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East from Amsterdam

6359 Views 186 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  raynipper
Well, I'm on my way! Left Belfast Harbour for Cairnryan a few mins ago - half an hour late due, I think the capt said, to a collision yesterday? Misty but apparently calm. Stopping in Ayr tonight to catch up with friends. (I don't normally say where I'm heading, only where I've arrived - gives plenty cover for getting lost 😂)
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Left Warsaw this morning for Częstochowa, 1st stop being a BP garage that had a dump point for MHs. It's been a while! However, both TT n GG had problems locating the spot n I was round the roads a couple of times before we found it. Sadly, whoever had used it previously had not removed the round cover set into the rectangular grating and they'd left dried toilet paper across the surface. At least if you mess up, then tidy up!

Then I came to parking at the church of the Black Madonna (another one!) The parking area is immense and a lot of it was filled! It must be some sort of pilgrimage. Loads of buses too. I didn't investigate until on my way home (otherwise the TO would be shut) but there are hordes still pouring in when I left at 8.15. And a detachment of soldiers marched to just outside the church door. Most people seemed to bring their own chairs, and lots knelt in front of the screen for a considerable time. I did read somewhere that the proper thing to do was get on your knees and process on your knees past the painting of the Madonna. Didn't see anyone doing that because they were all just taking up a station in front of the painting. It obviously means a very great deal to very many, several of whom were badly incapacitated. My hips wouldn't stand any longer so I'm not sure what went on.

Częstochowa itself was a pleasant place to wander with a hugely wide main street with great pedestrian area down the middle and bars, cafés n restaurants fringeing it all. And the weather was good! Still have the thermal long-sleeve on but felt the heat as I was climbing back home at the end of the day. They have some interesting sculptures. John Paul II gets a lot of sculptures - possibly because he was Polish! I can't be doing with all the homage to Popes, cardinals, bishops etc. Idolatry! The Częstochowa Jews also fared very badly. You do wonder what the Nazi soldiers thought and felt as they carried out these pogroms. I think I'll have an early night. 13k steps n I didn't really go anywhere!
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The Jasna Góra monastery
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A Polish actor, 1 of several similar statues to local worthies
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The Town Hall - looks like the chimney's smoking but it's just the cloud!
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What a difference between left n right!
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The cathedral - very impressive
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Some sculptures in the main square, apparently fishing in the pond
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A Jew managed to hide 27 of his family in the basement here while he stayed above ground to bring them food. 23 of those survived the war. Sadly he and his wife perished
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The Black Madonna
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Doesn't she just make you smile?!
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I had another look at the chapel of the Black Madonna, and found a service in American English just concluding. Also had a look at the main church - my goodness, such opulence! One thing I liked about the place is that it seems to be genuinely for the 'faithful' - they don't try to screw money out of you. And the parking (24hrs) was only 10 zloty - c. 2€50. There was another parking dedicated to MHs but I couldn't see how to get at it n was perfectly happy where I was. No facilities, but I don't need any.

Drove down to Zilina. The motorway part was a bit depressing - much of it has high sound/wind barriers and was a dreadful sight. Can't imagine how badly the landscape is affected.

Picked up gas n diesel on the way but should have waited till I was off the motorway (I wasn't sure how much of Poland was left and thought the Czech Republic was more expensive. Still, it was the equivalent of £1.29, and the gas was 72p. BTW, should one tip the man who fills up for you? I never have.

Got caught in dreadful queues for bridge repairs then what appeared to be normal gridlock in Zilina. And to make matters worse, I missed a turning n had to do the gridlock all over again!

But the parking is wonderfully peaceful and serene. Loads of skaters, lots of bikers n the odd walker (that was me!) - 11.25km round the beautiful lake. I realise how much I'd missed mountains! And there's snow on the nearby one. But we got to 22° today.
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My parking at Częstochowa
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The 'other' church at the monastery
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My parking at Zilina
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A pleasant interlude on the walk round the lake
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What is this? A boat? A house? A café? Thought the name would help but it just says Open!
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Night view. Look at those potholes! There's a fabulous moon out tonight
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I didn`t notice you had an odd walk Jean, are you sure it was you ;).

