Monday, September 11, 2017

Back to the USA

We thought our European trip was our excitement for this year but when we got back there was much more in store.

When it came time to leave our friends and relatives on the Wirral we had to drive nearly 200 miles south to London's Gatwick Airport. We left the day before the flight and had a hotel reserved near the airport as we would have to be at the airport by 8am.

British Airways transported us very comfortably and considerately back to Orlando and I have to say that they restored my faith in airlines. Comfortable seats, organized boarding, meals included in the fare including a glass of wine with dinner, no fees for check in bags. I was very happy, plus the fare was the cheapest! 

We started to hear about a hurricane forming out in the Atlantic before we left England. 

When we got into Orlando we had another night in a hotel as we had to get the rig out of storage and setup. We didn't know wether it would even start after 4 months in storage so as the flight got in late in the afternoon we left it iuntil the next morning.

Thousand Trails Orlando is a huge park and has a big storage lot too, secure, reasonably priced and right in the campground meant it was really convenient. We planned on 2 weeks in the park sorting things out getting the rig cleaned and polished, stocking the fridge and doing some annual mainteneance.

Didn't work out that way!

We hoped either the car or the rig would start up straight away. I had disconnected the batteries, stabilized the gas in the tanks and run the engines and the generator to get it into the carbs and injectors. If one started we could jump the other from it. 

As luck would have it BOTH started first time and so did the generator. We pulled off the wheel covers and took down the shades I'd made for the windows. Before we could blink we'd moved over to the campsite we had reserved.

The rig had survived beinf stored really well. We'd put out kitty litter and "Damp Rid" to keep the inside from getting mouldy. We had the AC on as it was hot and sticky out as we loaded the bags into the rig, filled the water tank and did all the other things needed to get it habitable again. Some business at the bank and shopping at the market was next.

We immediately noticed that all the water was sold out as was the bread, baked beans, batteries and various odds and ends. People were stocking up for the approaching storm.

Television was full of warnings and notices to evacuate. Our main decision was where to go. The storm was estimated to hit the Orlando area on sunday/monday and it was thursday already. We quickly decided to leave on friday morning and head North to Tallahassee where we could stay at the Elks Lodge, watch the progress of the storm and decide what our next move might be. We'd filled the car up and the rig had a half tank of fuel which was good for 200 miles. We would fill up on the way North.

That last decision was to haunt us for the next 150 miles as every gas station we saw was either sold out or too small for us. Eventually we saw one that the lines weren't too long at and gratefully filled it up. We had discussed draining the fuel out of the Fiesta if needed to keep the rig running or leaving the rig and carrying on in the Fiesta if it became necessary.

The 250 miles to Talahassee took 12 hours. At time we were at a snails place for 10 or 20 miles then suddenly the traffic would speed up to 65mph for 40 or 50 miles only to slow to a crawl again. We rolled into the Elks at 10.30pm and parked with the car still attached just taking time to get a drink before climbing into bed.

Miles and miles of traffic
We were so glad to be in a motor home in the traffic. We had a bathroom, kitchen and all our electronics right there, we couldn't imagine how hard it was for other drivers without those amenities.

Saturday morning and the weather service was predicting the storm would go straight up the Florida penninsular so we decided to go west towards Pensacola or into Alabama where there was an Escapees Club park. Again with a half tank of fuel we got onto I10 west.

The traffic was moderately heavy. We left at 7am to try and beat some of it.

All the rest stops along the way were full to overflowing. RV's were everywhere, some fast some slow. Occasionally the traffic slowed but rarely below 30mph. We made good time to Pensacola and filled up at a very busy Love's truck stop near the city. We made up our minds to try and reach the park in Alabama and called to see if they had space for us. They assured us they did and we were there by noon (take into account a 1 hr time change crossing the state line).

The park was very nice and quite big, not very busy at all at first, then the rigs started to roll in. We met up with some couples from our Florida SKP Chapter, Chapter 57 "The Sun Gators" with whom we've had such fun over the winter. News was exchanged and the "Compulsory" happy hour organized! This might have been one of our better decisions since we arrived back in Florida!

