A Travellerspoint blog

Take A Rain Czech

rain

We spent six nights at the ‘Drusus Campsite’, half an hour by public transport from the centre of Prague. We had about three hours relaxing under the warm sun before the winter weather returned. Two days of miserable rain, storms and mud! We weren’t going to let it spoil our enjoyment of Prague the way it did in Lyon, but our second full day there – Sunday 25th – was spent inside the van. It was just too miserable.

We travelled by train and metro on the other days into the city, and I must say it is a very impressive place (read about it on Wikipedia if you like). It’s a very ‘happening’ place, hell-bent on extracting the most from tourism that it can; and I’m sure Prague makes a fortune in summer.

Ann spent an absolute fortune on rings and Faberge-style eggs – and she had a ball doing it. All I bought was a pair of cheap canvas shoes (I’m a man of simple tastes). We walked to the majority of the must-see places as did the swarms of American, Japanese, Italian, French, English, Australian and other tourists.

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I’m probably going to put a few noses out of joint here, but tell me something. What is it about famous buildings and bridges, sculptures and paintings, that brings out the moron in tourists (what am I saying – tourists are by definition morons?) They’re all out snapping away indiscriminately with their rinky-tinky little digital cameras, images that are for the most part redundant and probably poorly taken anyway. I can understand if you take a picture of a famous building that includes some human interest, say one’s travelling companions (at least it personalises the scene and will, in the future, evoke strong memories of the trip). But why oh why take a characterless snap of something when you can get a postcard of it or, easier still, download the image off the Net?

The happy snapper will try to justify that by taking the picture yourself, you somehow imbue the image with a bit of your own personality, or that you feel somehow more connected to the place. What a crock!

I agree that forty years ago a photo of whatever it is would have meant more to you as an aide-memoire of the trip because a) there were no internet images and b) postcards of the particular scene were usually a century out of date, or so poorly coloured that they offered no real substitute for a good photo.

Listen morons – either include human interest in your photos or put away your bloody cameras and enjoy the experience of just being there!

Sorry about that – I just hate tourists!

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Back to the blog. The weather only slightly improved during the time we were in Prague, but it didn’t spoil the enjoyment. The campsite however was a disappointment, and in hindsight we should have moved to one of the others in Prague. It was not cheap, but it didn’t justify its cost by providing great facilities as do many other sites. As it was a small site, it had no poor-weather facilities, like TV or a games room. If it was wet (as it was) you were stuck in your camper. The dish-washing facilities were lamentable; and the waste-water next to them provided a round-the-clock reminder of what rotting vegetables and ordure smelt like. It was made worse by the fact that the torrential downpour on the first night flooded the drains.

Worst of all (and I do apologise if I sound a bit obsessed with shower facilities) but they were a complete rip-off. Having recently come from a site where the ablution block reminded me of something out of a concentration camp, I was happy to see that a near-new, hi-tech, bright tile and glass structure had been built for the campers. It was clean and light – it even had a Romanesque-style tessellated floor mosaic in the foyer – and I heartily approved.

I was disappointed though to learn that you had to pay 20 krone for a shower – OK, get over it – it’s only 80 cents. What did raise the hackles was when I learnt that, as soon as you inserted the curiously shaped token into the hi-tech automatic shower coin slot, a digital read-out counted down second-by-second from three minutes to OFF! And you practically had to run around to get wet, the water pressure was so low.

Now, I’m prepared to accept that when you just want a quick shower to clean off the day’s grime, three minutes seems ample. But fair go – in the morning when you want to shampoo your hair and wake up slowly under a steady stream of hot invigorating water, then five minutes is an absolute minimum.

Now I know how they managed to keep the shower block so clean – no-one could afford to use the showers!

The Czech Republic, what we saw of it, was pleasant enough; but the attraction for foreigners must be Prague. It probably props up the country’s economy on its own. With its endless shopping, wonderful old buildings and many squares, it is a real tourist mecca.

I wouldn’t rush back to the Republic on what little we’ve seen of it, but it has been a lesson in the differences between the rich west and the less affluent former East. You can tell from people’s dress, their housing, the roads and the general feel of the country, that the Czech Republic has a way to go to catch up with the wealth taken for granted by Western Europe.

Oh, I have to say that so far the Czech girls are the best looking sol far in Europe!

ON

Posted by OrlandoN 11:19 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (2)

Czech Out Time

sunny 32 °C

I had no real expectations of the Czech Republic, but I imagined from its Iron Curtain history that it may lag behind its West European neighbours a tad.

