On thro Turkey and back to Czech Republic

Sunday, July 12, 2009
We were very lucky that there was a loud speaker on the post outside the restaurant otherwise we may have missed the call to prayer at 4 a.m. this morning.  This of course woke me up, and knowing that this “call for prayer” it happens five times a day, at dawn, at noon, and mid-afternoon, at dusk and after dark I felt I should perhaps not get into the pattern of stopping to pray five times a day as by the time you get ready to pray, then pray, then get ready to carry on with activity, added up there may not be much time activity.

I have just done the maths and if a man died at 70 he would have prayed 109,500 times, and working on the basis that each prayer takes one hour of your time, he has been praying for 12 1/2 years.

So was back on the Road again with the first city that we passed through being Trabzon on the Black Sea Coast and then we carried along the Black Sea Coast for probably a couple of hundred kilometres passing through Görele, Giresun, Ordu, Ünye, and then we found the camp ground that Barry and Margaret spoke off and we are currently being shaded by some trees with the sea about 50 m away. 

We did not find a terribly interesting driving along the black sea coast with wall-to-wall people on the left-hand side and the sea on the other, it was very interesting seeing the almost empty beaches and where there were a few in bathing there were mainly men and if there were any woman there they were usually fully covered, sometimes going to the sea in their normal street clothes.

You see the small buses called dolmus everywhere, the usually run between towns, you stand on the side of the road hold your hand up and will stop and pick you up and then drop you off anywhere along their route where you request.  The system also operates in most of Eastern Europe and what little experience I have had with it is very economical.  Today we are on our side of a 6 Lane Hwy, three lanes each way, and we saw a man on this busy highway getting onto a bus that he had just stopped, and a little bit further along we saw a woman on the other side of the road, putting her three bags over the motorway rail, I guess that she would then climb over herself and stopped the next bus going in her direction, this would be only work in Turkey, incidentally I made a prediction that the way the Turkish men drive they should win every Grand Prix, I have since thought about this, and they would be probably disqualified, as in real life they ignore every traffic rule, and so probably would do the same with the race rules!

The ongoing problems with the motorhome keep on going on and on, it did not get hot enough today for the generator to stop working, but now the gas valve is becoming more and more reluctant to let any gas through so the refrigerator is working for short periods of time and then the button has to be pushed again!

What this effectively means is that we cannot use gas, so we cannot cook, heat water, or use the refrigerator.

Monday, July 13, 2009
The last newsletter I left you when I gas regulator had failed, which left us with no hot water, no stove, and no refrigerator.
Well the deep freeze was still cold this morning and spite of not being able to be switched on, perhaps we should not have parked at the beach camping but there was no alternative.

This morning we drove in towards Samsun in the rain, the black sea coast of Turkey seems to get more than its share of rain.  We were looking for people that sold gas bottles with the thought that they may also sell the pressure reducing valves, but no in this country you specialise so if you sell gas bottles you stock only gas bottles.  So with no luck on this front I decided we would drive 400 km to Ankara with the thought that surely the capital would have a caravan dealer.

It was a pretty boring journey across to the centre of the country, we ran into the edge of a electrical thunderstorm but did not get that much rain.  We put in the GPS coordinates from the ACSI campsite guide but that got us into the middle of a poor rundown area, we then tried the address and that was no good.

As the name was Campsite Esenboga Airport Hotel we figured it we went to towards the airport we may find the hotel.  The campsite was a shingle car park out the back of the hotel, there was no drinking water, there was a simple toilet block which we did not check out, they did run an extension cord to our motorhome so we did have electricity, there was no security in evidence and for this they charged €19!    Oh Well……. at least we have electricity to heat the hot water and run the refrigerator, not quite sure what we will do for dinner, at the price for the campsite, I'm not sure will be up to afford the dinner.    If anyone would like to pay this price for a shingle car park and no facilities, (I'm sorry they do give you a free massage, use of the spa, use of the indoor pool all inside the hotel some several hundred metres from the car park). 
This is the GPS settings from the Tom Tom N40.04392 E32.56356. And the best of British luck to you if you wish to use this campsite.

