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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Caravan to Poland Epilogue

Home again, happy but feeling really knackered.'

One last job, stow the caravan at Barrow

Only one thing I forgot was, to remove the extended mirrors.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Caravan to England Monday

Stowed scooter and hitched caravan, in torrential rain, the sight of Lisa holding an umbrella, sheltering herself and Angie, whilst Angie wound the caravan legs up, with the pair of them giggling stays with me, wished I had of had the presence of mind to get a photo.

Set off for Hoek van Holland to sail on the Stena line ferry to Harwich. I am now typing this live whilst sailing on the north sea. The ship has satellite technology which enables blogging afloat!

The beautiful ship that bought us back to England

Caravan to Holland Sunday

 Stowed the scooter, hitched up.  Paid the bill and hit the autobahn south west with the plan being, to stay at the very nice site I had stayed at in Arnhem, as things turned out we ended up at another camp site, more about that later.

Berlin has the equivalent of London's M25 called the Berlina Ring after a good while on that, we were directed onto the E30, by the faithful Tomtom, christened by Angie, Jeremy.

Caravan in Berlin Saturday

Went with Angie and Lisa to explore Berlin and especially to see what is left of the Berlin wall.

One of the things that becomes apparent from dividing a city by a vast and terrible wall, is how silly things get, you are not even allowed to photograph the souvenirs.

Quite amazing really, now the wall has become a metaphor for the past, and is used to display metaphors.

It's 50 years ago that the wall was built, Spiegel the German newspaper have done a feature on it. A tunnel builders story.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Caravan in Berlin Friday

 Woke up about half six and of course no internet, which meant no BBC radio 4 :( So at seven I went to reception to buy more Internets and was told I would have to wait 'till eight when the boss came in, back to the caravan for another cup of tea, then tried again this time I met the boss and he sold me two hours of 'Net time but this time, this meant separate slips of paper for two separate hours, ah the penny has dropped.

At last I could listen to radio 4 and catch up with the news, and what news! America's credit rating has dropped!!!! The world has had the same economic system since Breton Woods in 1971 when America ditched the gold standard and instead made the dollar the reserve currency for the world, another name for this is 'the fiat currency', this function used to be performed by the Pound Sterling, but since WWII meant that, the UK was no longer the world economic power it once was, it no longer operated as reserve currency. Muddling along using gold as fiat currency, is a bit cumbersome because gold is rather heavy. So countries started to use the Dollar as a trading currency instead, this worked fine whilst America had a healthy trade balance. The world's commodities are bought and sold in dollars, wheat, oil, etc, etc. If the dollar was devalued, the world's drillers and farmers would be paid less. Which is why America and the rest of world, need a new fiat currency.

Once China became the world's manufacturing giant, and America was in the situation of importing much more than it was exporting, the pressure to devalue the Dollar grew and grows still.

Many people are suggesting a basket of world currencies, could be the reserve currency, this would work fine, except when it comes to people who use the Euro. It was very noticeable how cheap things were in Poland, except when it came to road fuel, road fuel in Germany is cheaper than road fuel in Poland or the UK, this is easily achievable if a currency can be revalued up or down to balance it's economy in terms of exports and imports.

 This is the problem with countries within the Euro zone, they cannot revalue their currencies because they all use the same currency.

Using gold as a fiat currency is a guard against inflation, because if you only print the number of bank notes in circulation in relation to the amount of gold a nation holds, you don't risk, adding 0's to denominations, or printing lots more notes to cure economic problems, gold keeps things financially disciplined.

Economic behaviour that causes inflation, such as can be seen in Germany before WW11 causes massive social damage.

Reading about the Weimar Republic and the massive social damage that the hyper inflation caused, explains why the German people elected someone like Hitler.

