A Travellerspoint blog

Full Circle

Final leg of the journey and home again

rain 14 °C
View Summer 09 on lkane86's travel map.

Apologies for poor updating in the last week, but couldn't tear myself away to sit in an internet cafe when there were so many things to do and see!

wed 26th - Today we drove to Annecy which is west of Chamonix. Drive wasn't too bad and after having a chance to charge the ipods in yesterdays internet cafe we were delighted to have some tunes again! there is only so much French radio a girl can listen to...
Had some trouble finding the Aire listed in the book, and traffic was pretty busy. Managed to park the car and find tourist office. They pointed out where the Aire was - in a different location, so we set off in that direction to discover it was full...
Only solution was to park in the car park - but we started a trend, lots of other vans started parking there too! Not ideal to stay in a car park - but the location was right next to centre of town so it was settled!
Made some dinner then had a nighttime picnic in the park by lake d'Annecy with some wine and smelly cheese and crackers (I'd like to point out it was Cal's smelly cheese...not mine :) )

Thurs 27th - Second day in Annecy today. Decided to spend the morning cycling around the lake, found some really picturesque scenes. It was beautiful, the colour of the water was perfect, I'm just disappointed neither of us thought to take swimming stuff! Back to the van for lunchtime and spent the afternoon wandering around the town, and lying in the park again, just being a bit lazy! Went for a beer after dinner but inevitably we ended up back in the park with another bottle of vino :D

Fri 28th - today we drove to Semur En Auxos. Just a little stop over before the next long stretch to Paris. Nice Aire and nice town, went to explore a bit and decided to go for a few drinks after dinner. Only to find it was impossible. Alot of bars had closed, and a restaurant wouldn't serve us because we wernt eating! Found a pub but it only had one member of staff and we wernt getting served any time soon so ended up back at van, sober :|

Sat 29th - PARIS TODAY! Drive up was fine until we hit the "peripherique" and discovered we didn't have a clue what exit to come off at. Poor cal was driving and it was an absolute disaster. Everything you've heard about Parisians driving is true. Scary! Eventually we found the campsite (much to Cal's relief) and got pitched up. Quick shower, change and into the city! A good friend lived in Paris for a while and recommended a nice little restaurant called "Le Petit Pont" was lovely :) We wandered round The Louvre,Notre Dame, Ile de Cite and the Latin Quarter where we had a few drinks and watched some street performers :)

Sun 30th - Today was the big tourist day and we got off to a bad start trying to by Metro tickets. Booth was closed as it was a sunday and there was only one ticket machine with a big queue. Took us two attempts and my credit card before we succesfully obtained tickets!
We did it all, walked the camps elysee to the Arc de Triomph, wandered the Place de la Concorde. Had a bit of luck as we got up Arc de Triomph for free and enjoyed the views from the top. Spot of lunch and then we tackled the Eiffel Tower. Stopped for a ropey lunch underneath the tour before joining the queue for the stairs! Much of our time at the tower was spent in a queue, and I found it hard to enjoy the experience with so many other folk (particularly italians...) pushing in my way! However, the view from the top was worth it :)
After the tower we headed up to the Pompidou Centre and Sacre Couer to sit on the steps (along with about 1000 other folk) and took a wander round the area to try and find somewhere to eat. Managed to find a "diamond in the rough" with Alice's Pizza. Lovely restaurant and by far the best pizza we've ever tasted at reasonable prices too! After dinner it was into the Pigalle area to marvel at the...interested shops and the lights of the Moulin Rouge. I'll definetly be going back to see a show!

Mon 31st - Tried to chill out a bit today with alot more parks and rest stops. Started the day at the Science Park where I had done a study on the glass facade. Nice area and could easily have spent the day lying in the grass. Another disastor occured when Cal's flip flop broke. Much distress and after an attempt to fix it we headed back into town to try and find another pair. Stopped for coffee across for the Palais de Justice and then walked to Shakespeare bookshop next to Notre Dame. lovely place where you could have spent hours exploring the shelves for an interesting read!
managed to get Cal a lovely pair of "Paris" flip flops from one of the souvenir shops, and had much persuading to do to get Cal to put the broken ones in the bin - they had great sentimental value...
Spent the afternoon at a strange Railway Park, more drink stops and back to the Latin quarter for dinner. Spent the evening in Champ de Mars watching the Tour Sparkle and avoiding men selling keyrings, fags and bottles of wine lol.

