We reached our final campsite before catching our ferry back to the UK on Saturday morning. The drive was a bit of a challenge and the second longest journey of the trip. We left Heidelberg early in the morning and the temperatures started to soar as we moved into southern, then mid France. On the last leg, the temperature started to drop substantially, and we arrived under grey skies. For the first time in weeks I had to put a long sleeved top on to keep the chill off. The clouds did eventually cleared in the evening and it turned out to be pleasant, although still a little chilly. But that was most likely to do with our climatisation over the last month.
The campsite wasn’t expensive as we could get discount using our ACSI card. We had a walk round on the first evening and were really impressed with the facilities and cleanliness of the campsite
After a good night’s sleep our first full day at the campsite was spent chilling. Mandy read her book by the swimming pool and had a dip and I choose to try and keep cool in the van.
In the evening we were invited to share a drink with an english couple who were, like us on the last leg of their journey. It was during these conversation that they mentioned a German WWII rocket factory…
It was an amazing surprise to find out that just 10 minutes cycle ride from our campsite was one of the most interesting historical places related to World War II . It’s called the Blockhaus d’Éperlecques and it’s where they started manufacturing the V2 rockets.
It got compromised by British and allied bombing once they realised what was being produced there, so never got to cause the damage it was designed for. I think this is the first time I have seen a structure of this size that has the scars of war with craters in the forest, and massive holes in the concrete from the specially designed “Tall Boy” & “Disney” bunker busting bombs.
” The biggest bunker in the north of France, witness of the 1939-45 dark age, from 1939 to 1945. Open to the public since 1973 and listed “Ancient Memorials” in 1985. A 90min-visit, alone or with your family, to discover and learn the history of the Eperlecques Bunker, the technologie of the V2 & V1 secret weapons, in a wooded parc, you’ll be impressed, interested and you’ll keep and unforgettable memory. “
Reception / ticket office consisted of a lot of interesting historic items.
Once we paid we passed through a small doorway where you were encouraged to follow a meandering along which were a whole raft of different and very thought provoking items. Vehicles were dotted here and there along with artillery, unexploded bombs, dummy bombs and german defence items retrieved from the D-Day landings.
Below is a small section of train track with two cattle trucks. One had footprints on the floor to depict how many victims were shipped to concentration camps at the start of the war. These gave the impression that although the truck was clearly carrying a good number of prisoners, there was at least space to breath. The second truck was full of footprints showing standing room only and barely enough room to move at all. This was brought to life by commentary and the sound of discomfort as it travelled to its destination where a return would not be an option for many.
It goes without saying the most interesting thing was the Blockhaus itself. The saddest part is that most of the casualties in the bombing would have been prisoners of war who were put to work building the missile factory.
I would highly recommend visiting this attraction to anybody that finds themselves in France via the Euro Tunnel / ferry at Calais or Dunkirk.
133 rue du Gandspette 62910 Éperlecques Pas-de-Calais / Nord-Pas-de-Calais – France Tel: 03 21 93 43 93 – Fax: 03 21 95 74
The originally predicted 5 hour journey from Salzburg to Heidelberg expanded to 8 hours as we hit the end of the German holiday traffic. This weekend was the weekend to avoid travel wise, but we only realised that when we were sat in traffic wondering why the heck it was so busy. We arrived at Heidelberg and after the usual supplies replenishment courtesy of Lidl, we moved on to our camp site.
We were a little apprehensive on arrival as some of the reviews were hit and miss largely related to it’s close proximity to the road, and the subsequent noise as a result. We were restricted to a location away from the reception because we didn’t require an electric hook up, and I think this made all the difference. All of the hook up pitches were near reception, but these seemed disorderly and congested. Not very pleasant at all.
But this is the beauty of not having to reley on mains electricity. Much more flexibility, and in this case a nicer, grass pitch in a quieter part of the campsite on the bank of the River Neckar.
Heidelbergs only campground is located down riverside in the district named “Schlierbach”, about 5 km away from the “Old Bridge”. To city center it’s 10 min by bus (directly at the site).
After a spell of rain on the first evening we both had one of our best nights sleep due to the drop in temperature. The morning was partially cloudy, but there was also plenty of sunshine so the thermometer had crept back up to the late 20s come midday.
We opted for a morning at the campsite as the Sunday bus service didn’t really start until lunch (other than a pure 9am bus that I can only assume is for shop staff). We could have cycled into Heidelberg at approximately 5km, but the travel cost weren’t expensive and we wanted to save our energy to explore without being sweaty on arrival.
