Max, at his overnight spot near the town of Žiri, Slovenia..
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Near Žiri, Slovenia.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? South towards Croatia.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Happiness is a great overnight spot

Once again, it took a few hours for the morning fog to burn off, and then it turned into a nice afternoon, with a high of about 14C (57F). Not bad.

Once the fog burned off, we set out to the nearest grocery store. Supplies were running low! We found a well stocked Lidl only 6 kms away where we spent €75 ($108 CAD, $87 USD) filling the fridge. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Hike to a castle ruins, and Ruth's bike is repaired!

It was really foggy again when we woke up Monday morning, and although it's light outside, the fog takes a long time to burn off. We wanted to go for a hike in the hills, but we wanted to see the views that would afford, so we waited until about 10:30am before setting off. 

And even then it was still a bit foggy.

Monday, October 18, 2021

To me, Ljubljana was just okay

Our friends Glen and Steve suggested that Sunday is the best day to do any city visiting, and we tend to agree with them. We are reminded that is certainly the case in Mexico and we used to make sure we went into Puebla on a Sunday because there was always a lot going on.

And so yesterday morning we drove into the Slovenia capital city of Ljubljana. We left our nice overnight spot by the river at about 7:30am and did the 20 kms (12 miles) or so drive in the fog!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Lake Bled Castle, and Škofja Loka at night

We went down to the bike shop for our 10:30am appointment, but unfortunately the guy didn't have the right tool with him to do the job. So we are still on the hunt for a bike shop that happens to be open when we happen to be there. 

But we left the bikes there locked up, and did the short hike up to Bled Castle. My mother had given us some birthday/Christmas spending money, and we like to use that money to do things that we wouldn't normally do. Things that we normally think are too expensive!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Lake Bled is as beautiful as we expected

Despite the fact that it's still a little chilly, it helps that we are waking up to blue skies and sunshine. It went up to about 12C (54F) yesterday, which was actually quite pleasant in the sun. And it's supposed to warm up a few degrees over the next couple of days.

And what a view we woke up to! We almost thought about staying a second night at the ski hill, but our Schengen Visa time is running low and there are still some things we want to see in Slovenia. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Starting our 15th year with Slovenia... country #46.

It was 14 years ago today that we set off with our new to us motorhome Sherman. It was also 14 years ago today that we published our very first blog post as we hit the road. You can read that very first blog post here...

We started writing this blog as a way for family and friends to know where we are and what we're doing. As time went on, it also became a valuable daily diary for us... we often look back at something to confirm a fact or a memory. We had no idea at the time that it would attract over 2,000 readers a day and that it would also contribute to our ability to continue traveling.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Lake Millstatt and the city of Villach, Austria

We took the narrow winding backroads from Gmund to Villach. So much more interesting than the autobahn. But yes, also so much more slower! We also did a detour around the north side of Lake Millstatt, and we're glad we did... such a scenic area.

We're not in a rush now, although we do want to continue south to warmer weather. We could take about 10 or 12 days to get through Slovenia if we wanted before our Schengen Visa time ran out, but we'll probably do it in about a week, and then we'll be in Croatia.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Austria is really a hiking paradise

We took a day off from driving on Tuesday, although we're going to have to get a move on simply to get to some warmer weather. Today, the forecast high here in Gmund is 8C (47F), although that's obviously below normal for this time of year because the long term forecast for next week shows highs of around 14C. (58F).

Oh, I have to mention how impressed we are with Max's heating system. The American manufacturers could learn a thing or two!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Hellbrunn Palace and the Trick Fountains, then drive to Gmund

We left the RV park in Salzburg by 8:00am. Used all the facilities so that Max has empty holding tanks and a full fresh water tank, and his batteries are fully charged. 

We still had one more attraction that we wanted to see that was included with our Salzburg tourist cards, and we had to make sure we gained admission before the cards expired at 10:40am. Hellbrunn Palace is located south of the city, so it was along our route heading south anyhow.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Playing tourist in Salzburg

There are a lot of touristy things to do in Salzburg, and of course many of them cost money. We had done most of the free stuff on Saturday, so on Sunday we did the paid stuff. The best way to take advantage of this is with the Salzburg Tourist Card. You can buy one for 24, 48, or 72 hours and it gives you admission and/or discounts to most of the areas attractions. 

We bought the 24 hour card (thanks Mom!) for €29 ($42 CAD, $34 USD) per adult.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Change of plans

Woke up yesterday morning and had to put the heat on. It's going to be the same thing for the next few mornings, I think. Winter is coming. 

One of the rigs parked near us is huge. You don't see them often, but you do see the occasional large motorhome here in Europe. It's not only the Americans who build large RVs. Anyhow, we were watching the owner yesterday morning, and at one point the entire rear panel of this big motorhome started sliding upwards.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Arrived in Austria! Country #45 for us...

We only had about a 20 minute drive to get to the RV park that we had chosen from which to base ourselves for exploring the city of Salzburg, Austria.

Located about 5 kms (3 miles) north of the city center, the Reisemobil Stellplatz Salzburg is really well thought out. You can tell it was designed by people who actually use motorhomes!

Friday, October 8, 2021

Today, we are off to Austria!

Thursday morning, we said goodbye to friends Glen and Steve. It was just a short visit, but they are headed for Turkey for three months, and they want to be able to cross the border on November 1st. We are also headed for Turkey, but we don't want to cross until January 1st, or thereabouts. 

So we hope to cross paths with them again in January in Turkey.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Exploring the alpine town of Bad Reichenhall, Germany

It rained much of Wednesday morning. After lunch, we drove the short distance down to the town of Bad Reichenhall, the rain had pretty much stopped. We found a busy free parking area where we were lucky to get a spot, but that's because it was only a short walk to the central area.

This whole area is a little on the touristy side, and it's easy to understand why. It turns out that Bad Reichenhall is a really pretty little town, and there's a lot to do around here. Including many beautiful hiking trails.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

A lot can change in 64 years!

I've mentioned before that my father did two fairly long trips to Europe in the 1950's. The first in 1954, and the second in 1957. He was an avid photographer and took a lot of slide photos from those trips. Ruth has scanned them all and we have them on our laptops. 

Regular readers might remember that we have in the past made a game out of trying to match up some of those photos by trying to stand in exactly the same spot that my dad might have stood many years ago. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Oktoberfest? Maybe next year...

We got on the road at around 9:00am. Not as far of a drive today... only 178 kms (110 miles) to get to the meeting point where friends Glen and Steve were waiting for us.

Our route would take us around the east side of Munich. What a shame to be this close to Munich in October and not go to Oktoberfest celebrations.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Almost at Austria

We did another 300 km (180 mile) drive yesterday. I know, that's not our normal style, but we are catching up to our friends Glen and Steve who are heading in the same direction as us, but they are ahead of our schedule. They have purposely slowed down a bit so that we can catch up. 

But yesterday, we took the back roads the whole way. Yes, it's slower going and probably uses a bit mre fuel. But it's so much more scenic and interesting.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Happy to be back on the road!

Saturday was a driving day with the goal of picking up our bicycles that had been stored at Frankfurt airport. We didn't get going until about 10:00am and we had to do about 300 kms (186 miles), which for us is a fairly long drive.

We took the main highway, which has a 130 km/h (81 mph) "suggested" speed limit on most sections. Of course Max isn't going anywhere near that speed. For the most part I had the cruise control set somewhere around 95 km/h (59 mph). 

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Made it back to Europe and our motorhome Max!

Well, the last 24 hours or so are a bit of a blur. Let me see if I can back us up a bit and try and remember all the details...

It started off Thursday morning around 11:00am when our daughter Lindsey came to pick us up and take us to the Ottawa airport. She arrived right on time and I loaded the bikes into the back of her van.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

We are off to Europe!

Not much time this morning because we are flying to Europe today! The next blog post will be coming to you from Germany.

We fly Ottawa to Toronto then Toronto to Frankfurt. From there, we take the train to the town of Dulmen where our motorhome Max is waiting for us.

Here's the plan for the next few days...

September Expenses - things are about to get much cheaper!

September was a little higher than expected. Mostly because of our plan to ship our bicycles and a few other things to Germany with us. But, we also did a lot more driving than we originally planned, and the fuel added up.

We spent a total of $3,338 CAD ($2,620 USD). Here's how it all broke down...

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The next visit will be better

Just reflecting on the past few weeks as we prepare to head back to Europe tomorrow. 

We arrived in Ottawa in mid August right at the end of a heat wave, so our timing was pretty lucky in that regard. Overall, the weather has been decent. But as I've said before, September is the best time of year to visit Canada, in our opinion.

But we've been just too busy to enjoy it as much as we would have liked to.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Getting ready to head out

Only two more sleeps. We're busy getting ready to head out on Thursday late morning. 

We're not traveling as light this time around. The bikes are all boxed up and ready to go. And besides our normal carry on bags, this time we're actually bringing a larger suitcase with us as well that we will just ditch after we've emptied it upon arrival.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Best ribs ever.

Little bit of a late post today, but I didn't have much time this morning because we were told we had to be out by 10:00am.

Saturday turned out to be better than expected from a weather perspective. The guys weren't that ambitious but we managed to get three of us out for a short 5 km (3 mile) hike in Bon Echo Provincial Park. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Good start to the weekend

Yesterday, I said goodbye to Ruth and drove two hours to a big chalet on Mazinaw Lake near Bon Echo Provinical Park to meet up with my friends for our annual guys weekend away.