Tuesday 1st Sept - Journey home began today, left campsite at 10 with the rain lamping it down. Managed to escape Paris was few problems. Wanted to go to versaille but with the weather as it was, it was hardly an ideal day for strolling the gardens. headed north to Amien where we stopped and explored the beautiful Cathedral which is the largest gothic building in France. After our stop we continued north to Boulogne Sur Mer where we stopped over night before early morning ferry. Went out for a meal to spend the last few euros and had an early night as we were up at 5am the next day to head home :(

Wed 2nd - Ferry day today. Up at 5am to pack up and drive to port. Arrived in plenty time and ferry left at 7am. Arrived pack in dover after particularly choppy seas and started the long, boring drive through Englands motorways towards home.

Had the best trip, and have seen so many places and have lots of stories to tell. I'd recommend it to anybody and maybe one day, we'll get another van and do some more exploring!

L x

Posted by lkane86 01:38 Archived in France Comments (0)

Alpine Air

Smells good :)

semi-overcast 17 °C
View Summer 09 on lkane86's travel map.

We've come a looooong way in the last few days, and we've got even longer to go!

Sat 22nd - today we drove to Cannes to meet up with Ben and Sarah. Drove along the coast road, and enjoyed some James Bond type scenery. Arrived in Canne around 12ish and waited a while on B&S. They arrived around 1:30, we got some lunchtime supplies and headed down to the promenade for some lunch. After lunch we drove to Gorge De Loup where our campsite was for the evening. It wasnt all that campervan friendly! with lots of tiny windy steep roads down to pitches. When we arrived we went for a swim in the pool (myself and cal could barely contain our excitement) after our swim we started getting ready for our feast type dinner. Spent the night drinking and chatting, sharing stories of our travels so far :)

Sun 23rd - Today we all drove the Grand Canyon Du Verdon. Tough going in a camper but the scenery is worth it! spectacular! its the second biggest canyon in the world. after our dodgy driving we went to Lac de Ste Croix where we swam across to the little island, being bitten by mysterious fishy creatures on the way!
ben and sarah took off after the swim to head south to Heyers, we stayed by the lake. Had pizza for dinner and an early night after a loooooooooong adventurous day!

Mon 24th - Drove to Gap today. Took a couple of hours but the roads weren't too troublesom once we left the gorge area. Drove up Route Napoleon, was very scenic and nice to have some straight stretches of road! Arrived around lunchtime. Aire was basically a carpark but was only a one night stop so we didn't mind. Had lunch then enjoyed a wander round the town. Its a really nice alpine town, basically on the foothills of the alps. Spent the afternoon in the park, reading the paper. Had Fajitas for dinner (we're getting good at cooking in the van!) and a few beers before bed.

Tues 25th - very long drive to Chamonix today. Poor Cal! Stopped on the way at Grenoble and got the cablecar into the mountains. From here you can still see Mount Blanc in the distance. As was to be expected, the rain came on while we were at the top so had to spend a while sheltering from the rain! back down to the van, via the town centre for lunch before continuing our drive. Some windy roads, but surprisingly, road to chamonix was pretty straight via a serious of viaducts and tunnels. Arrived about 1730. Pretty exhausted after that drive. Had some dinner then headed into the town for a few beers. Came across the start line for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc http://www.ultratrailmb.com about 160 challengers setting off for the La Petite Trotte à Léon. Was an electric atmosphere and we were lucky to be here at the right time!

Wed 26th - Today we got up early and went for the Montenver Rack Railway and up to the Mer Du Glace. The biggest glacier in france. Pretty impressed panoramas. Went into the glacier, there is a little cave carved out every year. Was fascinating. Impossible to describe, you really have to see it for yourself!
This afternoon we're heading to Annecy for two days, another day stop between there and Paris. Have to be in paris for the campsite booking by Saturday afternoon, so after today we have very long driving days!

Still having a great time, and I'm reluctant to look back already, but it has been a brilliant trip! I'm tempted not to come home!

L x

Posted by lkane86 04:19 Archived in France Comments (0)

It's so damn hot...

