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hi from berti in the rhone-alps


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we are in the mcdonalds at st claude

unlimited wifi for price of a coffee...1€ 10... .what a bargain !!

the weather has been unbearably hot all the way from calais ...39.8 degrees in the van...had a major thunderstorm last night with spectacular lightening flashes

the generator has packed in

the lnb is still not working

the blade on the air-con snapped yesterday ....

oh well, they say it comes in threes ..so should be ok now

our new lpg system has saved us a fortune as we have had to use the gas for making drinks and cooking as well as heating the water ...we have been having 2 showers a day each as it has been so hot and clammy

the new solar panel has kept the batteries fully charged ..as we have been wild camping we feel it is paying for itself

we are heading to annecy this afternoon...the scenery is spectacular along this route and since leaving calais we have not seen any english vans at all ..in fact there were very few french vans on the roads until around this area

most of the aires are making a charge for use of facilities/parking in june/july/aug/sept

we hope to cross the pt st bernard pass by friday and then from aosta across to venice to see the regatta on sunday 6th

but as always the best laid plans have a habit of going wrong ...


cheers for now


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Just south of Annecy on the west side of the lake is a marina. At the entrance is a car park where you can stop over night, or for a few days. The marina has toilets and you can empty your cassette, there is a water tap by the entrance to the marina adjacent to the cycle way. The cw takes you into Annecy off road in about 20 minutes.
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thanks mr grumpy ..we are sat outside the mcdonalds opposite the marina...completely free wifi...no-one is even bothering to buy anything !!

on tues night we stayed at la balme de selligny at the lake..free services €4 to stay for 24hrs.. 1 english van which was just leaving..

at annecy we spent 1 hr trying to find an aire at la petit port which is no longer there but the other one at rue de colmyr is very small and is very tight with the long stayers parked in every available space.

we stayed opposite the tourist info/mairie just before the marina ..the staff were very helpful...buses very infrequent to town centre and we aren't cyclists so we decided to stay put for the day and go in the van to the town after 7pm when the central car park is free. it's the only one with no height barrier...lots of signs everywhere saying no habitable vehicles allowed here...

the old town was lovely..very busy ..even at that time..a classical guitarist and pavement artist provided the entertainment and all the canals and bridges were lit up.

lots of m/homes here all parking in odd places..the police don't seem to be bothering ...lots to do here and the views around the lake are to die for.

we are heading for bourg st maurice and courcheval today and crossing the pass tomorrow

if anyone has any suggestions for stopping places along the route to venice taking in sirmione at lake garda we will appreciate them

the weather is apparently exceptionally hot according to the newspapers and it has rained heavily all night for past few nights...

the generator has started working again of its own accord...

so we set off again

thanks carol for your post...we are feeling the need to communite..our french being rather limited !!!



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Berti how could you?? I am so so jealous - we know the area and had planned to go to Annecy next month but my husband can't get the time off - NHS worker / extra work due to Swine Flu etc.etc. :-( I can only visualise your trip but it's lovely to know somebody is enjoying it for us.


Sermione is lovely but not sure about Aires there. We have stopped a couple of times a bit further East towards Venice, at Bella Italia site at Pesciera. Just past the entrance, about 100/200 metres, there is a small Aire which always looked well used. We were able to walk from Bella Italia to the station, by the side of Lake Garda and caught a train to Venice from the town when we were there last - it was a lovely day out.


Wish we were there........ enjoy, and keep us up to date when you can (please) B-)

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thanks again mr grumpy for the info...very useful to keep

what a shame you aren't here catinou...the weather has been a bit cooler for the last couple of days...we were dreading sightseeing in venice in the very hot weather

the trip over the pass was spectacular..just enough bends and twists to make it a challenge but not too nervewracking ... at la rosiere, flot bleu €10 for 20 mins !!! .saw the st bernard dogs ..they were wilting a bit in the heat...lots of stopping places, a tourist info and alpine garden...the views really were something !!

stopped at la thuile in italy...the aire there was pretty full @€10 for 24hrs

no shade just a carpark really so we carried on and found a small layby with great view of mont blanc with no cloud...i took a great photo of it in the sunrise..it looks rather like ayres rock..

we had no bother from anyone so we wild camped for the next couple of nights...this route has presented no problems with crazy drivers or bad roads (so far !! )

the diesel has varied from €1.05 to €1.16 litre

gpl is not as widely available at garages as it is in france but has cost between 43cents and 58 cents litre

food from supermarkets is generally same or cheaper than france

chicken and meat same as uk but looks much better quality

fresh fruit and veg cheaper here

bread is sold by weight

only come across 2 lidl's so far but esselunga supermarkets are the nicest we've been in so far..the loos are very posh...

