Countryside as seen from Old Sherborne Castle, Sherborne, Dorset, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Keinton Mandeville, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Pogradec, Albania on October 2nd.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

May Expenses

Well, May was an interesting month from an expenses perspective. We drove a lot of miles, having started the month in southern Romania and ending it at the northern tip of Denmark!

Our planned budget was about $1,700 CAD, and we spent a total of $1,817 CAD ($1,437 USD, €1,338). Not bad, considering we drove about 2,600 kms (1,615 miles) and visited 6 different European countries.

Now very close to our ferry departure to Norway

We had been parked overnight at an area that is very popular with hikers and bikers so it only made sense to go for a bike ride before we left. Ruth had read that there is a 12 km (7.5 mile) bike route around the lake, so I got the bikes off and we went for a ride.

Temperature never got much above 13C (55F), and there was not much sunshine, but there was also no wind to speak of.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Denmark is one of the safest countries in the world

Denmark is one of the safest countries in the world, especially outside of Copenhagen. There is an extremely low crime rate, and the risk of natural disaster is virtually zero. There is hardly any graffiti, which is often an indicator of the level of crime. Interestingly, housing prices are quite low. You can buy a nice liveable house and property for about $100,000. But vehicles and fuel are expensive. Overall, I would suggest that Denmark is simply a nice country. It's unfortunate that they get winter here!

The official language is Danish, however they are taught English at a very young age, and 86% of the people speak English as a second language.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Welcome to Denmark!

Denmark is not a new country for us.

In fact, Denmark was country #7 on our list of visited countries. We were in Copenhagen way back in 1999. We flew here from Canada for a long weekend!

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Well, that was a miserable day!

We had to drive right through the middle of the city of Hamburg, but we waited until almost 10:00am, and really, the traffic wasn't very bad. Certainly better than I expected, so that was good.

There's one direct route north and it's all on the freeway. We normally try and avoid the freeway, but the weather wasn't great and there wasn't anything we wanted to see along the way.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Matching more of my father's photos in Hamburg, Germany

Some of you will remember that my father did two trips to Europe in the 1950's and took quite a lot of slide photos. Ruth has digitized them, and when we are in some of the same areas, we try to stand in the same spot he might have stood in order to match up those 1950's photos and see what it looks like today.

You can see previous examples of our efforts herehere, and here.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Made it to the big city of Hamburg

Lots of driving the last few days. Max's odometer crossed the 14,000 km (8,700 mile) mark yesterday. We picked him up on June 18th of last year. It's hard to believe we have had him for almost a year already! 

That's quite a few miles in the first year, but I think the second year will be much less.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The pretty town of Schöningen , Germany

Although we had no problem finding decent overnight spots during the past seven months, it is refreshing to be back in Germany where it's downright easy. Many towns and villages have dedicated motorhome parking, and many of those have facilities for emptying and refilling holding tanks.

We did a longer drive yesterday... got up at 6:30am and drove non stop for an hour and a half before we stopped for breakfast.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Heading for Hamburg

We crossed from Czechia into Germany yesterday. Welcome home Max! Germany is Max's home country because he has German licence plates. 

We're on a bit of a mission now, so we're doing a fair bit of driving. We want to spend a day or two in the city of Hamburg. Some of you will remember that we sometimes try to match up some of my father's photographs from his European travels in the 1950's, and he spent quite a lot of time in Hamburg, so we have several photos we would like to try to recreate.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Well that was a fun reunion!

Between 2010 and 2017 we used the couchsurfing website a lot to find shared accommodation with local people in the countries we were visiting. We met a lot of wonderful people, many of whom we are still in touch with today. In fact, we stayed with over 50 hosts during those years.

One of those hosts was a young lady in the village of Istebne, Slovakia. Jana was only 20 years old at the time and still living with her parents, but she said she would be happy to show us around the area, and even arranged for us to stay at a nearby student residence that was vacant for the summer.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

We are happy taking the back roads...

We did a fair drive yesterday, again on the backroads. One thing about Czechia is that there are lots of paved backroads that are easily passable by all vehicles. No need at all to get on the freeways if you're not in a rush to get anywhere.

