My attempt at writing some amusing COVID-19 themed Poems.

The wife's view on self isolating

The house badly needs decorating; I have begged to get it started
Every attempt to persuade my man; I have always been outsmarted.
He uses every excuse about his busy life. I've heard it all before.
I shout and scream to get it done. He just walks out the door.
I have the paint the wallpaper and the tools. I bought it in the sales.
I wanted to be sure I had everything so I even bought some nails.
Then along comes coronavirus, he cannot leave our neighbourhood
I finally have him now at last, our house will soon look good.

Now see what he thinks

She's been on my case forever but; I have managed to dodge the chore.
When the pressure got much too much; I just walked out the door.
When all the lockdown rules were made; No holiday that I had booked.
Instead we would have to stay indoors. I knew my goose was cooked!
Not giving up without a fight; told her decorating stores were shut.
She had such a smile on her face; showing me what she had in the hut.
Please can you get coronavirus sorted just as quickly as you can.
I have only three more rooms to decorate. I'm a very fed-up man
 I do hope these few lines do give you something to smile at, in these
 dreadful times.

My attempt at some amusing light hearted COVID-19 Poems.

Self-isolating

We are at home, self-isolating
It is just me and my wife
We spend all our time together,
More than any time in my life.

The first weeks, they were awful
There were arguments galore,
The first punch was soon thrown
And I landed flat on the floor.

Just like a defeated boxer
I was out for the count of ten.
How long ago did she love me?
I cannot remember when.

Things are much better now,
she has subdivided the house
I was allocated the box room.
I said yes. I am such a mouse.

She is training in the garden
I watch her exercise every day.
The way she hits that punch bag,
making sure I am here to stay.

So, if you are also stuck at home
and are desperate to drive your car.
Just imagine being in my plight
And realize just how lucky you are.

This was only written for fun and my wife has told me that I must assure people that she is not like that at all. She did say that unless I show her as a good person, I’ll be in the box room long after the virus is over.

My attempt at some amusing light hearted COVID-19 Poems.

The hidden benefits of Coronavirus

I am just twenty-three and I live my life, mostly laying on my couch
A waste of space, a worthless scrounger; is the normal grouch.

Then along came Coronavirus; they were eating bats in China
and now it has spread around the world, New York to Barcelona.

Lockdown rules were soon issued, don’t leave the house, just stay
I may be the only one following the rules; by doing what they say.

Nobody knows how long it will last; I hope it is for quite a while.
They could improve my wonderful life if they bring back Jeremy Kyle.

Who would think my way of life, now makes me a law-abiding fellow?
Doing my part saving the Health Service; such wonderful rules to follow.

I do hope that my humble attempt at poetry. In these trying, dreadful times, I have finally resurrected my blog page to try to put a bit of a smile on the faces of anyone reading my words.

 

 

Our trip is finally over

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17th,18th,19th/06/2018 Berlin, Germany

Just before we left we managed to get up the castle tower in Lagow and it was worth it for the pictures I could take up there.

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On the way, we pulled into a fuel station to fill the tank using all the zlotys we had left. The old chap who filled the tank was bemused when I filled his hand with all the small change we had over. We just had to laugh. To speed the journey, we jumped on the Polish toll road. After the short run on the toll part of the motorway, Elaine handed over a 5 euro note, and the nice toll lady gave Elaine some change in zloties.

I am really excited about our visit to the city of Berlin. My memory takes me back to the exciting spy books I have read based on Berlin, like John Le Carre’s, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Smiley’s People. Who could forget the role matt Damon played in the film Bourne Identity and Michael Caine, who played Palmer in Funeral in Berlin. Well, tomorrow we will be in that city. I know the Berlin Wall is not there anymore, but I gather there is still a massive difference between East and West Berlin. So, it is going to be interesting to find out.

Elaine’s nephew and his wife, Lee and Angela, are flying out to see us so we have had to find a campsite attached to a hotel. We are at Hotel and Camping Sud, and we are parked right by the river bank and close to the bar and the hotel. They won’t arrive until late, so we are relaxing, sitting watching the many small and large boats pass by.

 

From here we will just have a short bus and then a train ride to get into the capital and the journey shouldn’t take more than half an hour. The nice, quiet, reserved couple(lol) arrived about 11.30 that evening and I shouldn’t think anyone else got any sleep in that hotel until I insisted that it was time for Elaine and me to go back to our motorhome.

Day 2, Berlin

The four of us had breakfast outside our motorhome and then we went off to go into Berlin. Once we had a map of the capital it became clear that all the things we wanted to see were spread all over the city. Although we had bought a 24-hour travel ticket, we were better off going on a hop-on, hop-off bus so we could listen to the commentary about what we passed, to know where we wanted to get off the bus to look at anything a little closer.

We soon got off the first bus. The lady who was giving the live commentary was not very good. She spent most of her time talking in German and holding private conversations with the two ladies of her own age, sitting on the seats opposite to her. I interrupted her flow of German and said that we were English, and we wanted to know what she was talking about. It improved slightly but we still got off that bus and waited for the next one. This lady was brilliant, so now we were all pleased that we had spent our money on this form of sightseeing. We hopped off and on at different places and one place we all wanted to see closer was the Brandenburg Gate.