as are the mcdonalds...all cream/brown/lime green furnishings

we are at brescia on a shopping complex..the shops are fantastic ..especially the furniture ones..that indefinable but unmistakeable italian style.!!..but thank goodness we are only window shopping !!!!


we are off to sirmione now ...we will look up your suggestion catinou...hope to arrive in venice on wednesday lunch ..staying for the regatta on sunday


cheers berti


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  • 4 weeks later...

managed to pick a signal up last night but it went off before we could put our update on..so here is a quickie

we arrived in venice on schedule....spent 5 days there...anything i say would be a cliche or a quote..it's amazing but after a while it becomes ovewhelming...

temp was 40 degrees..melting point.. aircon had packed up so it was very uncomfortable

mossis out in force and we got some nasty bites

the regatta was quite a spectacle..glad we managed to see it


carried on to ferrara...very nice day there..not many touristsbut lots of cyclists..very interesting place


spent 3 days in florence..it just didn't do it for us..it rained heavily on 1st day ...quite hazardous underfoot with broken paving slabs and large puddles and it's not pedestrianised so dodging traffic as well

the santa croce church and the original david in the accademia..we managed to get there when the q was short ...made it worthwhile


after all that sightseeing we just meandered along visiting small towns..all seemed to be having a festival with wine tasting and local produce

the drive through chianti region was very scenic

we are now preparing to go into rome later this afternoon ....the weather has cooled down and there is a nice breeze

planning to be selective ..vatican visit a must and the roman ruins..also bone chapel..then hopefully tivoli ..then vesuvius


apart from 1 at venice we haven't seen another english van ..quite a few german m/homers and a couple of dutch and belgians


the internet at mcdonalds is apparently now only accessible with an italian sim card and they require id no's of passport /driving licence ..quite a palaver..so we may not be posting again for a while


after vesuvius we plan to visit pompeii,herculaneum,ostia and then head back north to sienna and round coast to france

crossing back on 1st nov..no doubt we will be feeling the cold by then!!

hope your holiday was good mr grumpy


it would be nice to hear from someone...we are feeling rather isolated now...




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Hi Berti,


So glad you are enjoying your wonderful trip ! I still wish we were there with you but somebody has to stay here I suppose ? (for now ;-) )


We have also found a lack of UK motorhomers on our travels in Europe - it can be great, as some of the "fulltimers" look pretty miserable when they tell you of their enviable lifestyle - usually sitting in a dusty car park; but it can also make you feel pretty isolated at times.


We are sitting here waiting for your next "instalment" so you are "never alone in a motorhome" !!!


Keep enjoying and updating us, when you can, as we can then enjoy your trip with you - perhaps some photos when you return and have more internet time?? B-)

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thanks catinou for your post...glad someone is enjoying our witterings !

we will have a go with some photos and costings on our return

can't believe we can still access this signal...no idea where it is coming from!

we have decided to make the most of this opportunity so have caught up with all the uk news (not missed much have we) and our emails , so we have adjusted our schedule slightly..that's the great thing about m/homing isn't it


our general comments on italy so far


a fantastic country with varied scenery and lots to see ( in fact it's hard to decide exactly what to see and what to miss out e.g we fancied going to assissi but realised it would be pushing it a bit....we stopped at perugia near the centre but it was so hot we decided to give it a miss and save all our energy for rome


the people seem quite reserved and don't make the first move to speak but generally respond to a bongourno

when we have been stuck they have been very helpful...we got hopelessly lost in a rural area and stopped to ask directions at a farm....the young man phoned his father who arrived in his car and escorted us via the twisting back roads to our destination about 7 miles away...he even complimented us on our standard of driving !!

we braved the complexities of the post office for 5 stamps..there was no machine for the purpose so we had to take a ticket for one of five different counters...of course we picked the wrong one and waited for ages while the assistant dealt with rubber stamping a vast amount of paperwork for an elderly man....at our turn we requested the 5 'francobolli' for postcards to england please (we had used the dictionary to concoct the phrase...she smiled sympathetically and escorted us to the correct desk (at the opposite end of the post office ) and told that assistant to let us jump a rather long queue

we asked for the correct pronunciation to be repeated to us for future reference and had a go ourselves...much to the amusement of the rest of the queue!!

