Monthly Archives: October 2009

Journey from Llubjiana to Venice

We left Slovenia with some regrets. What a country…

The first thing that had impressed us was the welcome, not just from the people but, after Austria, the price of everything came down to a scale that felt much more comfortable. It is an inherently wealthy country but, as yet, doesn’t seem to see tourism as a milk cow. Here we could afford to go into a restaurant! Patrick even made a pilgramage to a major vintner and bout four bottles of wine of known provinence…

Even the climate seemed familiar. We didn’t have the best of weather but, in October it felt like an English Summer. The Julian Alps provide shelter from the cold Northerlies until you get down to the Adriatic Coast.

Farming here is all very much smaller scale with most fields un-bordered but used in 1 acre strips of differing crops. The villages are well kept, even smart around the capital but they retain the feel of communities rather than dormitories.

A walk in the mountains

A walk in the mountains

A village high street

A village high street

Ready for adoption?

Ready for adoption?

Hay drying

Hay drying

Strip farming in the valleys

Strip farming in the valleys

All this prompted Patrick into writing a little

Ode to Slovenia

Wooded peaks to verdant valleys green

Boundaried plains and craggy mountain streams

Winding roads and well tramped tracks

No farming sprawl nor cattle ranch

More garden field and backyard stacks

Yet set with wanton care for view

Great cubes of living cheek by jowl

And Alpine huts with wooded walls

Then onward to the city draws the eye

With generous width and ruler line

Great avenues in mild chaos lie

Cars, busses, trucks pedestrians and bikes

All rushing headlong from light to light

Until the ancient centre reached

Where elegant and gracious buildings hold

A permanent history for the soul to dream

Yet here as well the bustling crowd

Now on foot or cycles ride

All intent on missions yet unknown

Or sit to eat and drink at leisure

And watch the urgent world pass by

But leave this town with all its charms

Follow the river to the countryside

And there amongst the glacial vales

The road becomes a another track

And then a path between the scattered farms

Well kept houses, pastures tended too

Lead us on to quietened forest ways

Where only water runs at all

And peaceful trees keep time with age

Trieste – by mistake

Our journey was intended to be a quick run to Venice having decided that we really wanted to be there – now!

In reality, an attempt to take a break for something to eat and some dubious map reading forced us into Trieste. A lovely sunny Saturday and everyone was out and about. Not a good time for being lost in a 39ft rig!

But the views over the water at Trieste with more sailing boats than either of us had ever seen in one place before, even during Cowes Week, more than made up for the hour’s detour…

Yachting at Trieste

Yachting at Trieste

And so to Venice. Well, of course you can’t camp in the city but we found a very nice, if expensive, campsite at Fusina. There is a frequent ferry service from just by the campsite to the city.

A place to stay by the Lagoon

A place to stay by the Lagoon

The site was on the entrance canal to Mestre docks.

Where the ships pass by

Where the ships pass by

And the view from the van is of the city

Venice from the window

Venice from the window

Our intention was to use our folding boat to go to the city but, sadly, the outboard had ceased up after Wittering so we contented ourselves with a little rowing around dodging the ships before catching the ferry across the lagoon…

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Slovenia to Venice

Ljubljiana – Where parking is free, at least for us.

We drove the Smart into Ljubljiana city centre today. Driving is not easy here. The traffic is very heavy indeed and road junctions something of a mystery – to the locals as well as to us. Traffic lights take an age to change and when they do you still can’t move because there is always a pedestrian crossing in use and the pedestrians, bikes and rollerbladers have priority. By the time there is a break in the use of the crossing the lights have gone red again…
The journey in was decidedly uninspiring, being a combination of Soviet block and post EU buildings. The former are slabs, sometimes lacking widows and the latter, whilst individually OK are mostly empty.
Once into the town centre, the vista was very different especially in the market and university sectors around the river Sava.

River Sava in Ljubljiana

River Sava in Ljubljiana

Here the architecture is crumbling Austria-Hungarian Empire. Some of it has been done up and looks superb but others look so tatty you feel wary of walking underneath.

Slovenian archtecture

Slovenian archtecture

The copious population is largely young and busy. We saw no sign of the obesety that we had become accustomed to in Germany and Austria. The city is clearly very art based. The streets are adorned with prints and a lot of the shops, like Salzburg, are very elegant.

