Route : Gdynia – Pruszcz Gdanski – Wroclaw – Prague – Vienna
Kms : 1,510 kms
Summary of event :
a) Nearly got robbed in Prague!
b) Disco Fever in Vienna
4th September Gdynia – Pruszcz Gdansk (80kms) – We finally made our way out from Barbara and Daniel’s place at 1pm. We were heading to Gdansk to visit Ela and her family. We first met them in the first VW event in Poland we attended back in early June. We stayed with them for a night before we left for Warsaw back then. Ela and her family have been very kind to us. Her daughters (Anna and Eva), her son Andre, her husband and her grandchildren have been very warm to us. I will not forget a saying that Eva quoted to me “Guests at home; God is home”. It has a very powerful meaning if you take time and ponder over this. Of course she put out a spread for us at dinner and for breakfast the next morning. And not forgetting the “goodie bag” for our trip (butter, bread, cheese, ham, plates, cutleries, cured meat, canned food). We took her in the cars and went to the school that she works and it was so nice that we could see her workmates whom she always refers to. We did tear up a bit when we were leaving. She was so glad that we came back to her again and I believe we have a soft spot for her as she is our Polish mama.
5th September Pruszcz Gdansk – Wroclaw (680 kms)- We left after breakfast and headed to Gdansk to visit the town for a bit. When we went back to our parking, Terence’s bus couldn’t start. It was the distributor and he managed to fix it after 2 hours. We were heading to Wroclaw to see Bartek who owns the company called Garbusowy.pl which distributes VW parts. We bought our parts from him when we were in Poland in June and he gave us a good discount. We arrived close to midnight and parked in the petrol station next to his shop. The staff was kind enough to allow us to park here. Its a little noisy, but hey.. we are used to it. I wouldn’t have imagined sleeping in a petrol station if you told me this 1 year ago… So next time, you see people sleeping in their cars in a petrol station with a foreign registrations, please do say hello…
6th September Wroclaw – Prague (340 kms)- We got up early and went to see Bartek. He brought us around his workshop and office. We left at noon and within 30mins, Terence bus stopped on the road getting out from this town. We were stuck in this small town for 2 hours and when it was almost fixed, we had passerby who came to have a chat and also offered us to their place for a shower and lunch! We obliged as we were heading to Prague today and didn’t want to reach late. We took the non toll road and we were driving through the countryside heading to Prague. There were times where the roads were closed for construction but google map still reroutes back to this road when we detour. The roads were bad; I am sure the toll motorways would be better.. Alas… We arrived at Prague late and there was a spot from the app that we have using for wild camping called “IOverlander”. Now, for the first time in this app, this parking was non existent. We were 5kms from the city centre and after driving for 10mins around this area, we found a hidden spot between a construction area and a park; that we parked our cars and slept for the night.
7th September – We got up to the noise from the construction and the workers were just shocked with us and the cars, but we did wave and say hello. We left at 10am and drove into the city to take shots of the cars with the famous landmarks. We then went to our campsite that we found from IOverlander. It was in an island in the Vltava River in the centre. It wasn’t a big campsite, had open concept showers, wifi only worked near the reception, kitchen was old but working but you cannot beat the great location (5kms from the centre). We had lunch and then headed out to the city by ferry. We bought a 30mins travel pass for CZK24. We then hopped on a tram to get to the famous bridge; Karluv Most. We were on the bridge for almost an hour as we lost Terence when he decided to go to the toilet! We then walked around the city and then walked back to the camp site.
8th September Prague -Vienna (380kms) – At appx 2.30am, Terence knocked at our door and Udhaya went out. Apparently, there was 2 guys who were trying to break into Terence’s bus through the front window. He got up and thought it was Udhaya and called out his name, but heard someone else who then said ” Oh ..its no problem..just checking” and they did a runner. They left in a car at the front where there were 4 of them inside. They were after the 2 bags which is ours that we keep at the front of the bus at the passenger seat. There are no valuable there but I guess they didn’t know it. Terence has a “curtain” to cover him from the back of the front seat; but nothing to cover the front windscreen. After this, we couldn’t really sleep as it was windy outside and there were just noises that made us more alert. The next day, I told the management and their comment was “yes, it is a problem”. Really? We left at 2pm and were heading to Vienna. We decided not to take the toll road and drive through the country side instead. It took longer and the roads were not at its best. We arrived close to 10pm and we were staying with Eva’s (Terence friend from Germany that we stayed with) cousin, Christian. Eva was so nice to reach out to her family members who are in Austria and Hungary to open their homes to us. Christian lives 20kms from Vienna (when we were entering Austria, there were signs to Wien and I assumed this is a big city but little did I know then that it was VIENNA!)
9th -10th September (30kms) – We drove on Saturday late morning to explore the city with Nana. We went to Schonbrunn Palace, St Stephen’s Cathedral, Albertina, Rathaus, State Opera and Wiener Riesenrad (similar to the London Eye). When we got back, Udhaya was cooking dinner for us and Christian’s friend, Michael. We were going to Disco Fever night which is held every first Saturday of each month where they play all the 70s and 80s music; held in the city centre. We were there at this large hall with appx 2,000 people and lots of dancing. I have not really “danced” to this era’s music as I was listening to them while I was still <10years old and you can’t really move to these songs. But, we danced the night away (glad that Christian said this is the first that he had danced most of the time in this event!) We finished at 2am and went to grab a snack : Kasekrainer (cheese filed hotdog) and I was surprised that they have “snack” shops that opens till late. We reached home at 3am. The next day, we woke up at midday and I was having a headache which is not due to drinking (I only drank coke in the party), but due to dehydration. Today we relaxed and went out to have typical Austrian food at Beethoven Haus. We had great wine from the region (Austria is famous for its wine) which included the “starter” wine which was like the first press (non alcoholic), second press (alcoholic) and then the real wine. For dinner we had dumplings, Wiener schnitzel, sausages and potato salad. This was a historical place as it was one of Beethoven’s house and it was a big place. We then headed to Kahlenberg to get a bird eye’s view of the city.
