MAP: 12 WEEKS

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Map: 12 weeks

Miles travelled: 5782
Nights in a tent: 83
Number of campsites: 24
Countries visited: 6
Amount spent on road tolls: €268.20
Amount spent on campsites: €1628.88
Pastries eaten: 1000 (roughly)

It's taken me a little while to put this post up, part of me is reluctant to admit our European adventure is over and the other part is busy getting ready for the next bit of our life - moving to a new place/new jobs etc which is all very exciting.
The stats above are quite pleasing to look at, what an adventure we had! Im quite surprised we managed 83 nights in a tent and I can't believe how much the road tolls cost. Also living in a tent for 3 months is pretty much the equivalent to ones months rent in London...crazy!
I'm so proud our little car managed to get us through 6 countries, up some pretty hairy mountain roads and almost 6,000 miles, what a little trooper! We're currently trying to find somewhere to live again before we head back out in the tent - we're also a bit reluctant to venture out in high season (not that you'd know with this weather!) but we have missed our tent and are looking forward to documenting our travels once more. If anyone has any top campsite recommendations (anywhere in Britain) then please do send them our way. We're hoping to put a tab on the top of this site with ones we recommend which we can keep adding to, as even though there are all these campsite finder websites out there...they're all a bit crap really!



OUR LAST STOP IN EUROPE

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Our Inflatable Home, Ieper
So here we are, the last stop on our mainland Europe trip. Holy moly. We decided to make Ieper our last stop before getting the ferry back, when we were in Holland we watched a series called Our World War on iPlayer which we really enjoyed so figured we would learn more about the war and visit the places it took place in. We stayed at Camping Jeugdstadion, which like the Bruge one had a self check in service, brilliant! The site is just a 5 minute walk from the centre of Ieper, so the night we arrived we walked in and was able to attend the Last Post held at Menin Gate which was quite moving - especially the choir. We drove out to Sanctuary Wood museum which has the original British trenches still in place and some of the original trees that were completely blown to pieces. It was really quite eerie and very very still and silent. So fascinating to be able to walk through the trenches though, like, actual real trenches that 100 years ago were being occupied. Crazy!
Our Inflatable Home, Ieper
For the very last day of our trip we visited the Flanders Field Museum in the centre of Ieper which is a great exhibition, very informative and interactive (quite similar to the brilliant one at Imperial War museum in London), we explored Ieper a little, read a lot of the names carved in the memorial at Menin Gate and then went back to the tent to freak out that our return was getting ever closer. 
Our Inflatable Home, Ieper
Weirdly, I am writing this post whilst sat at my mums house and we're not freaking out anymore! Hurray! We got the ferry over yesterday and sadly witnessed all the people stuck in the 14 hour traffic trying to make their way into Dover, we felt so sorry for them, what a mess!

Although this might have been our last stop this is not the last post of our blog. I have a few more coming up over the next few days with more info on our trip and our plans for where we're camping next - and I have to put up the completed Europe map of course! We'll also keep this blog for any camping trips we do in the future and we'll put up a page of campsites we recommend - as finding a good campsite can be pretty tricky!

Although its sad our big trip is over, we were ready to come back and begin part 2 of our adventure...

BELGIUM: BRUGES

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For our first campsite in Belgium we stayed at Camping Memling which is about a 30 minute walk from Bruges. Neither of us have been to Bruge before, we went to Brussels last year which was err... ok (read as: we won't be going back any time soon) so we were looking forward to exploring. The campsite was the first one we've seen with a self check in service. A little computer screen for you to pick the pitch and to pay with a credit card - no interaction with a human needed at all! I think they do it as the site has such a high turn around and people are pitching up right up until 10 o clock in the evening, lots of backpackers and campers on bikes and so many Brits! It's quite strange going from barely any Brits at all at any of the sites to the majority being from the UK. 
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We had two nights here and because we were on the small tent pitch we had to put the Banshee up instead of our inflatable one which I actually really love sleeping in - its so cosy! 
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We explored Bruges which turned out to be one of the most expensive places we visited on the trip, very lovely and quaint though and packed full of tourists but the restaurant prices did mean we had to get a baguette and some cheese to eat on a bench!
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It was very handy having the campsite so close by so would definitely recommend it if you're looking for a stop over from the ferry or wanting to explore Bruges. And that leads us into our last stop of our mainland Europe trip...

HOLLAND: AMSTERDAM

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Our Inflatable Home
Our last stop in Holland was in Haarlem near Amsterdam. We chose this site (Camping de Lakens) as we could get a bus from outside the campsite and then a 15 minute train in to the centre of Amsterdam. And honestly...I would only recommend this campsite if your main priority is staying close to Amsterdam, don't be fooled by the lure of the sand dunes!
I only took pics of the tent at the site on my phone as I didn't want to get sand in my camera but you get the idea. The site is the biggest we have stayed on this trip, actually its the biggest site I have ever seen I think. It took us about 15 minutes to walk from the reception up to our pitch and the receptionist told me the previous day (a Saturday) the site was full at 4pm. It is next to the sea (hi England!) and Holland are officially on their summer holidays now...joy! When we arrived there were only a few pitches left she said, tapped away at the computer and then quoted us €47 a night PLUS tourist tax. Ermmm...not quite in our budget I'm afraid, so I asked if there was anything cheaper she said if we had a small tent we could go on the sand in a little section right at the top of the site for only €32 a night...only! 
Our Inflatable Home
Luckily we have brought a back up tent on our trip, as we weren't sure how the big one would hold out being put up and down so much. Its a small 3 man Vango Banshee which can only fit us and a bottle water in but its perfect for situations like this. As we were camped on the sand - a first for us, we didn't cook but decided to stock up on nibbles and ate at the restaurant one night as sand just gets everywhere!
Our Inflatable Home
We went to Amsterdam which was beautiful and lovely and I'd definitely like to go back to explore more another time. We went to the tulip museum and had a very tasty veggie hot dog
Our Inflatable Home, Amsterdam
Our Inflatable Home, Amsterdam
Our Inflatable Home, Amsterdam
Our Inflatable Home, Amsterdam
And generally just mooched around enjoying/melting in the 30 degree heat!
Our Inflatable Home, Amsterdam
Our Inflatable Home, Amsterdam
Our Inflatable Home, Amsterdam
Our Inflatable Home, Amsterdam
So that was our last stop in Holland before we headed to Belgium where we are now. We visited wetlands, the woods and the seaside in Holland so we definitely got a good taste for it and it is such a beautiful country. Its just such a shame the ferry from Holland to Hull/Newcastle costs over £350, nobody can justify those costs when the eurotunnel is about £80! Oh, one thing that did seem odd in Holland is that mopeds and small motorbikes can use the cycle lane, travel about 35mph and don't legally need to where a helmet!! Crazy!

