Zoos, steaks, ships… and our return to Blighty.

We arrived at Berkenhof Tropical Zoo at lunchtime so headed straight for the cafe where Bob had some traditional Dutch style kroquettes – meat ones. After lunch we pottered into the zoo, where the main open area had beautiful tropical birds flying around and heaps of huge colourful butterflies. Unfortunately I have no photos as they’re all on the big camera! Around the outside of this area there were a number of enclosures with other animals in – crocodiles, armadillos (one of which was trying to get jiggy, the lady kept running off!), capuchins, toucans.
The next area in the zoo had lots of fibreglass dinosaurs as well as tarantulas, geckos and lizards. So Baba sat on the floor and played with crunchy old leaves for about 20 minutes. Excellent.
The final area had an enormous children’s play area with sand and water – with fountains and sand and climbing things and pools to paddle in. And a lot of wet sandy kids running around. Baba will love that kind of thing when she’s a bit older! Sadly we have no photos on my phone, they’re all on the big camera so you’ll have to wait for them…
But yes, we were pretty impressed and had a lovely few hours of family time.
So we left the zoo at about 3 but still had some time before we were due at our BnB so we decided to head to the coast to see the sea – it’d been a while! So we went to a place called Westkapelle – the furthest West on the island you can get. We had a nice wander around the sea defences and across the beach, then back around to get an ice cream and have a sit with Baba on the grass.


The whole area reminded Bob of Canvey Island – where he grew up. The Dutch names, the sea defences, the views of the sea, and Westkapelle was a bit of a seaside resort type thing too.
Eventually we’d had enough of the wind so set off in search of our airbnb for the night. Unfortunately our Windows maps offline download for the Netherlands is out of date – we ended up driving around an oil refinery complex (we think it was that kind of thing – Bob was reminded of Canvey again) being told to take turnings that don’t exist. So after we got lost for a while we did a bit of manual map following and arrived at our night stop at about 6.30. On arrival we were greeted by Theo and his wife, and their cat (I’m allergic, so this wasn’t ideal!) – who immediately invited us to sit in the garden with them and have a beer. We had a chat about our trip and their bnb, and they told us of a couple of nice places we could go on the way to our ferry the following day (the sailing wasn’t until 10, so we had a day to kill and a 90 minute drive to kill). They suggested Veere and Zierikzee as nice places to go. Then they told us about a nice restaurant nearby, so we got our skates on (well actually, we got back in the van) and nipped off there – a five minute drive away – it was called Korenbeurs Culinair.
The restaurant was completely empty as we arrived, and we were concerned we were too late for dinner, but a guy who turned out to be the owner and chef quickly seated us and got a baby seat out for Baba, and after a little confusion about which language we spoke, he chatted to us in near perfect English. We chose a Thai chicken skewer and a jäegerschnitzel, and a couple of non-alcoholic beers, and off the chef went to prepare our meals. We weren’t disappointed. The Thai chicken was outstanding -particularly the sauce and the veg. The schnitzel was also very tasty, and they were beautifully presented with some very nice chips. As we ate, we tried to keep Baba entertained and chatted with the chef chap about everything and anything. He sources all his ingredients as locally as he can, and changes his menu every couple of months to new stuff he’s tried out and experimented with. He showed us his (raw, packaged!) beef that he serves, it looked fantastic, and talked to us about some of his cooking experience – apparently in a sushi place! Then he decided we needed a beer for the road and brought us a (fairly) local beer to share (on the house) which was excellent. Eventually we decided it was time to put the baby to bed, so we paid our bill (turns out the Netherlands doesn’t take Mastercard, so we had to go to a cash machine!) said out thank yous and goodbyes and headed back to the bnb after what was definitely one of the culinary highlights of our trip.
Back to the bnb we got Baba to sleep very quickly then did a bit of internetting before bed – we slept very well in comfy beds. The place was generally great with the minor let downs of having an (unadvertised) cat – although not in our room, as I didn’t suffer with an allergy much! – and not having an en suite (the bathroom was upstairs).
The next morning Bob and Baba had a bath in the enormous corner whirlpool bath upstairs then I had a shower and we had a lovely breakfast served by Theo downstairs. The bread and croissants were warm, and the jam was zingy and made by neighbours. Baba ate lots of muesli-and-fruit bread, and a bit of egg, then we packed up for our last day in Europe, said our goodbyes and thanks, and got on our way again.
On the way up to Veere we were a bit confused to drive through an underpass to see a mast of a boat smoothly sailing over the top of us – turns out it was an aqueduct – the Dampoorte Aqueduct – where the road goes under the canal. Weird.
Veere itself, we had been told by our hosts, was supposed to be very beautiful. And while it was a pretty little village, we didn’t really feel that it was worth waking the baby to have a look around. Cute houses, a nice harbour and sea views, but nothing totally spectacular, so we headed on over to Zierikzee, which is also supposed to be a nice town.
Zierikzee is on another island, so our route took us across some bridges, and apparently next to the most enormous tidal barrier you’ve ever seen – apparently considered one of the 7 wonders of the modern world by civil engineers! The plan is to defend a massive chunk of land from flooding by blocking the gap between islands with a barrier – and there are two of them. They really are big barriers.

20160713_114910

Biiiig tidal barrier
We reached Zierikzee and did a lap in the car to see which bits might be good and where we could park. Just as we found the sort of area we might like to stop in, I had a look at my phone and saw a text message… from our hosts at the bnb the night before… asking if we had their keys. Which were in Bob’s pocket. So round we turned and set off back to where we started the day!
We got back about 35 minutes later, and on the way, we called by the restaurant we’d had dinner at the night before to see if they were open for lunch – sadly not.
We dropped the keys off then came back out of town, checking the restaurant again – still shut – so we went to drive off again… only to see the restaurant owner’s van in the rear view mirror! So we turned around again and went in for lunch!
Having seen the spectacular beef the night before, treating ourselves to a steak was the only option! Even though it felt a bit odd at lunchtime. After our explanation of why we’d come back for lunch, our chef (who’s name we never did catch!) made our drinks – an excellent coffee for Bob and a lovely hot chocolate for me – then headed into the kitchen to make our food. Baba had the restaurant to herself again and played on the floor with some toys and generally made mischief.
When our food came out, it turned out that we’d been served the chateaubriand cut – arguably the best you can get! – which the chef cut the string off in front of us – it needs to be tied together to cook as it’s so beautifully soft that it falls apart if it’s not… it was served with mushrooms cooked in a chilli, chocolate and coffee sauce which were stunning. Every mouthful was delicious, and on noticing we’d eaten all our mushrooms, he popped off to cook up a fresh batch to top us up! We remarked that it was odd eating such a fantastic dish in the daylight without wine, and he disappeared to return with two tiny glasses of beautiful red syrah for us – amazing.

