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Tour du Europe 2010

Friday 27th August - Leave at 4pm, drive up to Hull, heavy traffic. On board for 7pm. Explore all the bars on the boat, eat at the buffet, quite good. Get to bed for about 1am.

Saturday 28th - Good morning ladies and Gentlemen at 6am UK time. Breakfast good, Annette impressed by the Lychees. Disembark at 9am. Set the Sat Nav for Luxembourg, cross into Belgium. Drive towards the Expo, change plans and head to the centre, difficult parking. Walk into the centre, buy a pair of Crocs. Have a walk through the Grand Place, and the Manikin Pis. Have a beer near to a Van Gogh living statue. A man with a hand cart is waiting for us to leave our parking space when we get back. Give up on the Expo and set off for Luxembourg. Check into the City Hotel for 8:30pm. Walk up to the Place du Paris for food.

Sunday 29th - Breakfast below ground at the hotel, cold eggs. Set a course for Schladming. Cross into Germany, lots of trees. We touch 130mph on the Autobahn. A little later two cars come past doing at least 160 mph, only a few feet from each other. Also have a problem as a house box wanders around the road in front of us. Arrive in Schladming, at the Zirngast camp site, for 8:45pm. Drive back into town, go to Giovanni's for pizza, good food. Go to the Alte Post outside bar, have a beer and a schnapps.

Monday 30th - Wake up in a massive puddle, Annette drives to the toilets. Move the tents on to slightly higher ground. Head for the Dachstein. Stop in Ramsau for coffee and cake. Me and Thomas have a massive chocolate brick, Thomas fails, after a gallant effort. Drive up to the Dachstein cable car, very misty. Very bleak at the top, -1 degs C and windy. Walk down a snow slope to the Ice Palace. Have a large beer in the bar at the top. Drive back down into Schladming, I decide to try and drive to Onkel Willy's. Try a few roads which appear to head up the mountain, but end in dead ends. Use the sat nav to find the Planai Strasse. Take a picture of where Brian took off. Get to a barrier just about middle station, decide to pay the 10 euros and go to the top. Arrive at Onkel Willy's, snowy and cold. Drive down and go to the Niederl bar. They are doing fire drill in the city. Look at the weather forecast and also at the temperatures further south. Have a look at the Mexican, but end up in the Chinese, moderate food. Starts raining again at 2am and continues until we leave.

Tuesday 31st - Heavy rain all night, listen to it for much of the night. Decide to leave when we get up, heavy rain and cold. Takes 1½ hours to pack and go. Have fun with the pop-up tent since it is the first time that me or Thomas have put it down. Depart at noon. Head down to Villach, stop for panini, 24 degs C. Push on to Trieste, get a fantastic view of the city as we arrive. Park up and stroll along the front. Stop for a beer. See Luna, the yacht belonging to Roman Abramovich. Decide to push on to Pula. Cross Slovenia and into Croatia. Arrive at 8:30pm. I had only loaded the sat nav maps for Western Europe so we have to use a paper map, (and the iPhone) for navigation. Camping at Stoja, a small crop of land. Have a rather poor burger and a beer for tea.

Wednesday 1st Sept - Breakfast of soft boiled eggs and fresh bread. Drive into Pula, look at the Amphitheatre and the Roman streets. I swim in the sea and get some sea urchin spines in my foot. It looks like they will take a long time to come out. Eat in the main square in the evening.

Thursday 2nd - Get up early again, too hot in the tents. Breakfast, soft boiled eggs and bread. Swim out in the sea. Chocolate doughnut with extra nutella and sugar. Drive into Pula, have a wander round the castle. Eat in Bistro Dan, walk around the streets a little more. Have another beer under the trees. Find a super market on the way back. Go for another swim, but it is difficult to get in because the tide seems to be in. Walk round to the shingle beach and swim from there. Have a BBQ later, takes a long time to get the fire going, goes dark as we are eating, lots of meat.

Friday 3rd - Get up early and pack, breakfast and check out by noon. Park up and sit on the beach. I swim out quite a long way into the bay. Depart at 2pm, easy passage into Slovenia, then traffic jam through Koper. By-pass Trieste and head for Venice. Difficult navigation to find the Fusina campsite. Arrive at 8pm. Full of students doing a year out. We camp next to the water looking across at Venice. Eat in the restaurant on the camp site, better food that expected.