I think I was not far off the mark. Leaving Germany was simply a matter of following the traffic past long disused Customs posts and entering this new country – simple. Or so I thought. We got in no problem, but I wanted to change money and get a vignette, which you must have for driving on motorways here.

We pulled in at the first petrol station. When I showed the girl behind the counter some Euros indicating that I wanted to know somewhere I could change them, she disinterestedly said (in Czech) “not here”, and pointed vaguely in the distance while muttering “Links!” (that’s German for ‘left’).

I drove out and we came to the next building, some sort of Duty Free store. The lady there, somewhat more helpfully, also indicated somewhere “further up the road” and “links – fünfzig metres.” The only building fünfzig metres on the left was a derelict warehouse. We noticed a couple of people at a door; so we stopped and got out. A young man opened the door, and even before I had a chance to indicate in sign language that I wanted to change money, he closed the door on me muttering dismissively something in Czech.

By this time I was on the point of driving back to Germany and missing out on this new republic altogether. However Ann told me just to drive on and we’d see what we could get further on. We did find petrol quite cheap a few kilometres on; so we filled up. Then we found an ATM at a small town called Holysov; so we had cash. The vignette still evaded us.

The drive to Pilzen (the town that’s famous for Pils lager) was uneventful. The roads were quite fair and we passed through many villages, uninspiring hamlets with a touch of utilitarianism in all the buildings. It was quite as I’d imagined – places which lacked soul. For the most part they were plain, uninspiring houses and shops, just the sort of thing one comes to expect from the former Eastern Bloc. Twenty plus years on though, you’d think a new generation would start thinking about a lick of paint here and a floral window box there. Perhaps it takes more time than that to remove the stench of totalitarianism from a people’s memory.

Pilzen seems like a very interesting town though, with trolley buses and distinctive architecture. We didn’t stop to look around - we drove through on our way to the campsite (we’d only planned to stop overnight there on our way to Prague). The GPS led us virtually to the gate of the campsite when, we encountered a low bridge – 2.4 metres! Being in a 2.9 metre high motorhome, I quickly braked, turned onto a grassy bank and promptly did a U-turn. Feeling that we’d come all this way only to be thwarted, we took off back whence we came and hoped the GPS would recalibrate and find an alternative route. This it did (thankfully) and it took us round the block and into the welcoming gates of the ‘Autocamp Ostende’.

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The campsite is much like any in Europe, so no surprises there. It’s by a pretty lake, there are lots of trees and we’re parked under a large shady oak – all fine. Except for - the sanitation block!!

The male toilet area was a rectangular room with old white tiles and dull grey grouting. Cubicle toilets were along one side, and about eight large old-fashioned urinals stood to attention side by side along the opposite wall. It had a real post-war coldness about it all, drab, age-stained and with an all pervading smell of disinfectant, with just a hint of stale urine. The urinals themselves were clean enough, but fifty years of usage couldn’t mask the toilety smell.

I then crossed to the shower block, and had to stifle a groan. Passing through a change room, I opened a door to the showers themselves – six open white-tiled cubicles with large numbers – 1 to 6 – affixed to the upper corners. No curtains, no privacy – just the glaring certainty that if you wanted to take a shower, you’d come face to face with a bunch of hairy-arsed men all soaping up bits you’d rather not think about! This took me back forty years to my grammar school days!

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To digress for a moment, picture the scene if you will. It’s midwinter in England in 1970. There’s snow on the ground. Thirty pre-pubescent boys come in from the icy cold, panting misty breath after a five mile run, their faces ruddy and their bodies hot and sweaty from their exertions. They pile in noisily through a wooden door to the bath-house, a white-tiled temple devoted to clean healthy bodies. On entering one sees left and right large timber frames with big brass hooks and long slatted benches. The hooks and benches are festooned with kit bags, school uniforms and various schoolboy paraphernalia.

The boys remove their sticky sports vests, plimsoles, socks, black shorts and underpants, dump the lot by their other gear and prepare for their devotions to the water god.

Mr. Shearly, the large, gruff (but I always suspected kindly) sports master would call for quiet, his stentorian voice bouncing off the shiny tiles and making a shrill sound in the boys’ ears. They all line up in single file and walk toward the altar - thirty pasty, skinny, knobbly-kneed twelve year-olds. The altar is a large, square, white-tiled, soapy hot tub, the kind you see in footballers’ changing rooms. The boys are eager to jump in and splash about. But before the ecstasy comes the agony – the ordeal by iced water. On the far side of the bath-house, lined up like wall lamps, are eight (or was it ten?) shower rosettes, spitting pain and misery in the form of ice-cold water.