Route : Stockholm – Vimmerby – Karlskrona – Gdynia
Kms : 630 kms
Summary of event :
a) Didn’t get to visit the famous writer ; Astrid Lindgren (children books on Pippi Longstocking) in Vimmerby
b) Going back to surprise our new found family in Poland
28th- 29th August Stockholm – Vimmerby – Karlskrona (630kms) Conny took a day off on Monday and after a late breakfast and early lunch (we were stuffed!) we left Stockholm and was heading to Vimmerby down south. Now, we met Tysia and Mohamad in Krakow and they were so impressed by the cars (and us) and invited us over to their home if we were in Sweden! Can you believe that…Polish hospitality at its best. Terence had some issues with his exhaust and Puch died when we detoured from the highway to pour petrol. After 2 hours, we were back on the road. We took some breaks along the way. Instead of a 3 hour drive, it took us 7 hours to get there. They were waiting for us and we had a late dinner. They are simply nice and warm esp when meeting us for only 1 time! The next day, we had an 11.15am appointment which Tysia arranged at a college where she and Mohamad are studying (she medicine and Mohamad logistics). There are many refugees learning Swedish in this school and the teachers were keen on us sharing about our journey. The aim is to show them that nothing is impossible. Most of them worked at higher ranks profession in their home country and to come to Sweden, they basically have to start from scratch and also to learn a new language, is not really easy. The students were amazed with our trip and there was so many questions which made it more interactive. We wanted to present the videos but there was a technical and internet connection problem.. They then came and look at the cars…Rewinding a little bit.. We left at 11am and its a 10mins drive but Terence bus was giving the same problem with the exhaust and it stopped while we were on the way. We ended up being late for 15mins! Not really acceptable in Europe, but we did explain to the students and teachers and they were ok with it. After this, we were going around looking for mechanics. 2 was closed for the week and ended up driving back where Terence managed to fix it himself (after getting some advice from Cliften who is in London). We were suppose to visit the Astrid Lindgren park, she is the town’s famous children book writer for Pippi Longstocking, but we didn’t get the chance. Mohamad made Jordanian food and we had lamb for dinner with rice. It was simply delicious. Soon after, it was “fika” (Swedish for breaks ie. morning or afternoon) with coffee, cake, sweets etc… We then took a walk around the area with them and their Lab Retriever Pusia who loves the water.. They had their neighbours over for a chat and drinks which was nice. It was so hard to leave and when we were leaving, Tysia was packing us sandwiches, fruits, milk/yoghurt and drinking water.. The kids also wanted us to stay longer as we have so much fun with them.. We finally made our way out at 11.30pm and was driving to Karlskrona which is where we will be taking our ferry to Gdynia. Its only 200kms but there could be problems with the cars, so we didn’t want to risk leaving the next day as our ferry is at noon.
30th August- 3rd September We arrived at the port at 2.30am and slept at the parking area. This ferry is much smaller and the cars and trucks were parked in the open and not covered. We didn’t have a cabin for this leg of the trip (we had when we were coming). The ship would have good wifi and we will keep ourselves busy and also look for a spot that we could sleep.. I didn’t get a chance to update my blog in Sweden as it was just busy with the family.. So, I will be doing this in the ship.. When we got in the ship, the restaurant was busy and Udhaya found out that the buffet is included in the ticket price and also another meal during dinner.. I was not aware of this as we didn’t have such on the way here. It was a big spread and we stuffed ourselves on both the buffet. The ferry arrived Gdynia at 10pm. We made our way to surprise our first “victim” Barbara and Daniel. We rang on the bell and she came down and she was speechless. Daniel was asleep as he wakes up at 4am, and after hearing our voices in the kitchen, he came and was in utter shock! They were not expecting us now but later in the month as we did tell them we will drop by then.. The next day, we were waiting for Pablo who was suppose to come for breakfast but he ended up not as was busy at work. Barbara took us to the the raspberry/blackberry farm that Daniel has 10kms away. Eating berries fresh from your pickings! What an experience..We then headed to our mechanic Sylvester and as we drove in we honked and he was in shock too! He was so happy to use and called his wife and kids (they live 5mins way) to come and say hello… This is what Poland does to you… Then, Powell came here as well and he was so happy to see us.. it was like yesterday when we met him. He is leaving to Thailand and having a small farewell party on 1st September. And then Udhaya gets a message that Tysia and Mohamad and the 2 girls are coming tomorrow till Sunday, and they want to see us.. Ahhhhhh….. We then got back to Barbara and Daniel as we were headed to Gdynia beach for volleyball game and for drinks. Kinga, their friend that we met and hung out with the last time will be joining us.. Finally Pablo came to the beach and was so happy to see us… Pablo is just the joker in the group and after the volleyball match, it rained, we had 2 bottle of gin, headed to another pub that played R&B music and had shisha! We drank here and later on went to another pub for a bit. We then decided to go back to Barbara and Daniel’s to continue.. We took a taxi back and we did continue till 3am! Got up the next morning at 10.30am when Tysia and Mohamad was at the door! They came to say hello and had to leave as they had an appointment. They will be there at Pawell’s farewell.. I had a terrible hangover and everyone had breakfast and went back to bed.. I was sorting out my photos, and some laundry. It was raining. Myself and Barbara didn’t end up going for Pawell’s party as it was raining and we are still hungover from yesterday.. I didn’t take a sip of alcohol at all today. Pablo said that this crazy drinking session only happens when the Malaysians are in town! Pawell was suppose to drive his T3 to Thailand (he is moving to Thailand to be with his girlfriend) but there are too much regulations for him to drive his bus into Thailand and to keep it there. So he sold his T3 and bought a flight ticket to get there. The boys came back at 5am! They went to the same pub that we went the other day. The weekend was just chilling at Barbara’s place as it was raining and cold outside. We went to say hello to Ewa and Jarek at their home.; it was nice to see them again. They recently tied the knot! So happy for them.. They were partly the reason why we decided to visit Norway as they have been there twice with their T3 and simply love it..Udhaya cooked a feast on Saturday night. Mohamad and Tysia came for dinner and to say goodbye.