Happy hour inspired me to try and mix some New Orleans "Hurricane Cocktails" which are both delicious and very intoxicating. Unfortunately we couldn't find passion fruit juice at Walmart but we did find the box mix for strawberry margaritas that Harold French introduced us when he and Wanda took us out on their boat, to thanks Harold! We bought rum and tequila so people could choose between margaritas and daiquiris.

Cocktails in a bucket!!
Happy hour became a very happy Hurricane Party and Irma appeared to be keeping East of us.
In the party mood







Everyone is still worried about friends that decided to stay behind and about their homes back there. We hope and pray that everyone is safe and well and that the damage is minimal. 

Meanwhile we're safe and sound here and beginning to wonder what our next move is going too be.

Comparing our UK Motorhome with our US one.

When we picked up the Motorhome in England we started running around getting all the stuff we needed for living in it.

Immediately the differences between the UK and US became obvious.

Sewer.
Our US rig has a 3" hose that runs from the outlet of the tank to the sewer connection in the ground provided for it.
Our UK rig seems to have a sewer tank and an outlet similar to our US rig. BUT NOBODY HERE KNOWS WHAT IT IS! 

Further more there may not be any connections to suit it and the RV parts places don't have hoses for it or know where to get them!! They suggested replacing the toilet entirely with a "Cassette" type. 
Eventually we figured a way to dump the tank into the type of drains they have in European dump stations but it wasn't pleasant and we minimized the use of the on board toilet as much as we could.

Grey Water
Our US rig has a grey water tank and a pipe that connects thru the sewer hose to dump the tank. We can also use a "Dump Station" at campgrounds etc to empty out tanks.

Our UK rig has a tank. There is no hose just a valve, when the tank is full you drive to the "Chemical Disposal Area" where there is a drain and you park over it and open the valve on the tank.

Water
Our US rig has a water connection via a hose that we leave constantly connected to the faucet located next to the camp site (Pitch in UK), There is a water tank and water pump when there are no "Full Hookup" sites available.

Our UK rig has a tank. You drive to the water spigot and fill the tank by hose. There is a water pump that moves the water around the rig. When the tank is empty you go back to the faucet and refill it.

Electric
Our US rig has a 30 amp service, when we pull into a campground we plug it in to the pedestal next to the site. If we had a 50 amp rig we would ask for a 50 amp site.

Our UK rig has an electric connection. Don't know what amperage it is, then again we don't have an AC or anything with a big demand, just the fridge and a couple of lights. Some cheap campgrounds had meters that you put money into and got so many amp hours of power per euro!

Propane
Our US rig has a propane tank built in. It holds enough for several months depending if we need to use the heater. When we want to fill it we either drive to a propane supplier or we get a delivery made to our site by a propane tanker.

Our UK rig has a separate portable tank. It's connected to the rig BY A RUBBER HOSE that pushes on to the end of the pipe secured with a hose clamp! Apparently the suppliers across Europe all have different bottles and connections AND WON'T REFILL OTHER COMPANIES BOTTLES, so you have to buy THEIR bottle if you need a refill, plus their regulator and fittings!! EXPENSIVE.

Refrigerator.
Our US rig has a single width fridge with a freezer in the top. It's about 5' tall, 30" wide and 30" deep. It runs on 110v AC, propane and 12v electric. We set it to "Auto" and it switches to whatever is available.

Our UK rig has a TINY fridge. About 3' high 24' wide and 12" deep in places. It has a tiny little freezer inside that might hold a small ice tray or 1lb of frozen peas! You manually switch the 240v AC on. If you have no mains voltage you manually turn on a propane valve, open the door of the fridge and look in a little round window then operate a manual igniter to light the propane pilot light!! If none of those works there's a separate 12v switch. We only managed to get it to work on mains voltage

Stove/microwave
Our US rig has a propane 3 burner cooktop with an oven under it. Over the cooktop there is a combination Microwave/Convection oven. When we get bored with that we have a gas grill in a storage bay under the rig.

