him to put the camera up, and received a big slavic beer hug when the guy left.

Had a quiet night.

Sent an email to Webasto in Slovakia


2018-10-20 Day 39 Sat

Out of camp and onto the main road south. Made a small detour on the highway to bypass a town, forgetting that we need to buy a highway pass here… Back on the orange road John noticed police following and as soon as there was room for us to pull over he put his lights & siren on. Very friendly policeman wanted to know what sort of vehicle so looked at our rego. He wanted to know if it was a caravan or truck. We showed on the paperwork it is registered as a caravan but shortened to carvn. The road we were on was an orange and I think commercial vehicles needed to pay. He was very nice and had good English (still raises the heart rate though).

Made it up over 1000m altitude again today. We came down a very windy hill into Liptovsky Mikulas in the lower Tatras. A very touristy town. Lots of walks, bike tracks, caves and ski lifts and a lift to the top of the hill at 2200m. We stopped at the information office to find some details out. I got my paperwork printed then filled it out and scanned it.
It has been real foggy in the mornings and it doesn’t clear. Almost like a smoke haze hanging around but not many houses have their fires going yet, so not really sure what is causing it so no point in a ride to the top of the hill today.
We asked for a recommendation for lunch and went to the little restaurant. The food was nice but very heavy. I had dumplings/ravioli which had a rather thick dough and john had goats cheese noodles and sausage which was also heavy, but nice.

Deciding on a walk we drove back the way we had come. The walk was nice about 1hr 30min up a riverbed. Not too steep, and my knees were OK. Got to the waterfall which had a tinkle coming over and a quick walk back down. Wore off lunch if nothing else!!

Drive around for a bit looking for a campsite but ended back at the car-park for the walk.


2018-10-19 Day 38 Fri

Found a turn off that did not seem to be a farmers track and drove a long it for a while, then popped out on a sealed track. Drove further along the track to the end. By now it was just a gravel muddy track. A few roads had headed off to the lake so we walked down one and there was a hut and people so walked out again. Just parked 10m off the road in a clearing. Although we heard a few gun-shots from the fisherman it was a quiet night.
During cooking a soup for dinner the stove overheated. Two pots and on high…. When I tried to restart flashed yellow – glow plug problem. Ha! we had the solution - a new glow plug! It was duly installed when the stove was cool enough to touch and yes it started… Got dinner in the end but the beans were a little underdone.


2018-10-18 Day 37 Thu

Another undisturbed night, although a car driving by woke john at 5am this morning.

The diskStation was not happy so John pulled the fridge out and plugged into it, but had difficulty talking to it. At the same time I cleaned out the hot tap filter again… Blocked after the vinegar wash out with small bits of calcium.
Some small trucks arrived so decided it was time to move on. Down the other side of the pine forest.

Many of the towns still have speakers attached to light poles on the streets. In one town there was a females voice coming over it but had no idea what was being said.

The towns here are not as contained as in Germany, there seems to be a few houses between the towns… I am surprised at the size of the old houses, often two stories and quiet large I had imagined that Czech Republic was poorer in days gone by, but the houses I find really big. Everywhere is neat and tidy with flowers...Flowers in the garden and in the window boxes. We spent some time by a little lake with WiFi.

Some people came up to the truck to look at the maps but when they heard us or we engaged in greetings they turned away. One guy had a chat about fishing (we think). We applied online for a Ukraine Evisa for 10 days time ( the soonest we can apply for) so we’ll see. It cost US$65 each. I was having all sorts of problems uploading a passport photo so were late leaving.

60km on we found a campsite up in the pines again. Just starting dinner and a car came to visit. John spoke to the driver and although he was not happy – no good for tourists he said- he left. Actually he tried to leave and could not back up the dirt road so had to roll back down, turn around and drive up
forwards. We are on a little track in a pine forest but it is sealed!!!


2018-10-17 Day 36 Wed

Leaving the car park, our journey continued eastward.

Our mission today was to fill with water. We stopped at a number of gas stations to find they did not have any outside taps. One lady spoke English and no, No water available. At a Shell station I asked with the aid of google translate and we could get 100 liters for a cost. I then wrote down 50 litres of diesel so water then became free. We put 70lt of diesel on board and drove round the back for water. The lady came to check ensuring we would only take 100 litres.
Stopping in a car park in a small town we used internet. John had an hour on the bed as he had been up since 3am. I manage to get a lot of photos uploaded…

We walked across the road to the museum but it was shut.

The houses outside of the cities have big VERY neat piles of wood. Ready for the winter I guess. It sounds like snow falls are common here but only stays on the hills.