20160713_135743

mmmmmm steak

During our meal, he even did a bit of looking after Baba, and comforting her when she fell off the unstable object she’d climbed, and explained to us that he had a load of first aid responder stuff. Crazy.
After we complimented the wine, we were promptly brought a bottle as a gift!
After Bob had another coffee we prepared to make a move – we were told of a place nearby with a Napoleonic fort we could see – thanking the chef again profusely, paying the bill and leaving a large tip!
Off we headed to the Napoleonic fort near Ritthem, passing the biggest pile of new cars I’ve ever seen on the way (seriously, all new Fords in Europe must pass through that car park!), and after failing to find it in the village we headed to the coast and parked up in a car park on the water front, assuming it couldn’t be far away.
Turned out it was a good walk around the headland and we could’ve parked somewhere far more sensible. Oh well, we’ll know for next time…..! Still it was an interesting wander next to a very busy shipping lane. We didn’t actually go into the fort itself, but we did find it, walked up to it, saw it was closed and came back again! Good to stretch the legs. Even better for Bob who had to run back when we realised Baba had launched her dummy out of the pushchair en route!


Then it was back in the car to find out ferry to take us back to the UK. The journey was interesting again – back over the flood defence bridges and then down towards Rotterdam and back out to the coast.
The smell of oil refinery was pretty overwhelming as we came towards the ferry port – and sure enough there was the ‘Shell’ sign! Our final journey in mainland Europe included the satnav insisting we should keep left, when it clearly meant right (fortunately we ignored it and followed the signs), seeing fields and fields of onions, and being told to take the 8th exit at a roundabout. Them crazy Netherlanders with their 8 exit roundabouts!
Following signs to Engeland at the ferry port we soon found ourselves in the town of the Hoek v Holland. Which is pretty nasty. Like most ferry ports, I guess. Lots of very small houses and run down looking shops. We attempted to find a shop to buy some bits but decided we’d be better off waiting until we were in England again! So back in the car we arrived at the ferry port to be told that we could board in only 15 mins – despite arriving hours before our scheduled departure.
As a final treat to ourselves for the end of our adventure, Bob talked me into getting a posh cabin (a Captain’s Cabin, no less) for the journey. We were expecting the photos to be as true-to-reality as they had been for the Portsmouth-Caen and Ancona-Split crossings… but they weren’t, the cabin was beautiful -with plenty if room for the cot for Baba and a lovely shiny new bathroom, and a free mini bar! We cracked open a bottle of prosecco (even though neither of us are big fans – it felt like the thing to do!!) and settled into our cabin and had a play with Baba before going for a quick explore of the boat and a few slices of pizza (and a pear for Baba) in the lovely and not-horrendously-priced restaurant.
We also managed to have a wander on the sun deck, where you could see the sun setting to the west from the back of the boat, before heading back to the cabin to attempt to get Baba to go to sleep. That didn’t work terribly well, but on the flip side she was awake to see us depart, the whole boat turning 180 degrees, so that our window – right at the front of the ship – pointed North West, as we set sail into the beautiful sun set and (slowly) chased the sun across the water. It was really quite beautiful. Certainly considering it was a car ferry! I conceded that the posh cabin had been worth the extra cash.


Bob and I played cards and drank wine before bed, after Baba finally gave up and went to sleep. It was lovely. Even though he beat me.
So after a pretty lousy nights sleep (Baba decided she would have a good cry for no particular reason at about 1am so ended up in bed with us) – and Bob getting us up at 4.30 instead of 5.30 because of the hour time difference with the UK (we were due to disembark at 6.30), we had a few bits of breakfast on board in the cafe and got onto the lovely British roads (Bob has thus far remembered to drive on the left) and straight into 7.30am weekday Essex traffic. Fabulous! Ahhhh Blighty, we’ve missed you. A bit.
– Belle

Spa,owls and country number 20…

So the town of Spa (after which spas are named) is a very pretty little place in Belgium. It was clearly very popular in it’s heyday, and has very many beautiful and elaborate buildings – from the old bath house to the casino to the tourist information centre. It has approximately four thousand restaurants, sadly some of which have closed down. It appears to be a tourist destination which doesn’t quite have enough tourists to keep it’s many facilities, restaurants and hotels in business. The parking is free,  but the funicular up to the new bath house is not free – and seeing as Baba is under 6, she’s too young to go in anyway – so we didn’t bother going up to look from the outside. There was also a children’s playground, but it charged for entry(!) so we didn’t go in there either!

We did, however, have lunch in a nice restaurant, and go to the tourist information office to pick up a map, then potter around the town admiring the buildings and generally enjoying a bit of sunshine.

Using a bit of free WiFi I’d borrowed from a local bank, we booked a B&B about a half hour drive away in a random place called Bilzen – only because the direction and distance were about right and the reviews of the place were excellent.

So off we pottered in the direction of Bilzen, soon arriving at our B&B. The town itself isn’t a terribly exciting one, it felt very suburban. The B&B itself was a fairly boring looking semi on a fairly boring looking street – but once we were welcomed inside it became clearer why the reviews were so good. Our host, Stefan, was super friendly with extremely good English. He made us feel at home, and gave us a (free) drink, and introduced his pet dogs… and baby barn owl. Turns out he keeps owls as a hobby – taking them as educational visits to schools and suchlike – and his owls are incredibly tame. After showing us to our (large, airy and bright, newly-decorated) room, we were left to wander around the house as if it were our own. In the garden we found 14 owls, about 4 chickens (1 rooster), 1 mandarin duck, and a pond full of fish, all happily coexisting with the dogs – all having their own space boundaries.

After a good potter in the garden we had a pleasant walk into the central market place in Bilzen to have our dinner in a restaurant – Chopin, if I remember correctly – which was very tasty. Bob had so many spare ribs he couldn’t finish them all. So many ribs, they couldn’t all have been spare, surely…!  Our wander home was equally pleasant, and Baba fell asleep in the pushchair. After a successful transfer operation to her cot, we set up the baby monitor and had a couple of adult hours downstairs (with Stefan’s family on the sofa) watching TV and doing online banking (exciting stuff).

