Dr. Who Van Blog

DR WHO - VANTOUR 09

It was just another one of many cold winter days in London, a few pints later at the pub when we started pondering the idea of travelling Europe in a van. How we were going to make this happen was beyond us at this stage, but the thought was so appealing. Many conversations and internet browsing later we came to the conclusion the safest way for us to do this “wicked” adventure was in a “wicked” van. We booked online, it all
seemed to good to be true, pay a deposit to secure your van and pay rest closer to when you depart! So it meant securing a van giving us time to save for the rest.. BINGO! Needless to say our social lives in London were cut to save for this once in a lifetime adventure, we are doing this once and doing it right!

After the anxiety of resigning from work wore of, it was time to get amped up ! Making plans, for the venture ahead! Many hour dedicated to studying lonely planet and Europe maps ..Gone were the days of Friday drinks at the pub after work.. it was all about VANOUR 2009!

As we had many friends with similar plans over summer it helped with putting the wheels in motion, sharing and comparing ideas and trying to work out a rough budget for this priceless experience. Having finished work and most the ground work in place it was time to start the final countdown, arranging travel money cards, roaming on mobile networks, travel insurance etc etc.

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The day had finally come! 2nd July 09! a day to remember, our bags had been packed ready to go for days leading up to this moment, unsure what we were getting ourselves in for! 3 months living in a van travelling through at least 15 countries! Arrived at the depot with extreme anticipation to reveal our home for the next 3 months! So many different designs, are we going to be lucky?? We were lucky! Dr Who and the mystery machine, this could only mean good things for our time ahead.

The van was amazing! It had so much storage (maybe I didnt need to be so ruthless when packing my bag!) and the kitchen set up had everything needed! And one of the most important things, it had aircon!

Our chunnel crossing was booked for later that afternoon so we had time to make the van homely, fill the cupboards with cereal, noodles and dried food that would last the distance before kissing goodbye to London for 3 months!

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HELLO EUROPE!


We arrived in France, adjusted to the opposite site of the road and set on track towards Paris. We managed to drive into the eye of a massive thunder and lightning storm, panicking a little we pulled it together and managed to find safety under the golden arches being McDs! It couldnt have been a worse start! However keeping spirits high as things could only get better which they did. The rain eased and we were able to get back on track towards Paris.

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Pamplona was the event that was our prize at this stage and we had our eye on it! Being that we were booked to stay with Stoke travel with all other wicked campers on hire and needless to say free booze excited us very much! We were at an awesome campground called Ezcaba with an awesome set up, Bar, DJ, Food etc. Introducing ourselves to our fellow campers and tucking into some sangria in preparation for the opening ceremony the following day.

The adrenaline, suspense and passion all at once! The colours white and red everywhere! Sangria everywhere! To drink and to spray everyone in sight with! Needless to say good ole primani whites were now rubbish. 3 days of sangria and many great memories created.

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From here our next major stop was Portugal! Through the grapevine we heard that Lagos was a place not to me missed. It defiantly lived up to expectations. Many other vans both from wicked and independent van tour vans were in the only campground in Lagos so party everynight! Amazing beaches along the whole coastline however bone chilling water. 3 nights in a row spent at 1 hour of power, all the beer you can drink and a great feed for a tenner.

From Portugal we drove up the east coast of Spain stopping at many places (mainly coastal) along the way. Our fav being Alicante. The stretch of coastline was amazing! Finally some crystal blue warm Mediterranean waters. We spent several days soaking up the rays and swimming in the ocean.

One month into our Journey and we were well set in our ways of living life on the road. Finding many ideal free camp spots along the way, easily found around coastal towns for sure.

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Moving onto Italy we found the jewel! Cinque Terre, 5 villages situated in the most picturesque setting. 16Km coastal walking tracks joining them. We walked between 3 of the 5 villages in 30+ temps, well worth the hike for the breathtaking views.

From Italy we caught an overnight ferry to Athens. We were allowed to sleep in the van which made it somewhat less painful. Being booked to head to Ios the following day we parked the van up and headed on yet another overnight ferry to the island this time sadly no comfort of a van :( We stayed 5 nights in Ios, the campsite we were staying at was party central and the clubs in town were awesome! 2 cocktails and 2 shots for a 5er! Who could say no to that!

Reunited with the van we headed on our way to Croatia being the next big stop. This also lived up to every expectation. Krka National Park was full of spectacular waterfalls, one of which we swam under.

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Montenegro was a massive surprise for us as we were not expecting to stay as unfamiliar with what it had to offer! Almost rivalling Croatia with beauty we stayed for a night to enjoy the coastal paradise yet again!