P1030684The bus, anyway, could not take its usual route because of the World Cup. The gate was cordoned off and huge screens had been set up, so the German matches could be screened for the public.

 

 

Of course, the bus took us to Check Point Charley and the bit of the Berlin Wall that has been retained for prosperity. We had a great day of sightseeing and as usual, I will put some of the photos I took on the blog.

 

We took the train back Wannsee, the closest stop to the campsite and sat in the front garden of bar/hotel and the laughter and the conversation between the four of us never stopped. Later back at the campsite, we had a great meal Elaine had prepared, whilst watching the Germans at the bar watching the German team’s defeat against Mexico. I have never known Germans being so quiet when in a gathering of their country people.

Day 3 Berlin

Before going off for the day, I booked a Channel Tunnel crossing for Sunday the 24th of June. This year’s tour is nearly over. All good things have to come to an end at some time and we have left ourselves a nice easy four-day drive, to cross from Berlin to Calais.

For a total change from the hustle and bustle of big city sightseeing, the four of us took the bus back to Wannsee and then took a ferry ride across the large lake there to the small town of Alt Kladow.

 

We had a look around the town and then had a wander beside the lake before catching the ferry for the return trip. We had a barbeque in the evening. Whilst chatting it came up about the hour difference between where we are now and the time in the UK.

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Angie said, “if it is an hour earlier back home, why can’t some one phone up and tell you the result of the football match before you have seen it here”. I never thought of that! We will still be this side of the channel on Saturday evening. The draw for the lottery is at 7-30 pm, so if some can text me the lottery draw numbers, I will have plenty of time to buy a ticket on line.

After another great night with the pair of them, Lee and Angela went off to their hotel room we had an early night because of the early flight back to Manchester for Lee and Angela. It would also be an early start for us as I had promised that I would drop them off at the airport in time for their flight.

20th/06/2018 Dortmund, Germany

We said our goodbyes after a memorable few days and we got on our way. Elaine had divided the drive into four easily managed drives. I felt really good, so I drove on passed the first stop and stayed on the motorway until we got to Dortmond. We pulled into a camper stop, just outside a marina having driven 329 miles on the very busy Autobahn. The boss of the site came over to introduce himself and said he saw very few English using his camp. There was a lot to look at there, and of course photograph.

 

In one corner of the marina, I counted fifteen carp, all swimming on the surface on this very hot day.

21st/06/2018 Antwerp, Belgium

We woke up to rain. We were soon on our way. I was really pleased that we had driven so far yesterday. Although the rain soon stopped, the wind started to blow very strongly. The cross winds were horrendous every time we went passed open land. A lot of the time it was safer to just get in the first lane and stick to the same speed as the countless lorries going the same way as us. Our route took us towards Eindhoven and we were crossing yet another border into the Netherlands. With all the flat lands around, the cross winds were difficult to deal with, but we soldiered on. We crossed yet another Schengen border into Belgium. The 187 miles we did today took longer than our drive from Berlin to Dortmund, so I was pleased to pull into the little site for our stop for the night. I just cannot believe how cold it is here. The high wind and the grey sky are about as cheery as the frosty countenance of the receptionist here. Just as well we can keep smiling.

22nd /06/2018 Nieuwpoort, Belgium.

Today, the sun is out but the wind hasn’t abated. We have only 81miles to do today so we took a nice easy drive to this small town which lies right on the North Sea coast, and close to the French border. Our drive tomorrow will be only 48miles all down the coast road to get us to the Eurotunnel, Calais. We took a walk to the sea front and looking at the roughness of the sea I was very pleased that we had chosen to use the tunnel and not one of the ferry routes to get back home.

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The beach here is amazing but you would have to be a hardy soul to sit on the beach today. We did watch a few groups trying to launch some rubber dinghies into the surf, but the incoming waves were much too strong.

23rd /06/2018 Calais, France

We arrived at Carrefour’s car park to wait for our train ride under the English Channel. We parked in an area set aside for motorhomes and there was a constant flow of vans, in and out, all day and night. The whole area around all the channel tunnel complex is surrounded by high, very secure looking, fencing topped with razor wire. We saw no sign anybody trying to find their way into Britain by breaking into vehicles. It all appeared very safe and secure.

We spent quite a few hours wandering around the huge, two level shopping complex and saw people with large trollies, laden mainly with alcohol, going back to their vehicles. We found that we could buy a good quality, French Merlot wine for the equivalent of £1 a bottle so we went to get a trolley of our own.

We would have an early start, so we settled down for an early night. No such luck! A group started playing very close to where we were parked, and they were just the opening performers at a full on, rock concert. If that wasn’t bad enough an accompanying firework display started just before midnight and that went on for a full 20 minutes. So much for our early night.

Our time for boarding was 08.50 and we were amazed just how easy it all was. We were waved through the French border control and the English customs officer just looked at our passports and asked “are there just the two of you?” Above us, machines scanned our vehicle to make sure we weren’t bringing in any extra passengers. As we were early we were sent to a holding carpark until it was time for our train. Of course, we had to wait right by Eurotunnel’s own “duty free shop” but it was nowhere near as cheap in the Carrefour store. Even the coffee was over-priced.