The manager who took us to the campsite and told us about everything, said he would check on the Turkish Internet and tell me if there was somebody in Ankara that sold caravans, I went up to the front desk later and the English-speaking assistant told me that there was a company and the large shopping centre that sold caravan accessories, together we put the directions into the Tom Tom so I was already for tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Before checking out of the Hotel and pay for the expensive night in the car park, I thought at least I should use their WiFi and check up on the Internet, my e-mail, and send out the last chapter of the newsletter.  That was accomplished easy, however I do have the feeling that the newsletter went out twice, which was caused by a multiple series of problems to do with the Microsoft and their e-mail programs, and contacts list, which is just another problem to be resolved before next year.

We set off and followed the Tom Tom and took us to the largest shopping centre and I walked through the shop he mentioned, and there was nothing at all there, so we then went through an electronic/electric shop from Germany and did find some gas stoves in their appliance section, and the shop was large enough to have an English-speaking assistant, he told me no they did not have the valves but I can get them from a shop in a district of Ankara the name of which I'd never be up to repeat, no he could not tell me the name of the shop, no he could not tell me the name of the street, but I went into the central district of the city I have no problems finding a shop that would sell the valves.  Yes he admitted I might find it difficult to park in the centre, I looked around the shop, and I could not see any medals there were handed out to the staff for helpfulness, so I thanked him very much and went back to the motorhome to plan the next strategy.

We had two options, one to try and find the valve, or the other to leave Turkey and obtain one elsewhere.  So from Ankara we decided to move on North about 170 km to a city called Bolu which had a population of about 120,000 which certainly was a better size town that Ankara with 3.6 million.  So off we went.

Entering the Bolu shopping area we saw a shop selling commercial gas stoves, no English spoken, but they looked at the pictures of the valve that I had and then they had a telephone conversation to somebody in Turkish, she came back shaking her head.  So we drove on the divided highway, saw a shop on the left-hand side selling gas bottles so we decided to do that on the way out, then found a shop selling gas water heaters, I managed to find parking within walking distance, the English-speaking son said no they did not have one, but the shop selling the gas bottles would.

Now all day yesterday we were asking at gas bottle shops but No, nothing, so we drove on round the town through some very interesting streets until we finally came back on the other side of the divided highway, as we were pulling up to the gas bottle shop, another car pulled out so we had parking right outside the shop.

I went in with the photographs, of course no one spoke English, but he produced a Turkish made gas valve, which looked identical to the early English pressure reducing valves, so they all came out and looked at the motorhome, and the English Gaslow cylinders, as luck would have it the Turkish valve screwed straight on to the Gaslow cylinder, then we just had to get a hose from the valve to the pipe, one of the six men, that are always required to do any work here in Turkey, appeared to be in this particular business, so he went to work connecting up the hoses while the other men watched, spoke to other men that stopped to see what was happening, drank tea, and were all very supportive.

Finally it was testing time, and we tested the stove, the water heater and the refrigerator, all appeared to be working fine, so hopefully that is the end of that for a while.

It was then and to pay for it, and all of that work including the parts came to 29 Turkish lira, which was less than €15.

While we felt we could carry on now with our tour so we feed the next destination into the GPS which was about 150 km away at Safranbolu so we made our way there, but to get there we had to go through Karabük, a filthy city of 120, 000, filthy because at the beginning there was some sort of factory or processing plant which was emitting a brown smelly dust, and with the city being in a gully between two mountains, you can understand when I say we are pleased to go through it and not have to stop.

So we arrived at Safranbolu it had to find somewhere to park for the night, so I drove up the hills, through the residential area, and eventually found what I thought was a nice place to park, and then the gendarme stopped and what little English he had said we should be in the centre of the city, obviously they can control the centre of the city, but the outskirts obviously a problem.

So down the hill we went, and we started looking for a petrol station to stop at, drove towards the smelly city, found some spots, but realised we would have to breathe the air, so we drove back to Safranbolu, tried one petrol station and really not enough room and finally found a spot beside the bus terminus, beside a restaurant, was at a petrol station, which will we be probably noisy all-night and providing the police don't shift us on, will be ready to look at the old wooden part of the city tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
We woke up to a very wet morning, what seemed like a small river flowing past our motorhome, we looked at the sky and realised there was going to be no sightseeing here today, or perhaps tomorrow.  The black sea coast is famous for its wet weather so there was no use going towards the black sea so we decided to head towards the Marmara sea coast on the Asian side of Turkey.  The only problem was of course the distance, it was 558 km away but by choosing to travel on the tollroad we had a fast trip on probably what is one of Turkey's best roads.