Scheduled in from departure we were looking forward to reuniting with Stoke Travel and Wicked campers again at
Oktoberfest. Again an awesome set up for the festive events to follow. The beer halls were so busy and hot but still managed to be enjoyable as the atmosphere overrides that.

Down to the final 2 weeks with Dr Who, reality was setting in that soon the dream would be over! We had Amsterdam to look forward to however. It was great to finish our adventure on a high note before returning to London.

Throughout our tour we were so lucky with the weather and only encountered 2 days of rain! Other than that perfect blue sky's all the way.

The day of handing the van back to Wicked was a sad day. As much as we were longing to be in a house with more than 4 walls and to sleep in a proper bed, Dr who felt like our home. The day had to come sooner or later.

Within 3 months we visited 18 countries, drove 15,000KM, took over 2,000 photos and created countless memories.

Thank you Wicked for making our dream come true!

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Van Tour 2009 In The Eyes of Bruce

VAN TOUR 2009

IN THE EYES OF BRUCE


Hi my name is Bruce, I'm one of the many van's who went out on van tour Europe this year. I had 5 people this year, a great group but wasn't to sure what to think of them at first. When picking me up from the wicked campers depot they got me stuck against the wall and put a massive scratch down my side, the staff just laughed and had to drive me out themselves.

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We started our 3 month trip down the west coast of France. Stopping in Paris first of cause. It was a very quick leg as we had to make it to Pamplona on the 5th of the running of the bulls. Which was amazing i might just add. I got to see all my mates (Wicked campers) at the campsite. All the people enjoyed it to, they kept going on about the free alcohol and breaky they got everyday. It was hot, the sun was shining and music played all day till the early hours of the morning.

Three days later everyone piled back into me and we headed for the coast of Portugal. The people had made friends with another wicked camper and we ended up traveling together through Portugal. To tell you the truth I didn't have to do much. the people would park me up in Lagos or where ever and spends lots of time sun bathing, drinking and partying, i sometimes joined in and played music for them, which they loved as my battery never run flat. Once we got to the south of Spain to a place called Tarifa, the People left me for 5 days as they went into Morocco.

I was very lonely but they had a blast.

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We all loved traveling the south of Spain, camping grounds were cheap, the sun was out and the people were always laughing and joking with each other. We would met other vans and people on van tour and end up convoying together. They left me again in Barcelona as they flew to Ibiza, from what i heard it as expensive but incredible and no regrets.

After the peoples trip David Guetta was the sound track for the rest of van tour. We traveled through a tiny country called Andorra where everything was duty free, before heading into the south of France. The south of France was another highlight. The people frond a great spot for free camping along a beach just before Sete. More vans turned up and we ended up staying for a few days. The people spent their time sun bathing, eating, drinking and at night they would have bomb fires on the beach.

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St-Tropez St-Tropez I felt very shabby here, there were Ferrari's, Porsche's, BMW's and Lamborghini's everywhere and every time i drove by they gave me the dirtiest of looks as if they were so much better than me. Monaco was the same and it didn't help that the people kept getting all gooey eyed over them.

Italy was breath taking with its cliff side villages and tiny roads, olive trees and Liguria's coast line (The Cinqu Terre walk is a great example of this). The drivers were crazy over there and i was luck my drivers were much nicer to me. We Stayed in Florence, Rome and Pompeii for a few nights before heading to Bari.

I was please to be off the roads for 10 days as the people left me here and traveled to Greece. Apparently they made lots of friends here and had the best times of their life (wish i was there with them). On their return only 3 made it back as the others had run out of money and flew back to London. I think they were secretly please as I was much lighter and they were saving on gas.

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Croatia was stunning, the people met up with all there mates they had met in Greece, for more partying. I didn't recognise these vans but it didn't take long before we were racing along the high ways and pumping out the sounds. Montenegro was a nice romantic time for 2 of my drivers, we drove trough tiny villages, pasted beautiful mountains and free camped near lakes and rivers.

Durmitor National Park is a must see. We met up with our friends again at Lake Bled in Slovenia. it was starting to get colder now up in the mountains and the people spent lots more time in me, drinking and keeping warm.

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We left all the vans again and drove through Auastia, Czech and into Germany. The people made new friends in Prague and we were back to 5 in the van, well until Berlin. In Berlin we parked at the side of a busy road and the craziness began all over again, people lost bets and had to run around me naked, doors were locked and they ended up hiding in bushes, beer cans everywhere funnels out......spews.

from that night on the boys were practising for the 100 club in Munich, i saw alot of disgusting things. The people were now running out of money so we spent a lot of nights sleeping at the side of roads, in car parks and trunk stops. Munich was fun, I got to see all my old wicked camper mates and i had a break from driving as everyone got drunk at the beer hall everyday and came back to the campsite for free alcohol and music, it was a bit like Pamplona all over again.

