Well what can I say, we all know our traditions and customs but I will say that we are not as abrupt as other nations but maybe it's our stiff upper lip. One of the reasons we have left Blighty is I'm concerned about the cost of living and the hold that the supermarkets have over the price we pay for food. We feel that to get to the age we are now and still keep getting up to work every day is a tad monotonous and with the odd medical problem in the past - life is too short. So that's why we up sticks, sold up and moved off! Mad fools! On doing this adventure we started in the UK and although all the campsites had good amenities, they tended to be away from any towns. With a big vehicle like ours, we'd prefer to be just on the outskirts so we could walk in, however we do have good taxi services in the UK (so GJ says) and we made use of them.
Another advantage to Blighty is that we have a full eclectic range of eating establishments so we generally know what we are ordering and unless it's fine dining, generally dogs are allowed. People who know me know that I am a big foodie and even that is very expensive now in Britain to fulfil one of my passions.
One thing I did notice about France is that the women do seem to always walk around in pairs, huddled together chattering. There is a big Café Society which gets started about 11.30 in the morning but other things we came across were equally present in the UK, shoplifting. GJ and I were outside a store discussing our shopping needs when a young girl came running out with a lot of security guys right behind her. She managed to shake them but for some reason we just weren't expecting it in a high end resort like La Rochelle and it fair shocked us.
We also came across a few beggars, (no different to our big cities then). One even had a dog with him that was the spit of Bracken (though not so well fed). I didn't like to photograph him - not the British thing you know. Needless to say, I had a word with Bracken to tell him just how lucky he was. The other side of France that is different to the UK is the agriculture. None of there fields have boundaries and as we go further into Europe we discover other countries don't either.
Fields in Padstow as an example, with hedges all around...
and fields in France for example, and the rest of Europe with no boundaries.
There is a lot more to say about the difference between us and the French but to harp on about food (for which the French think they serve the best), our experiences were not altogether indicative of the French cuisine. I did have veal (eeek for the ethics but when in France!) and GJ did have a good duck dish but other than that our choices were limited to burgers, pizzas, fish and steak and when I chose a typical moules mariniere, they were not available.
The Germans are all mad about sauna's, sausages, sauerkraut and motor homing. They are generally a breed of big women but like the Brits these days, a lot can be seen out jogging at all hours. Our trip on the Autobahn was fun. We found our that when there has been an accident, the Germans completely close the road so all the drivers move into the hard shoulder to have a pee or a little walk around and chat to fellow motorists. This then prevents the emergency services getting through so we wait a bit longer.... When ever scrap of debris is cleared up, we then start to move but we were perplexed as to why the first (slow) lane was not moving. When we got to the front, the first driver in his truck was completely asleep so you can imagine the scene from the drivers behind him. First time I've ever made a cup of tea on an autobahn. Now technically, I think that schnitzel belongs to the Austrians but the general food in Germany is any kind of meat pounded out and bread crumbed and then called either 'Flesch', 'Swine' or 'Hun' Schnitzel. - Beef, Pork or Chicken. And don't forget the Wurst.
Wurst sandwich made on the autobahn
and hunschnitzel at a service station.
is a very clean country who even offer special doggy poop boxes at various intervals along a street. The staff at the place we stayed were very precise and very knowledgeable. Much more training than I think we get in UK. The scenery is beautiful and they make the most of promoting it but other than the dog bins, the one thing we noticed was the lack of litter bins. They seem to have trained the citizens to take all rubbish to one place along with their recycling. Very difficult for an occasional traveller but we found recycling at the motorway service stations - got to have somewhere for the wine bottles. Its very expensive to drive on the motorways as explained in the rest of my blog but what you do find is empty roads
My kind of motorway.
All the houses seem to be detached chalets with boxes of bright red geraniums adorning the verandas. Just like I remember as a child doing a jigsaw puzzle of a Swiss/Austrian chalet.
A very hospitable nation taking advantage of the government grants to repair the roads - two things that spring to mind when I think of the Hungarians. We accidentally drove through the centre of Budapest during rush hour no less. Nearly every street was having major road works done but the traffic kept flowing somehow.
This road doesn't actually have road works but we were concentrating so hard on our way though that I forgot to take any pictures.
They also seem to have an awful lot of public transport which is probably the best and safest way to travel through the city. The health and safety system out here seems to be non existent. Road workers leaning down holes in the middle of the busy roads, no hard hats, hi-vis shirts etc. and that goes for motorways as well. Around every corner there was a police presence and it would seem, several incidents going on across town - we were glad to get out.
The people we were in contact with while in the country were very helpful and generous. Arrival drinks and bottle of wine on departure - do we look like winos?
What can I say about the driving of the Romanians - see a space, and put your vehicle in it. 90% of vehicles are articulated lorries and the way they fly up the mountain passes while on the phone or texting, beggars belief.
This road actually happened to have some cars on it!
We were confronted at the border by guards with guns (didn't take any pictures) but for some reason, we didn't feel particularly safe in Romania. There were a lot of wild dogs on the streets, abandoned and having to fend for themselves. Being a dog lover, this was painful to see.
They are a short race, the Romanians and the women wave down vehicles for a lift but as soon as they see a British motorhome, they retract their arm. They obviously know us snooty British. We first start to see the Gypsies here but I couldn't get photos while moving....
Yes, there was a horse at the front of this cart.
The Gypsies came up to the Kevin when we had to stop at traffic lights or road works trying to sell us things like drinks (goodness knows what), and walnuts (they grow all over). On the side of the road you could stop and buy cheeses and fruit, sometimes vegetables and we even went through a village that had about 20 shops selling the same souvenir stuff you could find a Harry Sharp's in Windermere. All the shops were next to each other and all sold the same things so if you did stop, how would you choose?
Sorry about the quality
The houses are usually little and square and all lined up along the only street in the village, they all have very good roofs but are a bit ramshackle below that. There are a lot of hotels (for truckers) but all look a bit dubious (probably where those women go). The wine is cheap and good - I got a really nice box of wine for just under £2 (or the equivalent). We had to spend 2 nights in Romania which I will show on another blog but because we felt a little unsafe, decided to hurtle on to Bulgaria.
Helen, GJ and Bracken