We left home soon after lunch on Saturday 24 July and had a good journey down to Dover via M6, M6 toll, M40, M25 anti-clockwise and M20. We arrived at Dover Services at approximately 20.00 hrs and overnighted in the coach park there as we’d forgotten to book a site as we had intended.
On Sunday 25 July we moved to Little Satmar Caravan Park near Folkestone so that we had somewhere to park up the van during the day. We have used this park before and they have a large grassed pitching area large enough for several vans and where it is possible to stay hitched-up. We used this area and after I had popped out to Tesco Folkestone to fill up with diesel we hitched-up ready for a quick exit.
We left the park in time to catch the 18.00hrs Norfolk Line ferry we’d booked. After a pleasant and uneventful crossing we disembarked at Dunkerque around 20.30 hrs. We had chosen this ferry crossing time with the specific intention of over-nighting in the Norfolk Line car park adjacent to the ferry terminal. This gave us an early start on the morning of Monday 26 July.
Our route was on toll-free autoroutes. We left Dunkerque on the A25/E42 south east towards Lille. Bypassing Lille we took the A27/E42 towards Tournai. We then took the A16/E42, A7/E19/E42 towards Charleroi and then the A15/E42 towards Namur. After bypassing Namur we turned onto the A4/E11 and followed the signs for Luxembourg. After bypassing Luxembourg we turned south on the A3/E25/E29. We stopped to buy diesel at Berchem Services which are said to have the cheapest fuel in Europe. We then turned east onto the A13/E29 before joining the A8/E29. Entering Germany we continued on the A8 towards Zwiebrucken. Near Pirmasens we turned onto the B10 and continued eastwards. At Hinterweidenthal we turned south onto the B427 to Dahn
Our first night halt was Camping Buettelwoog, which is listed in the CC “Caravan Europe” guide.
The more minor B427 to Dahn was fine for towing, although we missed the side turning, on the right in the centre of Dahn – it was a bit narrow looking and we were not sure if it was the correct one. We were able to turn around at a roundabout a little further on and access was okay coming from the other way, not least because the turning was then on our offside.
The site is situated in a wooded valley on the outskirts of the small town of Dahn. It is near to the Youth Hostel (Jugendherberge) which is clearly signposted in the town centre. We arrived at the site in the early evening of Monday 26 July. We had travelled approximately 340 miles from Dunkerque. A high day’s mileage for us but it was almost entirely on motorways.
It had rained most of the day and was raining torrentially when we arrived at Camping Buetellwoog, our first night halt. In fact the rain was heavy that we were asked to wait at reception for the rain to subside a little before one of the staff members showed us to a pitch.
English was spoken and we were given a friendly welcome. We were escorted to a large pitch on which we were able to stay hitched-up. There is a small shop selling basics in the reception building and the shops of Dahn are in walking distance. The guide book says that the restaurant is good but we did not use it. The toilet facilities are in a large, functional block. There are said to be some pleasant walks nearby but it was bucketing-it-down with rain on the night we stayed and so we stayed in the van. We paid 22.90€ for our one night stay including pitch, 2 adults, one dog and electric hook up. In fact we were given a slight discount as we had forgotten to get any more Euros and that was all the foreign currency that we had left. The site did not accept credit cards.
All in all, Camping Buettelwoog was an excellent night halt near to autobahn system and convenient for those travelling into Southern Germany, Austria and beyond. We would have been happy to stay longer if the weather had not been so awful.
We left early the next morning and, rather than retrace our route back to the more major B10, we carried on along the B427 and joined the A65 autobahn near Kandel, northwest of Karlsruhe. The B427 was a picturesque rural road through open countryside and fine for towing. After passing through the southern outskirts of Karlsruhe on the B10 we joined the A8/E52 and continued in a south westerly direction on that road bypassing Stuttgart and Munich.
We continued to make good progress through Germany and arrived at Camping Panorama Harras on the beautiful Chiemsee on the evening of Tuesday 27 July. We had not booked but just phoned ahead on the day of our arrival. This leg of our journey was approximately 280 miles.
The campsite is quite close to the A8/E52 autobahn between Munich and Salzburg. Access is from Junction 106, turn north towards Prien and the site is signed on the right after a few miles. The site is reached by a narrow, single track lane and care needs to be taken as there are no passing places.
The site is beautifully situated on the shores of the Chiemsee with views across the Lake to the mountains beyond. The site roads lead to 80 numbered pitches on gravel hard standing under pine trees. There are now hedges between the pitches. Most of the pitches had EHUs. Some of the pitches are on the lake shore but these were already occupied when we arrived. Despite its beautiful location the site itself had a rather a slightly run down appearance.