And, the freeways in Czechia are all toll roads. You need to buy what they call a "vignette" in advance. It's essentially an e-pass that registers your vehicle's licence plate. Many European countries have this system in one form or another, but sometimes it's just for heavy trucks, and sometimes it's for all vehicles. You need to check each country in advance to see what the rules are.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Sometimes we meet a vehicle larger than us...

Other than driving, we didn't really do much yesterday. We're staying off the main highways, which makes for some interesting scenery and sometimes interesting driving conditions!

And it's pretty slow going, but we'd rather do this than be on the main highways. I actually timed some of our drive this morning and we drove for a full hour non stop and put on 62 kms (39 miles).

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Las Vegas is one of the most visited and popular destinations for some people. Millions of tourists want to visit this place every year. It has all the key points to make itself a well-visited destination. The nightlife is so excellent and full of options. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

We've never done a cave tour by boat!

We were originally planning on visiting the city of Brno, but it was such a nice day and there are so many hiking and biking opportunities that we decided to visit Vývěry Punkvy National Park instead. 

I had also read there are a lot of caves and sinkholes in the park, but we didn't know until we arrived that there is one popular cave tour that you normally have to book weeks in advance. And they just happened to have two openings for the 2:00pm tour!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

It didn't take long to remember why we love Czechia

Up early and driving right away Wednesday morning. The cloud and rain from Tuesday was a one day anomaly, and we woke up to clear blue skies and sunshine!

The original plan was to head for the city of Brno. But when we pulled over for a breakfast break I was looking at the maps and noticed all of the cycling routes at the large town of Uherské Hradiště located on the Bata Canal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Now this is a castle!

We love visiting castles, and there are a lot of castles in Europe. And they range from castle ruins that are free to visit to spectacular opulent fully furnished castles that are very expensive to visit. You can even overnight in some castles that have been turned into hotels.

Yesterday was a rain day, so we took the opportunity to visit Bojnice Castle, located in the village of Bojnice, Slovakia near the Czechia border.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Welcome to Slovakia, and a traveler mistake!

Once again, Slovakia is not a new country for us. We were here for almost three weeks in August 2012. This will be a much faster visit, although we are in a different part of the country than we were then so we are seeing some new scenery.

There are a couple of things we need to do when we enter a new country. The first is to make sure we have cellular data access, and the second is to make sure we have local cash!

Monday, May 16, 2022

Somebody's idea of modern art? Who knows??

Taking the backroads through eastern Hungary. There's not really a lot to see in this area. It's flat, with mostly farmlands. We were headed to the hills though. I had read about a great hiking area near Hungary's Bükki National Park which is closer to the Slovakia border.

Another gorgeous day though... we've been really enjoying the weather lately.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Welcome to Hungary

Hungary is not a new country for us. We were in Budapest for a few days in September of 2012. But at that time, we were only in Budapest and didn't really see much of the countryside. Unfortunately we're not spending much time in Hungary this trip either... just two nights as we cut across into Slovakia.

We got up early Saturday morning so that we could go for another wander around the town of Oradea, Romania. 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Back on the road

We have to drive almost 2,000 kms (1,240 miles) to get to the top of Denmark for our ferry crossing to Norway June 1st. And we have 18 days to do it in, so that's an average of 110 kms (68 miles) per day.

Easily doable, but of course we want some rest days in there as well. And we try to keep our driving days under 200 kms (124 miles). We're trying to avoid the motorways and toll highways as much as possible.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Yet another adventure!

When Ruth and I were married 38 years ago yesterday, I promised her that our life together would never be boring. So in keeping with that promise, we did an adventurous canyon hike on our anniversary!

Our friend Gabi had told us about Ramet Gorge (Cheile Râmețului), a fairly short but tough hike through a canyon where you are aided by chains and steel rods to get through some of the more difficult sections. Sounds like an adventure to us!

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Vietnamese breakfast in Romania

We are heading out today. We were actually planning on tomorrow, but Gabi told us about a canyon we need to visit that it sort of along our route and he was going to take us, but something else came up. So we will head out today in Max, see the canyon, and perhaps spend the night up there before heading up to the Hungary border tomorrow.