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Our crossing was called and in no time we were driving up the train carriage to stop right behind the vehicle in front of us. 35 minutes later, we were driving off the train and because of the time difference, we effectively arrived in England before we left France. The road off the train took us straight onto the M20 without any delays and we were home, here in Amesbury, at 10.45 am. A great trip over for another year.

A summary of our 2017-2018 tour.

By the time you read this we will be home in Amesbury. We left home on the 3rd October last year and have added, in total, 8137 to the mileage on the van. We have been in 14 different countries and have crossed 18 borders. The new countries we have visited are Greece, Bulgaria,  Romania, Slovakia and Poland and we will definitely be returning to these countries. They have been a revelation and there is so much more to see there.

We have driven on motorways and on roads so narrow, we just drive hoping no one is coming the other way. I will laugh when someone complains about potholes on English roads. We have driven on roads so bad that that I am surprised that our teeth haven’t shaken loose. I have driven through many large cities without any problems until now. The new satnav we bought especially for the trip decided it didn’t know where it was whenever we went under the over-head wires on tramways and whenever it wanted a rest, it would just turn itself off. How that particular machine hasn’t been thrown out of the window, I will never know.

We have met some amazing people from all different nationalities. We have met up with our Australian friends, Brian and Wendy, and have travelled with them for many miles, and have hired cars together to travel to places not suitable for our motorhomes. We have helped each other overcome small problems with our motorhomes when they occurred. How great was it when we met this pair in Croatia on our last trip?

We have eaten out a lot more this tour and Elaine has added some new recipes and food ideas to her food preparation repertoire. For instance. for breakfast, Elaine will now do fruit in a bowl, covered in plain yoghurt with a good layer of runny honey. We were first given this after a Greek meal and now it has become a regular treat.

I just love doing the blog which I started on our initial European tour, just to let the family know what we were doing and where we were. This trip in the 18 blogs I have written just over 35,000 words and WordPress tells me that it has been read in the following countries this year UK, USA, Greece, Norway, Poland, Morocco, Spain, Romania, Portugal, France, Bulgaria, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Australia, Thailand, South Africa, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Russia, Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Croatia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Indonesia. I just wish my old junior school English teacher was still alive. I would have sent her the blogs and a copy of my school report that she wrote at the time.

Travelling like this wouldn’t be possible for us without the technology that enables us to keep in to keep in touch with those important in our lives. My first thank you I have to give, is to Elaine. Her organizational skills have been amazing. I tell everyone, I am just the driver, and the Toilet Wallah and Elaine has plotted our course throughout this journey and is the perfect quartermaster. She is the brains of the outfit. My second thank you goes to the family. None of you have made us feel guilty about being away so much and doing our own thing and thank you Lynsey for handling our post so expertly. Special thanks go to Steve, our next-door neighbour. How you have looked after our house etc. is greatly appreciated and Elaine and I, both know that you have taken neighbourliness to another level. Thank you, Steve. Finally, I want to thank anyone who has read my blogs, especially to anyone that has read all 18. For you I say thank you for your perseverance and your endurance.

Our short visit to Poland is nearly over

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11th/06/2018 Wroclaw, Poland (2nd day)

We were up very early this morning, we wanted to catch the tram into Wroclaw, in time, to join the 10 am walking group for a tour around the city. Once I had managed to buy some tram tickets from the machine we got on the tram and had to get off after 10 stops. We managed to find the particular statue in the main square and we were in time. While we waited we noticed a sign on a shop advertising dwarf maps and just behind the statue were three brass dwarfs.P1030462.JPG

Lucas, our guide for the morning, started by giving a brief history of Wroclaw. After, he explained about the dwarfs. Around Wroclaw, there are around 500. In communist times it was illegal to collect in groups of more than three people. So, the students started collecting together as a protest. The people thought that was a good thing, so they started to do the same. Where the first public meeting was held and subsequent meetings, small model, dwarfs were erected. Now the big companies have jumped on the band wagon and they erect them depicting what the company does. As he spoke, a school group of little children came past all dressed as little red, dwarfs.

P1030467.JPGThey looked so cute.

One of the things he did say which will come as a surprise. The economy in Wroclaw, for instance, is booming and the unemployment rate is as low as 2%. We all know of the Poles that flocked to Britain. It is little wonder that they are returning to their, now very prosperous, home country. He also told us that the people here are very religious and are mainly catholic. He also said that the Poles have a very popular King and Queen. An Act of Parliament has made Jesus and Mary, King and Queen of Poland. Probably another reason why the economy is doing so well. I do not think their Royal Family cost a fraction of what our Royalty cost us or the President costs America.

Because different rivers meet at Wroclaw, then there are 128 river bridges in the city. To get to Church Island, Lucas the guide took us over the “Lovers Bridge”.P1030485.JPGEach side of the foot bridge is covered in padlocks. Lovers proclaim their everlasting love by writing on the padlock and then it is locked onto the bridge and the key is thrown into the river. Looking at this bridge, the enterprising Pole with his stall selling padlocks nearby, should be quite wealthy by now.

A lot of the city was badly damaged during Second World War when Poland was trying to defend itself from the Russians, but the rebuilding has been done so well that it is hard to see what is old and what has been built to look old.  We went past a wall covered in bullet holes.P1030478.JPG Lucas said it was one of the walls used by the Russians for executing captured Polish army officers.P1030521.JPGFurther on we saw a memorial for the 22,000 Polish army officers, policemen and other prisoners, who in 1940, by the order of Stalin were all shot in the head. Nice man that Stalin

In the massive main square there is a beautiful building that looks as though it should be a church although it is in fact the town hall. On the side wall, I spotted these two delightful statues either side of each other.

