Original Blog Post on Switzerland can be found here.
Posts Tagged With: video
The most dangerous risk of all – The risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.
It’s finally time to drive north to Norway as we’re in the middle of the European summer. Temperatures vary between 16 and 35 degrees (lately it’s been extremely hot) but since we are optimists, that’s all “good weather” for us. The Globetrotter got a little make-over: One of the back tyres had a 40cm long bubble which wasn’t visible to us but it caused both front tyres to go completely bold. So both front tyres had to be renewed and the back tyre was replaced by the spare. We also had the waste water pipe welded back on again, as we accidentally ripped it half way off again in France, oops.
Organised as we are we book the ferry from Denmark to Norway on the day of our departure, realising that it’s booked out for the next 5 days. Fortunately we are not in a big hurry and still have to cover 800km to the port anyway.
We stock up on food and drinks, as Norway is supposed to be very expensive. Two trolleys full of can food, rice, pasta, soups, veggies in glasses, porridge, cereal and even a box of beer and other beverages should last us 4 weeks without major shopping in Norway.
Last but not least we fill up the diesel tank and then finally find ourselves on the road towards Hamburg.
Click to enlarge:
Four hours later we get into a traffic jam just before Hamburg and decide to get off the highway to drive into Hamburg. After driving through what we thought was the city centre of Hamburg, something just doesn’t seem quite right. I remember Hamburg to be very different, when suddenly I realise we are in Harburg!!! We have a good laugh and keep on going to Hamburg which is only about 10min away.
First Logan got the impression that Hamburg is an industrial city and wasn’t all too impressed but I knew the city had a very nice centre. After crossing dozens of bridges over the Elbe (The river that also flows through Dresden and Magdeburg), the Alster and Canals, we finally get to the Alster lake in the middle of the city and Logan’s immersion drastically changes.
There are many people out and about, sitting in the parks, running around the lakes or going for a walk. We find ourselves a car park at the water’s edge for the night and enjoy watching a thunderstorm rolling in. The coolish air is more than welcome but even at night the air temperature doesn’t go below 21 degrees.
The Alster lake …and because it’s in fashion to wear colourful pants this summer, here the traffic light model: red, yellow and green.
In the morning we have to get up at 7:30 as the car park is reserved for tour buses from 8am. We drive a little closer towards the town hall and find ourselves another car park at the Binnen-Alster, where we have breakfast and then explore the city along the lake, the town hall and some shopping streets.
Back at the Globetrotter, I navigate Logan towards the Kiez, Hamburg’s famous club, gambling and red light district. On the Reeperbahn, as the street is called, we indeed still find the evidence of the previous night: Young men sleeping off their hangover on the streets, some even still drinking! Sex shops and lap dance bars as far as the eye can see; even along the smaller side streets.
Since it doesn’t look as exciting during the day, here an idea of how it looks like at night:
Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city and has a population of 1.8 million people. What I find more impressive even is: Hamburg has about 2500 bridges! That is about 5 times as many as Venice; an unbelievable number!
“Francy, get out the van and look at this! You won’t believe it!” I hear Logan saying in the morning. I open the door and see a snow line in the trees only about 100m above us. Oh, so I guess there will be fresh snow on the Seiser Alm then?! Looks like our walk will rather be a short one today anyway after Logan ran up there yesterday and I’m still fighting off my light headache.
The Seiser Alm, or in Italian: Alpe di Siusi, is Europe’s highest alpine pasture at 1680 – 2350m above sea level. It is very big at about 57km² and surrounded by mountains like the Schlern and the Langkofelgruppe (long-peak-group).
We drive up the serpentine mountain road to Compatsch, the only village where cars are still allowed on the Alm and discover that much of the snow is already melting due to the warm sun. Looking at the tourist map, we realize there are literally hundreds of different routes to choose from, some of them particularly designed for hiking, some for cycling and some for running. We choose a 1-2hour round trip and start our easy walk:
The Langkofelgruppe with Logan looking at the Plattkofel (flat-peak) 2969m:
Within 10 minutes we lost the orange track we wanted to follow and find ourselves getting further and further away from the van. What started off as a slow walk turns into a hike, then a power hike, up and down hills and soon steep up towards the Langkofelgruppe. After 5(!!!) hours of hiking I’m suddenly being screamed at. I have no idea what it is or where it’s coming from and start screaming myself. Then I see it! A groundhog! I’m so excited, I can hardly get a word out to explain Logan what I see. A very confident ground hog is standing up right in front of me, trying to scare me off. We slowly get closer and sit down on a rock. After a few seconds we see another one, and another one, and another one… The whole groundhog family is coming out from it’s den to check us out too. I really love watching animals, especially in the wild. We stay for a while, watching them play, feed and ring the shrill alarm whistle another time, when a large bird flies past.
