torsdag 2 juli 2020

Rain, rain, rain

We could not leave until lunchtime since I had a doctor's appointment in the morning. Drove straight to Mom's apartment, picked up a few things that she needed (like her sewing machine!) and then off on vacation!

We went by the scenic roads, however not even that road has a sea view, so to get a sea view you have to take smaller roads for several miles to the coast and then back again. Anyway, if you want to follow our route on google maps, this is it:

Gävle - Trödje - Norrsundet - Axmar by - Vallvik (terrible camping, so we left) - Ljusne camping. Lovely road even though we did not see the coast line most of the time. And even though I've lived in Gävle for the first 19 years of my life, I did not realise that some of those places were so beautiful. Like Norrsundet!

The camping was nice, just where river Ljusnan meets the Baltic Sea. Quiet and peaceful, plain, but well arranged. However a couple from another country felt it was ok to let their dog run wild, which it cerainly took advantage of. I asked them - politely I thought - to keep it on a leash, but they did not appreciate that. They were quite arrogant, in fact. Oh well, can't win them all.

A few photos from the camping, and of the wines we had. We started off with a small bottle of cremant with gougères from Picard. And yes, we do have an oven in our small RV, an Omnia that you use on a gas stove. And then a Rioja (yumm) with the meal.

A nice, quiet evening! However - at bed time we realised that we'd forgotten to pack our duvets. Turned the heater on high, but it was quite cold just the same. We always forget something...

We woke up to a drizzle that quickly turned into downpour. And it's kept raining all day. Today's route was Ljusne - Söderhamn (where we bought two duvets!) - Iggesund - Boda caves - Hudiksvall - Hölick - Kuggören - Stocka guest harbour.

We had no idea there were caves in the area, but saw the sign and went. That is, Jens and Ivan went. He said it was a nice but tricky walk across boulders, but he didn´t climb the rope (!) down to the cave. I'm glad I stayed in the RV...

We'd heard that the island of Hornslandet with Hölick and Kuggören was supposed to be pretty, and it certainly was. Had to stay in the RV because of the rain, but did take some photos.

And now we are at Stocka guest harbour. Great place, and the view would be lovely on a nicer day. We've decided that if it keeps on raining like this tomorrow, we'll skip our plans for the High Coast and just take the main road E4 via Sundsvall to Umeå where of course we'll turn due west for Vännäs and sis. And Mom!

See the rope? Sure am glad he didn't climb down!

tisdag 30 juni 2020

Travel in Covid-times

Our original plan was to travel northern Norway this summer but Corona had other plans. Instead we'll be doing a 'visit-moms-trip', starting up north and then finishing on the west coast. Tomorrow we're off to first Gävle 150 km north of here to check on Mom's apartment (she's staying with my sister in Umeå since Easter) and then we'll follow the coast up to Umeå. The first stretch north of Gävle is called the Virgin Coast (have no idea why) and then further up north it's the High Coast . Both are incredibly beautiful.

Going south we are planning on taking the Wilderness Route , something we have talked about for several years now. It's only open for a few weeks every year, I think they opened less than a month ago, and there was snow 7 meters deep on each side of the road then. Probably all gone now though.

And then it's back here for a few days with the washing machine until heading south-west to visit Jens's mom on the west coast. We are incredibly happy to have our little RV, especially these days!

Hopefully we have packed everything. At least this year, we know we can buy everything we've forgotten to bring, that's a plus, but all things considered I would have preferred our original plan!


lördag 14 september 2019

Empty streets and other observations

The first weeks of our vacation it seemed like everywhere we went, the towns were deserted. Wonder about the almost alway empty streets? So do we! We think - but this is just our guess - that people prefer to stay indoors with their shutters closed to keep the heat out. Or maybe they are on vacation? Your guess is as good as ours. And our French certainly isn't good enough to ask anyone. Or, if we did manage to get the question right, to understand the answer!

The French love their roundabouts! According to Wikipedia, half of the world's roundabouts are actually in France! And they take such good care of them. Beautiful flower arrangements, works of art... And the best thing is, that if (when!) you take a wrong turn, you know there is bound to be a roundabout within 500 meters or so, so you can easily go back. Way to go, France!

We have been concerned about how the number of insects is diminishing yearly. But our first day going south from Stockholm, our wind screen spoke another message. Zillions of dead bugs! Less so once we came to Germany and France, but still. There is still hope for Earth!

Camp grounds in Sweden vs France and Germany. I have talked about this before, but here goes again. They are usually more low key in Europe, and people are always better behaved. There is a very strict rule that between 10pm and 8am there must be quiet. And people usually observe that rule. Camp grounds in Sweden usually have the same rule - but noone seems to care. Three years ago we stayed at a 4-star, very well known camp ground and we could not go to sleep until after 1 am. And then kids started running around yelling before 7 am. No good.