One by one, the boys walk around the tempting hot bath and approach the first shower head. They must walk slowly from one shower head to the next, doing a full 360 degree turn under each. Once at the end, the first boy can leap into the hot soapy bath and watch his fellow classmates’ teeth chatter as they endure torture.

No-one ever wanted to be the first boy to go; but once through, you wish you had been. And there was no point trying to run through the showers – Mr. Shearly would make you walk back to the end of the queue and do it again. The thought of it sends a chill up my spine even today!

That’s what those dehumanizing showers at the campsite reminded me of.

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We drove on to Prague the next day but stopped five miles short of the campsite when Ann noticed a shabby-looking Chinese restaurant along the way. It was lunch-time, it was a very warm day; so we decided to spoil ourselves.

On entering we could have been in any Chinese restaurant at home. We sat down at a table, looked up at the gold trim and red tassels dangling from the light shades, and waited. A short middle-aged Chinese lady approached – she spoke English – and handed us menus with English translations! From then on all was easy. Ann ordered a sizzling beef hot plate, I a chicken, broccoli and cashew stir-fry, and we gorged ourselves – it was delicious! With steamed rice, a glass of house plonk and a Coke, all up about 25 dollars. Not particularly cheap, but worth every penny.

That’s all for today folks – oh, but the way, we did get our vignette!

ON

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Posted by OrlandoN 08:08 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (1)

Dark Side of the Moon

all seasons in one day 32 °C

16/7/10

The last few days have been a bit of a blur. From one campsite to the next in Bavaria, it seems that we are just shifting camp closer and closer to the Czech border. Nothing really exciting to report except that we’ve had a couple of good storms in the last three days, dumping significant rain and cooling down the air (the days have soon warmed up though). We have continued travelling down the Romantische Strasse in Bavaria, but today have turned east and landed at Pielenhofen, a tiny riverside village that probably exists solely for the huge campsite nearby.

Ann and I are plonked down under a tree reading and blogging; we’ll probably be here two or three days before heading to the Czech border. Sadly we’ve seen little of Germany; but in order to fit in the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Spain and Portugal in the next three months, we’ve had to ignore the whole top two-thirds of the country. As I keep having to remind myself, in Europe you simply can’t see everything.

Because of the sparse population in Western Australia, you could probably do the whole state in about a month – you couldn’t do Paris properly in that time.

Inevitably great swathes of the European continent are going to be missed; but hey, it can’t be helped. The compromise you must make is one where either you dart from place to place in order to see as much as you can; or you stay for a few days in one town or village relaxing and taking your time, but missing out on lots of other destinations.

Personally, after three months I’m finding the lure of historic cities has dulled somewhat. When you’ve seen fifty Gothic stone masterpieces paying homage to an ancient mythical Christian god, you’ve seen ’em all (I still do pop inside them whenever I can though because they are so cool – I mean temperature-wise. On these very hot summer days I would prefer to luxuriate in the dry still coolness of a cathedral than follow Ann around on her shopping extravaganzas.)

Haven’t been to any big towns in Germany, which is probably a shame. I’d like to see Berlin again if only to see how much it has changed since I was there before the Wall came down.

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OK, as we’ve just come to the end of the World Cup, it’s time to score Germany against France. It has to be said that we spent three months in France but so far only a week in Germany; so it’s probably a bit unfair to make wholesale judgements, but here goes.

First off, it strikes me that Germans are somewhat more austere in their outlook. Most encounters are met with a cautious friendliness, whereas in France people seem less guarded. Every meeting in France, whether it be passing someone in the street or dealing with a young woman behind a counter, always begins with “Bonjour” – that’s all. It’s like an acknowledgement of the other person’s existence irrespective of whether it leads to any form of dialogue.

In Germany, as indeed in the UK or Australia, there is no obligation to acknowledge anyone unless you intend to communicate with them. I have to say that that is a really nice thing in France – it does make you feel good when someone acknowledges you. I think it's culturally de rigueur, like a McDonalds employee bidding you farewell with a meaningless “have a nice day”; but somehow it doesn’t seem disingenuous with the French. There is a sense that you could stop and talk to the person simply because they have wished you good morning.

You don’t really get that feeling from people behind German counters. As often as not you feel that you are keeping them from doing something more important. You can almost hear them mutter, “What the fuck do you want?” when you turn up at the reception at a campsite. To be fair though, what could be more depressing than dealing with tourists? Somehow the French manage it though. One-nil France.

