Discussion in 'Europe' started by Chrisradioman, Aug 22, 2011.
The camp site we stayed at was:-
Camping der Stadt Köln
A very nice site walking distance to the city of Koln or Cologne as we say in English.
We caused quite a stir at the campsite with literally dozens of people congregating around Milly & Vanilly, taking pictures & asking questions. A lot of the Germans spoke very good English. We set up camp it is a brilliant site, perfectly flat & you could pitch up anywhere. Although it is in a busy location at night you can relax in piece.
After setting up camp we just chilled for the Monday evening, made food & had a few drinks & we had an early night.
Tuesday morning we were all up early, showered & breakfasted. Von made us cracking bacon & egg rolls & then we walked along the Rhine towards Koln. It was a boiling day & I stripped to the waste showing off my athletic body
Saw some really cool cars on the road to Koln:-
We walked along the river bank with nothing really planned into the Koln.
Its a really nice city with lots to see & do, you need a good couple of weeks to see everything
We visited the cathedral, it's massive & dwarfs even York Minster. My eldest daughter Amy was asked to leave the cathedral because she didn't have straps on her dress by some weirdly dressed monk like bloke. The rest of us left the same time, laughing at her embarrassment. It was such a nice day & so hot that I lost count of how many drinks we went through just walking around.
We sat in the square for a while outside the cathedral watching the boys show off on they're skateboards, while Leah had her dinner.
By about 17:00 we started to head back & Von started moaning about her ankles & feet being swollen so we jumped on a tram.
The trams are very clean & modern, regular & took us to within a KM of our campsite. Germany is very well signposted & everything is so well organised. We walked through the streets to our campsite & stumbled across a really nice cake shop. We all had a different cake each for less than 4 Euros altogether, a lot cheaper than back home. Food etc. in Germany is very cheap but the fuel is more expensive. than at home. Luxembourg on the other hand was cheaper for fuel but food was more. We didn't bother with tea when we got back home as we had eaten well during the day, eating ice cream, cakes etc.
At the campsite they had Wi-Fi 3 Euros per hr or 6 Euros foe 24 hrs. It was a no brainer. I used the opportunity to upload photos onto photobucket & facebook & free up some memory cards. I got up at 8.00 on Wednesday & while it was still dry, you could tell rain was imminent, I got everyone up & we started packing.
We were completely packed up by 9.00 we were showered & breakfasted by 9.30 & then started planning where to go next for the last 4 days. I had planned on going to Hannover & the Westfalia factory 150 KM North East but the weather forecast looked bad. Everywhere North was bad so we ruled out Amsterdam & the Netherlands. All of Luxembourg, Belgium & Switzerland. Western & southern France were the only areas in Northern Europe that were dry. The nearest other places were Prague, Rome & believe it or not Wales. all of these place were too far to travel to so late in the holiday. According to the weather satellite pictures on the net Paris was dry so we headed there. It was a 4 hr straight drive. We had all seen enough rain this summer at home so avoiding it was our priority.
We were on the road by 11.00 & were hoping to be in Paris for tea. I felt a bit disappointed leaving Germany so soon , but you can't really do much about the weather. We got our sun glasses on & money for fuel so decided to go for it.
By 12.00 it was raining & I had the heaters on in the van, the first time I've had them working in the 3 years I've owned Milly. To be fair they give out loads of heat & worked great.
To break the journey up we decided to stop in Brussels, What a hole! It's a filthy horrible scruffy place full of beggars, lots of Romanian & Bulgarian gangs hanging around. Von & the girls didn't feel safe with all the pervy staring looks they were getting. We had a brief walk around, then we had lunch in the van as we didn't feel it was safe to leave it unattended.
There were some friendly people taking pictures of our van & trailer. What a massive difference in driving between Belgium & Germany.
German drivers are very courteous, they like to drive fast but are not aggressive in their driving manner. Belgian drivers are bonkers, very selfish with a go for any gap attitude. They think nothing of swapping over 3 lanes with out any indication or warning, they overtake you then pull in front, then they break at the last minute to turn left at a junction causing you to slam on.
You really need to keep your wits about you. On a positive not though once out of the city, Belgians like the rest of Europe don't hog the middle lane, as soon as they've overtaken you they pull in, thus keeping the roads clear & fast moving. Europe doesn't suffer the terrible lane hogging that only Briton seems to suffer from.