Not the best weather though. It was actually chilly sitting out on the deck, and when it started spitting with rain it almost felt like it was going to snow!

Friday, September 24, 2021

Visit with the Newstate Nomads

After three different phone calls with Air Canada, we ended up getting our upcoming flights changed around enough to be able to bring the bicycles with us. The original booking was Ottawa to Montreal to Frankfurt to Dusseldorf. But part of the problem was the Ottawa to Montreal airplane was too small to accept the bikes in the holding bay. 

The other part of the problem was that we had a codeshare flight with Lufthansa on the Frankfurt to Dusseldorf leg and it was going to require confirmation from them that they would accept the bikes.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Changing some flights

Yesterday was the first day of fall. And you can sure tell winter is on it's way. The leaves are changing color, and the temperatures are cooling off. Here in the Ottawa area, you can go from summer to winter pretty quickly. There is still the possibility of some nice weather in October, but it's hit or miss. It's also common to get some snow flurries by the end of October. 

But we are out of here long before that possibility occurs. In fact, we fly out a week from today!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Toronto Zoo with the grandkids

My own grandmother lived in Toronto and I have fond memories of going to Toronto's Riverdale Zoo when I was a kid. In fact, it was walking distance from her house! But that zoo closed in 1974, and the animals were relocated to a bigger and better facility. Good thing too, because I remember the enclosure the black bears were in... just a concrete holding cell... it really wasn't very nice.

The "new" Toronto Zoo is so much better, but there are still some animals who just don't seem at home in their enclosure. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Made it to Pickering

We arrived at Lindsey and Justin's fairly early, just before 11:00am Sunday to pick up the grandkids. Lindsey is a chef, and she treated us to her famous Eggs Benedict. Such a delicious food item, especially with everything made from scratch.

Even the eggs were from their own chickens!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Nice bike ride down to Manotick

As I've said before, September is the best time of year for weather in the Ottawa area. It's been perfect hiking and biking weather. And so we took off on the bikes down to the village of Manotick on the Rideau River.

The Rideau River is partly a 202 km (125 mile) man made canal system that runs from Ottawa to Kingston. It was built around 1830 in case the U.S. ever decided to invade Canada, but is now used by pleasure craft.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Just as happy in our motorhome

The house we're living in is a beautiful home on a beautiful property backing onto a forest. I haven't shown many photos out of respect to the homeowners. They may not want their stuff on display. But needless to say, most people in the world would be pretty happy to live here. 

And we feel fortunate that this opportunity came along. It's been a great stay for us. And looking after the cats has been no trouble at all... in fact they each have their own personality and they're enjoyable enough to have around.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Received an offer on the house

But it's a low ball bid, with a number of conditions, and it could be that nothing comes of it. All part of the negotiation process of course, but as it stands we won't be accepting it. We're not desperate to sell... but it would be nice to get the whole thing out of our hair. In fact, if it doesn't sell within the next two weeks, we'll be handing it over to a real estate agent anyhow, and then it really is essentially out of our hair. 

And given that I am away for pretty much six of the next thirteen days, I'm starting to lose confidence that it's going to be sold by then. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

International Driving Permit (IDP)

These permits have been around since 1949. Canada only signed on to the agreement in 1965, and some countries (Germany, for example) have never signed on.

We've done a lot of driving in foreign countries. Sometimes we have traveled without an IDP, and sometimes we have bit the bullet and obtained one prior to leaving Canada. I say "bit the bullet" because they are not free. And the odds of you actually needing it are quite slim. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

How we spent $40,000 on our credit card in the last year.

The credit card we use is called the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite. The main reason we got this card is because it's one of the rare Canadian cards that has a 0% foreign transaction fee. And because we use it for a lot of foreign purchases, that's a big savings for us compared to most standard Canadian cards that charge 2.5% on foreign transactions. 

In fact, we saved about $800 over the last 12 months just because of that. 

The card also gives points, and they've been adding up!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

An interesting turn of events

We notice that some of the trees are starting to change color, and there are a few more leaves each day falling onto our back patio where we are staying. Winter is on its way. 

But, it was still a beautiful day yesterday. So, taking advantage of that, we headed out for another bike ride to get some more sunshine, fresh air, and exercise.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Maybe something is in the works

We were back up at the house yesterday. Our son in law Justin agreed to patch the hole in the drywall for us, and they were picking up some dining room chairs that we had agreed to give them, so it killed two birds with one stone.

As we arrived, I saw that a guy was taking a photo of the "For Sale" sign so I went down and spoke to him.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Finally made it out for a nice hike

It was a beautiful day on Friday and so we made plans for just the two of us to go for a hike. There aren't a lot of great hikes around the Ottawa side of the river, but just across the river in the province of Quebec is Gatineau Park which has a lot of hiking trails. 

We chose the trail around Lac Philippe, a beautiful lake with several beaches. It's a really busy spot during July and August, but on a Friday in September there was hardly anybody around. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

20 Years ago today

Of course everybody remembers where they were 20 years ago today. 

We were both working... normal lives, with a house and two kids (15 and 13) and a dog and a cat. I was working as an appraiser at a Maaco Collision Repair Shop. Worst job I ever had! And Ruth was working at an office supply company. Where I was, the radio was always on the talk news station, so we heard the whole thing right from the beginning and the office staff listened to it all day.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Just thinking out loud...

Less than three weeks to go. We head back to Germany on September 30th. That's if they let us in. The one thing we were worried about when returning to Canada was if things change enough that they might not let us back into Europe. I see that the EU added a bunch more to their list of "high risk" countries. Fortunately Canada isn't among them yet, but a lot can change in three weeks.

Not that it matters to us right now, but I see that Germany has once again blocked Albania as a "high risk" country, yet Netherlands (right next door to Germany) still considers Albania to be a "safe" country. There is nothing stopping you from crossing the land border from Netherland into Germany. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Funny story

It rained yesterday morning, but we did manage to get out for a late afternoon bike ride. I had a replacement credit card waiting for me at the Scotiabank in Osgoode. It's about a 45 minute ride one way, so we had to set a good pace because it was already 3pm and it closed at 4pm.

No problem, got there with time to spare, and picked up the new card. The old card was still okay, but it would no longer "tap".

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

It's a crazy world

Boy, it sure is a crazy world out there right now. Politics, religion, and now Covid. The three things you can't talk about because someone is sure to be offended. Can't we all just get along? It amazes me how closed minded many people are.

So while we're on the subject of Covid, the U.S. land border remains closed to Canadians. Despite the fact that the Canadian land border is open to Americans. And the Mexican land border has always been officially closed, but in reality it's totally open. You can't make this stuff up. Craziness.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Our route south

I ordered Max's new propane tanks yesterday and woke up to an email this morning saying they had been shipped and would arrive by Thursday at the latest. 

I had contacted our guy at the dealer so he knew to expect them. They treat us really well there. I asked if they had time to fill them and install them prior to our arrival, and he said worst case scenario they would certainly help me do it when we arrive, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them installed and ready to go.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Toronto Zoo tickets booked

I took a rare blogging day off yesterday! 

We were up at the house again. But we have to go up again tomorrow to put the trash out by the side of the road for Wednesday morning pickup. We thought we were almost finished, but we moved a big cabinet in the kitchen that had been sold to find a big hole in the wall behind the cabinet. More patching and painting. Going to have to do the whole wall. We're sure getting tired of doing that drive.

Still enjoying watching Blue Jays baseball. They're in a race for a wild card spot and they've won 4 in a row. It's going to be tough, but it could still happen. Would be nice, but either way we are enjoying it.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Max's propane problem, and granddaughter Sadie comes for a visit

I've been trying to work on the solution to our RV propane problem with our motorhome Max who is waiting for us over in Germany. What we want is tanks that can be refilled at a self serve style gas station type of propane pump that are common all over Europe. It's the cheapest and most convenient way of filling your propane.

But the problem is that I can't get anybody to install a system in Germany that is cost effective. 

Friday, September 3, 2021

So, there's another thing out of the way

We were back up at the house yesterday. We are almost done though... probably one more day to finish everything up, so we won't go up again until Sunday. I got both the back and the front entrance doors painted while Ruth's brother Colin had rented a heavy duty carpet cleaner at Home Depot and did the rug in the family room. It was in pretty nasty shape, and we considered actually changing it out but the end result using the cleaner was better than expected so I think we'll just leave it.

When selling a house it's always a big question mark as to how much painting and decorating to do, isn't it? Because many people will move to a new home and redecorate anyhow the way they want it.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

You can't see everything

You may have noticed the header photos are showcasing our Africa trip during 2013-14. It occurred to me that we didn't have very good internet at times during that trip, and not as many photos got posted to this blog. Anyhow, we're not doing much that warrants a new header photo right now so I thought I would put some of the better ones up through this month.

We recently spent two months in Tanzania and never went on safari. We simply couldn't justify the ridiculous cost, especially right after we spent ridiculous amounts of money climbing Kilimanjaro. And actually, I don't regret not doing the safari thing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

September is the best time of year to be in Canada

In our opinion, September is definitely the best time of the year to visit any part of Canada. That's why we purposely try to plan our visits to Canada during this month.

In Canada, most of the kids go back to school the first week of September, so if you're out exploring things will be quieter. The mosquitoes and black flies that typically infest most of Canada during the other good weather months of May through August have pretty much died off by September. And September weather is usually exactly the way we like it... not too hot, and not too cold.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

August Expenses

Not a bad month.

Considering we had pricey summertime flights from Germany back to Canada, and paid for an expensive 10 day car rental, our expenses were only slightly higher than we expected them to be.

