As you can see from the photo at the top of post there has been a lot rain in the last few days. Last night we were talking about what to do today as the forecast called for more rain, particularly in the afternoon. Ton pointed out that we were here for 60 days so we did not need to go out and get soaked. So this morning we slept in. We will head into Ljubljana proper tomorrow.
We finally got up and moving about around 11am, and of course the sun was out, and it hadn’t rained in a few hours. We decided to head over to the nearest grocery so we could see what Slovenia had to offer for food. We were walking down a busy suburban street when Ton saw a couple of apple trees below us on a steep hill. We were talking about them when we heard a voice talking to us in Slovenian from the middle of the tree. It turned out to be an old gentleman who had climbed up the hill and was gathering some apples. He spoke to us in Slovenian, and Ton spoke to him in English, finally sign language prevailed and she got him to pose for a nice picture.
While we shopping in the grocery store Ton asked if they had any lactose free milk. Of course I have no idea what Lactose or free is in Slovenian, but one of the grocery store workers heard the question and volunteered that they did and took us to the milk where she explained all of the different options. We ended up buying a couple of liters. She then said if we had any more questions please come find her.
We have a challenge we have done since we arrived on our first trip to Europe. When shopping for wine in grocery stores we have a €2.99 limit on what we buy. Most of the time we get a very serviceable local wine, and occasionally a really good wine. Today we found a very nice Slovenian wine for €2.20 with the bonus that it was 1 liter instead of the normal .75 liters. It went really well with our French sausages from Costco and our Tabouleh from Auchan in France.
Actually the rain did not kick in in earnest until about 4 o’clock, so I felt bad. But once it did it really rained so I felt a little better.
The rainy weather continues to be an issue. Most of our trips during shoulder season we have pretty good weather, but alas not on this trip. Last night we were trying to make plans. We thought about spending a few days in Slovenia, but from what we read, outside of Ljubljana, most of the best activity is nature oriented. Unfortunately it is supposed to carry on raining for another four or five days, so hiking in parks and along beautiful lakes did not have much appeal. So Slovenia is going to have to wait for a future trip to get more of our attention.
We decided to continue heading south with a planned two day stop in Ljubljana as it is supposed to be a pretty city. As we were packing up in Salzburg the sun came out, and for the first half of our trip down the Austrian Autobahn we had good weather and spectacular views. A little bit of optimism about the weather crept into our discussion, until about an hour before crossing into Slovenia the skies opened up again.
By the time we pulled into the campground for the day, it was pouring heavily with occasional claps of thunder. The heaviest rain we have seen during this week of rain. Any thoughts of getting out and exploring today were dashed. Instead we hunkered down and did some planning for Croatia, and trying to figure out how to pronounce Ljubljana. As we were chatting we realized that Slovenia is our 4th country in 5 days.
We had decided we were going into Salzburg today no matter the weather. The weather was bad as it rained nearly all day and it was pretty cool. Looking on the good side it never rained hard, just kind of drizzled all day.
Salzburg besides being a pretty city is known for two things, Mozart and the “Sound of Music.” Everywhere you go as a tourist you are offered opportunities to experience both of them. We of course joined in, focusing mostly on Mozart.
During the peak of Salzburg’s wealth from the salt mines that gave its name it belonged to the Vatican as an independent city. As a result it has a great many churches for a city of its size. We walked around and took in the exterior of most of them, but didn’t bother to go inside any of them. We often debate paying the admission fees when they are in place for the churches. It is obvious that the maintenance costs for these great buildings must be extraordinary, but we have been in so many now that we usually don’t bother going in when it costs money.
The highlight of the day was lunch. Ton had told me that she missed German dumplings so I had picked out a restaurant that was famous (on Trip Advisor!) for its huge bread dumplings. When we arrived they seated us at a table for 8 and said they would be seating another group with us. Luckily for us they were two lovely couples, and a very well behaved dog. I was confused at first because some of their conversation was in German, and then they would switch to proper British accented English. It turns out the older of the two couples were an English-Austrian couple, and the other couple was their daughter who had grown up in England but married a German and lived in Munich. So we had the best of all worlds as they could coach us thru the food and the beer. We had a great time talking to them and helping celebrate the fathers birthday. The food was good, the beer was good, and the company was great. The perfect formula for a memorable meal.