As a keen gardener, I make sure not to water my garden in the daytime, when the heat of the day will vaporise much of the water. We are always told to water early mornings or in the evenings. But in Germany and France we see farmers and home owners happily watering away all day. What do they know, that we don't?

lördag 3 augusti 2019

Back home

Wednesday, July 24

Camping Lüneburger Heide was such a nice place that we will gladly go back. They even had bikes for rent, at very modest prices. Perfect to explore Lüneburger Heide. We thought we would see some of the Heide (the moor), but all we saw were villages (nice) and fields.

Jens had found (the Internet is a veritable gold mine) a 'ship elevator' that sounded interesting. The Canal has very big height differences, so one lock simply wouldn't be enough - you would need several big locks. Instead some bright engineer invented the ship elevator! The ship enters a kind of 'bath tub',  the 'doors' are closed, and then the tub is raised/lowered 38 meters. Pretty amazing. If you feel like watching the whole thing, check out my movies! (I've just realised the movies won't play. Have no idea what's wrong, and my IT-specialist Jens is currently hiking in Norway. Will look into it when he gets back!)

The 'lift' from the outside

Waiting for it to come down

The tub is all the way down, and the boats are exiting

And another ship entering the 'tub' on its way up. So cool! And this is a big ship, one of those super long cargo ships that travel rivers and canals in Germany

Thursday, July 25
We wanted to see the German border town of Flensburg for the first time in 20 some years. But the Stellplatz in Flensburg turned out to be too far from downtown Flensburg, and really did not look inviting at all. So instead we went to Citti Park. A big mall with a very good supermarket at low, German prices. And free Stellplatz, free use of the restrooms in the mall during opening hours, we could empty our RV and also get fresh water. Certainly not a romantic spot - think 'big parking lot' ' but hey, I can live with that every once in a while. Too far from downtown Flensburg - but next time maybe we won't have a dog so we can bring our bikes. Dinner and breakfast in the mall = no dishes. Life certainly is good! Now we now why people rave about Citti markt. Next time we won't load up on groceries at home, we'll do that in Germany instead. 

Friday, July 26
More or less just driving through Denmark, up to Hyssna where we looked at RV:s at Forsbergs. Found a really nice one, slightly bigger than ours, but those extra centimeters extra would really mean a world of a difference. Plus we would get a much better pay load - but we would have had to pay twice as  much as we do now,  so not interesting after all. Guess we got a really good deal on our RV!

Found a really nice spot, almost for free.

Too windy, so we had dinner inside, but with the big door open so we could enjoy the beautiful view.

Saturday, July 27
Came home, fearing we would meet the same sorry sight as last year, when our lawn was just about dead. But it hadn't been nearly as hot in Sweden this month of July, and Viktor had done a great job house sitting, so everything looked OK. Slightly over grown though! (think: jungle) soi I have my job cut out for me!

tisdag 23 juli 2019

Summer cold

 Here are some of the  photos I tried to upload the other day!

 This is actually from a roundabout in France. The man who constructed the Statue of Liberty actually came from Colmar, and there is even a museum in his name in that city. But closed when we were there!

 My photos don't do the vineyards justice. Many of them (especially in the Moselle valley) are so incredibly steep that I really do not understand how they were planted, or how they are pruned and harvested. Many of them have a type of mono rail thing where they load the grapes and then drive them down the hill. Incredibly hard work!

 The cable car up to the castle

... and then down again. View of "The German Corner", Deutsches Eck, where The Moselle joins The Rhine

Last night's camping - looks lovely, but was terrible...

Monday, July 22 – Tuesday, July 23
Three nights at Knaus Camping Park in Koblenz left us a bit restless. We did need to rest after driving so much, but enough is enough. Our next goal was the koncentration camp Bergen-Belsen, south of Hamburg. Too long a drive for one day, but we decided to keep going until we were too tired. Found a nice Stellplatz in the town of Salzgitter. Looked really nice, by a lovely little lake where people were out sailing. Little did we know, (should have read the reviews!!!) that the parking lot nearby was a main meeting place for young people with noisy cars. We didn’t get many winks of sleep last night.

I woke up not only still tired, but with a cold coming on. We went to Bergen-Belsen, but realised that dogs were not allowed in. Jens volunteered to stay outside with Ivan, but I simply could not see myself going through that place on my own, feeling so down that I already did. Instead we went in search for a camping, found a nice one, and here we are, at Camping Park Lüneburger Heide. I took a nap for a couple of hours and am feeling much better. Still a sore throat, but at least now I’m functioning again. We’ll see tomorrow how I’m feeling, and will decide then where to go. We have to be back home by Saturday, since J needs to prepare for his trek in the Norwegian mountains. One option if I’m not feeling well is to go straight home. We’ll see! With our home on our backs, we are totally free. I like that.

söndag 21 juli 2019

Éguisheim, Bernkastel, Koblenz

Wednesday, July 17

Éguisheim turned out to be a lovely little town. We walked around for a while and then sat down for a coffee. It seems they do not have cafés in Alsace – but ‘Salons du The’. It was the same thing in Colmar. Of course they serve coffee, too! And, as always in this part of the world, lovely cakes.

