19.06.2011 10 °C
We always said we would visit Prague again but I’m not so sure if we actually meant to do it on this trip, however here we are with a week until we hand the camper back. I’m having a quiet moment to myself and reflecting on the journey so far. It seems we have completed a massive circle, seen and done plenty but so much more we wanted to see. We have met some great people that made our time easier and although we are always saying that we would do it differently next time, everyone seems to say that. We have met people that tour Europe every year in a camper and still make blunders and end up the wrong way round in a field somewhere. It seems there really is no right or wrong just mostly good days and some not so. All I can say is I’m glad the beer is cheap.
Life in the camper has been challenging for all of us. The kitchen is tiny, the toilet and shower are good for storage only and every day beds need to be made up and tables put in their place. Having four adults moving around constantly has been hard on the van and it seems like it knows that the journey is at an end because all of a sudden everything is breaking. We have gone months without so much as a scratch to four broken hinges, a collapsed front step and one bike in four that is able to be ridden. The table leg broke a weld and is now supported by a brick and I think I mentioned in a previous blog the overheating problem.
What the tour has done for us is to allow us to see countries at a much closer level. We have managed to really get off the tourist track and see countries as locals. The driving has been hard at times as the top speed for the van is 100klm/h down hill with a tail wind and a two hour journey can take four if the road is hilly. We found that surprisingly Croatia is a mountainous country and there is not much flat ground in Greece either. Both of these countries seem to build their roads with the aid of a slinky toy because I’ve never been so dizzy driving before. The views have been spectacular and generally the drive has been worth it but for someone who hates driving to work(25mins) spending 6-8 hours negotiating hairpin after hairpin can be tiring. There were times when I’d wished it were over but on reflection I’m glad we went the way we did.
Each country has been great surprise for us and we have thoroughly enjoyed our time touring this part of Europe. We were starving when we came to Europe after Asia but we managed to gain a bit of weight again with all the great food. The Dalmation coastline in Croatia has to be some of the best scenery I’ve ever seen and the beaches although not like home are a picture postcard. Greece was just so bloody old, everything is a monument and the lifestyle reflects that. There is an easy slow way of life that the people seem to understand that many have been there before and many will come after so don’t be in a hurry. They don’t use preservatives in their breads and it seems that most people still buy fruit and veges the old fashioned way, from a market garden grown organically. I think people would look at you like your from Mars if you asked them did they use pesticide. In the small towns and villages fresh is the only way they live and there are a lot of old people looking very healthy. Got to be something in that.
The food central for us has been Italy. These people know how to live and appreciate a meal. The different regions have their specialties whether it be cheese or salami but all make it to age old traditional recipes and one step inside an Italian Deli will confirm that when it comes to food these people are serious. I would have to say the bulk of our weight gain came thanks to the Italians. What I found is that beautiful food was available to anyone. I don’t think we had a bad meal. It is the kind of place that you can get easily excited about dinner and then what’s for desert. We were lucky enough to be in places where the La Dolce Vita seems to be the way of life where family, friends and food seem to be top of the list rather than squeezed in where they can fit that seems to dog our lifestyle at home. We vowed to change our priorities when we return.
The journey through Austria and Germany was interesting with beautiful scenery and towns and the scenery through the alps is spectacular. I would love to return in Winter especially through the Tirol in Austria. Lovely people and again great times to be had.
I suppose the nicest thing about the journey with the camper has been the time we have been able to take to see these beautiful countries. We haven’t felt rushed and if we wanted an extra day in a place we took it. We have laughed more often than not and been surprised more times than I can mention. Some of the camps have been spectacular and others as recent as two days ago were just backwaters where not a word of English spoken. What I have found overwhelmingly is that people are the same all over the world and the same issues affect us all. Nearly everyone is friendly, most people want to help and keeping a sense of humour is the best way to break down communication problems.