The site has a small restaurant bar adjacent to the reception building but we did not use it. Wi-fi is available throughout the campsite at 5€ for 24 hours. This worked on a rather unusual system whereby they asked for the MAC address of my laptop. I did not know what a MAC address was but a lady member of staff showed me how to find this. The site is close to the small town of Prien which has a good range of shops, banks, etc.
The site is also well placed for touring the Chiemsee and the local Bavarian region. Berchtesgaden with the beautiful Konigsee and Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” are within easy driving distance. Salzburg is another pleasant day’s outing just over the nearby Austrian border.
The reception staff spoke good English but I must comment that the manageress was extremely rude on a couple of occasions. When I did not know how to find the MAC address for my laptop. She assisted me but spoke to me as though as I was a child. On the other hand a male member of staff was very helpful when we had a minor problem with the caravan. There was a temporary problem with our motor mover but the male staff member and other campers were quick to help us push the van into position.
We stayed for 2 nights as Cary loved the lakeside location. We had a minor hiccup with the caravan brakes and Red Pennant sent out an ADAC breakdown truck to assist us. The breakdown man did not speak any English but the male member of staff translated for us. The ADAC man suggested that we took the van to a local car garage and led the way in his van.
The garage could not find any problems with the van brakes and after a helpful 3-way phone discussion between myself, the garage staff and Red Pennant/CC technical department we were reassured that it was just a transitory problem. I did, however have to intervene when the garage mechanic was about to jack up the van with a trolley jack under the floor rather than under the axle!
The night before we left Camping Panorama I went out to withdraw some more Euros from an ATM in the nearby town. When I came to return, in the dark, I found that both dip beams had blown on the car. I had spares and tried to change them but found that this was far from easy and involved removing the headlight units completely to gain access. My took kit was not up to this task so we again contacted Red Pennant who again referred us to ADAC where a helpful English speaking operative directed us to a nearby Kia Dealer. Although only in a nearby town it took us a little while to find the Kia dealer’s rather remote location but he quickly rectified the problem.
We paid 72.90€ for 2 nights stay for car and caravan, ehu, 2 adults and dog. The site is featured in the Caravan Club’s Caravan Europe Vol 2 and Alan Rogers Camping and Caravanning Europe 2009. The site is a handy night halt for those travelling on the A8 into Austria. To sum up although the site has a lovely lakeside location I do have some reservations about this site. When travelling that way again I think we will probably try one of the several other campsites on the shores of the Chiemsee.
The journey continues – departing Camping Panorama, we head through Germany and into Austria, via Salzburg and heading ever on toward Slovenia, and our destination at Camping Bled.
The delay with repairing the headlight bulbs meant that we did not leave Camping Panorama until just before noon on the morning of Thursday 29 July. We then drove on along the A8/E52 autobahn through Germany and into Austria. After buying an Austrian autobahn vignette at the border post we drove southwards through the length of Austria. Near Salzburg we turned onto the A10/E55.
I was glad that I had had the headlamp bulbs changed as the torrential rain enroute was the worst I had ever towed in. Visibility, even with the head and fog lights, was so poor I was grateful for the added visibility that the large cream box we were towing gave us! Near Villach we joined the A11/E61 toward Slovenia. After stopping at a service area to buy a Slovenian motorway vignette we entered Slovenia via the Karawanken Tunnel.
I’m not a lover of long tunnels but at 8 miles it was at least a little shorter than the St Gotthard Tunnel which we have used when visiting Italy. At least it wasn’t raining in the tunnel and it got us through the Julijski Alps with ease. After the tunnel the road became the A2/E61 and a after a few miles we turned off onto the 209, on the western outskirts of Radovljica.We arrived at our stop Camping Bled in the late afternoon of Thursday 29 July still in torrential rain. We had driven 176 miles that day.
We had not booked but phoned ahead during the afternoon and been assured that they would have room for our van. We were using our Tom-Tom to help us locate the site and this directed us around Lake Bled in an anti-clockwise direction. We were very concerned when our Tom-Tom tried to send us off the main road and under a worrying low railway bridge.
We phoned Camp Bled but were assured that the arch was high enough. Fortunately we, also, had Archie’s European Campsite POIs loaded on the Tom-Tom too and that directed us to continue on the main road. We followed Archie’s advice but were still having trouble finding the site and so pulled over in a convenient lay-by. Whilst I got out to stretch my legs Cary again phoned Camp Bled on her mobile. I, however, had by then noticed from a nearby sign that we were actually stopped in a lay-by at the campsite entrance!