But to our dismay, we had sat too long over our coffee – when we came to the Domaine recommended by my friend, they had closed for lunch (very common in Middle Europe). We should have checked better of course, since we do know about this little peculiarity by now. We did not feel like waiting for 90 minutes, so decided to keep on going to Trier in Germany instead.

Getting there turned out to be a tourist’s nightmare. There was so much construction work going on, that we had a very hard time getting anywhere. Map and gps were of course practically useless. For those of you who have travelled in Germany, the word ‘Umleitung’ is probably well known. Well, there were three different Umleitungen, and none of them was well thought through – at least not from a tourist’s perspective. It took us quite a bit longer to get to the camp site in Trier than we had thought, and for a while we weren’t even sure we would ever find it due to the Umleitung, but we finally made it. And were rewarded with the very last spot with eletricity hook up.

We would have liked to stay two nights since we got there so late, but they were fully booked. By the time we had parked it was too late for sightseeing, so instead we had dinner at the very nice Bier Garten (literally Beer garden, sort of like an outdoor pub, usually very simple dishes, but they had a good menu, and the food was delicious.) We talked about doing our sightseeing the next day, and then leave for Bernkastel, also on the Mosel, but we were sick and tired of arriving places late. Instead we decided to go straight to Bernkastel. Trier will stay where it is!

Thursday, July 18
Bernkastel is a lovely town, but there are simply too many tourists there this time of the year. Wish we could travel in late August or September instead... after I retire! There really were only two things we wanted to do there this time – visit the Vinothek in Kues on the opposite side of the river, to see if they possibly had a good map over the different wine areas along the Mosel, and pay a visit to Patrik Lauerburg, whose wines we are big fans of.

We parked on the Kues side – parking in Bernkastel is tricky – and then had coffee and Flammkuchen. As usual I’d forgotten to ask them to go lightly on the onions, but I survived!

At the Vinothek they had just the poster we were looking for. Turned out they had bought it from the German Association of winemakers, so now we know where to look. And then it was Lauerburg. This time there was a couple from Denmark there. Turned out, they were also third or fourth time customers. Herr Lauerburg this time showed us his wine cellars, more parts than last time, and we walked around down there, glasses in hands, and tasted right out of the barrels. Great experience. As usual, we bought quite a lot. Would have liked to buy more, but we are concerned with the weight, so ‘only’ bought twelve bottles.

The nearest camp site/Stellplatz is Sun Park in Graach, a few minutes north of Bernkastel. We stayed there last year, too. It’s an OK place, and the lady who runs it is lovely. Before going there, we went to Knaus Camping in Kues and asked them to help us book three nights at Knaus in Koblenz. It’s great camp ground, but we haven’t seen the town or the castle on top of the hill facing the campground, so we wanted to do that. Plus we sorely needed a washing machine and hopefully a dryer.

Friday, July 19
We travelled along the Mosel all the way to Koblenz. Fantastic views, lovely little towns. Everything is about winemaking in this part of the world, so all the towns boasted signs of wine tasting, wine cellar, wine queen of the year etc. We made a quick stop at Ernst Steffens and bought a few bottles “for the road”, including one bottle of Sekt (German bubbles) Should have bought more Sekt, because it was lovely.

Had an amazing lunch in the town of Hatzenport (we think) consisting of waffles with warm cherries and whipped cream. Guaranteed intake of all the essential vitamines!

Rolled into the campgrounds at a very decent time for us, so had time to run three loads in the washer. Unfortunately the dryer did a terrible job, so we had to arrange everything underneath the awning for that evening and night. People turned their heads and stared, a bit embarrassing.

Saturday, July 20
This is our third stay at these campgrounds, but on previous occasions we only stayed the night and then pressed on. This time we decided to take the boat across the Mosel into town, and then the up to the castle Ehrenbreitstein. You get a great view of Koblenz and the surrounding area, and of course the spot where Mosel joins the river Rhine. This spot is called the German corner – Deutsches Eck. The castle was originally built during Medieval times, and was then added onto over the centuries. It was basically impossible to take – except by famine, which actually happened once, after a lenghty siege one would presume.

The castle is huge, and we only saw parts of it. Partly because Ivan wasn’t allowed in everywhere, partly because the heat was getting to me. So down we went again, and turned our steps to the ice cream parlour we had spotted earlier. Afterwards we went in search for a book store since I wanted to buy some German magazines, but today being Saturday, all the stores closed earlier. Instead we took the boat across the Mosel again, arriving just as it started raining. Felt good to cool down!

