THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Homeward Bound

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We’re going Home

So, as usual the Gulls have had us awake since around 04.30.  We still try to catch another hours sleep but it’s almost impossible…… as soon as the first rays of sun appear in the sky they squeal and screech, circling around the sky outside our window.  The 3 youngsters are still trying to laze about and not fend for themselves but they are all flying now… they are still squawking for their Mother like spoiled brats.

The Mr, who is usually very sympathetic to wildlife is now wishing he had a gun!  He is only joking of course but the lack of sleep is getting to us both!  We stayed in Brixham recently and I’m sure we didn’t have so much Gull trouble…… oh well we’re up now so we may as well get on with it.

So after paying the bill, handing in the keys and trundling down in the tiny lift with our bags, we are once again on board our trusty Cilla for the homeward leg of our adventure.

Sally Sat Nav says 12 miles and 22 minutes to the Car Ferry, should be a breeze.  It was. .. Until 5 miles out when there was a diversion.  Thanks to the Gulls, we had left earlier than planned and have time to spare because this looks confusing!  We followed all the other vehicles who were also following the diversion signs for about 2 miles.  Sally Sat Nav was saying “make a ‘U’ turn! ……where?! So we went all the way around a roundabout and sure enough, good old Sally redirected us toward the car ferry.

We went through French Border Control, produced our passports, then further on they stopped every car and opened the boot.  A bit further on we went through British Passport Control all ok, then we were stopped a second time and asked to open the boot.  The security is much tighter than when we have travelled before.  This is a good thing and we don’t mind the waiting, better safe than sorry but some people become very frustrated by all the stops.

At last, Cilla is in line 30 and we can sit and wait to board.  There is a bit of confusion as boarding started surprisingly early and some people hadn’t returned to their cars.  This caused a slight hold up but a after about 15 minutes we were all packed like Sardines on Deck 5.  We clock our position so we know where to return to.  “Red stairs, Deck 5b, come down the stairs and turn left” …… now we get up the stairs as quickly as possible to grab a window seat and the Mr is almost first in the breakfast queue!  ….. Result!  Full English and now we are set up for the long drive from Dover to home.  Mind you in comparison to some of our long trips on this adventure, 250 or so miles should be easy and we will be driving on the right side of the road!

The driving is tiring but well worth it as you get to experience things you would otherwise miss, like the Belgian Petrol Station, where you have to go in and pay (even though you don’t yet know how much you will need).  So for instance, you go in and give them €40, then you fill up and if it’s only €33 you go back in again for your change? Seems odd but I bet no one drives away without paying….the pump doesn’t work until you go in and pay or your card is authorised.  I just wish they would explain this to us before we have spent 10 minutes trying to work out why the pump isn’t working!

Anyway, on the Ferry, breakfast finished I go and look at the Duty Free.  Bargains are hard to find these days as you can buy most things cheaper in our supermarkets. I had a bottle of perfume reduced and also, Bombardier Sapphire Gin and a bottle of Prosecco Ice which I’ve never seen before and for £4.99 I thought I’d give it a go!  Just hope it isn’t like vinegar!

Finally after around an hour and a half, the White Cliffs of Dover appear on the horizon…. I always think about how the soldiers must have felt, coming back from the  trenches, it must have been such a welcome sight after the horror and devastation of war and they would be thinking of their families and  those who didn’t make it home.  It makes me feel so emotional…..

 

We left the Port at 11.20, so Sally Sat Nav says ETA at home is 15.05. It’s 250 miles or so and this is obviously dependant on being able to travel at the national speed limit the entire time …… you must be kidding!  The Mr was driving the first stint and after 100 miles we decided to stop for a coffee and a bathroom stop.  We don’t want to push it, we have hardly slept for 3 days and travelling is always tiring so we will take our time.  I have done a fair bit of driving this holiday but the Mr is a bit of a car hog and will only allow me to drive the car (my car incidentally) when he is absolutely knackered! So now we are back in the UK I have reclaimed my car and I am determined to drive the Lion’s share of the journey home today.  So when we stopped I said “my turn”… amazingly he agreed immediately, “he’s more tired than I thought”(I said under my breath).

So, with 155 miles to go to home, we set off back into the queue of traffic on the M25.  We should have been home by 17.00 at the latest and I want to call in and surprise my Mother.

BBC Radio 2 traffic warnings were not sounding good for our route.  We heard reports of a Hay lorry on fire, an accident further on with 2 lanes closed.   So we turned the music up on Steve Wrights Big show and sang along with the music…. loudly!  No good getting crotchety about it, we are on our way home and the people who are involved in the accidents are far worse off than us.

Stop-start-stop-start….. Oh… after 2 hours it was still no better. Occasionally we got up to 40mph but then before long it was at a standstill again.  Sally Sat Nav was trying to re-route us via Southampton and Basingstoke but I was having none of it, we stayed on the M4.  Then we heard that there was another huge queue between Chippenham and Bath…. they weren’t exaggerating it went on and on and on.  My Daughter and Son in law are travelling to my Son’s today, so they are on the M4 too, going down to Portsmouth.  We text them to say we were stuck in traffic.  They told us they were just passing Bath and the queues on our side of the M4 went on for miles.  BUGGER!  That’s all we need.  About 10 minutes later, we spotted them on the other side and we both blew our horns as they hurtled by and we just sat there in the queue!  Seems ridiculous that we are both on the same motorway!

At 17.00 we were still plodding along at a ridiculously slow speed and we had text Simon Mayo to see if we could get a mention on his Drive Time request show.  More loud singing and listening to the requests.  As we were singing and playing the drums on the steering wheel… so other cars went by doing the same thing and smiling at us.  Funny how you share brief moments with people you don’t know in these situations! We never did get a mention from Simon!

Finally, just past Bristol the sign said ‘END’…… We still only managed 40mph but at least we were moving at last…… the next queue was for the Bridge and then it was pretty plain sailing all the way to Mams.  We finally arrived at her house at 19.25… it took five and a half hours to travel 155 miles and I did it without a bathroom stop.. Not bad for a Granny…….

So after catching up with Mother, shopping for basics as we have no food or milk etc… We finally arrived home at 20.30…. Phew what a day!

We are now sat on the patio, with a log fire, relaxing….. Home sweet home!

To summarise the holiday would be difficult but I’ll try…

2,396 miles in 22 days….. 8 hotels, some good, some bad….. 13 languages or dialects we tried to deal with but not very well…… 6 Tram journeys…. 6 Castles…. High Alpine roads….. Funicular Railways….. Almost €400 in fuel….. €247 in parking fees …..The Lipizzaner Horses…… Hop on, hop off buses….. Over 22 days the average we walked was 7 miles per day … total 154 miles.

We ate Greek, Indian, German, Italian, Chinese, Austrian and traditional food in 4 countries and as we passed through the Netherlands we actually travelled through 5 countries.