We’ve been to so many places over the last few weeks, and I feel that one city break after the next is a recipe for becoming immune to the beauty of these places. Some might call it boredom, and there is a danger that you can have too much of a good thing. So to do Salzburg then Heidelberg in short succession we felt this could be a big mistake. They both share a similarity that they are on a major river, but as we were to find out, they are both very different.
What we saw of Heidelberg on the Sunday was amazing . The temperature steadily crept up to an almost unbearable level with next to no breeze So after three weeks on the road, and the rush of of our last stop in Salzburg, moving on to another high profile city meant we couldn’t sustain a second day of sightseeing without it feeling like a chore as the temperatures reached the mid 40s. Traveling can be a blessing, but you also have to be realistic about your physical and mental ability to be able to enjoy your surroundings.
So we made a decision on Monday morning to have a chill out day. The campsite had cleared of the weekend bustle and we almost felt that we had the whole place to ourselves. Early on i made a feeble attempt to clean the camper of the dirt dust and grime accumulated over the previous weeks travels, but it was just to humid and any exertion lead to a sheen of sweat all over my body. Very uncomfortable. So I ended up spending most of my time in the van updating my travel blog and watching Formula E and drinking beer (With ice pops to cool). Mandy finished her third book on her kindle as she moved between sun and shade.
Our options for Tuesday were to explore the old castle that lookes down on the city of Heidelberg, or go for a river cruise. It was set to be another scorching day so we chose to do the boat trip as we thought it would be a good way to catch the breeze. Although it was a great trip there was absolutely no breeze and the heat was relentless. Suffice to say I had to have a nice cool beer or two to try and keep my temperature down :).
We finished our trip to Heidelberg by perusing the shops for one last time and had a final meal in a restaurant. Proof that the temperatures were abnormally hot came from our waiter who said he had not known heat like this before , even in the height of summer. Not just us then!
As our holiday got to the mid way point in Croatia, we knew that things would get a little fluid. Reason being was that we had only planned the first couple of weeks before we set off from the UK. This has it’s pros and cons, but it’s nice to have some flexibility as we move around for a number of reasons. As has been said in previous posts for this trip, the weather for Salzburg was not looking particularly favorable at the time we were planning to visit. So making the decision to stay further south in Trieste was last minute, but it worked for us, and we got to see another fantastic location unexpectedly. Leading on, I hope you will see why the above is particularly relevant here.
After another hot day in Trieste we made the decision late afternoon to leave the campsite and move towards Salzburg rather than stay for the fourth and final night. This meant we could get the majority of driving out of the way in the evening when it would be cooler, and quieter on the roads. We knew we would be to late to check into the campsite so planned to wild camp somewhere. After three and a half hours drive, and with only one hour predicted drive to Salzburg we started to consider a stopping point.
We went into an service station that allowed over night camping, but decided it was too noisy. So we consulted a mobile phone app for flexible camping in the area. We found one that looked like it was going to be be in more tranquil surroundings a little further up the road, so we moved off the A10 motorway at a place called Flaucheuwinkle and found a layby under the cover of darkness. All we could see was limited by the headlights. We had a sneaky suspicion that we were near a fast flowing alpine streams due to the noise, but the views when we got up this morning were amazing.
Mandy had messaged her brother last night before we went to bed regarding our location. He is quite well traveled in Europe and suggested we visit The Eagles Nest. Being really interested in the Second World War, I was excited to find out we were so close to this place our historic interest. After all, this was Adolf Hitler’s summer retreat high in the mountains, in Germany, just on the border of Austria. It was also where a lot of the meetings took place during Hitler’s reign. It was literally a few kilometers off the main road as we moved towards Salzburg, so we both felt it would be to good an opportunity to miss.
As we moved off the main road towards Salzburg, towards Germany, the road started to climb. My van with its 1.9TD engine conversion is prone to getting warm / hot when climbing hills. I always feel it would never really be an issue, but when it gets to a certain temperature on the gauge, if the opportunity arises, I try and stop just to let things settle. The location was amazing as we entered a small alpine village. So we stopped at a hotel / restaurant for a coffee. It was still relatively early, and the Eagles Nest was only a short drive away.
We were immediately greeted by one of the members of staff that showed a genuine interests in my camper-van. Lots of questions, but I’m always willing to share my passion with others should the opportunity arise. Her name was Katherine.
After some discussion we were lead along the front of the hotel to a decked terrace area. This gave us a great vantage point to a fantastic panorama. Shortly after our cappuccinos were brought to our table by Katherine, who told us to enjoys these free of charge. This was a pleasant surprise. She also added that we were to come and find her in the kitchen before we departed as she wanted to bid us fare well. We really weren’t used to such hospitality.