Sunday, July 21
Our only plan for today was to wash one of my dresses by hand (my chore!), work a few hours (Jens) and write for my blog. But we need Internet for that, so will probably have a late lunch evolving into coffee time at the restaurant on the camp ground to use their Internet. I write all my texts in the Word format, and then I just copy and paste it to the blog, adding photos afterwards. This way, should Internet die on me, I still have the text. Have learnt from earlier mistakes...

Had planned on publishing lots of photos this time, but my Internet connection is so poor, and my laptop keeps running low on battery. Don't even have time to explain what's in the photos below... Hope to have better hook up in a few days!!!!

tisdag 16 juli 2019

From Bourgogne to Alsace

Monday, July 15

Going up to Alsace, Jens wanted to show me the village of Aloxe-Corton, where he and his friend Peter had a combined lunch and wine tasting many years ago. The restaurant was run by Monsieur le Comte himself, and he even helped serve at the restaurant. We would love to do that, but it really isn’t possible as long as we have our very nervous four-legged friend, who simply cannot be left alone in the RV.

Jens kept talking about this really good domaine where he bought some good wines many years ago. He thought the name was Daniel Rion, and as we entered the village of Premeaux-Prissey, we came upon their sign, too late to turn, so made a U-turn a bit down the road. They weren’t open just yet, but we did not have to wait long. The nice lady who helped us unfortunately spoke very little English, and her French was très rapide, but those things just add to the charm of our vacation. We bought a box of reds, Nuits St Georges from 2017. Not the cheapest wine we have bought this trip, I might add...

On we went, by way of Gevrey-Chambertin and other quaint little villages. I’ll tell you, the most common words for me this trip are “oh” “ah” and “yum”. And I’m not referring to my cooking!

We had looked up two Domaines just outside Colmar, just 5 or 10 minutes apart, but the closest one had closed, so we landed at Domaine Joseph Schaffar, which was a lucky stroke. Since we were the first RV to arrive, we got the best location, which is just 2 meters from the vines, overlooking the mountains. The proprietor turned out to be in our age or maybe a bit older, and he led us through a good wine tasting. At the end, La Maman arrived, and she turned out to be a lovely lady. The proprietor spoke English and German (and French of course!) and La Maman spoke German.

Here in Alsace it seems they learn more languages than in the rest of France. It seems to be very common to speak English, and of course for historical reasons, at least people our age and up speak German very well. And older people grew up speaking the local dialect (which the rest of the French do not understand, our landlord assured us), so many actually speak four languages Amazing! I manage three well, which I confess to being rather proud of, so I am certainly in awe of these people.

We bought a box of two white Cremant (sparkling) made of  Riesling och Pinot Blanc, two Grand Cru Riesling, two Gewurztraminer. Plus one bottle of Marc de Gewurztraminer for Jens. I won’t touch the stuff!

By the time we went to bed there were five more RV:s parked, but we had the best spot. So good in fact, that we decided to stay one more night, and take the bus to Colmar in the morning.

Tuesday, July 16
Of course, morning for us should be spelled morning-ish. We love long lazy mornings, and as a rule do not leave a camping site before 10 am, today being no exception. The bus stop was a convenient 150 meters away, and the trip into Colmar only took maybe twenty-five minutes. And was really cheap, 1.40 Euro per person. It would have cost quite a bit more at home!

Colmar turned out to be the role model for a picturesque town. It was also infested with tourists (I know, like us!) but somehow managed to retain some of its original prettiness anyway. 

Jens was actually quite patient when I went through the shops in search of dresses ( I found two!). I naturally went inside the amazing cathedral (J stayed outside with Ivan). I am not a religious person, and I am certainly not a catholic (not because I mind them, but because you are more or less born into the Lutheran church when you are a Swede) but there is something about Catholic churches that appeals very much to me. I lit a candle as always, and my prayer was the same as every time. But that’s between me and whoever is out there.

We had a lovely lunch at a place down by the river. I had an amazing salad with warm Chevre on toast, with honey and almonds... J had a vegetarian tarte flambée (sort of like a really thin pizza, a traditional dish over here), which he said would have been even better with some Chevre.

And then back to the bus we went. Bought a couple of bottles of water on our way – we do not have access to water where we are right now, and we do need a shower in the morning so do not want to use our own water for drinking and cooking purposes right now.

Right now we are enjoying some of Monsieur Chaffar’s lovely Riesling. Had so much to eat at lunch that we won’t cook for dinner, maybe just a light salad or a sandwich. Tomorrow we plan to visit the village of Eguisheim, recommended to us by many people, not in the least by my colleague and friend Carina, a French teacher who loves l’Alsace!

 The view from our "outdoor dining area"

 Part of the cathedral. Real tricky to photograph. The streets are so narrow that I couldn't get a good view.