After a fairly good night’s sleep, we had a fantastic breakfast at our B&B – bacon and eggs cooked just for us, and a lovely spread of other bits and bobs, including chocolate bars and fresh berries. Baba also enjoyed her breakfast! After we’d eaten, Stefan let us have a hold and a stroke of a couple of his owls – they really are magnificent beasts. We talked about his work with schools, and a charity which he helps to run, and owls eyes, amongst other things. We had a wonderful, interesting, fun experience – sometimes the 5* hotels really aren’t the best places to stay!

Then it was time to say goodbye and get on the road to our final country – The Netherlands. The last thing we did before leaving was book our ferry home for Wednesday 13th, from the Hook of Holland. So we headed in that direction. We didn’t really know where we were going to go, so headed for the coast, and bought a data package for Bob’s phone (Holland nor Belgium are feel-at-home countries with Three!) for a fiver to figure out where we were heading.

So one point about Belgium before I continue: why is it full of flies? There were flies in the restaurant in Spa, there were flies in the breakfast room of our B&B. I’ve been to Belgium on holiday before, and have an overriding memory of flies. What’s going on Belgium?! Alas ‘why are there so many flies in Belgium’ reveals very few relevant hits on Google, so maybe it’s just my experience of Belgium.

Anyway, back to the programme. We crossed the border on the motorway into Holland almost without noticing, however it did become obvious that we’d left behind any kind of hills – the landscape of Holland isn’t the most exciting!

Searching around the coast for something to do in the rain (we encountered a weather change in Holland too!) we found a little tropical zoo we could go to called Berkenhof ‘s Tropical Zoo. So we headed there.

And I’ll tell you about that tomorrow, because it’s time for bed!

– Belle

Take me down to Luxembourg city where the sun is hot and the streets are… sweaty?

Our journey into Luxembourg was marginally more interesting than usual. We stopped just after leaving our hotel in France to get some petrol, but we didn’t get too much as we knew it was cheaper in Luxembourg! Towards the North of France, at a motorway toll, we got pulled in by some customs/police type dudes, who wanted to see what we were up to and whether we wanted to declare anything. Fortunately their English was quite good, so when we declared that we had a baby asleep in the back they waved us off fairly swiftly – unfortunately Baba woke up in the interim while the engine was off… and she showed no signs of going back to sleep again, so we decided to make a stop sooner rather than later. Having discovered (again by googling ‘things to do in Luxembourg’) that there is nothing interesting to do south of Luxembourg City – if you search for tourist attractions on Google Maps, it points out a data centre, and that’s it. And they’re not my idea of fun –
we decided to carry on up to Luxembourg City where there were a few bits and bobs to do. After following the ring road around about 75% of the city due to the fairly useless signage for car parks (there are lots of informative signs telling you how many there are and how many spaces are free… they’re just not very good at actually getting you into a car park) we found an underground parking spot. Which was good, as the sun was blazing and it was hot.
We got the lift down to Grund – Luxembourg City is built on a bit of a river gorge, there’s a few high bits connected by bridges and a low bit called Grund. Grund was supposed to be nice so we went down there and very swiftly stopped at a very busy restaurant for lunch, where we had pretty average meals – but Baba enjoyed eating strands of my tagliatelle. Between that and the spaghetti the night before she’s got quite into pasta – managing to suck up strands of spaghetti.
After lunch we had a little potter around Grund – some nice houses up the hillside, some built into the rock face, but it wasn’t that amazing. I’d seen some reviews online calling it ‘the Gibraltar of the North’ – a bit of a stretch I feel!
Back up in the lift from Grund, we went to see a couple of the main squares and the cathedral, and Casemates. It was very warm indeed and we were a bit underwhelmed! The shopping area was fairly nice, and the squares were OK, maybe we’ve just been spoiled for nice cities lately! The view across the Adolphe Bridge was quite nice, but the bridge itself is being repaired, so we couldn’t see that. Otherwise, it was just a bit like a city really!

So we piled back in the car and made tracks for our overnight stop – before we left France we’d booked a campsite with a wooden hut chalet type thing for the night in a tiny place outside Larochette. That left us with a 35 minute drive, after filling up with nice cheap Luxembourg petrol, we arrived at about 4.30 without getting lost en route!
The campsite was lovely, and our very basic little hut was fine – two single bunk beds and space on the floor for the cot. It was a ‘bring your own bed linen’ job so Bob dismantled the air mattress and duvet roll (that we use for car sleeping) to give us a doubled-over double duvet to sleep in each. Bob had the top bunk as he doesn’t need to get out of bed in the night to feed Baba!
After setting up our gear for the night we had a beer in the café at the camp site, taking it in turns to entertain an hyperactive Baba in the variety of indoor and outdoor playgrounds.

20160710_193742

Beeeeeer 

She had a wonderful time chasing (whilst holding our fingers!) other kids around, who invariably wanted to talk to me or Bob in a language we didn’t understand. She also had a lovely time in the outdoor playground – the entirety of which had sand under it. She sat in the sand and let it run through her fingers for ages – and very unusually she didn’t try to eat it! Then she chucked some over her own head and generally got herself covered in sand. After a bit more playing in a Wendy house (which she screamed about being removed from) we decided she probably needed a bath and Bob needed a shower, so we did a bit of a washing session, with Baba in the baby bath facility in the campsite wash room. Again, she had a great time!
At 7.30 we ate in the campsite restaurant, which was nice. We were served a little bowl of veg – cubes of carrot, peas and sweetcorn – and Baba enjoyed eating the little bits. Bob and I enjoyed our main courses, and then we made a beeline for home as we were both shattered, as was Baba.

20160710_215441

Sunset was pretty

Unfortunately, although we wanted to go to bed, Baba didn’t again. So we wrestled with her – trying to force her to sleep but without making any noise – for about 45 minutes. And succeeded just before 11, after lots of cuddles and milk and carrying around. We were both now super-shattered! That didn’t help, however, as it was still extremely warm in the cabin. I lay awake being sweaty until about 3am, Bob did a little better, but we are tired bunnies today.
Baba fed twice in the night and got up just before 8. Bob gave me a bit of a lie in, whilst taking Baba for a wander and getting her brekkie, then we were all up and packing and sorting as the weather had turned and the clouds looked threatening! Fortunately it didn’t actually rain… but we got shifting anyway – checking out then sitting for a quick coffee/hot chocolate to use the Internet for a bit before getting on the road.

20160711_103734

Bye bye cabin! 