One thing that it is very obvious in Turkey is the lack of motorhomes or caravans on the Road.  In Europe in any of their main roads, you'd be hard pushed to go for five minutes without seeing an RV of some sort.  Here you probably go for five days and then perhaps not see one.  This could all be tied in of course with the lack of campgrounds so the Europeans won't travel to Turkey, all the other problem of security within the country, when members of the police and army are concerned for your safety you realise that Turkey still has a lot of problems.

We travelled through, or past these major cities Bolu, Izmit, Yalova, Bandirma, and finally our destination of almost an island and the city of Erdek, I say almost an island because it is connected to the mainland by a narrow Road.  Once there was then a matter of trying to find what they called a camping site, and this often in Turkish terms means a piece of land on which you can erect a very small tent.  We travel along the seafront and did find three restaurants or motels that offered camping, so we chose one and kept our fingers crossed.

The music from the disco next door stopped I think at 3 a.m. but apart from that there appears to be no real problems.

Thursday, July 16, 2009
This morning bright and early Luda went for a swim, she reports she was the only one in the water, so now we will have a rest for a couple of days to make up for all the travelling we had been doing.

I must say with the cooler weather, it has been a relief not to have the generator or the ignition problems with the motor and not to have the worry of steep hills to ascend or descend.

Saturday, July 18, 2009
Today was the day to move on, we made the decision not to go to Greece but to go to the Baltic states, with the thought that they may not be temperatures between 35 and 40°C.

We got away before our host was up so I had to poke the money underneath his door and hope that he got okay, we are sort of waiting for the police to stop us and tell us that they had a complaint from the motor camp they had not been paid, but never happened fortunately, so we set the GPS for the Turkish border and took us to the ferry crossing at Çardak and that took us across the Dardanelles to a little place called Gallipoli, however I did not realise that until I started writing this newsletter in Bulgaria.

We saw a lot of cars with NL and D numberplates and as we are aware there are a large Turkish population in both Holland and Germany, and observing how other people in these cars drove, we made the assumption that they were Turkish immigrants to those countries on holiday back at home in Turkey in their smart BMWs and Mercedes.

I spent the last of my Turkish money on the ferry crossing and filling up with expensive Turkish diesel, a petrol pump attendant told me in broken English that the diesel I was using was meant to be used by tractors, I told him I have been using it all round Turkey and no problems.

Border crossing into Bulgaria was near Dereköy, and we seem to be flowing across the border too easy, and this was confirmed when we got to the final Turkish gate we sent me back to get four rubber stamps in my passport, this accomplished were let out of Turkey and proceeded to go through the Bulgarian side, we had about five different windows to pass, plus one customs officer, who started talking to Luda, as it turned out, in some strange language, Luda did not respond, so I thought I'd better get him to speak in English, but he said “she understands”, evidently he was speaking in Bulgaria slowly, which is possibly similar to a Scotsman talking to a Cockney, they would be the same understanding if it was spoken slowly.

So Luda got out and handled all of the customs procedure in Russian with no problems.

Driving from the Turkish side to the Bulgarian side we passed a couple of barriers that can be lowered down to stop the likes of James Bond speeding through in his Aston Martin, they must been watching many of the Bond films because they had made these barriers strong enough to stop a tank in full charge.  Fortunately they were up so we did not have to test their strength.

It very quickly became obvious that the Turks have spent substantially more money on upgrading their roads than the Bulgarians, however of course the Turks have not had quite the same sort of government for the last 60 years, so will be interesting to see how long it takes them to catch up!