I'm melting...

sunny 37 °C
View Summer 09 on lkane86's travel map.

much to update on. currently in ste maxime so back to rubbish french keyboards...

wed 12th - after a lovely dinner on tuesday evening (cal had lobster!) we were well rested and on the road back to France on wed morning. we were melting away in the car! managed to drive out of barca no problem but it was a long drive to the border, not to mention the circus we had to encounter there. there was some sort of duty free area there, it was mental. people were making up their own rules of the road! this makes for a very road-raged Laura!
Got across the border eventually and drove for Port Vendre were we stopped for the night. nice harbour town, nice aire with beach just across the st. after a long drive we were too tired to do much so went for a dip then chilled out. explored the area after dinner. seemed a nice place so decided to stay the next day too.

thurs 13th - spent the day on the beach just relaxing. think I was still recovering from the drive! still very hot and had trouble sleeping the night before. the beginning of the mosquito plague was also upon us!

fri 14th - we left port vendre today and drove to Carcassone to explore the old walled town. supposed to have stayed in the aire but it was full and the overflow didnt have a service point for us to use. unimpressed with the whole thing in general we started driving back towards Narbonne stopping in no less the 3 towns on the way, all located around Canal du Midi. in each of these 3 towns there WAS an Aire but it was there no longer. You can imagine how fed up we were getting. eventually we found a place in Narbonne which turned out to be free with free electricity! rest of the evening was spent trying to cool down!

sat 15th - explored Narbone today. nice old town with a pleasant atmosphere. we hired a little electric boat for an hour and sailed down Canal du Robine. was nice to sit back and just go with the flow shall we say.
quick stop at the supermarket for some supplies. spent the evening chilling outside the van with some cheap wine and good banter :)

sun 16th - Sete was the next destination. couldn't find the aire so just parked next to some other campers in the st. it's strange, one camper on its on is just parked there, but if there are two or three it becomes OK for other campers to park there and it becomes its on unofficial camp site.
spent the day on the beach, and went out for dinner in the evening. we were staying just outside the town centre (which we took a while to realise) most of these harbour towns are really busy with lots of nice boats, and plenty seafood restaurants. managed to try oysters, and had strange beef filled muscles for dinner. cycled back to the van (rather tipsy after wine...) and straight to bed!

mon 17th - due to lack of official aire we moved on to Port St Louis Du Rohne. drove thru the Camargues on the way. bit of an unremarkable town with not alot to do so spent the day reading, and searching for cold beer :)

tues 18th - Cuges Les Pines today. away from the coast the road begins to resembles something from the pyrenees. still unbearably hot and spending time looking for shady spot. another quite day but enjoyed dinner outside with some more nice wine. Aire was up a big hill in a forrest area, so was nice to sit outside with the candles burning, watching the stars!

Wed 19th - after two unproductive days we decided to stop wasting time. today we went to the Colanques in Cassis. Had some trouble finding parking, eventually got parked in a very uneven carpark - i was worried the van would roll :D
disappointingly we couldn't get a swim in the Calanques but they were still spectacular to see. after out boat trip and a nice cool drink, we drove on St Mandrier to stay. Cal got into trouble from a nosy French man for doing the Service Point wrong, and then some nosy Italians gave us a telling off for what, we're still not sure.
managed to find a laundry place so spent the evening doing that, and had take away for dinner - it was too dark to start cooking :P

Thurs 20th - drove to Ste Maxime. was a loooooooooong way with horrible traffic. i was unimpressed - its only busy when i drive!! after some indecision about where the aire was and where to park we got settled around 2pm. explored the town, more nice boats to look at. still very hot but getting cooler in the evening so sleeping isnt a problem. more wine and candle light before bed.

fri 21st - today we got the ferry to St Tropez. aside from the spectacular yachts i found it pretty average. you can spot the locals a mile away. it has a sort of upper class feel to the whole place and the only way i'd be going back is on a bad ass boat. i think its the only way to really visit st tropez :)

meeting ben and sarah tmrw and looking forward to catching up and getting some banter. meeting in Cannes so no doubt there will be more big boats to look at!

Posted by lkane86 05:05 Archived in France Comments (0)

Viva Espana

Its ok to get the map out if everyone else is doing it...

sunny 29 °C
View Summer 09 on lkane86's travel map.

Hola from Barcalona!

Since my last update we´ve travelled a loooooong way.

Wednesday 5th - stopped on our way down south to Andorra at Saint Martory. Long day driving, very hot and sticky! When we arrived at the Aire it was empty - at around 5pm it got mobbed (and it was only a little car park!) pretty quiet night, read books, ate dinner and went for a drink with the locals where we tried the local beer (i don't think we could be less French if we tried...) Early to bed, only to be awoken around 1am with the scariest thunder i've ever heard! and then there was the massive lightening strikes flashing across this sky!