We spent a total of $2,836 CAD ($2,255 USD) for the month. Here's how it all broke down...

Monday, August 30, 2021

Moving to another country

As most of you know, we haven't spent much time in Canada the last three years. Since we left in the fall of 2018, we have spent a total of about three months here. And the main reason we have come back at all is to visit family and friends. 

We actually have no intention of ever "living" here again. While we are currently nomads, and don't see ourselves settling down in the foreseeable future, it's impossible not to have a residence address somewhere because you need to for banking and tax purposes.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

September plans

We've now been in Canada for just over two weeks already and August is coming to a close. We will still be here for the full month of September though.

Since we have arrived, we have seen all of the family except for my younger sister. We also haven't seen any of our friends, and we know how quickly the next four and a half weeks will fly by. So we need to make some plans.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Finally made it out for a bike ride

We hadn't been on our bicycles since September of last year! Almost a full year ago. 

The hot weather finally broke yesterday, and with some cooler temperatures (high of 24C, 75F) we went out fairly early to get some exercise before heading back up to do some more work at the house. There is a long mixed use rail trail near here, so we headed over there to see what there was to see.

Friday, August 27, 2021

How the other half lives

Our morning power walk takes us through a very wealthy neighborhood. On our 5 km (3 mile) route, we pass by many multi million dollar homes. Even the house that we're living in is a beautiful home, but it doesn't compare to these mansions.

I bet we could live a good life just on the amount these people spend on utilities and maintenance!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

News from Germany

We had left Max at the dealer in Germany with a list of items that needed to be done. Most were minor warranty things, but they weren't even really that important. The important one was the upgraded refillable propane system that I want to have installed. 

Their service unit got back to me yesterday with a price of €1900 ($2,800 CAD, $2,250 USD) which is ridiculous. I had been expecting a price around €1,000.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

I don't like real estate agents

I guess I should clarify that. I don't like the real estate agent profession. Mostly because I think they're unnecessary, and overpaid for what they do. But also because some of them come across like smarmy used car salesmen. 

Unnecessary because selling (or buying) a house is not that difficult. You choose a price that you're happy with, you advertise it, and you show it to people who are interested in buying it. If nobody buys it in three months, then your price was too high to begin with. Look at the market and decide what's reasonable. Don't be greedy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Back from the dead!

We were originally supposed to be looking after two cats at our house sit. But when we arrived here, we were told that one of them, named Enke, had disappeared over a week ago. The homeowners were devastated, but by the time we got here, they had pretty much come to terms with the fact that Enke was gone and was probably no longer alive. He was an older cat and there are coyotes and foxes in this area.

They had put up "lost cat" posters on the community mailbox, but nobody had seen Enke.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Family reunion and the price of bacon

So Ruth and I are now pretty much moved into our house sitting home for the next five weeks. We're located near the village of Manotick which is a kind of a trendy upscale village with a lot of very high end homes that line the Rideau River.

But we're a little unfamiliar with what are the best (least expensive?) grocery stores in the area. We ended up at a Your Independent and Ruth went inside while I stayed in the car.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Well, that was a successful day!

We were up at 5:30am Saturday morning, moving stuff around before it got too hot out. Man, that was a lot of work. We can't believe how one guy can own that much stuff. It really makes us appreciate our simple lifestyle!

People began arriving at about 8:00am for the 10:00am start of the auction. The auctioneer himself arrived at 9:00am, along with his five helpers! 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Ready for the auction!

Well, the big day is here. It took five of us pretty much all day to move almost everything outside. Only the larger furniture items remain inside. 

But it was pretty warm trying to move all that stuff around when the temperature was 32C (88F). We took a lot of breaks and drank a lot of water.

Friday, August 20, 2021

New sandals, and Sydney the cat...

Starting Saturday evening, we will be house and cat sitting for the next five weeks. So yesterday, we drove over to the community of Manotick just south of Ottawa to say hello to the couple who own the house, and to meet Sydney the cat.

We were supposed to be looking after two cats. But when we arrived, we were told that they had lost one. At first, we took that to mean it had passed away. But it was only ten years old. 

How to Keep Yourself Entertained as you Travel

By its nature, traveling will often have downtime where you have to spend hours doing little to nothing, which is why you should always be prepared to entertain yourself.

Travel with a Buddy

The first rule of traveling is to always travel with a buddy when you can. There are plenty of reasons why it’s a good idea to have a travel buddy, from safety to boredom, so it’s probably a good idea that you just make sure to take someone with you when you can. Travel to work with your coworkers, take your friends or family on holiday, go to the movies with others. Wherever you are traveling, don’t do it alone.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Cameron's watermelon pics

Another day of organizing auction stuff. We're actually just about done as much as we can do for now. There is nothing left in the basement except for our stuff which we will go through today. And upstairs is pretty much empty except for the heavier furniture.

When we had sold our house in 2007, we ended up with about a dozen Rubbermaid storage bins and had whittled that down to three over the years. As time went on, we just couldn't justify keeping the "stuff" and wondered why we kept most of it to begin with. 

The Essential Road Trip Tech

Whether you’re in an RV, camper van or in the SUV driving to your next holiday destination, there are a few essential tech items that you must have with you. Travel is always an exciting time and often there are things that are neglected in the planning phase that will adversely affect your trip. One of the main aspects that can be neglected is the tech that you take.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

We'll get out and do our walk early before things warm up!

There's a really good circular walking route that we follow here in Galetta. It's exactly 5 kms (3 miles) and it's got a few small hills so it's really good exercise when it's done at a fast pace. As a bonus, it's really quite scenic too.

When we've done it in past years, our time for doing such a walk is usually about 45 minutes. That's a decent pace for walking, and we're definitely sweating when we're done. It's a good workout.

How to pass the time on long motorhome journeys

Motorhome journeys can be long and tedious if you aren’t driving and can feel like enormous wastes of time. Reaching the destination is exciting, but the route there is rarely so interesting. 

However, when you tweak your perspective and have a few great activities to keep you busy, the time will fly by.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Just a place to keep your stuff

The last few years it hasn't been that enjoyable for us to return to Canada. Sure, it's great to see family and friends again, but the majority of our free time had (and has) been taken up with dealing with Ruth's father and his possessions. 

I know, it's all part of life. But we'll just be glad when we can put this part of life behind us. And fortunately, we can see that happening on this trip.

Monday, August 16, 2021

It's going to be a busy week!

It's taking us a little longer to get used to the seven hour time change than it has previous trips. Despite going to bed at 10:30pm, we were still wide awake before 5:30am this morning. Maybe another couple of days and we'll be back on a normal schedule.

Yesterday we drove into the city to have lunch with my mom. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Lots of work to do this week

We had stopped and picked up a few things on our way to the house on Friday night, but we needed to do a decent grocery shop. We were both awake really early because it'll take us a few days to get used to the seven hour time change. So we were able to head out right at 8:00am when the stores open to do some grocery shopping.

When we stay here, we usually drive into the town of Arnprior (pop 26,000) to do grocery shopping. It was pretty quiet at that hour on a Saturday morning.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

We are back in Canada

Well that was a long day! But overall, everything happened according to plan and we are back at Ruth's father's old house in the village of Galetta near Canada's capital city of Ottawa.

Last we left you, we were at Frankfurt airport waiting to board our flight to Toronto. What a circus that was!

Friday, August 13, 2021

Not entirely stress free, but it all worked out okay

We dropped off Max at the dealer at about 10:00am Thursday morning and walked the two kms to the Dulmen train station. We travel light and we each had a small backpack and a rolling carry on suitcase. And even the carry on bags were half empty! They will be full when we return though.

Dulmen has only a small station and tickets are purchased only at a machine. There is nobody to talk to. We were concerned because I had read that morning that we were in the middle of a two day railroad engineers strike and only 25% of the normal trains were running.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

We almost screwed up

We had our PCR test appointment in Winterswijk, Netherlands at 11:00am, so we got on the road early and headed for the huge Obelink camping gear store just outside Winterswijk. The store doesn't open until 9:15am, and we got there before it opened, so at the time Max was the first rig there.

At 10:00am, we set off for the 3 km walk to the downtown test center. By that time, there were quite a few other vans that had joined Max.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Getting ready to go

Apparently some people are having problems getting their email notifications from this blog. A couple of months ago, Google dropped that service from this platform, so I had to sign up to another provider. I chose and if you were previously signed up to receive email notifications, then that should have continued because I imported all the email addresses from the old program. 

If you're not receiving them, all I can suggest is to go to the website and login using the email address you signed up for and double check your settings.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Highest we've been for a while!

And no, we didn't smoke anything!

Yesterday, we made our way to the town of Schapdetten to a really great overnight spot in a green space separating farmers fields. And located only a short walk to the Baumberge Forest.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Wandering around Sendenhorst

Just a quiet day yesterday. We said goodbye to friends Dave and Bonnie, and hope to see them at some point when we return this winter.

We only drove about 18 kms (11 miles) to our next location at the town of Sendenhorst (pop 13,000). We weren't there for any particular reason, but they had a free motorhome overnight parking area with dump station so it was convenient.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Propane, water, electricity!

Propane is a common headache for motorhome travelers in Europe. The reason is that there are no agreed upon standards between the countries for propane tanks or fittings. Here, they are not called propane tanks, they are called "gas bottles".

I'll use our situation here in Germany as an example. 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Always fun to meet up with our traveling friends!