He, obviously, has had too much to drink and his wife has her shoe off ready to punish his for his drunkenness.

This is a beautiful city and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and I will let the pictures show just a few of the places and things we saw as we walked around.

12th, 13th /06/2017 Poznan

After a night of heavy rain, it never seemed possible, but today has turned into another gloriously sunny day. We drove northward to get to Poznan. There are two reasons for choosing this city. The first is that the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide tells us that there is a lot to see here and secondly it is due east from Berlin. We will do one more two-day stop in Poland, somewhere in the countryside and then we will have a bit of a break in Berlin.

We have parked in the grounds of Hotel Malta and it was a very short walk to get to an amazing lake.

I presume this is a man-made because of the shape. It is long and narrow and is used for rowing races, canoe racing and dragon boat racing There is seating for spectators and the World Junior Rowing Championship will be held here in a few weeks’ time. On one side of the lake is an artificial ski slope with a luge track and on the other bank there is a very large thermal bath / swimming pool complex. By the time we had walked to the far end of the lake near the fountain, we were parallel to the cathedral and very close to the old town centre. We decided to walk back to relax in the afternoon and leave the visit until the next day.

Day 2, Poznan

We caught the tram to go to the city. Poznan is a city on the Warta River situated in western Poland and is known for its university and the old town, with its Renaissance- style buildings in the old market square.P1030531.JPG

It is Poland’s fifth largest city. Similar to our Christmas markets, there was a flourishing Summer Market going on all around the large square.P1030530

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A lot of the buildings around the old centre are beautifully decorated especially the Poznan Town Hall House. As it is near the end of the school year there are lots of school parties everywhere. A lot of the younger boys, from the school groups, were all wearing plastic war helmets and carried shields and swords that they had bought at some of the stalls.

Unfortunately, there was not a walking tour today, so we did our best to find all the interesting things to see. We found the palace which is now a museum and went into a very ornate church where a service was going on.

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For a change, we actually went to the main shopping area of the city and there saw this magnificent water feature which if you want to, you can walk through the middle of all the running water.

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On the way to the cathedral island we had to cross a large road with two tram tracks running through the centre. We got a green light to cross the first section. We had to wait in the middle for a tram to cross. We got a green light and started to cross when Elaine caught her foot on the brickwork surrounding one of the rails. Down she went. One side of her face and her lip are badly cut and bruised as well as her knee which is painful for her to walk on. Always perfectly dressed, she was dirty all over from the dirt on the tram rails. A Polish lady and myself got Elaine to the other side of the road. We were very close to the cathedral so Elaine went down to the public conveniences to clean her wounds and to stop the bleeding. The resolute side of Elaine came to the fore. Despite looking like she had just done 14 rounds with a champion boxer she still insisted on visiting the cathedral and then walking back to the motor home.

As bad as it was, the good thing is that Elaine could easily have broken a bone or sustained a more serious injury. She had landed heavily on the left side of her face and body and her knee is swollen and she has pain in her arm. Already, she jokes that she doesn’t need collagen injections in her top lip. It is such a pity that our lasting memory of Poznan will be of the tramway crossing.

14th, 15th, 16th /06/2018 Lagow, Poland

It is very opportune that our last few days in Poland will be spent in the small town of Lagow (population 1630) and not in another big city. It is a great opportunity for Elaine to rest up and get over the shock of her fall. We are parked in somebody’s back garden which they have turned into a small camper stop which is right in the centre of the town. Lagow is a two-hour drive from Berlin and is due east from the German city.

Poland is a country of lakes and forests. Forest covers almost one third of the country and there are around 10,000 Polish lakes in Poland. Most of the lakes are concentrated in two areas: Mazury, in the north-east corner of the country, close to the Lithuanian border; and in Lubuskie (the district), in the far west of Poland, close to the German border and this is where we are now. Lagow is in the centre of the Lubuskie Lake District which consists of several hundred lakes and the information leaflet says it is one of the major tourist attractions of the region.

Tourists visit the lakes, not just for the wonderful scenery, but also for the water sports and to spend their holidays on clean sandy beaches by crystal clear water. Apparently, it is also a very popular destination in the winter for, when the lakes freeze, the smooth ice that is formed makes it perfect for ice skating.

Lagow is on an isthmus (a narrow strip of land which connects two larger land masses and separates two bodies of water). The two very deep lakes either side of the town are Trzesniowskie and Lagowskie.

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The castle has now been turned into an hotel, and in the woods around the town, on top of a hill, lies the remains of the original settlement. We have already been on one walk and there are other paths we will explore.

This is so nice to be in this beautiful countryside. It is so different from all the city visiting we have done and it has given us another view of this wonderful country.

Tomorrow we will drive into Germany, en route to home. One thing worth noting. We very rarely see British vehicles and in the last four countries we have visited, we have seen less than ten British motorhomes and caravans and one of those was Brian and Wendys’, the Aussies. It is the first time we have visited this side of Europe and we will be back. All we have had is a taster of the countries since Greece, as time was getting on, and we do have a home to go back to and our family and friends to catch up with; we have been away a long time.