HOLLAND: LEERSUM

Our Inflatable Home, Leersum
After our stay in Heeg we headed slightly further south to a place called Leersum not too far away from Utrecht. We stayed at Molecaten Park campsite which we didn't realise was a Centre Parcs style site when researching places to stay. We were pretty apprehensive as there were only 3 spots left when we arrived...and there were A LOT of pitches...which means a lot of people and a lot of noise! But we actually had a really nice stay and managed to get a pitch that was fairly secluded. We hired some bikes for the day and went exploring around the local area, we slightly detoured and ended up taking the bikes that are pretty much only suitable for flat road surfaces through the woods...might need to get a mountain bike next time!
Our Inflatable Home, Leersum
Our Inflatable Home, Leersum
Our Inflatable Home, Leersum
We found a camp shop where we bought a new rug for the tent
Our Inflatable Home, Leersum
And also found our dream caravan waiting for us, one day we will own an Eriba!
Eriba
And then we just hung out at the tent and relaxed, we only stayed for a couple of nights so it went quickly. Despite how big the site is I would definitely recommend it, especially if you've got kids - there was so much for them to do.
Our Inflatable Home, Leersum
Our Inflatable Home, Leersum
Oh and this is real life camping - washing hung up all over the tent because there's no trees to attach the washing line to and the dryer costs €4!
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HOLLAND: HEEG

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
Our first stop in Holland was in a little town called Heeg (pronounded 'hey'...I think!) at a campsite called Watersportcamping Heeg, which as I mentioned in our last post was kindly recommended to us (thanks Jill!). Karin who owns the site gave us such a warm welcome, she asked about us - where we had come from and what we do for a living, genuinely interested about us. As I mentioned I am a photographer she suggested that we stay there for 3 nights for free in return for some pictures of the site which was a huge help to us.
Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
The site was lovely, very peaceful and perfect if you own a boat/canoe as you could hop straight in the water from where you are camped.
Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
We hired a couple of bikes for the day, cycled in to the nearest city that was 11km away...had a sausage roll and then cycled back...its safe to say my legs were paying for it the next day (and my bum!).
Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
It did get really windy here though and our poor tent was really being put to the test, the weather reminded us of when we set off on this trip...not only have we done a full circle on the map but we have with the weather too!
Heeg is a really lovely place that I would definitely recommend for a visit if you're in the area, it almost has a seaside vibe to it with restaurants and quaint little shops, its only tiny but it even has free wifi available in the streets. Fancy! The area is very similar to the Norfolk Broads, lots of water and very very flat.
Our Inflatable Home, Heeg
So after 3 nights there we have headed slightly further south...only a week a couple of days of mainland Europe left....eek!

MAP: 11 WEEKS IN

Our Inflatable Home - 11 weeks

GERMANY, RHINE

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Our Inflatable Home, Rhine
As we are planning our route as we go, it can get a little confusing as to where we go next and the best places to visit in that area. From the Black Forest we wanted to head further north so we could eventually arrive in to Holland and then work our way down through Belgium so we can get the Eurotunnel back home. We settled on a campsite just near the Rhine which had some really good reviews…I’m not quite sure where these people stayed but it couldn’t have been at this site! It pretty much consisted of a long strip of grass with a very 60s sanitary block included. The tent area was basically that bit of grass that is usually forgotten about at the side of the road. So we squeezed on and decided just to stay 2 nights so we would have a whole day to explore the area. We headed into the town of St Goar which is on the Rhine and walked around, looking in shop windows and admiring the view. 
Our Inflatable Home, Rhine
Our Inflatable Home, Rhine
Our Inflatable Home, Rhine
Our Inflatable Home, Rhine
Our Inflatable Home, Rhine
We then walked up to the castle and mooched around there for a bit….and then…it seemed we were done, not much else to see. So we walked back to the campsite and made a cup of tea and realised it was only 1pm and we didn’t really know what to do with the rest of the day! 
I’m sure there are plenty of other things to see along the Rhine but castle ruins and small towns with not much in them don’t really float our boat that much.  So we planned our next campsite, we were hoping to fit in another stop in Germany but we were a bit lost as to where to go next. As we were looking at the map and kept finding areas that looked like a good last stop before Holland, the campsites were either huge holiday parks or had terrible reviews…or even worse - huge holiday parks with terrible reviews! 
Earlier in the week we received a lovely email recommending a site in Holland as they had just come from there and had had a lovely time. So we decided to head up there as we no longer had the brain power to try and find a nice site…and that’s how we only did 3 stops in Germany!

But Holland is loooovely….