Route : Arvika – Orebro – Stockholm
Kms : 500 kms
Summary of event :
a) Its all about FAMILY and food!
21st- 25th August Arvika – Orebro (300kms) We slept in and left after a late breakfast. We will be staying with my cousins Emma and Ola who lives in Orebro. Sweden is where I have the most family outside of Malaysia. Uncles have moved here back in the 60s and they have all married the locals and my cousins have all been born in Sweden. Sweden is not as cold as Norway and is a little cheaper than Norway. It was so nice to see family again and we ate so much. My Uncle George, Emma’s dad is a fantastic cook and he cooked Malaysian Indian and Chinese dishes.. My Uncle Joe (my dad’s brother) is a good cook too but he was heading off to Malaysia for holidays so I didn’t get a chance to spend a lot of time with him. Uncle George was busy working but made time for us every evening. We had dinner and as he called it “after hours” at his home. We also visited Sebastian (Emma’s brother) and his family for coffee and cake. We spent time with Veronica (Uncle Joe’s daughter) and Johanes. Johanes can speak a bit of Malay and Tamil and he loves Malaysia.. We spent time with them in their summer house 30mins from town. We also met Pierre, Veronica’s brother who is in the midst of opening a beer hall in Orebro (Facebook page Orebro Olhall). Its a large establishment with beer taps and restaurant too. Good luck Pierre..
- Picking wild blueberries and lingon berry from the forest
- Ran 10kms around a lake
- Staying in a typical Swedish summer home
- Typical large beefballs and mushroom sauce with mash by Johanes
Everyone was just amazed to see Nana. She was always parked at my house in Malaysia when they come for their holidays from Sweden. So, to see Nana in Sweden is just incredible and as I quote Johanes its “mental”. . Uncle George got emotional when he saw us and Nana as he was thinking that my dad is “here”, my late dad was very close to Uncle George.
Why buildings are painted in a typical red paint?
The paint is Falu Red preserving wood in wooden cottages. The paint historically originated from various copper mines in Sweden.
26th-27th August Orebro – Stockholm (200kms) We left after breakfast to Stockholm. We were going to stay with Veronica’s and Pierre’s brother Conny and his wife Helen and their 3 kids (Noah, Natalie and Noel). I have not met Helen but she has met everyone of my family in Malaysia. She has already been 4 times to Malaysia. She is of Eritrea background and has lived in Sweden for 20years. Conny took us around to the city and he is a good cook too,. We tried typical Eritrea food i.e. sour roti kind with Berbere spice on the meat. Conny also did Masala thosai for us from a ready made pack where you only need to add water. This is the first time I am eating thosai since we left Malaysia.
Route : Hanover-Frederickshavan- ferry to Oslo – Gardermoer Raceway
Kms : 1010 kms
Summary of event :
a) SCC VW event in Oslo
b) Our first hitch hikers
c) Racing in the best 1/4 mile track
14th August Hanover – We stayed here for the night as well as Terence bus was only fixed today with Alex and friends. Of course chicken curry was on the menu.
15th August Hanover – Frederickshavan (740 kms) We left in the morning after breakfast and decided to take a slow drive as our ferry is only at 9am tomorrow.Cliften had more to do with his bus and he was not joining us to Scandinavia. We did some grocery shopping as it will be too expensive in Norway. We bought butter, milk, cereal, bread, eggs, cold cut of meats, cheese, beer and of course cigarettes. We entered Denmark and we only saw the highway. We didn’t pass by any scenic towns as Copenhagen was east while we were driving up north. We arrived close to midnight at the port and found the car park and parked our cars. There was a T5 parked there and we went to chat with him; Frank from Germany who parasails. He was a really cool guy and showed us his bus.
16th August Frederickshavan – Oslo We got up at 6am and there was already cars queuing to get in the ferry. We packed up, brushed our teeth and joined the queue. Terence had to pay E115 extra for roof height. Cigarettes in the ship was cheaper at E4.50 per 20sticks/box . We had a cabin and it was cosy and slept for a bit. We met Frank and we said that we are camping at a spot 15kms from the city centre and it was basically a parking lot. He said he will join us and wants to cook for us dinner.. We arrived at the camp site and Udhaya made plans with Yastek from Poland who wants to see us. (We met him back in the VW event in Karwia, Poland and he has been working for 10 years here in Oslo).He came with his friend Severin who is also from Poland. They brought us polish sausages, bread, brandy and of course vokda! How very sweet. They chilled with us and Frank cooked us salmon pasta for dinner.
17th August Oslo We went to the city centre. Frank was leaving for up north and he gave us a lift into town. Lots of tourist in the city and we walked around for a bit. Everything is simply expensive and luckily we had a good big breakfast. We took the train back and the stop was only 500mtrs from our camp site! The weather is just cold and foggy esp in the morning as we are up a hill. We are parked very close to the Olympic Ski Jump at Oslo and took photos with the cars of course. I cannot imagine when this place is covered with snow as the descent is really steep.