Dirt road at last!! Only lasted a few km’s just to the top of the hill and a camp site.


2018-10-16 Day 35 Tue

Whatever he was, was still grumbling from the same direction when we up and about so assume he is in a pen or small paddock.
We left early and pulled over at the first time that we had H+ internet connection. We parked next to a small lake and a circus setting up. Spoke to June and John and finally got some photos uploaded and a blog entry up so that is happening…..
A group of school children and teachers came down to the park to play. All in their bright colored safety vests.

It was very easy and straight forward putting the gps location on the photos.

Leaving we turned into a Penny supermarket our first shop here. A pretty normal supermarket, a large section of beer and spirits. Even bottles of alcohol on the check out desk among the lollies….
We managed a total of about 60km and parked at a ski field car park with a restaurant which we visited for dinner.
John had wild boar and very heavy dumplings and I had beef cheek on mash, great food if you'd been skiing all day!!! The menu was in German as there are lots of Germans and Polish pop over their borders....


2018-10-15 Day 34 Mon

A group of 5 women walked by along one of the many well used and sign posted tracks for walking in these countries.

Arrived at the border, our good yellow road was blocked so we were forced to run parallel with it through the farms and past farm houses we were still on a sealed road even if only just wide enough for us!
The border went past unnoticed no signs at all! Into Czech Republic and a new country for us. We again traveled off the high ways and stuck to orange yellow or white. We have not encountered a gravel road yet.
We traveled north-east following just south of the German border. We stopped for a short while but could not do much with the edge connection.

Lots of different buildings belonging to an era past, but most are well cared for with lots of flowers, generally geraniums, hanging out the windows and well tended gardens. For the last 4 days we have been traveling through lots of forested areas, some fir, oak, elm and birch. The autumn colors are fantastic.

The roads are narrow windy sealed and covered in yellow leaves….

Drove up another little track and found a cleared area for a camp. There was a bull?? up the hill that kept grumbling at us. A nice quiet night (except for the grumbling).

2018-10-14 Day 33 Sun

Nothing is open on Sundays! Another day wending our way across the German country side. Filled with fuel and washed the car to get the storage grime off of her. The auxiliary tank is leaking slightly at the filler so need to go under and try to tighten it…….
The autumn colors are fantastic and the further we travel East the brighter they get. We left early as we had no internet and found a lake to stop by. There were a few people wondering and cycling around but as the afternoon progressed more and more people were out enjoying the wonderful autumn weather. We applied the New South American map to the right side of the vehicle. This took about one hour as 3 groups of people stopped by for a chat!! We then pulled the Australian tourist map off the back Port locker and transferred it to the starboard hand locker.

In hind site we should of put it on the house door……. Now we just have to remove the old south American map and put the large Europe / Middle East / Asia map on. But we need a warm still day.

We drove away from the lake about 3pm and finally found a camp up in the forest right beside the Czech border near a Czech fish farm just on dusk about 19:30hrs


2018-10-13 Day 32 Sat

Happy Birthday to me! 54 today.

I drove for a while until John found a castle and coffee shop on the shores of the Rhine river. The castle was first built in 13th century and was enlarged and fortified as the years passed until finally in 18th century it was given to the French without a fight. The French then blew it up! So after all it’s sieges and fights throughout 500 years it was just blown up. I felt a little sad at that!

Anyway we had a walk around then lunch in the restaurant overlooking the Rhine river. Quite a busy river lots of barges and tourist boats passing bye.

We continued easterly with John driving. There are no roads heading east so we have to zigzag our way in that general direction. We as usual are staying off the highways.

The front right wheel is very unbalanced at 80-85kph so trying to stay around 75kph. The going is slow as about every 2 to 7km there is another small village to navigate narrow streets of. But we are getting to see more of the country than we would on the highway. We did notice today an absence of coffee shops, maybe because it is Saturday or maybe because this is the first day we looked for one!! Or because we are in Germany.


2018-10-12 Day 31 Fri

We were not moved on during the night which was great. We caught up on a bit of paperwork and decided on a walk.

John did some research and we drove for ten minutes and stopped. A 7km walk turned into 10km’s but with very varied surface and circumstances. Sometimes little paths among the acorn trees, on roads, on paths between two fields, or wider paths following river beds. A lovely walk but just a few km’s too long.

When reaching the car we had a sandwich then drove back into Echternach to buy diesel as it is the cheapest country in the EU

Across the river and into Germany. We decided on back roads rather than the highway and although slower are much more interesting.

