THOUGHTS ON CAMPING: 2 MONTHS IN

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Camping favourites, 2015
We are now 2 months in to our trip (we're half way through, eeek!) and I wanted to talk about our findings so far and how we have found camping in Europe…
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
First of all, camping is obviously a really cheap way of travelling. On average out of season it has been costing us about €19 a night, sometimes a couple of euros more or sometimes less. Even with the price of the euro going up for us... We have an ACSI card which was recommended to me before I left, you order it online for about £16 and it arrives from the Netherlands a couple of weeks later. If you are travelling around Europe before July and after August, I highly recommend you get one. We have saved SO much money with this card and the app is great for finding campsites (they also send you a book). We have found that if we stay at a campsite for 3 nights using the ACSI card we will pay a bill of about €51 instead of €72, which is more than a nights camping! (They didn't pay me to say this, its just a really good thing to do!)
Inside Our Inflatable Home
So camping is fairly cheap but the tolls are not. To be honest we didn’t do our research on tolls and we really should have. We got completely stung getting off the Eurotunnel at Calais on the drive down to Normandy, it was toll after toll and a 4 hour drive cost us over €22. We have found they are often unavoidable though, as we regularly do 4 plus hour drives in between campsites, this would take 6-8 on non toll roads and when you have to put a tent up in the same day, we’d rather take the quicker option! Tolls have definitely been one of our biggest expenses on this trip, which has really surprised us. Also, as we have just arrived in to Austria we have had to buy a vignette which you display in your car window, it costs just over €8 for 10 days so not too terrible and they do check you have one (you can buy them from petrol stations). When we head in to Germany later this week we'll also need to buy an Umweltplakette to have on display so they know our car is of low emissions. 
Our Inflatable Home Dordogne
French roads are lovely, well maintained with no potholes and the service stations are brilliant. French camping in general is a very pleasant experience, the campsites are usually of a high standard and will include hot water and toilet roll.
Our Inflatable Home, Italy
Italy however is basically one big pot hole (even on tolls) and if you even think about stopping for petrol on the motorway, make sure you get up to speed before exiting the petrol station! Driving in London has certainly given us good practise for driving over here, the roads are very fast and they practically drive on your bumper. There is absolutely no room for mistakes! Took a wrong turn? Tough. 
Camping in Italy is different to France (and now Austria we have found out). It's not unusual to charge for showers (50 cents) and won’t supply loo roll and will often have Turkish toilets… 
But! Pretty much every Italian campsite we stayed at had a restaurant that sold cheap, good quality pizza…so you win some, you lose some! 
Castel Camping le Brevedent
A huge part of camping is the noise at campsites, and this comes in all varieties. There are the birds chirping away at the crack of dawn right next to your head and then there’s the owls keeping you awake most of the night with their beeping. And don't forget, you are at the mercy of your neighbours. We have had some great neighbours who have read quietly all night and then silently zip up and sleep in till 10am (yeah right), but we have also had the neighbours in the camper van who open and close and open and close and open and close their door until 2am and then they are up with larks discussing how good a nights sleep they had. Oh and don’t forget Chief Nose Blower, just when you think you’ve lucked out with your pitch and your neighbours are a good distance away…he’ll start honking away just as you’re drifting off. 
But thats all part of camping and I’ve slowly learnt to embrace it and not complain but to try and laugh…sometimes.
Our_Inflatable_Home-9995
In Europe on top of the pitch fee they will also charge a tourist tax which I think is ridiculous. Oh yes, tax us an extra euro each for every night we stay on top of going to your restaurants and supporting your local businesses and blogging about your lovely area to visit. Please do. Also, we have started to discover green tax which I think is made up and is €2.50 per night…
Camping La Pointe, Brittany
We’ve got pretty good with camp cooking over the past 2 months. We only have two gas hobs to cook on so its often veggies with a homemade sauce, or pasta or curry or something similar - pretty much the same as what we ate back home but without the stuff we used to put in the oven to have on the side (spring rolls, garlic bread etc etc), so its doing my stomach some good! We don’t have a cool box so we make sure we buy fresh food for only a couple of days in advance and then go shopping again.  We keep all the staples in though and get a bit panicky when we only have one tin of tomatoes left! To begin with we did buy butter and chocolate bars but when the butter turned to liquid all over the table top and the chocolate wouldn’t harden as it was too hot so we had to eat it with a spoon, we stopped buying them (I know this sounds quite nice but in reality its just a big chocolate mess, everywhere! And then the ants come…).
Our_Inflatable_Home-9675
Out of season camping is brilliant, you really don’t need to book. Every single campsite we have arrived at has had ample room and the choice of pretty much any pitch you want but we did find at the start of our trip (beginning of May) there wasn’t much open - like the campsite restaurant or often the tourist attractions but this has changed since getting into June. We haven’t been camping in high season in Europe before so we’re a little apprehensive with how its going to be. We’ve heard nightmare stories of not being able to get in to campsites at all and after looking in our camping books we have noticed the prices can easily slide up to €40 a night…bonkers! Every campsite we stayed at in France said they were already pretty much booked up for the high season - and they were as of last year! 
Sorrento
We have found that we definitely need structure to the tent, everything needs its place otherwise it becomes frustrating and that is where the blame game starts ('where did you put the...etc') Also, we both have our own jobs to do when we arrive and leave a campsite to make life easier!
Sorrento
One of the hardest things about camping is the weather. We can handle the rain just about but its the strong winds that are the hardest. Its super loud inside and can bend the tent in half (literally) and puts a lot of strain on the tent. But also, when its 30 degrees outside you can’t sit in the tent as its an oven which is usually fine but on the off chance you fancy a nap...no chance! But we have really really loved being outside pretty much all the time, especially as we have gone from living in flats with no gardens for the past 7 years! 
Map 8 weeks in
So I think thats it for now, I'll do another one at the end of the trip with our findings of Germany and the Netherlands. 
But one thing that we are 100% sure on - is that Europe is just bloody marvellous. 