(end of international economics rant and back to travel blog)

So anyway once the two hours had been used up with my usage, Lisa and Angie's use, I went back to reception to buy more 'Net time, this time I explained to the manager how I had mistakenly bought a ten hour block, not knowing it could not be split and he kindly gave me 4 separate hours to compensate me, and just to make the point - I have created most of this content using them!

So after tea and breakfast we set off for the centre of Berlin to explore, we have taken many photos of Berlin which will be uploaded to this blog later on, then this blog will be given a polish.

Caravan to Berlin Thursday

Set off for the long stretch north west to Berlin arrived 6ish, dropped the legs - home again!

The site is on an island under the flight path of Berlin airport. It also has a hotel so Lisa and Angie can have some comfort and I do not have sleep in the car.

The internet arrangements of this site seem a bit convoluted, not like the campsite in Dresden which had really fat pipes and a log in system that threw me.

Basically when we arrived, the site attendant told me to get the caravan parked up then come back and he would sort out the WiFi for me. When I returned he told me that the 'Net is one Euro per hour, so thinking about ten hours would be enough connection time we would need for the whole of the two nights we would be staying at the campsite, he gave a bit of a funny look, took my ten Euros then returned bearing a slip of paper, with the login letters and password, then he hit me with it, the time was to be used up all in one go!! As by then it was around seven in the evening and I was dog tired from the long drive up from Krakow when it got to around 11 I was ready for bed and had wasted five Euros.

Sitting there getting the 'Net sorted, I heard a strange sound that made me jump. Opened the door looked around nothing, trapped my thumb in the hinge, ouch. Later on the same odd sound happened again, this time I had a look around, noticed a young lad on a bike were they throwing things at me I thought? Then I looked down and saw loads of acorns on the ground, ah mystery solved, the caravan was parked under an oak tree and the sound was caused by acorns hitting the roof of the caravan.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Caravan in Krakow Wednesday and Thursday

Up nice and early and off to the centre to indulge in some serious touristing. Fantastic to have my electric scooter, I would make a pretty poor tourist without it.

Had ride around the campsite and got a couple of scenic shots of the river that ran next to it.

One of my wishes was to visit the ghetto portrayed in the film Schindlers list.

Ok we visited the Jewish Quarter of Krakow, but apparently the ghetto was not in that part of Krakow, so instead we paid a visit to the Wawel castle, then we made our way to the very picturesque squares in the centre, that act like a magnet to the world's tourists.

Australian couple who were camped next the caravan in the process of breaking camp.

Lisa and Angie

 One of the beautiful church's in Krakow.

Angie and me on my wheels



A model of Wawel castle

River  Vistula


Angie and me

Lisa and me

Angie and Lisa

If  any picture has a story this one does, tiny newborn baby and at a guess its grandparents in national costume , so if a Polish person can comment below, I have a question, is this a cultural celebration?

If the baby is not the couples grandchild, then a human baby is being used as a prop, in a bit of street theatre, to help sell trinkets to the tourists. Or perhaps this is what couple in their national costume normally do, and they have been press ganged into doing a bit of babysitting! 


End of the day a happy party.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Caravan to Krakow Tuesday

We awoke around 7 and set about breaking camp. As we went about getting wheels rolling, we  noticed some cats, two of them. I'm unclear as to whether they were from the same caravan or two different caravans, but the whole idea of taking a cat on holiday seems somewhat incongruous. Many people take their dogs on holiday, but cats? The big shame of this is, not one of us had the presence of mind, to take a photo of this somewhat odd phenomena.   

After a fairly long drive from Wroclaw here we are in Krakow, legs down, all set.

Nice campsite WiFi works !!!!

 Angie helping me load the scooter into the car.

After loading the scooter back into the car, we set off to explore the centre of Krakow which we had heard is worth visiting, it certainly lives up to its reputation. Very vibrant, lots of street theatre, a team of break dancers, stilt walkers.