We drove down a steep road into a town with a very narrow street, only 2m wide at the bottom. We noticed a vineyard where each vine was by itself growing vertically up a stick, not on a trellis per se, this then expanded out along all hills facing south over the river. John asked if the river was called Mosel - and yes it was so this is the German region for growing sweet Riesling. The hills were steep and un-terraced with small railway tracks going up with little trolleys and trailers to carry the grapes down the hill.

We also noticed motor-homes by the hundreds all lined up in their campgrounds with their TV dishes deployed.

As we crept through one of the small towns we saw tours in progress so I guess visitors are here having tours while picking and vintage are in progress.

On up out of the river valley to a camp down a logging track. Not exactly like an Australian logging track but some logs were piled at the entrance and the track seemed to improve as we went in so maybe a house here as well. Turned off onto a grass track and hid in the trees. Tonight we can not be spotted from the main road and probably not from the logging track either. No internet tonight


2018-10-11 Day 30 Thu

The end of our visit to Ran and Belgium. A farewell and thanks to Ran for turning us into tourists for 2 days.
I drove out at about 10am heading for Echternach in Luxembourg, where Ran has told us would be a nice place and some lovely walks.
It feels that finally we are on our way. Our Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asia trip has started.

A month of work and most jobs complete. It feels good to be starting our travels again. I drove the first 120km’s mainly on highway and not at the speed limit of 120kph. The steering wheel gets the shakes up really bad again at 80-85km’s, we will have to put the front tyres on the back. The only time the shakes have really stopped was when we had 4 brand new tyres on her in Chile.
We did a food shop in Echternach then sat by the lake and had a late lunch. Leaving the lake on a back road we tucked into a side road under some acorn trees, and yes the acorns are falling!!!!


2018-10-10 Day 29 Wed.

Today Ran took us to the Atomonium, and little Europe. The Atomonium is the representative of crystal form of iron and is 102m high. It was built in the 1950's and is the most visited site in Belgium. We rode the elevator to the top and after a walk around looking at the city of Brussels we had a beer. The walk through Atomonium was interesting but in one of the balls was a light and sound show which was really neat.

Down to earth again and a wonder around little Europe which has models of all the major attractions in each European union country. A warm day for this time of year about 24℃.
Although the day was interesting and there were very few visitors it was not as interesting as yesterday, and enforces our quest for nature and space.

A farewell and thanks to Ran for turning us into tourists for 2 days.

2018-10-09 Day 28 Tue

Ran drove us to Durbuy which is a historic small village, the smallest in Belgium. We first of all had a Belgium Waffle which was pretty good and very light. Then we wondered around, had a coffee and left.

We noticed a castle and drove up. It was a type of retreat and yoga center. We had an interesting vegetarian lunch then continued onto Dinant.

We had a quick look at the small marina where the boats need to be lifted out over winter as the river freezes. The river is dammed here with movable dam walls, there is a lock for boats to pass up and down river. John is still pondering over how the movable dam walls works.

We were too late to enter the cathedral, A citadel is perched on the promontory overlooking the town. We sat on the river promenade and drank one of Belgium's cherry flavored beers. A neat town with lots going on. The bridge was lined with large saxophones.
A good day and nice to have someone else driving and navigating.

2018-10-08 Day 27 Mon

Again we took the opportunity to climb up to the top of the sea shore dike. This one had been bombed by the allied forces as they landed and liberated the town.

Further north we explored the moveable dike (they allow and control the flow of water in and out) and drove a big circle of about 170km to get back to the latitude we started from.

On to Brussels via Brugue as “In Brugue” is one of JYB’s most liked films which we had watched together. Our little drive through Bruges was entertaining and with all the narrow one way streets made it a bit of fun. We just hoped the old bridges were still strong! A quaint old town.

On to Brussels and Ran. We finally found their house and then followed Ran to park EC in the nearby supermarket car-park for the night.

Ran and Bridget live on the second floor of small apartment building with 3 apartments. In the middle of Brussels. They were very welcoming to us. We had not seen Ran since his very short visit to us in China in 2008.

Had some nice wine and chatted about the past, future and present - and slept on the couch in their lounge.


2018-10-07 Day 26 Sun

We did a load of washing and after a lunch of Nederlandic pancakes. Thin wholemeal pancakes eaten savory or sweet.
Heading south we entered Belgium and finally made contact with Ran, they were still in France. We changed course and headed back into Nederlands and Zeeland.

We camped in a fairly empty campground for €23. Showers were an extra cost so we showered on board.

Very regimented, clean, quiet and sterile.

We had a walk up and over the dike to see what it was like.

It was about 24m above the
beach. The channel is very close to the beach and we got to see these two small ships passing.