18th- 20th August Oslo – Gardermoer Raceway – Arvika (270kms) Monica Poli, Terence’s long time friend from Italy came to join us for a few days. Terence went at 7am to pick her up from the bus station and it was foggy.. It was foggy up till 10am and very chilly. We left after breakfast to the SCC event, biggest VW event in Scandinavia. We were fortunate that timing worked well when we planned to come to Scandinavia and Jon, the organiser was kind enough to waive the entrance fee. And we were also mentioned in the event booklet on the front page.. How cool is that! This event is famous for its drag racing as its has the best 1/4 mile race track. We had the opportunity to race not his track since we do not have seat belts! They also presented to us the “Crazy” award! We met lots of people and also lots of people from Poland too. Severin came again today to see us and he brought some more food! You can never go hungry when you are with a Polish.. We left Sunday evening and was heading to Orebro, Sweden. We stopped at Arvika which a beautiful spot with a lake.
Route : Geleen – Barneveld – Hanover
Kms : 780 kms
Summary of event :
a) Celebrating Garry’s 40th and spending time with his family
b) Spending time and Paola and Dokke’s place
7th-9th August Geleen
This was family time with the Capels. In a snapshot, we did a lot of catching up and
- cooking lamb curry (fresh lamb bought from a Turkish shop)
- roti canal (frozen but was as good as back home) with chicken curry
- Lizzie May (Garry’s/Linda’s 3.5yrs old daughter) singing to Bon Jovi and Guns N Roses songs.. She is a real rockstar
- Garry and his clothing project Lucky Scarz where he works with disable people and refugees. Check out the Facebook page for further stories and to buy their cool merchandise
- Ian taking us around and sorting out my new Vodafone line and replaced our screen protector and phone holder
Really missing them as its been 12 years since I saw them. Hoping that we will not wait for another decade to catch up..
10th- 13th August Geleen – Barneveld – Hannover (780 kms)
We left after breakfast and headed to see Gerrit and Rheanna from RAGE Carburetors. They helped with Stephen’s bus and we met them in SPA. They are a very nice couple and we ended up staying till pretty late for dinner. They wanted to have us over at their house for the night but we had to leave for Dokke’s place. We hope to visit them again and stay in their lovely house. Just too many nice people and so little time.. We went to visit the windmills at Kinderdijik which is a UNESCO site and managed to take a few shots with the cars. Terence, Cliften and Stephen have been here since leaving SPA last Sunday. We left after lunch on Sunday and headed to Hanover. Stephen did not join us as he is ending his journey and shipping his bus back to Malaysia. We will miss Stephen and Flying Ace.. On the way, we picked up Kristina and Barbora who were hitchhiking to Germany, and they are in luck as we are heading to their direction i.e. Hannover. They are medical students from Chech Republic and are on an organised “hitch hike” race which aims to foster trust between hitch hikers and the drivers. They have only 10days from start to end and they never had to wait for more than 30 minutes to get a ride. I guess its easier for girls than boys to hitch hike. They even had trucks offering them a ride and people buying dinner and bus tickets too.. We went to Hanover to meet Alex who has a garage and Terence needed to get a new engine block. We camped in our cars behind the garage; it was like a big barn with 2 houses around. We went to chat with them (they spoke little English) and they were too kind to share a few beers with us.
Route : Dover- Dunkirk- De Pinte – Brussels – Spa
Kms : 490 kms (lowest kms driven in a week!)
Summary of event :
a) Meeting Anne again at De Pinte
b) Ghent town
c) VW event in Spa
d) Meeting Garry/Ian/Heddy and family in Holland
31st July Dunkirk – Depinte (100kms). We arrived at De Pinte at 8am and we were staying with Terence’s sister’ MIL, Anne. She had coffee and breakfast ready for us. After chatting, we all went to bed. I slept for 1 hour and then followed her to get grocery. She took me of a stroll around the local village and showed me the running tracks, church and also castle. We then went to a strawberry farm to get the fresh. It was like a green house farm and you buy the strawberries from a vending machine! How cool! We then went to a supermarket chain in Belgium called “Okay!”. They have a good system at check out where they scan the items in the trolley itself and then transfer it to an empty trolley. You do not need to place your items on the conveyor belt (not sure if this is the right term). There was also a bread slicing machine where you can cut the loaf for free.. She is a good cook and we had salmon, mussels, fries and of course Belgian beer for dinner.
1st August Depinte/Ghent Anne helped me to write up on the places we visited and also the town of De Pinte as well. She drove us around and we took the tram to Ghent (“In the 1990s the tram system started to pick up again and heading for 2025 significant expansion is planned.We took number 1 from Flanders Expo to the historical city centre”) as you cannot drive in the town ; its all cobbled and just walk paths. The town reminded me a little of Venice. You could spent a full day here feasting your eyes with all the architecture wonders and its not short of food too! We saw a Nepalise restaurant here too!
A suburb of Ghent, located between the rivers Leie and Scheldt with approx. 10,500 inhabitants. The name of the municipality is issued from an inn, which was called “Het Pijntken”. Probably the last inn on the road to Ghent coming either from Oudenaarde or from Kortrijk. It became independent from Nazareth in 1868. It has a train station (tracks built already in 1839 linking Ghent and in 1867 linking Oudenaarde) and some 100 trains stop daily. That’s why De Pinte is also called a dormitory city, with so many people shuttling every day, mainly between De Pinte and Brussels. In the centre is the St-Nicolas of Tolentijn church. Castles: “Viteux” also in the centre, now a restaurant, “Scheldevelde” now a nursing home and Grand Noble owned by the family of Baron de Giey. Recreationally around De Pinte, is Parkbos (park-wood), an area with young trees where it is agreeable to go for jogging or walking. Up till a few years ago, De Pinte was an horticultural producer mainly of begonia flowers.