During the conversation they learned Ton was from Thailand, and they laughed and said their dog was originally from Thailand. They had gone on vacation there and the dog was a street dog that hung around the apartment they were using as their base. Over the couple of weeks they were visiting they fell in love with the dog and figured out how to bring her home with them. Her name is now Lucky (actually the German equivalent of lucky that I’ve already forgot.) Ton was tickled to meet another Thai at our lunch, even if she couldn’t talk.
As we were walking around we saw several works of art that we really enjoyed. They varied from the very serious and moving to whimsical and cute.
We had spent our entire day on the rich side of the river so after lunch we crossed over to the working class side of the river. Historically the ruling class lived on one side of the river, and the workers lived on the other side of the Salzach River. So the side with all of the monuments feels quiet and touristy, and the working class side now feels modern and bustling.
Our last stop was the gardens that surround the town hall. It was a little late in the year, but there were still some flowers looking a little worst for wear.
Our last stop was the Gnome Gardens. Their were originally 21 Gnomes carved out of stone and placed in the gardens in the 1600’s. In the early 1800’s they were sold off to individuals. The city has been trying to reacquire them and at this point has managed to regain 18.
Today was another long driving day in bad weather. All together we covered nearly 400km’s (around 250 miles). The trip was all on the autobahn. The only issue today was it rained pretty much all day, sometimes heavily. Despite that we arrived at the Stellplatz (RV park) in Salzburg about 2:00.
We are about 15 to 20 minutes by bus from the center of Salzburg. The debate we had when we arrived was whether to head downtown today or wait for tomorrow. That debate was ended by a sudden downpour that told us to wait for tomorrow. About an hour later the rain let up and we decided to head out to a mall we saw driving in.
What we thought was a mall was a bunch of wholesale stores for different fashion labels. We quickly realized it was not for retail customers, but for buyers. On the way back we noticed two other large building that also contained wholesale shops for clothes. So I guess our non-descript Stellplatz is in the center of the fashion design center for Austria.
We walked back to the Stellplatz, and enjoyed watching the arrivals of a bunch of our fellow RV’ers. It is always fun to watch people arriving and parking their RV’s for the night. Even though it is late September and the weather is pretty poor by 5 o’clock the Stellplatz was full, and people were improvising overflow parking.
Tomorrow we are heading into Salzburg for the day rain or shine. Ton is really looking forward to comparing Austrian potato dumplings with their German cousins!
Another day more or less in transit. This is an unusual trip for us as we are spending the first few days focusing on covering ground to get to where we want to start really looking for adventures. Ton saw we were passing by Stuttgart and told me there was a major US Army Garrison there and she wanted to use big American washing machines. So our first priority today was laundry, with some shopping for American stuff in the military stores on the base. These long trips have a different rhythm than one or two week vacations.
When we arrived at the Army base I was startled to see a bunch of Marines running around. When I was a Marine we had very little presence in Europe, but that was a long time ago. Today there is a headquarters for US Marine Forces Europe and Africa right next door to where we were washing our clothes. Somehow seeing the young men and women from the service I served in gave me a good feeling and brought back very pleasant memories.
It took a few hours to take care of everything, and we headed for a parking area in a small town near the base. We got the next to last spot in the Stellplatz so we have electricity for François tonight. Our neighbor is a friendly Brit who told us he loved traveling around the western US, particularly Montana and Wyoming.
After we got settled in we decided to head into town to look for some German staples that we liked from our previous trip. The town is cute and has some nice half timbered houses, but overall was pretty sleepy. We found the Lidl Grocery and now our refrigerator is truly stuffed with a mix of French, German, and American favorites to tide us over for a couple of weeks.
We had visited Strasbourg on a previous trip and had really enjoyed it despite the weather being really poor. We decided to give it another look today despite the weather forecast calling for rain.