The people were all looking worn out by now, they needed showers, a proper bed, clean clothing, money, a job and house for when they got back to London. We headed back through Switzerland, Liechtenstein and into the Netherlands for one last party in Amsterdam. On our trip we experienced lots of ruins, castles, old villages, church, beaches, cliffs, mountains,people,traffic, alcohol, party's languages, cultures, sex, sun, sweat, laughs and crys.....one amazing summer, now its our turn :)

Gravity Van Blog

To all the crew at wicked campers,

After passing by 15 countries there is no easy way to best summarise 13,000kms and 3 months of mayhem whilst travelling the European roads. However, we will give you a small insight to some of our more favoured destinations and parties we were lucky enough to attend and often just merely stumble upon.

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• Best festival - Running of the Bulls – Pamplona, Spain We arrived at camping ezcaba in Pamplona on the Sunday a day before the opening ceremony and were greeted at the entrance by Stoke Travel who promptly showed us to our campsite and before we could turn the van off had a beer placed in our hands. For the rest of the day we sat around meeting other people on van tour and drinking the endless amounts of beer and sangria til you either passed out or just stayed awake to get the first bus into town the following morning at 6am.

Day 1 opening ceremony – after waking up a little dusty and worse for wear from night 1 it was time to throw on the running gear choke down some train smash and catch the bus into town for the opening ceremony and you guessed it stupid amounts of sangria consumed along the way. It still was only 6am. Walking through town, bottles of sangria in both hands and drinking shoes on we realized this is it, the day we’ve waited so long for has finally arrived. Before long, we were surrounded by masses of people, both locals and tourists who had come to join in the opening ceremony celebrations.

Sangria was being sprayed around like it was water, drenching people from head to toe. People viewing the occasion from there balconies were launching buckets of water over the crowd which was a chance to get some relief from the scorching sunshine. An incredible day to say the least and would go down as one of the best days of our trip.

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Day 2 running with the bulls – another day another hangover, we threw on our running gear which is no longer white but stained sangria purple from the previous days shenanigans, choked down some more train smash and jumped on the 1st bus into town. Unlike the day before this time the walk into town was a little different you could tell that everyone was shitting themselves because in less than a few hours we would be running down the streets of Pamplona alongside 600kg bulls with nothing but our legs and evasive skills to save us.

Before we knew it 8am had come around the 1st gun shot went off and the streets erupted with excitement but it wasn’t until the 2nd gunshot sounded and the 1st bull was spotted that the heart started racing. Bar far the most adrenaline pumping moment of our lives. A few near misses, a couple of hip and shoulders, elbows, knees and 6 bulls later we were in the arena. After dodging a few in more bulls wrecking havoc and still having all limbs intact we decided to quit while we were ahead and get the hell out of arena and watch the rest of the carnage from the sidelines. After the run it was time to head back to camp for some well deserved beer and sangria, the perfect way to end our first running of the bulls experience, we’ll definitely be back for round 2 in the future.

• Favourite spot to free camp – Tarragona Spain We found Tarragona on our way to Barcelona from Madrid, its approximately an hour drive south of Barcelona on the coast of Spain, it has an awesome beach (el miracle) and was the perfect place to free camp and get in some cheap days. We would spend time on the beach during the day before driving the van up on the bluff of a night time where you can cook a meal and drink a few beers overlooking the town and the beach. It’s a reasonably quiet town good to just relax and do your own thing for a few days as we knew Barcelona was going to be sleepless nights of destruction on our bodies.

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• Must see – Croatia
Words just don’t do justice to this amazing country. It has everything you need, amazing coastal towns and a thriving capital. We decided to ditch the van for a week and take part in 7 days sail Croatia. We managed to visit several small islands, best being Hvar with Dubrovnik being the best coastal mainland town.

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• Oktoberfest - Munich Germany
What better way to conclude our 3 month van tour experience than to embark on Germany for the biggest beer fest in the world. We arrived at camp the night before the opening ceremony again staying with Stoke Travel. Not the most organized travel company but what they lack in knowledge they make up for in parties. We spent most of our time in the German tents drinking litre beers, eating ½ chickens and pork knuckles and learning traditional songs and dancing on the tables. This would be one of the biggest highlights of our trip.