The centre of Krakow has several very nice squares and not a car in sight.
Then we went for a nice meal, for a very reasonable price, meal finished, we went for a wander and bumped into another person who was staying at Camp Clepardia also, named Mike who is touring Europe on his Motorbike with a tent.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Caravan to Poland Monday

I actually saw the sun today for the first time in three days!

I've found a hole in the wall, so have access to local currency.

Basically all seems to be going ok.

Lisa and Angie arrived safe and sound Wroclaw airport, now having eaten, playing cards.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Caravan in Poland Sunday

Well here I am in Wroclaw legs down all set.

One of the things I find most enjoyable about my travel blog, is some of the photographs I've managed to take, not so much for their informational content, but purely for the juxtaposition of lines and colour, what follows is an example, taken not far from the Wroclaw campsite.

Site seems ok but no camp wide WiFi, but Roman the campsite attendant seemed to saying you could could pick it up next to reception. Will check that out later.  But at least I can get online with my Kindle.
Sitting outside reception with my coat on (it's a bit cold here), but at least I am online with my laptop, the Kindle is ok as a web enabled device in some senses, at least I can get access and read or write emails, but it is not close in terms of ease of use as my laptop.

I was warned about Poland's roads, the motorway getting here was no problem, but some of  the roads in Wroclaw are like the Alps.

At least at this campsite there are other people, it felt very weird being the only camper at the Legnicka campsite, all I had for company was an irritating dog that kept trying to bully me, by rushing up to me barking and expecting me to be scared, but seeing that it was shorter than my knees, no problem, there were also lots and lots of slugs. I did not see one bird at the last site whilst there, I've already seen some crow like birds here, one chap reckoned it was a hooded crow.

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow as Lisa and Angie are arriving at the airport.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Caravan to Poland Saturday

A great comfort to me over many years has been BBC radio 4. It really started when I became a truck driver, I like music but not as much as I like thinking learning and the spoken word.

Many campsites have WiFi and if I have WiFi I have Radio 4, not always a good reception if the campsite has bandwidth issues like the last site. What kept happening at Arnhem was I kept losing the feed so had to refresh the page to get it back. Here at Kundenbeleg Dresden, the WiFi is as solid as a rock not had one drop-out yet.

I've just heard a very interesting program about travellers in Essex and them being evicted. My question is why don't they just join the caravan club?

Heard a very funny statement by Jeremy Paxman earlier on, which very much applied to me yesterday around Dortmund "You are not stuck in traffic you *are* traffic", lol.

Its raining a lot here at the moment, makes me glad I'm not in a tent and makes me feel justified in going through all the extra cost and hassle of dragging my caravan all this distance.

Really looking forward to meeting up with Lisa and Angie on Monday.

I'm going to leave here around 11:00 for Poland.

Here are some photos of where I am at this moment. 

I have decided to write reviews of the campsites I visit, Kundenbeleg in Dresden was very good, helpful staff, great WiFi in terms of bandwidth, very clean toilets and lots of facilities. If I known how the next site was going to turn out, I would have stayed another night. The only thing that let the site down was the weather, but that was not the campsite's fault.

Coming up to the Polish border.

Well I have reached my dream of many years, I read James Michener's novel Poland, more than a few years ago and ever since wanted to visit.

I'm at a campsite in a small village called Legnica but it does not have WiFi so I'm going to the campsite in Wroclaw tomorrow, hoping they have WiFi, ok I can get on the 'Net via my phone, but that allows Walmart (The company that owns Vodafone) to carry out wallet rape on me.

The other reason I'm moving on is I'm the only person here!

When I left Britain I had about £24 prepay in my Vodafone account, now I have only £11.66 left in my  prepay.

 Do the Mafia run Walmart who own Vodafone?

The only usage I have given Vodafone is the small amount of text I have posted to this blog.

Some of this text has been written from my Kindle, even though I find adding internet content via my Kindle a somewhat clumsy process.

Caravan to Poland Friday

Not a lot to report today, spent most of the day driving, left Arnhem 10:00 with lots of help from the other campers, especially a very nice Dutch drainage engineer called Jan.

Massive amounts of traffic around Dortmund, the autobahns are especially complex there. It seems that the area is close to gridlock. Wasted lots of time because I took a wrong turning.

Arrived Dresden just after 8 o'clock in the evening in a fine mist of rain after a very long drive.

One thing sort of puzzled me, I was expecting to see differences in things because I am now in what used to be behind the 'iron curtain'. Before 1992 it was a different country known as Eastern Germany. Western Germany must have  spent a great deal of money making the autobahns look just the same.

Looking forward to tomorrow, all being well, I will make my goal and for the first time visit Poland.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Caravan to Poland Thursday

Up at 6:45 cup of tea, got everything ready, arrived at the ferry terminal 8:00, boarded the Stena Britannia no problem.

Had breakfast and am now in the internet room typing this.

It is quite poignant for me taking this route to the continent, many years ago when I was in the merchant navy, I worked on the British Railway ferries on this route. One of the ships I sailed on was the SS Arnhem, I clearly remember one night during the 1966 world cup, before the final with lots and lots of German supporters and them all singing and hoping for a win.

The next night after the final taking them home they were a lot quieter!

Arrived in the Hook at 3:45 UK time and set off eastward for Arnhem, apart from some pretty heavy rain storms and lots of traffic - uneventful, arrived 7:00 at the Arnhem caravan site.

The name of the campsite, Camping Warnsborn and it's a beautiful site.

Set in the middle of a vast forest, the air is like a fine wine, unlike the air as you come into the Hook of Holland on the ferry, you can smell Rotterdam's petrochemical industries, distinctly insalubrious.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Caravan to Poland

Ever since I read Poland by James Michener, I have wanted to visit Poland.

Nearly all countries are defined by geography Poland is an exception, it has been overrun by many different cultures yet has still retained its cultural identity, the main purpose of this trip is to learn about that culture.

Parked up for the first night of my trip in the Dovercourt caravan site.

I stayed here before on my Easter in Amsterdam trip, but that time did not uncouple because I was too knackered.

This trip is going to be different, I really enjoy my caravan trips, apart from doing them on my own which means I have no one to share the experience with.

This time from next Monday on, I'm going to be joined by my  daughter Lisa and her friend Angie they will fly out to Wroclaw Poland to join me.

So Lisa and Angie could load the caravan up with their holiday luggage, I parked the caravan outside Angie's home and the reason I'm not so tired, is Angie helped me hook up.

Because I have my scooter out of the car, I'm going explore the caravan site.

Not a bad site, plenty of room, electricity works ok, a bit expensive at £24 a night, but cheaper if you are catching the Stena line ferry the next day, at £12, the only thing missing was WiFi.

There were plenty of static caravans, some for sale, some seemed very roomy.

Had a pint in the campsite bar which was full of hyperactive kids. Bought a piece of cod for my tea, rode back to the caravan, stowed the scooter and hitched back up, leaving myself less to do the next day.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Easter in Amsterdam 8

Arose early had breakfast in the site cafe and made to head for the long road home. As I was decamping I noticed these ducks clucking around me, they had it down to a 't'. They really knew how to work human beings for a bread meal, I had noticed them around the camp before and now it was my turn.

They sort of put on a performance, so in the interest of reinforcing what was quite a delightful little ritual, I went and got a couple of slices of bread.

After they had eaten the bread, then they sort of had a kip in formation, I had noticed this somewhat odd symmetry the other day, but with more ducks, I assume they have evolved this routine. A famous psychologist Skinner used to be able to get pigeons to do all sorts of weird and wonderful things by rewarding the behaviour he wanted.

The last shot of the trip, Camp Zeeburg from the motorway, the bridge seen on the right hand side of the photo, is the bridge I had crossed on my scooter to get into the centre of Amsterdam without going through the tunnel.