Spatzle. .. Sachertorte. ..Strudel…. Kren… Pumpkin seed oil or Kernol…. Salami…. Bratwurst….. Spinach dumplings…..Omelette. … Crevettes. ….Continental breakfasts…..

Snow…Rain….Wind….Heat….Sunburn…..Mozzie-bites….Hay-fever….Jippy Stomach and glorious sunsets.

Seagulls… thunderstorms….traffic jams… Road works… oh I could go on and on…. all in all, it was absolutely amazing and me and the Mr didn’t have a cross word, even when he wanted to shoot Gary the Gull!

This is Granny ranting for the last time this holiday, thanks for taking time out to read…. bye for now xx 😉

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Bye Bye Ostende

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Last day in Ostende

We were right it was a sticky night, without air conditioning we need the large window open, so as a result I now have 3 really angry Mozzie bites, we need the Apotheke (Pharmacy)….. When I get bitten, the bites always flare up and are hot and angry.  We are also knackered from no sleep.

The plan today is that after breakfast we will walk to the Main Church in Ostende.  If you have ever been there, you will know the one I mean, Sint -Petrus Pauluskerke (Saint Peter and Paul’s Church) on Boudenwijnstraat.

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It was built in 1899. It is a Roman Catholic, Neo Gothic church and its spires are 72 metres high. The stained glass windows were destroyed during WW1 & 2 and the replacement windows were created by Michiel Martens.  It is really impressive inside and out and if you ever get the chance go and see It!

We take a few photos (well as lot actually), then we took a walk down through the main shopping area, it was heaving with people and we popped into a few shops when we spotted something different.   Mostly the shops are exactly as at home these days and you rarely see anything anywhere in Europe that you can’t buy at home.  This is why we stopped bringing holiday presents home ages ago.  What do you take?  Chocolate, booze, fridge magnets?

As we had almost finished our walk we stopped at a small bar in the square for a drink, it was lovely, under the umbrella, cooler and with a breeze.  For a few minutes, the breeze became a wind and there were a few grey clouds.  The waiter said “it should rain at 14.30”…. really? Sure enough at 14.28 I felt 2 spots of rain on my arm and everyone was glancing at the sky…… that was it!  A 2 spot rain shower but what a difference, I reckon it had cooled down by at least 5 degrees… far more comfortable.

Before we left we looked at the food menu and decided to reserve a table for the evening.  The waiter said it was advisable to do so if we wanted to guarantee a table.  We thanked him, paid the bill and walked about 500 metres to our hotel…..the minute I took my shoes off, I realised I had left a bag behind. So I trudged back along the street and across the square.

The waiter spotted me “Aha… it is in the bar” he said loudly …. “The little green bag with the olive picks in”.  Phew!  “That’s great, thanks for that” I said and picked it up from the bar.  I’m glad I got the bag back because most importantly my Mozzie Cream was in there!

In the evening we went back to the bar, the waiter recognised us immediately and gestured to the table he had reserved for us. I ordered a Rib Eye Steak and the Mr ordered Cod. We shared a nice bottle of Red wine and were at the bar for around 2 and a half hours.

We chatted about the fact that neither of us have tried the Mussels ….ever.  I am not a lover of seafood.  We both love Fish and Prawns but following a few tummy issues in the past I’m not keen to try Seafood again.  Also Moulles do not look appetising at all and I am pretty adventurous where food is concerned.

So after paying the bill and tipping the waiter we left for a final walk along the seafront.  What a difference, much cooler, cold even! We were in thin tee shirts and others were in cardigans and coats.  It was once again an absolutely stunning sunset…. “We should sleep tonight” we said in unison…”it’s so much cooler”….. How wrong could we be?!

We got to bed around 11.15, it was indeed cooler, well…slightly cooler. At 01.30 we were both still awake. Kids screaming, doors slamming, cars driving up the one way street and because they are so narrow the sound is deafening.  These cars have booming speakers and modified exhausts….. At 03.20 a family of Gulls were squawking and someone was clattering up and down on a skateboard…..Oh ….what a long night!

So this morning after a few hours very broken sleep, we look like death warmed up and can’t wait to leave Hotel Cardiff!  While this place in interesting and quirky, it is not recommended I’m afraid, too hot, too noisy and too 1950s!

If you remember, the car park was a 10 minutes’ walk away, so before breakfast we took some of our stuff back to the car and then walked back for breakfast.  On the way, once again we saw a young Gull we call Gary. He has obviously flown the nest before he can fly properly and his Mother has been feeding him on the ground and then flying back up to the other youngsters on the roof.  He has been on the ground near parked cars all the time we have been here and practices his wing strokes often. I hope he manages to survive until he can actually take off!  I’m sure he is responsible for the Gulls calling loudly all night!  Cheers Gary!

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Gary the Gull!

So on we go to Dunkirk, we are only staying one night and apart from a traffic jam on the way the journey was a doddle. The Ibis Hotel is central and as soon as soon we arrived we went out for a walk to the Marina while our room was being made up.

In the afternoon we watched another family of Gulls on the roof opposite the room, the youngsters are being encouraged to fly by Mother Gull.   At the time of writing, 2 out of 3 have become airborne in the last 15 minutes and one is sat on his backside waiting to go.

They are squawking like crazy and we are hoping they will quieten down before bedtime.  Ferry home tomorrow. We sail at 10.00…..over and out….. Granny.

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – I do Like to be Beside the Seaside

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Tram Ticket in a Heatwave….  and another Sunset.

Good morning, it is Wednesday 20th July and we have just eaten breakfast at the Cardiff Hotel.  Traditional continental breakfast of Ham, Salami, Slices of Cheese, Jams and massive bread rolls.  The breakfast tea is not ‘proper’ tea and is always weaker than dish water.  The Coffee smells nice but I can’t drink Coffee first thing.

We eat breakfast in the dining room which looks like Miss Haversham’s boudoir (Dickens’ Great Expectations).  Huge bunches of Roses half a metre tall on the tables and probably 25 Orchids adorn the windowsills.  The chandeliers are lit and the owners are scurrying about feeding the clientele.  They really are eccentric but very professional in an old fashioned way.  I would imagine that in its day, this Hotel would have been very busy….. It probably still looks like it did 50 years ago.  Breakfast is plentiful and pleasant (apart from the tea).

Back to yesterday…….. We decided to buy a day ticket for the Tram and explore the Flemish Coast.  At around 10.30 we got ready and loaded up the rucksack.  We walked along to tourist information first to get a map of the coastline, so that we can decide what we want to see. It is already 28 degrees and although I never set foot outside without plastering myself in sunscreen, I’m already burning and I hog every bit of shade I can find.  This trip is not going to be easy in this heat but I’m trying not to complain.  Being a natural redhead, I turn to Pork Scratchings in the sun and it’s dangerous, it worries me.  “There should be air-conditioning on the trams” says I …… how wrong can you be.