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In summary, we would like to thank Wicked for all their assistance throughout our 3 month trip. Our van ran better than ever and apart from the odd flat battery we couldn’t have been happier with the performance. We defiantly found it to be value for money and a hassle free way of participating in the iconic European van tour. For 2 guys, the 2 seater was perfect. Sleeping in the back was quite comfortable and having a sink and cooking facilities in the back was perfect for free camping.

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Wild West Van Tour

Van Tour Europe 09

FRANCE

-Dover to Calais – Calais was poo.
-Rouen - Rouen was amazing, cute old village enjoyed French sticks and cheese
-La Rochelle- La Rochelle was breathtaking! Such a beautiful city on the beach, great night markets, bars and marina.
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SPAIN

-La Rochelle to San Sebastian- Busy beach side city, got blind with our mates that came from London to meet us.
- Pamplona – RUNNING OF THE BULLS! – Fantastic, 4 days of drinking disgusting Sangria and watching crazy Spanish men getting pummelled by bulls. Stayed with Stoke camping, loved the crew there.
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PORTUGAL

- Ericeria- Cute old beach town, most people spoke English which was helpful. Great surf, stayed at a surf camp with a few mates..
- Lisbon – Just another big hot sticky city.. Just drove straight through it and found a great surf beach, slept in the car park.
- Lagos –Awesome beach party vibe, went out every night.
- Olhao – Stayed in a beautiful camping ground, enjoyed a big bbq.
- P.Verde – Played and boozed on the beach all day, enjoyed the warm water!!
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SPAIN

-Valencia – Nice city. Reminded us of a big version of Melbourne. I had the flu or something, so I didn’t really enjoy it.
-Tarragona- Beautiful quiet beach town. Camped on the beach under a big tree. Got drink with Spanish fisherman all night.
-Barcelona- We were super tired and couldn’t be bothered with the traffic for a car spot, so we parked and went for a swim at the first beach we saw. Tried for hours to find a camping ground. We gave up and booked into a 5 star Resort and had a night of luxury and free porn J
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FRANCE

-Le Barcares- We loved it here, stayed a week. Had an awesome park right on the beach and just drank, sun baked and ate all day.
- Marseille – Just drove straight through it, couldn’t be bothered with another big city. Stayed the night in a cute town called Cross Regnier.
- St Tropez – I can’t believe how much money some people have.. Boats, bigger boats and massive boats… Stayed in a camping ground 40ks inland from St Tropez. We had a bbq and a crazy French guy poured a bucket of water all over our food because of the fire ban.. Bastard could have asked us nicely!

SWITZERLAND

-Bern- Drove through the beautiful French Alps. We absolutely loved Bern. We stayed in a campground right on the Airre River the first night, but got rudely booted out in the morning, supposed playing bongos and laughing at Finish boys with shiny faces wasn’t appropriate for 4 in the morning.. So we just free camped next to the camping ground, swam and played in the park for 4 days. We were in Switzerland for National Swiss day which involved thousands of people running around drunk with fireworks, one almost hit me in the head.
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LIECHTENSTEIN

- Small tiny town with a cute castle and a few cats, that’s about it.

AUSTRIA

-We stayed one night in Innsbruck. It was a pretty city, but it was raining really hard the whole time we were there, so we decided to move on.
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ITALY

-Dolomites- Gorgeous snow capped mountains. Went for a huge mountain hike and ate lunch on top of a mountain peak. Enjoyed authentic Italian wood fire pizza.

SLOVENIA

-Great beach town. Treated ourselves to cocktails in a tropical bar called Alyah. Found a great camping spot on the beach and caught hermit crabs.

CROATIA

-Almost checked into a Nudist camp without realising it. Pag was amazing! We hired an apartment for 7 nights, just relaxed and drank, sun baked and celebrated my birthday with a massive bender on the Navalia beach.

Dubrovnik- Nice city, only stayed there for a day, explored the old town.

MONTENEGRO

- We got denied at the border the first time we tried to get into Montenegro because we didn’t have any registration papers in our car. Once we had them sent over we got through just fine. Beautiful mountainous country with amazing beaches.

ALBANIA

-Bloody Albania, I can’t believe we survived it with kamikaze drivers, farm animals on the road, cliff face roads with stray dogs and burning rubbish everywhere! Crazy country, but we really enjoyed it. We stayed 2 nights.

GREECE

-Corfu was beautiful, to bad the Pink Palace wasn’t. It was like being on school camp, but we had fun. Took quad bikes around the mountain and swam in crystal clear water.