Our destination for lunch time is a place called Spa – after which spas are named! – in Belgium. Crossing the border into country number 19.
At lunch we’ll find somewhere to stay in the evening, probably the North of Belgium, just south of Holland, and we may well book our ferry crossing – probably for Thursday overnight from the Hook of Holland to Harwich. So terrifyingly we will be back to reality in 4 days.
Although we’re both rather fatigued… I don’t want our adventure to end! I guess we’ll have to make our own adventures at home (that was a bit vomit worthy, sorry about that!
– Belle

Leaving Liechtenstein…

So we stayed up to the end of the football, even though Bob fell asleep before the end of the first half… then we went to bed and slept rather well in our very comfy bed up a ginormous mountain in Liechtenstein.
Our breakfast the next morning was a lovely buffet, Baba enjoyed the raisins from my pain au raisins, leaving me with a pain au… she’s been eating like a horse the last few days! The waitresses had fun fussing her – as they had over dinner last night – and as usual she loved the attention.

20160708_104935

The view up the road from our Liechtenstein hotel

We considered going up the ski lifts by the hotel before hitting the road, but discovered that it, like most things in Liechtenstein, was rather expensive for a super quick jaunt up and down. So off to the car we went, heading for Lake Lucerne for our lunch stop.

20160708_110317

View from the very steep road down from our resort in Liechtenstein

 

After the now-normal stop on the border for a vignette for Switzerland (the miserable lot only sell annual ones! So there’s 40CHFs we won’t be getting the most out of…) and a bit of petrol, we headed towards the middle of Switzerland, passing the beautiful Lake Walensee on the motorway.


As we already knew, Switzerland is full of lakes mountains and cows and is very beautiful!
We chose a very random stopping point on Lake Lucerne – just a medium sized down on the lake where we thought we might find some lunch. We headed for Hergiswil for no good reason! After parking we had the usual problem of not having currency and headed off to find a cash machine then buy some lunch to get change for the car park. We found a bar with seats on the lake front, and after sorting the car we had a lovely sit and some very average food, looking out across the lake, watching the ferries come and go. We did consider getting one, but as they were hourly in each direction, we could have taken in excess of 2.5 hours just to do a few stops and come back, so we thought best not.

Instead, we went for a walk along the main road in Hergiswil, and fell upon a glass making factory. It had a children’s playground outside where kids were posting marbles into a sculpture type marble run about 4m up, then they worked their way down on a variety of rails and runs and over various bits of glass which went ‘bing bong bing bong’ as they bounced. It was good.
A further wander around uncovered some glass instruments you could play with padded drum sticks and a platform in the factory itself where you could watch the workers blowing and moulding glass – very interesting but even hotter than outside (which was already high 20s/early 30s) with all the furnaces and stuff.

WP_20160708_15_12_08_Pro

Glass furnaces and glass blowers

We decided to head back to the air con of the car and make our way to Zurich so we could settle into our room a bit.
Our reason for going to Zurich was to visit an old colleague of mine (technically he worked for a different company and my company was a supplier to his, but basically we used to work on the same project) – as he lives there. So after a quick check into our lovely hotel (we’d chosen that night to use our final free hotels.com night, as Switzerland is so bleedin expensive) – the Hotel Seehof – which we booked ten minutes before arrival – we went for a quick drink at a bar on the river before meeting my friend behind the opera building. I will call him Bertie.


Bertie took us for a walk around Zurich and to a traditional Swiss restaurant which used to be an armoury. We had some enormous pitchers of beer and Bob had an authentic enormous Swiss sausage… I had a pasta, cheese and potato dish that Baba wanted to eat all of. We didn’t go mad with the silly dishes, but the guys next to us on the table did – so we got to see an enormous flaming beer and brandy drink being poured, and some beef cooked (and served) on a sword – without having to pay for it. Hurrah!
Generally we had a lovely evening, it was great to see Bertie – I can only hope that when I get back to work I get to work with someone as awesome again!
We wandered home a little merry, and poor Baba fell asleep in her pushchair – she was so tired she managed to fall asleep forwards, slumped with her head to her knees, but for her harness holding her from falling too far! We were very amused!
We said our goodbyes and headed to our room, Baba went straight from the pushchair to her cot, and we swiftly went to bed too.
This morning Baba woke up at about 5 and wouldn’t sleep in her cot again, so we had the pleasure of her company wriggling about until she started crawling on us at about 7. So we got up for breakfast, packed up and went to spend the last of our CHFs – we bought Baba a gorgeous dummy leash and a few sachets of baby food – we’ve found some here with fruit AND veg in. Hurrah.

Generally we’ve found Zurich very nice – if a touch pretentious. I thought it would be a boring financial centre, but the town was pretty, with a lovely river and lake and some nice buildings and a good café culture.
We were on our way to a nice castle for a lunch stop whilst I struggled to find somewhere to stay the night when I fell upon a town which is famous for it’s Bugatti factory. Conversation with Bob ensued, he fancied looking around the factory – unfortunately they don’t do tours, but they do recommend a car collection down the road in Mulhouse. So a quick Google later and we decided to change our lunch stop – we’ve seen a few castles, and it’s jolly warm, so we thought an afternoon in a car museum might be a bit of a relief!
The collection in Mulhouse was really rather good, with a huge number of cars in pristine condition. Bit of a sad back story, as the guy who built the collection made his fortune in wool, until the wool price collapsed and he essentially had the collection, and his wool factory in which it was based, forcibly aquired from him by a collection of bodies who wanted to save it from being sold for asset liquidation. It seems good to me that it was kept together and made available to the public, but the fella didn’t agree. But yeah, most of automotive history seems to be there, with a particularly large number of beautiful 40s ish Bugattis and rollers and stuff.
The museum is the old factory floor with aisles and aisles of cars for you to wander through. Baba clearly decided she wanted to wander too, and must have walked 150m in one go – either having both hands held by me or Bob, or occasionally just one hand held. She’s getting very good now, probably just a bit more confidence required…
Lunch was pretty dire from the cafeteria, but it filled a gap!
At 3 they had a demo session on the track at the back, so we wandered outside and saw a variety of old cars (from a beautiful old jag to a 2CV…) drive around.


After the demo we decided it was time to move on, so back in the van we set a course for our hotel in Molsheim – where they make the Veyron (to be clear, not in our hotel, sadly) – which also happens to be on the Alsace wine route. I foresaw arrival at the hotel, a potter around town, and wine with dinner! Molsheim is a very pretty little town and we enjoyed our dinner and our local vino.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and had a glass of wine in their courtyard before spending about an hour persuading Baba to go to sleep – then we passed out too!