On Friday, we did what we think was our longest daily drive since we've had Max. It was about 80 kms (50 miles) to get back down to the town of Telgte to meet up with friends Dave and Bonnie!

We arranged a meeting spot at a municipal parking lot in Telgte that has specific sites for motorhomes, with coin operated electricity and water available. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

Seven more sleeps

One week from today, we arrive back in Canada. We aren't necessarily looking forward to actually being in Canada, but we're always excited about the travel itself and it's been ten months since we have seen family and friends located there.

Yesterday, I did more planning for the trip. Yes, the hotel in Dusseldorf is booked. The flights are booked. Our car rental when we arrive is booked. But one more thing needed to be looked after.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

We ended up at a great spot

A few days ago we had mentioned to each other that it's been really different for us the last month or so not being on a schedule of any kind. I guess to a certain extent it's been like that all winter, but at that time we were booking week long Airbnb stays at most locations and it's a different feeling when you're in a motorhome and it's easy to just pack up and move on when you want to without any limitations.

And most of the time, it's been really quite easy to find free overnight spots. We were a little worried that with RV sales and use at record highs due to Covid, it would be difficult in the middle of summer. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

From plan A to plan B to plan C...

People are starting to travel again, so I wanted to remind you to check out Heymondo for your travel medical insurance. Travel with Kevin and Ruth readers save 5% by clicking through this special link.

Yesterday was another interesting day, but it's the first time that our overnight choices didn't really pan out. From plan A to plan B to plan C!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

How to build a cruise ship. Visit to the Meyer-Werft shipyard!

Well that was an interesting day!

A few days ago, I had been searching for possible future overnight spots and came across one listing that said you could overnight in your motorhome and visit the cruise ship factory. That piqued my interest, so I did some more research.

The next thing you know, I'm online booking us two tickets at €12 ($17.75 CAD, $14.25 USD) per person to do the Monday 1:00pm self guided tour!

Monday, August 2, 2021

We are back in Germany

Netherlands was interesting and we're glad we went, but it's not a country that "wowed" us. We plan to return one spring in a future year in order to see the city of Amsterdam and the tulips. Otherwise, we would not purposely return there to spend any length of time.

It rained again yesterday morning and we didn't leave the little campground until almost 2:00pm. We then headed for the border, and the German town of Rhede.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

All we could do was shrug our shoulders and laugh!

Last night I posted our first full month of expenses traveling Europe in Max the motorhome. You can view it here if you haven't seen it yet.

Things are a little damp here in Northern Netherlands! It has been raining every day for the past several with a few sunny breaks in between the downpours. We spent the morning inside the motorhome waiting for a period when the rain looked like it was going to stop long enough for us to get a walk in.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Touring Europe can be expensive. But not if you have your own motorhome!

And we've been looking forward to showing you just how inexpensive it can be to tour Europe in a motorhome.

July of 2021 is the first of many months for us touring Europe in the years ahead. So, here's our expense report for the first month of our extended European RV touring.

We spent a total of $1,523 CAD ($1,220 USD, €1,029) in the month of July.

What a great little campground!

We were getting low on fresh water, and the holding tanks were getting full so I started looking for somewhere to take care of that business. 

I had found a listing of a small campground that got great reviews. It was only €8 ($12 CAD, $9.50 USD) per night, and that price included electricity and WiFi. No showers or toilet, but we have our own so that's okay. 

And when I read their website, I was sold!

Friday, July 30, 2021

Pleasantly surprised by Groningen. Lots of interesting architecture!

We had pretty much had enough of cities, and so we were actually going to bypass the fairly large (pop 200,000) city of Groningen. 

But we had to go to the outskirts to get one of our propane tanks filled, and once we were there we realized it was only a 2.5 km (1.5 mile) walk to the downtown area.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

How do we find great overnight locations in Europe?

A reader asked yesterday how we find our overnight locations here in Europe. 

With regards to the Netherlands in particular, we had been warned that it was tough to find decent free camping spots, and that paid camping is expensive. And while both of those things are true to a certain extent, we haven't found it that difficult. In fact, we've been here for over three weeks and have only spent €42 ($62 CAD, $50 USD) on four paid nights. The rest have all been free.

So, how do we do it?

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

A long driving day!?

Well, not really. But the longest one for us in quite a while! We actually did 70 kms (42 miles) yesterday!

But because we take the back roads, and we stop to see what there is to see along the way it took us a couple of hours to get to where we were going. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Wandering around Harlingen, Netherlands

Harlingen is a small coastal city (pop 16,000) with a lot of canals and waterways within the city itself. It also has a big port that hosts the ferries that go to the West Frisian Islands, and is where several world class tall ships races have taken place.

We found a big free parking lot outside of town, and walked in.

Monday, July 26, 2021

You can't see everything

We spent three months in Albania, a country about the size of the state of Vermont. And we still didn't see everything we wanted to. 

Netherlands is one and a half times larger than Albania and we've been here for three weeks now. No way will we see everything there is to see. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Sneek is worth a visit!

They were calling for rain later Saturday evening and overnight, so we figured it would not be a good idea to remain parked where we were beside the canal in low lying grass that might get muddy. So we packed up Max and moved on to the nearby small city of Sneek (pop 34,000).

And we're glad we did... Sneek is worth a visit!

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Talking about our plan for this winter

We knew we weren't driving anywhere on Friday, so we took our time in the morning and it was almost 11am by the time we went out for a walk. I thought the bike trail was going to follow the water, but it ended up in between farmers fields with hedges so there wasn't much of anything to see. 

Still, we did 6 kms (3.7 miles), in an hour, so not a bad pace.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Just smile and wave

When we woke up Thursday morning, we were already located at the entrance to a nature reserve. So it only made sense to do the 5 km (3 mile) circular walk before we left.

I feel like we haven't been getting enough exercise lately, so I was trying to pick up the pace to get a half decent workout in, but this conflicts with Ruth wanting to stop and see everything along the way. So it's a bit of a balancing act sometimes as we try to keep each other happy!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The most beautiful place in the Netherlands

On Wednesday we drove over to the village of Giethoorn, located in Weerribben-Wieden National Park. 

The mostly car-free village has many thatched roof farmhouses built in the 1800's on small peat islands separated by narrow canals and connected by 170 small bridges. It's really pretty, with lots of walking paths, and the popular thing to do is rent an electric boat to tour the canals.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Almost feels like we're on holiday!

Tuesday's goal was to find a place to do laundry. We were only a couple of kilometers to the town of Vollenhove, and there is a big holiday park there that has a motorhome parking area, and apparently a laundry. The reviews didn't mention prices, other than saying "very affordable" which means different things to different people.

There is also a municipal motorhome parking area that has a dump station and fresh water fill. We parked there, and we were surprised that we were the only ones.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Parked below sea level

26% of the Netherlands is below sea level. A series of man made dykes, floodgates, and dams prevent the sea from taking over that 26% of the country. 

But sometimes the sea does take over. The last major flood in Netherlands was in 1953 when 2,500 people were killed. And there have been lots of storms through history that have killed far more people. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

More planning for next month's trip back to Canada

The sun was shining all day again yesterday, but after lunch a cool breeze picked up. We had planned on spending a couple of hours on the beach, but the breeze made it feel too cool. Still, we did get out for a couple of hours walk in the morning.

The weather sure isn't what we were expecting for mid July. The highs for the next week are only between 20C to 23C (68F to 73F) which is fine... just not what we were expecting. It's actually really comfortable for getting out and doing something, and it's supposed to go down to 12C (54F) tonight which is great for sleeping. Might be a little chilly when we get up tomorrow morning!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

We had a busy day, filled with blue sky and sunshine!

After a week of overcast skies it was sure great to see the sunshine and blue sky all day. And it looks like this might continue for a few days yet. 

We took full advantage of the beautiful weather and spent the day outside. Our first stop was the fortified town of Naarden. This interesting town has a lot of history, and dates back to the 13th century.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

You have to dig deep to get the whole story

There is a 48 hour time limit at the free motorhome parking area in Huizen, and there are lots of walking paths in the area so we decided to stay a second night. 

The rain has finished, and the forecast kept calling for sunshine, but it was quite a while before the sun finally appeared.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Max's batteries and fuel mileage

Yesterday was a rain day. We managed to get out around noon and walk over to the motorhome parking area where there are 8 spaces to see how many were available. It turned out that four of them were empty, so we moved Max the one kilometer over to that location. It's not really much better than where we were, but it's not so close to a busy road.

We haven't seen the sun since Sunday. Monday through Thursday were all overcast. So Max's batteries haven't been getting much of a charge from the solar panels. And we haven't been driving much, so they haven't been getting much of a charge that way either.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

An interesting story

We enjoyed our visit to Utrecht, but we were in need of some forest and greenery and country fresh air. So we found a big park area about 25 kms (15 miles) north of the city that has lots of walking and cycling paths.

Coincidentally, this big green space that we found is also where Queen Beatrix, the former Queen of the Netherlands lives at her home called Drakensteyn Castle.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Utrecht, or Amsterdam?

We didn't plan on making a choice between the two, and we haven't really done that. We still want to visit Amsterdam at some point, but not on this trip. 

When we visited Czech Republic in 2012, we found Prague to be very touristy and very expensive compared to the rest of the country. And we found that the smaller city of Olomouc had as much to offer, but without the tourists or the high prices. 

And it's much the same when comparing Amsterdam to the smaller city of Utrecht.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Flight tickets booked!

Yesterday I booked our flight tickets for our trip to Canada. Unfortunately, there were no deals to be had. Because of Canada's strict Covid regulations, there are very few choices when it comes to flying into Canada from Europe. 

