Posts Tagged With: Castle

Ljubljana and Izola in Slovenia

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Day 4 (by Francy)

Last night I had to turn off the heater because it got too warm in the van. I was expecting to wake up freezing but no, it’s actually still nice and cosy, even though it’s raining outside. Logan is off for another run up a hill in the distance. There is an old ruin on top on the hill and the stairs were beautifully lit up at night time. Unfortunately the hotel doors are closed and therefore the access to the toilets! Weren’t we paying for electricity, water and t o i l e t s ? Maybe this is how things work in Slovenia.

Since we are still Wohnmobil-virgins I’m now excited to announce that we are about to empty our grey water the very first time. It may sound like a ridiculously easy task but in my head I’m playing through all sorts of dramatic scenarios. First of all I have to direct Logan (driving backwards) around another mobile home and then over the tiny grey water drain. Once that was managed successfully, I try my hardest to open the tab underneath our Globetrotter but it won’t open. Panic sets in! Then Logan marches to the tab and turns it as if he was Thor. A shame he couldn’t prove this ability back on the first day when we needed to fill up diesel and couldn’t open the tank!

A huge load of water is being released into the drain and we are quite surprised how much water we have used within four days. This also means that our fresh water tank is missing quite a bit, so we fill that one up with a hose provided by the site.

Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city, is only a few kilometres away and I’m quite curious how it may look like. As we drive into town, I feel being set back in time. The buildings look the same as the GDR style “Plattenbau”. Basically that means it’s post-war residential housing or box-shaped, grey and boring looking units. While Germany is trying to reduce the number of “Plattenbau” buildings, Ljubljana still seems to be dominated by this kind of architecture. On the other hand there are also many older style buildings in the city centre, which give the city a real character. We are positively surprised by the many green trees, bushes, flowers and parks throughout the entire city. Spring is definitely underway. There even is a fortress on a hill that we drive underneath, through a tunnel. Many people stare at our van and two young lads waving and laughing at us when I point the camera at them.

On the way to Izola, a beach-side town in Slovenia, we have to take the highway as I can’t see any main roads on my rather superficial map. This means we also have to buy a vignette (a toll sticker for the highway) for 15 Euros as otherwise we can get fined 800(!!!) Euros. I wasn’t actually aware of that amount yesterday when we drove on Slovenia’s highway for a few hours without the vignette. Oops!

We pass some beautiful mountainous landscape, bridges, forests, caves and road signs with rainclouds on them. I’m puzzled. Is it always raining here I think jokingly?! It actually just means that the streets may be slippery when wet but I still think that sign alone doesn’t really explain itself.

Just before Izola we see the Adriatic ocean the very first time. It is so flat and calm that at first you could think it’s the sky. The grey-blue colour of the sky and the sea are just the same and the horizon is hard to find. It is here that we also see the first cypress trees that are so famous for the Mediterranean countries.

The plan is to find the free camping site with electricity near Izola port that is advertised in my “Board Atlas”. I think we found it but Logan still wants to check out this little area near the water since there were a few campers parked up there. Once we stop, a German fellow (in his 60ies) starts talking to us through our closed window. Logan winds it down and the German man repeats: “Pretty old van! You had many problems with it, haven’t you?!” Cigarette smoke enters our van. I responded: “No actually we haven’t at all”. He then points out that the car park over there is actually 15 Euros a night and the electricity isn’t working but where we are parked now, this is a private car park and the police can’t say anything. He also warns us not to go to Croatia as it’s too corrupt and free camping is not only being punished with a 80 Euro fine per person but also with them taking away all your papers and charging you for being an illegal immigrant. Any visitor to Croatia needs to be reported to the police when entering the country and it needs to be clear where you are staying. All this didn’t sound too nice, so we decided to head to Italy tomorrow instead.

Now we can’t seem to get rid of this man though. Every time I say: “Thank you for the information. We are going to have a look around now.” He starts talking again just as I want to turn around. It takes about 4 or 5 tries until we can finally walk away and check out the ocean.