Advertising art

Advertising art

There are bits which defy our undertsanding…

Gruesome artifact

Gruesome artifact

which included the parking arrangements.
Having been blocked by roadworks from reaching the indicated car park and seeing a car leave a space, we took it.
Three hours later we find it with parking ticket attached. At this point we have only learnt three words of Slovenian and forgotten one of those, so the ticket was beyond us.
A lady with a German Merc parked in front of us explained that she ran the hotel across the road, “I am always getting those. Ignore it. I never pay them.”
Then a well dressed Slovianian sitting in the nearby pavement cafe asked what the problem was. We told him that we didn’t know what, who or how to pay the fine.
“Don’t bother”, he said, “We have no system for tracing you. I appologise that you have been given it. But just forget about it.”
At this point, we noticed that the registration on the ticket was written as “VX…” whereas the car is “YX…” It occured to us and to him that, of course, there is no letter Y in Slovenia so the traffic warden couldn’t key in the correct registration…
“Ah, said the Slovenian gentleman, you are home and dry. You cannot be booked for any traffic offence in Slovenia!”

 

We loved the city and the people we met. Most speak quite good English and are so friendly. Buying a few novels resulted in us coming out of the shop with a list of Slovenian wines to try. Even another customer switched to English so we could understand as he said goodbye to the owner!

Leave a comment

Filed under Slovenia

Chapter 3 and we leave Blighty again…

So Chapter Three of our travels begin as we set forth once more from Dover to Dunkirk. (OK, so we haven’t finished writing chapter two but it is in production!)

We have decided to turn left at Dunkirk with a view of going Est of Switzerland and approaching Italy from the Slovenia direction.

Belgium remains as boring as ever. Our only stay was for one night in Donkmeer, slightly to the East of Ghent. The approach to the site was via a one-way lane. Sadly, as a local explained to us, they use it both ways and one SUV had to back off about a mile… Leonnie met us with a look of horror at the size of our rig and explained that she would have to charge us for two pitches… A little discussion and a compromise was reached but in the process Leonnie seemed to adopt us. She rents the site but would really like to take residence in a houseboat but will never make enough money to do so.

The only sight of interest in Belgium was this Dutch lorry:

The most exiting thing on journey through Belgium!

The most exiting thing on journey through Belgium!

Green Machine 2

From here we travelled on to Maastricht – not because we had heard of great things there but because there is a Camping Cheque campsite nearby.
This bit of Holland has no business being Dutch being a sort of earlobe between Belgium and Germany.

Gulpen (The home of Limberg beer)
We were a bit alarmed to find one of the eyes that we use to tether the Smart car to the trailer had broken loose and only the plastic body panel was holding it on! However, the chassis at the back is a curved pipe like a U with the ends to the back. This allows us to thread a strap through it and provide a more reliable fixing – we think.

Today, we took a trip into Maastricht town to do a bit of shopping and found them celebrating the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Low Countries. This involved a number of Brits and Americans with Jeeps, lorries and the odd tank occupying the town square.

US trrops in Maastricht - 2009!

US trrops in Maastricht - 2009!

There was a scattering of 85 year old veterans but the ones in WW2 uniforms were volunteer re-enactment people. They pay their own expenses including the cost of bringing the vehicles over from the states etc. In fact 60% of the kit had been supplied by British conservationists. One Texan “soldier” had been over 4 times this year including the celebrations for the Normandy Landings. On that trip they had spent ten days over here, stopping to honour the fallen at each town, sometimes doing 4 ceremonies a day. “Not a cheap hobby” he explained.
There was even a fly past by a lone Dakota (I think, though it might have been a Lancaster).

Town Square, Maastricht

Town Square, Maastricht


On to Munich and (just) beyond

We decided to a long haul from Maastrict to Chiemsee, a lovely lakeside setting just on the German side of the border with Austria. One night in a truck stop and we were there 480 miles later!
The campsite was fine but one of the staff was a miserable old ***. Everything about us caused sharp intake of breath and “that will be extra”. The trailor, the car, the size of the van and finally, the boat!
But there were compensations…

From the van window at Chiemsee

From the van window at Chiemsee

There are two islands in the See, one female with a convent (Fraunenisel)

Nuns on Frauenisel

Nuns on Frauenisel

and the other male with an amazing folly of a Royal Palace built by Ludwig II of Prussia (Herreninsel)

Herenschloss palace at Chiemsee

Herenschloss palace at Chiemsee

Berchestgarten
We felt it would be a pity to be so close to Berchestgarten and not have a look… Particularily since the Germans are gradually demoliting everything that had a connection to Hitler there. We didn’t see any sign of the 3rd Reich at all but we did enjoy what we found.
Yet again, Patrick was dragged into a cable car and up a mountain. This was the very rewarding view from the top of Mount Jenner. Please note the lack of camera shake – Patrick took it!
Jenner(This is supposed to be a panoramic but doesn’t preview that way. But if downloaded it is!!!)