We boarded the tram in the middle of Ostende and it was packed, standing room only and we found ourselves literally shoulder to shoulder with people. Mothers with children in pushchairs, a lady in a wheelchair, men going to work, holiday makers loaded up with rubber rings and beach bags, babies screaming because it was too hot.  Women fanning themselves, (including me) to try and relieve some of the heat.

Originally we were going to go directly to Du Panne, this is the end of the line.   We decided we couldn’t travel this far in this heat, it was overwhelming and the air conditioning, if there was any, wasn’t dealing with the crowd on the tram,  so we hopped off at Nieuwpo0rt, we have been here before with the camper and it is a lovely place. Less commercialised than Ostende but since we were here last, a lot of building work has taken place and new houses are springing up all over, along with small office blocks and what may turn out to be hotels.

We wandered a little way from the tram stop and realised that walking around in this heat is not a good idea.  So we sat in the shade at a bar and drank water and beer….. Beer… Probably not a good idea in 30 degrees…… then we got back on the tram.  This day was not going to be as successful as we had anticipated.

We travelled on to Du Panne Esplanade and got off, as soon as you step of the tram the heat hits you like opening your oven when your Yorkshire Puddings are cooking. (Not the best bit of writing I know but I cannot think of another way to describe this heat!).  It is scorching and when you look down the esplanade, you can see the heat rising and making the people in the distance appear hazy and blurred.

So again, we decided to stop this time for lunch, we find a table in the shade. It was 13.30 by now and ‘mad dogs and English men’ and all that…… I am beginning to feel a bit queasy from all this heat.

After 20 minutes of taking pictures we could stick it no more and I think we made a wise decision to get back on the tram and out of the heat.

The tram we boarded at Du Panne was almost empty but it still felt very hot and we had to go to the main station for the changeover of drivers, so as the heat rose in this tin can, we sat and waited…..and waited.  It was probably 15 minutes but it seemed like an age!  When we started travelling again it became apparent that the back doors of the tram didn’t work, this meant that even when the trams stopped, you didn’t get the rush of fresh air through the doors when they opened, so the heat got worse and worse and was quite sickening. .. Oh happy days!

We hopped off half way at Westende, as we can’t stand it any longer, we went and bought water.  Then we got onto the next tram to go back to Ostende.  This one too was crammed and when at last we got off we were so relieved.

The breeze was wonderful and we walked along the seafront past all the fresh fish stalls with their Prawn salads and dressed crabs.  You can find any fish you want here, smoked, cooked, raw  shellfish, big ones small ones…. absolutely anything from  the sea.

The Mr bought some prawns in a dressing and as the lady passed them to him with a little fork she said “be careful for the Seagulls”!  They are everywhere and they are huge and very aggressive where food is involved!  The Mr managed to consume his snack unchallenged though and we walked on along the front sucking up the fresh air……… back at the room we tried to relax even though there is no relief from the heat here either.

So, after a shower, a shower and more water to drink, we loaded the camera bags and took the tripods, a couple of cans of cold beer and the picnic blankets.  Tonight we will take some decent pictures of the sunset if we’re lucky.  So we plodded through the streets and along the front until we were in the right position to witness the sunset.  We weren’t disappointed, at 21.20 we were poised, test shots done, tripods positioned and we opened our beer “Prost” ….. We clinked our cans together and waited. We took picture after picture until at 22.10 the sun finally disappeared over the horizon!  What a sight….the colour, the breeze and what a lovely memory we now have.  We were still on the beach at 10.45 and the air coming off the sea was tropical.

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We walked back up onto the Seafront, a glass of wine at a small bar and then we bought ice-cream and we ate it as we walked slowly back to the room…… at last it’s a bit cooler in the streets… more than can be said for the room… it’s going to be a sticky night……….. Goodnight all…. Granny 😆

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Ostende and the Cardiff Hotel!

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Destination Ostende!

So we’re up and at ‘em again this morning.  We are on schedule to leave the car park by 08.30…. We thought!  How much stuff can you accumulate in one hotel room in 4 days?  It took 3 trips to the car, up and down 5 floors in the lift. Unbelievable!  We are used to living in our van for 3 weeks, so we just wake up get dressed pack the bed away and drive.  This hotel business is nowhere near as easy!

So by the time we get away its 09.00 and Sally Sat Nav says 354 miles with an ETA of 14.34, sounds good, hopefully we won’t hit any road works and with one stop for a coffee and the bathroom, we should get there by 15.30.

It was quite a pain free journey and we hurtled along averaging 80mph most of the way. There were a few areas where we were down to one lane with road works but on the whole incident free.  We arrive in Ostende at around 15.00 in glorious sunshine and 29 degrees!  The place is packed with people and it has a real holiday season feel.

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Cardiff hotel Breakfast Room

 

Hotel Cardiff – now I know I am Welsh but we didn’t choose this Hotel because of its name.  We found it on Booking.com it had good reviews and the price was within our budget.  The name was just coincidental.  Finding the place was a nightmare, in and out of side streets, in between hundreds of people, through streets that looked pedestrianised but cars and vans were travelling through stopping anywhere to unload and blocking up the whole street.  How someone doesn’t get killed is beyond me!

Finally Sally Sat Nav said, “You have reached your destination on the right” sure enough there was a big old fashioned sign saying ‘HOTEL CARDIFF’ ….“Ok… said the Mr, spot the car park?” Park here for a minute, I’ll go in and ask” says I.

OMG! This place is a throwback to the 50s.  As I walked in through the door, a shop bell rang to announce my entrance. There is dark red wall paper with murals of war and epic scenes from history. There are tall lamps, floor to ceiling almost, with lamp stands of African Slaves (!).  Huge chandeliers drip from the ceiling in the dining room, with sparkling glass beads twinkling in the sun.  I stood there for a minute as no-one came, I looked around and could hardly believe what I was seeing.  Then as if by magic, a lady probably in her mid-70s appeared behind me and spoke.  She probably said “good afternoon” but it was in Belgian, so I had no clue what she said.  “Hello, we have made a reservation in the name of ……..”

She looked at me for a minute and said “Aha….. I found it now”.

This lady is quite odd!  She is tall and skinny, she looks exactly like Lady Colin Campbell AKA ‘Lady C’ of ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of Here’ fame and because of her accent, she even sounds the same.  I signed the forms and completed all the paperwork, produced my passports as ID and said “where do we park?”.

“Oh my dear, if only it was so easy? You can park here, (she pointed to a few spaces nearby), for a maximum of 10 minutes, you must keep going back every 10 minutes to pay. Or you can drop off your cases and park it here” …she pointed at a place on a street map, “here, you can park free, it is only a 10 minutes’ walk”.  I said “Is there no public car park” (most hotels have had a public car park but they have been very costly).  “There is one but it will cost you heavily and you need to drive around to it”

“We will go there, as the car will be safer and we don’t need to worry about €250 parking fines” I said.  She agreed that this may be best then pulled me to the lift.  She said “I will explain, here is the key to the building, you must never enter through the restaurant apart from at breakfast.  In the lift, you will press ‘0’ when you come for breakfast, at all other times you must press ‘way out’ and enter and leave by the side entrance.  Do you understand? You only enter the Restaurant for breakfast!” …… I confirmed that I understood then toddled out to the Mr, who was sat baking in Cilla the Citroën and explained our instructions. “Do you understand?” I said!