The site was very busy and nearly full when we arrived. We booked in requesting a pitch with an EHU and a suitable size for our van. We were given a map with a place marked and key to the EHU box and told to return if that pitch was not a suitable size. The receptionists spoke perfect English.
Our smallish pitch turned out to be on grass near the end of a row and sloped both ways. Access was very difficult but we managed with the assistance of the motor mover. It was hard to get the van level and I had to break low level branches off a tree on the pitch to enable the van to fit. As it was still raining we both got absolutely soaked setting up.
The last straw was when I discovered that there was no spare electrical point for our pitch, despite having paid for it! When I came to plug into the EHU there were no empty sockets and a number of the sockets had domestic type extension blocks plugged into them with several outfits plugged into those. These extension blocks were lying on the wet grass under the box. When I queried this, on my mobile, with reception they said that they did not correlate between the numbers of people booking EHU and the number of EHUs available.
Unable to get anywhere on the phone I returned to reception for a face-to-face conversation. The staff did not seem to understand my safety concerns and apparently just dish out these socket extension blocks as necessary. The receptionist offered me the options of another domestic extension block or to move to another pitch. I got pretty annoyed as, by this point, I was very tired and very wet, and asked to speak to the manager. No manager was available but the receptionist phoned one and he said we could stay on the pitch for free without electricity and they would sort out things the next day. By then I was totally cheesed-off so I agreed, very reluctantly, to plug my continental EHU adaptor into a Continental domestic socket block which was left out, in the pouring rain, under the EHU box and was still given the free night. Basically there were not enough EHU points for the size of the campsite.
The next day, Friday 30, the weather was a little brighter but still cloudy. Better weather, however, was promised for the following day. We spent an interesting afternoon food shopping at Hofer (Aldi) and Spar supermarkets. It took ages to find the Hofer which is on an industrial estate in the town of Lesce about 3 miles from Bled and close to the motorway. We then had great fun deciphering the Slovenian labels. I had forgotten to buy a Slovenian phrase book so I hope we didn’t buy any horse mince or whatever less palatable delicacies Slovenia offers.
Camping Lake Bled is set in a pleasant valley at the southern end of Lake Bled. The valley sides are high wooded cliffs. The site’s main access roads are tarred and of a good width. There are no views of the lake from any of the site’s pitches. The pitches are generally flat and of reasonable size. There are some trees which provide shade on some pitches. The several toilet blocks are of modern design and kept very clean. The only taps for drinking water are at the toilet block washing-up areas and not all of these are suitable for filling aquarolls, etc. At least one of the toilet blocks had an upstairs launderette with coin-operated washing machines and tumble driers.
Most of the site’s amenities are near the entrance, adjacent to the the campsite entrance, with views over the lake. There is a cafe and ice cream parlour. Further back there is a large restaurant/bar with a large outdoor terrace. We did not eat at the restaurant but the menu, which included an English version, was comprehensive and seemed reasonably priced. There were live music groups accordion and guitar in the restaurant most evenings. Near to restaurant there is small supermarket belonging to the campsite. There, is, also a children’s playground in this area and an enclosure with rabbits, pigs and other petting animals.
The reception area includes a display of brochures for local attractions. There are, also, computers for use by campers. The campsite offers a number of outdoor activities, eg, white-water rafting at extra cost. Free wi-fi is included in the pitch price but we found it to be slow and unreliable on our pitch which was quite near to reception.
By the Friday the evening weather had brightened so we walked to the nearby public promenade along the edge of Lake Bled. The views of the lake, island, castle and snow-capped mountains beyond were stunning. We watched the darkness fall over the castle and island church which was quite magical.
We finished off the evening listening to the church bells before walking back to the van. Enroute we got a free concert by sitting at an outside table in the closed, campsite cafe and listening to a guitar and accordion folk duet who were performing in the adjacent restaurant – cheapskates, eh, but very pleasant nonetheless.
Opposite the campsite entrance, across a minor road, there is a large public grassed area stretching down to the lake which was popular with sunbathers and swimmers. There are mature trees shading this area. There are superb views along the length of the lake and including the island church and castle.
At the lake edge there are platnas, traditional covered wooden boats rowed by a rear oar, which take passengers to the island. The fare is €12 return and includes 30 minutes on the island to visit the church and museum. There are also self-row boats for hire.
On the Saturday 31 we took a platna to the island and enjoyed looking around and ringing the wishing bell in the church. Amazingly whilst visiting the island I met another supply teacher and her family, who I know from Liverpool. The island is quite small and 30 minutes gave plenty of time to explore and take photos of the lovely views. On returning from the island we spent the afternoon sunbathing on the lakeside grassed area outside the Camp gates.