Saturday 4th - Out of bed by 8:30 because it is too hot, have a shower and a shave. Get the 10am boat across to Venice, takes 25 minutes to cross. Have breakfast when we arrive. Do a lot of wandering around the streets. Find St Mark's square, consider having a drink there but the 6 euros each surcharge for the musicians seems a bit steep. Go up the Campanile, fantastic views from the top. Eat lunch in Campo Santo Stefano, I have bruscetta. Annette has the best spaghetti, ever. Have a Gondola ride, good value at 70 euro. Back over to the campsite to get changed and then over on the boat again. Have a beer by the water front first and then eat in Le Café in Campo Santa Margherita, I have fillet. Back to Fusina on the last boat at 10:30pm. Thomas loses the end of his tooth.

Sunday 5th - Have full English in the campsite bar, not bad. Rather windy start to the day. Cups of tea in the tent. Get the 2pm ferry over to the island. Wander around and have a look at the queue for the basilica. Go to the Museo Correr for a look at the history of Venice. Small lunch and a beer on the street. See Norwegian Gem leave town, learn later that Heart FM were on board doing a broadcast. Have a drink and a snack in the Osteria Ruga Rialto, a great little bar. Last ferry back.

Monday 6th - Eat in the breakfast bar, pack up and leave by noon. Head for Milan, Torino, Genoa. Have a brief stop for coffee, amused by the ladies parking sign. Arrive in Eze at 7pm. Great campsite overlooking Cap Ferrat. Me and Thomas drive down to Eze village to get some food for tea. Annette cooks very good fajitas when we get back. The half bottle of cognac we bring works wonders on her blocked nose, however she has trouble standing. The tent next door asks us to be quiet.

Tuesday 7th - Boiled eggs for breakfast, misty and overcast to start with. Have a drive round Nice and then head to Cap Ferrat, Annette throws up on the way. Have a walk round the end of the Cap and then a drink in the Cadillac bar. Over hear over people talking about million euro deals. Drive into Monaco, park near the swimming pool. Have a wander round, have a look inside the Grand Casino, see loads of posh cars. Thomas gets us to walk up to the Palace in search of McDonald's. Have a look round and then walk down. Eat in McD, pay 26 euros. Have a drive round the Formula One course, enjoy the hairpin. Have a drive up to La Turbie and see the Tropaeum Alpium.

Wednesday 8th - Large electric storm from 5am till 8am. Get up at 9am to clear blue skies and dry out some of the stuff. Set off at 1pm, drive down through Nice to Cagnes Sur Mer, swim in the sea and walk along the front. Have a beer and swim some more. Annette has a go at swimming out to a floating island, but does not quite make it. I swim for about 30 minutes along the beach as they walk. Look for somewhere to eat, in the end head back to Eze Le Village and eat in the Cheval Blanc, very French and very good food, enjoy it.

Thursday 9th - Another bright start to the day. Simple breakfast since we have no gas. Drive down to Cannes on the péage. We are surprised to find that it has a sandy beach and very calm water. Annette swims out to a floating island. We have lunch in Pomme d'Api, I have Chicken and chips with terrible red wine. We all have a go in the space age stainless steel toilet. Leave at about 5pm, drive along Cannes front, rain on the way back. Stop in Eze le village and walk round old Eze, very interesting. Have pizza and beer in Eze le village and then back to camp, cold.

Friday 10th - Clear blue sky, away by 11am. Enjoy the drive up through Provence, rather windy. Cross the Rhône as it is joined by the Saône. Lots of queuing through Lyon. Towards the end of the day we have problems with a péage machine, Annette puts a toilet voucher in first and then we have no cash. Arrive in Troyes for 8:30pm, stay in an Ibis. Have problems eating in the local Hippo, they do not seem to speak any English.

Saturday 11th -

Up at 9am, good breakfast. I mistake the Savlon for the toothpaste and wonder why there is a strange taste. Depart at 11am, clear blue skies and warm. Head past Dijon and Amiens to Le Touquet. Arrive at about 14:30, cold grey and windy. Wander around and have one drink. Contemplate staying at the Ibis, but it is full. Watch a guy just hanging above the hotel on a para glider. Drive to the Etap near Calais. Eat in the John Bull pub in the shopping centre.

Sunday 12th - Grey and over cast, sail at 10:30. I am always amazed at how easy it is to see the White Cliffs of Dover from Calais. There are problems on the M20, the TomTom traffic recommends going clockwise round the M25. Home for 4pm, unpack the car.

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