Now to balance the books. In France Ann tried vainly to send a suitcase by sea home to Australia. It was full of clothes she’d bought and she just wanted to free up some space in the van. The French postal system wouldn’t touch her, neither would DHL, nor a shipping company we tried in Colmar. It got to the ridiculous point that we had to drive for a month with this big suitcase around France simply because we couldn’t post it.

We decided to wait till Germany whereupon at the very first Post Office in Weinfurt Ann was able to send off the item. One-all.

The roads are better in Germany, and the sanitary facilities at the campsites are superior – every one of them has toilet paper supplied! 2-1 Germany.

The French countryside seems less bothered by industry – it doesn’t take long in Bavaria before you are driving past a cement factory or engineering works. To be fair, Germany like UK, suffers from a relatively high population compared to its land area. The French countryside is truly that, and very pretty it is too, with its ever-changing scenery (I have to confess though that I think English villages are much quainter and more interesting). Two-all.

Curiously, the internet has been hard to come by in Germany; and so the last week we have been bereft of news from home. I say curiously because one imagines that Germany, with its reputation for technical and engineering excellence, would have wi-fi everywhere – not so! And try paying for your campsite with a credit card – they look at you as though you’ve handed them a dud fiver! Final score 3-2 France.

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To wind this blog entry up, Ann and I drove up to Fürth im Wald, a small village on the border with the Czech Republic. We stayed two nights at the campsite, using the blissfully warm sunny day to wash laundry, everything from our smalls to our bedding. There is something very comforting about the smell of freshly laundered and aired bath towels.

Wednesday the 20th July we head to the Czech Republic – one of those dubious former Soviet Bloc countries recently allowed to join the 'Europe' Club!

ON

Posted by OrlandoN 05:54 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

The Heat Is On

sunny 36 °C

We only stayed the one night at the LaChapelle campsite – it was pleasant but it was in the middle of nowhere. We headed in a north-easterly direction stopping at a large Super-U supermarket in Burnhaupt for some supplies. Ann’s eyes were drawn to a couple of bicycles on sale (she’s been nagging me for weeks to buy bikes); and so we settled for a couple – a mountain bike for me and a ladies’ style with basket for Ann.

It was a hot day and hooking the bikes on to the back of the van proved a bit of a hassle. While we have a bike rack, we discovered that we needed an additional clamp for the second bike to be secured. Anyway, with an ocky strap, an overly long length of washing line, a great deal of sweat and a lot of swearing, I managed to secure them.

We drove up to a camping site in a town 60kms away called Biesheim. It’s literally on the Rhine River and Germany is on the other side. The site is old but nicely-equipped for annual holidaymakers; but it has a ‘low-brow’ feel to it – aimed at the cheaper end of the vacationers’ market (it’s not easy choosing your words when you’re trying not to imply that the clientele are largely scumbags!)

The following day, Ann and I decided to ride on our new bikes across the bridge into Germany. We rode around for about 20 minutes, not wishing to overdo things (remember we haven’t exactly been active on this trip). As we were returning to the bridge along a short cobbled street, I heard a screech of metal, and then bits falling off my bike – the derailleur mechanism had completely disintegrated and I was left with a handful of bits and a sheepish look.

Naturally I was unimpressed, but the prospect of having to drive back to the supermarket in Burnhaupt impressed me even less. Also it was Sunday; so we had to wait until the next day before driving the 60kms back to see about getting a replacement. I needn’t have worried - the staff at Super-U were very understanding and replaced the bike with no questions asked.

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We’re in a great campsite now in a fabulous little town called Kaysersberg. No it’s not in Germany – we haven’t quite got there yet – it’s in Alsace in Eastern France. The town is a real tourist draw, but it seems to have maintained some integrity, rather than existing solely for the tourist dollar. It, like so many towns in the region, looks much more like Germany than France; downtown is all pretty little cuckoo-clock-like houses and buildings, brightly coloured and resplendent with window boxes full of cheerfully-coloured flowers – real chocolate box stuff.

The campsite is bright, clean and well shaded, and we feel very comfortable here. The owner comes across as a bit of an old misery guts, but his wife seems very pleasant. The toilets are clean and the showers are roomy with adjustable hot and cold taps. I point this out because most sites only have a push-button tap with water at a fixed temperature – I think so it’s nice to choose the temperature that suits you, don’t you?