 

Our last day in Slovakia, and now in Poland

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04/06/2018 Zilina, Slovakia

For our last stop in Slovakia, we travelled 125 miles northward towards the Polish border and pulled into the most beautiful campsite (as you will see from the pictures) near the town of Zilina.

The owner was very friendly and said that he would be barbequing that evening if we wanted to join him. There was a corral that had goats and a sheep and a large cage full of songbirds and the nature noticeboard showed bears and boar amongst the animals that can be found roaming around the local countryside.

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Google picture                                      My Picture                                          We saw a hedge hog and then an animal that we couldn’t recognise. It turned out to be a wild hamster. The hamster shot off as soon as I approached so I will show my picture and one I got off the internet to identify what it was.

Suddenly the heavens opened. The storm that ensued meant we couldn’t go on a hike in the wilderness around the camping field, so we sat under our sun canopy and played RummiKub. I think it is unfair that I was accused of cheating just because I won the afternoon competition. We collected the rain that poured off the canopy and it almost filled our water tank in the van.

In the evening we went to the bar and enjoyed an amazing barbeque. The fish the owner cooked was cooked to perfection. It was fascinating to hear his views on living in Slovakia.

05/06/2018 Wieliczka, Poland

We crossed the border and stopped at the first town we came to, so we could get some zloty (the polish currency).  Some of the countries in Europe that do not have Euros as their currency are still happy to take Euros, but we have been told that is not the case in Poland. The route we chose, unbeknown to us, was on the route of a new motorway that is under construction. There was hold up after holdup and then we would just get going when a tractor, driven by one of the construction workers would pull in front of us. Finally, we pulled into the car park of the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Luckily for us we were still in time to get to the 5 pm English tour of this amazing visitor attraction.

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The mine opened 700 years ago, and they have only, in the last 20 years, stopped mining salt although they still produce salt but by a different process, which is less hazardous to the workers lives. The place now is a goldmine but for a different reason. Coaches bring visitors from 8 am to the evening. The car parks around are always full of vehicles. This is a massive visitor attraction. Our guide came out to collect us and we were provided with an ear piece and a device, so he could show us around whilst listening to him talking about the mine and its workers. There were 10 in our group and first we had to descend 364 steps down to the first level.

The temperature remained a constant 13-14 degrees and there was a nice breeze pumped around from fans on the surface. Every so often we would have to go through doors that were necessary to keep the atmosphere at a constant level. All along we were being told aboutut the life of the miners and their 10 hour a day, six days a week spent underground. Mock ups of workers going about the business of extracting salt were cleverly arranged to explain what was done.

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In one area, three models were arranged to show how they dealt with the hazardous explosive gases. In the early days, a gang would go around with long sticks with lighted tapers at the end. They would reach up to the ceilings to set light to the gas. The guide then set off a demonstration flash, bang effect.

As we got down further we then went into different areas to see what has made the mine world famous and why the site has been listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site. There are statues, all carved by the miners from solid salt.

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There are chapels where everything is made from salt and the huge chandeliers have been constructed using hundreds of salt crystals.

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I will show some of the many photographs I took, and I think you will understand why it was such an amazing experience. The lowest level we got down to was 130 metres and down there, there is a restaurant, and lots of other ways you can spend your money. Luckily, we didn’t have to climb stairs to get back to the surface as a lift brought us from that level in just 30 seconds.

We stayed in the car park for the night and the four of us agreed that our first day in Poland had been very pleasurable and we couldn’t wait to see what else the country had to offer during what will be an all too short visit of this very large country.

6th7th 8th /06/2018 Cracow

Cracow is known for being one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. We drove just 12 miles to get from our parking place at the salt mines to get parked by the river. We had left early so we were soon ready for the 3 km walk into the centre. Most of the way took us along the wide river Wisla and soon the first of many magnificent buildings came into view. P1030233.JPG

Cracow was the capital city of the country until 1596, when the capital was moved to Warsaw. The city escaped significant damage during two World Wars and in 1978 UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site.

If you do not feel like walking than there are lots of alternatives. There is a great tram system and of course there are the city buses. In the huge square there are beautifully decorated horse and carriages, lots with smartly dressed ladies all vying with one another to get a fare.P1030263.JPG

Open air electric vehicles are everywhere and on every corner around the centre are sales persons advertising for people who want one tour or another. One company has 1930’s style, modern vehicles doing the tours and when you get near the river there are small and large boats to chose from for your cruise. We walked everywhere and by the end of our first day Wendy’s Fit Watch showed that we had walked over 11,000 steps.

The city is as beautiful as it is known for. I compare all the cities we have visited by the number of photographs I take as we walk around, and I took an awful lot in Cracow. In the main market square there was a girl, dancing troupe performing and that added to the colour and the excited hub-bub of the countless people in the huge square.

As we have done in other cities, we went to join an English speaking, free walking tour. Unfortunately. The girl’s voice was so quiet that we couldn’t hear what she had to say so we just took ourselves around the city.

 

Later on, we went off to the Jewish quarter and had quite a walk to get to Oskar Schindler’s enamel factory. He, I am sure you will know, saved many Jews from being taken to the concentration camps.