On Sunday 1 August we did a complete walking circuit of the lake – this was mainly on pathways with only a few sections on road footpaths. People were also using these pathways as a cycle track. On the way we passed Bled’s swimming pool which is actually a sectioned-off area of the lake but with a variety of pool, slides, etc.
On our circuit we took the opportunity to visit the town of Bled. Bled itself is quite an ugly town of concrete buildings from the Communist era. There is a range of shops, hotels and restaurants including a supermarket but finding a parking space is VERY difficult.
We spent Tuesday 2 August visiting the Bohinj Valley which we reached by car. This contains the beautiful Lake Bohinj which is very natural in its appearance as building on the lakeside has been prohibited. We picnicked and paddled on the lakeside and took the return trip on the, imaginatively named, tourist boat along the length of the lake. It was a pleasant trip with a live commentary from a very friendly crew member who spoke excellent English. We also took the Mount Vogel cable car which gave superb views over the lake and valley, although the summit itself was a bit desolate and scruffy with unused skiing facilities.
The departure point for the tourist boat was located within Autocamp Zlatorog, a campsite located on the shores of Lake Bohinj. Whilst walking through the campsite to the boat landing stage we took the opportunity for a quick look around the campsite. The campsite’s location was stunning and the toilet block was clean and modern. However when we visited in early August it was packed to bursting with caravans and camping units of all types. The caravans on the lakeside pitches were parked lengthways and were almost touching. Washing lines were hung from the trees and the whole site had a rather untidy and disorganised appearance. The campsite might be okay out of the peak season.
We stayed at Camp Bled for a total of 5 nights. The weather was rather mixed for our stay with several rainy days. For the caravan, 2 adults, dog and EHU we paid €152.88 for 5 nights.
If returning to the area we would, also, consider staying at Camping Sobec which is just outside the town of Bled on the road to Lesce. The “Alan Rogers” guidebook says it has views over another lake and river access. We passed the entrance but did not visit.
We leave Camp Bled and Slovenia, and head to Croatia, initially to Camping Adriatic, but after checking this site we decide to move on to our second choice, Camp Galeb on the outskirts of the coastal town of Omis, 20 miles south of Split.
On Wednesday 4 August we left Lake Bled and drove south east on A2/E21 towards Ljubljana and then took the A1 south west before turning south onto Route 6. Route 6 was a single lane highway and although of reasonable quality made for much slower driving than the previous motorways.
We crossed the border into Croatia at Rupa in the early afternoon. At the Croatian frontier post we had the novel experience of having our passports checked for the first time since leaving the UK. As it was, also, a non-EU country we, also, had our passports stamped for the first time. Interestingly they did not check Max the collie’s pet passport.
Soon after crossing the frontier we joined the A6/E65 part of Croatia’s very new toll motorway system. After running near to the coast for a few miles the motorway swung away from the coast and we drove along it westward. We then turned south onto the A1. This good quality motorway is set back from the coast behind a range of mountains and the surrounding countryside was rather dry and arid in appearance. The traffic flow on the motorway was very light.
we had initially planned to stay at Camping Adriatic at Sibenik, north of Split. With this is mind we left the motorway and took a minor road which joined the E65 coast road just north of Sibenik. We had phoned ahead and parked outside the campsite to check it out. We had been assured that there were several large pitches available when we had phoned whilst travelling but on investigation could not find any! In addition we found the site rather dry and dusty and though on the coast it had no obvious beach access to the sea.
Unhappy with Camping Adriatic, although it was by then late afternoon, we decided to push on to our second choice, Camp Galeb in Omis, approximately 20 miles south of Split. To reach Omis we continued to drive the last 30 miles on the coast road. The coast was rather twisty and congested as it passes through a succession of coastal towns but had views-to-die-for over the coast and adjacent islands. We, also, drove through the outskirts of Split but found this area rather ugly and utilitarian with lots of tall blocks of flats.
Camp Galeb is on the northern outskirts of the coastal town of Omis which is about 15 miles south of Split. Camp Galeb is very pleasant as it is right on the beach. We had not pre-booked and just phoned ahead on the evening of our arrival. We arrived at dusk the first night and ended up, still hitched, in the large area of unmarked pitches. The next morning we found a pitch 2 rows back from the beach and after a few days moved again to a pitch one row back from the beach which had lovely views across the sea to the island opposite.
Camp Galeb is split up into 3 main areas. There is an unmarked area for free camping which is the cheapest. In addition there are 2 other areas with different price bands depending on their nearness to the beach. There is also a large area of static vans. Most of the pitches have water and electricity and the most expensive ones grey water drainage too. The pitches varied in size but a number of them were large. Many were shaded by mature trees. Access to some of the pitches was made a little difficult by trees and awkwardly positioned lamp standards, the pitches were accessed by a network of surfaced roads.