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Stayed 3 more nights in the old town in a sneaky car park on the beach.
- Florina- Stayed with family friends in a cute old village. They fed us until we almost died, and I never want to see Ouzo again! But we loved staying with them.
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BULGARIA

-Stayed in a beautiful forest, camped at a trout farm the first night. Explored the Rilla forest and visited a beautiful monastery. Checked into a hotel for a night just because we missed TV and a proper shower. Stumbled across an annual Bulgarian music festival full of crazy people, music and animals on spits, it was fun but I feared for my life so we got out of there quick smart.

SERBIA

-After realising we had to pay a 120 Euro road tax fee to enter the country, we decided to just drive straight through it. We just wanted to get to Hungry to meet up with our buddies from Australia that were coming to meet us.

HUNGARY

-Had no luck finding a camping ground the first night, so pigged out on Maccas and slept in a car park.
-Budapest- We stayed in a camp ground in the centre of the city with a heap of other Van Tour vans. Drank heaps and got trashed. Met out mates that come from Melbourne to travel the rest of the way with us.

SLOVAKIA

- Bratislava -This joint was fun until some bastard stole all of my clothes from my van, including all my dirty undies!
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AUSTRIA

-Vienna was amazing. Camped with a crew of VT vans. We hit the town and had a few unforgettable big nights.

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Prague was amazing, we stayed in a camping ground still as a massive VT group, things started to get even more messy leading up to the 100 club.. we tried to do our own, but got distracted and just ended up blind not knowing what was going on.
-Chesky Krumlov- This was one of my favourite cities. It was like something out if a fairy tale. We stayed in a beautiful hostel and enjoyed a few nice meals and wine.
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GERMANY – OCTOBERFEST

Best part of the trip by far!!! We got dressed up as slutty beer wenches and went to town on the steins. We spent 4 whole days in the tents and I developed massive biceps from lifting my beer to my mouth. Reunited with the stoke crew, was good to see them all.

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-Cologne- Camped in a rabbit infested camp ground and ate too much pizza.

NETHERLANDS

-Amsterdam….. Loved this joint.. Hash and truffles at your fingertips.. We stayed in a crack den of a hostel, but we loved it.

BELGIUM

-Bruges- Stayed with some friends that we met in Bratislava. Cooked up a massive Bbq and ate like kings. Walked around the beautiful city and ate Belgium chocolate.

FRANCE

-Back through France to get the ferry across to Dover.

UK

-Dropped off our van and that was VT09!!

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Kiss Van Tour Blog

Kiss Van Tour

Ok where do I start to tell you of my adventures in my(our) KISS Wicked Vannnnn woooooo!!! We visited/ drove through 16 European countries in 3 months!!! Eeek! Well first stop was France, Der… We caught the ferry from Dover in the UK to Calais, once we hit the shore, I was like oh crap… they speak French, don’t have such ‘normal food’, and I’m stuck on this continent for 3 months! But it was ok, the wine was beautiful, the scenery even more beautiful, and oh my the delicious ham & cheese bagoo’s (baguette) and raspberry and cheese tarts! Mmmm delicious! We only spent two nights in France, one in Bordeaux in the very middle of the St Emillion Vine yard-in some car park which was pretty surreal! The other night was spent at a truck stop! The tolls in France were a real killer! We spent about 60!s in those two days!!

Next stop was the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona in Spain. I love Spain, I love the culture, I love that there are families walking around at 11pm at night, I love the vibe, the tapas bars are the best invention, and Jamon (cured ham) is ok too… We purchased 8 beers, and it was only 15!, and got 5 plates of FREE tapas! Hello! We didn’t even need to eat dinner! It was AMAZING! But not the sardines you get for free tapas-I did try one, I may have even eaten its head! Running of the bulls was crazy, I got way too drunk the night before the opening ceremony which was a big mistake(thanks Stoke), but lots of fun as I bumped into two friends from Business College who were camping at the same campsite. The opening ceremony was crazy! EVERYONE in this town was dressed in red & white, and sangria was being poured down everyone’s throats from big 20 litre containers, it was lots of fun(even hungover)!

Crazy Spaniards were ripping off peoples T-shirts, and you were being literally lifted off your feet because of the immense crowns packed into that tiny square where the mayor opens the ceremony. Scott ran on the first run with all the professionals, I was eagerly waiting on a concrete seat in the toro stadium and it was like spotting ‘where’s wally’ when all the men came running in the single gate into the stadium as they were all wearing the same colours! We spent two nights at Pamplona, and set off west along the northern Spanish coast! San Sebastian beach is a pretty cool place, we spent about 3-4 nights here, and Scott got to meet up with an old friend of his, it was nice to hang out with other people for a day on the beach, Scott hired a surf board and caught a few waves… I wanted him to teach me but after he came back with his stomach in pain from rubbing on the waxy board I thought id pass!