we have noticed that the further south we have travelled the worse the roads have become..we aren't big fans of motorways and have been using the ss roads....we decided to try the free bit from perugia to rome and in our opinion the m/way was in a worse state than most of the side roads

we decided to exit before rome and found a lovely little place with some gipsy families camping...the ladies and children came over to talk to us and we had a conversation using lots of hand gestures,face pulling and smiles...they were from a small travelling fairground and were a very happy bunch...incidentally, all the caravans were brand new hobby and hymer... being towed by audi cars !! so they must be making plenty of money!!

also the supermarkets have becvome more expensive as we have travelled southward....co-op and spar seem to be the dearest...pennymarket and eurospin/mart are similar to lidls.....and lidl is definately the cheapest for everything....we haven't seen one aldi yet

the fruit and veg are really fresh , the eggs 99c for 10 medium at lidl have very yellow yolks and a firm white...made a great mushroom omelette yesterday...the meat and chicken are really tasty ..not like the rubbish we get in uk.... €6 for 4 nice plump chicken breasts...€8 for 2 decent pieces of steak .. lidl have been more accessible to us on our route

they also sell litre cartons of fresh milk for 69c the other stuff is 49c



trains are cheap,clean and seem to run on time,...buy a ticket by using the codes for destination and departure points which are displayed at the ticket machine....you can choose from a range of options...dead simple


fuel has been cheapest at agip stations...it's not sold at any supermarkets as in france...plenty of garages but ones selling gpl/autogas are a bit hit and miss....tend to get none for a while, then 4-5 so we have kept topped up

diesel varies €1.05 - 1.19

gpl varies 47c - 54c


never seen anywhere to buy a non-refillable gas bottle..so we were glad we splurged on the refillable one...we reckon we will recoup the outlay by the end of our 3 mth winter sojourn to france/portugal when we will be using the heating

we were warned about crazy italian driving but so far have only had one experience...a little old lady in an even older little car stopped dead in front of us while going round a roundabout and proceeded to reverse to the exit she must have missed...all without batting an eyelid !!!

i must practice that one !!

in fact the bad driving has come from us ....we have taken so many wrong turnings and had to do a quick lane change or hold the traffic up in order to do a turn ..we are now experts at shrugging our shoulders and rolling our eyes to heaven !!


so after composing this very long rambling post..which we have enjoyed doing immensely ..we will leave you to set off for rome







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Hi Berti,

We are currently in Spain 100mls north of Barcelona. The forum is a great way to keep in touch, I haved read your meanderings with great interest as I will be heading off to Italy in the spring to meet up with the Italian family who looked after my dad when he was an escaped POW. They live in Bracciano just north of Rome.

Will follow the rest of your story with interest - who knows you may even get an edited version lublished in a well known magazine

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Hi Berti,

Glad you are having fun. The 11 euros we spent to see Pompeii was the best value we had in Italy, great day out but the dog suffered with hot feet for two days. We are on a site in the Vendee near Chantonnay, spent 2 weeks here and it's so perfect we are staying a third. Next week we are off to Pons for a couple of days and to buy our wine before wending our way north via Brittany. Weather here not so hot, mid 70's, but the sun shines and the natives are friendly so all is right with the world. Keep on trucking and keep posting.


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  • 4 weeks later...

well, what a rollercoaster ride it has been for us

in 8 years of m/homing in this van , 2 yrs in a basic conversion and many years of biking /tenting nothing like it has ever happened to us

we have been pick -pocketed on the metro in rome, had an attempted theft of the van, with major damage to the side of the van !!! been surrounded by an illegal gipsy encampment , had our papers checked 5 times by the carabinieri, had a leak on the skylight which saturated the mattress and 2 leaks on the pipework to the bathroom & kitchen sinks ....plus lots of minor irritations too numerous to mention !!!

however, we are both ok in body...if not in mind/soul !!!

we arrived in france yesterday and now the laptop charger has packed up for some reason ....so this is just a quickie to update our readers ( who are no doubt thinking we are sunning ourselves with a glass of vino on the italian riviera !!!!! )

au revoir for now..will post more details when we are able

glad someone is having a good time mr grumpy...have a beer for us !!

this is our first contact with the outside world since our last post....

please, please , someone talk to us...