University of Ghent
We had a quick look at the entrance of the Aula of the University: eight Corinthian pillars crowned with a triangular pediment. The auditorium hosts graduation ceremonies during which degrees and honorary doctorates are presented. On Sunday 8 October 2017, Ghent University will celebrate its 200th anniversary during a free, vibrant city festival for young and old. Ghent University consistently rates among the top universities not only in Belgium but also throughout the world.
Anne was kind enough to send me write ups on a little bit more on the important buildings and places that we visited in Ghent :-
St Nicholas Church is one of the oldest and most prominent landmarks in Ghent. Begun in the early 13th century as a replacement for an earlier Romanesque church, construction continued through the rest of the century in the local Scheldt Gothic style (named after the nearby river). One of the treasures of the church is its organ, produced by the famous French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
Belfry and Cloth Hall The 91-metre-tall belfry of Ghent is one of three medieval towers that overlook the old city centre of Ghent, Belgium, the other two belonging to Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas’ Church. Its height makes it the tallest belfry in Belgium. The belfry of Ghent, together with its attached buildings, belongs to the set of belfries of Belgium and France inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The bell is also the primary character in the city’s anthem, in which the bell warns of fire or calls upon the citizens of Ghent to defend the land. The rectangular hall adjoining the belfry was built to headquarter the affairs of the cloth trade that made the city rich during the Middle Ages. Inside, woollens were officially inspected and measured; transactions were negotiated. As the cloth industry lost importance, the hall drew new occupants, including a militia guild and a fencing school.
St Bavo Cathedral The Saint Bavo Cathedral is an 89-meter-tall Gothic cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. It is the seat of the diocese of Ghent. It is named for Saint Bavo of Ghent.The cathedral is noted for the Ghent Altarpiece, originally in its Joost Vijd chapel. It is formally known as: The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. This work is considered Van Eyck’s masterpiece and one of the most important works of the early Northern Renaissance, as well as one of the greatest artistic masterpieces of Belgium.
Town Hall Ghent’s town hall is a building with many faces. The flamboyant Gothic style of the façade in Hoogpoort contrasts sharply with the rather sober Renaissance style of the Botermarkt side. Inside, though we didn’t get there (!) you can also see many different styles: the Arsenal Hall with its wooden vaulting, the marvellous Wedding Chapel with the counts of Flanders immortalised in stained glass windows, the Pacification Hall with its white and black paved labyrinth, a symbol of the quest for justice and happiness, and many more.
Bridge – Sint-Michielshelling From here one can admire the touristic and medieval skyline of Ghent: the towers of St. Nicholas’ church, the Belfry and the tower of St Bavo’s Cathedral. The stone bridge links the Korenlei and the Graslei on both sides of the river de Leie. Looking north one notices the shores of the old harbour and further away the Count’s Castle. And south-west, the St. Michael’s Church and the Dominican cloister.
St Michael’s Church is a Roman Catholic church, built in a late Gothic style. It has rich interior decoration.
Castle of the Counts The present castle was built in 1180 by count Philip of Alsace and was modelled after the crusaders castles that Philip of Alsace encountered while he participated in the second crusade. Before its construction, there stood a wooden castle on the same location, presumably built in the ninth century. The castle served as the seat of the Counts of Flanders until they abandoned it in the 14th century. In 1885 the city of Ghent bought the castle and started a renovation project. The newly built houses were removed and the walls were restored to their original condition. The castle has been repaired enough to allow people to travel through it and climb on top. Inside is a museum with various torture devices (and a guillotine) that were historically used in Ghent….
Patershol We took a walk through the charming and picturesque streets of the Patershol. It is like travelling back in time. Its street plan has remained intact since the Middle Ages and offers historical discoveries around every corner: the Caermersklooster (Caermers Monastery), the white House of Alijn (a remnant of the charity works of Ghent’s nobility) and the Gravensteen castle that looks out over Patershol. Very nice cafes and restaurants. Bruno’s (Anne’s son/Terence’s BIL) favourite is the Amadeus : famous for its ribs!
Friday market is a city square named after the weekly tradition to stage a market every Friday morning, a tradition dating back to 1199. As one of the oldest squares in Ghent, it played an important role in the city’s history. The place is surrounded with guildhalls, which currently house bars, restaurants and terraces. It was the place where people met for festivities but also for meetings. The Counts of Flanders held here their Joyous Entries and swore to respect the privileges of the city (oath they soon forgot!).The centerpiece of the plaza is the statue of Jacob van Artevelde, Ghent’s wise man who sided with England during the Hundred Years’ War and was murdered on the site in 1345.
We came home at 7pm and Terence wanted to cook us for the first time a chicken curry. We only ate at 9.30pm. Chicken curry was not bad..
2nd August Depinte – Brussels (120kms) We had lunch with Anne’s son Yves’s family who came over. We had a typically Flanders dish; it was chicken and mushroom with white sauce and scooped into mini puff pastry pie base/top. It was delicious of course. Udhaya baked a yoghurt berry cake for dessert. After saying goodbyes, we headed to Brussels to meet our friend Vimala and her kids. We arrived at 5.30pm and Udhaya headed straight to the kitchen to cook chicken and fish curry. Again, we Malaysians are all about food. It was good to catch up with Vimala who works in Brussels. We were telling our story to her 2 teenage kids and they were just amazed with the cars that we are travelling with as they are not really that comfortable and not fast.