The large, modern, reception area is very pleasantly air-conditioned and most of the staff there spoke fluent English. Reception offered a number of coach and boat day trips. There is, also, a computer area with internet access but prices were high, especially for short periods.
There are several toilet blocks but we cannot comment on these as we used our own facilities. There is a coin-operated laundry with washing machines and tumble driers although, rather unusually, one had to be admitted by a member of the reception staff.
Camp Galeb has a number of small shops near to reception selling bread, fruit and beach goods. There is a block of locker-type fridges which could be hired. Near the beach there is an area of trampolines for children for an additional cost. A surfing centre offering surfboards, windsurfers, etc for hire and, also, lessons, is situated next to the beach.
Close to the beach there is a good onsite restaurant with both indoor and outdoor dining areas. The restaurant is very reasonably priced – a 2 course steak birthday evening meal, with drinks, cost less than £50 for 4 of us.
It was very hot during our stay, 32+C, and we spent our time swimming and lazing about reading. The campsite has an unusually large beach, which is quite a rarity in Croatia. The beach has a very gradual slope into the sea and so is very safe for children. In addition the sea off the main beach is delineated by a rope with floats. We, also, used our Zodiac inflatable boat on the sea adjacent to the campsite although there are quite strong currents further out. There is an area of sea adjacent to the campsite where boats can be anchored free of charge.
Wi-fi internet coverage is available but pricey at 250 Kuna (£28.26) for a week. Shorter periods were available but cost even more. The coverage was very good and reached our caravan which was about as far from the reception building as one could get.
The town of Omis is an easy walk from the camp site. It is a small, picturesque port at the mouth of the River Cetina which emerges through a dramatic limestone canyon. It has a range of touristy shops, restaurants and ice cream parlours along the main coast road, which runs through the centre of the town, and in the warren of adjacent traffic-free streets. There are 2 ruined castles on the cliffs above the town but we found it too hot to bother climbing to them! The main coast road was frequently very congested in both directions as it passed through the town and this meant that we did not use our car a great deal.
Just outside the campsite gates and on the minor road leading to the campsite, there is a small modern shopping centre which included a largish supermarket. It’s position and large free car park meant that we could go food shopping by car without having to go onto the congested coast road. The range of food was rather more limited than would be found in France and other continental countries but was adequate.
Fruit and vegetables in particular were limited to locally grown produce with very little variety. The supermarket had an in-store bakery, butchery and fish department. There was a wide range of beers and other alcoholic drinks but interestingly no cider – my favourite tipple. Although many of the supermarket staff spoke fluent English the Croatian language food labelling was not always easy to understand. Food prices were the cheapest we found on the Continent.
At the end of the town furthest from the campsite, there is a pleasant quayside and small harbour. There are numerous large tour boats offering day trips to the adjacent islands with various packages, some including free food and drinks. When walking on the quayside we were frequently stopped by boat reps pushingly selling trip tickets – they spoke several European languages, including English, fluently. There is, also a large grassy park which stretches out from the town centre along the beach.
Our eldest son and his girlfriend arrived at Galeb on my Birthday – 13 August and tent camped nearby for a few days. We had thought of visiting Dubrovnik and one or more of the Croatian islands, but I’m afraid in the high temperatures of 32+ we spent most of time swimming and lazing about. We did drive into Split one day with a view to looking the Roman centre and looking into taking a ferry to one of islands but it was very congested and we gave up when we could find nowhere to park.
We took a day’s drive into the mountainous region east of Omis. We began by driving along the Cetina Gorge from Omis. The Cetina River is used by a number of local companies who offer white-water rafting trips and kayaking along the gorge – these can be booked in Omis. There is, also, a tourist train, towed by a tractor, which runs along the gorge from Omis to the riverside restaurant of Radvanove Mlinice. There are, also, river trips along the Cetina from Omis to the same restaurant.
After passing the restaurant the road, which is quite narrow in places, turned inland away from the river and climbed, by a series of hairpin bends, to a dry mountain plateau. There are excellent views back down the gorge. We passed through the village of Zadvarje where there was an extensive market along both sides of the road but as we could not find anywhere to park we were not able to stop.