That boat looks like the shoe the old woman lived in.
The name Zilina rings a bell with me, we probably went there.
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Fabulous pics and parking Jean.

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Had an interesting drive over to Dudince.... really! Some straight roads but much of it mountainous twisty-turny which I love. Tho at one stage when GG took me on a Turn right (and TT was warning of a toll motorway if I didn't!) I did say Are you serious?! We went immediately to single track with the branches either side impeding on the space. But yes, much more interesting than motorway! I'd thought I might stop somewhere en route to take in just a bit of the coronation but of course, in that environment there are no places to stop! Eventually took advantage of an extra width of road at roadworks n saw the actual coronation. Didn't see the various processions in or out. I was moved almost to tears by the singing of Zadok the Priest which we sang in the choir at our school concert in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. And also I was moved by the Archbishop's swearing of fealty tho I don't agree with it myself.

The countryside here is more rural I'd say, lots of fields of pasture rather than crops but, although I saw more cattle than anywhere else, it's still not very many. Some of them were literally in clover as their fields were white with the flowers.

There's nothing here, just parking next to the football field - perfect for relaxing n doing nothing! Just me again - yesterday I went to bed with 1 neighbour, woke up with 4; must be a record this trip!
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Well, thank goodness I don't have too many days like today! I arrived at my very convenient parking in Budapest to be told by the very nice gentleman that I am not allowed to sleep in my MH - I can leave it overnight no problem but I can't sleep in it 😔 I'd already planned to use a laundry just a few minutes' walk away... What to do? I decided just to continue as planned but to move on later in the evening (so no beer en route!)

I left my washing at the 'self-service, which isn't - they do it for you. Had a coffee while I worked out my own route with the less than helpful info from the TO - such a difference from my normal experience. Anyway, it was an enjoyable but tiring day (24.5k steps).

Picked up the washing - sadly they just dump it from the drier to a basket so it was well past my normal method of avoiding ironing by giving a hard shake n pressing down my body. But I have clean knickers!

Back to the parking n there's no-one there. Then I discover it's payment by card or app only (I'd been advised it was cash only; I think they've been taken over by someone else) but I couldn't see how. That was after I'd driven to the gate n thought I was at the entrance so drove to the other gate - still no way to pay and discovered THAT was the entrance, so back again... Turns out the paying machines are round the side of the hut. It also turns out there are 2 and I'd been trying to pay on the cash only (but of course it's all in Hungarian so I haven't a clue!) 2 passing Hungarian ladies must have seen my problem n came to help. Eventually got to the stage where they said the card payment had gone thro. But scanning the ticket at the exit still didn't open the gate... Was I not close enough?... Eventually someone drove in so I asked them (think they were American) but they'd never been there before. Then someone wanted out. And of course I'm blocking the gate so he was very helpful in taking me through it. When he scanned the ticket it said 250 forints but I'd already paid 1450 (that's £3.41! 😂 it's like monopoly money!) Anyway, it was worth it to get out!! Then I'd a job getting onto the one way street with cars parked badly - and in the dark. Phew!! Don't want to repeat all that! I've come to a sports ground SW of Budapest n I think I'll be in bed soon! Will update with photies tomorrow.
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I came to a campsite yesterday (yes, a campsite!) at Balatonboglár on the southern shore of Lake Balaton. Spoiled myself n took a lakeside spot (thereby blocking the view of 2 units behind but they didn't seem to mind.) There's not a lot here but maybe that's just what I need after my stressful experience in Budapest. Found a wee café near the PO (eventually got postcards off to the grandchildren! - relatively expensive stamps, £3.30 for 2) that does super coffee, and just over £1 tho it sounds horrendous at 450 florints. Lovely owner.

Nice folk on site too. Can't recommend the showers - seems to be a Slavic thing but I'm not at all keen on having to strip outside the shower n leave all my stuff outside.