I would like to see this lane discipline come to the UK. I think we should by law be allowed to strap a scud missile on to our cars to blow them off the road.
120KM outside Paris we crossed the river Somme, we pulled off at the next services to see if we could find any tourist info on this historic region. Unfortunately it was all in French & they had nothing in English at all. As we couldn't read French (I think you need a mouthful of Garlic to do this) We carried on our way to Paris.:-
We arrived in Paris at the camp site at 1930 only to discover that it was full, this was because the next day was French National Day, however the New Zealand receptionist told us of a car park in the center of Paris that would allow camper vans to stay over night, so we headed there. It was prety manic & hairy travelling through the Paris traffic but we got to our destination safely. We noticed a super market 2 streets away on route, so we thought we'd head there once parked up. We would get our tea at the super market & eat it in the van. We walked to the supermarket only to find that it had closed minutes before. By now we were all hungry so we walked around looking for somewhere else. Just around the corner we found a small Indian restaurant, I had no trouble reading the menu as most of the dish names are the same as back home. We we grabbed our take away & headed back to the van, collecting a bottle of water from a small shop on route to our camper.
Back at the van we got ourselves organised & tucked into our Indian meal. Afterwards we washed dishes & went straight to bed. By now it was midnight & we were all knackered after driving all day. I noticed that night that everywhere we walked in Paris stank of pee & there were small rivulets everywhere that I warned the girls to step over not into as it hadn't rained for a few days & these rivulets could only be caused by one thing! When your wearing flip flops that's not funny.
We were up & away by 7.00 the next morning as we didn't want to get caught in Paris rush hour traffic. As it happened there wasn't a rush hour that day because of National day & all the businesses & offices were closed for the day.
This was just as well as in my rush to leave the car park, which incidentley cost us just 15 Euros for the night, I'd failed to hitch the trailer on properly, we'd gone about a mile & then when Milly pulled sharply away from some traffic lights she left Vanilly at the lights. Fortunately there was no damage caused to Milly or Vanilly but my new break away cable broke & it didn't do its job properly, I'll take it back to go out doors for a refund when I get a chance. I quickly hitched the trailer back on & headed to the campsite.
We got to the camp site & were given a plot, we booked in for 2 nights at 120 Euros, the most expensive site I've ever stayed at. Ironically it was also the worst campsite Iv'e ever stayed at, always long ques at reception. The toilets reminded me of the ones at Santa Pod Raceway in the early 90's. They were absolutely filthy & disgusting, the showers weren't much better either, some of these had also been used as toilets. I will be writing to the French tourist board about this, as I'm sure it's not the first impression they like visitors to see of their capital city. Having said all that, the camp site was quiet at night & we never had any problems. Generally the French didn't pay much attention to our set up, we didn't get anywhere near as much attention as we did in Germany. The Germans loved Milly, Vanilly. Leah also got lots of attention, probably because of her blonde hair & blue eyes.
On the whole we found the French to be reasonably friendly, but you do get the odd rude & ignorant one & once I got used to driving through Paris I really enjoyed it. There doesn't seem to be any rules & every junction & roundabout is a free for all. It was especially wild on the roundabout with the Arch de Triumph on at the end of the Champ Elysees.
The first day in Paris we caught a bus from outside the campsite & traveled to a bus stop a 5 minute walk to the Arch de Triumph. On route we found a Pizza hut. We grabbed our Pizza & walked to a nearby park on route & sat on a bench watching the squirrels until we finished our food.v We then walked to the Arch de Triumph. The arch was closed because of French national day so we walked down the Champs Elysees. The Champs Elysees was closed to traffic & was lined in rows with military vehicles & armed soldiers, all part of the national day celebrations.
There were Police & Gendemere everywhere. Everyone was good humored & I even got to sit in an armored car.
The soldiers were letting children climb on & in the vehicles & have their photos taken with the soldiers & the vehicles .
They all looked very smart in their military uniform. Several of the soldiers were displaying medals & we saw an impressive display of 28 helicopters, flying overhead.
We visited a few famous shops & stopped in a Renault dealer to look at the electric cars. I got a row then off a security guard for using the toilets. He said customers only. I said I'm hardly going to spend £10K on a Renault to use the toilet now am I!
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