So we carried on towards the city of Burgas, and after about 10 km we turned off to the left, past an old Soviets sign stating we were in the border area, and drove on to an old wooden city that had sought have been turned into a museum, having inspected that we returned to the main highway to be stopped a few kilometres down the road by the border guard who want to check our passports, having passed the check we carried on and eventually found a supermarket where we parked beside the first Russian owned motorhome we have seen, the numberplate was from Rostov on Don, which of course is Luda's city, we should have left a note, but we didn't, so when we got back from the shopping it had gone!

However we did replenished our supplies before carrying on to real destination for the day of Sozopol where we are parked in a rough car park about 2 km from the village which we will visit tomorrow.

On our way here we followed the sign towards one campground and ended up in a tourist shopping centre with no sign of the campground, so we escaped, and the Road then lead us to another camp ground, it looked totally packed, so we carried on, ending up in this car park opposite yet another campground!

Sunday, July 19, 2009
When we looked out this morning onto our large undeveloped parking lot, we observed we had two neighbours, who were longtime dwellers of this lot, one was a caravan parked in underneath the trees, we observed the man washing himself in the morning with very limited water, he had one arm missing, which probably explained the reason he was where he was.  The other was not quite as well housed, he had built a hut frame, over which he had cardboard and plastic to make his house and later we saw him with his horse and cart moving into the city to do what every he had to do to make ends meet.  These were two small reality checks one needs from time to time.

So it was on in to the old city of Sozopol where we were able to walk through the interesting old wooden houses that were built on this small island over a hundred years ago, I was also able to inspect, briefly, from the outside, and Jaguar XK140 which had a sticker on it signify he was a member of the vintage Jaguar owners club, which was reassuring that there are in a people in Bulgaria with sufficient money, “ to waste on vintage cars” and I'm only being so critical of this Jaguar as last time I tried I discovered there were made for small Englishman!

So was onto our next city on the black sea coast Nessebar, which was some 50 km away, and we arrived there at about 12 noon with the temperatures well into their 30s, so I thought Luda should enjoy this old city and I would look at the photographs.  She came back looking somewhat like a grease spot which was not surprising when one observed the temperature at 37°C.

This of course meant that again we were having problems with the generator and refrigerator, these things are becoming normal, so we moved on our way towards a cooler climate by heading North towards Romania, so we moved on the Road towards
Varna and then towards Shumen and we rediscovered our spot amongst the trees on the commune when we last passed through this area.

On our path across Bulgaria we did see a large number of signs put out by establishments offering camping, however at this time of the year I'm not quite sure what would be available nor what is available at this peak season.  Talking of peak season as we passed one black sea resort we observed that was only standing room in the sea with about as much space on land which makes me think if you want to swim you better do it at midnight, but don't quote me on that because it still may be as crowded.

See map of tour to date

Monday, July 20, 2009
It was back on the Road again first driving back to Shumen and then heading on North through Razgrad to Ruse were we found a 1950s Soviet style campground.  We parked on a little bit of tarmac that was almost level and we were glad we did not have the use the washing facilities or in the toilet all of which probably had not received any care or attention since installation.  We however did have a restful 36 hours or so before we were back on the move again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Before we left Bulgaria we thought we should look at the 14th century Rock monastery's near Ivanovo, when I got there I realised I had been there before, but Luda hadn't so a good series of photos were taken.  It was then on to rustic Cherven with us houses perched on hilltops and an old castle and medieval town on top of a hill that was destroyed in the 14th century by the Ottomans and had never recovered.  We are able to get a good series of photos of the settlement from the top of a hill looking down and so then it was on back to Ruse were we saw the last Rock monastery called Sv Dimitur Basarbovski that was founded in the 15th century, and then we are back on the motorway towards Romania.  At a petrol station before the border we disposed of the remainder of our currency, paid a toll of €6 to cross over the Danube bridge which was built in 1952, and I think the Road has received maintenance once since then, however it was much simpler than using the ferry.

Crossing from Bulgaria to Romania was no problems and then we're on to the Romanian roads which had to be seen to be believed.

Before we left Bulgaria we saw a sign pointing towards a monastery, but was pretty inconclusive as to where it was, so we just ignored it, but kept on appearing as we travelled, and when we arrived and Romanian, the sign pointing towards the destination, which was probably some 15 to 30 km off the main Road, and we thought this is okay, so we turned down the Road, and as the Road progressively got worse, we looked for a spot turn round, and probably on one of the roughest parts we found something that we managed to do a U-turn, so we have saved that monastery till next time.