Phew – it’s been hot! It’s Sunday the 11th July and we left Kaysersburg on Thursday after a very pleasant stay. We were heading for Germany in earnest; so we drove for a few hours on motorway and main roads until we reached Baerenthal, still on the French side. It has a large campsite by a man-made lake – it should have been really nice – but it was full of noisy kids. We were parked next to the sanitary block on a spot with very little shade on a hot day; so it wasn’t terribly comfortable (mind you I felt sorry for the two German bikers in a little tent on the next site – no shade at all!)

It has always been incomprehensible to me why bored teenagers find it necessary to congregate around a common point, being loud, obnoxious and stupid. So it was at the sanitary block – three or four brain-dead French teenage girls on pushbikes hanging around being loud, obnoxious and stupid.

Anyway, we only stayed a night then crossed over into Germany. We were passing large fields of corn, winter feed and sunflowers in France, when we came to what looked like a narrow level-crossing. We crossed it; then we were in a different country. The only thing that alerted us to the fact that we were in Germany was that the roadsigns looked different.

As we were heading for a campsite near Heidelberg we soon found ourselves swept up by the frenetic traffic on the German autobahn. Everyone was going the same way in a mad hurry to go who knows where, and I just had to keep up. We stopped for lunch en route at an autobahn lay-by; which was chock full of cars, juggernauts and motorbikes. We managed to squeeze in to a small space near the exit and relaxed for thirty minutes over lunch. Mind you, every mouthful was punctuated by a whoosh of speeding Audis or the grumble of passing pantechnicons.

We drove through the outskirts of Heidelberg and arrived at our destination for the night; a rather uninspiring riverside campsite, devoid of trees. We were parked, or rather shoe-horned into a spot between two Dutch caravans. There were no individual camping areas as you find with virtually all other sites. It was obvious the owner had only one thing in mind – trying to squeeze as much revenue out of every square metre of land. To top it off, the stay cost us 25 euros and you had to pay for showers!! What a rip-off! (the most expensive site yet on this trip). To make matters worse it was a stinking hot humid day; so the best Ann and I could do was to take a very refreshing dip in the river and make the best of it. The neighbours were all very pleasant; however that wasn’t enough to make us stay more than one night.

We then turned up at a campsite outside a village called Lengfurt, and it couldn’t be more different. While it was still as hot as Hades, we were parked under a tree in an individual lot, the sanitary facilities were immaculate (the best so far), and we had space to move. A very pleasant retired English couple parked up next to us and we spent a good part of the following day chatting with them – it was simply too hot to do anything else. Roger and Pat from Hailsham in Sussex are seasoned motorhomers, and they had lots of good advice on what to see in Bavaria.

They invited us to come and see them in England once we’d wound the trip up (and it was a genuine invitation – I think anyone who has travelled knows the difference); we happily accepted.

The two evenings we spent there Ann and I watched the runners-up and finals matches of the World Cup; Germany beat Uruguay in a goal-packed match for third place, while Holland were pipped at the post one-nil at the end of extra time by a really in-form Spain.

Today we ended another scorchingly hot day arriving in Rothenburg-ob-der Tauber late in the afternoon. This town is one of half a dozen on a route called the ‘Romantische-Strasse’, a route that promises much in the way of quaint, quirky and quintessentially Bavarian architecture.

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I know this episode seems to have been solely about campsite-hopping – for that I apologise; but really it’s been too cruelly hot to do any sightseeing, and all anyone can do in this weather is flop down under the shade of awning and pant. I’ve been wanting to play my guitar but I’m afraid it will simply emerge from its bag a molten gloopy mess. The temperature the last four days has been in the high thirties; fine when you live in air-conditioning, but a little uncomfortable in a mobile home.

Ann’s wandered off to catch the last couple of hours of shopping in the town. At any other time the heat would prevent her from doing anything apart from grizzle; but the prospect of buying seemingly pointless baubles and coloured bits of fabric makes her immune to the extremes of temperature. I think to get to a shop she would walk barefoot over broken glass, fight the Orcs of Mordor and sell her first-born to the Prince of Darkness. I was always told the strongest force in the universe was the bond between mother and child. Not so; it is the lure of retail therapy!

I’m happy to sit here tapping away on a keyboard with a damp towel over my shoulders – ah, the bliss that is solitude!

ON

Posted by OrlandoN 04:10 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Mustard-eyed and Gone to Dijon

sunny

I reckon Dijon is a French Oxford. Perhaps it hasn’t as many dreaming spires and it’s not to my knowledge a university town, but there’s such a similarity in the narrow streets, the ancient architecture and just the ‘feel’ of the place that it puts me in mind of Oxford straight away.