So we drove on until we found the underground car park and we dragged our bags for 10 minutes through the streets back to the Hotel, in 30 degrees and with no breeze in the narrow streets it was hot work!

The lift was another 50s creation. I got in with a case and the Mr decided to do the stairs, as one person plus a couple of bags and the lift wouldn’t take the weight (queue diet). I pressed number 1 and when I got to the top couldn’t get out, so  trying to stay calm I went down again, there was the Mr,  he couldn’t get in at the top of the stairs because the door was locked.  So I went up again, this time I waited until the door clicked and sure enough ‘open sesame’ the Mr, who by this time had climbed the stairs twice with his bags, was beetroot red and sweating! I won’t repeat what he said, I had to try hard to stop myself from laughing.

The room is over a noisy street, Seagulls are squawking loudly and it’s stifling hot. Oh…and there is no air conditioning and no fan!  Aaaarrgghhh! How will we sleep in this?  OK, calm down Granny, you have seen worse rooms, Ibis budget Graz for example!   “We left the phone chargers in the car, and my shaver….. all our electrical stuff is in the car!” said the Mr….so he trudged back to the car and returned 15 minutes later,  with the cameras and a carrier back full of leads and continental adaptors……oh the joy!

So cool shower, change of clothes and relax for an hour, it certainly has been an experience already and it’s only tea time!

Feeling refreshed, at 18.00 or thereabouts, we dressed and went out.  It was lovely in the cool narrow streets, breezy and it smelled of the seaside.  Fish, sea, ice-cream. ….oh and the bloody Seagulls!

After supper we witnessed the best sunset of this holiday on Ostende Seafront! It was magical and the sun didn’t set until 22.05 the sky was still red at 23.00 and then out of the blue, a spectacular firework display started. So as we had been ready to leave the little bar, we decided to watch for a while. “Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside”!

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We walked around the corner and within 5 minutes, we’re completely disorientated ….here we go …. Lost again. We are always getting lost. When we came out it was daylight and now the evening was in full party mode with thousands of people and neon lights …. It all looked so different! So the Mr went into a Hotel to ask for a street map, the gentleman on the desk, showed him where we were now, “go straight and take the 5th turning on the right!” Sure enough, within 5 minutes we were back at our Hotel.

The room, as we thought, was like a Sauna.  The street below was noisy, people were still shouting and even at 01.00 there was so much noise!  There was also a Fire Engine outside for a while, with blue light streaming into our room.  We left the French doors open for air and thankfully, there didn’t seem to be any Mozzies about. Funnily enough I haven’t been bitten at all this holiday,  apart from a Horse Fly in the forest at Heiligenblut.

Sleeping was difficult.  The Seagulls were squawking all night, do they ever roost, or sleep?

It was daylight when I finally dropped off  …… pooped ……….. Granny 😆

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Last Day in Heidelberg

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Last Day in Heidelberg

So here we are again, our last day in this lovely place and it’s almost time to pack up and move on.  Before we do, we decide to take one last walk around, it’s Sunday, so most shops and a few cafes are closed.

From our room, we can see the twin spires of a church, so we decide to see if we can find it.  On the way, we took a look at the menu in the Taverna Knossos, a tiny little Greek Restaurant immediately behind out hotel.  Nice and near we thought and less walking.  We have walked miles over the last few days. So the decision has been made that this is where we will eat tonight.  They serve fried Aubergines with Skordalia, this is a favourite when we visit the Greek Island of Symi.

Plodding on slowly through the narrow, deserted streets, we followed the Spires (when we could see them), until they were in full view.  Then we noticed that there were hordes of people in front of the Church, “Some sort of festival maybe” says the Mr?  So we carried on to see what all the fuss was about.

There were lots of people selling second hand clothing, books, rucksacks, roller skates. …. A sort of table top sale, although, there were no tables.  Everyone was sat on the floor on picnic blankets and cushions.

There were stalls and a huge marquee, a man made sand pit for the children, face painting, cake sales, food and beer stalls and so on.

We ordered coffee and cake and asked what it was all in aid of.  “It is for Social Charites” The lady on the coffee stall said.  So when we had finished our Coffee and shared our Strawberry cake, the Mr handed the crockery back and told them to keep the €3 deposit for the charity.   I am sure that almost the whole town had turned out.

The Church was stunning!  A real central point for the area.  I am not religious at all, I never have been but I love the architecture and both me and the Mr always light candles in memory of people in our family who are no longer with us.  We don’t pray, we just take a moment or two out of the day to think about them.  It makes you feel better I think.  There were candles in this church too but we had no means of lighting them.

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It looks like rain and as it is so hot and muggy, it feels like there could be a storm.  We headed back towards the Hotel. We stopped for a Salad at a small bar and sat there for about an hour before returning to our room for a Siesta.

The Greek Restaurant was a 5 minute walk away and we managed to find a table without booking.  At first we thought we would have difficulty finding something for the meat-free Mr.  However, despite the language barrier, the lovely lady helped us to order, some of the favourite Aubergines and Skordalia.  Some Fish with fried Potatoes for the Mr and a lovely Pork and Feta dish with Tomato and Cream Sauce. It was lovely but apart from the Aubergines was nothing like Greek to me?!

So to bed, we need a good sleep tonight as we want to be away by 08.30.  I would thoroughly recommend a trip to Heidelberg and the Leonardo Hotel was very central for every tourist attraction.  However, we didn’t partake in the breakfast, which cost €18 per person!  You can buy breakfast for €5 100 meters along the road, I don’t mind paying a fair price but I hate being ripped off!  ……. Good night all ……….Granny 😆

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – More walking ……………

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The Old Bridge 

The 2 Bridges of Heidelberg, Brükefest and Nudeln

So, day 3 in Heidelberg and we need to decide what to do today.  It is hot again and we had a fitful sleep due to the heat.  The air conditioning, makes you so thirsty and dry and one of us usually wakes at first light to turn it off and fling open the door to let the fresh air in!  The room is stifling!  So now it is difficult to get going this morning and we will have to take our time.  We need to remind ourselves that this is supposed to be a holiday and we need to relax sometimes.  So far we have been ‘flat-out’ trying to cram in as much as possible.

We drank a few cups of tea, downloaded our newspaper on a free app, mooched about and then decided we would walk to the New Bridge, cross to the other side and see how we felt then and how energetic we would be today.   So in true ‘Holt’s’ style, we loaded ourselves up like Pack Mules and set off.  Cameras, spare batteries, sunscreen…. you name it we carry it, our rucksack is like a Boy Scout’s nightmare!