So we're pretty much stuck with Air Canada, which certainly wouldn't have been our first choice for flying across the Atlantic. Normally there would be options such as Lufthansa or Swiss Air which are much better airlines.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Sometimes in life, the stars align!

When we fly to Ottawa next month, we will stay at Ruth's father's house until the auction on August 21st. After that, we were going to have to find somewhere to live for five weeks or so. Our daughter's house is okay for a night or two, but it's pretty small and with us there it gets crowded very quickly.

And Airbnb rentals around Canada's capital city are pricey. So we were looking to see if we could find a house sit for at least part of that time. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

The Windmills of Kinderdijk, and a perfect overnight spot

We took our time yesterday before leaving the campground. When you are paying for it, you might as well make use of the facilities and take the opportunity to do some cleaning. And of course we made sure to drive away with the holding tanks empty and the fresh water tank full.

As I said yesterday, it was a nice campground. For €13 ($19.25 CAD, $15.50 USD) including electric, WiFi, and nice hot showers. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Our first campground in Netherlands

Despite the fact that "wild camping" isn't allowed in the Netherlands, finding a free place to overnight hasn't been that difficult for us. It may often be just a parking lot, but when we can find more scenic places during the day, we try to spend most of the day there, and only move to our overnight spot later on.

But the problem is trying to find somewhere to empty and fill our tanks. In Germany, they have a lot of free or very cheap places to do this... in Netherlands, not so much!

Friday, July 9, 2021

3 weeks living in Max the motorhome

It was three weeks ago today that we moved into Max.

And we haven't gone very far. But everything is new, and we don't really have a destination in mind so there is no need to go very far. Max now has about 440 kms (273 miles) on the odometer, and he still has about half of his original 90 liter (23.8 U.S. gallon) tank of fuel left.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Interesting day in Arnhem, Netherlands

It's still five weeks away, but I've been doing some planning for our trip back to Canada. We left on October 12th of last year, so by the time we get back we will have been away for 10 months which is the longest we've ever gone without seeing any of the family.

I haven't booked the flights yet, but now that we won't have to do the quarantine we will probably arrive back there sometime between August 12th and the 16th. The estate auction at Ruth's father's house is on August 21st and we want to be there in time to help get ready for that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Vaccination details, and parked by the river

Around 9:30am we drove over to the small city of Arnhem (pop 160,000). It was only about a 45 minute drive. Our vaccination appointment was for 1:36 pm (yes, exactly!) but we were badly in need of a laundromat and we had found one about 1.5 kms from the vaccination place.

But it was right downtown and we had to find a parking spot for Max!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Vaccination scheduled for today!

We tried to get vaccinated in Albania, Poland, and Germany, with no success. The reasons were varied. Even by the time we left Albania on June 10th, they were vaccinating citizens only and unless in specified groups you had to be over 60 (we are 59). Poland was simply confusing, and there were language issues, and we ran out of time there trying to figure out their system. We didn't try very hard in Germany, but it seemed they were still intent on vaccinating only their own citizens.

Here in Netherlands, 90% of native Dutch speakers can also speak English. And many official government websites also have English versions so you don't have to rely on Google Translate. So when I read that there is a procedure to follow for foreigners on Dutch soil to get vaccinated, I started looking further into it.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Back in the Netherlands

We headed out from the big motorhome camping area in Goch, Germany at just after 10:00am. We made our way across the Germany/Netherlands border and arrived a short time later at our overnight spot just outside the town of Grave, Netherlands.

As I had read, there is absolutely no security presence at the EU country borders so far. In fact at this crossing, there was very little indication you were even crossing into a different country, other than the difference in the road markings and language.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Getting the hang of RV'ing in Germany

We would probably have spent another night at the Rhine River watching the barges go by, but our toilet tank was getting full. 

That's the problem with these types of cassette holding tanks... they aren't very big. It was easy to deal with in Australia because there are so many public toilets and a lot of our wild campsites enabled me to pee outside because there was nobody around. But here in Germany, that's not so easy.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Sitting by the Rhine River watching the barges go by

Friday morning, we left Max in his overnight spot just outside the city of Bocholt and walked into the city. Not that there was anything in particular we planned on seeing, but you never know what you might come across. 

Plus, we needed a new camera bag because the zipper finally let go on the cheap one I had bought at a Walmart quite a while ago. Surprised it lasted this long.

Friday, July 2, 2021

I was a bit disappointed

It was a rain day yesterday. Never saw the sun at all, and even though it stopped raining around 2pm, it was overcast and cool. July 1st and the temperature never got above 15C (60F).

Good opportunity to be able to test out Max's battery system though. We have two 100 amp hour 12 volt AGM batteries, and two 100 watt solar panels. Obviously the solar panels didn't do us much good yesterday, but even by the time we went to bed last night the batteries were still reading 12.4 volts, so lots of power remaining.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

We love castles!

And here in Germany, there are said to be as many as 20,000 castles! Anything from little known ruins, to fully restored fairy tale style medieval fortifications, and everything in between.

So any detour to visit one of these castles doesn't usually involve too much of a route change. Yesterday, we drove a whole 41 kms (25 miles).

June Expenses

We started the month in Albania, having no idea how the month was going to go. Would we end up in Germany? How would we get there? Would we be able to get into our new motorhome? What would it cost to get the motorhome set up?

So it was really tough to come up with an approximate budget at the beginning of the month. But as you know, we did make it into Germany and we did get into our new motorhome. So June expenses include not only a our normal day to day expenses, but also the figures for capital expenses for the motorhome itself.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Problem solved for now, and back on the road to a nice free forest campground

We sat in the parking lot at the RV dealer until about lunchtime when our service tech David came and got Max to try to repair the sliding pantry door. Did you know that the name for this type of door is called a "tambour door". We had never heard that term before.

As I expected, this was not an easy problem to fix. He ended up having to break the door to get it out, and although that sounds extreme, I couldn't figure out how else it could be done. 

Travel smoothly with the help of these apps in 2021

Whether you’re going on a fishing adventure to New Zealand or exploring everything Warsaw has to offer, we all take our mobile phone devices with us in today’s smartphone-obsessed world. It’s understandable, too, of course. Today’s mobile phones offer a range of functionalities, be it taking high-quality images or simply enabling us to locate the best nearby hotels in a foreign location.  

For many modern-day holidaymakers, the smartphone devices of today offer a range of other benefits also. Instead of solely using devices to track down family or friends who are staying nearby or for entertainment purposes like watching a Netflix movie or playing slot games like Chests of Plenty, travellers are downloading an array of travel apps too. Some apps enable a journey to go more smoothly, while others help you get the most out of an adventure abroad. The options in this space are comprehensive too, as developers aim to tap into what is proving to be a popular category of apps. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Hopefully it will be a quick fix, but I'm not betting on it.

A bit of a frustrating day yesterday.

We left our free overnight spot early Monday morning. We had forgotten that on Sundays the shops are almost all closed, and we had run out of milk so figured we would go into the nearest town that also had a motorhome service point where we could empty our toilet tank.

That turned out to be the town of  Vreden which was in the wrong direction to where we had wanted to be going, but it was only about 12 kms (7 miles) out of our way.

Monday, June 28, 2021

We never thought there would be flamingos in Germany

Sunday afternoon we went for a walk to see the flamingos at Zwillbrocker Venn. One of the trails to the conservation area actually starts right where we were parked with Max.

This area is famous because of a colony of nesting flamingos. It is the furthest north colony in the world. We never would have thought there would be flamingos in Germany.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Arrived in Netherlands... and the world's largest camping gear store!

It was only a 50 km (30 mile) drive from our RV dealer to the Netherlands border... and another 10 kms (6 miles) after that to the world's largest camping gear store.

I am calling it "the world's largest", although that has not been confirmed. But now that we've been there, we don't see how there could possibly be anything bigger! It is quite the place.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Have a look at these European RVs

We relaxed for the morning, but then around noon we got Max packed up and ready to go. We had a 2:30pm appointment for him at the service department, but wanted to pick up a few grocery items before we left.

Of course part of the process of getting ready to go includes the emptying of our toilet casette. The European system is quite different from the North American system.

Friday, June 25, 2021

What a big set of antlers!

There were lots of walking trails where we had been parked Wednesday night, so first thing Thursday morning we went for a walk. 

We are still trying to figure out the best way to install a power inverter so that we can have standard electricity (230VAC here in Europe) inside the house part of the motorhome, running off the batteries. Until we sort it out, I was looking for an inexpensive basic unit that would plug into the 12VDC power socket with just enough power to keep our laptops charged up.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

First time driving Max!

We had a good day yesterday. 

It started with doing laundry. We don't have very many clothes to begin with, and we don't mind doing some hand washing to get us by, but eventually the larger items need doing too. It turns out there is no laundromat in the town of Dulmen, and we had to drive a half an hour into the city of Munster to get that job done.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Why are we still sitting here? And a few warranty issues

We arrived here to meet Max last Friday, so we have now spent four nights sleeping in the new motorhome. Yet he still has only 30 kms (18 miles) on the odometer. That's because we haven't driven him yet!

We had explained beforehand that we were in no rush. Plus, we arrived on a Friday so we were pretty sure not much would get done over the weekend. And Monday and Tuesday were Amazon Prime days, so I was pretty busy working during that event, and quite happy to be sat in one spot.

And, it gave us a chance to go over the rig and check out any problems. And there are some minor warranty problems (detailed below) to sort out. But, they are very minor.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A video tour of Max's interior

We think that we have the interior set up the way we want it. A place for everything, and everything in it's place, as they say.