Thursday 6th - Set off early the next day on way to Ax Les Thermes. Doesn't matter where you are in France - if it's lunch time then the roads are mobbed! got stuck in traffic for around 1hr, made it to Ax only to discover the Aire was 15mins back up the road in Les Cabannes. Got there eventually where I enjoyed an afternoon of sunbathing :) Scrabble and card games at night, wee wander into town but there wasn't much too it. Another quiet early night - awoken again by heavy rain and thunder storms!

Friday 7th - Andorra bound! Started off well, untill we go into the misty mountain tops! it was the windiest, most scariest place I have ever driven in my life - not to mention the fact that I was driving a camper van, my little Ka would have been no trouble. the 50ft visibility had its plus sides - couldn't see just how up we actually were!If you look at the road from Ax Les Thermes to Andorra you'll notice a bit of a squiggle called Pasa de le Cassa. On look on our trust road atlas told us there was no chance we were driving along there - so we coughed up €10 and took the tunnel. It was the highlight of my journey, 60km/hr and 5th gear! Ironically it was sunshiney bright on the other side of the tunnel in Andorra. Started driving down through the mountains, past the ski towns which still look like they´re making plenty money of tourists in the heat of summer. We drove all the way to Andorra La Villa (mental traffic in Andorra's capital...) and drove back towards Canillo where we camped for two nights. FYI If ever camping in Canillo, don´t stay at Camping Pla - rudest staff we've encountered yet. We arrived at lunchtime, unfortunately the rain came on around 3pm and didn't go off for most of the evening! Decided to go out for dinner, went to Cal Lula for pizza and beer :) was tasty! back to van, more rain and more thunder during the night.

Saturday 8th - second day in Andorra, we went up the cable car into one of the mountains. There was a bizarre family park at the top where we played checkers (I won :D ) and went a walk around the plateau. There were spectacular views from the top, best way to appreciate the beauty of Andorra! Back down the mountain for lunch and laundry. As soon as the washing was finished, I set about fashioning a washing line. Sods law dictates that it would start raining - so it did. It was quite a lot of washing, and we sat in the van all afternoon surrounded by it! Cal went out to play on his mountain bike in the rain (and suffered a "manly" fall while he was away) but I stayed in the van.
Sausages and potatoes for dinner...only Cal dropped the potatoes out of the pan so there were only a small number which didn't roll about the floor. Early to bed - washing still hanging around us!

Sunday 9th - Off to Barcalona today! Yippee! Cal took on the driving, and I was in charge of navigating. After a brief search at customs leaving Andorra (booze was mega cheap, shame we forgot to actually buy some!) we were on the roads in spain. Took us nearly 4hrs to get to Barcalona and find the parking (which we managed first time I might add) Dropped T off at parking, gathered our things together then marched onwards to the hotel. What a luxury it is, to have a made up bed and an actually real person sized bathroom! Once we'd finished running about like excited school children, we had a quick shower, got changed and headed into the Gothic part of town. A walk down La Ramlas, and paella and sangria for dinner. just spend the night wandering around the city and getting a feel for it. I liked it :)

Monday 10th - Tourist day today! 930 we were on the Barcelona Bus Touristic, hop on/off service that takes you round all the sights of the city. spent hours in Sagrada Familia. What a spectacular place! It really did impress me, the shear scale of things - and it's not even finished yet! Expected to be completed in 2030, I'll certainly be going back...i'll be 44 :O
Next stop, Park Guell. Another area of Barcalona that Gaudi worked his magic. Beautiful landscaping, which I might have enjoyed more had it not been absolutely heaving with tourists! Back on the bus, where we drove past lots of lovely things - drove past the Nou Camp. Cal had already been on the tour, but I could tell it was a difficult decision for him to drive past!
Next stop was Meis Van Der Rohe's Barcalona Pavilion. Having spent much time looking at such Architecture in AJ, it was nice to see in real life. Just to prove I was there - I left my mark in the guest book...
From there we went to the Olympic Stadium and surrounding areas. Nice part of town, with lots more gardens to walk through. Back on the bus, to go at check on T and then back to hotel. quick change, then out for dinner. We were starving - we'd had nothing to eat all day! Hard Rock cafe for some grub, was pretty late by the time we got back to hotel, and we were totally wiped after a solid 10hrs sight seeing!