We drove along the north coast to the very west tip where lots of pilgrims head to this nice church in Santiago De Compostella. Along the way somewhere we just decided to get off the main road and find a lunch spot by the water, we came across this hidden pebble beach in a cove, with crystal clear water called Playa De Silencio, Playa means beach. It was magical, it was a favourite beach until we found the waters of Portugal amazing, and even more amazing was Croatia months later!

Next destination was Portugal, we went to Porto, Lisbon(Capital City) and Lagos(Algarve). The water is so clear & so blue, and the rocky coast line is definitely a must see, although quite touristy but cheaper than Spain! I didn’t like Lisbon too much, it was quite a weird place where we didn’t find much to do we just walked around, and got lost and observed, and ate really dry over priced Portuguese chicken! ! But on the other hand we had amazing Portuguese tarts at ‘Patis de Belem’ a short bus ride out of the main city, this place had a massive line out the front, they sprinkle icing sugar and cinnamon on top of these warm freshly cooked tarts and they are just divine, so divine I bought some to take home (to our camp site). Ooopsie!

In Portugal we met up with some friends that we had made in Egypt a few months earlier so we partied with them in Lagos, enjoyed BBQs and lots of beers and peanuts. We all went kayaking in the Atlantic on a 3 hour tour through the grottos(caves) which as you can imagine six 21+ to 27 year olds in a group in kayaks was pretty fun! And alas, we found an amazing chicken place, !5 for " chicken & chips & coke at Lagos! A Portuguese dream! We then followed our friends to Seville in southern Spain, which hit temps of 48 degrees!!!! Seville was really pretty and was different to northern Spain, it obviously had some influence from Portugal as the Portuguese tiles were everywhere on various buildings, the drivers are crazy in Portugal & southern Spain!

From Seville we made our way up to Madrid where we met up with some friends of our friends, who showed us the best tapas bars, monuments, shops, parks, and explained the buildings history which made Madrid for me. We also got to sleep in BEDS!! Some tapas we tried in Spain included: Potato salad on French baguette, Spanish sausage(Chorizo), Potatoes with yummy sauce on them and Spanish omelette on French baguette… mmmmm we had a few beers, and every time we got so much food, we had to start saying no to the food as were so full! Spain is great!!

From Madrid we left our friends, and our new friends to head towards Switzerland where Scott was booked into climb the Matterhorn in Zermatt for the 5th August. On our way we went to Mont Blanc, we got up extra early & caught a cable car up Au Midi, 3882 metres high (which was scary!!) up to the mountain beside Mont Blanc –it was so cold up there!!! Next we went to Geneva, we saw a Ghandi statue, we went to the Red Cross museum and saw the first draft of the Geneva Convention, took a tour of the UN (United Nations) We were pretty shocked at the cost of living in Switzerland!! We then headed to Zermatt…

Zermatt has not allowed petrol cars into the town since the 40’s so we had to park our car at Tasch station and catch a train into the town which gave us our first glimpse of the Matterhorn. We rented a studio which was the top floor of a chateau with our own kitchen etc which was nice for a change from cooking on a single gas cooker at the back of the van. We lived in Zermatt for one week as Scott needed to ‘acclimatise’ and also had to do two climbs: Briethorn & Reiffelhorn before being permitted to climb the Matterhorn. He climbed all 3 mountains successfully and in good time. One step closer to Everest! On our last day we caught the cable car & train up the top of a mountain and went for a hike, poor Scott was very sore, but I hadn’t been out of the town and needed some fresh air, the view was spectacular!

From Zermatt we took a different road, we went to Zurich to meet our friends again and drank from 10am and went to a street party in Zurich on the 8th August! DEFINATELY do this!! (As you can see our schedule at times was tight!) It was a very fun day/night/morning, although I had a really, really bad hangover the next day I couldn’t move an inch!

Slovenia! We were just passing through Slovenia to get to Croatia, but on the way we slept in some random field, and also went to the biggest underground canyon in the world. This canyon/cave was a crazy 6km long underground, and its deepest point was 150 metres underground!

Croatia!! Croatia was totally different to the rest of !urope! When we crossed the boarder, the scenery totally changed! There were white lumpy hills by the pristine blue sea side which the road followed alongside, winding in and out of the sparklingblue bays. This has to be the best drive in Europe! We drove the whole length from the boarder to Dubrovnik. Our first island, was Krk which we had muscles and beer! Mmmm Then we drove down to Split where we caught a ferry to Brac island where we slept on the beach all together under the stars – I woke up during the night & was wondering where I was under these stars-very weird feeling! We then headed down to Dubrovnik where we spent a few nights. Croatia’s beached are pebble beaches which makes the water so, so clear you can swim out & out & out and still see the bottom! We took some goggles out and I saw lots of sea cucumbers! It was magical to just stop for lunch in the bay by the water, and eat, then swim! Ahhhh lovely Croatia!