This morning, Bob let me have a little lie in after the two night feeds, then went to fetch some pastry for breakfast from a patisserie. Yum. And now we’re on the road for Luxembourg!
Can’t believe it’s nearly home time though…
– Belle

And we did encounter an autobahn… and it was fast…

We have discovered that the go pro has a resonant frequency around 95mph, and took the car over 100mph. Because you can. And it’s rude not to give it a go!
Our route was via Austria (using the vignette we had from our previous trip – it’s a 10 day one) and into Germany. We were heading for Herrenchiemsee – a palace (intended to be a replica of Versailles) on an island in the middle of Chiemsee, which is a large freshwater lake in Southern Bavaria. So the plan was to find a campsite, book our place for the night then dash off to get a 15 minute ferry over to Herreninsel.
This plan worked remarkably well – we arrived at the site at about ten to two, but the office was closed until 2 so we parked up and headed over the road to a café for some lunch (turned out to be a super organic posh type café supermarket type thing, and we didn’t want to pay those kind of prices for quinoa salad!) And ended up having cake, which was nice and quick. Back to the campsite, as we checked in we asked if there were any holiday home type things instead – and yes they had a barrel for the night! Bob really fancied sleeping in a giant barrel so a barrel it was. This meant we had one very big sleeping platform/bed for the night and no room for the cot, but no worse than we would have been in the van!

20160706_145001

Our sleeping barrel!

Having settled into our barrel we set off for the ferry port. We found that and parked with ease, bought our tickets and discovered that the next boat was in 15 minutes and it had just arrived. Bingo!
The island was very pretty, as was the lake. We had a fun journey over, then wandered in the direction of the ‘new castle’ – the palace. We didn’t really have time – and didn’t necessarily fancy wandering around the inside (incidentally they sell the tickets at the ferry dock – not at the palace a 15 minute walk away – so you have to decide up front whether you want to go into something you haven’t seen yet!) so we enjoyed the gardens and the fountains and generally the spectacular-ness of the place before wandering down towards the shore to sit on a picnic blanket with Baba to let her have a wander about/attempt to eat some grass/chase a bee/empty my purse of cards. It was really quite lovely.


We pottered back to the ferry dock via the old monastery on the island (and didn’t really look at it much) before finding out there was a 40 min wait for the next ferry. So after yet more sitting about, and a short boat ride – where we chatted to a lovely Belgian tour guide – later we were back on the mainland searching for somewhere to eat our tea.
We quickly settled on a burger and steak place and filled up before heading back to our lovely barrel for the night.
By the time we’d completed the 8 minute journey, Baba was asleep in her car seat, and we managed to transfer her to the barrel bed without waking her up.
Although the campsite had free WiFi it was extremely slow and kept cutting out – making blogging impossible. So Bob and I played cards and drank some wine we picked up in a supermarket in the Czech Republic. A glass each. The rest got poured away. Conversation went:

Belle: I’m not going to drink more than a glass of this. I want to wake up in the morning
Bob: Where’s your sense of adventure??
Belle: It wants to wake up in the morning!

And then we went to bed. And Baba crawled all over us all night and woke for about an hour at 3am and wanted to play. Sigh. So we were tired when she got up at 7!

Tired though we were, we got up and packed up the barrel to make tracks about 10.30 for Liechtenstein. We chose a slightly longer route through Austria as we have data there, rather than walloping the autobahn through Germany. We stopped for lunch when Baba woke in St Anton – Bob’s been there on a number of snowboarding holidays and said it was nice. It was! Although the ski lift for a return journey to the top was 16EUR. Each! For a quick bit of a nice view and a lousy restaurant. Bah. So we stayed at the bottom.

20160707_141402

St Anton is pretty

While we were there we decided on a hotel in Liechtenstein. Having discovered they all cos a fortune we didn’t spend 75 quid on the cheapest room we could find, we spent 90 on a much nicer hotel and room. Seemed to make sense. Sort of! Then we sat on a patch of grass in the centre of town so Baba could have a womble about, before going to see our shiny hotel in Liechtenstein for the night.

20160707_150233

Pretty views from Austrian roads

We did fine until we reached Liechtenstein, when the sat navigation decided it was faster to drive out to Switzerland on the far side, go down the motorway and back in again than it was to drive down Liechtenstein itself. We don’t have a vignette for Switzerland yet, so that would have been a nightmare. Some swift navigation later we drove through Liechtenstein, pretty much north to south instead, to a little ski town called Malbun.
What a road and what a mountain. Liechtenstein was essentially quite flat and boring until the last 10 miles when it felt like we went up a series of hairpins at a 20% gradient! The views were spectacular and the scenery green and beautiful (with the odd snowy mountain to round it off).
Our hotel is next to the ski lift – maybe 6 metres away from our balcony, and it has a kids play room downstairs, a hot tub, a swimming pool and a few pet rabbits in the outdoor play area. It’s absolutely perfect for us! They seem to have upgraded our room too – Baba is now asleep in the bedroom while we watch the footie (or rather I blog and Bob snores!).
After our arrival we played in the play room – Baba had a go on a gorgeous little rocking horse thing and we coaxed her through a little tunnel – then we all went in the hot tub (which was only about 35°, and Baba was in for all of 5 mins or so!) and Bob played with the massage jets, before we had our dinner in the restaurant downstairs.
Dinner was lovely but horrifyingly expensive. Granted Bob’s steak, my dessert and our glasses of wine and beer didn’t help, but each item was a lot more than we’ve paid in other countries. Switzerland will be another budget blowing day too I think! But we had a lovely day and a lovely dinner and we’re on our homeward leg really so…. we’ll cope.
Bedtime for us soon I think, possibly before the end of the football! Tomorrow, Switzerland!
– Belle

The wonderful Český Krumlov…

[Boring note: please read as if this were posted 6th July. Couldn’t find a good enough WiFi connection to post yesterday]

So we had a really wonderful time in Apartment MiJa. Our hosts were so lovely and kind, and the apartment was huge, new, clean and well equipped. A brilliant Air bnb experience.
The location also turned out to be excellent – yesterday morning we got up and had brekkie and hung out some washing before heading into Český Krumlov for a spot of sightseeing and some lunch. Despite it being a national holiday in the Czech (Monday to Wednesday inclusive – a variety of holy days), we managed to find a parking space and headed up into the town to find a huge set of archways to enter into the city, with a beautiful river flowing below full of people in rafts and canoes having great fun paddling around the fast-flowing river with weirs.

