A Travellerspoint blog

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Are we there yet...?

Counting the days till we set off from London

semi-overcast 10 °C
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Hi All,

Welcome to my personal blog about my adventures through Europe with my fiancé, Kate (or 'Kitty' to friends).

In May 2011 we left our very happy 'beach bum' life in the Sutherland Shire, NSW Australia, and set off to the UK in search of new sights, sounds and experiences. The original plan was to get to the UK, find a base camp (read - cheap flatshare) and enjoy some travelling around Europe for a couple of months, before finding work and settling in for a while to save money. The savings were then to go towards funding an ambitious plan to navigate through as much of Europe as possible in one uninterrupted expedition, hoping that we would not need to worry about that annoying fact of life called 'work' for the duration.

So far things have gone as close to what was planned as one could hope. We managed to get some travelling done early, stopping over in Hong Kong for a few nights on our way over from Oz, then once settled in the UK our first port was always going to be the wonderful city of Amsterdam and it's lovely 'culture'. That was then followed by a very romantic encounter with Paris, including somehow lucking into a private hour’s worth of sipping wine on the first platform of Eiffel Tower, with our very own French folk band.

Next up was the famous San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain. The 24hr bus ride was a true test of endurance thanks to the party crew who tried as hard as they could, to get as drunk as possible before even getting across the Spanish border. It was definitely a journey that was well worth the effort, as the opening ceremony and running with the bulls are memories that will be cherished forever.

From Pamplona we headed to sunny San Sebastian in the northern Basque region of Spain for some much needed quiet time and a couple of waves to clear the head before the next leg of the trip - Ibiza! It had long been a dream of mine to get loose in Ibiza, and now that I have, all I can say is 'WOW'. Ibiza is like Kings Cross on steroids, with more sleaze and short skirts than you could ever need in a lifetime! But oh so much fun! You can literally find a party just about anywhere, as we discovered the morning after catching Armin Van Buuren at Space, where we ended up partying on a random beach at 7am with a bunch of crazy guys and girls from Manchester...

Sadly, upon our return to London and after starting new jobs, we realised that we had in fact broken our party-bone, and that it would need some serious recovery time. Thankfully it would work out for the best, as our fear of 'yet another hangover' allowed us the luxury of not really feeling the urge to go out and blow our precious £ on drinking and partying. We were able to focus on getting together enough money to realise our dream of touring Europe with no restrictions.

We are now getting to the pointy end of the planning phase, and after 8 months of living like poverty stricken cave dwellers, trying desperately to save our pennies for the impending trip, it is just 26 days till escape the everyday rat-race that is 'London', and take on the craziness of Europe!

Posted by Mr n Mrs Awsme 10:29 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

This Time Tomorrow....

Last checks, and plenty of "do we have everything?"

rain 8 °C
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Alrighty then! We're just about there... I think...

Last weekend we move out of our flatshare room to make way for fresh faces in the house... also to acquaint ourselves with the van. You know, make sure the bed was comfy enough, the fridge/stove/oven/shower works and so on. Clothes and food have been packed and re-packed numerous times, and thankfully we still have plenty of storage for Paul's surfboard, skateboard and a set of freeweights so we can keep fit on the road :D

Before we embark on a diet of tinned food, yesterday we allowed ourselves one last venture into central London to indulge in some Chinatown dim-sum. Twas fantastic. Today we tried to find some half-price leftover Easter stock to take with us, alas no such luck...

All thats left is to get a good nights sleep tonight, and hopefully wake up fresh enough to leave at 6:30am for the 2 hour drive to Dover tomorrow.

Depending on wifi access and how much fun we're having, next blog entry should be coming to you somewhere from the north-west coast of France!

Posted by Mr n Mrs Awsme 10:16 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Remember, Drive On The Right...

10 April - London to Honfleur

all seasons in one day 11 °C
View Campervan Europe - Log on Mr n Mrs Awsme's travel map.

Kitty here!

It was a stock standard, cold London morning yesterday as we left 34 Princes Ave (at 6 bloody 30 in the morning…. Yuk!) and started making our way to Dover. Our mate Tom turned us towards Heathrow and we thought, hang on, is he having a laugh, we shouldn’t be going this way… we checked the route map of where he was taking us – around to the west then south. Clever Tom! (and duh Kate), avoiding central London peak hour traffic on the first day back after a long weekend. First potential mishap – Paul turned the volume on the ipod down so he could listen to the van and the way it was running… “something’s wrong” he said, “feels like it’s just lost all its power… I’ve got my foot to the floor” we were going the same speed as everyone else. I held my breath and thought it was weird and that we’d have to turn back… then the van felt fine again. We then noticed we were going down an ever so slight hill… we must have been chugging up an ever so slight one before! Thank god.