Our UK rig has a 2 burner cooktop.
That's all. There's no storage under the rig so nowhere to keep a gas grill.

Tables and chairs
Our US rig has a table and 2 chairs, a recliner and an L shaped sofa. If we want we can rotate the driver and passenger seats so they act as additional chairs. In another storage bay under the rig we have 4 camp chairs and a folding table. I keep my 2 art easels in yet another storage bay.

Our UK rig has a table with 2 bench seats. We bought 2 camping chairs. They have to be stored in the shower.

Bed
In our US rig we have a queen size bed in the bedroom, it has a nice "sleep number" mattress with infinitely adjustable firmness. The sofa in the living room pulls out for a second bed.

Our UK rig has a cab-over bed. To access it we have to put a ladder up and climb in. There is about 30" headroom at the highest point, not enough to sit up in. The mattress is foam rubber on a solid board. It;s surprisingly comfortable. The table in the living area spans the gap between the bench seats and 2 spare cushions make up a mattress, it isn't long enough for an adult to sleep comfortably 
in.

Closets
Our US rig has a closet each side of the bed and a large closet (about 5' long) opposite the bathroom. There are draws under the large closet and a dresser each side of the bed. More cupboard space is in the kitchen area and around the overhead of the living area.

Our UK rig has one closet. It's about 30" wide and 48" high. There are a total of 5 cupboards in the overhead and 3 drawers in the kitchen.

Campgrounds
In the US in a commercial campground you may have a large area, usually gravel, with electric, sewer and water right there, and a bath house somewhere. In some parks there might be tennis, shuffleboard, maybe a small store and a rec center.

In Europe the campground is likely to be grass and each site is surrounded by a hedge to isolate it from the neighbors. There will be one electrical outlet for that site but it may be up to 75' away! Long extension cords are a must. There will be bath houses around as most people use the bath house rather than the facilities in their campers which we found small and inconvenient. Water and a dump a station will be at one spot somewhere on the campground and you may have to wait in line to use either on a busy day. 
The campground is very likely to have a restaurant and a licensed bar on the premises. 
Most campgrounds have a sign up sheet for fresh bread every morning is you want it.

Quiet times are very late and very lax in Europe, if there is a sign stating the times it is usually 11pm to 8am.

TV
Our US rig has a TV in the living room and one in the bedroom. Both can pick up a signal from either the antenna on the roof or if the campground has cable TV we can attach to that. We can also stream TV and movies from the internet.

Our UK rig has no TV and in fact there is no space to put one either! We have Kindles and a laptop and can connect to the internet in most campgrounds but there is usually a fee. We read a lot of books!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

On the Wirral

The Wirral Peninsular lies in the North West of England. It is bordered by the River Dee to the South and the River Mersey to the North. West is the Irish Sea.

This is where Barbara and I were born and raised and where I trained in the shipyard for a career that lasted 49 years.

We both have relatives here and lots of friends from the days before we emmigrated to the US. Our daughter Sally now lives here with her husband Iain and our Grand Kids Kaytland and Nial.
Katyland and Nial
Obviously we were going to be busy socializing!

My sister Jackie volunteered to put us up for the first couple of weeks and arranged our first night out. Her daughters Lyndsey and Cathy met us a a local India restauarant together with Evie, Matt and my other sister Beryl. Luckily the restaurant was within walking distance as the party progressed rapidly and continued when we got home.
Barbara and I with neice Cathy

Sister Beryl and Barbara

Sister Jackie and Barbara
Nial's birthday was lots of fun. When you provide a 3 year old with a "Fart Gun" it has to be good. Barbara's brother Stu and his wife Linda  arrived to help make more chaos.

Niail and the "Fart Gun"
Spoiling our Grand Kids became our main task and trips to the shops and the park with a little babysitting gave us lots of opportunities.
Nail and Kaityland dressing up at the Birkenhead Priory
Ken and Angie the friends that hosted us in Spain (https://banbrv.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/gergal-and-old-friends.html) live in the Wirral too and we accompanied them to an "Italian Night" at the Rugby Club. By sheer coincidence we started talking to Dave who it turned out lived around the corner from where I grew up and who knew my Dad who delivered bread door to door for the local bakery!
Niail driving the tractor at Tam O'Shanter's Cottage
Soon our calendar was filling up with lunches and dinners! 