The city itself sits on an S bend of the river, so you cross through a bit of the city, with beautiful cobbled streets and pretty shops and lovely buildings. So you pass through a bit, cross the river again and find yourself in another bit of city, in this case in a park. After a short wander around the park we doubled back into the middle bit of the city and found a restaurant for lunch. As with most food we’ve had here, it was very tasty and quite salty! The chips always need licking clean before the Baba can have a bit. She did quite well with a sachet of fruit – she’s got a pretty good appetite after the teething blip (still no teeth yet, just red lumps in her gums).
After our lunch (and some hot raspberries and ice cream for me – yum! I’ll have to remember that one when we get our glut of raspberries from the allotment this year) we went for another wander, we went up to one of the museums, took some photos then headed for the castle. It’s quite some castle!

WP_20160705_14_34_04_Pro

That is a pretty tower right there

Although when you get into the castle you discover that it has a lot of walls painted to look like intricate carving rather than actually being intricate carving. To enter the castle you pass over a high bridge with a bear pit either side, and although I didn’t see a bear, the presence of a bathing pool, running water, some chewed logs, some fruit and veg and a ‘don’t feed the bears!’ sign, I have reason to believe there was one or two down there somewhere!

The castle carries on up a very steep hill with castle buildings either side, across the series of arches I mentioned earlier, culminating in a beautiful set of gardens at the far end, where the hill has opened out beyond the castle. There are fountains and a large pond, and it’s generally very nice.


After our wander up the castle we took a short cut back to the car park and headed to the nearest supermarket to get some bits and bobs for tea – and for our hosts as they’d been so kind. We decided on curry for tea – we probably have it once a week at home and we haven’t had one since we’ve left! We’ve seen Chinese restaurants in Eastern Europe but no Indians or Thais. So we found some curry sauce (Uncle Ben’s, would you believe) and some extra chili powder (in Czech) and managed to play ‘spot the vegetable’ with the self-weighed fruit and veg machine to get a price label – ‘nektarinka’ was the easy one!
Back to the apartment we played with a very tired Baba – she’s used to having to sleep for 3 hours in the car every day, and she’d only had two short naps before we left in the morning and in the pushchair mid-afternoon – and she discovered and learned to climb the two stairs in the apartment. Stair gates on the shopping list for our return then! Good work though, kiddo. Not much gets in her way. She’s getting more and more confident with her standing and comes and gets you (with your two index fingers) when she wants to walk somewhere. She’s been doing a little bit of one-handed walking too, and occasionally uses furniture as substitute baby walkers – like high chairs, or chairs with wheels.
Baba gave up at 7.30 and went to sleep the most easily for weeks – I’m now rather hopeful we can easily switch back to a two-short-nap-early-bedtime routine at home!
Bob and I (confusingly the apartment owners have a cat called Bob…) made our dinner together and had a lovely meal (excluding the short break where Baba woke up because of some loud kids playing outside!) then did as much as we could to pack up and get showered for a quick departure today.
For the rest of the evening we tried to find somewhere to stay tonight. I picked an air bnb place, after Bob had hit the hay, deciding to book it in the morning once he’d ok’d it. That was an error. It’s not available today! So we’re looking for a campsite when we arrive in Germany instead. Could be interesting!
This morning we packed up swiftly then failed to be able to find the owners to check out! So we’ve left the key in what we believe to be a safe place and hit the road for Germany (via Austria again).
We’re hoping to do a 3 hour drive this morning and get to our evening stop for lunch, as it’s a nice place with stuff to do. We’ve got an hour left and Baba is still asleep, so fingers crossed – although traffic is heavy.
Well done Czech Republic, we had a great time and saw some lovely stuff and met some ace people!
Can’t believe we’ll be home in ten days…. really feels like we are heading home now. I emailed work yesterday. Weird.
What a great time we have had so far – and still more time than lots of holidays left to enjoy. Magic.
– Belle

Czech jams…

At 6000 miles we hit our third traffic jam – on the main motorway south of Brno, about 10km East. We were stuck for the best part of an hour. We assumed it was a horrible accident (an ambulance zoomed past at one stage) but after 6 or so km of queueing… we got to the end of the roadworks to discover it was just weight of traffic and roadworks. So that was annoying! We had a 4 hour journey today and adding an extra hour wasn’t what we needed. Good job we’ve got a two night stay ahead!
The roadworks kept coming too – we’ve been through a good 6 or so sets of contraflows, fortunately none as bad as the first – just slowed traffic. It seems the whole of the Czech Republic is being dug up.
Lunch stop was another random one. Unfortunately although we were passing relatively closely to Telc and Kutna Hora, we just weren’t close enough to get there for a stop; it would’ve added at least an hour to our driving for the day – which is already long. So we did our usual of waiting for Baba to wake up and letting that dictate our lunch stop.
She woke on an A road in a fairly rural location just short of Chýnov, and it took us a good while to find anywhere to stop. We were all ready to stop at a parking bay on the roadside at a stop with a nice view when we found a restaurant – so we stopped and hoped for the best in terms of food serving times and English speaking!

If we weren’t in luck with the traffic, we were with our stop. The place did lovely food (my chicken with camembert and cranberries was excellent) and had a kids playground and a few tiny goats – Baba was fascinated of course. So we had a good lunch, a nice play in the garden and a giggle at the goats before getting back on the road to our apartment – a two bed place with a washing machine just west of Český Krumlov.

Aside from the horrible traffic in Český Krumlov, we had an OK journey – probably 5.5 hours in the car in total though. Will be nice to rest tomorrow.

We found the place pretty swiftly and were greeted by the owner who made us feel very at home. We unpacked and played with Baba before going out for a bit of a walk – we were spotted by the hosts who invited us over for a beer, so we had a slightly awkward time trying to talk to them in their fairly poor English and my dire German… until their 12 yr old son came and sat with us to translate, he was ace! But generally it was lovely and this is what we do air bnb for occasionally – to meet some real people!

Now we’re back at the apartment after Baba got tired, we’ve all had tea that we made in the kitchen here, and soon bedtime.

