So it’s not been a great start to our Croatian odyssey. You’ve heard about the leak and I have to say that has been a real blow to us. Doris is in pristine condition and to know that she has been lanced a couple of times undermines confidence. The impact on us has been exacerbated by our need to get her fixed, and that has meant a detour into Germany which has added a couple of days to the programme – which was already truncated by other commitments (nice ones, but truncating ones nonetheless). And when Hymer man checked her out today – might I just add that Hymer is Bad Waldsee; a huge Motorhome factory/service centre/museum blistered on to a lovely Black Forest spa town – and told us that he wanted to take the awning off, sort her out and refit it, but couldn’t do that until late next week, well that added to the woes.
So, we have decided to book her in for the end of the break, and detour via Germany on the way back. In the meantime we’ll be on rain watch, and make sure she’s slanting in the right way when it starts to fall. It’s not really fair, but, surprising to both of us is the brave face we’re putting on it.
That’s the first thing. Then the weather has been rubbish. Rain, and when we got to the Black Forest (which is lovely, in a German, ordered sort of way), it turned cold enough to snow. Ok, so it hasn’t snowed, but it’s cold enough.
And then Gary the Garmin decided to give up the ghost (some alliteration going on there). First he wanted us to go back to a place in France, even if it were 200 miles north of us. I rebooted him, and then he wouldn’t show any of the maps and always had us a good half mile from the road. We’re going to have to buy a new one tomorrow as C has had it up to there with map reading.
Oh, and I left Doris’s petrol cap at a service station today. That’s another thing on the list. Ho-hum.
Anyhow, off to Switzerland tomorrow – it’s the fastest way to northern Italy without heading into Austria where the toll system for + 3.5 tonne vehicles is a nightmare. And then into Italy and turn left to Croatia. I can tell you that Mrs Sun can’t come quick enough.
Enough of my complaining. We’re together and I was about to say in good health, but yesterday I tweaked my back and it’s killing me! But, we are in good health and we’ve still got 5 weeks before we have to be back at Mr Hymer’s place for Doris’s work. And we’re determined to have some fun…and some of Mrs Sun…
So…the next thing you’ll get from me will be how brown our knees are!
Before we left for Croatia I went on the net to work out the most cost-effective way to get a 4.5 tonne Motorhome across the Alps. There were two main suggestions: head south through France and cross the Alps on a lowish pass before you hit the Med. Disadvantages are that it’s a long way and if you use the French motorway system you’ll have to take out a mortgage to get there. Second is to go through Germany and then get a ‘Go Box’ for the Austrian tolls – which is a requirement for any vehicle over 3.5 tonnes. Go Boxes get recognised by Austrian radar and you pay by the kilometre, having shelved out €70 for the box. It is, however, by far the quickest route. But, and it’s a big but, you have to show the Austrian police proof of your vehicle size and emissions. And you can only do this via, in our case, Fiat. That takes some organising. So we weren’t going to do that.
However, our trip to Hymer presented us with a third option: go through Switzerland. On the face of it you might have thought that you’d need to pay off part of the Swiss national debt to enjoy such a privilege. Not so. For over 3.5 tonnes you go and see a bloke at the border, fill in a form with no supporting paperwork, hand over about £26, and, hey presto, you have 10 days non-consecutive travel on any Swiss road. And you complete the form every day you use it – so if you’re on a campsite for a day and don’t drive, you don’t complete the form. The form is valid for a year.
And, and, and… Apart from two tunnels, all others are free. So we traveled due south on motorways as flat as a sacked choirboy’s Jerusalem, through the most beautiful scenery and drove free of charge through the St Gotthard tunnel. Fabulous. And, if your planning a trip, drive though Belgium, Luxembourg (where diesel is free), use a bit of non-toll motorway in France near Strasbourg, join the German autobahn system which is free, and then into Switzerland. Why didn’t anyone tell me that?