After enjoying the view and our coffees we wandered inside the hotel to find Katherine. I don’t think I’ve ever been inside a hotel that was so prefect. It looked nice from the outside, but the attention to detail inside got me thinking this is 5 star. We moved outside and took a few photos by the van with Katherine. During our parting conversation, we found that it was a family run business with all members, and Katherine was the daughter. Just before we left we were presented with some amazing cakes packaged in a parcel with “have a nice drive”.
We carried on another 4 kilometers up a steep windey road until we got to the Eagles Nest car park and visitors center at the town of Berchtesgaden . This was approximately 11am and all of the car parks were full so we had to park on the grass verge. We brought tickets an had a short wait before we got on one of the specially adapted buses equipped to climb and descend the steep, narrow road to the Kehlsteinhaus.
The journey was amazing, and one of the most interesting stretches of road I have ever traveled. We were informed over the intercom in the bus that we needed to arrange a departure time with the reception at the top. We the first people off the first bus, but after moving to one side to get a drink out of my ruck sack, we found ourselves at the back of a very long que made up of four busses worth of passengers. Not the best move. Still, we are British and we waited with a stiff upper lip. After all, it’s what we do best.
Once we had arranged our bur return, we made our way into a long tunnel to the base of the lift shaft.
We waited in a que for about ten minutes before we got in the lift. It was larger than anticipated but this was enhanced further by the fact that the entire lift had a mirror effect from the polished brass that formed the walls and ceiling. The distance elevated to the Restaurant / viewpoint at the top was pretty substantial, but it was really quick which surprised us especially considering the amount of people it held.
Once at the top we filtered out onto the patio area where the views were amazing. I had a beer and Mandy a coffee, and we reminded ourselves just how luck we were to have had this opportunity to visit such an amazing place. It’s difficult to convey in words just how interesting this attraction is. The weather was certainly in our favor on that day, and I’m sure the visit would have been subdued somewhat with low cloud cover, but we had struck lucky.
“As symbol of power of the NS regime, decisions were made at the Eagle’s Nest. It still stands for the insanity of the regime and the world on the Obersalzberg, where plans for war and mass murder were formed.
In defiance, the building stands perched over a sheer rock wall. A road was cut into the mountain through previously impassable terrain. Although it is an architectural master piece, it was still an act of waste on nature and other resources. To reach it, there is a golden brass elevator buried in the heart of the mountain, through which one can reach „the summit of power“ – all this has been created with the sole purpose to impress and dazzle people. “
This is one of those few places where the photos do all of the talking. Stayed for three nights just after Trieste and the Eagles Nest. Great cycle network into the city, and explored the fortified castle via the funicular train.
Salzburg is a very popular tourist destination and famous for mainly four things: Its Baroque architecture and general prettiness (the old town is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site); as the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; the world-class Salzburg Festival, a series of opera, concerts and theatre performances during the summer; and as the place where the movie “The Sound of Music” was shot.
Our time on the island of Krk was unbelievable. However, we knew that we had to move on. For the first time in a week there was cloud cover, but the temperature wasn’t affected. It felt really muggy and even after a shower I couldn’t stop the perspiration. We had breakfast and finished packing the van.
Both Mandy and I wondered whether or not we are making the right choice trying to stay south to miss the wet weather up north. The difference was a good 8 degrees between Croatia/ Italy, and our original planned Saturday night in Saltzburg, Austria. But we were where we were, and our destination was set for Trieste, Italy.
Apparently the campsite we chose is run by the Camping Club of Italy, who make visitors aware that they are basic, clean, and affordable.
Camping Obelesco is managed by the Camping Club Trieste, an association of local campers that tries to do everything possible, with great efforts, to improve the structure from year to year. We are a 2-star , simple, small, spartan and with reasonable prices.
The campsite was founded in 1968 (the year both Mandy and me were born). After the relative experience of the last campsite we are happy to do affordable, but initial impressions of their dated website, we were a little dubious.
For the duration of the drive between Krk and Trieste we travelled under overcast skies, which probably helped from the point of view that we weren’t getting fried to a crisp by direct sunlight. We needed to get some supplies from Lidl so when we got close to our destination we used Google to find the nearest one. This took us back out of Italy, briefly into Slovenia, past a stud farm . It was all very strange, but great as there were fields full of white horses.
We eventually found the supermarket and continued on towards the campsite. The entrance wasn’t obvious or very well sign posted and when Google maps told me I had reached my destination on the left as we drove downhill towards Trieste it took a while before I could pull in and do a u-turn, but I was alerted as we approached the entrance a second time. A small discreet ageing brown sign was all there was to make us aware we should turn right up a very steep tarmac path.