We found our way a lot quicker today and didn’t go wrong, this is a bonus and we were at the bridge far quicker.  On the way, we bought some salad rolls and when we got over the other side of the bridge, we joined other people on a grassy area beside the river to eat our lunch.

Weekends are for relaxing here, so on Saturdays and Sundays, many families come to the riverside to play ball games, take part in water sports, or just hang around with their loved ones, eating picnics and sleeping in the sun.

We walked along and saw some really unusual Geese, we saw some yesterday, by a small lake in the town but near the river there are about 50 in a large group.  I have been trying to find out what type of Geese they are without much success!  (Since coming home we have found out that they are Egyptian Geese

Alopochen-aegyptiacus

Some students were staging a silent protest, something to do with the amount of waste in the world. 3 young men, were hugging bins, all in the same pose, then they changed position and put their heads in the bins?! All the while a lady ran around with a camera taking pictures of the protest, I suspect she was a journalist.  It was a strange sight to see but we have seen all sorts on this trip!

We looked up and down the traditional shopping streets with their old style German buildings and then decided to walk along the river to the Aldstat and the Old Bridge.  It is still hot but the breeze along the river is very welcome and cooling.  There are families on the river in small motor boats, sailboarding lessons, organised boat cruises and cargo boats that seem to take half an hour to pass as they are so long.

These boats are low in the water and they cause a huge swell in the river and it slaps against the river bank for at least 5 minutes after the boat is out of sight.

As we walked along the bank on the opposite side to the Aldstat, we can hear music…….. Very familiar music and it becomes louder and louder….. “Beatles Music” says the Mr! “I wonder what that’s all about?”

Approaching the bridge, there are more flags and people than yesterday and a huge buzz of sound floods across the bridge.  The signs say ‘Brükefest 2016’ but we can’t find any information about it.  So let’s just go with the flow…. When in Rome and all that.

So we sit at a table order a beer and watch 3 German men, dressed like Sgt Pepper and singing Beatles, Eddie Cochrane and Chuck Berry songs in perfect English while introducing all the songs in German.  Love me do, Girl, 20 Flight Rock … it was great sitting, joining in and singing along.

After a pleasant 45 minutes, we move on …… by now we are getting tired and it’s approaching 5 pm, we have been walking all day and by the time we got back to the hotel we had done over 18,000 steps on my trusty pedometer……. I think a short snooze is on the cards…..

7pm…..Shower, change of clothes and we’re off again.  We are going to walk back to the Aldstat, which will take about 40 minutes.  We want to eat on the beautiful square and soak up a bit more of the festival atmosphere. …we weren’t disappointed.

We went to a traditional Restaurant called Golden Falke (Hawk).  They serve traditional German Nudeln and Spatzle … it looks lovely and with the music, the  flowers on the buildings in the square, the hundreds of people passing by it really is wonderful and it’s still warm here.

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The Mr, ordered a Kase Spatzle  (this is his new favourite and he wants to find a recipe) and I ordered Nudeln with Braised Beef in Red Wine Sauce with Red Cabbage…. it was delicious but as usual the portions are enormous.  Apfel Strudel with Ice cream followed the Spatzle and for me just plain Vanilla Ice cream.  It’s unusual for me to eat a sweet but I really enjoyed it.

In the Marktplatz there was a band playing loudly, some sort of Jazz crossed with Reggae, it was loud and rang out around the square, echoing back to us as we walked. We watched for a few minutes but as it was standing only decided to amble our way back along the river to the Hotel….. 22,794 steps says the pedometer.  Apparently we walked over 9 miles in total.  It felt like 29 and my feet are swollen from the heat.  Phew, what a day………. and so to bed….Granny zzzzzzzzz

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Heidelberg

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Heidelberg the Aldstat and the Schloss

A lazy morning following our epic journey yesterday.  We are still in shock regarding the horrific scenes playing out on BBC World News and this morning, I am going to attempt a Skype call to my Mother and Sister. So we have decided to stay in the hotel until after 11 as we have a good Wi-Fi signal for the call.

Skype failed as it has 3 times now on this holiday but we have found an app called Tango.  It allows free video calls and works quite well.  It was great to talk to Mam as she had a nasty fall 8 weeks ago and although she is on the mend, it has taken its toll.  It was a happy call though and she is looking much better.

Using a video app also meant I could move the camera around and she could see the view from out hotel and also our rather messy room!  We are useless travellers and our room always looks like a rubbish dump  with bags, clothes, sun cream etc. scattered all over the place!

After signing off from Tango we decided we should shift and get out, it is quite a long walk to the Schloss. ….. We checked Google maps to try and get a walking route to the Aldstat (Old Town).

We couldn’t get our bearings as to where the Schloss was in relation to our Hotel, so we headed for the tourist information at the Bahnhof (Railway Station).  A lovely young girl, gave us lots of information and a street map for our walk.

As we walked along (by now we had walked around 2 miles), the Mr said, “Isn’t that our Hotel back there?”  Sure enough. …. We had walked a full circle and our hotel was only a five minute walk from the Aldstat!  This is typical of our holiday walks, we always get lost and we always walk far further than we need to but we always see things that we otherwise wouldn’t.

We found the Schloss but could not find the Funicular Railway up to the top  so again we decided to walk.  The cobble path up to the castle is 300 metres long and very steep, it’s hot and we have already walked around 4 miles…..never mind onward and upward….. Literally!

There is only one word to describe this building … amazing!  The Castle was first constructed around 1300 but wasn’t used as a Regal Residence until Prince Rupert 3rd in 1398.  It was destroyed by lightening in 1764 making it uninhabitable.  Until 1800 the people of the city used the stones from the ruined castle to build houses,that was until Count Charles de Graimberg had other ideas and decided to try and preserve the ruins.  I’m so glad he did this as it is a really impressive building and you can only marvel at how they managed to build these huge structures before the invention of heavy machinery.   We have taken hundreds of pictures, we are both keen amateur photographers and we always get home and we have a duplicate set of images, his taken with a Nikon, mine taken with a Canon …, I think though, a Canon sounds better for pictures of a Castle!

We ate lunch at the castle, it was a bit expensive but how often do you get to eat your lunch in a Castle Courtyard?  Then we worked our way around the rest of the building before walking back down to the town.

The Aldstat (old town), sits just below the Schloss (castle) and it extends along the river for about a mile from Karlstor at one end, to Bismarckplatz at the other.  In between, there are many beautiful old buildings, narrow streets and picturesque squares full of cafes and ice cream sellers.

The old Bridge across the river Neckar is a must when visiting Heidelberg.  The Bridge is the fifth bridge to be built in this position but is the first stone bridge, it was built in 1786 by Prince Carl Theodor.  There are 2 towers on the City side of the river and apparently prisoners were once held in the dungeons below. Hanging above the Portcullis, is a plaque acknowledging Austrian troops who helped defend the bridge against the French in 1799.