1467662487865-1687017087

Tomorrow I will battle the washing machine. In Czech…

– Belle

Olomouc, the most beautiful town you’ve never heard of…

So we arrived in Olomouc without much hassle, driving easily into the middle and quickly finding our hotel. We stopped the car for a few minutes and checked in before moving the car into the next door multi storey car park (with reserved spaces for the hotel). Our room was very large and had a lovely cot and bedding set up for Baba. The bathroom had a large bath too – which was ace, she loves baths and isn’t keen on showers really. The room was a lovely temperature and had air conditioning, and the room rate included breakfast.
After a brief sit down, we got the pushchair from the car and prepared to head out. We’d read a review saying that Olomouc was like Prague but without the tourists… which we didn’t think could possibly be true, so we went to see for ourselves!
We’d headed for Olomouc as we basically couldn’t find anything else in Eastern Czech Republic which was on one of those ’14 things you MUST DO in Czech!’ list that you find when you ask Google what’s worth doing in the Czech Republic. So we weren’t expecting much.
Turns out Olomouc really is stunning. We walked all of 2 minutes up the road from our hotel and were on the edge of the historic centre. The place is littered with beautiful historic buildings and museums. Unfortunately as it was Sunday, no shops were open, but they looked like they’d be lovely if they were. We turned up towards the main square and were amazed by how pretty it was. The main town hall is in the middle of a huge cobbled square surrounded by pretty buildings, with a variety of statues and fountains. There’s a beautiful astronomical clock in the town hall, and whilst not quite as pretty as Prague, it’s not far off… and unlike Prague you can take a picture of it without tourist hordes in the way!


We had fun with a minature bronze model of the city, Baba looked like godzilla. Then she dipped her toes in one of the pretty fountains in the early evening sunshine.
We headed on from the main square to… yet another square (although more of a rectangle) where we found more beautiful statues and buildings and churches, and a bar to have some beer! Unfortunately our waitress was… odd. She kept talking about us to her friends on the next table and laughing, which was very unnerving. She didn’t do it with a warm smile! It felt like jokes were being made at our expense… so despite the wonderful surroundings, we didn’t want to stay long. After a very quick pizza we trotted off back to our hotel, taking a long route. We decided to head through a park around the fortress around to the other side of the city to loop back around to he hotel. The park was beautiful, although one of the most impressive buildings in it was basically falling to ruin and covered in graffiti. The park runs around the old city wall, which is lovely too. Unfortunately it seemed the castle bit in the middle was closed (after 7pm that’s not too surprising) so we carried on round to the Wenceslas Cathedral, which again is a beautiful bit of building with intricate carving and lovely steeples.


On the way through the park, Bob speculated that this is a university town, looking at the demographic of the people we saw, and the sorts of bars and stuff he saw – and he is indeed spot on. It’s got the second most prestigious and old university in the country – after Prague again.
We kinda wish we’d stayed in Olomouc for longer. You could certainly spend a long weekend city break here. And the beer and food is so cheap, as was our hotel, it makes an amazing Europe break destination! But lovely though our hotel was, we didn’t fancy paying their prices for laundry, so we’re moving on to the south West of the country to an air bnb place with a washing machine! But well done, Olomouc, you’re possibly my favourite city so far. Is it Prague? Not quite. It lacks the scale and the river and the hill. Is it sufficiently similar to Prague but with additional bonus lack-of-tourists with cheap-lovely-central-hotels to compete with Prague? For sure. It’s absolutely beautiful and we had a fab time.
We had a long hard night with Baba, I think she hadn’t eaten enough in the day and wanted to feed all night, and I didn’t have a lot of milk so she wasn’t satisfied and didn’t sleep well – and didn’t go down until 11 in the first place and was up at 7. Sigh. I got up with her and let Bob sleep a bit more as he has a lot of driving to do today!
After our morning baths (all three of us), we had an excellent breakfast in the hotel. As well as the usual cereal and cake and stuff they had a cooked-to-order menu, and Bob enjoyed his ham and eggs and I enjoyed my pancake (and so did Baba!). A quick check out later and we’re on a motorway heading South.
Bye Olomouc, you’re ace!
– Belle

So we woke up in Poland…

Baba had us up rather early after getting up early and refusing to go back to sleep and generally being a wriggle-bag in our bed. We got to breakfast just after 8 (on a Sunday! Bad baby!) and had a pretty good spread of stuff. Baba had some grapes and bits of bread and cake.
After a leisurely pack up (check out was at 12, which was nice!) we left at about 10.15 towards the Czech Republic, heading for our overnight stay in the city of Olomouc – which is supposed to be nice. We shall see!
Just before the border we remembered to spend all our Zloty on petrol and a vignette for our next country. Unfortunately turning the engine off meant that Baba woke up, so we ended up stopping just the other side of the border. As there were no ‘world heritage’ places on my map, nothing I’d found in the millions of online lists of ‘things you MUST see in Czech!’, and no points of interest on my map, we just headed for a patch of green – usually denoting national park or similar.
Bob spotted a restaurant from the road (which took ages to drive down as it was being resurfaced so there were traffic lights and raised ironworks all over the place), so we parked up and went in, hoping a) they’d take Mastercard – I thought we were in Euros here, but a quick look at petrol stations over the border made it obvious that it isn’t! – b) they might speak English. We were in luck, the staff spoke great English, the menu was great, they had a high chair, and they had a nearby river walk for us after lunch. So after some most excellent burgers, we put Baba in the baby carrier (the front one) for a potter down the river. The restaurant seemed to have some kind of beaver theme (there was a statue outside and I think it had ‘beaver’ I’m the name) – alas by the river the most exciting things we saw were an enormous snail and a nice yellow wagtail, Baba saw a couple of dogs and shouted ‘oof!’ as her ‘w’ noise needs work! But generally we had a nice wander along the river to a little (man made) dam and back, before having a quick play on the swings and slide (which I may have enjoyed more than Baba) and getting back on the road to Olomouc to our hotel!


Pretty impressed with the Czech Republic so far, I think we’re staying 3 nights, so hopefully it continues to be nice!
– Belle

Slovakia, mostly…

Well Slovakia was very nice. Banksa Stiavnic is an old mining town in the mountains towards the south of the country. We nipped in there for lunch in a lot of heat – we had a good wander around the hilly main street looking at the cutesy cafés and shops. We picked a fairly generic place for a cheap lunch before marching around the place a bit more and heading into the castle for a look around. Unfortunately we’d only bought 2 hours of parking so we didn’t have chance to go into the castle, but it was pretty from the outside all the same.