Of course you put things away and store them during travel, but we try to do that even when we're parked up because it's easy for a motorhome's interior to start to look cluttered. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Exploring Dulmen, Germany

We took a break from the shopping yesterday, although partly because it was forced on us. Here in Germany, the vast majority of shops are closed on Sundays.

So we spent some time organizing and figuring out the best way to store things in Max. And, we were overdue for some exercise so we got out for a long walk.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

It is a lot of work to set up a new motorhome!

Another busy day shopping yesterday, but things are coming together. 

We wanted to go to an IKEA store, and I knew there was bound to be a lot of them in Germany. In fact I looked it up and there are 53 IKEA stores in Germany. For comparison, there are 52 in the United States, and 12 in Canada.

But surprisingly, there isn't one really close by to where we are. There were three that were all about the same distance, so we chose one.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Introducing you to Max... our new European motorhome!

We were up early yesterday morning and had a big breakfast at the hotel. It was buffet style, so there was lots of choice for us and we made sure to walk away full since we didn't know if or when we would have a chance to get any lunch.

We had to make our way to the dealership which was located about 10 kms (6 miles) from the hotel. (Or so I thought at the time!) There is no Uber presence in this town, and we asked about a taxi, only to be told it might cost €30 to €40 for the trip. I would walk before I would pay that kind of money!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Arrived in Germany... country #43 for us. And, what have we named our new motorhome?

Not only have we arrived in Germany, but we have arrived at the town where our new motorhome is located!

We were picked up at 9:00am at our apartment in Warsaw by a young couple who were driving all the way to Netherlands... and they were doing the drive all in one day. This worked out perfectly for us, even though it's a long distance and it would be a full day in the car to do the 1,000 km (620 mile) distance. 

But, it goes by pretty quick when you're doing 160 km/h (99.5 mph).

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Visit with The Chouters, and a change of plans...

We left the apartment after lunch and began walking downtown. We were actually on our way to meet up with The Chouters, but they were located at a campground on the other side of downtown and the opposite side of the river.

We wanted to see the rooftop garden at the University Library and it was pretty much along the way. Then we could walk across the river and take an Uber from there.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Planning to get to Germany and our new motorhome

Our new motorhome is located in the town of Dulmen, Germany. It's actually quite close to the Netherlands border. So from here, it is still about 1,000 kms (620 miles) away. There are too many restrictions still involved with flying, but crossing into Germany by land is okay since we are already in the EU and have not been in a "risk" country in the last 10 days.

Our current plan is to take the train to the city of Poznan here in Poland. That gets us a little closer to the German border. From Poznan there are quite a few rideshares available to get us to Berlin. There are some rideshares available directly from Warsaw, but it's an 8 hour drive and the ones that are available seem to leave at odd hours.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Easier said than done!

First order of business on Monday was to try to find out about getting the Covid vaccination. Here in Poland, you do not have to be a citizen and the vaccination is free. However it's not as simple as just showing up and getting the shot.

In fact, it seems it's not simple at all, and we are just about ready to give up!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Sunday wasn't a great day

It wasn't bad... it just wasn't great! They were calling for showers on and off, and the temperature never got much above 18C (65F) and there were gusty winds. It was just a dull day. And sure enough, it did rain but it was a little more than showers. It really came down a couple of times, and with the wind it was just not nice.

We still planned on going out though. After all, we have raincoats and we needed to get some fresh air.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

First day in Warsaw... lots to see!

I've always wanted to go to Poland. Mostly because not many other travelers from North America come here, when compared to the more popular countries of Europe. When North Americans think of Europe, they mostly think of Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. Poland isn't nearly as popular for whatever reason.

Right now, we are only interested in Warsaw. We haven't done any research as to what to see in the rest of the country, and it's a pretty big country. All of that will have to wait until we get into our motorhome. Poland will be on the agenda at some point over the next couple of years. For this visit, Warsaw is our only interest.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Arrived in Poland... country #42 for us

I never sleep well the night before a travel day. Too many things running through my mind! And you just don't know what roadblocks will be thrown your way. I don't think I would describe it as stressful... it's more exciting to me than anything else. 

Yesterday's post ended with us in the departure lounge at Tirana Airport. Our flight to Warsaw, Poland was supposed to leave at 9:40am, but the departures board listed it as 9:20am. Turns out we didn't even start boarding until 9:20am, and didn't actually take off until 10:00am.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Off to Poland!

Writing this from the departure lounge at Tirana Airport. It's only a two hour flight, so by the time most of you read this we will be in Warsaw, Poland.

Yesterday, we walked downtown and had lunch at the very first restaurant we went to when we arrived here almost three months ago.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

View above Tirana, and more Poland planning

One of the things we had wanted to do here in Tirana is to take the cable car up into the mountains. Wednesday was supposed to be warm and sunny, so we figured the views should be good. 

The lower cable car terminal is located on the outskirts of the city, about 6.5 kms (4 miles) from our apartment. We thought about driving, but traffic in Tirana can get backed up at all hours of the day. Also, when we return to the apartment it's difficult to find parking.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Life in Communist Albania

We wandered downtown yesterday afternoon. There had been some showers in the morning, but by after lunch it was a pleasant day.

It's only about 2 kms (1.6 miles) to downtown, but we took a bit of a different route because we wanted to see a small archeological site in a nearby neighborhood. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Planning for Poland, and the cost of a haircut

Monday was a nice relaxing day! It was a bit overcast all day, and there were a few scattered showers. We didn't even leave the apartment until about noon. But that's okay, I had lots of planning to do for our upcoming trip to Poland.

First thing was to find suitable accommodation. There was lots of availability on Airbnb, but not much suitable at a half decent price. Warsaw is a big capital city, and even though Poland is one of the cheaper European countries, the big cities can still be expensive. So I started looking at shared accommodation, which we've been trying to avoid due to Covid. But sometimes economics comes into play. Anyhow, we got lucky!

Monday, June 7, 2021

Moving day... back in the big city of Tirana, and Covid update

Well, we are back where we started and our almost three month tour of Albania is coming to an end. We fly to Poland this coming Friday, so that gives us only four full days left here. Today, we don't have much planned... we both need haircuts though, so that will be on the agenda. And we do have a couple of day trips we want to do before we leave, so the rest of the week will go by quickly!

On Sunday, we drove from Koman to Tirana, with a couple of stops along the way.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Hiking high above Komani Lake

We came to Komani Lake specifically to do the Komani Lake Ferry ride. But when we were researching the area, we learned of a hike that goes high up into the mountains overlooking Komani Lake where there is the ruins of a settlement dating back to the 3rd century.

The hike itself would be great, but even better to see some ruins that not many other people see because it's a difficult uphill climb to get there.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Lake Komani Ferry. And decision time!

Let's talk about decision time first.

We have to leave Albania by June 13th one way or the other. Our destination of choice would be Germany to pick up our motorhome, but Germany is still closed to most visitors arriving by air. And the European Union (EU) countries are not united when it comes to entry rules for visitors... in fact they are a jumbled mess with all 27 countries making their own rules despite recommendations from the EU itself.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Koman, Albania

The little village of Koman doesn't really have a lot to offer. However, after wandering around for a day there is more to it than originally meets the eye.

This was a remote mountain village until 1980 when they began construction of the Koman Hydroelectric power station. The dam was completed in 1985, and the reservoir filled in 1986. When the reservoir was filled, they began a ferry service for the locals to be able to access the other villages along the waterway.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Moving day... and tire damage update

We said goodbye to the Albanian Alps yesterday after a fantastic week in such stunning scenery. We weren't going very far, but it was going to take a while to get there. 

First, we drove back to the city of Shkodra to get our flat tire problem fixed up. The other day, I had backed onto the shoulder of a narrow road in order to let another vehicle pass, and in the process a rock cut into the sidewall of the tire. I knew that it was not repairable, and I figured that we were going to be on the hook for the price of a new tire.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Trail markers, but no trail

We've really enjoyed our week here in the Albanian Alps. Other than one rain day, we did some hiking each day. In fact, we did 44 kms (27 miles) with some decent elevation gains.

Yesterday was our last full day here. We decided on a walk on the other side of the valley. For most of it, I think we were following an old logging road. But the signs at the beginning pointed to the top of the mountain, which we kind of figured would be a tough hike. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Hiking in the snow!

This is the second post of the day. You may have missed our May Expenses post earlier on.

On Monday, we drove a short distance up to a trail that leads to a castle ruins. We had already been told that there isn't much left of the castle, so we knew not to expect too much. We also had already been told that "they" (whoever they are) are building a five star hotel up there. 

May Expenses

And so another month begins... it is June the 1st today. 

We are still using the TravelSpend app to keep track of our expenses. It's really working well for us and it's easy to use.

May was a good month, simply because we came in right where we expected to be. There were no surprises! We spent $2,413 CAD ($2,002 USD) for the month.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Our Travel Insurance - HeyMondo

Many countries around the world are beginning to open up for summer travel. And if you are going to travel, you want to have travel insurance that covers you for Covid related problems.

I don't want this to sound like an advertisement, because it's not. As any of our regular readers know, I put a lot of effort into researching just about anything we do. It's not only so that we get a good deal, although that is certainly a priority. It's also so that things go smoothly and we have a good understanding of what to do when things don't go smoothly.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

We can't seem to get to where we want to go!

And I'm not just talking about Germany!