So busy have we been that I haven't had time to write the blog lately! This will have to be a quick catch up and we'll get back to normal when we arrive back in the USA.

Meanwhile I'll drop in lots of pictures!


Malcolm and Barbara in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside

:Sid's Cafe" from the TV show "Last of the Summer Wine"

Janet, John and Barbara

Ken, John, Ronnie and I

Sally, Barbara and Angie. Where did Sue go??

Cousin Janet's Cafe in Yorkshire.




Sunday, August 13, 2017

Back in UK

The ferry from Dieppe took us into Newhaven which is on the south coast of England between London and Portsmouth. Our plan was to drive back to Portsmouth and stay with my Aunt Sheila again while we fixed the bumper of the van which had been “Crunched” in Portugal.

The white cliffs, but not of Dover, these are near Newhaven.
Aunt Sheila welcomed us once again and her Son in Law Robin was kind enough to lend me tools and run me round to the Auto Parts stores to get some fiberglass, paint and filler.

The weather decided NOT to co-operate and I ended up getting soaking wet and taking a day longer than planned to finish the job. As soon as it was finished we drove back to Weston Super Mare where we bought the van and took it back under their “Buy Back” agreement.

I was quite stressed out about this, I was convinced in my own head that they would try and knock the price down. In the end my repairs helped when they glanced over it and gave me the full agreed amount! Which meant that the cost for the 2 1/2 months we had the van was about $4000 including repairs, insurance, tax etc. Which compared with the $1000 A WEEK it would have cost to rent one was a good deal and we didn’t have the hassle of selling it privately.

Next order of business was getting a rental car and loading all the equipment we’d bought for the trip into it. We were going to donate everything either to our daughter Sally if she wanted it, or to a charity store.

After some LONG delays due to a wreck near Weston Super Mare we finally got on the road to see our friends Graham and Elaine who live near Lincoln in the East of England North of London.

Lincoln Cathedral from Lincoln Castle
Lots of catching up was spread between dinners out, trips to Lincoln castle and cathedral, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a wonderful Country Fair/Show. Lots of fun was had and lots of memories shared.
Lincoln Castle
The city gate which dates back to the Roman era

The Country Fair had so much to see

Sheep dogs herding geese!

Our good friends Graham and Elaine
Barbara’s Brother Stu and his wife Linda live a little way South of Graham and Elaine so we spent the rest of the first week with them with more dinners out and more catching up together with a trip to the Shuttleworth Trust.


This was to have been a picture of Stuart and Linda until Holly decided she was the star!
Shuttleworth trust and a very rare Kirby Kite glider
WW2 Hurricane fighter

1909 AVRO triplane.

Shuttleworth is a great collection of airplanes, cars and motorcycles that began as the private collection of Richard Shuttleworth in the 1930’s and which was carried on by his family after he was killed in a flying accident during WW2.



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Last days in France.

After we finally shook ourselves loose of the mechanical breakdowns in Bastogne we drove almost due West and back into Northern France. 

From the Bastogne battlefield of World War 2 we had arrived in the area of the vast battles of World War 1. Signs for Museums and Military Cemeteries appeared at crossroads along the way.

The Musee De La Grand Guerre

The French call World War 1 "La Grande Guerre", what might have been grand about it I don't know. Of course Grande means "Big" in English and WW1 was. Millions died in the 4 years of trench warfare. The trenches reached from the coast of Belgium all the way to the Swiss border. South of Switzerland the Germans and Italians (who were on the Allied side in WW!) fought in the Alps. Britain landed Australian and New Zealand troops in a disastrous attempt to invade Turkey.
A typical soldiers equipment.
We picked a campground from our book based on mileage as much as anything. We found ourselves in a delightful little town a short distance off the A2 the main road. Looking at the brochures in the reception showed us a local museum "History of the Grande War" which was about 15 minutes away.

When we got there we discovered that it was located in the rear of s lovely Chateau on a lake close to the Somme river.

The place was very different from other museums. I've been to a lot of military museums usually they are dark and fairly well packed with displays. This one was light and airy,  It showed current events in France, Britain and Germany at each stage of the war and the build up to it through newspapers, souvenirs and posters.

Dieppe Harbor
We ended up in Dieppe at a campground about 6 Km from the city. At first it seemed nice and quiet but as the weekend arrived the place filled with teenagers and families. Every evening in the restaurant there was an "Entertainment". One night a disco that started at 9pm and went on until about 1am. The next night Bingo announced on a loudspeaker system and then Karaoke.

Carousel Horse Dieppe

The old city Dieppe
We got a cab into the city and enjoyed a day walking all around the place visiting the Canadian War Memorial, the shops and the restaurants where seafood was featured and it was FRESH.
Dieppe was the scene of a complete fiasco of a raid in WW2 where Canadian troops attempted to land on the beaches in front of the town. The tanks couldn't make it across the pebble beaches and the troops couldn't scale the seawall. Out of 5000 troops landed only about 2000 made it back. All the equipment from tanks to trucks and guns were lost. 

Monument to the French Canadian Troops Dieppe

Canadian War Memorial Dieppe
Then the time came for us to get on the ferry and depart for Newhaven in UK.
Dieppe - Newhaven Ferry

Friday, July 28, 2017

War

All along the route from Germany thru Luxembourg, Belgium and Northern France there is a recurring theme.

War


When we stopped in Strasbourg we found a monument to the Franco Prussian Way of 1820 when France lost Alsace to Germany.

When we passed thru Bastogne we visited the museums commemorating the Battle of the Bulge in WW2, but at the same time there were references to Germany coming thru the same area at the start of WW1 and again at the start of WW2.

A little further West we saw the turn off for Waterloo, the scene of the battle where Wellington defeat Napoleon.

At our stop in France we were camped on the River Somme, scene of frightful battles in WW1 and the location of another museum called “La Musee De La Grande Guerre” (Museum of the Great War).


Our last few days in France were spent in the port of Dieppe. In 1942 almost 6,000 Canadians came ashore in what was called a "Raid", various military and government authorities have described it as "A practice invasion", a "Diversion". Anything except what it was. Which was a poorly planned waste of life.

I have a post about my Father and Grand Father who served in WW2 and WW1 respectively. (http://banbrv.blogspot.com/2014/11/john-g-downing-and-john-downing.html). 


They were both in this general area but a little further West. My Grand Father landed in Belgium very early in the conflict as a cavalryman and served on the front lines and in reserve thru the whole thing, finally getting out in 1919.

Dad came up thru France and into Western Belgium, liberating Lille and St Nicholas before being sent into the fury of Market Garden in Holland.

Wars have passed thru this area for millennia, Goths, Gaul’s, Vikings, Prussians, Germans, the English. All leave their legends, their battlegrounds, their tales of glory and yes, their graveyards.


The dead counted in their millions between 1914 and 1918, their 100’s of thousands in 1940 – 1944.

If you sit and let your mind wander just about sunset I really believe you can hear all those people whisper to you.



Or maybe that’s just the wind?

Luxembourg and Belgium


Our Mosel experience was complete.

The Mosel leads west into Luxembourg. As kids we all knew Luxembourg because they had the best Pop Radio channel! We’d listen to all the new hits from the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits while snuggled under the blankets at night with our transistor radios tuned to Radio Luxembourg.

Luxembourg like Andorra and Lichtenstein is a small independent country, so small that the first couple of times we visited it in the 60’s and 70’s we missed it completely! I remember when there were still borders asking the border guard for direction to the campground in Luxembourg and he pointed back the way we came from. We’d actually driven thru the country without realizing it and were on the French border on the other side!


We just passed thru, our destination was somewhere I’ve promised to visit but so far never made it to. Bastogne.
A Sherman tank hit during the battle is a permanent monument in the city square
For all you military history nuts and fans of the HBO series “Band of Brothers” you probably remember this town as being one of the key places in the “Battle of the Bulge”. This is where the 101st Airborne stood against the fierce German surprise attack of December 1944.
The General who told the Germans "Nuts" when he was asked to surrender
What it was all about, a strategic crossroads in the town.
There are several museums in the town naturally, and a big monument to the fallen in the shape of a US star. The Bastogne War Museum is well thought out and at the beginning you are introduced on the included audio guide to 4 characters that guide you thru the exhibits. The characters are a 13 year old boy, a young female school teacher, a German officer and a US Paratrooper.

No dry show of static objects this, as you progress thru the story of the build up to WW2 and the Allied advance to Belgium each character describes their part in events and their interaction, 3D movies and interactive displays keep you (or at least me) involved and I was surprised when we exited the building to find out it was 2pm. We had to leave even though I still wanted to see the 101st Airborne Museum across town.


Fate in the shape of FIAT intervened again! The darned motorhome broke down yet again about 15 miles out of Bastogne. We had camped about a mile outside town for the previous couple of nights and laughed that the Fiat dealer was across the street. I’ll give you one guess where they towed us to!!


As we waited for the wonderful RAC breakdown service to get the tow truck to us we got a call from them. They are very good at checking that you are safe and that everything is going well. Then the truck arrived and off we went back to Bastogne. The phone rang again and Sophie had to break the bad news to us. 

Apparently RAC insurance only covers ONE tow per trip and as we hadn't been back to UK in between calls this was all ONE TRIP. Then she mentioned that they should not have sent tow trucks for this and the previous breakdown in Germany but as they had failed to check their records they would pick up the $600 the two tows had cost. BUT NO MORE!

It was late in the day and the dealer couldn't get to the van until the next day so we set off looking for a hotel.

Now Bastogne is not a large town, in fact you can walk from one side to the other in 30 minutes easily. Being a small town the don't have a taxi service and the busses only run once an hour. So guess who got to lug the bag with our overnight things for the 15 minute walk into the center? And when we got there we walked past one hotel because I didn't like the look of it and we tried the other 4 hotels in town only to find they were all full! So back to the first one where luckily they did have a room but up 4 flights of stairs.

Did I mention we got lots of exercise on this trip!

Next day we visited the 101st Airborne Museum. If you come to Bastogne and have time for only 1 museum make it this one!
101st Airborne Museum in what was the Officers Mess building
We chatted with the owner on the way in, a very pleasant Dutch guy who explained that this museum and everything in it are his personal collection. Amazing stuff and laid out as full size diaramas of the battle and surrounding scenes. In the basement you get to sit thru a German bombing raid with full motion effects and surround sound.
Full size diaramas in the mueum

When we done there we called the Fiat dealer and they had fixed whatever it was that made the gas pedal inoperative (Second time for that) and refused payment for the work! WOW!
This yellow safety vest has become one of my most worn items lately.

Nelly Belle in her position of repose
 After a nice dinner in town and a second night in the hotel we set off again, having decided to take a direct route to Dieppe where we were booked on the ferry just in case Nelly Belle did her thing again.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Mosel Valley

One of the areas we’ve been wanting to return to is the Mosel Valley.

The Mosel river flows from approximately Luxembourg to Koblenz in Germany where it joins the Rhine River. We stumbled across it 11 years ago when we shipped our motorcycle over from Baltimore for 6 weeks touring Europe.

Back then decided to just wander without a plan for the first time, (signs of things to come!). We’d stopped in the Ardennes area of Belgium, famous for the Battle of the Bulge and Spa/Francorchamps the Grand Prix racetrack. We wandered across the border into Germany and discovered first Trier then the Mosel.

The river valley is narrow and winding, very steep sided. Apparently ideal for growing the grapes that are used to make our favorite wine: Riesling! All along the valley (which is only 100 miles long at the most) are those fairy tale castles you see in travel brochures. We soon discovered that every guest house and restaurant served excellent appel strudel and wine from their own vineyard.

Being on a motorcycle we could only sample the wine in the evenings when we stopped, but we wanted more!

We’re BACK!

A bus ran the length of the valley and a day pass on it was only $7 and would let us get on and off as we liked. We were camped at Burgen near the  
eastern end of  the valley and intended heading West when we left, so we took the bus to back track on some of the towns we’d seen on the way in.

Diebicht was the furthest west we went, a nice town along the main road but when we explored a little higher up the hill we stumbled on the “Old Town” and some very nice old houses. We also stumbled on a bakery with Apel Strudel and coffee!


Strudel, OHHHH!!
Alten was similar but a little more touristy, we tried the beer and local wine, and had lunch before returning to Burgen for some more beer and wine and a HUGE dinner in the local restaurant. Sleep came quickly when we finally got back to the rig.
Awsome houses
2 nights stretched to 3 as we lazily sat in the campground and watched the tour boats go by every couple of hours. My 2 sisters are due to take one of these cruises and so I called Jackie and we talked about schedules etc. Something else to look forward to when we get back to UK.

Time came to move on again, less than 2 weeks now to our ferry to UK, my how quickly a couple of months had gone by. The broad plan was to continue along the Mosel and stop near Berncastle for a night or so then on to Trier with maybe a river cruise from there for us too!

Castles were everywhere.
The rig, which by this time had acquired the name “Nelly Belle” in honor of Roy Roger’s sidekick’s jeep that was always breaking down. Started to stink of diesel fuel.
Nelly Belle!!
It was the first time this had happened, and as I started to watch the fuel gauge I became convinced that it was dropping faster than it should. We had just gone thru a little town called Zell when I spotted a lay by and pulled in. 

Once the hood was up it was obvious that the entire right side of the engine was soaked in diesel.

Thank goodness it IS a diesel, I think a gas powered engine would have caught fire. Diesel is much less flammable than gas and there are no high energy spark plug wires to ignite the vapors.

It was still driveable so RAC couldn’t help. After a very stressful drive around Zell we found a Fiat dealer and in an hour they had fixed another old and rotted rubber pipe

As we continued along the river we noticed a number of camping areas exclusively for motorhomes. These are called “Aires” in Europe and offer limited facilities for self contained campers at very cheap rates. We stopped for “Strudel and Coffee” at a restaurant overlooking one such place. We discovered that it didn’t have electrical hookups and we’d just filled the refrigerator and had no idea how to get it to run on gas. We decided we’d get a “proper” campground.


A little further on we saw what looked like a suitable spot and pulled in. This too was an “Aire” with no bathroom block etc, but it did have electric hookups which provided 2 Kilo Watt Hours of power for $1. Turned out that was all we needed to run the fridge for the night and it was $7 a night to camp.


That whetted our appetite for low key camping and we discovered one almost in the heart of Trier which we had planned for our next stop.

Trier is another ancient city dating back before the Romans, it boasts a truly massive Roman city gate, an amphitheater and like many Roman towns is centered on hot springs that fed their baths. Aptly the baths here are named the “Barbara Baths”. They must have known we were coming!
Roman city gate in Trier
We excelled ourselves by catching a bus to the center of the city then walking all the way back again. Along the way we discovered the shopping area and the ancient marketplace which still functions as a market today. We even stumbled on the house where Karl Marx was born. And no he wasn’t one of the Marx Brothers he was the “Father of Socialism” for all the good that did him!

Karl Marx was from Trier?


How bazaar that he lived on Karl Marx Straat!!
We even managed to discover the red light district, but it was daytime and therefore closed.

On our last day we took a taxi ride to the “Harbor” where the cruise boats leave from and we took the 2 hour tour grandly called “On the trail of the Romans”. Quite where the trail was and what it was supposed to mean wasn’t very obvious as the commentary lasted for about 3 minutes of the 2 hours and was only in German! The scenery wasn’t that fascinating either!
Some nice parts of the cruise

Our Mosel experience was complete.