We continued to drive into the mountains until we reached the provincial town of Imotski a near the border with Bosnia Herzegovina. There was a Lidl supermarket on the outskirts of the town. Although the goods were obviously not labelled in English, we were able to identify and buy a number of grocery items because the product packaging was similar to that found in English Lidls. Near to Imotski there are 2 lakes. The Modro Jezero (Blue Lake) is at the foot of deep, steep-sided basin formed by the collapse of an underground cavern and is situated alongside a main road a few minutes’ drive to the west of the town centre. The water’s edge can be reached by a steep path but we did not take this as it was by then midday and very hot. We drove a little further along the same road to the Creveno Jezero (Red Lake). The lake, which is in a pit, said to be 300 metres wide and 500 metres deep, apparently gets its name from red-coloured cliffs which surround it. We returned to Omis via Makarska and the coast road. This gave stupendous views over beautiful and unspoilt coastline and out to the adjacent islands.
We stayed at Camp Galeb for a total of 16 nights. Our stay cost roughly 300 Kuna per night which was approximately £34 at current exchange rates. That was for the best pitch category.
This section of the journey sees us heading homeward. After leaving Camp Galeb, we drove overnight to the outskirts of Zagreb, and then crossed the border into Slovenia near Macel, heading toward Maribor, where we crossed over into Austria.
On the morning of Friday 20 August we left Camp Galeb and took the E71 east before turning northwards on the A1 motorway heading homeward. Near Karlovac we took the A1/E65 towards Zagreb. We overnighted in a motorway services on the outskirts of Zagreb. On Saturday 21 August we made an early start and took the A2 /E59 motorway towards Maribor.
We crossed the border into Slovenia near Macel, our original one month’s Slovenian motorway vignette was still valid. From the Slovenian border to Maribor our route was on was on the non-Motorway Routes 9 and 1. Near Maribor we crossed the border into Austria and took the A1/E59 motorway towards Graz.
On our way down Cary bought a 10 day Austrian vignette at the Germany/Austria border, as I was driving at the time. I had bought a Slovenian one for a month at the services just before the Karawanken Tunnel. I think I was planning to buy another Austrian one on the way home and thus avoid paying for a longer vignette than we needed. I think that the fact that on the way home the Slovenian one was still valid confused us at this point. I was driving and asked Cary to check whether the Austrian one was still valid when we stopped near the Slovenia/Austria border – it was 4 weeks later. She misread the visa and thought it was still okay. We carried in blissful ignorance until we were stopped by an autobahn official as we left the toll booths at one of the tunnels. He pulled us over and checked our car documents and licences very thoroughly. He then asked if we had a valid vignette. I cheerfully replied that it was on the windscreen. That was when he hit us with the bombshell that that vignette had expired. He then relieved us a 100 Euro fine.Things were rather quiet in the car for the next few kilometres!
We were only in Austria for one day and the vignette would have cost us under 10 Euros. I’ve heard since that the Austrian autobahn authorities are very hot on checking vignettes both with cameras and patrols. As well as the toll vignette there are additional tolls for some of the motorway tunnels. The Austrian fine did at least serve as a vignette for the rest of our motorway journey through Austria.
We continued on the A1/E57/E59 motorway towards Graz. Near Graz we joined the A9/E57 and drove northwest towards Wels. Near Wels we joined the A8/E56 in the direction of Regensburg We crossed the border into Germany near Passau and joined the A3/E56 towards Regensburg.
On the evening of Saturday 21 August soon after bypassing Regensburg we left the A3 autobahn at Junction 97 and followed our Tom-Tom directions to our planned night-halt Internationaler Campingplatz Naabtal near Pielenhofen.
The Alan Rogers POI was again a slightly inaccurate route but we, fortunately, could see the site on the other side of the river as we approached and we able to follow our eyes instead! Our journey from Zagreb to Camping Naabtal was 358 miles in length.
Camping Naabtal is featured in Alan Rogers Camping and Caravan Europe and the Caravan Club’s Caravan Europe Vol 2. English is spoken at reception but not by all the staff. We had not booked but phoned ahead on the day of our arrival. We received a friendly welcome and when we had asked about a riverside pitch we were sent to choose one for ourselves from the several available.
The site is situated on the banks of a small river and we were able to secure one of the lovely pitches right on the banks of the river. The river is used by canoeists and is accessible for boating and swimming directly from the site. It was a lovely, peaceful rural idyll and made an excellent rest stop on our homeward journey. The site would make an excellent base for visiting the historic city of Regensburg. There are, also, said to be a good range of marked cycle and walking routes in the locality.
The site has a small shop which stocks only the barest of essentials. There is, also, a pleasant-looking outdoor restaurant near to the reception although we did not dine there. There was live traditional music, an accordion band, in the restaurant during the evening.
There is a children’s playground and tennis courts. Bike hire is also available. The site has 340 pitches the majority of which are occupied by seasonal units. There are 130 places reserved for tourers mainly near to the river bank. There is a large, clean toilet block which includes a laundry. This block is centrally situated and raised to avoid flooding.
We had a lovely pitch right on the riverbank and spent 2 pleasant days chilling out. We very much enjoyed our stay at this lovely site and recommend it very highly. We would be very glad to stay there if passing that way again.
We paid 42.60€ for our 2 night stay for 2 adults, car, caravan and dog. This included an EHU which was metered.
On Monday 23 August we left Internationaler Campingplatz Naabtal and continued our homeward journey. We rejoined the A3/E56 autobahn and drove northwest towards Nurnberg. Bypassing Nurnberg we continued west on the A6/E50 towards Heilbronn and then on towards Mannheim and Ludwigshafen. We bypassed Ludwigshafen on the A61/E31 before rejoining the A6/E50. Near Neunkirchen we turned onto the A8 and then turned northwest on the A8/E29 near Saarlouis. At the intersection with the A3/E25 we turned northwards on that autoroute.
We again stopped at Berchem Services to purchase the low-priced diesel before continuing onto A6/E25 to pass to the south of the city of Luxembourg. We then turned west on the A4/E25/E411. We left the autoroute at Junction 30 and took the N87 southwards to Etalle. At Etalle we turned west onto the N83 and drove to Tintigny.
On the evening of Monday 23 August we arrived at our night-halt of Camping Chenefleur in the village of Tintigny near Florenville to the north west of Luxembourg. We had travelled a further 361 miles.
This site is actually in Belgium and we had previously stopped at Camping Chenefleur twice. The first time was in late August 2006 when our tow-car suffered a major breakdown on the motorway nearby. We chose Camping Chenefleur from the Alan Roger’s Europe guide and our van was towed there behind the breakdown truck arranged by Britannia Rescue our breakdown insurance company.
In 2006 the Dutch owner Fred could not have been more helpful. He met us at the gate with his small tractor and towed our van to reception where he gave us a map so that we could choose a pitch. When we had chosen a pitch he towed our van to it and assisted us in positioning it in the way we wanted. Fred and his staff could not have been more helpful. Fred several times spoke to the garage concerning our car, as his French was much better than ours. When we got our car back it broke-down again only 10 miles up the road after we had, started homeward. We were towed back to the campsite. Fred again met us at the campsite entrance even though it was after 22.00hrs and again towed us back to our pitch. We had to leave our van to be repatriated and travel home by hire car. Fred stored our van safely until the Breakdown Company could pick it up.
This pleasant site is open grassland broken up by mature trees which give good shade. There is a small river bordering one side of the site and we pitched next to this. There are several toilet blocks and a laundrette. Near reception there is a small bar which served food and, also, has a pay as you go internet link. There is, also, a small shop which sold basics and one can order bread on a daily basis. There is a small outdoor pool too. Activities are provided for the children and there are adventure type activities organised off-site by a specialist group. There is, also, mountain bike hire and outdoor table tennis. Most of the clientele are Dutch and this is the main language spoken but Fred and all of his staff, also, speak excellent English.
The site is located in the very small village of Tintigny which has few services apart a small self-service shop. There are larger supermarkets in adjoining towns and it is within easy reach of the city of Luxembourg. The site is ideal as a stopover from the nearby motorway and we would highly recommend it those who, like us, like simple rural sites.
The route homeward bound takes us from Camping Chenefleur to Camping Chateau Gandspette in Eperleques for our last holiday stop, and then on to the Norfolk Line ferry terminal at Dunkerque where we caught the ferry to Dover. A final stopover at Wyatt’s Covert Caravan Club site, before our final 200 mile trek back to home in St. Helen’s.
Late in the morning of Tuesday 24 August we left Camping Chenefleur and drove northwards on the N897 to rejoin the A4/E26/E411 autoroute at Junction 29. Near Namur, we turned westward onto the A15/E42. North of Mons we took the A7/E19 and then the A2/E19 and then turned onto the A26/E15. We left the A26 at Junction 3 and joined the D942 before turning onto the D943 northwest of St Omer and then took the D300 northwards. At the roundabout on the edge of Watten we turned west onto the D207.
In the early evening of Tuesday 24 August, we arrived at our final Continental Campsite – Camping Chateau du Gandspette. Camping Chateau Gandspette is situated in Eperleques on the right hand side of the D207 about 1 mile from the roundabout. We had driven 227 miles from Camping Chenefleur. Chateau Gandspette is a popular site with British campers and caravanners because of its nearness to the ferry ports of Dunkerque and Calais and the Eurotunnel terminal. It also has the added advantage of being only a few hundred yards from a local vet who can carry out the Pet Passport checks for those with animals. We have stayed there on several occasions but at 27€ per night for the 2 of us, van, car and EHU I feel this site is overpriced and takes advantage of its convenient location.