Finally the bloody weather’s improved; from the last couple of days in Lyon through to our stay in Macon and now the last four days in Dijon, it’s been fabulous. Today – the 30th June - it got to about 30 degrees and, while we’ve ventured into town every day, we’ve spent most of our time relaxing under the large chestnut tree which provides shade for our motor home. The site – Camping Lac de Kir – has been really relaxing too. The sites themselves are cheap as chips, unlike Lyon and Macon, and the casual Anglophile owner has been easy to deal with. He’s quite relaxed in his approach to the clientele, and speaks English well (thanks in no small part to an American ex-pat friend who’s been living in France for the past twelve years).

The camp has a greater mix of nationalities than was present in Macon, where the Dutch had taken over. We were told that part of the reason for the mad influx of Dutch people at this time is to take advantage of a scheme set up in Holland for their campers. Until the end of June they can take advantage of large discounts at French campsites; after that the Dutch all but disappear.

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Today is the 2nd July and we’re installed in a small municipal campsite at a tiny place called La Chapelle sous-Rougemont. It’s close to Belfort near the border with Germany. I had always planned to be out of France by the end of June because that is when the national holidays start and you can’t move for French campers. Well yesterday we saw the first signs that the French countryside is about to be invaded by its own people. As if to the sound of a bell, the 1st July saw the French take over the Dijon campsite – it was packed. We’d judiciously booked our last night in the camp as the owner had warned of the swarm. Virtually every square inch was filled with motor homes, caravans, tents of all sizes; these in turn were filled with campers old and young, some with infants, others with toddlers, still more with kids between the ages of five and fifteen.

For the first time in three months I had to wait to get a shower. It has to be said though that by 10pm the place was like a campers’ graveyard. I confess I’d feared the worst. I imagined brats squealing and fighting till all hours, neighbouring French campers wittering away to each other about nothing of any significance – but I was wrong. The closest it came to my realising this horror was at about 9:50 when a car drove along playing rap music loudly.

We’d planned to leave the site yesterday, but the day before I’d had a brainwave. Seeing as how the owner was approachable and how as a caravan site operator he should know about such things, I asked him if there was a place in Dijon where I could get the 12 volt problem on the van’s fridge looked at. He told me of a place only minutes away called ‘Ypocamping’, where in addition to selling accessories, they also serviced motor homes.

I had a good feeling about this (to be quite honest the fridge problem has been a source of considerable angst for the past six weeks), and so I booked a check for the next available day (that was yesterday).

We drove down to a suburb called Chenove where, after a frustrating twenty minute wait, a cheerful young mechanic called Olivier appeared. He drove the van to the service area where a number of other mechanics were happily servicing other rigs (this lightness of mood I soon discovered was because everyone was on holiday as from tomorrow). After my explaining in detail the problem and what had already been done, Olivier set to work with enthusiasm. He soon discovered the problem – a small broken wire under the bonnet supplying an exclusive 12 volt feed to the fridge circuit. As all the other circuits are fed directly from the leisure battery (as far as I’m aware), neither I nor the fridge mechanic in Lyon would have thought to look for a lone wire under the bonnet (frustratingly, in time I would have noticed the broken wire while doing my weekly checks, as it was quite an obvious break).

Anyway, I was overjoyed that he’d fixed the problem, and in only about twenty minutes; it just remained to see what the charge would be. He beamed at me and said “whatever you want to pay – two or three Euros.” I was expecting a minimum hourly rate, but he said that it was just drinks money for the boys. I gave him a tenner and he was very happy with that.

We drove back to the camp happy in the knowledge that the problem was now fixed once and for all. Sure we’d forked out 60 euros in Lyon for the fridge mechanic to tell us it wasn’t the fridge that was the problem, but it all balanced out in the end!

We left Dijon early this morning fearing that campsites would now start filling up fast, and we wanted to make sure we were booked in early to avoid disappointment. However this out of the way place is not the sort that would appeal to young families; so I think we’re safe. I was told though that the madness doesn’t start in earnest till the 15th (presumably school holidays); so we will move into Germany in the next two or three days. France has been an experience, but I think Ann and I both feel a cultural change would be nice. So it’s soon to be au revoir to baguette-wielding Froggies and Guten Tag to sausage-wielding Sauerkrauts!

ON

Posted by OrlandoN 07:38 Archived in France Comments (0)

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