3rd August Brussels – Spa (150kms) We left Vimala’s place after lunch and was heading to the event Spa. Well, I also found out that this is where Formula 1 event is held and we will be “racing” on the tracks. I am excited as we will be reunited with Fernando (Sabinh is not attending due to family matters) , Dokke and Paola! The event is on the weekend but we were invited by the organisers (John Marie and Paul) for the staff dinner today. Dinner was good and there was 3 chefs cooking various pastas on the go! They have been organising this event since the beginning and this year marks their 25th anniversary. Its been around longer than the other events that we have attended! It was all in French but they did talk about our journey as I heard the word “Malaysia”. Everyone who cannot remember our names, calls us by “you are the Malaysians”. We are really proud to put Malaysia out there as everyone knows Thailand and Singapore but Malaysia is sometimes missed! Fabian, Cliften’s cousin from the UK also joined us for this event and its his first VW event; I don’t think he owns a VW.
4th -5th August Spa Photos below will do it justice! Driving on the F1 circuit was definitely an experience of a lifetime! I haven’t even been to a F1 racing event…
6th August Spa – Geleen (Holland) (120kms) We left Spa at 6pm and headed to Geleen in Limburg, Holland to meet our friend Garry, our childhood friend and his family.
Route : Cambridge – Bakewell – Sheffield – Liverpool – Snowdonia – Abergavenny – Bath – London – Dover
Kms : 1,465 kms
Summary of event :
a) Bakewell tarts are from BAKEWELL!
b) Ainfield stadium, Liverpool
c) Wales! Part of the UK that usually gets missed!
24 July Cambridge – Bakewell – Sheffield (300kms) It was pouring when we got up. Suzane cooked up hot breakfast for the boys and we headed off soon after that i.e. appx 11am. We headed to a town called Bakewell which is where the Bakewell tarts originated from. I love these tarts and was dumbfounded that it was from town in England. When we got there, there were many local tourists and we parked right in from on the curb of a bakery. Now, she told us that the pudding is what we should try so we bought that and the tarts. We then made our way to see Rob, Udhaya’s ex head pastry chef from Jones the Grocer who is English and has been back in England a year ago. He has his own self start up bakery and we were paying him a visit all the way from Australia! Now, I love the Bakewell tarts in Australia as its kind of fruity with lots of berries in it. The bakewell tart and pudding here was very sweet and lets say that I prefer the Australian version better. Sheffield is simply hilly and after having a chat at Rob’s place, we all took a walk to the city 40mins away. We had a few drinks at 2 local bars and then headed back. We were going to camp 20mins away in a national park. We headed there just before it got dark and set up camp in a parking area. Udhaya cooked instant noodle for dinner and we went to bed early at 10pm.
25 July Sheffield – Liverpool – WALES Snowdonia (300kms) We got up at 7.30am which is early as Terence wanted to call his bank back home in Malaysia. Where we stayed there was no connection. We were going to Liverpool today as Terence is a big fan and he has been here before and done all the tours but this time is to take photo with the vehicles. The stadium is smack in the middle of a residential area which is where we parked. I cannot imagine how angry the neighbourhood will be when there is a game! After lunch, we were heading to Snowdonia in Wales. Wales was planned for. We actually wanted to visit Scotland but John and Suzane advised that we will need more time and you have drive past north of Edinburgh to see the real Scotland. And many locals were telling us to visit Wales. You will just need to cross your fingers with the weather as its usually raining and not much of sunshine. This part of northern Wales was just scenic and the accent here is again another world. A lot of outdoor activities and biking with the locals. There is also the Welsh language as all the road signages is in English and Welsh. We parked for the night at a adventure park parking area. It was closed as when we got there at 9pm.There was a signage with no overnight camping but there was another camper van parked there and we will leave early in the morning.
26 July Snowdonia – Abergavenny (185kms) We got up and left close to 11am and the weather was pouring. Yesterday was so far the only sunny day since we arrived few days ago in Cambridge. Today we just drove and enjoyed the scenery of the country side and spent the night at a public carpark (free from 6pm-9am) near the castle at Abergavenny. It was a pretty town. Bought canned food from Tesco and basically had that for dinner with some wine and cheese.
27 July Abergavenny – Bath – Eaton Bray (300kms) We had to leave by 9am and we were heading to Bath. We got there and this is a busy town and we ended up parking in the centre at a public car park (3hrs 4.50GBP). I did check the weather before we left and it was not to rain. 1 hour later it rained and we didn’t have any umbrella or raincoats. It poured hard for 1 hour and then the blue skies gave way. Udhaya had run out of his mobile data that he bought 2 weeks ago from France. 3gig (20E) in 2 weeks! We ended up buying in Tesco which is much cheaper at 4gig for 20GBP. We also scrolled Poundland (99% items here are for a pound) and found Maggie noodles 5packets for a pound! When we had this for dinner later, it was 20gms smaller than the packets we buy in Malaysia… Makes sense why it was cheap.. Towards the end we were trying to get a camp site closer to London that we can drive and spend the night. Mind you, the last shower we had was on Monday at John and Suzane’s. My wet wipes are being used for now, but its not the same as having a shower. Most of the campsites are fully booked and while we were driving out of Bath, Terence asked us to stop. I was worried as to what is wrong with Puch, but it was his classmate (whom he has not met since schooldays, but friends on Facebook) Lynnor who from Facebook noted that we are around London and invited us to come and stay with her and her husband, Robin 60kms north of London at Eaton Bray. We then headed to her place and parked at a pub closely as they were only going to be home at 9pm. We cooked our instant noodle at this pub which overlooks the river and there were river boats parked. Lynnor and Robin came by later to his pub and the boys and them had another round of dinner; fish & chips and pie ; simply English. They have a beautiful home with a big garden and a kitchen to die for… We slept on our rooms close to midnight.