MAP: 8 WEEKS IN

Monday, 27 June 2016

Map 8 weeks in

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA

Sunday, 26 June 2016

On Thursday we arrived at Camping Ferienparadies Natterer See in a lovely little village called Natters just outside Innsbruck in Austria. The campsite is huge, its one of those big holiday parks as the lake it is on - Natterer See, is a very popular with visitors outside the campsite. We came to this site as its on our ACSI discount which ends at the end of June so we are trying to get the most use out of it. I don’t think we’d usually stay at a site like this, its really busy with a high turn over of campers everyday, so that means its very noisy with a constant stream of new arrivals and we found we were camped pretty close to our neighbours which isn’t the end of the world but when they wake up at 6:30…its not the best! The site had the most amazing shower facilities though, similar to a hotel actually with hairdryers and huge mirrors. The biggest negative of this site was the internet prices- they charge €15 a day for access which is bonkers so we certainly didn’t bother but the biggest positive was the free hourly bus they provide to get to Innsbruck which we took full advantage of. 
On the Friday it was my birthday so we celebrated with pastries and tea in the morning and then took the bus to Innsbruck for the day. Obviously we hunted down the best pizza place to go to for lunch which was at a place called Sapori and it was very tasty indeed!
Sadly the day was tainted with the news of the UK leaving the EU which I still can’t make any sense of. I don’t really understand how people look at Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and even Donald Trump and think the lies they are spouting are the best decisions for our country. This can’t be any kind of progression in any way. What a sad day it is for the generations who are going to have to live with this decision and it breaks my heart that we seem to live in such a divided country. Anyway. I don’t want to dwell on that here as this is a travel blog after all, we have talked about it so much over the past few days and have actually decided to move to Innsbruck!Only joking…but we really did fall in love with the place. What a great city! It’s diverse (ahem), has lots of culture, its a university city so lots going on, it has quite a small city centre so we found we could walk everywhere no problem, beautiful well kept parks, all the shops you could need - independent and high street, cheap good quality beer and so many vegan/veggie friendly places we were spoilt for choice. The shops even sell plenty of soya products which we were very pleased with as Italy and France don’t really bother at all. It pretty much has everything we would want from a place to live in…but apparently its hard to actually get a place to rent as they are in such high demand and sadly I doubt two jobless, non German speaking Brits would be at the top of the list! But if you haven’t already been I highly recommend you go, its got a lot to offer. 
We only had two whole days at this campsite and although it was about 32 degrees there was a constant threat of thunderstorms and rain - which often happen in the evening. For our last day we visited Innsbruck again to get some food and to explore areas we didn’t visit the day before. We had a super tasty natural curry and huge side salad (again, with the option of vegan food!) and made it back to the tent before the heaviest down pour of rain we’ve had on this trip happened! 
Obviously we had to try a traditional pastry before we left! 