We saw the famous Eagle’s Nest but that was the only sign of the area’s ignoble associations though we were told that the bunker is still around…
Eagles Nest
The village is very Alpine and what you would expect for a tourist spot. What we didn’t expect was to find the locals wearing traditional dress, not for the benefit of the tourists but because it suits their way of life.
Leiderhosen

The Austrian Lake District
We had been advised by a German neighbour at Chiemsee that Wolfgangsee was even better. So that was our next port of call. We found our campsite beside the lake as usual, this one run by Irmingard and her adult children.

This a view from our van…

A view from the van at Wolfgangsee

A view from the van at Wolfgangsee

We used this spot as a base for a number of days out.

Salzburg

It has become a standing joke with us that every town we visit is forewarned and puts on some sort of entertainment for us. Salzburg was exceptional even by our standards. They were having a week long festival to celebrate a guy called Rupert. Did look him up in Wikipedia but have forgotten when or who he was. But being a town fixated on music, courtesy of Mozart, this festival seemed to be folk music.

And we thought the Scots were weird!

And we thought the Scots were weird!

Folk singers - they were pretty good too.

Folk singers - they were pretty good too.

There were more brass bands than in Brighouse...

There were more brass bands than in Brighouse...

What is that instrument?

What is that instrument?

Yet another squeeze box!

Yet another squeeze box!

They know how to do elegance in Salzburg - a florist's shop!

They know how to do elegance in Salzburg - a florist's shop!

This is Rupert's Church - we think.

This is Rupert's Church - we think.

The Salt Mines

Patrick went on his own to see one of the salt mines that are renowned in Austria. Having spent all day away he was finally able to come back and say “Sorry I’m late. I’ve had a hard day down the salt mine!”

This was the mine where they found the miner from 300 years BC still preserved, or should that be pickled. They also discovered about 5,00 other graves from the Roman period. Yuch!

My German couldn't cope with working out what these were for...

My German couldn't cope with working out what these were for...

This was the way in (looking back)

This was the way in (looking back)

And our guide (or guard?)

And our guide (or guard?)

She said it was the salt miner’s dress uniform but I wasn’t that convinced!

The method of dropping down the mine at speeds of up to 34KmH

The method of dropping down the mine at speeds of up to 34KmH

These wooden slides are set at about 60 degrees and are about 30 meters long.

and the reason Liz wouldn't come with me...

and the reason Liz wouldn't come with me...

Traunkirchen and a wedding

This is a small village on yet another lake – Attersee.

Traunkirchen - just another lakeside village...

Traunkirchen - just another lakeside village...

A real, working paddle steamer.

A real, working paddle steamer.

and it ain't just the old ones in fancy dress...

and it ain't just the old ones in fancy dress...

We thought they were wedding guests but it turned out they were just passengers waiting for the paddle steamer/ferry!

As you can see, there was a wedding going on. The immediate reception took place on the quayside where champagne and music were enjoyed

where they were having a wedding...where they were having a wedding…

and then the main reception was held on board a boat

and the reception was on the See, of course!

and the reception was on the See, of course!

What a setting. Almost beats going to the Bahamas!

Sankt Wolfgangsee

This was the occassion of Liz’s famous 10Km bike ride! We crossed the lake from our campsite to the town of St. Wolfgangsee. Very picturesque

Just to set the mood...

Just to set the mood...

and found another wedding taking place

Another Austrian wedding

Another Austrian wedding

Isn't this what a Nun is supposed to look like?

Isn't this what a Nun is supposed to look like?

and just in case you thought this was the home of the beautiful people

More serious leiderhosen

and, of course, there had to be a reason for going. This is the little mountain steam train that climbs 1800 meters up the mountainside!

A little mountain train - really; it works and its steam...

Villach and the Ossiarchsee

Our trip South to close to the Slovenia border was not without incident. It seems we didn’t “install” our Go Box electronic toll paying machine. That resulted in us having to pay a 220 Euro penalty!

But that is a story all of its own which might be part of a blog on its own…

At Ossiachsee, we are at the foot of the Julian Alps – you know the ones that are tall and all over the place and you never know what they will do next (weather, that is).

This is the range we have to get across to reach Lublijana next week.

At the base of the Julian Alps

At the base of the Julian Alps

and for those of you who haven’t seen Lizzy for a while…

Liz at rest

Liz at rest

And tomorrow we go to Slovenia. The debate is about wether to go over or under the mountains…

Footnote: We have some small video clips but they are enormous AVI files (nearly 1Gb). All my attempts at getting them down to uploadable sizes without knackering the quality have failed. Any suggestions would be very welcome.

1 Comment

Filed under Diary Aug 09 - Aug 10