There are hundreds of people here today, all taking pictures of the same scenery and sights.   People from all over the world, all ethnic backgrounds all interested in the same things… it makes you wonder why we can’t all get along…all of the time.

At 17.15 we decided it was time to walk back, we are exhausted and it is quite a long walk but hey….. We now know the shorter route….don’t we?  Here we go again…. is it left here, or right?  Do you recognise this building?

We turned a corner and we were in a dead end and what looked like a courtyard for some flats, then a lady opened a door and went in, we followed and it was like a scene from Mr Ben … we were in a posh clothes shop,  with cheesy  music playing and posh people shopping for frocks. This seemed a million miles away from the Aldstat.  We walked out the front door and into a shopping street…… oh no…… Lost again pppfffffftttt.

Finally after a confusing half hour checking the map, we spotted Aldi!  The Mr reckons our hotel is just around the corner, well he wasn’t far wrong and we were back at the hotel in 10 minutes.

My Mother in Law, who lives in Bath is 87 years young and during a phone call to the Mr, she mentioned that she needed some shopping. Normally the Mr takes her on his weekly visits.  We have been away 2 weeks now, with another week to go, so although she has had visits from others in the family, she has only been shopping once.  We spent half an hour doing a Morrison Shop online, which will delivered tomorrow….. Technology is marvellous, from AD 1300 to the 21st century in one day!

Right, we are off to an Indian restaurant tonight  ……… better get a wiggle on…….. Granny! 😊

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Last Day in Heiligenblut

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Last day in Heiligenblut

So the weather is horrible this morning, it’s cold and damp and you can’t see the mountains for mist.  We were intending a trip up the Sharek on the cable car but it would be a total waste of €27 as you would only see mist and we can see that from the village.

So we decided to pack away some of our stuff, tidy up and let our clothes dry as they were still soaked from the Thunderstorm last night.

We went out, at about 10.30 and did a bit of souvenir shopping, I bought myself a new jacket, we bought some Schnapps and at 12.00 we went to a small cafe and ordered some lunch.  We sat there for over an hour, watching the rain pour over the square.  It wasn’t cold, just damp and miserable but we are used to changeable weather and we take it in our stride.

We took another look around the lovely church, placed a small token of our respect at Roswhita grave and ambled back up to the village, dodging the showers.

We walked back to our room and dropped off our shopping and then decided to take the car down and say our goodbyes to the Fleissner family.  They were all busy preparing for another hectic evening at the Alm Casino Restaurant, so we ordered some coffee and a small beer.  We sat outside looking up at the church for the last time on this trip. We really would have preferred the campsite experience to the Guest house…. no matter how good the room is…. but that is now by the by.

Josef was sat at the reception desk when we returned our cups and glasses and we chatted about people we remembered from the campsite before saying an emotional “Auf Wiedersehen”… He says “next time you come by mobile home huh? This is better for you”….. I think we would both agree with that.  Bye bye Fleissner family, maybe we will be back one day….who knows?

So in the evening we went out to eat.  The Mr had a Kase Spatzle and I had a Rump Steak, both were delicious.  The Mr ordered a sweet, Tiramisu Ice Cream!  It was enormous!  I am not partial to sweet things after my dinner but he loves it!   Give me a Cheese Board any day…. but that wasn’t available and anyway, I’m full!

Pay the bill, thank the staff for a lovely meal and cross the road to the small bar.  We have never been into this place before.  It is run by a young Austrian man, about 30 years old I would say.  He took our order and then as it was quiet accepted a drink from us and came to chat at our table.

Suddenly about 10 men walked in, they were jabbering away in their own lingo and asking questions about Whisky and Beer.  They took lots of selfies and after a lot of confusion caused by the language difference, they finally all got a drink.  Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Beer……… The owner asked them where they were from … “Thailand” they said in unison.  They were here to do some walking and climbing. We can’t believe that they still smoke inside in some of the bars…apparently if the bar is under 50 metres square it is still legal!

After one too many drinks, (we were going to have a quiet night as we had an early start), we walked and talked our way back to the room and were quickly asleep.

I woke early hours to find the Mr sitting up.  “Did you hear that crack of thunder?” he said… I didn’t, I must have been dead to the world.  Now though, we are both awake and will find it hard to get back off to sleep.  Finally we must have dozed off at around 05.30 and the alarm was set for 06.30…. So when the alarm did start beeping, we were not feeling rested at all!

Never mind, shower, finish the packing, load the car and head up to the Breakfast Room by 08.00.  We checked out by 08.30, set Sally Sat Nav for Heidelberg and we’re away by 08.40.  Sally Sat Nav says expected time of arrival 16.39 ……. that was about to change dramatically!

The route out of Heiligenblut to Heidelberg takes you over the Grossglockner, towards Salzburg. A route we have travelled a few times in the past.  So we got our toll fee €35 ready and drove up the Hochalpinestrasse towards the toll.  As we approached, the lady looked at our GB sticker, she asked “do you have any snow chains?”…Ummmmmm let me think now. …we are on holiday….in July … “Damn…we forgot the snow chains, how stupid are we?!” “Uh…..nope…no snow chains”.  “Zen you cannot go up ze mountain  it is still snowing, park over there in ze back place…. ve vill see if you can go in 15 minuten”.. So we did just that.

As we sat there, some cars came down the hill with a dusting of snow on their bonnets, probably people who live further up but not at the top, which is where we have to go to get to Salzburg.  After what seemed like ages, the lady walked towards our car, while still talking to someone by telephone.  She said, in broken English “you maybe must vait for vun hour for ze snowing to stop!” “One hour?  Is there an alternative route?” “Head for Lienz and Felbertauern Tunnel” she said … so we drove back down the hill to Heiligenblut and headed towards Lienz. Once there we reset Sally Sat Nav and plodded on. ETA now says 17.15. So much for an early start on a 389 mile journey!

We drove through tunnels, past the Lienz Dolomite Mountains, which are really impressive, through serious rain storms where you couldn’t see the road markings for water and on and on…..

We crossed the German border and hit roadworks again for the umpteenth time. All the time our ETA was getting later…and later until 22 miles out, we saw the first sign for Heidelberg. …… “Hooo bloody ray!”  Says I, as I was getting seriously worried that the Sat Nav had got it wrong?  Why were there no signs for Heidelberg until 22 miles out?  German road signage is usually great.  Cities are signposted from hundreds of miles away.  Oh my, what a journey!

We found the hotel without too much difficulty and at 19.38 we finally checked in, parked up and got to our room. We are on the 5th floor, the room is stunning and we have a small balcony…bonus, and lovely to sit on and write a Grannyrant!

At 20.30 we were out looking for food, we had only had a roll lunch time.  We found a lovely Italian place about 10 minutes walk away and had a lovely meal, Pasta, Gnocchi, beautiful sauce….. Yum!  I really need to diet following this holiday.