From Croatia we were sad to leave as it would be our last beach experience before heading north through Eastern !urope. Our next destination was Bosnia. When we got to the Bosnian border it was quite funny/scary as the man was trying to tell us we needed a green card. Initially he told us to go back to where we came from, we weren’t allowed in, then after some pursuing him and trying to break down the language barrier we found out that we could by a green card from these random demountable offices about 50meters away. Me & Dave the driver from our friends car headed to the offices and had to wait for someone to arrive. He arrived with long greasy hair, and smelt of cigarettes, he opened up this little demountable office & we started to try to give him details of our cars etc & handed over 30!s each car/trailer and finally we were allowed into Bosnia & got pretty stamps in our passports! Bosnia is still very scarred from the war which occurred in 1992-1995 where Serbia(Yugoslavia) tried to take over Bosnia by surrounding its capital Sarajevo. Half of the buildings still have bullet holes in them. We went to the tunnel which was dug in order to obtain supplies and also where 100’s of people were able to escape the city.

We also saw the bridge where Franz Ferdinand was killed which basically started WW1. Bosnia was a cool place to see although scary if you wanted to head off the beaten track they still have many land mines which is quite sad. Food, we tried this pastry stuff called Burek, which was really cheap & yummy, various fillings like Cheese, Cheese & Spinach & Meat-which was like a big sausage roll! From Bosnia we headed to Serbia, but it was too expensive to enter this country at 105! per car, and our friends had a trailer which was another 105!s, so was passed on Serbia unfortunately.

Next destination: Hungary. Once again in Hungary we met up with a friend of a friend who showed us around Budapest. Our first day we went to the man made island in the middle of the Danube river and hired a 6 person bike and rode around like maniacs for 30 mins - it nearly killed us-the exercise that is! Then in the evening we met up with our new friend for a few drinks and a miniature tour of the City. At night we went up to the castle and looked down over the river at the city and it wasbeautiful, had to be the most beautiful night view I saw the whole three months! Budapest was lots of fun, all in all a pretty cool place! We were invited to her family xmas for a white xmas, but as you know ill be home in hot ol’ Sydney!

From Hungary to Austria to Vienna, Hitlers favourite, yet most hated city, and a beautiful one at that. Picturesque old buildings in every direction you looked. We had a beer here (a very expensive beer) in the Australian Bar there. (4! for a bottle of Coopers Pale Ale ($8)) OUCH!! We also went to a gallery to see Gustav Kilmt’s famous ‘The Kiss’ painting which was great to see, I learnt about it in Art in High School so that was pretty cool! (forget the name of the gallery (Oopsie) -but the rest of the gallery was great too).

From Vienna we headed to Poland! We stayed in Krakow in Poland, where again we met some friends of our friends and we went to some cool bars with them. Krakow had a pretty cool vibe, and I loved eating perogi again!! Mmmm dumplings with various fillings…(cheese & potato, meat, fruit-strawberries, blue berries-SO GOOD!) We also camped alongside some friends I made at Pamplona, a kiwi couple I sat with in the Toro stadium as I was alone as Scott was running with the bulls, was nice to bump into them again! We drank polish vodka & apple juice which is a really nice drink, its not your typical vodka, it has wheat grass in it! We visited the salt mine, went 100’s of metres underground where the walls are white and black with salt with statues made out of salt, where they take you on a journey and tell you tales of the old days. There is even a cathedral inside! Crazy stuff.

The main reason we went to Poland, was of course Auschwitz Birkenau. We did a tour of this camp(s) and I never knew the full extent of how horrific it was. Me & Scott bought two books written by survivors and it was just awful, but I’m glad I now know someone’s personal story & experiences regarding this horrible time because it makes it feel more real. They still had 100’s of pairs of shoes left from this camp, 100’s of pairs of glasses, clothes, suitcases, human hair…… the electric fences still up, the watch towers still up, even the bunkers in the Birkenau camp are still standing. And of course a gas chamber. It is something that should never be forgotten, but quite possibly it could happen again.

