30th September - 3rd October THE FINAL CHAPTER
SUNDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER 2012 LUG INS LAND CAMPING PARK – GERMANY
We decided to make a move and head home. We would like to do the journey in three days and get a ferry on Wednesday and then book a flight out to Spain for Sunday. I was going to book the flight for Friday but Tony would like to go to rugby on Saturday and as he would have a hard drive home he deserves to have a day of R&R!
We had packed up most things the night before as it was expected to rain in the night, which it did meaning the ground sheet was very muddy. Tony cleaned off everything and we left around 10 am.
Before we left we had a group photo of the four of us wearing our swimming hats that were compulsory for swimming pools in Italy. I have to say Graham’s & Jean’s were the real McCoy, ours were only cloth but theirs were rubber!
I had to queue at reception to check out as they were so busy, which took another ½ hr. They only had two girls on check out duty but four girls on check in duty and they were sitting on their backsides!! I asked for a discount to our fee as we had had to put up with the muddy pitch and had not had the gravel that was promised to be delivered every day that we were there. I said (small fib!) that we had intended to stay until Friday but had had enough of the mud and were leaving early. The girl went off to see the manager but he said No! She said they had our request on record but we were already getting a discount by using our ACSI card and anyway what did we expect this time of year? I told her we had stayed on many sites and had never had a pitch as muddy as this (not mentioning Peterborough!) and I would ensure that my internet review would make their attitude to this very clear to future customers! I have to be honest, I didn’t really expect to get any discount but it was worth a try. We had a call from Graham saying Tony had left his glasses behind – how unusual for him! – very kindly Graham drove them up to us by the reception and we eventually left at 10.30am.
We got to the Swiss border at 1pm and stopped at an Aires to have lunch. We drove through the St Gotthard tunnel which is 17km long. This tunnel drove TomTom wild, it kept swinging from one direction to the other, telling us to turn left then turn around when possible, when we came out the other side it took a couple of minutes to recover and looked like it was trying to sort itself out after a fight! Strangely my ipad TomTom did not react in any way.
We got just over the German border and having done 287 miles decided to stop for the night so pulled off the motorway and found a campsite.
We pulled in at Lug Ins Land Camping Park, a huge site with lots of statics as well as touring caravans and motorhomes. We couldn’t figure out why there should be so many as on the map there didn’t seem to be anything in this area. In reception they had lots of leaflets about the surrounding area but every one of them was in German – unusual as most sites we had stayed at they had alternatives in French, Dutch or English as well, obviously they only consider their own countrymen here. The receptionist slung me a form to fill in and said bring it back tomorrow morning when you pay and gave me an invoice. When I got back to the van the form was all in German so I did my best and the invoice was for 26E when the ACSI book said it was only 16E so I would have to sort that out tomorrow.
The weather was dull & drizzly so we didn’t go out for a walk – not that there was anywhere to go – but I cooked tea, we watched a film then went to bed.
MONDAY 1ST OCTOBER 2012 BRUGGE AIRES – BELGIUM
I went to reception first thing to settle the bill explaining to a different girl that I had been charged full price and not the ACSI price, she begrudgingly changed it. I then went to the camp shop to get a loaf of bread, they only had two very small ones left, no bigger than a large roll really and these were 2E each so I said ‘no thanks!’
We set off at 10am. Tony had the intention of driving all 407 miles all the way to Brugge, Belgium in one day. We would park in the Aires there central to town and spend Tuesday there before catching the ferry on Wednesday.
I had to phone the Caravan & Camping Club to book the Harwich ferry crossing so did this whilst we were travelling. She gave me the price £62 but said for some reason she had to phone Stenna Line before she could finalise the booking so rather than me hold on she said she would ring me back. Ten minutes later she rang back to say that the ship was in dry dock for repairs and was off the route until 9th October so there were no sailings until then – typical, the one time we wanted to use it!!! I went online, using my iphone, to book the Dunkirk to Dover crossing with DFDS and tried several times but every time it went to process my card payment I got a message saying they did not support the currency I was trying to pay in! The website gave me an option of currency and I chose £’s, it displayed the price in £’s so I didn’t know what was going on. I tried E’s but still the same, so after spending almost an hour trying to book I gave up and phoned the Caravan & Camping Club back and got them to book a crossing with P&O for Wednesday.
We remembered to fill up with fuel in Luxembourg as it was cheap – only £1 a ltr which was good as driving fast up and down hills on the motorway was taking its toll and we were only getting 17mpg as opposed to 21mpg. We headed on for Brugge.
We arrived in Brugge around 6pm. I had put the GPS points into TomTom but it took us up a dead end street. We could see the aires on the other side of the river so had to travel back, find a place to cross then try again. Eventually we got there and parked up at 6.45pm.
It cost 15E for 24hrs so not cheap, but it included electricity (which we didn’t need) and it’s only 10 mins from the town. We were to find out that everything in Brugge was expensive!
We had intended to walk into the town in the evening but Tony was feeling really tired after having driven for most of the day so we stayed in & watched a film. I made him his favourite macaroni cheese for tea J
Whilst we were watching TV we had an email come through on my phone. It was from Graham & Jean just letting us know that the gravel arrived today!!!!! They delivered a whole trailer full, enough for three pitches. He sent us a picture, we really had a giggle at this – perhaps my complaining had helped after all……………………..
Went to bed and we could both hear a mossy flying around so had to go mossy hunting before we could get to sleep. We would just drop off and one of us would hear zzzzzzzzz as it flew past our ear. Gave the area a good spray and assumed we had killed it – no, after feasting on us both it had just relocated to the lounge area where it was waiting for me in the morning!
TUESDAY 2ND OCTOBER 2012 BRUGGE AIRES – BELGIUM
It was very noisy all night with traffic on the nearby busy road. In the morning there was a lot of activity in the coach park and when I looked out the window I could see lots of coaches queuing to get out of the car park – they all had the ‘school bus’ sign on them. I hadn’t noticed them parked there the night before?
We walked into the centre of Brugge, about 10 minutes away. It was very pretty with lovely old buildings and squares. There were a lot of chocolate shops as obviously Belgium is famous for its chocolate and this was a tourist town. Chocolate in every shape and size but all of it very expensive. In one window just a normal nutty chocolate was 40E a KG!
We looked at several restaurants for lunch, most of them were expensive but a few had a special price lunch menu. We chose one that had a board out the front saying £16 for 3 courses which looked good. We sat at a nice sunny table for 4 and a surly waiter came along and asked us to move to a smaller table for 2 which was in the shade. Why he wanted us to move I don’t know as there was only one other couple sitting there and about twenty spare tables. He gave us the menu and then went off. The menu he gave us was really expensive, around 25E a course and he hadn’t mentioned that they did a lunch menu for 16E which annoyed me even more so we got up and left.
We decided to walk back to the van for lunch and come into town in the evening for a meal but on the way back we came across a busy café in a small square so we ate there. We had a portion of mussels in cream and chicken curry baguette which we shared.
Back at the van Tony went out on his bike whilst I settled down to read. We were parked next to the entrance barrier and several vans were arriving. The entry instructions to the Aires were not clear – in fact there were no instructions. You had to press a button to get a ticket and open the barrier and then pay at the kiosk on the way out. For some reason people that arrived kept trying to put their credit card into the slot that the ticket came out. I had to keep going to show them what to do. One French man was getting very irate and was pressing the help button and shouting into it
I had collected some conkers from the chestnut trees nearby and threaded them onto strings. When Tony returned from his bike trip we had a conker completion outside the van, much to the amusement of the other campers. After several injuries and no signs of damage to either conkers we agreed it was a draw .
We walked into town again in the evening to look at the building all lit up – they looked pretty but much the same as they had during the day! On the way home we stopped at a restaurant and had a meal of Flemish Beef Stew which was extremely filling. Talking to the waiter he said that Brugge was a very busy town and all the shops and restaurants were thriving and very busy.
Back at the van we watched a film, getting low on DVD’s now so we were reduced to watching one about a dog – Old Yellow – familiar story – boy finds abandoned dog, both get lost in mountains, dog fights wolves & mountain cat, boy gets found, dog gets lost again but after a couple of weeks dog makes it to boys home, limping, & they are reunited………………
That bloody mozzie is still with us, I think he wants a ride back to England!
WEDNESDAY 3RD October 2012 BRUGGE AIRES – BELGIUM
Woke up at 7.30am to the sound of the coaches again. This time we could see that they were arriving, parking up for 1/2hr and then driving off again. There were large coaches and small minibuses and Tony reckons that they operate a hub system, picking up schoolchildren from outlying areas and transferring them to the bigger coaches in town before shipping them off to different schools. Anyway by 8.30 they had all gone.
We were pretty much packed up so we paid and left at 8.45am heading for Calais.
We arrived at the port at 10.30, our crossing was for 12.45 but we were able to get on the 11am one which was good. The weather was wet and windy so the crossing was a bit choppy.
After a non-eventful drive back to Harwich we arrived home mid-afternoon.
Thanks to our Jim, Dianne & Andrew (our next door neighbours) the house is still standing and the garden was in great order. We had a cup of tea with them before we started the task of unpacking the van.
We have been away for 9 weeks and 2 days, driven 3,800 miles without any major arguments and it’s lovely to be home!
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