Although, while we're on the subject I'll give you an update on that problem. I had applied through the German Border Police for special permission to enter the country for 72 hours (the official "transit" time allowed) in order to pick up our motorhome and then drive directly to Poland where Canadian citizens are welcome.

Surprisingly, they got back to me within a couple of days. Unsurprisingly, it was denied. Going to pick up our motorhome in Germany is not an "essential" reason for entering the country, even though I would be coming from a country (Albania) that is not considered a country of risk by Germany.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

There is still lots of snow up here!

Most people come to this area in order to get to the village of Theth and Theth National Park. And there are only three ways to get to Theth. One is by hiking, and the other two require 4 wheel drive. 

It's a very remote area.

Unfortunately, that is changing.

Friday, May 28, 2021

First day out hiking in the Albanian Alps

Well, I had said yesterday that we didn't want to jump right into a big hike because we hadn't done one for a while.

And what did we do? We ended up doing 13 kms (8 miles)! But, it was only an elevation gain of about 360 meters (1,200') so it wasn't really that strenuous. Of course we have lots of pictures to show you!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Check out our home in the mountains for the next week...

When we first decided to come to Albania, it was party because of the photos I had seen of the Albanian Alps mountain range, and the hiking possibilities I could imagine existed there. But of course when we arrived here in March, there was still too much snow up in those mountains. 

So, we spent the last two months exploring the southern part of the country waiting for the roads to open up in the mountains. But we are here now, and it's everything we imagined it would be!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Now this is the kind of scenery we love!

Yesterday we took off for a drive up into the Albanian Alps. This northern mountain range stretches into both Montenegro and Kosovo and is also known as the Accursed Mountains. 

We had been told that there might still be snow up there, and some of the roads can be in bad condition so we didn't know exactly how far we would make it. But it turned out we could have gone further... we ran out of time though. Too many beautiful views to stop and admire.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The top 5 so far, and why

I follow the blog of Johnny Ward at One Step 4 Ward. He has been to every country in the world. Not only the 192 United Nations listed countries, but the ones that really are countries, but not necessarily recognized as such by other countries. That brings the total list up to 215.

He posted a list of all those countries on Facebook the other day, and asked readers how many they had been to, and what their favorites were. Of course that got me thinking about what our top five might be.

Monday, May 24, 2021

It's not every day you have lunch with a MIG jet fighter pilot

Well yesterday was an interesting day!

Remember I mentioned that we had a noise coming from the transmission of our rental car? Well on Friday, we did a switch and they gave us a temporary car until they can figure out what's going on with the other one. So we were talking to the guys at Go Rent Albania about the great time we've been having here, and Zeni suggests that we should have lunch together during our time in Shkodra. Of course we agreed. Then on Saturday, he called and invited us to his family home for lunch! He said we would have a real traditional Albanian experience. And boy, was he right!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Rozafa Castle in Shkodra, Albania

On Saturday, we walked over and then up to Rozafa Castle, also known as Shkodra Castle. 

The origins of the castle date to the 300 BC, and as with any structure that old, it has been added to and renovated several times over the last 2,400 years! But the thick walls will last for a long time yet.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

A few things to talk about today!

In no particular order of importance though, so we'll start with email notifications. Many of you (almost 400 of you!) are signed up to receive an email notification whenever we make a new post. Unfortunately, the powers that be at Google have decided to discontinue this service as of June, so we have made some changes so that you can continue to receive email notifications. 

I am manually transferring all the old subscriptions to the new service, but just in case, it would be a good idea to do it yourself.

Friday, May 21, 2021

First day in Shkodra

It was a mixed bag of weather on Thursday, our first day in the city of Shkodra. With a population of 135,000 people, Shkodra is the 5th largest city in Albania. Temperature about 20C (68F) but mostly cloudy with possible thunderstorms.

I had contacted the guys at Go Rent Albania about the transmission noise, and we made arrangements to send the car out for service. I followed one of the guys back to the office, and of course now the noise is gone! But they gave us another car and said they would drive the other one for a day and see if the problem returns. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Moving day, and possible good news regarding Europe

Let's talk about the possible good news first.

Our maximum three months in Albania will end around June 14th. There is a direct flight from Tirana, Albania to Dortmund, Germany on June 10th, and we want to be on it. That is only three weeks away.

Yesterday, the European Union agreed to increase the number of "safe" countries that can visit the EU as tourists. Under current restrictions, people from only seven countries can enter the EU on holiday, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated. This list is expected to be updated by early next week at the latest. Albania's numbers are really low, and we are expecting (hoping?) that Albania will be on that list. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Albania continues to impress us...

I messed up our posting schedule, and you may have missed yesterday's post. If so, you can read it here...

Yesterday, we drove up into the mountains in behind Pogradec. We were looking for a way to get to Guri i Kamjes, a neat geological formation that sticks up from the surrounding hills. We could see it from a distance, but weren't sure what roads might take us there, and of course whether or not the roads might be passable without a 4 wheel drive vehicle.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Dos and don’ts of traveling in Thailand

Thailand is one of the greatest countries in the world for travelers. Whether you’re visiting on a luxury budget or backpacking around, you will love what the country has to offer. It’s a super friendly place, it’s relatively safe, and it’s full of amazing experiences for all types of travelers. Here are the dos and don’ts of traveling in Thailand:

More beautiful Lake Ohrid scenery

Perfect day to go out and do some more exploring yesterday, so we set off in the car at around 10:00am, heading north up the western shore of Lake Ohrid. We've been here since last Wednesday, and that was the first time we've used the car since we arrived!

We were headed up to the town of Lin, located on a peninsula that juts out into the lake at the North Macedonia border.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Views of Lake Ohrid, nice hike, and anniversary dinner

We were overdue for some exercise, so we made plans to climb up the hill to Pogradec Castle. From there, there were several choices to continue our hike. 

I did some research before we left. It turns out that some visitors attempt to drive up to the castle. Yes, there is a road, but as with many rural roads in Albania, you are better off if you have a 4 wheel drive. I read stories of people attempting it in a regular car, but once you get to a certain point there is no way to turn around, and if you can't make it, you have to back all the way down.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Saving the best to the last

We have totally been enjoying our time in Albania. 

It's only in hindsight that you can get a clear idea of whether or not a decision has been a good one, but we feel we've made a lot of good decisions through this whole pandemic. Yes, we fully realize that not everybody agrees with the fact that we have continued to travel. But we have zero regrets, and for us it was the right thing to do. Three months in Turkey was fantastic, and there is so much more to see there. Two months in Tanzania was good. For me, it was about a month too long though. It's not an easy country to travel without spending loads of money. And it's too hot and buggy for our liking. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Pogradec Beach and Albania's Drilon National Park

On Friday, we walked almost the full length of the waterfront here in Pogradec, all the way to Drilon National Park. It was about 5 kms (3 miles) each way. In fact, only 2 kms further and we would have been at the North Macedonia border crossing.

They're doing a lot of spring clean up work on the beachfront. This is a busy area on hot summer weekends, so starting about a month from now the lakeside beach will be packed.

Friday, May 14, 2021

First day in Pogradec

We like to spend the first day in a new town just wandering around and seeing where things are. Just to kind of get a feel for the place. And, we usually need to pick up some groceries to stock the fridge for the week. Although, it's kind of funny because we end up doing some kind of grocery shopping almost every day!

When we were traveling North America in Sherman, we would typically do a big shop once a week or so. Usually at Walmart, or some other big one stop shop type of place. But here in Albania there are no Walmarts, and very few actually large full service grocery stores. Lots of smaller shops where we get general groceries in one place, meat in another, and fruits and vegetables in another. And when we have had an apartment in town, there has always been a shop within close walking distance.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Our new motorhome is paid for... and we think we will be using it next month!

Wednesday was moving day as we made our way from Korca to Pogradec. Not a long drive, only about 40 kms (25 miles). 

Pogradec is a small city with a population of about 21,000 people. It's located on the sandy shores of Lake Ohrid. The border between Albania and North Macedonia runs right through the lake, and we are only about 6 kms from the North Macedonia land border crossing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

What an interesting day we had... and it ended with more excitement!

After having done that 17 km hike the day before, we were planning on a bit of a rest day. But we still didn't want to waste our last day in the area, so we decided to drive up to the mountain town of Dardha just to see the scenery. 

And we did make it to Dardha... but from there on, our plans of having a rest day fell apart!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

We never know how long we'll be gone!

We ended up hiking 17 kms (10.5 miles) yesterday! Certainly didn't plan on that, and we weren't really prepared, but that's what happened.

There are several easy day trips that can be done from where we are staying in the city of Korca. Yesterday, we chose to drive into the mountains to the town of Voskopoja. It's only about a half an hour drive.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Eye surgery update

Well, it's been about four and a half months since our Christmas Day eye surgery took place.

For any new blog readers, the procedure we both had done is called Intraocular Lens Replacement. It's essentially the same surgery that people have done when they have cataracts, except we didn't have cataracts. We did it simply to get rid of having to wear glasses all the time.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Views above Korca

Saturday was forecast to be a blue skies and sunshine kind of day... exactly what we were looking for to do the walk up to the cross and chapel on top of a nearby hill overlooking Korca.

There is no hiking trail, but the road goes up to a big resort hotel, almost all the way to the cross and chapel so we could have easily driven up. But, we're not normal and needed some exercise. It turned out to be steeper than it looked!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Things are good here in Albania!