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After all the steps around the salt mine and the around this city we took a taxi back to the campsite and had a great barbeque. There is so much we still haven’t seen that we will walk back into the centre for a second day.

Day 2 in Cracow

Before we went off for a second day in the city we arranged to stay here another day and that we would be picked up here the following day for a day trip with a guide to go to the sites of one of history’s most horrific crimes, Auschwitz and Birkenau. It will not be a fun day out, but it is something we all feel we must do.

The weather was much warmer in the morning and we walked the other side of the river to get into the city.

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We wandered around so we could see more of this wonderful place. When we got to the main square, a huge track had been formed all around the square and a large stage had been erected overnight. There was to be a bike race held there in the afternoon, so we made sure we would be back in time for the start. We had a great “meal of the day” in a fabulous restaurant decorated in a medieval style.

Back at the main square, we set ourselves up at just past the fourth corner. Cyclist of all ages warmed up going around and around the cobbled track. Then the racing started in earnest.

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P1030340.JPGThe children raced in different age groups and we felt for the lad who didn’t make it around the corner. His tyres skidded on the cobbles and he was lucky not to be run over by the young competitor just behind him. After medical treatment he got up and hobbled away.

Then came the proper race. These were professional teams. There easily must have been 60-70 riders all in teams. Finally, off they went and the last riders each lap were sent off the field.

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As the race continued the field dwindled down to about 20 riders and they were left to battle it out. One rider built up such a lead he wasn’t far off lapping some of the others. I have, without success, tried to find who the winner was and what team he belonged to. It was exciting to watch as each circuit, the riders got so close to the metal barriers we were standing behind. On the way back, we called into a bar which is on top of a hotel and gives great views over the river.

 

Day 3 in Cracow

The very modern mini-bus arrived prompt at 8 am. We were pleased that the bus was mostly full, and we didn’t have to go from hotel to hotel picking people up before going to Auschwitz and Birkenau. During the hour journey the guide played a video that was used at the Nuremberg War Trials. The film was awful to watch but gave a lot of information about what happened just over 70 years ago.

Different to any other blog I have done I will give no details of what we saw. The only pictures I will show are of the gates of the two camps.

The rest of what we saw and heard today will remain with us. What we have seen and heard today will never be forgotten. I am glad we went, but I wish we hadn’t learnt what we have learnt today. My only comment is that today we learnt more about the horrible depths of man’s inhumanity to man.

9th/06/2018 In a forest near the small village of Hutki

75 miles north- west of Cracow is our next stop for the night. Brian and Wendy have gone off in a different direction. They have headed north as they intend, amongst other things, to fit in a visit to some relatives of Wendy who live in Copenhagen. It is very quiet here. The only noises are the gentle breeze, the bird song, and my stomach rumbling as I wait for my lunch. There is one other noise that I will tell you about, as long as no-one tells Elaine. It is the croaking of the little green frog that I spotted by the lily pads in the pond beside us.

I will not put the picture I took of the frog, in consideration of the people I know that suffer from ranidaphobia (the fear of frogs).

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Hope you like the picture of the dragon fly; the little fella is such a gorgeous colour. As I typed that last sentence, Google underlined the word fella, telling me I should consider using gender-neutral language. I humbly apologise to anyone is offended but I know it is a male dragonfly as the females are a totally different colour. You would have thought Google would have known that as well.

After the mental bashing of yesterday It is so nice to be on this quirky little site. Once again, we are the only campers here and I must say, the tranquillity here is bliss. The blue skies disappeared, covered by a blanket of high cloud and it certainly cooled it down to a nice comfortable temperature

10th, 11th/06/2018 Wroclaw

Our chosen destination today is Wroclaw. The sat nav kept trying to turn us onto a motorway that is just at the start of being built. Every time we didn’t turn when we were told, for the next umpteen miles we were given detailed instructions of where to turn around. Just to demonstrate my patience, I have to tell you that the wretched thing didn’t get thrown out of the window. It, I mean the sat nav, showed its impatience with us for not following its instructions: it just turned itself off and wouldn’t be started again.

So, Elaine’s map reading came into play and after 142 miles, we arrived at our stop for the night. Tomorrow we will take ourselves into the City as our book says that there are lots to be seen there. We met a German woman in Greece. When we told her about going into Poland, she said “What do you want to go to Poland for? It will be like stepping back into the 1950s” She is just the proof that you shouldn’t make wild statements when you do not know what you are talking about. So far, and I know it is early days in our travels here but there is nothing old fashioned or dated in anything we have seen so far. We do not see British motorhomes travelling the Eastern European countries. All I can say is that they do not know what they are missing.

 

Goodbye Romania, Hello Slovakia

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28/05/2018 Culj Napoce

Our short tour of Romania is nearly over. We have loved it and will definitely return when we have the chance. Although it is true that some of the campsites are not what you would call first class, but none have been that bad that we have driven away from them. Our aim today is to eat up some of the miles towards the Hungarian border. When we came into Romania we bought a vignette for 7 days and unless we buy another then we must leave the country by tomorrow. The other reason is that time is moving on.  Our great odyssey must come to an end as the middle of July is fast approaching, and we still have some of Poland we want to see before we head for home.