This was our first solo trip through the ferry check in at Dover – we’d been there a couple of times before on bus trips but it’s different when you’re driving (or navigating) and you actually have to pay attention. On the buses it seemed like a bit of a mess and we’d thought at the time “how on earth are we gonna get through here when we leave??” Thankfully, the lane numbers are clearly marked and the staff at the check in booths are more than happy to help first timer Aussies ☺ (or anyone really). Once we’d found our lane it wasn’t long before the PA announcements in English and French instructed everyone to drive on board.

I always enjoy the ferry crossing – theres an excited vibe amongst the groups of families, school kids and couples. I can’t think of a better way to start a holiday to the mainland (for those who haven’t done it yet, theres loads of stuff on board. Food, drink, pokies, games, outside smoking areas, duty free shopping).

But… Paul got quiet as we returned to the van and got ready to disembark. Tom reminded us it was time to drive on the right… and Paul was sh*ting himself. London traffic is one thing in a campervan – having to reverse almost everything you’ve done whilst driving for the last 12 years is another.

Calais makes it easier to adapt, though – and Paul took to driving on the right like a duck to water ☺ So proud of him!

We made it safe and sound to our first overnight stop in the French port town and fishing village of Honfleur, in the Normandy region (thanks to those who recommended!). With space for 150 campers, the aire stop 500m from the centre of town has electricity, fresh water (we’re full again now), grey water dump, chemical toilet disposal, electricity points (which were all taken)… but no toilet… uh oh. And we’ve both got girlie bladders ☹ We found a “poisson” market not too far away with a dodgy public too attached, unfortunately is locked at night. We decided to suck it up, explore the town in it’s gorgeous lit-up state at night, and pop into a bar for a glass of wine and to use their facilities guilt free.

Posted by Mr n Mrs Awsme 09:46 Archived in France Comments (0)

So Nice To See Some Water!!

April 11 - Honfleur to Saint Malo

rain 10 °C
View Campervan Europe - Log on Mr n Mrs Awsme's travel map.

This morning, I woke up to a very concerned voice saying “the hot water heater isn’t working…” which would have meant no showers, or at least shower with a deodorant can and baby wipes until we found a proper campsite (and paid for it). After I went for a stroll to the public loo we found, I came back to a fully functioning hot shower ☺ Yay!

Today we went for a quick jog, we’ve had an epic campervan breakfast, and we’ve been for a nice pushbike ride to check out parts of town we didn’t get to last night. Naturally, the weather couldn’t make up it’s mind and decided to bucket down on us. We took this as a sign to pack up and start making our way to Saint Malo – roughly a 3 hour drive away.

We had a lovely drive through some more French countryside, catching a glimpse of the castle at Le Mont St Michel from the motorway on the way though… might have to detour and come back to it? It looked pretty spesh…

Now we’re settled in a really nice, cheap aire not too far out of Saint Malo ☺ We’ll spend tonight and tomorrow night here (EUR5 a night, you can’t really go wrong… and we get a toilet and our own power this time! Yay!)

Posted by Mr n Mrs Awsme 09:48 Archived in France Comments (0)

Bordering Bordeaux

April 12 to 13 - Saint Malo to Bordeaux

all seasons in one day 13 °C
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Pooped!! We had an awesome day yesterday checking out Saint Malo, though we worked hard for it – 12km (edit: I only told Kitty it was a 12km round trip so she would be up for it - was actually over 20km ;) - Paul) round trip bike ride to and from… worth it though, don’t think we’d ever seen a town surrounded by a wall like that before. It also used to be a haven for pirates, and in the later years was a lookout point and fortress during WW2. We were blessed with a gorgeous sunny day for our walk around the length of the wall, peered over to Fort du Petit Be and Fort National (which is cut off during high tide – you can walk over to it at low tide) then made our way into Cathedrale St Vincent (one of the oldest and most stunning in Europe – was quite badly damaged in an attack in 1944) before we grabbed the bikes and rode over to Cite d’Alet. Heaps of nice boats and sailboats docked and getting repaired there, and also a WW2 memorial site.

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On the grueling ride home, I decided we earnt ourselves some cheeses, biccies, chocolate and beer for when we got back to the van ☺

We decided today was going to be a driving day – because our legs were thrashed from the bike ride yesterday, and because it’s a 7 hour drive to Bordeaux, our next stop. We still have to pinch ourselves – we’re driving through France, everyone speaks French… good stuff ☺ And this is just the start!! We found a nice little stop this afternoon so I could make us some lunch. It was like we were looking at a postcard – blue sky with just a few clouds, sun shining down, fields of green, yellow and red with a little farm house over to the side. I really do feel so lucky that we’re able to do this.

We’re at a small camperstop about 8-10km outside of Bordeaux, which is fine as there are buses just up the road. Finally somewhere with some internet (pretty crap, it keeps cutting out - can't complain I guess) so I can post these, real showers and a washing machine (though I think we can hold out until we get down to Biarritz) ☺

Posted by Mr n Mrs Awsme 10:02 Archived in France Comments (0)

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