A news report out yesterday from the Ministry of Health here in Albania says that the country is now officially out of "the red zone" regarding Covid, and now has the lowest numbers of any of the surrounding countries as well as Europe, at only 26 cases per 100,000 residents. For perspective, the province of Ontario has 250 cases per 100,000 residents.

Yesterday, they did 2,728 tests and 67 residents tested positive. There were 2 deaths.

RV Maintenance

Regular maintenance is an important part of owning an RV if you want to get years of trouble free enjoyment from it. As with any type of machinery, there is a set schedule you should follow that the manufacturer recommends. Trailers are one thing, but with a motorhome you have to look after both the house part of the unit, and the maintenance schedule of the chassis manufacturer.

It's fairly easy with the chassis maintenance because the chassis owners manual has a list of the details required to keep the engine in top running condition, and to meet warranty obligations. But the actual RV maintenance is a little more difficult because there are important things to do on a regular basis that could cause loss of enjoyment if they aren't looked after.

Friday, May 7, 2021

What goes on behind the scenes? And a beautiful day in the city of Korca, Albania!

We spent the morning getting caught up on some internet work. Yes, I'm sure it looks like all we do is have fun and explore every day. And we do try to do that. But there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that is more like work than play! It's the fact that we can do it from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection that makes our lifestyle so enjoyable to us.

We have heard some comment that we are "lucky" to be doing what we're doing, but everything we're doing has been planned, and is the result of a conscious decision on our part.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

4 hours to drive 135 kms (84 miles). But the scenery was worth it...

The guy at the tourist office in Permet had told us that it would take "about 5 hours" to do the drive from Permet to Korca, but we wouldn't mind because we would be too busy enjoying the scenery. And he was right!

But still, it's hard to believe there isn't a more direct route. This part of Albania near the border with Greece is pretty remote. In fact, we were saying that people who live here have to be pretty self sufficient because it's a long drive to any kind of services. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Wonderful day at Langarica Canyon and Benja Thermal Waters

We wanted to get an early start because we had read that the hot springs area can get busy. And, there is a lot of hiking in and around the canyon behind the hot springs, so we knew we would be in for a full day.

Langarica Canyon is located only 12 kms (7 miles) from the town of Permet. And Benja Hot Springs is located at the entrance to the canyon. And both attractions are located within Fir of Hotova-Dangelli National Park, the largest national park in Albania.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Another Kevin and Ruth mystery tour

We set off yesterday morning on a hike. We didn't really have a planned destination, and we just started walking up the mountain in behind the town of Permet. We figured we'd be gone a couple of hours, but as usual it turned into a bit of a mystery tour as we tried to find the Shen Elena Shrine located somewhere up there.

We had no problem making our way up to the almost ghost town like village of Lipa. But from there it became a series of dead ends as we tried to find the shrine.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Our accommodation in Permet, and exploring the town

There weren't a lot of Airbnb choices in Permet. It's only a small city of about 10,000 people. There were a lot of guest houses listed, which normally we wouldn't mind staying in shared facilities, but with the whole Covid situation, our preference is to have a place to ourselves. 

And normally when there are a lot of options, we try to pick a place that has a lot of good reviews. But obviously there's always a bit of risk involved because what some people find acceptable, others do not.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The most beautiful waterfall in Albania

Saturday was moving day as we made our way from Gjirokaster to Permet. Not a long distance, only about 62 kms (38 miles). But there were a few things we wanted to see along the way.

The main thing we wanted to see was the Peshtures Waterfall near the village of Progonat. We had read that it is the most beautiful waterfall in Albania, and the pictures we had seen sure made it look that way.

But, it's not easy to get to.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Taxes done, and then hike to a 16th century monastery

May the 1st today. Wow. We've been in Albania for a month and a half.

I posted our April expenses last night if you missed it, you can see it here...

Well, I've spent an hour or so a day for the last three days getting our Canadian income taxes done and making sure all of the i's were dotted and t's were crossed. Then yesterday morning when I attempted to send everything in, I got an error message. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

April Expenses

In case you missed it, this is the second blog post of the day. You can read the first one here...

Regarding our April Expenses...Yeehaw... it's very rare for us to come in at or under budget. I purposely set our base case budget for the month on the low side so that it gives us a goal to strive towards. In the case of April 2021, our budget was $2,300 CAD ($1,875 USD), and we came in at $2.380 CAD ($1,940 USD). 

Not under budget, but close enough. We'll take it! 

Well that was an adventure!

I'm sure that some people think we have adventures almost every day, but really we are just out seeing what there is to see in the world. However sometimes just going out exploring really does become an adventure... even by our standards.

Yesterday was one of those days! I think we used the phrase "holy crap" a few times!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

A few videos for you today...

There are not many actual hiking trails in this area, but there are a lot of trails made by the goats and sheep! And, there are a lot of 4x4 dirt roads that are not suitable for cars, but are suitable for hiking.

Yesterday, we drove up the paved road that goes near the top of the mountain range in behind us. It's a curvy road with lots of switchbacks and pretty much zero traffic. It gains 1,058 meters (3,500 feet) in 14 kms (8.7miles). 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Annunciation Monastery and Skotini Cave near Vanister, Albania

As beautiful as the view is from our front porch, there's lots to see in this area, so we like to get out every day. Especially with such enjoyable weather. Yesterday got up to about 22C (71F)  and they're calling for 24C (75F) today. Perfect.

We drove about 20 kms (12 miles) to the nearby village of Vanister. Up in the hills behind the village is a16th century monastery with gorgeous views of the valley below. It sounded like a good hike, so we headed there first.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Out for a hike on a beautiful day with gorgeous scenery

We heard back from our host here at the villa, and we are allowed to stay an extra three nights, so now we will be leaving here on Saturday May 1st. We had asked for a second full week, but the Orthodox Easter celebrations are next weekend and they have a family gathering here on Sunday.

So we have booked a spot in Permet for four nights and then will move on to Korce for another full week. Things will start to be warming up in the mountains by then, and we really want to get up to the northern part before our time here is up. So we can't be staying too long in any one place!

Monday, April 26, 2021

A beautiful day to visit Gjirokaster Castle

The car fired right up, so it seems that my battery terminal repair fixed the problem. We tried to get an early start, but it was still almost 10am by the time we got on the road. It's only a 10 kms (6 mile) drive, and we got ourselves parked up at the lower section of Gjirokaster. The city was already pretty busy on a Sunday morning with a lot of people out enjoying the beautiful day, after having had three days without sunshine.

We notice that people in Albania tend to do their business and running around in the morning. Afternoons are quite a bit quieter.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

They say these things come in threes

Yesterday was day three of clouds and drizzle, but we needed to go into the small city of Gjirokastër (pop 20,000) to get some supplies. We also looked up a couple of possible places to have lunch while we were in town.

Ruth went to feed the cats, and she tried to unlock the front door, but it wouldn't unlock. So I went and tried, and sure enough it would not. The key would go in and turn a quarter each way, but it would not budge the lock. To the point where I was afraid of bending the key. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Our Oboz hiking boots, and the local electricity

And no, the two don't have anything to do with each other. They are just a couple of things we wanted to talk about today.

First, the electricity.

Albania suffers from an old electrical infrastructure that is mostly based on hydroelectricity. I read that the amount of electricity available fluctuates depending on rainfall, and they often switch power sources from one plant to another throughout the year, and throughout the country on a regular basis.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Not every day you come across a pile of human bones!

Well, the title might give the impression that we had interesting day. And that assumption would indeed be correct!

Starting yesterday, we're in for some cloud and drizzle lasting until Saturday night. And then the long term forecast for all of next week is supposed to be beautiful. So that's something to look forward to.

In the meantime, we don't let a little bit of rain stop us from getting outside. So we set off to explore the local area by foot, without any kind of a plan.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Sometimes, everything just comes together

What a great day we had. It started off good, and just continued to get better. And it ended up fantastic!

Wednesday was moving day, and we had the car packed up and ready to go by the 11:00am check out time. We weren't driving a long distance, a total of about 65 kms (40 miles), but there were a couple of stops we wanted to make along the way and it was almost all on secondary roads so it's pretty slow going.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Nice day trip up Albania's Riviera Coast

When we drove south from Vlorë to Sarandë  a week ago, we knew there were a lot of things to see along the way. In fact if we were in our motorhome it would probably take us two weeks or more to travel that section of coastline! And we simply didn't have time to stop on see everything on that drive, so we planned a day trip back up that way on Tuesday.

And we still didn't see everything that there is to see, so we'll have to stop back in this area when we do actually return with our motorhome. Besides, we keep finding great boondocking spots that would be worth a return visit.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Another day in Saranda

Well the skies cleared up a bit and I never did end up getting our tax return done. I'm pretty good about procrastinating on that kind of thing. With regards to taxes, I use the old procrastinator's motto, which is "Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow?" I've got another ten tomorrows left until the April 30th deadline in Canada, and it's not really all that complicated so I have lots of time. As with most years, I'll likely leave it until the last minute! Especially since we have to pay. If we were getting a refund, you can bet I would have filed long ago.

We ended up going out after lunch, just to go for a walk and pick up a few things.

Monday, April 19, 2021

The ruins at the ancient city of Butrint

Butrint is the amazing ancient city ruins site that you have probably never heard of. We are the first to admit that we had never heard of it either, until we started researching what we were going to do with our time here in Albania. Butrint is located in southern Albania near the border of Greece, and across from the Greek island of Corfu.

The original settlement of a Greek colony dates back to approximately 800 BC. Then in 44 AD, Julius Caesar himself visited Butrint and by 48 AD had declared Butrint a Roman colonial city.