Some photos from Budapest -
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This was a memorial to the Jews who'd been taken to the river edge (Dec or Jan, told to remove their footwear which had value, then shot, falling into the river. I'm repeatedly amazed at man's inhumanity to man.
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The Parliament
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An alternative crown the day after the coronation.
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Look at the beautiful roofs on this church - colours were stunning!
Statue Sculpture Temple Artifact Art

3 grumpy men. Suppose I might be too if I was being sent to war.
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Do you think Jeffrey Donaldson might relax with a session here?!
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And a couple from Balatonboglár -
Tableware Table Single-origin coffee Food Coffee cup
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It's probably against his religion.
I thought the Orange might tempt him!
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Yesterday I had an entirely relaxing day at Balatonboglár. Revisited the bar with the nice coffee, had a mosey round an Asian market, had lunch in the only open restaurant, Italian. Lovely food, typically high Hungarian tourist prices. It was beautiful sunshine but that cold wind was still there. Enjoyed sitting with such a fabulous view and even when I'd gone inside I could see, against the fading sunset, what I think were bats, tho they might have been swallows. Then I discovered all the little flying (and possibly biting) beasties that had managed to get through the netting 😔

I started a new bottle of milk this morning to discover it's not fresh milk but some kind of kefir - thicker than milk so it curdled and burned the porridge. However, it tastes OK.

She asked for 14,100 florints and of course your heart nearly stops with those big numbers! But it was the equivalent of £33.25 for 2 nights - pretty good for Hungary and such a beautiful plot. Having dropped the grey water I exited the site right behind a massive RV. Fortunately he was turning left at the main road, I was going right!

It was a nice drive, tho the Hungarian roads were definitely the worst of the 3 countries I've been in today. Slovenia seemed very clean, tidy, fairly prosperous which surprised me a little. Picked up diesel here for 1€421.

I was stopped at the Austrian border (sadly no feathers in their caps.... or was that the Swiss?) They looked at the passport n asked to see inside - just a cursory glance really. I had to ask for my passport before getting back in.

It was interesting being able to drive thro hamlets in Austria at 80kph. Both Hungary n Slovenia (and I think the Baltic States in general) have a myriad of speed signs going up n down like a yo-yo, often within yards of each other.

I've come to a vineyard up in the hills near Gamlitz. I couldn't make contact thro the phone number on the door so have left a message on the order sheet for breakfast goodies - I hope they have a wine-tasting this evening 🤞
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This morning at Balatonboglár
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This evening at Ottenberg near Gamlitz
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I know you probably will anyway Jean but keep off the motorways and some major roads in Austria or you'll need a vignette (or an On Board Unit if you are over 3500kg). All the B roads are fine and it is how we cross Austria as we would need an OBU.
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Yes, I have satnavs set to no motorway, no tolls 🤞

No they didn't have a wine tasting (apparently you can do it at the neighbouring steading - not sure if that's the same family or not. So no wine. A bit expensive then at 20€ per night plus tourist tax. But I ordered some nice bread for lunch n a croissant for breakfast.

Drove on up to my nephew in Graz so enjoying a lovely evening with the family and a sax concert from the youngest at 12yrs old 👍
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Had a really lovely couple of days with family. They seem to have a really nice quality of life, and it's not just about money.

I've now come over to Liezen and only when I pulled up to the parking did I recognise I'd been before. But it's such a lovely outlook that it bears a revisit! And driving up the mostly wide level valley I realised that I saw much more of the mountains than if I was driving over them. I am of course keeping off the motorways as I don't have a thingummyjig.
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My parking in Graz
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I walked up into the hills to get an overview of the city but the weather wasn't great. But I'd no rain till about 5mins from home.
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Fascinating ancient way to provide ventilation to the hay-shed. Had a chat with the owner whose father's farm it was but they now live in the converted barn.
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Glad I didn't bring the MH up here!
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The cloth for the holy table was very colourful, obviously done by the children of the parish. I can imagine some people would be appalled but I thought it was lovely.
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My parking in Liezen
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And my view. Still snow on the mountains. And the wind is colder again.
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Is that the families house Jean.?
Yes European life is far better than in England at least. Unless you have big bucks.