We woke up a little late to some rain tapping on the roof of François, and by the time we got organized to leave it was 10:00. The drive to Strasbourg was 400km’s (about 250 miles) but the road was largely good without too many small villages to slow us down so we made good time and arrived at the campground in the city about 2:30. We were a little surprised to end up in the overflow parking for the night as the main campground was full. As we were having a late lunch Ton and I were entertained by watching a Dutch couple shift their motorhome from spot to spot around the overflow trying to get their satellite dish to work. By the time we left for town they still had not found a spot where they could connect.
The walk to town was about a mile and a half along a nice canal. The old part of Strasbourg is built on an island in the middle of I’ILL River with several canals splitting the island on one end. It is very picturesque. It also has a beautiful collection of half timbered homes.
The cathedral is very elaborate, and one of the larger ones we have seen. While we were walking around it the bells were sounding for quite an extended period of time. In fact they were going for so long that Ton thought it might have been a recording and not the actual bells.
We spent quite a while walking around downtown enjoying the sites and watching the people, which is always fun. Strasbourg is the major city in Alsace and this region has always been a border region between Germany and France, and has changed hands multiple times in the last 300 years ago. It is an interesting mixture of German and French culture and food.
After a couple of hours of walking around we decided it was time to head back to François for dinner. We got back just as the rain arrived so today turned out really well.
We also watched the Dutch couple move their motorhome one last time in an attempt to connect to the satellite. As we went to the shower we noticed their dish was locked up, and their TV was glowing inside so the 5th time was the charm for them.
First a disclaimer, the picture at the top is from our archives, we both forgot to take any photos today. As you can tell we have moved on from Migennes. Amazon came thru as promised and delivered the power cord for Greta Garmin, so we are now able to once again navigate in Europe.
Today was planned as a logistics day. We wanted to go to one of the two Costco’s in France to stock up with food for the trip. After that we planned to go to a cellular phone store to get a cell phone with a French number so that we can call locally if we need to.
I was a little worried about Costco as it is on the outskirts of Paris, and well traffic in Paris is famous for not being friendly for tourists. I don’t know if we were lucky or the Costco is far enough out in the suburbs, but the traffic was pretty reasonable and we arrived about 2 hours after we left Migennes. The next two hours were spent in shopping bliss as we bought enough stuff to fill all of the cabinets in François and the refrigerator also. We should have enough food to last weeks, but we will probably have to swing thru a German grocery store to pick up some favorites in the next couple of days. The Costco is an interesting combination of staples from the US, and really interesting local products but on a Costco scale. We bought a few old favorites, and a bunch of interesting European food.
I picked a campground that was about an hour from Costco in the general direction of Germany. When we arrived it was in a very small town in the middle of the country. The app I use for picking where to stay at night said that it had a 160 spots. When we rolled in they were mostly occupied by permanent looking trailers, but there were a few spots for transit RV’s like us.
The owner/manager showed us down a road to 5 or 6 unoccupied spots, I asked Electric? in my best French accent (Electrique?), she hit me with a blast of French and pointed towards the back of the spot, jumped on her bike and rode off. We parked François and I headed to the back of the spot where I found the strangest and most dilapidated looking electric box I have seen in Europe (or North America for that matter). Thinking it must be abandoned I went poking around for a newer one, but ended back at the strange box. Crossing my fingers I cleared the cobwebs away and plugged in, and went to check. The bad news was that of course it didn’t work, the good news is it didn’t short out François’ electrical system. There were a few unmarked buttons on the box so I pushed them randomly, but this did not deliver any electricity. I then went and looked at the other spots to see if there was anything more promising, but they all had the same box. I even threw the power cord over some bushes to try one of the other boxes, but no joy. So back up front to talk to the owner/manger, I again got a very animated and lengthy explanation in French, all of the time with a nice smile, but I was no more wise about the electrical situation, than when I walked up there. Thinking that my inability to speak French in France was my problem not hers I decided to trudge back to our site to see if I could figure out some options, one of which was giving up on electricity for the night.
While I was up having my unproductive walk, Ton had joined in the hunt for a suitable electrical box. When I returned she pointed at a box across from where we were parked, and told me to try that one. I had looked at it earlier and to my eye it didn’t look any more promising than the three I had already tried and told her so. Ton than decided that we would go up one more time to talk to the manager/owner. This time Ton asked the question and received the same enthusiastic answer in French. I looked at her and asked if she understood, and of course she didn’t.(Despite having a degree in French from the finest University in Thailand, but that is another story.) But Ton then asked if she could show us, and the lady said sure, so off the three of us set. As we walked back down to François I kept apologizing but she told me it was no problem (I think, but whatever she said she said it nicely). When we got to François she pointed at the same spot Ton had earlier told me to try, which made Ton very happy. We now have electricity.
We never did get the cell phone plan, but that is another story of failure on my part that can go untold.
We are still in Migenness waiting for our power cord to arrive and recovering from jet lag. Each trip it seems to take just a little bit longer to get over the jet lag. As much as we don’t want to admit it we are getting older.
Today will be short and sweet as we did not do much. I am still falling asleep early and waking up early and Ton is still falling asleep late and waking up late, though she did fess up to not wanting to get out of the warm bed delayed her getting up this morning. The temperatures have been in the high 40’s overnight gradually warming up to about 70 during the day, which is nice except François is a little cold in the mornings. While we are talking about the weather, it is going to put a crimp in our travels. Everywhere we want to visit between here in France and Zagreb in Croatia is supposed to have rain for the next ten days! We finally decided that we are Oregonians and a little rain is not going to hold us back.
We had a couple of short walks today, and that is about the extent of our activity so there is not much else to talk about. Hopefully the power cord will arrive tomorrow as promised by Amazon and we can get on our way.
There is not a lot to talk about today. Ton and I are both jet lagged but in different ways. I am falling asleep very early in the evening around 8 am and waking very early. Ton is having a hard time falling asleep and ended up waking about 10:30.
Since I was up early and didn’t want to bother Ton I went for a walk into town. It turned out it was market day. Ton usually loves these town markets so I thought I would go back to François and see if she wanted to go. She was still asleep so I went for another walk.
Later in the afternoon we both headed into town, but by then the market was closed, and you would not know it had been bustling with vendors in the morning, just a small cleaning crew putting the finishing touches on washing the floor.
After a visit to the local Aldi to buy some more groceries we followed the canal the town is famous for and came across a group of seniors playing Petanque. Ton tried to take a stealth photo of the group but one gentleman saw her and began teasing her in a friendly way, until he realized she did not understand his French and it was all wasted on her, so he gave a big Gallic shrug and turned back to the game.
We ended our lazy day with a nice pasta meal, and an early bed time for me.
We have returned to the campground that we spent our last night in France in June. It is located pretty close to where we store François, and we really like the people. Our loyalty was more than paid back as you will read later.
This trip had a little more adventure to it than normal, but nothing too dramatic. We decided to try a slightly different route to Paris than in the past. We had been flying a shuttle to Seattle and taking a direct flight to Paris from Seattle. Portland has a direct flight to Amsterdam, and then you connect to Paris. Since it is still two legs we decided to try leaving from our hometown. Everything was on track until the Friday before we left we received an email from KLM saying they had canceled the flight from Amsterdam to Paris and we should contact Delta to get a new flight. I called Delta and the lady who answered said that KLM had not notified them that they had canceled the flight, I told her I had an email from KLM telling me, she asked if I could wait on hold while she called KLM to see what was going on. After about 30 minutes on hold she came back on the line and confirmed that the flight was canceled, and asked if we would mind being rebooked on Air France a couple of hours later, which was better than I expected. The slight delay however, meant though that we could not make it to Sens in time to pick up François, so we ended up in a hotel near the airport for the first night.
Then after we unpacked I realized I had left the power cord for Greta the Garmin at home in Oregon which is a huge problem because as much as I complain about her she is our second most important tool for getting around over here. We visited 5 stores in an attempt to find a replacement with no luck. Ton confirmed it was available on Amazon so as it was getting late we decided to try to figure out how to get an Amazon account set up in Europe and order one for delivery here. When we checked into the campground I explained our problem to Leo the campground manager, and he immediately volunteered to order one using his Amazon account. So our new power cable should be here on Saturday, and once again the wonderful people at Confluence Campground in Migennes have made us very happy.