Tuesday 11th - Taking it easy today. Metro into town, and went to see Gaudi's 'La Padrera'. Another stunning example of Gaudi's architecture, and engineering genius ;) Quick lunch and then more wandering before we found the internet cafe we're currently sitting in. More taking it easy tonight, dinner on the beach near the hotel and walk around the Forum area. Heading off tmrw morning. As luck would (or wouldn't have it...) the Scotland game is on tmrw night and it is of utmost importance than we find a pub that is going to show the football! Cal is currently doing some research into the matter...

Back to France next week to work our way along the Med. Here is hoping the sunshine continues!

L x

Posted by lkane86 06:25 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

French Weather cannot be trusted

second to third week...still cant work this damn keyboard.

sunny 26 °C
View Summer 09 on lkane86's travel map.

Bonjour!

Lots of ground covered since I last updated. as i said, these internet cafes are hard to come by!

last monday evening in la rochelle we went for some dinner in the area. ended up most put off by rude waitor who was clearly unimpressed with our attempts at French. And on top of that our muscles were cold! :/
not to be put off we went for some churros at the harbour and watched some locals breakdancing in the street. it was ace! till i realised i had forgotten my sunnies and had to go back to dreaded restaurant to get them! got them back ok...panic over!

tues we set off to Jarnac, which is just east of Cognac. it was beautiful, and sunny! Aire was in carpark next to river, public swimming pool and campsite. even had its on little restaurant.
went a wander in town shortly after we arrived at 1130. found local market where we bought lunch and dinner stuffs. had our first attempt at french buchers! bought the wrong kind of lunch meat but we managed to throw it in with dinner :)
spent afternoon on banks of river. was great to just chill out for a bit.

next day we made up for all our chillin by going canoeing along the charante river, and then went to the Corvoisier distillery for tour and tasting. very interesting, shame I dont like brandy all that much!

sad to leave Jarnac but we couldnt stay. made a loooooong drive to Biscarrosse Plage on wednesday. aire was in forrest down towards beach. didnt have food in so went for pizza. cal napped while i sat outside in the sunshine. went to beach for a little while when cal FINALLY got a shot of his bodyboard!
had light dinner then spent evening chilling out reading, and watching sunset on the beach.

thursday i was promised a whole day at the beach! made picnic, and found a quite spot away from noisy children. had a shot at bodyboarding. it was great fun, althought i did manage to flash a few folk when a massive wave knocked me off the board. also got a faceful off sand lol. left beach tired, sunburnt and v. sandy!
biscarrosse was a lovelly aire, and first one we had to pay for!

friday morning after breakfast we set off to Lac De Leon. just a stopover place on way to Biarritz. managed to get a shower (luxury) and do some laundry (more luxury) however the heavens opened around 3pm and didnt stop.

early start sunday for Biarritz. arrived at 1130 after some stressful driving in busy town. managed to find space in busy aire with spot for leccy too! still no sunshine :/ so went for a wander around town. its a nice place, but without sunshine I was being huffy.watched surfers and had a good explore. back to van for dinner. decided to go back into town on bikes this time (was a long walk) and get some dessert. i finally got to try a magnum temptation and we went to a bar for some beer. delighted when we got back to van to realise we missed payment van so saved ourselves 10euro! :D

monday we set off on looooooooooooooooong windy roads to Larun (surprise surprise we were driving and the sun came out!) where im currently writing from. i never get travel sick but these roads were tought going on my tummy! managed to soldier on and was relieved to come off windy path and eventually arrive in Laruns. didnt get here till 1500 so had quick bite to eat before heading to tourist office to ask about walks and a poster call had seen for Pelote game. A what game I hear you cry? google it, it'll take me too long to type it out. its a local game played in the basque region with big wicker gloves and a very hard and fast ball. went to watch a final i think. i was a bit board but i think cal was missing any sort of sport.

tuesday we went for a walk in the pyrenees around Lac D'Ayous. drive there was nerve racking. very narrow windy roads, i was sweating before id walked anywhere! there was even cows in the road! had to park off road too. bad enough in a car never mind a 2.6m tall van! was worth it though...the views were spectacular and if i'd remembered my usb for the camera i'd upload pictures to show you because it was breathtaking. Had a swim in mountain lakes to cool down. it was exhausting walk, 6h round trip and i've got sore legs and sore feet to prove it too. went out for dinner and then came across an Irish folk band (who were in fact French) listened to them play for a while then back to van for bedtime. we were tired!!

today we're heading east towards Ax Le Thermes and stopping somewhere on the way. checking into Barca hotel on Sunday so should be able to update somewhere from big city!

L x

Posted by lkane86 10:41 Archived in France Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 12) Page [1] 2 3 »