Chateau Gandspette is a pleasant site located in the grounds of a small chateau. The site has tennis courts and 2 outdoor swimming pools. There is a popular restaurant in the converted stable block although we have never eaten there. The owners and staff speak fluent English and are friendly and helpful. Some of the pitches tend to be rather waterlogged and suffer from damage because of this. There are several toilet blocks all of which of are of a high standard. There are a number of static caravans on the site.
We were given a large pitch in the newer part of the site which is furthest from the Chateau and other site amenities. We spent 3 nights at Chateau Gandspette. We visited the WW2 German Blockhause where V2 rockets were made which is located in a wooded area about a mile from the campsite.
We took the opportunity to visit the large supermarket in nearby St Omer and stock up on our favourite French cider. Our activities were a bit limited because Cary twisted her ankle chasing the dog soon after we arrived. We also took Max to Dr Jean Paulus the local vet for his pet passport formalities but we felt this was expensive at €43 for a worming table, flea treatment and completion of Max’s pet passport!
We also visited the pleasant canal side village of Watten which is about a mile from the campsite. This village has 2 small supermarkets a Carrefour store, with a petrol station, and a Netto store.
Chateau Gandspette is geared up to early morning departures and does not have any gates or barriers to impede leaving early. On Friday 28 August we left Chateau Gandspette at around 06.00hrs and took the 17 mile journey via the D300 and N316 to the Norfolk Line ferry terminal at Dunkerque. We caught the 08.00hrs Norfolk Line ferry and arrived in Dover at 09.15hrs.
Despite Bank Holiday weekend traffic we made good time on our 111 mile journey mainly on the M20 and M25, anticlockwise, and reached Wyatt’s Covert Caravan Club site by 13.00hrs. We regularly visit this site on the way home from our Continental holidays via Dover. Cary’s Dad lives in nearby Ruislip and Wyatt’s Cover makes an ideal base for visiting him. In the afternoon we visited Cary’s Dad and in the evening we went out for a meal with him.
The site is primarily meant as a base for visiting London and it’s ideal for that as there is a railway station just over a mile away with a direct rail link to Marylebone. Although there is a small, private airfield next door we never really experienced any noise problems as the planes only use it during daylight hours. There is, also, a helicopter charter base on the airfield but we only heard helicopters land or take-off a few times during our stay.
The site is just rows of caravan pitches on hardstanding with some grass in between and all with EHUs. The site is surrounded by trees and hedges – no views at all. The only site facilities are the toilet block which is clean and warm. There is no play area or even anywhere for children to play. It is popular and does get booked up. I suspect some of the residents may have been working in the area as they left very early and arrived back late in vans! The wardens were friendly and helpful. There is a security barrier which is operated by a swipe card on entry /exit.
The site is very close to the M25 and M40/A40. The approach to site is along a main road apart from the last mile or so which is through a residential area and then a minor country road, but that is not too narrow. When visiting the site it is important to follow the route in the CC handbook as the approach from the other direction IS VERY NARROW. The site is not signed from the main road but the adjacent picnic site is. We had no access problems following the recommended route. The site entrance is not too clear especially at night. One has to turn into the entrance to the adjacent mobile home park and then immediately right into the caravan site, without actually going into the mobile home park. As one turns, the Caravan Club sign can be seen on the right hand side.
There is a parade of shops, including a mini-market/newsagents/ off-licence, pubs, restaurant, petrol station and railway station in the village of Denham, just over a mile away. Quite a long walk downhill, and then uphill back to the site. There are other shops, including supermarkets, in Uxbridge, about 5 miles away. Watford shopping centre is about 10 miles away. There is a picnic area next to the site but we have never visited it. In addition to the delights of London Windsor, Becconscot model village and Legoland are in easy driving distance. There is also the very pleasant Buckinghamshire countryside to visit. Basically quite a good site if you wish to stay in the London area but it does not offer a lot in its own right
On the morning of Saturday 29 August we set out on the final 200 mile leg of our journey back to St Helens. We travelled via the M40, and M6 Toll and M6. After stopping off in Stafford to visit friends we arrived home safely in St Helens at teatime on Saturday 29 August.
- 34 nights
- Visited 7 countries, excluding the UK
- Drove 3,303 miles
- Used 859.58 litres of diesel costing £750.36
- Stayed at 9 campsites and overnighted at 3 motorway service areas
Article Provided by Tim Irwin for CaravanTalk