28 -29 July – Eaton Bray We chilled out today at the house and the boys slept in. I slept in a little too and was busy transferring all my photos from the laptop to the external drive. It took me the whole day. The boys went out to London city to meet up with Terence’s uncle and to have a night out. I decided to give it a miss and it will have its fair chance of rain and I don’t enjoy getting wet. The next day, Adele, another Malaysian and Lynnor’s friend came over in the morning to spend the day with us. We went to a Waffle House in St Alban and had waffles. For the first time, for me, they have savoury waffles! I still had a sweet waffle. We then went over to the open weekend markets to get grocery as there will be a big food party tonight. Lynnor is calling 5 of her friends and Udhaya was going to cook Malaysian food. Lynnor herself is a good cook and she loves her curries.. I have been told many times by the English that curry is their national dish! Well, the curry in England is not the same as the curry that we eat in Malaysia. Udhaya ended up cooking chicken, lamb, fish, shall and yellow cabbage. There were 2 mates from South India who also cooked chicken and raita. We had rice, chapati, naan and papadam too! After dinner, we all hung out in the living area and Terence was telling our journey in the world map hung on the wall.
30th July Eaton Bray-London-Dover (380kms) After having breakfast, we left for London city to meet our friend Anthony, Andrew and Phyllis. These are old friends from Malaysia that we used to hang out with back in school. We had lunch and headed to the centre to take photos with the cars. We also went to Stamford Bridge for Chelsea, Udhaya’s a big fan of this club. By the time we got to Dover it was midnight. Our ferry is at 2am heading to Dunkirk in France. Bye bye London.. Will not miss the weather but definitely miss all our friends there.
Route : Thenay – Normandy region (Vandome/Airan) – Dieppe/Newhaven ferry transfer – Brighton – London – Cambridge
Kms : 1,340 kms
Summary of event :
a) Small towns in France
b) First ferry crossing
c) John cooking Indian food
17 July Thenay – Orleans (150 kms) After a good breakfast and shower, we left at 10am and was heading to Airan, near Coen. We didn’t take the toll road, so we passed many small towns. Cherverny was nice and we will definitely want to come back. There are lots of castles in this region. We visited Vendome as there was a reporter who is doing a story on Fernando and Sabinh’s 4 years travel around the world. This is also a nice town. By the time we left, we drove for a while and decided to stop at Orleans for the night and have dinner too by the lake. We slept at the car park area.
18 July Orleans – Agon Coutainville (330kms) After having a quick breakfast, we left for the town Airan. Terence wants to pay his respect to a Malaysian Indian fighter jet pilot who died in WWII. His name was Henry Tallala and there is a road in this town that is named after him. Terence saw this in the History Channel back home but its just a shame that none of his bravery was mentioned in our history books in Malaysian schools. After all, he was a Malaysian. On another topic, phone lines; the cheapest so far was in Poland where you pay Zlt40 for 10 gb. But, when you use it outside of Poland, your data reduced to 1.5gb. In Germany, its appx E40 for 1.5gb and this is the average price in Germany/France. Since June17, there is roaming in the EU countries, which is good, otherwise we would have to get a new number in each of the country like how we did in China, Mongolia and Russia. We were meeting up with Frank, Helen and Mario who are friends of Fernando and Sabihn; they have a few kombis themselves. We had a few drinks and snacks at a local joint and later at night, Frank took us to a hidden campsite where we had the place all to ourselves and we slept there for the night.
19 July Agon Coutainville – Dieppe (330kms) We slept in (againnnnn) and it was just windy when we got up. Terence and I decided to do a 10kms run in the along the coastline. When running against the wind, it was a challenge and the noise of the wind …just wow.. I couldn’t even hear the music that was playing on Terence’s iPhone. When we got back, we had to pack up and leave. We went to a campsite closely where Frank knows the owner and we had free showers. We then headed to a coastal town called Mont St Michael. It was a pretty town. After saying our goodbyes to Frank and family and also Fernando and Sabinh, we headed to Dieppe for the ferry over to UK at midnight. When we arrived at the terminal, we didn’t find any petrol station to fill up our tanks. It started pouring at 10pm and we were in our cars as “check in” was 10pm.
20 July Newhaven – Brighton (100kms) We arrived at 4am after a 4 hours ferry ride. The whole ferry experience was decent and we used Direct Ferries website to book our ferry. It costs E150 for a return trip and we are returning in 2 weeks from Dover to Dunkirk. We drove straight to Brighton as we were visiting VW Heritage office where they were having a VW event with 200 cars this night. The office only opens at 9am and we hung out in McD closeby from 6am. We tried checking in to a hostel but parking was an issue. We were parked in McD there till 9am and we were told by the staff that there is a 2 hours time limit and the cameras tracks this and sends the fine to your home address. Well, our vehicles are international, so I guess it will be ok? We then headed to VW Heritage and met with Andy who is part of the marketing team and he took us for a whole tour. VW Heritage sources VW spare parts from all over the world and ships it to anyone anywhere. We had Indian food at the city and it was different. Later we met the owner and he is a Bangladeshi which explains why the food did not taste like “Indian”. It was cheap at GBP11 and it was a lot of food but we struggled with our mains. We walked on the way back and it was a nice 30mins stroll. We went to our campsite 5kms away and the weather is still windy.. Its been so windy the whole day. It was a basic campsite with toilets and basin to wash your dishes. There was no kitchen. We then headed back to VW Heritage for the event and met lots of local with their VW. We headed to a local pub after this and had to leave at 11pm when it closed! Pretty early I say.
21 July Brighton-London-Santa Pod (250kms) After a good sleep, we woke up at 10am and it was still windy. We were in VW Heritage till 6pm and then headed to London city to take some photos. We got there when it was already dark and it was raining. Got a few shots and then headed up to Santa Pod Raceway up north for the Bug Jam event taking place tomorrow. We arrived close to 2.30am and there was no place to park on the highway. The R&R stops have a 2 hours limit where you can park your car. If you park longer, there are cameras and you will get a fine.. England is pretty strict and I am sure its for a reason. We ended up going straight to the event place and parking closely.
