Cesky Krumlov, Linz, Melk, Klosterneuburg
93 days away
197 miles / 317 km since last post
5,582 miles / 8,983 km total
Well, after managing to dodge writing a blog post for 3 months, I have finally succumbed to the urge to write an entry.
For the readers out there I'll be focussing on my emotional response and thoughts about our trip to date.
When embarking on this adventure Sarah and I knew that it was going to be for a while. This was the main reason why we bought instead of renting. The cost of a long term rental makes the capital depreciation on a purchased van look a lot more attractive. The problem is that since the van is now something you own, it somewhat changes how you feel about it. There is a little background anxiety that comes with the van, trying not to bump into anything, spill drinks, break things. Each incident, accident or otherwise, is magnified through the lens of ownership. Despite this, I don't think we would change what we've done. Our van is brilliant and we were lucky to get such a good deal.
The freedom we are experiencing with this lifestyle is great - no job, no bills and no First Great Western trains! On the flip side, given our personalities, we have taken a little while to adjust to this way of life. We are both maximisers - trying to do as much as we can in the shortest space of time and making detailed plans to help us do so. Trying to take it all in. Everything. All the time. After a couple of stressful incidents of not knowing what we are doing, we've relaxed a bit more with the planning. We now try not to look forward more than a couple of weeks at a time - it's a lot easier that way! We have also adjusted our schedule to incorporate more rest days - where we watch films, browse the internet, play guitar, listen to music.
Being in the motorhome for three months now, I have also come to miss some things:
At the moment however, these things are bearable, we are both still very much enjoying the trip.
Travelling around Europe has been great. It's always interesting to compare your expectations of travel against the actual experience. For instance, I was worried about language barriers - so far we've hardly had a single problem in English. I was worried about security - no problem to date, in fact we only recently realised that we hadn't been switching on the alarm or immobiliser. I was worried about money - so far we have been on budget, even after visiting Scandinavia first. I was worried about being out of touch - most places have WiFi. I was worried about power - our two solar panels have been amazing, we could probably wild camp indefinitely. In short, all of the anxiety was completely unnecessary.
I have started to really grasp the richness of culture and experiences that Europe has to offer and how lucky we are to be members of the European Union and how we can travel and settle freely. I think if Sarah and I were not emigrating to Australia we could find a few places to live outside of the UK. Norway is absolutely stunning, Germany is great, Stockholm would be a fantastic place to live - clean, friendly, rich in culture and not overly expensive considering the location. Telecommute into London from the Czech Republic and you'd live like a King.
It sounds cliché, but I now firmly believe that travel broadens the mind, opens it to new possibilities and gives you valuable experiences you can draw on every day. It prepares you for change, allows you to embrace it more readily and teaches you how to live for the moment. Experiences I wish I'd had when I was younger, but now appreciate a lot more at the age of 34.
So, what did we actually do since our last blog? I guess I had better write something!
On Thursday we were still at the campsite in Cesky Krumlov. I decided in the morning to use the shower facility. It was a strange arrangement, you put a a coin into the machine by the entrance, a light flashes next to a number and then you are free to use the numbered shower. Fine. I bumbled off to the men's shower block and met my first obstacle, the light in the unit didn't work. Nevermind, I thought, the camp site is quiet, I'll just use the women's shower block. So, I proceed to put the coin in, go into the flashing numbered cubicle, undress and get ready to shower. It turns out you need also to press a button next to the number, so I wrap a towel around myself and go back to press the button. The shower comes on. Time to scrub up. After what felt like 2 minutes the water starts cutting out and coming back on. Hmm... this can't be the 9 minute warning... I've only just started soaping my body! 30 seconds later the water cuts off completely and I am standing there covered in suds from top to toe with no way of rinsing. Shit. I can't wrap the towel around myself, I have soap everywhere. I do the only thing possible. I walk around the women's shower block, covered in soap, completely naked; save for green flip flops. I had visions of trying to explain to the local police that I am not a pervert after being caught by one of the residents - thankfully I managed to put another coin in and get back to the cubicle undetected. The shower wouldn't come on. Shit, I just put a coin in. As it turns out, the machine decided that I would now have to use another cubicle! So after wandering around the shower block naked and soapy, and pressing the stupid button again, I finally managed to rinse myself off in a different cubicle. The lesson: don't use shower lottery machines.
We spent the rest of the day putting together a plan for our travels for the next few weeks.
Friday, we visited Cesky Krumlov in the afternoon and had a very pleasant time. We grabbed a pizza at one of the restaurants in the town. The castle gave a fantastic view over the old medieval town. We decided to stay at the camp site again for another night, forgoing their shower block in lieu of our own motorhome shower :)
On Saturday I managed to lose the top cap from our chemical toilet down the drain! Thankfully a few freezer bags and electrical tape has fixed up the problem until we can find a replacement. We drove into Austria after spending the rest of our Czech money (on beer!) and obtaining a vignette from a service station - €10.20 for 10 days.
We visited the Ars Electronica museum in Linz, taking in all of the futuristic exhibits. We participated in an eye tracking experiment, watched 3d printing, made friends with a talking robot, played with lighting experiments, watched tornadoes and looked at MRI brain scans. The crowning glory of the experience was the deep space 3d projection - a tour of our planet all the way out to the edge of universe projected onto an immersive IMAX-style screen. Sadly, the commentary was in German, so we could only make out the odd phrase here and there, but the visual experience was absolutely amazing. Apparently the software makes use of the most up-to-date image and scientific information available and renders it all without a pause. Incredible.
After a brief detour to a camper stop that didn't exist (!) we drove onto a place at Au an der Donau. It was a little pricey at €20.50 and noisy - being a Saturday night.
After a terrible nights sleep and being bitten half to death by a couple of mosquitoes that made it into the van we headed towards Melk. After arriving at the camp site I bought us a couple of cakes at reception and took an afternoon nap.
On the Monday we walked into Melk to look at the abbey. It had an amazing set of frescos on the inside of the dome and was liberally coated in gold throughout. After a pleasant afternoon we drove along the "romantic road" alongside the Danube towards Gottweig Abbey. This abbey is placed on top of a large rock outcrop and contains some interesting buildings.
We continued along the Danube and found a nice camp site in Klosterneuberg, on the outskirts of Vienna, where we have been for the past couple of nights. The first night we arrived late and ended up underneath a walnut tree - the heavy rain overnight brought down quite a few walnuts in the middle of the night with great noise. Seriously though, which idiot decided to plant a walnut tree in a bloody camp site? Why not go the whole hog and plant some poison ivy, foxglove and perhaps a couple of coconut trees?
This morning I tried to book a massage at "Happy Land" - it sounds dodgy, but it is in fact a sports centre with relaxation facilities. I turned up at the arranged time of 5pm only to be told that they were fully booked. Yeh, as in, didn't I make an appointment this morning for 5pm? Apparently I hadn't and the frumpy Austrian lady behind reception was less than interested in helping me. She said I could try tomorrow, but given her complete lack of ability to actually perform her job of taking appointments I might try my luck elsewhere, perhaps I'll try to find a "Less Than Happy, But Still Enjoyable, Land".
Apologies for length, but not for the girth of this post.
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