We drove into Romania through the city of Giurgiu, turned onto the bypass and bypassed Bucharest, got on the motorway going north to Pitesti, being a bypass I think every large truck in Europe has used this Road, on the hottest days of the year, because the Road was somewhat similar to a railway track as it had grooves in the Road caused by the large trucks all roaring in exactly the same position.  This is wonderful if you are a large truck, but if you're a motorhome, and you wheels don't quite fit the groove then it is inclined to throw you about a bit which is a little disconcerting for the passenger!

However we carried on and eventually got onto a main motorway and when we saw a turn off for a petrol station with parking we made the mistake of turning off and ended up on, again, some of the roughest roads we have been on, every kilometre we thought we should turn back, but we thought that could not get any worse, but it did, eventually we saw a sign post pointing us towards the autostrada, and we followed that rough pothole Road till the we got to the motorway close to a city of Corbii Mari where we parked in with the large trucks and hopefully get a peaceful nights sleep.

Romania wins the award for the roughest roads we have travelled on this year.  We hit a very large pothole that was so violent that the safety switch which cuts off the fuel in the case of a crash, decided we had had a crash and switch the fuel off in the middle of the main Road so they we were stranded, they did have the decency to turn on the hazard lights.  I looked at the handbook and told me precisely what had happened, it told me precisely what to do to fix it, it told me where the button was to push, but then they put a panel in front of it with a small hole to push your finger through without any signs whatsoever.

So here we were in the middle of the road and I decided after about 20 minutes with large trucks roaring all around us that we really should get off the Road, fortunately we were on a little bit of a slope and behind me on the left-hand side was a reasonably large parking space, so all we had to was to get the motorhome rolling and steer it back into the space waiting for us.

Well of course with no motor, it meant there was no power steering, so Luda could not steer the motorhome, so I had to steer it, which meant Luda had to push!  Let me say here are now, if you ever want your motorhome pushed, Luda is the one for the job!

All we got back almost into the car park, but here was a steel post in the way which stopped us from getting fully off the road, so Luda and I started trying to get at the last metre, but help was on the way in the form of six or eight healthy looking men who quickly decided that the motorhome had to be pushed back onto the road and then pushed back on a different lock until it was clear of the steel post.

Now they wanted to know what the problem was, and they were busy talking in Romanian, which sound like Italian to me, but there was no help because I cannot speak Italian, but I showed them the manual and they put two and two together, found where they had had hidden the switch, and hey presto everything was running smoothly again, big shaking of hands all round and were on our way again.

Comment: why can Fiat not put a red Arrow pointing towards the button?

Also the “injection system failure” warning light came on and stayed on until we stopped for the day. 

Thursday, July 23, 2009
We carried on our tour this time heading towards Pitesti with the injection system failure light still on so that is starting to look serious.

We passed by Râmnicu Vâlcea, a side trip to Turnu Rosu where we photographed rather beautiful monastery, and then we got pestered by cart full of gypsies who all had their hands out wanting money.

When you enter a village in Romania, you have to reduce your speed to 50 kmh and keep that at that speed until you exit the village, and of course sometimes one village finishes and another one starts, or sometimes the one village rolls on for 25 km, with houses on both sides of the Road, possibly like taking Huntly and just placing every house on either side of the great South Road and no the roads.  So it is quite a job keeping your speed down to 50 km from all of that distance, knowing you are possibly going to pass at least two traffic police wanting to catch you.

It and then back on the extremely busy road that seem to have almost every truck in Romania on the Road and before we got to Scoreiu we turned off towards Cîrta a village whose main claim to fame is a ruined monastery from the 12th century.  Also it has a campsite good enough to get into the ACSI directory where we spent the afternoon and evening.

Friday, July 24, 2009
We left the campground after a peaceful night, the camp site owner had told us that most people that stayed there campsite go on up into the mountains to the highest Road in Europe at 2500 m, as the campsite was at about 400 m and the map we had showed a windy Road for a short distance it gave the impression that would possibly be a steep climb and a steep descent which with our current experience of this motorhome on this type of roads made us decide not to venture onto this Road as much as we would like to.