We were back in the room by 22.30….shattered but I wasn’t sleepy, so I turned on the TV to BBC world news to catch up on the farce that is British Politics at the moment.   I watched in stunned silence the breaking news from France.   While the Mr went straight off the sleep, I watched the horrific scenes unfolding in Nice….. how absolutely devastating, families, children, people from all races and cultures mown down by a coward in a white lorry and probably in the name of some warped version of a peaceful religion…. so upsetting, I’m speechless and don’t know what to think so on that note I will finish………….Granny

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Heiligenblut in a Thunderstorm

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The Waterfalls the Grossglockner and the Thunderstorm!

So, let’s go to the Waterfalls, we packed our rucksack.  Sunscreen -check, Water – check, Cameras -check…..Let’s go hiking!

We walked through the village, past the Sharek Cable Car, down the hill and over the little bridge at the bottom.  Turn right and follow the signs for the nature trail.  This is more of a hike than a walk and sometimes, it is a very steep climb.

The area is a very pretty part of the National Park and well used by lots of people, tourists mainly but you also meet locals with their dogs.  I’m sure the people here get fed up with tourists but if they do, they never let it show and they must rely on it to make a living, so I suppose they have little choice.

On the way to the waterfalls, we saw Ant Hills that were over a metre tall and about half metre wide and the ants walking along the ground are huge!  Some are carrying leaves and larger dead insects 6 times their own size.  These Black Ants bite and when they do, it stings!  I am wishing now that I wasn’t wearing sandals.

On we go, climbing over rocks, through the trees, it is lovely in the forest areas and very cool where there is little sun.  The Flowers, the Butterflies and multi coloured Moths, Dragon Flies and Ducks on the small pond…a really lovely walk.

Eventually the sound of the water gets louder and louder and we come to a bridge over the stream.  The sign says Wasserfalls and the arrow points left, so we stroll past an elderly Austrian couple, reading their papers and realise that there are cars behind us?  Who knew that there was a road almost all the way to the falls?  Never mind, we had walked and we really enjoyed it.

As we followed the path the river got faster and faster and louder and louder. The stone on the river bed makes the rivers here look turquoise and following the recent rain, the river was in a huge hurry to flow don’t to the valley below and even the spray was really cold!  Then, as we rounded a corner, we saw the bridge over the river and there was the waterfall. The scenery here is stunning and the waterfalls are just a tiny part of this National Park…… well worth the walk.

We decided to walk back down along the road as we have never walked this way before.  It’s quite steep and more a gravel track than a road, so you have to take care not to slip…again…I wish I had not worn sandals.   On we go past the farms and meadows, until eventually we can see the church in Heiligenblut away in the distance.  We saw a Farmer clearing gravel out of a drainage channel on the road, his Goats were huddles against the fence in the shade and as we approached a Billy Goat came to greet us and stood there happily for me to give him a good old scratch!  Then on past Wolfgang Kapelle, the smallest chapel we have seen here yet, no seats for a congregation just a small, well-kept alter, with religious ornaments and a huge cross.  We couldn’t get in, but there is a hole in the door that is big enough to get a camera lens through. ..Very convenient.

The temperature was now around 27 degrees and in the lanes, it felt more like 30 where there is no breeze.  We make the decision to carry on walking down towards the campsite at Hardegrasse and as we approached, Sepp Fleissner came out to greet us, we sat in the shade and ordered 2 beers…… Beer tastes wonderful after a long walk.

For a while we sat quietly and didn’t say a word.  Then we got out the postcards we bought earlier and wrote them out to send to both Mothers, we posted them in the box at the campsite.  After a second beer, we walked up the steep hill towards the town and back to our little apartment.  Phew, it’s still hot and there is a rumble of thunder again….. We will eat in the village tonight, as it’s nearer and we have walked far enough today….. Tomorrow, we go up the mountain.

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Tuesday 12th July was a cooler and cloudier day. It rained heavily in the night and so today, everything feels fresh and there are huge clouds of mist over the valley…. “It doesn’t look to promising” said the Mr… I had to agree with that.

We went for Breakfast and as we were eating our Smoked Ham and Boiled Eggs I asked the Proprietor,  “what will the weather be like today?”  “I will check for you.” He said and scuttled off to the kitchen… he came back in a few minutes with his mobile phone and showed us the weather app and a live webcam picture from the Grossglockner.  “At the moment it is not looking pleasant but it will be OK at 12.30 I think” he said as he pointed to the mobile screen.  This is very precise I thought!  I thanked him and we carried on eating our breakfast… I’m not convinced we will even see the mountain in this mist but we won’t be put off!

So we left the breakfast room, went to our room and packed our bags with our cameras, various lenses and all the other trappings we need to visit the mountain and we set off to catch the bus.  We have driven up the Grossglockner many times, by car and in our Campervan…. on the bus though we both get a chance to see the view as we travel the half an hour it takes to get to Kaiser Franz Josef’s Hohe where the bus stops.  As expected, it is cold, around 9 degrees I would guess and I’m glad I have my long trousers and a jacket on.  We also packed rain coats as we know how unpredictable the weather is up the top.  The Mr has bravely chosen to stick with shorts and sandals… a decision he will regret later on!

We got up to the highest viewing point and the rain started…. gently at first, more like mist than rain but within 10 minutes, it was chucking it down and there were a few rumbles of thunder.  “Let’s get inside and look around the Panorama Viewing tower.” We both said together!

This is a 3 storey glass building complete with telescopes etc.  I always try these telescopes but to date we have never been very successful in seeing anything.  Today it is impossible as we are completely encased in white cloud!  It’s a complete white-out!

We went for Coffee and the lovely lady behind the counter apologised for the weather. “Will it last all day?” I asked.  “Yes, I think the sun will return on Friday” she said!  “FRIDAY!?  We will be in Germany by then” said the Mr.

Eventually at 12.30 just as the man said, there was a break in the clouds and the rain eased so we put on our rain jackets and in true British style, decided to brave the elements whatever happens.  We managed to get some pictures, albeit we never did see the peak of Grossglockner nor Kaiser Franz Josef, we did take a selfie in front of the huge wooden Ibex … we have named him Isaac and we got a few pictures of the Marmots.  Large Guinea Pig like Mammals that live on the grassy slopes below the Alps.

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A Dutch man came along and pointed at the huge mountain opposite.  “There are about 35 beasts with the Devil horns over there by the snow to the right” he said.  I thanked him and we tried to spot them…. there were probably over 100 patches of snow… we couldn’t see the Ibex anywhere and the Mr says he was winding us up and was probably further up the hill laughing at us trying to spot them!  I wouldn’t be at all surprised…….

By now, the Mr, still in his sandals, had purple toes from the cold and his legs were apparently numb.  Oh how glad am I that I wore my socks and shoes with long trousers!