Then we made tracks for our overnight stop in a pretty, mountainous area which is a ski area in winter.
As we got off the highway and headed for Jasna it became clear that we may encounter a touch of rain…

20160701_174507

It may be raining a bit over there…

The clouds were black, and nearby villages were getting soaked. We stayed at a small ski lodge down the mountain from the Jasna area, in a Penzion. It had a lovely large room and an owner who was polite and efficient but not exactly friendly!
After settling in we decided to go to find a supermarket due to a desperate shortage of bottles of water and beer. Driving in to Liptovský Milkulâš, we saw a big sign for a Tesco… so we had to go! Bit of an odd experience – familiar and yet alien! The colours are all the same as home, but the words don’t make any sense to me. But we got our bits and bobs (about the same price as home too, I wonder if it’s high end here, I’ve certainly seen clothes cheaper in other shops here.
Back to the hotel to watch the footie and eat the bits we’d bought (snacky tea of dips and Pringles and stuff) and put the Baba to bed, we had a nice evening but we were shattered by 11! I had a quick look out of the window before bed and wished we weren’t so tired – the stars were beautiful. I’m not sure that ‘through a velux in the bathroom’ is the best way to view stars, and it may have been my imagination/wishful thinking… and I didn’t check my orientation so I could be talking rubbish… but I thought I could see the Milky Way. It’s been a while since I saw it last – in Chile and before that in Belgium. Just wish we could’ve seen more of the stars in Jasna really!
The next morning we had a very average breakfast and got kicked out at 10am, so after a quick petrol and WiFi stop (the original plan didn’t involve Poland so we didn’t have an offline map for it on our navigation phone) we were off to Poland, via some jolly big mountains.
The border crossing was nothing really, just passing through some unused checkpoints, and before long we stopped to get some Zloty in case we needed it for motorway tolls (no vignettes in Poland).
Initial impressions we had of Poland were very positive indeed – lots of plains and forests and agricultural land. Big houses (with very sharply pitched roofs) on nice plots of land, and lots of sunshine.

I wonder if this particular part is a particularly affluent area – like the UK I guess… nice pretty rural areas and manky cities and inner suburbs. We shall see!

…Except that we wouldn’t. There’s been a change of plan. We couldn’t find an air bnb place with sufficiently good parking, and we couldn’t find a sufficiently central hotel to stay in Krakow, so we didn’t bother. Instead we went to the salt mine at Wieliczka, then stayed at a boring, cheap out-of-town hotel back towards the Czech border.
Maybe it’s because Poland is busy, maybe it’s because one of our nights is a Saturday night, maybe it’s because it’s July now (and some places we’ve been to class that as high season), but we haven’t had much joy for tonight’s stay!
Ah well, we’ll have been to Poland and done something interesting – Krakow is another one that’s easy for us to do as a city break.
So off we travelled towards the salt mine – we had enough map to get us to the general area then we followed the brown tourist signs to the mine. After parking up we wandered to find a restaurant for lunch in the blazing heat – it was over 30 again. Baba had been a bit out of sorts on the journey and as we got her out of the car seat we realised she was burning up – despite not being overdressed for the air con in the car. She wasn’t in a terribly good mood and barely ate lunch (we had a chicken kebab and pork with mushrooms, both of which were fine), so we headed off for the mine where they keep the temperature to a much more sensible 14-16 degrees.
We bought our tickets for the English version of the tour, not really knowing what to expect, except that it was a big underground salt mine, and my dad has been and thought it was good!
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is really rather something to behold! Firstly as a very old mine with a heap of history. Secondly as an amazing feat of engineering – particularly how the caverns and tunnels are supported by wood. Thirdly as an art exhibition – there are salt carvings all over the place and they are beautiful. And fourthly as a feat in tourist pushing through – they got over a million visitors last year, and on the tour, each group VERY swiftly follows another through the tunnels on an extremely regimented, well rehearsed route. That said, our guide (who’s been there 12 years) was very good and amusing, and was very forthcoming about the fact that very little salt is now mined there, it’s mostly a tourist gold mine (and us tourists are the gold!).
So the mine has been mined for several hundred years and extends hundreds of metres underground. I think the guide said we visited less than 1% of it – it took 2 hours and we walked 3km.
They basically bore through the rocks until they find an enormous deposit of rock salt, then they dig it out and move on to the next place. Some of these salt deposits are over 30 metres high, and longer. They leave behind enormous caverns, which are essentially large man made caves. These tend to be dedicated to famous people, and are decorated and the salt faces are sometimes carved. Some of the caverns have brine at the bottom, leaving beautiful lakes. At one time, salt was worth more by weight than silver, so there was some serious money being made from the mine!
I’d read on the website that the tour was suitable for children, but pushchairs weren’t recommended so we popped her in the baby carrier and joined the queue for the next English tour. Turns out to get down there you take the stairs. I don’t know how many there are. So many, you think ‘this is ridiculous, there can’t be any more stairs’ – then you do about the same number of stairs again. My legs were like jelly at the bottom, and I wasn’t carrying Baba! The coolness of the mine was a huge relief though, and Baba seemed comfortable. The tour itself was good, interesting and about the right length. Some of the caverns we went through were truly spectacular, including the one which is basically a cathedral -they hold mass there every week, and even the chandeliers are made from crystals of salt. Some of the carvings were very beautiful too. Very impressive.


They tell you there’s a lift back up. And there is. And it’s very nice. They don’t tell you it is a serious walk – a good 20 minutes, probably about 1.5km – and that you exit the mine from a different shaft, where you will have approximately zero idea of where you are! Ace!
All in all, a very enjoyable afternoon, and good to keep Baba cool.
Back in the car we headed to our hotel South West of Krakow. It was a ComfortExpress, and appeared to be largely for conference guests and suchlike – there were about 6 people in the whole place last night (Saturday night). It didn’t have air con (despite the listing on booking.com saying it did – so that’s getting complained about!) but they managed to find us a big fan.
Baba had started to be a bit warm and stroppy again, so Bob and I diagnosed and tried to give her magical calpol. Unfortunately she didn’t seem keen and we only managed to give her half a dose, but she seemed happier for it so we went and had dinner in the hotel restaurant… and we’re the only people doing so – helpfully they had some kids toys, so Baba merrily played with dumper trucks while we ate dinner.
At bedtime, however, she was less happy again, so she had another half dose of calpol and fairly quickly went to sleep – as did we, after Germany beat Italy on penalties! The whole game was punctuated by distant lightning flashes – but fortunately not the thunder to wake the babe.
Today we’ve made our way out of Poland and in to the Czech Republic – but I’ll tell you about that next time cos this is very long!
– Belle