Finally we arrive at the Plattkofel hut. My feet are wet from the melting snow and I’m exhausted from the long hike. We are looking forward to a drink and some warm food in the hut when soon it dawns on us: The hut is closed. We already expected it as we haven’t seen any hikers for a long time and there were no tracks in the snow either.
Plattkofel (flat peak) See the ground hog?
So instead of sitting down for a nice warm lunch, we get out our emergency cookies and some water and sit down in the grass. A black bird joins us, being quite pushy about getting his share of our lunch.
Plattkofel hut Black bird and Plattkofel in the background
The tracks up the Plattkofel weren’t open yet due to the snow and quite frankly we didn’t feel like hiking/climbing any higher. We had a long way back to our van and didn’t want to arrive back in Compatsch after dark.
Fortunately going down works out to be quite fast, especially slipping and sliding down the melting snow.
Soon we arrive in a valley and realize that we need to walk back up again. There are no buses going, so we have no choice but to keep going!
Here you can see the Plattkofel (the snowy flat peak on the right), the mountain we walked down all the way into the valley and then back up to where I took this photo. Only about 20min to Compatsch (and our van) from here!
The sun is standing low when we see the first houses of Compatsch. It has been 7.5 hours since we left for the walk.
Absolutely exhausted but happy about this amazing hike, we fall into the door of our camper van and have a decent portion of Spaghetti to fill up our hungry bellies.
Today we went to Pisa and Logan couldn’t help himself but have a taste of the marble walls of the tower of Pisa. He must have thought it would be similar to the marbled Italian ice cream.
Now look what happened!!! The tower of Pisa is leaning off to one side!!!
I’m trying my best to move it back into position…
And even Logan is trying to straighten it…
The people up the top are scared and start to panic…
Eventually we give up and quietly disappear from the scene, pretending we had nothing to do with it!
This morning some police walked by and told us we have to move the van… something we expected, but at least we got away with it for one night. After a second search we strike gold, we can’t believe it! A spot on a smaller street right in the heart of Rome, virtually across the street from the Vittoriano (the Monument of Victor Emanuel) and just down the street from the Colosseum.
Now we need to work out what we want to see. We decide we first need to find an Internet café to print out some information about Rome, so we don’t walk about aimlessly. On the way we pass some interesting sites.
The Vittoriano is such an impressive building, made of white marble featuring Corinthian columns, fountains, an equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel, two statues of the Goddess Victoria and an eternal flame. Built between 1885 and 1911 it was built to commemorate the achievements of Victor Emmanuel, the Italian king who was successful in the unification of Italy in 1870.
The Trajan forum is across the street, which was completed around 113 AD and in its time was considered one of the architectural wonders of the world. Today it is a mere shadow of its former self, however still very impressive to witness such amazing architecture that still remains after almost 2000 years.
The Internet café is a long walk and it turns out to be cheaper to purchase a book on Rome, than to print out the pages we need. We also purchase the Rome Pass, which gives us entry into 3 different museums/monuments. Having finished lunch in our van, we decide to head down the main road towards the Colosseum. We can see a lot of other impressive monuments along the way, like the Forum of Caesar, but these can wait. We have our sites set on the mighty Colosseum. Even in today’s standards, it stands as an imposing structure. Completed in 80 AD, this huge amphitheater could house some 55,000 spectators. I can’t stop thinking of the ancient battles that took place here so long ago.
I just read in our trusty tourist book that the games usually started with comical acts and displays of exotic animals, but what the crowds really came for were the Gladiator battles. Most Gladiators fought wild animals such as lions and tigers but would also fight each other, usually to the death. We were told that there are more tourists in Rome than Italians and today I think this is the case. However, we manage to dodge most of the line up due to our Rome Pass, allowing us to bypass the ticket cue. We spend about an hour walking around inside, taking photos, videoing and imagining what it would have been like all those years ago. While still largely intact, an earthquake in 847 AD caused a large section on the southern side to collapse, nevertheless well worth the visit.
We head back towards the van and attempt to check out more of the Forum along the way but unfortunately we are too late; the gates are closed, so settle for a view from the nearby footpath. Although the street we are parked on is narrow and appears not to be a main road, it seems to be the route of the many tourist buses that circle the city all day. Our van is the first vehicle after the corner, which is a possible target for a crazy Italian bus driver. The first chance I get I think I will move it forward to give them ample space.