Anyway after a pleasant but mostly disappointing day weather-wise, we came back down to mountain on the bus.  The driver was not very considerate and drove too fast as we hurtled down the hill, this meant that he was continually braking….. By the time we had been thrown around and the bus has lurched and banked around all the corners we both felt quite ill when we got off.  So we were glad when we got back to the Guest house, dumped our bags, made a brew and ate a couple of rolls we bought at the supermarket.  Phew, this day has worn us out and we hadn’t finished yet….

In the evening, we decided we would go and see the Fleissners again and even though it once again looked like rain, we wrapped up and got the brolly out.  We were almost at the bank, where we were going to draw money, when the rain started…it got heavier and heavier but never mind we have the umbrella.

Half way down the hill towards Alm Casino Restaurant, a huge clap of thunder and several streaks of lightening signalled the start of a huge storm.  Within 2 minutes we were drenched and we walked very quickly the rest of the way through puddles and rivers of water on the street, all the while the lightening was lighting up the sky and the thunder claps got louder and louder.

We were soaked through, the brolly was almost useless and even our underwear was wet… these mountains create a micro-climate and can be somewhat inhospitable to stay the least.

We ate our dinner sat in wet clothes and after a couple of drinks and a free Schnapps from the Chief we decided we needed to go back and get dry.  “The bill please Josef” … “will it stay dry for us to walk back?” we asked? “I will take you by car” he replied.  This is amazing, we are not even staying at his campsite, we are staying at another hotel and he will drive us back the mile or so to where we are staying. … This is why people return to his campsite year after year and while we are really enjoying our guest house experience, we are certainly happier when we are camping!  We sat outside for half an hour as it’s still only 10.00 pm but after such a full day, we are both too sleepy to stay up long.

So tomorrow is our last day in Heiligenblut…. Hopefully the sun will shine…. Guten Nacht …….Granny 😆

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The Church at Heiligenblut where the Mr proposed to me in 2011

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THE ADVENTURES OF CILLA THE CITROEN – Graz – Heiligenblut

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Early start….182 miles to go…………….

So we are awake, it’s 04.30… This horrible tiny room at Ibis Lendplatz in Graz is stifling. The air conditioning is whirring loudly but making hardly any difference, the toilet smells of cigarettes,  even though neither of us have smoked for years (where the smoke comes from we don’t know) and we are now absolutely wide awake, not even dozing.

So we chat about getting up and going…. “Let’s try and get another hour, we will be shattered later” says the Mr.  “OK then, let’s do that” ….. Not a chance in Hell!

So at 05.00, we got up and made some tea (powdered milk is like sawdust but I hate Black Tea).  The Mr has one of his 3in1 coffee sachets…. then we decide to go as early as possible.  Shower, pack, dispose of anything we don’t need and trundle the bags etc. to the lift.  Heiligenblut …here we come

We were driving out of the car park by 06.25. The weather was good, it was a fresh sunny morning and Sally Sat Nav says the journey will take around 3 hours.

Off we go, out of Graz, onto the A2 towards Klagenfurt… a journey we have travelled a few times in Boris our VW Camper van, it is much quicker by car but we are certainly missing Boris… it isn’t the same in Hotels and is far more restrictive.

About an hour into the journey, we stopped to buy breakfast, rolls, ham, eggs, jam… as they do here in Austria.  After breakfast, we plodded on, then in the distance, we spotted a sign for Wörthersee… this lake is huge and even if you have already eaten and taken a bathroom break, just visit the services!  The views are breath taking and a must see when travelling in this area, so we did stop, take a few pictures and then drive on.

As the Sat Nav counted down the miles, we became more and more familiar with the roads and the scenery.  This is a favourite place of ours.  A place where we first stayed 10 years ago, when we first travelled to Austria in my car with a tent.

The town area is somewhat commercialised but the surrounding countryside, the traditional buildings and the people, make you forget all the trappings of tourism, especially when you stay at the campsite.

This time though, we are staying at a Gasthaus and we have booked a small apartment under the main house, which is called Kaiservilla, the house is just 500 metres from the town and around 50 metres from the high alpine road to the Grossglockner, the highest of the Austrian Alps at 3654 metres.

We can’t check in until 3pm, this is a pitfall of arriving too early, so we parked up, checked in and left our things in the car and wandered into the town.

Nothing changes here, it is the same as it always was and we even spotted a few people we remember from our last visit 3 years ago.  So we ordered a beer, a toasted sandwich and a side salad and we sat and watched the Austrian world go by until it was time to access our room.

Wow! What a difference to the Ibis at Graz! We have a family room, with a lovely clean private bathroom, huge bed, and our very own little seating area, complete with 2 benches, cushions and a view of the Glockner!

We can also see the campsite down below us in the valley and we can’t believe our luck!

We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, reading, snoozing and trying to find out the tennis results on the Internet.   The signal for all things is very ‘hit and miss’ amongst the mountains.  Finally I managed to get online briefly to see that Andy Murray had won!  What a result!

In the evening, we had a very short thunderstorm, these brief storms are quite common here and they don’t last long, 5 claps of thunder, 2 lightning strikes and about 20 drops of rain and following this, lovely sunshine, fresh air and steaming roads.  It really lifts the pressure and cools things down.

So we had an early drink, on our little terrace and then ambled down to the restaurant on the Alm Casino Campsite for supper.  The young waitress took our drinks order and we sat there reminiscing about previous visits.

When we used to arrive in Boris, Roswhita Fleissner, the ‘Mother’ of the campsite to all who visited, would make a huge fuss! “My Englanders, My Englanders, Welcome, Welcome,” she would hug and kiss us on both cheeks and make such a fuss……. she wasn’t there this year though. Unfortunately Roswhita passed away last February following a short illness and she is sorely missed by everyone.

She was the Head Cook and bottle washer and even though she was in her 70s would still climb out onto the roof of the restaurant to hang out the washing.  She would still be working in the kitchen until well after midnight, 24/7.  The Bikers all thought the world of her and apparently, quite a few people from all over Europe, Canada and America attended her funeral…. we called in the Church and lit a candle, we passed by her grave and I have to admit to shedding a few tears… R.I.P Roswhita, we will remember you always.

Then. ..out of the bar came Josef Fleissner!  Proprietor extraordinaire, unusually though, not wearing Lederhosen.  He spotted us and came straight over!  “How great to see you, I saw on Facebook, you were in Vienna……”   He quickly caught us up on news about the town, the mountain, the family, these people are so friendly and they seem to remember everything!

Eventually we went inside and had our evening meal and yes…. the Football was on….this must have been the most boring final of any tournament EVER!  We endured it right until the bitter end and then left to walk back up the hill to the apartment!

Exhausted, it’s a long time since 04.30!  I sat for a while outside on the terrace, you could see the campsite lights twinkling below and the stars…. thousands of stars…. and so to bed!

What a day and how lucky we are to be back in this lovely place again……. more scribblings coming soon. …Granny 😆

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Home in Heiligenblut

 

Posted in The Adventures of Cilla the Citroen 2016, TRAVEL & HOLIDAYS | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment