If you read the last blog you would have realized that our trip this year which was planned to last 6 months came to a sad ending. Despite this the 5 months that we did travel went really well and we visited many new and interesting places, meet many friendly people and experienced the local food and wine.
This trip was called the half gap year as were going for 6 months and we wanted to fill in the gaps of our past trips. As you can see in the maps below we drove through areas that we haven’t been on our past 6 trips. When I counted the countries that we drove through it came to 21 with 4 new countries to add to our tally, Moldova, Lichtenstein, Kosovo and Andorra. [I will be honest and say that one of those countries was Switzerland which our TomTom took us through for 5 kilometres on our way the Lichtenstein.] Our tally is over 40 European countries that we have visited, this is truly more than we ever imagined when we first started travelling in the “Bunyip” in 2009 and we feel privileged to have had the opportunity to do so.
Map of our 2015 Trip
Map of all of our 7 Trips
Thank you to all those who have been reading our blog over the last months. Thanks for all the comments and the emails that we have received, especially the kind words of support during the last couple of weeks. Writing and putting a blog together takes time and we appreciate the feedback.
If you have read the whole blog then you would have read over 43,000 words about half the size of a small novel. We have put up many photos which we hope have been of interest. We took nearly 6000 photos and luckily for you we only put the better ones on.
This trip we travelled 16,000 kilometres and in total the “Bunyip” has done over 100,000 since we purchased it in 2009. As always it performed well as we took it on some rough roads and up many a steep mountain road, with only a few repairs and some new tyres.
Small rant. Eastern Europe “is it safe”
I don’t like to rant about issues in the blog but this time I will make a small exception, after all it is the last blog of our trip. As we travel we get asked constantly asked if it is safe to go to Romania or Albania or Bulgaria or Kosovo and many other places mostly Eastern Europe. They must think that the people there are evil and want to rob you or do you harm. This is not helped by the media and the way Eastern Europe is portrayed in movies. If fact we feel safer there than in Western Europe, an example is, a Dutch lady running a campsite in Romania has been broken into 3 times not there but in Holland.In Romania she leaves her keys in the car and does not lock her house. We have had no trouble in at all in the East but in France our motorhome was broken into [no gas used, no ipad stolen or 2000 euros, motorhome forum – in joke] and luckily only 20 euros taken, but we were left with a sick feeling and beefed up our security since. We have met people who ride their bike through all of these countries and felt safe doing so. We wildcamp more in Eastern Europe as campsite and aires are not common and everywhere we have stayed has not been an issue with either the locals or the police. In fact we were stopped by a policeman in Moldova only to satisfy his curiosity and to wish us well while we travelled in his country.
Friendliness. We have been overwhelmed by the way people have treated us, especially the young people.
We are parked in front of the Fortress in Socorro in Moldova. This family was interested in our travels. Not many motorhomes visit Moldova. I gave the young lad a Kangaroo. An hour later they returned with a very nice bottle of Moldavian wine. An unexpected surprise.
For example in Moldova we were parked outside of the fortress in Sorocco where we stayed for the night, in the evening it was a place for the locals to stroll near the river. A group of eight 16 year old lads on scooters were parked up behind us, they were curious and finally one get up enough courage to say hello. I went and talked to them for a while, between them there was a smattering of English. When they left every lad in the group shook my hand and went past Jenny to say goodbye, very polite and respectful. In Serbia a man on a bike knew we were foreign and chatted to us wishing us a pleasant stay in his country.
In Kosovo I went to check out a place near a waterfall to see if it would be suitable for an overnight stay. These young lads were having a barbeque and some beers. They invited me over for beers and after chatting with them I headed back to the “Bunyip” only to be called back as they organized a plate of food for me to share with Jenny. Friendly and hospitable.
In Kosovo a group of young people invited me to have drinks with them and when I left they gave me a plate of food. In Romania another group of young people at a picnic spot invited us for drinks and later insisted that we stay for dinner which they cooked over the fire. I could continue on but you get the drift.
On a blog I read they felt conspicuous driving a motorhome there as people could not afford such luxuries. We don’t feel that bad as our motorhome is nearly 20 years old, but the people we had met are glad to see people coming to their country. Firstly they bring in money and also people are genuinely pleased that we are interest in visiting, most people our proud of their country and want to show it off.
In Kosovo was had our van washed for 3 euros [bargain]. While we waited we went to the bar next door where the locals were very friendly, buying us beers. The man in the singlet had two beer two my one. He looks like he has more room. His son goes to the American University in Pristina and spoke excellent English. He translated for us. After a few beers , a few laughs and a clean car we were on our way again.
At a picnic spot in Romania these young people invited us over for drinks and then cooked us dinner. The lads were 24 and the girls 19. Very friendly and hospitable.
Nicu runs a motorhome\caravan repair shop in Romania. Behind his workshop he has a very nice camping place. He repaired our fridge for a very good price. His service was excellent.
The places to see in Eastern Europe are fascinating and the other benefit is that you can see them without the crowds and the selfie taking, loud talking obnoxious tourists.
Finally, “yes I have gone on for a while”, it’s so inexpensive to travel there. I get a shock when I get back into Western Europe, things are very much more expensive. We certainly eat out more in Eastern Europe and the food is delicious.
Enough of my rant, I could go on further but I think you get my point. I think I will throttle the next person who asks “is it safe”. We found it safe, fascinating and friendly.
The sights we saw we will never forget but the thing that will stand out on this trip is the people we met on the way. We have been overwhelmed by the friendliness and hospitality people have shown us. So instead of pictures of the sights and places we visited I want to finish this blog with some of the people who made our trip a memorable one. There were many more that we didn’t take photos of but they will always have a fond place in our hearts.
Mike is our cousin who we visit every year. This year he kindly let us use his apartment in Spain which was a welcome break. Thank you Mike.
The three Motzki brothers who met on our first trip in 2009. We see them once a year and each time they spoil us.
Tanya and Dagmar with Jenny at a barbecue. They are the best host and look after us each time we come to visit.
Jenny getting a kiss from Leo. You can see why she likes going back to visit each year.
Another kiss from Michael at a mothers day fair.
In Bremen we met David and Gail a couple from Coffs Harbour ,Australia. We spent the evening with them sharing tales of motorhome travels. These were the last Australians we saw for 6 weeks.
These polish people were at a small campsite we stayed in. They were on there way to Romania to go 4 x 4 driving. We spent some time over a few drinks in the evening. They had specially printed t-shirt for the trip. I was honored to get one of them.
Charles, Aurelie along with their children Lou-Ann and Anthony are on a 5 year trip. We spent and evening with them wild camping next to a river in Romania. An impressive motorhome built from a former fire water truck.
After 6 weeks it was great to hear some Aussie accents. Cameron and Chantelle are on a 7 month trip in Europe. They have great blog site with spectacular photos and there commentary has an Aussie sense of humor to it. Check it out.
About 15 kms outside of Plovdiv ,BUlgaria we stayed for a couple of days wild camping next to the river. It is a local picnic area and on Sunday this entrepreneur came around selling icecream from the back of his van. very cheap and really nice, just what we needed on a hot day. He then gave us a free sample of his home made pudding.
In Macedonia will filled up with water at a place which happened to be a bus stop. The old gent was most interested in what were doing but his English was as good as our Macedonian. But with sign language we still managed to communicate and have a good laugh together.
Antonio, Rose and Sebastian with Jenny sharing some wine, meats and cheese. Antonio is Spanish and his partner Rose is Dutch, they are traveling by bike from the middle east to Spain, cycling from Oman through Iran and Turkey. Sebastian is french and is traveling in many ways during his break from studying. We enjoyed their company and we shared many travel stories.
Paul and Emma are a British couple who we met in Lichtenstein. It was there wedding anniversary and we spent the evening together in a car park of the sports center. How romantic!!
Derek and Jet are Dutch and we stent the afternoon and evening with them on a snail farm. Guess what was on the menu? Snails of course and they were delicious with some wine and good company. France Passion site.
The lady farmer and her daughter at the berry farm. They showed us around the farm and were very friendly. When the farmer came home that night he said we could go and pick some berries to eat. We didn’t have to be told twice. For breakfast the next 3 days we had berry, very nice. France Passion site.
Patrick the duck farmer. Made us very welcome as we stayed overnight on his farm. I gave his wife a koala and he then gave us some duck pate. France Passion site.
Young Aussie couple at the Valencia Camper Park. So good to hear an Aussie accent. We didn’t come across many during our travels.
Debbie, Greg and Talia cooking paella with Jenny in Denia. We spent two weeks together first in Denia and then onto Barcelona. It was good to share our travels with family.
Tapas bar in Zaragoza. I asked him if I could take a photo. Of course he said, then he got me behind the bar and have a try at cutting the ham. I think I need a bit more practice.
Lori with Jenny. Lori has been a traveling companion twice. Although this year it was shorter than we would have liked.
It was Sunday and the people in Romania get dressed up to go to church.I asked her if she minded that I talk a photo. She seemed very pleased that I asked and even posed with her hand on her hip.
This friendly nun was at a monastery Romania. She spoke excellent English and was very informative, she showed me how the well worked and I gave it a try.
There were 4 women and a man sitting outside the house on the street in Romania. The lady in the middle when I asked if I could take a photo got the laughs up and it took awhile before she composed herself enough for me to get this shot. i love the man with his shirt up, a good look??
Even though I didn’t speak any Romanian I had a great time walking the streets of the village. No-one objected when I asked if I could take a photo. They straightened their hair or scarf and posed. When I told them I was from Australia they all gave a shake of there hand and an ooh sound as if I was from mars.
John and Ronda aussie’s also on tour we met them in the campsite in Barcelona.
Allen and Christine a friendly couple who we spent an afternoon with in an aire in Spain. It was a hot day and we shared some stories over a few cool drinks.
Last but not least our cousin Martin. Without his help our trips would not be possible. The “Bunyip” lives at Martins house when we are back in Australia and he arranges the registration and insurance. He also houses us when we are preparing and leaving on our trips. We are always in your debt, thank you.
We’re not sure what next year will bring but we are still hoping to return and continue to explore new places and meet more interesting people.
For the motorhomers who read the blog and glean information from it I will update and put additional information on when I have time back in Australia. For now its farewell to Europe for another year. Safe travels, Ewout and Jenny
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