Introducing the Smurf Mobile… Our home for the next 101 days!
The dining / living room
As we had to be in Pamplona for San Fermin/Running of the Bulls on the 5th of July, we were under a fair bit of pressure to drive up through Italy and across the southern coast of France to get there in time… We didn’t help ourselves by deciding to head to Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid before heading back up to Pamps, which is actually quite close to the French (Atlantic) border.
The last of Italy (for now…)
First things first, we picked up our camper in San Benedetto Del Tronto. We then drove, rather nervously on the wrong side of the road, up the east coast of Italy in search of our first free camp, stopping at Ancona to deck the van out at Ikea (where else!) and to pick up supplies at the massive Carrefour. We quickly discovered that we had no hope of finding a free camp on the resort beaches so had to go a lot further afield than we had hoped… We finally ‘pitched’ our van for our first night in the not-much-happening-town of Fano.
We woke up early to head into Pampona for the opening ceremony for the Festival of San Fermin. We discovered that sangria and red wine are sold in 1L cartons and that mixed together they make a kind of super-sangria that assists in arriving at the required mood for celebrations very quickly…
Tour De France
We holed up in a little bar along the route and watched the stage on the big screen. We kept our gears lubricated with beer and rose until the leaders got to the outskirts of town at which point we went outside, found a spot on the curb and waited for the riders…
After the riders literally rocketed past us, we headed back inside and resumed our seats to watch the end of the stage.
The next day we packed up early and headed for Lourdes, the end of the following day’s stage. We found a great little spot on a corner about four kms outside the town and settled in…
The TV cameras got a lot closer than this…
Rob manning the turret/sunroof
We abandoned the idea of driving out to Brest and made straight for Normandy via the fairytale-esque Mont St Michel…
We also made the trip to the nearby Tyne Cot Commonwealth Cemetery to pay our respects to the large number of ANZACs and others (including four Germans) either buried there or commemorated on the walls of the memorial.
Every night at the Menin Gate (on the outskirts of Ypres’ old town) at 8 o’clock sharp, traffic is stopped on both sides of the gate and the Last Post is played. We got there about 10 minutes early and were amazed at the large crowd gathered for the nightly event almost 90 years after the war.
we headed to Oswiecim and went to the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau (Brzezinka in Polish). It seemed totally wrong that we should have such a stunning day walking around places which we have always imagined on a horrible grey backdrop of sky or covered in snow.
The “Gate of Death” at Birkenau
The infamous front gate at Auschwitz: “Work makes free” – someone’s idea of a sick joke…
we decided to head back into Germany to check out the Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus) near Berchtesgaden before the forecasted clouds closed in.
We almost baulked at the ticket price of 17.50 euros per person, but we are glad we didn’t because the views from the top were quite spectacular:
The house itself is now a restaurant (bad taste?) and there is very little Nazi related information around (which is probably in good taste)… This may be because the place was spared from demolition at the end of WWII due to the local mayor (or MP, or something…) pleading that it is actually an amazing feat of engineering (the road, the building, and the interior was all completed within 13 months!) and should be preserved.
Probably the most incredible thing about the chalet is the 120m elevator shaft cut into the granite – the original brass elevator is still in service.
En route to Munich…
Our ‘camp spot’ for the night
Vaduz Castle in Leichtenstein – not a bad view from the Smurf mobile…
Read about the rest of their travels here: http://robandeve.travellerspoint.com/23/