After 500 meters taking it slow in first gear, with constant concern I may meet something coming the other way on a road that was obviously only wide enough for one vehicle, it finally opened out to car park, a barrier, and the campsite reception.We checked in and were asked to follow the receptionist to our pitch via a scooter .
Our low expectations of this campsite changed for the better as we followed on the narrow, windy path that meandered up into the hillside. Many of the pitches were taken up by caravans that are clearly long term residents. It was all very cosy and secluded being surrounded by trees, and the further up we moved into the campsite, the quieter and more remote it got.
After a few minutes we arrived at a roomy terrace pitch, edged by a low trellis fence with Jasmine growing the entire length. The aroma was unbelivable.
We went through the now all familiar 5 minute process of elevating the roof, winding the awning out, swivelling the chairs and setting up the table and chairs for outdoor living. We spent the rest of the afternoon in a state of disbelief at just how nice our new plot of land was high in the hillside of Trieste. This was a definite win for us! The shade from the trees was welcome, and there was very little noise aside from birds and an occasional bee pollinating the abundance of small white flowers. Bliss!
Later that evening I wandered down to the small taverna at the campsite entrance for a cool beer. The sunset just outside the entrance to the camp was amazing!
The following day was a Sunday and the high-street stores would be closed. So we spent time considering our options as to whether or not to venture into the city. We took our time in the morning and breakfast turned into brunch as we chilled. But by midday we had decided that we would dip into Trieste for a wander around and a coffee.
Transport options were restricted to a bus service since the trams had stopped operating some four or five years ago. I’m not sure exactly why because all of the infrastructure is still there. Maybe EU intervention saying the vehicles weren’t up to regulations? Talking to one local the night before in the restaurant told me they have plans to run it again, but it is a slow process which is frustrating the region. As it transpired, the bus service is reliable and very cheap. We had to buy our tickets from kiosks machine as you couldn’t buy them on the bus. €1.30 was the price of an hours travel on every day of the week except Sunday where it was valid for 4 hours due to a reduced service.
The bus followed the steep windy road into the city and stopped on a back street where everybody got off and the bus was empty! The obvious conclusion was this must be the end of the line so we followed suit. It was a little confusing as we were expecting a bus terminal, or some local place of interest like a water feature or town square, but nothing so obvious. By the time we realised this, the crowd of people that had gotten off at our stop had dispersed. So we were left scratching our heads on the adjacent street corners before we committed to a direction that looked the busiest. Our instincts proved to be correct and it wasn’t long before the quiet back streets were left behind us as, and we moved into the heart of Trieste.
Over the course of the afternoon we covered a great deal of distance. With no real plan we found it easy to find many of the things that makes this city so enticing. Towards late afternoon, and with the heat beating down on us we sought sanctuary in the air conditioning of a MacDonalds. Mandy was hungry, and I was thirsty. Never ordered a beer in MacDonalds before. This was a first!
We had certainly put the leg work in, and our smart watches were backing up what our feet already knew !
We were suprised when we returned to the campervan and settled down to look at a guide to the things to see and do in Trieste, that a large chunk had been ticked off the list during our afternoons outing.
That evening we were blessed with a cool breeze. This seemed to be exaggerated overnight due to the abundance of trees surrounding our van at the campsite, and I was really surprised we had no rain. On the morning the wind dropped a little and it was slightly overcast. We used this as an excuse to catch up with some of the UK news via BBC iplayer, and were slow to decide on a plan for the day. Based on our progress the day before around the city, we felt we were in a position where we could look a little further afield for the next days sight seeing. We chose to visit the local attraction Parco del Castello Miramare.
We chose to visit using the campervan, which we seldom use to get around locally once the van has been set up for camping. However, the options to catch two buses each way to get to the castle, one into Trieste, the other out and vice versa on return, really didn’t appeal to us knowing how hot it was going to be. It was only a 20 minute drive by van so it was a bit of a no brainer. We didn’t realise just how steep an incline it was to get to the Castle. Some of the steepest inclines I’ve experienced. This required cooling the breaks with water at one point on the way down, and a slightly scary moment where i had to stop for a bus coming down the road on just about the steepest (worst) place i could have wished to have stopped..
As is often the case we knew little about Parco del Castello Miramare before we arrived. We had no doubts that it was worth a visit but we were blown away by the beauty of this place. It’s a coastal Castle with amazing gardens. It didn’t cost is a penny to get in, which was amazing, considering.
Our third day at this location saw us catching the bus into the city again for one final look around. Originally our plans were to stay at Camping Obelisco for 4 nights as it was really nice. It was a bit of a last minuite decission as it approached late afternoon that we may be better off leaving that evening and heading towards Saltzburg taking advantage of the cooler temprature, and less traffic on the roads. After a quick shower we were back on the road within an hour.