So, we drove to Culj Napoce. The campsite is up a steep, stony, rough road. We got nearly to the top and the van came to a shuddering stop. Just a little tip here. If you ever want to go off roading, do not have a fully laden motorhome as your choice of vehicle. We had stopped because the tyres couldn’t grip on the loose stones. I rolled back and tried again. Five times, we came to a stop. The sixth time I rolled back much further and tried zig zagging up to the top. We made it, but only just. An archery club field, in a clearing in the forest, has within the last year been turned into a campsite. There were five caravans dotted around the field. At the end there is a sort of bar area with archery targets on the wall for decoration. Five toilets and a shower have been quite amateurishly constructed in a line. The doors and the back are made if thin tongue and groove wood with all the knot holes left to allow a peeping tom a wonderful opportunity to follow, his or her, past-time. Not the best facilities for those that are shy and retiring.

Almost as soon as I got out of the van, the young German, from one of the caravans, came over to ask how on earth had we had managed to get that (pointing at Harriet) up the hill. He said the only way, for him, was to get his wife and his two very young children out of the car for their safety and then he took an almighty rush up the slope and just made it over the brow of the steepest part of the road.

We relaxed for the rest of the day in the beautiful sunshine spoilt only by the phantom bugler. Somewhere, in the forest above us, someone was practicing (and practicing, and practicing) the same piece over and over again. Whoever it was must have a fine set of lungs because it never stopped. Obviously, he was getting the hang of it with all this practice, so we hoped that he would stop. Whoever it was, made a hash of the next repeat so the bugling continued. The annoying thing was that the noise stopped, and I found myself humming the tune. It had got inside my head.

29th,30th /05/2018 Hajduboszormeny, Hungary (try saying that if you need to ask for directions)

A long drive today of 142 miles through the beautiful farmlands of Romania to get to the border. It did take quite a long time because we went through countless long villages and towns and it seemed as if, no sooner out of one and you were back down to 50 km an hour to go through the next one.

Elaine passed the time taking lots of pictures of the beautiful countryside, some of the nice building and churches we passed and the odd-looking hay piles that we saw everywhere. It appears that lots of houses in the villages all have plots of land to grow their own crops.

Finally, we reached the border. The Romanian guard was very chatty as he took our passports and asked if we had enjoyed his country and where had we been? The Hungarian was a little more serious but very helpful. He had a look inside our van, presumably for stowaways. He said we could pull up just passed the checkpoint to get a vignette and park there to use the canteen Elaine had spotted there. We went in and one look at the clock told us we would have a 25-hour day today. In an instance of 12 metres it had gone from 2 pm to 1 pm, my ideal lunch time. It is good to be an honest citizen, the whole place was filled with police from both countries and at another table sat the customs and excise crew, all with their guns in their holsters. It would have been very hard to remain looking innocent if we had had something to hide.

I do try, as much as possible, to avoid talking about the mundane things in our lives like keeping up with the washing and shopping for food. However, there always has to be an exception. Just across a roundabout on the way to the campsite we spotted a Lidl supermarket. When we got to the till I imparted with more cash than I have ever paid out for our shopping. The bill came to 11,867 Ft. Mind you as £1 is approximately 365 Hungarian Forints, so our bill actually came to a miserly £32.51.

We then arrived at Camping Termal, (Thermal) and chose a pitch with some sun and some shade as the temperature was again a scorching 34°C. The reason for choosing this site is to enjoy the free armband we both received when we booked in, which gives us free use of the very large thermal baths set up on the grounds. The facilities are first class.

There is an Olympic sized swimming pool, with a constant 25° temperature. There are outdoor thermal pools each allowed to heat to different marked temperatures. These have a discolouration due to the sulphur and other chemicals that have been bought to the surface. There are also outdoor pools for the little ones and a pool with a slide for the kids to play in. The indoor facilities are even more special. As you can see from the picture, the oval building contains varying pools all at different temperatures. Under the water in each pool are places to sit or lay so you can soak up the goodness. The pool I like the best is the smaller pool that constantly remains at 40°, just like being in a huge bath. The only thing lacking was the bar of my favourite soap.

Elaine stayed mostly in one of the larger pool areas. She either stood under the strong jets of water coming from overhead pipes getting a great massage or stood over the jets coming up from the bottom of the pool. Around the edge of the pools are steam rooms and saunas and in front is one small pool that is kept very cold indeed, so you have that instant cooling off to close the pores after a session in one of the heat rooms. The cost of the campsite is about 19 Euros per night, so it must be quite understandable why we chose to stay another night.

Day 2 and we went into the centre of the town with a long name, Hajduboszormeny. What a beautiful town. Although traffic was allowed, we couldn’t get over how quiet the town was as most people seemed to come into the centre by bicycle or by walking. We had a look around and then wandered back.

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I know I have covered lots of odd subjects in the blogs I have done over the last few years. Well now I do have to talk about guttering. An important subject I am sure. We call the pipe that carries the rainwater off the roof a down-pipe. Presumably, because it carries the water down.P1020999.JPGSo, having a curious mind, what do they call the pipes that carry the water off the roof to a dry ditch running each side of the roads we walked up in this town? Maybe a “sticking out sideways” pipe.

The thermal baths were waiting so we went back to the camp. We spent quite a few hours swimming lengths and the luxuriating in the outdoor and then the indoor thermal pools.