The good news was the “injection system failure light” was not on, and we did and left-hand turn just down the road driving towards Avrig, we thought we saw a sign post for a gondola, and if there was a gondola it was much further than we went down the Road.  We saw a lot of people camping beside the river with tents, and others just obviously there for the day getting some fresh air.

Was then back on the Road towards Avrig, wandering in to take some photographs but the interesting church from the Road, was a new one under construction so was a matter of getting out of that town that had 2.5 ton restriction on most of the roads so was back on the Road towards Sibiu where we went into the city centre and lucked upon a large car park, where we parked the beast, and went for a walk through the old town, coming back about 40 minutes later and paying the .50lei parking charge which was equal to about $NZ0.25.

Our next destination was Sebes in the heat of the day and on the way we saw a couple of Brown signs, a brown sign indicating a historical interest, which we visited, it was interesting one village we saw gypsy children, five years or younger, all rubbing their stomachs indicating they were hungry, with their hand out wanting money from us.  It's interesting way to bring up your children, teaching them to lie more or less from birth, not much of an interesting future from that situation!

Were getting ready to stop for the night and at Aurel Vlaicu there was the ACSI campsite listed, is GPS settings were off by about 2 or 3 km but we still found it, and they were faced with a narrow Road, turning in to a gateway that was slightly larger than our motor home, with pipes and gutters either side to make the entrance more interesting, and if that was not enough they then had an archway for you to drive through and then if you past both of those tests you may rest in comfort for the night!

Of course to raise the bar of fraction both father and son stand in front and give directions, I've learnt not to trust other people so only listen to Luda, but they were shouting so loud in the end I leaned out the door and told them to shut up, that of course went over like a lead balloon, and they disappeared indoors, so I managed to extract myself, with Luda's help from the gateway and I decided that that was that, but no, the campsite owner was not finished with me, he told me how many thousands of people he had guided through the gateway each year, (yes we are talking about Romania) and that if I had only listen to him I would have had no problems, except wiping out the pipe that Luda warned me about!

For your interest the campsite is called “Camping Aurel Vlaicu” and if you fancy driving your motorhome like a thread through the eye of the Needle in this campsite is for you.

All day with been driving on what appears to be a main Road probably from Hungary to Romania, and was full of trucks going both ways, and the only Road, it appears, between these two countries, going in the direction we are going, is through peaceful little villages, which are no longer peaceful and have nose to tail line of trucks and cars going both ways through the village, often creating the truck line's I was talking about yesterday and in one village they were so deep when I thought I had to swerve to the right I was unable to do so.  I guess this is the price the villages pay for the Communist system ending and the country joining the EEC!

Going through one village we missed the turn off and decided we should turn around and go back to visit a monastery, so I saw a road on my left and indicated I was turning left, and just as I was turning, a car past me on my left hand side, it was so close, but not very much different to what we're been seeing all day with the way the Romanians drive!  To make matters worse the Road to the monastery was somewhat like a goat track!

So carried on past Orastie and just before we got to Simeria we saw a signpost for a campground, restaurant and goodness knows what else so in we turned and drove to our campsite without having to pass any hurdles.

Saturday, July 25, 2009
Once again, back on the Road, this time heading towards Deva, Arad and the Hungarian border, before getting there and bought a vignette for Hungary then at the next petrol station filled up with diesel which left me exactly 46 Romanian lira which I felt.was quite good.  It was then over the border and a 10 minute wait whilst they decided if Luda and I could enter Hungary, eventually they did without discovering the 154 Pakistanis we had hidden in our garage, (only joking), and then we drove past a 3 km line of trucks waiting to get into Romanian and were moving so slow made one thankful we weren't crossing borders as part of our livelihood.

Was then on into Hungary and we stopped at the first city called Makó, obtained some Hungarian money from the ATM and drove on to a campsite in this city and a found again they weren't set up for receiving clients so we moved on to the first major city called Szeged, and they we found an old Soviet style camping site being run by a hotel who were well set up to take our money.