22 July Santa Pod – Cambridge (180kms) We got up and we were told that it was E27 per person and not per car. And we were not allowed to bring in the car to the event. So we decided to give this a miss. We then headed to Cambridge as we were going to meet Terence’s uncle and his friends John and Suzane (whom stayed with Terence in Malaysia when they drove their bus from England). We met his uncle in town and we went to have Chinese food for lunch. There was no good Indian food in Cambridge and we didn’t want to drive down south to London to a place like Little India. It was raining today too.. Such bad luck with weather since we arrived in UK. We then went to meet John (Suzane was away and back tomorrow) and guess what? He cooked chicken and lamb curry with rice for us. For the first time, we have a European cooking us Indian food… I was impressed and it was a little spicy for my liking but it was delicious. 100% better than the Indian food we had in Cambridge.
23 July Cambridge – I went for a walk with John and the 3 dogs in the morning.. Guess what was the weather? It was raining. We chilled the whole day, got some washing and drying done, updating my blog, paying some bills online, downloading photos. We had Terence’s uncle over and he brought chicken curry and biryani rice. Udhaya cooked cauliflower sodhi (coconut base with turmeric), raita and lamb curry. We had late lunch at 3pm and I was stuffed! We went to a friend’s home art gallery and it was just WOW! We also drove around King’s College and took photo with the cars when the sun came out for a bit.
Route : Stuttgart – Ulm – La Chapelle Moutils – Villiers St Frederic – Thenay
Kms : 1,060 kms
Summary of event :
a) Reuniting with Fernando and Sabinh
b) Thenay VW event
10th July – Stuttgart – Ulm – La Chapelle Moutils (640 kms) We were heading to Liquid Molly office 70kms away at Ulm as Juergen works for them and he told them about us. We met the team there and they gave us the engine oil and some other products for our journey. They also told us that the highest church in the world, Ulm Minster is located just 7kms away, and we took a detour to visit this church. After being tourist for 10mins at the church, we started our journey to Paris to meet Fernando and Sabinh. It was going to be a long day 600kms… It was hot, rained a bit, hot again just crazy.. Now, in France there is the toll motorway and we plan to use the national road which is as good as the highway with the exceptions of passing through small towns and at times its 1 lane each direction. We arrived at 10pm to Fernando’s little ranch and dinner was ready! Spag Bol!!!! We actually had dinner at the petrol station earlier as wasnt sure if we were going to have dinner with them as it will be pretty late when we arrive. Its the same with fuel here where its more expensive on the highways and you pay E0.30 more in average. Fuel from the supermarket operators (Carrefour) averages around E1.35/ltr.
11 July La Chapelle Moutils – Coulimers – La Chapelle Moutils (50kms) It was raining and wet in the morning and we slept in. This is the first time in the trip that we have slept in a tent. It was a jumbo tent. I took a shower at this ranch and it was an outdoor shower which was really cool. Well, the boys decided not to shower here. We then headed to Fernando’s apartment to do some laundry, catch up on internet and for the boys to shower. Met his dog Siaka (definitely not the right spelling), a black Labrador. Lunch was simple with baguette, pate, cheese and ham on the kitchen bench top and we were all on our feet. There is a dining table but it was a fast lunch. We then took a walk to town and its a real pretty and quaint village. This is what I love about France; the small villages are simply stunning with really old terraces with different brickwork. After dinner and guitar jamming session with Fernando’s kids and grandkids, we headed back to the ranch to sleep in the tent.
12 July La Chapelle Moutils – Coulimers to Villiers St Federic (160 kms) Today, after a light breakfast, we headed back to the apartment. After lunch at 4pm, we were heading west of Paris to a friend of the boys, K-reen. She was travelling in Malaysia and they bumped into her in a classic car event where they had a booth on Live2Drive and the trip. She insisted on us coming to visit her if we were in Paris. We want to drive into Paris at night and take photo of Eiffel Tower but there has been a new law in Paris where cars older than 20 years cannot drive in the centre. We arrived at K-reen’s place at 6.30pm and meeting her for the first time, she told me that she only visited Malaysia the last time. I was really surprised as most Europeans usually visit Thailand and Singapore and always miss Malaysia which is in the middle of these 2 countries. She said that there is so much to see in Malaysia, she is a smart one. Udhaya was cooking his chicken curry and cabbage lentil; it was all finger licking good ( we ate with our hands of course). We stayed late chatting with K-reen ( I went to bed at midnight and the boys came at 2am I think).
13 July Villiers St Federic to Thenay (210 kms) K-reen showed me last night a good 3kms loop with hill limb around her place and I got up at 7.30am and managed to do 2 loop. Happy days! After having breakfast, K-reen left for work and we stayed in her place till 2pm. She took some of last night’s dinner to work and also to share with her workmates.. We were heading south to Thenay for a VW classic car event. We will be meeting Stephen there as he is heading back from UK where he was spending some time with his wife Rose. We arrived at 6pm and we were like the few who arrived on this day so we could choose a good location. After parking the cars, setting up our tents, “dining area”, we had BBQ for dinner and lots of wine.
14 July – 16 July Thenay I went for a jog in this big camp ground for 2 days. Friday morning, the crowd started to come as its a public holiday in France and by 10am, the empty ground was full of kombis and tents. It has been really hot and a little humid; nothing compared to the rain we had at Bug In in Chimay, Belgium. Dokke and his wife Paula came on Saturday evening and Sabihn’s son Nicolai joined us too. It was too hot during the day and evening; I spent most of my time under the tent or sleeping in our tent.. Most of them left on Sunday evening; but we stayed till Monday. The showers and toilets here were good and clean; long queues at times.