From Poland we made our way down to Prague in the Czech Republic which we found such a pretty & fascinating place, we stayed for 4 nights and I met up with a good friend of mine Mike and we partied in a new club there which was funny because hardly anyone was in the club so we took control over the dance floor-you can imagine how uncoordinated and silly we (I) looked! We did a free walking tour in Prague, with a very funny small Mexican man which was really cool! He showed us this church where the legend goes this man went to steal the jewels inside the church and Mother Mary grabbed his arm & wouldn’t let him go until he promised that he wouldn’t do it again, and he promised, but she needed proof that he wouldn’t break his promise so he allowed her to have his arm.. What the… So there is this black arm from fingers to funny bone hanging in this church. I myself don’t believe this ‘legend’ and wonder who the hell’s arm it is, and why is it hanging in a church… Very weird! And of course a famous European bridge ‘Charles Bridge’… And the clock in the main square was stunning, so stunning a bought a tacky replica clock for myself… We went to the crazy & cool Salvador Dali exhibition which was very interesting & fun!

Prague - Berlin: Berlin is my favourite city in Europe. The people are so lovely, although as you can imagine there are a few crazies! There is such a rich history, although it is not a visually pretty city, its quite concrete & still very communist looking its people and the underground arts scene makes up for the aesthetics. We went on

So yes, I had a ball in Berlin! Its very cultural, full of history & very nice people! Hamburg: Did another ‘free’ walking tour in Hamburg, this one was less interesting, most of the town burnt down. An interesting fact about Hamburg is that they have a lot of swans, and these swans are protected by the government, and they have various rules, for example: they are not allowed to be sworn at!

Hamburg-Munich: Oktoberfest!!! My friend Hayley came from Amsterdam to hang out with me as I hadn’t seen her since I departed London on 2 June. On our first day in Munich we got really, really drunk & caused lots of trouble & fun! We had so much fun that the next day we were so sick we had to miss the opening ceremony of Oktoberfest! Silly me! We also watched 100 club on our silly day- I can explain it to you if you would like, but

  1. it puts a shameful name to Aussies/ kiwis,
  2. you need to have not eaten for at least 2 hours, and not planning on eating for another 2 after hearing the stories/ seeing my photos/videos of this monstrosity called ‘100 club’. The beer that we eventually drank at Oktoberfest, the ‘steins’- pretty nice beer, crazy atmosphere, hard-arse beer wenches.-lots & lots of Aussies-probably due to our love for beer? We did get to see a snippit of Munich on our final day.

From Munich we head straight to Amsterdam where we hung out with my best friend from high school Hayley. I was very well behaved, and again we went on a free walking tour, we had some really cheap beers at a tacky English pub, had a picnic in the park, tried to hire bicycles but the people at the shop have anal rules and wouldn’t accept our debit cards over credit cards. Huff! Amsterdam is full of history also, a very pretty city! We visited the Ann Frank house which was very interesting, but by this time I could not afford to do anything else: Van Gogh museum/other museums/ Heineken brewery etc, but ill be back for you before I leave!!

From Amsterdam we headed 1 hour south to Brussels in Belgium. Mmmmm Belgium beer! Cherry beer! Fruit beer! 8-12% beer! Chocolate! Do I need to go on? I quite liked Brussels, as after we headed to Brugge which was more pretentious, more touristy and didn’t have much to do there. Although in Brugge we did visit a few places of interest, and we went to another creepy church which claim they have some of Christ’s coagulated blood behind the tabernacle.?!

We left Europe on the night of the 27th at 10pm on a ferry, we were so tired we did a very naughty thing & just slept in the back of our van, pulled the curtains shut so we wouldn’t be found out, as you have to go upstairs-which if fair enough in the name of safety! So the doors of the car section locked & we slept for two hours, then arrivingat Dover, so tired we drove to Wimbledon where my kiwi cousin Karma lives and we parked out the front of her house (1.30am) and slept until early morning. The next day was good, we used the car to move into our new ‘room’-with NO windows, but its £50 cheaper than our last place, and the house is nicer, minus the no windows in our asylum.. I mean room.. On the 30th September I started working for the samehospital I worked for previously (they took me back!) and now things are normal.. I forgot how manic London was.. and how grey & depressing the skies are here…

WELCOME HOME!

I hope you enjoyed my random recount of my 3 month European holiday/Journey " Hot tips by Row boat for your wicked trip:

  1. Its good to have dates and places to be at particular times, as it keeps you on track!
  2. Buy lots of butane cans from wicked, they are cheap & hard to find in Europe if you run out… it gets cold quickly as summer wears off and it was a rude shock not being able to cook our own hot food when this cold weather so suddenly hit us.
  3. Buy your groceries from LIDL supermarkets –amazingly cheap, don’t settle for any other supermarket!!
  4. Don’t, not take your sleeping bag because you think its summer & its going to be hot… you’ll be surprised! " Love Row Boat & Nitzel.

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