France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary  Week 108  April 27th - May 2nd 2013
                       
No doubt a bit changed from 1940.

The beach at Dunkirk.

The specs in the distance are kites pulling people on tricycles.

Our immediate aim is to drive through France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary and begin our "sight-seeing" again in Croatia.

Sadly that means we miss Peter and Margaret by a couple of days but hope to meet up in Greece or Turkey.

 
But we have to stop to sleep and Handschoote (a not so very French sounding village near the Belgian border) fitted the bill.

Near the Aires is the Spinnewyn Mill.

Its a post mill (remember thinking about mill types at Marsh Mill in Lincolnshire).

Rebuilt in 1993 to celebrate the 1793 Battle of Hondschoote in which the French gendarmerie beat off the invading Anglo Hanoverian alliance. 

 
A night beside a German autobahn, disturbed only by the not so gentle throb of refrigerated trucks,  and onward through the former East Germany where it looks like some of the pollution control still has to catch up with West Germany..

 

 
The Elbe forms part of the border between Germany and the Czech Republic.
 
With a noticeable change in architecture.
 
We stopped at Camping Roselka in Stara Oleska. Not a motorhome or caravan in sight all day.

Nearby is Panska Skala.

Basalt organ pipes.

Now preserved, previously quarried.

 
But very distinctly hexagonal.
 
They were possibly vertical when first formed.

A result of slow cooling of molten rock.

 
We walked round the outcrop and over it.
 
The church towers have changed their shape.
 
In the village of Stara Oleska were these timber houses. We think the white is the filling between the half round timbers.

We've travelled 720 km today. Our longest drive! Started early, had a couple of rests, and managed sight-seeing.

We've gone from almost twiddling our thumbs waiting for visas to gathering some momentum.

 
Couldn't be more of a contrast to the rectangular water tanks of Morocco. 
 
Czech Republic seems to have a bit more renovating of its official buildings to occur yet.

Mostly plaster veneer falling off the stonework.

Lots of elaborate window decoration.

 
The E65 near Brno is truly the worst road we have driven on. Its a motorway.

The joins in the concrete are just the right distance to cause the front wheels to be falling while the rear are rising. And vice versa. About a 100 - 150mm vertical movement in the cab. About 2-3 times per second.

Harsh thumps rather than rolling undulations.

Just a tad uncomfortable as well as some stress to the truck.

An attempt had been made in places to scrape the surface level with some improvement.

No comfortable safe speed so we found the older major road roughly parallel.

Probably just as well - we think there's some sort of toll for vehicles over 3.5 tonne but haven't figured out how it operates.

 
But Spring is a couple of weeks further on here.
 
With the trees well and truly in flower.
 
Having crossed the border into Slovakia we stopped for the night.

A small sandy track about a km into the woods.

Temperatures above 20 degrees again.

Inspection suggests the truck, and new shock absorbers, survived the E65 hammering.

 
Just down the track a bit.

No fodder, but salt lick.

Some tracks of deer. We think. Feet are too small for cattle.

And not too far away a shooting hutch!

 
So south east across Slovakia, and the Little Carpathians.
 
Then more agricultural plain. We are driving parallel to the Danube.
 
Then we cross it.

Europe's second longest river, after the Volga.

The Elbe that we crossed a couple of days ago flows north west into the North Sea. Near where Germany meets Denmark.

The Danube, known here as The Donau, and a few other names elsewhere, flows east to the Black Sea. 

We are headed south east.

 
Through Gyor.
 
And, by some chance of geography, we return to St Vendel Camping.

Lake Balaton in Hungary runs north-east to south-west across the country while we are driving  north-west to south-east.

In November 2011, about 17 months ago, we drove parallel to the lake after passing from Ukraine through Budapest. This time we drive around the south-west end on our way to Croatia.

Our host, Peter, remembers us!

Its a bit greener than last time. And warmer at about 24C.

Having rushed (for us) across Western Europe we'll now head through Croatia, Albania, Greece and Turkey at a more leisurely pace.

 
Plitvicka Jezera National Park, Croatia Week 108  May 3rd - 4th 2013
 
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Ian & Jan Fri, 03 May 13 04:55:29 +1000
Can you get back to the UK please we have just found another Christmas Pud with Brandy Sauce and Warm Mince Pies drizzled over with fresh cream! Just kiddin, while testing.
Safe travels to you both
Ian & Jan

John Head Fri, 03 May 13 15:19:41 +1000
Just to wish you an interesting, adventurous and, most of all, a safe trip.
Good luck and happy travelling.

Laurie Sat, 04 May 13 21:31:22 +1000
Thank goodness you are blogging again! I've missed the wit, incites and photos as well.


 
 
 
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