Sunday, July 26, 2009
We resumed our travel through Hungary, travelling this morning towards Budapest, passing the town of Kecskemét and then about 30 km out of Budapest doing a righthand turn, swing around the right-hand side of Budapest and then travelling through the outskirts, however looking at the map afterwards we were quite close to the centre of Budapest, but did not have the horrendous traffic of our earlier travel this year.

The first destination was the city of Szentendre, where they had a large open air Museum of early wooden buildings and then we moved on to the city of Esztergom some 30 km away, on the banks of the Danube was a large impressive cathedral and castle and many other churches, quite a tourist town.

It was easy travelling today although travelling through the city with its slower speed did require a lot more patience.  We travelled on the bank of the Danube for quite a distance, and found many camping grounds and picnic spots along this route, the swimming pools we did see from the Road were absolutely packed with almost only standing room.  A few campgrounds we did look at were very busy, naturally at this time of the year, but we saw a large parking area close to the Danube near the town of Tát so hopefully this will be our destination for the day unless we are moved on.

Looking at the map we see we are very close to the Danube, which means we are right on the border of Hungary with Slovakia on the other side of the river.

As we travel through Europe and Eastern Europe we are surprised at the number of atomic power stations we see everywhere.  Coming from a country that turns his nose up to atomic power and seeing so much in the Northern Hemisphere, with only one power station that has blotted its copybook and that being Chernobyl I am continually amazed at how many are operating with no bad publicity.  Yesterday we saw a very old one in Hungary that must have been one of the first looking at the amount of rust and old technology and it was obviously still in production.

The Soviet system of heating apartments is to build a large gas boiler in the centre of  large blocks of apartments and then they use extremely large pipes to pipe the hot water to the apartments which of course is an extremely efficient way of supplying hot water in endless quantities, so a feature of most of the Soviet landscape with in cities is these large diameter pipes making themselves an eyesore which of course was not a consideration under that particular system.

I think most of us are aware that atomic power generates massive heat and the plant is continually in need of being cooled, and for the first time yesterday I saw these massive hot water pipes not start the journey at a large gas boiler, but at a atomic power station that was extremely close to the town, so I would asume that was an extremely efficient way of producing hot water, and one thought it did occur to me, when you are using this hot water in a shower, would you need soap?

Monday, July 27, 2009
We started the day off by heading in the direction of Gyor, but bypass that city going through Écs on our way to Pannonhalma where we photographed what appeared to be an old castle on top of a hill, which is as far as we could see was the only attraction for this town.

We then decided to move on the Slovakia so headed towards Komárno which was on the other side of the Danube, and from there it was on towards Nové Zámky and Nitra, another city that had a Castle on the top of a hill to make itself more interesting, it wasn't interesting enough for us to hang around so we moved on to a campsite at Kocurice and we have settled into an old Soviet campsite with lots of space, well laid out, and a extremely reasonable price.

When we enter a new country in Eastern Europe we usually stopped at a large shopping centre which has cropped up right throughout this whole group of countries, and we find an ATM machine to get there currency, and if we don't think were coming back for a while, change the last country's currency into this country.  We did this in Slovakia, going into a bank to change the Hungarian and the local currency, when we are here last year they were using their own currency, so it was quite a surprise to have the Hungary currency changed into Euros.

The bank was one of the new series the banks that don't have tellers the individual cubicle's we you sit down and do your banking business one-to-one, the little girl that was changing my Hungarian currency told me that in all of Eastern Europe you can now use the euro, alongside the existing currency, so they are obviously working the Euro in to Eastern Europe on a slow basis, and it would have been useful to know this at the beginning and not have to worry about the local currency, of course you do have the rounding up problem with the new currency so perhaps use of the local currency was after all the best decision.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Well after a one-day rest, we have across Slovakia to we hit the E 65 and then went on North until we were about 15 km out Bruno, famous for their rifles of the same name and the BR and the World War II BREN gun, and then we drove on to the direction of Veverská Bítýska where we found a campsite with WiFi, and on the way we stopped off to see a couple of old castles which I believe the Czech Republic is full of!

We discovered that the Czech Republic will not accept Euros so the information we got in Slovakia was incorrect.  In all an uneventful day, without high heat, no high hills, no steep descents, and consequently no problems with the motorhome.