Logan and I decide we are going to try out our (early) Easter present: a fishing rod. On the boulders, 20m in front of our van, we try to catch some fish but the fact that the water is very clear and we can’t seem to see any fish bigger than bait fish, makes us give up very quickly. On the way back to the van I have to come to the conclusion that fishing is a very dangerous sport: I hooked my finger! Ouch! Not badly but enough to make me squeak out loud and draw some attention towards me.

Well, it’s soup then for dinner!

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20-22/12/11 Potsdam and Berlin

Berlin, the capital of Germany also seems to be the capital of history. Logan has been looking forward to seeing Berlin for a long time and is quite excited to finally retrace Hitler’s foot steps and the former Berlin wall that separated all of Germany.

On our way to Berlin we stopped in Potsdam at a castle called “Sanssouci” meaning “without worry”. The castle was built in 1745-47 by Friedrich the great and later extended by Friedrich Wilhelm IV. It is surrounded by a large park with many more castles and rococo-style buildings.

Winter is making it a challenge to enjoy the beauty of the castle. Cold temperatures, showers and wind ensure our visit will only be a short one and even daylight says good bye at 4pm.

In Berlin we are checking into our hotel and decide to explore the capital’s popular nightlife. With a Berlin Welcome Card (16,90€) we can use public transport without any extra costs and get concession prices at tourist attractions like museums or the sightseeing buses. Thinking that Berlin Mitte (centre) should have some bars, we get off the subway there and find ourselves in the middle of a long shopping street, all shops closed obviously. Just a few metres away we discover a Christmas Market beautifully lit up in warm lights and stalls with food and drinks everywhere. It is a lot more crowded here than in Magdeburg or Braunschweig, even though we had to pay 1€ entry fee. I assume this helps to keep the homeless out which there are a lot of in Berlin and they ask for money everywhere.

Luckily I looked up a few bars before leaving the hotel and found one that I optically liked quite a lot. I convinced Logan to check out “Kitty Cheng” so we walk along cold Berlin streets for 20 minutes until we arrive at the bar. Inside I’m a bit surprised that we are the only people in here but soon realise it’s only 8:55pm and the bar doesn’t actually open until 9pm. The very friendly staff are serving us promptly. I’m having Champagne and Logan Rum and Coke. Not knowing the prices, we order the bill after two drinks each out of precaution, only to find out that Logan’s drink was 8€ per glass. A bit steep considering that alcohol is quite cheap in Germany. My champagne was 4€ a glass but Logan changed over to beer. The bar slowly filled up, a DJ started to play some really good music and we sat there until the early morning hours, enjoying the stylish atmosphere of a Berlin scene bar.


Quarter to 10am we frantically jump out of bed, Logan barefoot, to the hotel restaurant: Don’t miss out on breakfast !!!
Lucky Logan checked his phone in the morning, finding out by accident that it was 10 already.

The buffet was great and reinvigorated we made our way to Berlin’s most popular shopping street: The Kurfürstendamm. Shopping: Logan’s favourite part, but it’s Christmas in three days, so no way around some shopping today! It only takes about 30 minutes and we got what we wanted and even Logan said: “Wow, that wasn’t too bad.”

Thick rainclouds are hanging above us and we don’t really feel like sightseeing today. The DDR museum is a great and entertaining way to end our day. On more information about the DDR /

GDR and the separation of Germany until 1989 click here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Germany

On Day 3 we went on a City Bus Sightseeing Tour and got off at Potsdamer Platz where part of the wall is still displayed and DDR visa / stamps for your real passport can be collected. While this may be funny, I hope that everyone keeps in mind the terrible history of people having died at the border. I wonder if people would get the swastika stamped into their passport too? Is this really a difference?
We also drive past Checkpoint Charlie, the TV tower, the Reichstag and the statue of victory.
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