We aim to leave Hungary tomorrow as we visited this lovely country mid-June 2016, but we will always remember our visit here. Tomorrow is Elaine’s birthday and we will celebrate it by crossing over yet another border to visit Slovakia, another country we have never been to before. We have been messaging our Australian friends Brian and Wendy and it looks like we will meet up again very soon. We will have lots to chat about when we do meet up.

31/05/2018 Kosice, Slovakia

We are in the Schengen Zone now so crossing the border is done without stopping. We saw some lorries had parked just over the border. So, I pulled up amongst them to buy a vignette so that I could drive on the motorways. It cost just 10 Euros for ten days which I think is really good value. We pulled into the campsite and got ready to get into town. It is Elaine’s birthday today, so we would be looking for a nice restaurant to have a celebratory meal. We asked at reception and they called a taxi for us as we were too far out to walk on this very hot day.

The driver dropped us directly opposite the old city centre and what a nice surprise we got, when we turned the corner, to see what a nice place had come to. We entered a small park area because we could see that there was a beautiful church in the centre. In front of it there was an area with all different fountains that went higher or lower as if dancing to music. When we found the tourist office, we read that it was called the Singing Fountains because sometimes music is played and at night they are lit by many coloured lights.

We went into the cathedral and noticed that for a small fee one can climb the tower. 160 steps later and I was up another tower overlooking another cities’ roof tops.

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Going down was the worst part as the stone steps were quite uneven so I had to look down the whole way. Round and round the circular steps; I felt a little bit giddy by the time I got to the bottom. Once again, Elaine had found a nice, shady spot and had waited on my return.

As we wandered around the city we looked at all the menus of the many restaurants trying to decide which one we would eat at later on. We did see a couple of beggars but everywhere was pristine. Elaine was quite taken with the well to do look of most of the people we passed. I know it is too early to form an opinion, but our first impressions of Slovakia are very positive.

The restaurant we chose was directly across the road from the Singing Fountains, so we had a great view as we sat down at the table outside. Elaine chose the chicken supreme on green beans with potato pancakes and I chose the goulash. The older chap who kept grabbing hold of the hand of the young girl sitting opposite him looked over with a “why didn’t I think of that” look on his face. After our great meals, a waitress came out with a piece of cake with a lighted candle and popped it in front of Elaine.

P1030064.JPG I had arranged the little surprise earlier with lots of miming of someone blowing out a birthday cake and then singing a few bars of the birthday song.

We flagged down a taxi for the return journey and Elaine was delighted that she had had a great birthday and she enjoyed all the birthday messages she received from all here friends and family.

1st,2nd,3rd/06/2018 Bratislava

We never intended driving all the way across Slovakia to get to the countries capital city in the one day. We left only intending to drive about half the distance to give us a good place to meet up with Wendy and Brian. Our intended stopping place was to be beside a lake / water sport centre which was situated about half way between Kosice and Bratislava. We arrived, and the lake looked perfect. We could see people fishing, further on there were people swimming and across the lake we saw paddle boarders, canoeists, and small sailing craft.  There was the campsite, but the field was empty. There was a car parked in the entrance. I pulled up behind it, so Elaine could go and book in. A woman came out and said the campsite is closed. Now what?

We drove off and then parked to decide what we should do. It was a hot day and now we had come out of our way to get here. We knew that the Aussies were on a campsite in Bratislava, so we decided to drive on to surprise them. Finally, after a total mileage of 292 miles, we arrived in the capital of Slovakia. As the country is landlocked, the lakes here are used as the nations’ sea side resorts.P1030066.JPG

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This campsite has every water sport facility you could imagine and when we arrived, the shores around the lake were packed with people enjoying the summer sun and the cooling lake water. We had only been separated just over 3 weeks, but we had lots to catch up on. Brian and Wendy had been in the capital that day, but they were more than willing to return on the Saturday to be our tour guides.

We bought our tickets from reception, €1.60 return per person. A very up to date tram took us into the centre and our tour guides for the day took us to all the things they had seen the day before.

There are lots of statues but the one I liked the best is the one of Cumil Rubberneck looking out from a manhole. Elaine just had to queue to pose with the brass Napoleonic soldier leaning over a bench in the main city square. The city has a very picturesque backdrop by way of the Bratislava castle which is now a museum of history. The main square is very impressive and the Old Town Hall, St Martins Cathedral and the Primates Palace all surround the huge main square and there are impressive, beautifully decorated buildings everywhere we walked.

It was another very hot, sunny day and the Japanese were out in force. For a nation of camera wielding tourists, they have no notion of looking and waiting when someone is taking a picture.

P1030085.JPGWe had a pub lunch and then I suggested we walk down to see the Danube in all its glory as it passes through the city. This mighty river runs through so many countries and we were not disappointed with the views we got. One of the many bridges has a unique design.

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There is a 95 metre high observation deck on the pylons of the SNP bridge. The structure looks like a huge “War of the Worlds” out of space, fighting machine and is called the Vyhliadka UFO. Having walked down to the river, walking back took us past the opera house with its many stone carvings.

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We had a great day so back at the campsite we walked down to one of the many bars. We were joined by a very garrulous German and his wife. Later we returned to our motorhome and the party really started. Then we were joined by a Swiss couple and we were encouraged to sample different alcoholic beverages and a good time was had by all.