We've had a great time here though! I wanted to tell you more about Gabi and Ha. Gabi is an avid budget traveler like ourselves, so we have a lot in common in that regard. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A civilized way to buy wine!

They were calling for an afternoon storm, so we had a good breakfast and then headed out for a late morning hike. Gabi drove us up to a trailhead about 30 kms (18 miles) from Alba Iulia.

Only a short hike of about 4.5 kms (2.8 miles), but it was still some decent hills and another nice day.

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Air tours are inarguably the most stylish way of travelling across the Australian Outback. As technology advanced, speed, convenience, and comfort features became more accessible to discerning travellers.

Travelling in a private jet adds another layer of pleasure exclusive only to a select few. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Stuck in the mud!

We got up early and drove Max down from his beautiful spot and parked lower down so that we had a better cell signal. 

We're sitting there having our morning tea and hot chocolate when I hear some bells. You know, the type that sheep wear. Sure enough, I see a couple of sheep out the side window. Then I see more, and more... and before you know it Max was completely surrounded by sheep!

Monday, May 9, 2022

One of the most beautiful places in Romania

Our friend Gabi had told us about a place here in Romania that is very beautiful, but a bit of a hike to get to. It's called Fundătura Ponorului. 

From where we were parked, we mapped out a route that said it should be around 14 kms (8.7 miles). There are a lot of different trails in the area though, and it's difficult to know exactly which one to take. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

We haven't seen another motorhome or campervan in probably two weeks.

We said goodbye to Valentina and her mother and headed out at around 10:30am. Made a quick grocery stop in town, and then on to Gradistea Muncelului - Cioclovina Natural Park. It was only about 60 kms, but it took over an hour.

I had read about a great overnight spot that had room for only one vehicle, so we had our fingers crossed that there was nobody already there. 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Why do they make it so complicated...

One of the many reasons we want to get resident status in Europe is so that we aren't having to play "the Schengen shuffle". The Schengen visa area in Europe encompasses most European Union (EU) countries as well as some non EU countries. It means that we can only spend 90 days out of any rolling 180 day period in those Schengen countries.

So it takes some advance planning.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Well that turned into an adventure!

I think I've used that title before. We always seem to get into some kind of unplanned adventurous situation! 

This time, we went on a bike ride to a couple of waterfalls, and then parked the bikes and hiked in the rest of the way. It turned into quite the hike!

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Out for lunch and a nice hike

They kept saying it was going to rain, and it looked like it was going to rain, but we got lucky and it never did. 

We took Valentina out for lunch and even sat outside on the patio. Afterwards, we went for a hike in the hills in behind Valentina's house. Some great photos!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Such a beautiful area

Valentina's place is located on the border of Retezat National Park and it's such a beautiful area. We could live here... except that they get winter! Lots of snow, and she said they were down to -25C (-13F) a couple of times this past winter. She goes to Egypt or Israel quite often to escape the cold!

Anyhow, yesterday morning she drove us in her car up into the park to have a look around.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Into the Carpathian mountains

We had a beautiful drive yesterday into the mountains. Our route took us through Defileul Jiului National Park and we stopped at the Lainici Monastery which is located inside the park. 

From there, we did a big grocery shop and had lunch in the town of Lupeni, and then drove to our friend Valentina's house where we are going to stay for a couple of days.

Monday, May 2, 2022

The interesting town of Targu Jiu, Romania

Sunday morning we drove to the town of Targu Jiu (pop 82,000). More of a city I guess, considering the population. But it has a large town feel to it.

Not much to see along the way. Southern Romania between Bucharest and the Serbia border is largely farmland. But Targu Jiu is located at the foot of the sub Carpathian mountain range so our scenery will be improving over the next few days as we are headed into the mountains next.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Big Roma houses

Saturday morning we puttered around and got Max ready to go. Did all the various chores like emptying and filling tanks, and cleaned the front windshield one more time. Max probably hadn't been this clean since the day we picked him up!

But that didn't last long.