Yes it is Ray. And like a lot of European houses they also have a basement making full use of the plot. They dug 2x120m deep holes to use the earth's own heat and they have solar panels so they use very little electricity from the grid, and benefit from putting their extra back in. He also says the walls in Austria are 2-3 times the thickness of UK's and they're very much better insulated (all generalisations of course).
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I came to Hallstatt on Sunday - a very picturesque village on the Hallstattersee. Parked in a lay-by from Park4night and walked in (3km) - I wouldn't do that again! Part of it was behind the barrier but every so often you were forced on to the road. Altho walking against the traffic it didn't feel at all safe with the whizzing traffic on the very narrow, twisty road. And I definitely wasn't going to walk back as any road bits would have been on the cliff-face side of the road with nowhere to go. Luckily there was a bus - 2€90 for 2 stops.

Unfortunately it rained virtually the whole time so views that would be stunning in the sunshine were somewhat dampened.

I'm now sitting in the square at Rosenheim, Germany. I left Hallstatt this morning rather more quickly than intended - I was having breakfast (blinds etc still closed apart from the kitchen window thro which I'd seen a workman on his phone.) Just finished when I heard machinery right next to me - there was a huge lorry across my front end and some automatic machinery was eating into a massive pile of logs n branches about a car's width away from me and shredding it into the double lorry across me. Of course, with the machinery being automatic, it didn't care if logs started to fall off in my direction. I moved sharpish and there was just enough room for me to get between 2 lorries. I'd not heard any of the heavy plant arriving. If only they'd knocked the door!

Got parked up in Rosenheim (just a carpark near the cemetery) and a Hungarian MH joined me shortly after - I've never had a MH park as close - his body must be 3-4" from my mirrors.

If I knew, I'd forgotten how poor German coffee is 😔 Might as well be at Starbucks!

On the plus side, the journeys in Austria/Germany have been very enjoyable - pretty, clean, fresh.

Some photos from Hallstatt
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And from Rosenheim
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After Rosenheim I drove to Oberammergau, parking in a campsite/campers top just at the bottom of the village, so very handy really. I'd read the reviews on P4N n there were a few giving off that once thro the automatic barrier you have to pay for a night to get out. And the reception is open only between 8 n 12, and 3 till 6pm. But it says that on a big notice before you enter, and I found the staff very nice n chatty this morning (maybe cos I wasn't looking for a freebie!)

I really enjoyed the town (tho I would have enjoyed it so much more without the incessant rain. This time I took my golf umbrella with me and that was much better. I'd rigged up a wrist strap so I could take photos without it ending in the gutter. Also I could take photos without the phone screen getting wet. And I wasn't nearly as drenched (top half) when I got home. Result!

Certainly there's a lot of commercialisation around the Passion Plays but I watched an excellent video in the museum and you do get the impression that it very much brings the community together. The fellow on the desk (a Jesus-look-alike) said he'd been in 2 productions. Actually, I doubt he was old enough to have been in more!

Today I drove to the Erwin Hymer Museum in Bad Waldsee, parking overnight in their car park. What a fabulous drive! I still have it on No motorway so we did a cross-country route on 1.5 car-width roads and I get to see all the wee hamlets. Some of the houses have incredible vistas. It was all very clean and neat, and so many of the country buildings are just solid solar panels.

I had lunch in the museum restaurant (very solid German food!) Think my favourite bit was an old clapped-out conversion from a police bus that has been all over the world. Belongs to a fellow now in his 80s; he used to come by a lot n share stories with the staff. One time when he was in the desert somewhere he became friends with a sheik in the region. One day the sheik came by and said he wanted to put his 7 daughters in the van. Apparently what he meant was that he'd give the owner a daughter and the owner would give the sheik his van! He was out of there sharpish! He carried a complete engine with him, just in case.
In Oberammergau:
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Art Event Painting Exhibition Visual arts
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In Bad Waldsee:
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This was nicknamed the green crybaby!
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You can get a bed in this - entry is by the front door, like a bubble car
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A couple had cycled halfway round the world to India then swapped for this to complete their journey.
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This was my favourite. Engine block on the floor, bike and all sorts on roof. This is how it was when he returned from his last trip - early noughties?
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Did you go into the church in Oberammergau Jean? It looks nothing from outside, but inside, breathtaking. Ettal Monastery is also worth a visit, we did all that twice, the second time when we went to the Passion Play.
I think all the churches see me coming n shut their doors! I didn't know abort Ettal monastery but I do now!
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