OUR LAST STOPS IN ITALY

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Our Inflatable Home, Italy
So here we are, almost 8 weeks in to our trip and enjoying our last day in sunny Italy. Tomorrow we make the journey in to Austria and then on to Germany for all the bratwurst I can eat and all the dunkel weizen Steven can drink. We are currently sat outside the oven tent near a little town called Arsie (ha!) just near the Dolomites and its half 11 in the morning and 28 degrees, wowzers! The tent is so hot that the peaches have stewed and I'm pretty sure the eggs have boiled but I am very glad we have a canopy we can sit under to escape the sun. The past few days have been fairly quiet, we left lovely Opi (our favourite stay in Italy) and drove 4 hours north to an area called Marche. The campsite was lovely, a very nice welcome of free drinks and ran by a Dutch family, I think there were about 100 campers there with only us and another couple who weren't from the Netherlands, it was a taste of Holland in Italy that's for sure!
Our Inflatable Home, Italy
 I got a serious case of laziness whilst we were there though and we really didn't do very much apart from a visit to the local fortified town and a drive around the area which reminded us very much of the rolling hills of Yorkshire. I think it must have been a mix of the heat and the length we have been travelling as I still haven't really shook the tiredness! 
Our Inflatable Home, Italy
Our Inflatable Home, Italy
Our Inflatable Home, Italy
Our Inflatable Home, Italy
After Marche we drove another 4 hours north to where we are now. We wanted to visit the lakes in Italy but after looking at campsites at Lake Garda, they all looked quite commercial and not what we were after at all. So we have come to Lake Corlo which is very beautiful and the view from our campsite isn't bad at all - and it's very nice to visit areas we haven't heard of before because isn't that what travelling is all about? The campsite facilities are the best we have had on this trip too - and we have wifi from our tent so it will be hard to leave tomorrow!
Our Inflatable Home, Italy
Our Inflatable Home, Italy
We've been on a lovely walk around the lake and mainly enjoying the weather and perfecting our arrabbiata sauce which I have to say is tasting like the real deal now.
Our Inflatable Home, Italy
Our Inflatable Home, Italy
See you in Austria!

MAP: 7 WEEKS IN

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Our Inflatable Home, Marche
We are 7 weeks in to our trip today! Im not sure where the time has gone, it only feels like its been about 3 weeks. Scary to think we are almost half way in...and we're still going strong! Yeahhh!

OPI, ITALY

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
After the madness of Sorrento we wanted to stay somewhere a bit quieter, so we checked the ACSI app and headed 3 hours north to a lovely campsite just outside Opi which is part of the National Park of Abruzzo. The drive to the campsite was the most beautiful yet of our trip, mountains all around us as we kept going up and up, climbing the winding narrow mountain roads with hairpin corners. The campsite we're staying at is called Camping Il Vecchio Mulino and is quite a big site (not a commercial one) but still very quiet this time of year, the altitude is 1070 metres but doesn't feel like it once you're here. It's in the perfect place for instant walks through the National Park which is the most stunning and untouched area.
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
When we arrived we felt instantly relaxed and have spent most of our time here walking, climbing mountains and making nice food, oh and hanging out with the campsite dog! He took an instant liking to us when we arrived and then proceeded to sleep under our tent canopy each night. When Steven opened the tent one morning he was so happy to see him he came bounding over jumping up and trying to lick him and then followed him to the shower block where he waited outside.
One day we hiked up a mountain - with the dog showing us the way, of course! Half way up I was starting to struggle - (I'll put it down to the high altitude and the heat alright) and we were having a rest on a rock when our two 71 year old neighbours from the campsite came trotting up like it was a walk in the park! They beat us to the top and back to the bottom again and were sat at their camper van with a glass of wine by the time we returned!
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
Our Inflatable Home - OPI
So we move on tomorrow, when we're going to steal the dog making our way slightly further north for the next few nights, we're hoping to be in Austria by the end of June or perhaps a little earlier but we're not in any rush so we'll just keep going little by little.