Having explored the centre and east coast of Italy, we decide it’s time to now head over west, towards Naples (Napoli). We don’t leave until about 3pm but then cut across through the beautiful green centre of Southern Italy.
Only about 4 hours later we get to see the Mediterranean Sea. We also notice a much higher population, mixed in with a lot more tourists and probably a higher criminality rate. We’re not quite sure as to where to park the van over night, so try to get away from Salerno and the coastline a few kilometres where so many dark shadows seem to walk around in the late evening.
We quickly get into higher terrain and get lost in some very small hilltop villages with small streets, often one-way, and find ourselves driving backwards for many 100metres because we got to a dead end road and there was no way we could have turned around. After a few of these unfortunate wrong-turns, we find a place to park behind some living-apartments. Quite hidden, we feel safe to fall asleep and recover from the adventurous driving manoevres towards the end.
We are getting our push bikes ready to discover Manfredonia today. First we are riding along the (polluted – for Australian standards) beach and then head into the city. The cliffs in the background look interesting to us and we are planning on driving up there after some sightseeing in Manfred.
Most of the city’s buildings are white and joint to each other with balconies. The streets are small but since it’s Sunday, everyone is out on the streets and walking into the cathedral.
We are riding back to our van and then make our way to the Gargano National Park (the home of Gargamel – I’m kidding!). To get there we have to drive very high up over the
cliff and mountains on which Monte Sant’ Angelo is situated. The views are impressive but we keep going further inland, into the National Park, where we find ourselves a beautiful little spot in the ancient forest, covered with a green canopy.
Another shower experience! This time it’s different, so I feel like sharing this fun story once again! The shower at Azzurro Lido needs tokens to work. My first mission is to find the owner. Equipped with a towel and my toiletry bag, I search for Mr. Azzurro Lido all over the campsite, including the house, when all of the sudden the alarm goes off. I’m sure that at least now he’ll turn up somewhere. But he doesn’t! I then see some smoke trailing behind an old caravan and find him and his wife cooking a BBQ. His wife is getting a token out of the house and exchanges it with me for 2Euros. I assume that the time is limited, so I get undressed first, before inserting the token. Then I pop in the token and quickly get my hair wet under the still cold water (don’t want to waste time). All of the sudden the water gets boiling hot and there is no way of changing the temperature as there is no tab. I step aside from the water and quickly get shampoo in my hair and over my body. The boiling hot water burns my feet and I force myself to at least quickly rinse the foam out of my hair. The moment I step under the water, the water flow stops! WHAT IS THAT? A 30 SECOND SHOWER??? I’m full of shampoo foam everywhere, including my eyes! Half blind I reach outside, hoping the token may have come out – no luck! My eyes burn and I’m so frustrated, a few tears are flowing. I paid 2 Euros for this shower and would have been better off washing myself with a hose! Well all the frustration doesn’t help, so I walk over to the tab which is for cleaning your feet and squeeze underneath to rinse the shampoo out of my hair and then splash it over me, to rinse myself too. Lucky there is only a few people on the beach, quite far away, not knowing I’m half naked and blind.
When I tell Logan about my lovely experience, he is laughing. He had the same experience yesterday but he was given two tokens for 2 Euros and he didn’t wash his hair.
All batteries charged up we leave Azzurro Lido and drive through Pischici. The very steep and tight streets make it hard not to damage our Globetrotter. At times, I have to get out and guide Logan through between cars and walls, only having 1-2cm on each side!!! At one point we realise all our fresh water is running out of the pipe. Just out of nothing! Oh no! What did we damage now?? We find out, it’s only a valve that needed to be turned back and everything was closed again. Phew!
We soon keep going and choose to stop along the coast at a few lookouts. The dramatic cliffs and small coves are picture-perfect!
The road leads us to Manfredonia. The architecture shows signs of Greek influences, probably because the city was settled by the Greeks in ancient times. We only drive through once and then go grocery shopping in a nice shopping centre, before finding ourselves a car park next to a small takeaway bar.
Logan got motivated and is having a bottle of vodka tonight and soon is feeling social again, talking to some strange characters at the take-away bar next to our van. “Oh no”, I’m thinking. I hear him talking about our travels and I really hope the person he is talking to, and the two dodgy looking Italians behind him, are good people, since we are planning on staying the night and next day here and I wouldn’t appreciate any visitors or people stealing things from our van.