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Oh Bertie what a catalogue of events, a good job you are seasoned travellers and able to deal with these things, hope things get sorted out for you, I have enjoyed reading your travel and we have had a true rounded view warts and all or your journey, looking back remember the good things and thanks for the warning it stops us from getting to complaisant, and reminds us when we are on holiday the criminals are not. Carol.
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Guest JudgeMental

So sorry to hear that.....stay safe! Rome has always been notorious for crime, you really need your wits about you!


weather in alicante still 23 deg on 10 day forcast.........

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Just read your post Berti


Thanks very much for taking the time to post your journey, it has been very interesting to hear your tale.


I am sitting at work in my lunch hour, enjoying reading your log, with the feeling of longing growing at a very rapid rate.


Can I ask what sort of Motorhome you are in, and what is the name of the refillable gas (company) that you are using. Are filling stations widly available over their.


Have a kids meal on me !!!


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thanks everyone for the sympathetic posts...just what we needed

it's a shame you can't send a cup of tea as well !!

it's amazing just how much we humans need to communicate isn't it...you think that it won't bother you.. but after all this time we feel we could literally talk forever !!

and probably will !!

so..the next episode

our visit to rome

'all roads lead to rome'...

well eventually ....as we set off for our destination at 6pm and finally arrived at 11pm !!

going against advice to stay put and travel early the following morning around the ring-road ..i decided to ' approach from a different angle' and cut through the centre using the sat-nav facility......hmmm..

i figured that by the time we reached rome centre ( 9pm ish )the major traffic would have left town....apparently rome has a rush-hour permanently, it was still heaving at 11pm....

all was well until i couldn't follow the sat-nav directions due to diversions for the metro extension roadworks...by the time i had driven down all the side streets to get back to where i was supposed to be i was totally disorientated and comments of 'we have passed this place 6 times' were not conducive to a calm, tactical assessment of the sitauation !!

to say the air was blue is an understatement !!

anyway, we eventually parked on a bus terminus at 10pm and had something to eat and calmed down...made a decision to give it one more try or head back to our last evening stop....

fortunately, we made it through and were so relieved...i'm not a man who cries easily ...but i nearly did !!


we had based our sight-seeing itinerary around a visit to the vatican museum on sunday ..as it is free on the last sunday of the month...

unfortunately, so had half of italy !!

we left at 6am to get there early before the crowds....even at this early hour the transport systems were packed...and i felt a hand slide into my pocket..as i tried to turn around to see who it was , the hand withdrew..and i was staring at a sea of faces..anyone of whom could have been the culprit....i didn't have anything in my pockets so they were foiled this time ...

the trouble with rome's transport system is that it is based on trust...that you purchase a ticket before boarding and validate it , but only the metro requires the ticket to actually board, the trams and buses don't..it appears that many people don't buy tickets ...so it's free to be a thief !

there aren't many seats and everyone just crams in so you are trying to hold on to an overhead bar/strap for dear life and watch that you don't miss your stop...

unfortunately, the next attempt on my bumbag was successful (unbeknown to me at the time.....i never felt a thing..they even zipped it back up again !! )

we arrived at the museum at 7.15 to find the q stretched right the way round to st peter's square..about 1/2 kilometre..goodness knows what time they had arrived..so we abandoned that plan and went to see the church and carried on with our walking tour ...there really is something to see at every turn....we returned to the van at about 6pm totally exhausted ..so had a shower and some tea and collapsed into bed

as we had bought our transport tickets in advance and everything else was free entry it was the following morning before we discovered that we had been relieved of €90 !

this was pretty much the sightseeing budget so we had to revise our itinerary

we had taken the precaution of one of us carrying the cash and the other the card

so, looking on the bright side, it could have been worse if they had got the card..with all the palaver of cancelling it etc..


we stayed 5 days and apart from this we had a great time...it really is a fantastic place ...we just split it up into segments that we could cover on foot and carried on undeterred

we finally made the museum on tuesday .....arrived 7.30 and were 10th in the q

but opening was delayed for 1/2 hour to allow the richer folks who had paid for a guide in first !!

but we got talking to a german couple and a japanese man and the time passed quickly enough with good humour and tales of misadventures on travels !

it really is well worth the money....in fact we made sure we got full value by going round again...we were allowed to use a lift for the disabled to get back to the raphael rooms....we remembered to take some binoculars with us and there is seating around the edge of the sistine chapel so we were able to see the vision in close up...mere words don't do it justice...apparently, the pope uses it for private prayer...that must be a heck of an experience...and i'm not a very spiritual person


anyway,i am getting a bit hungry now,, so am off to l'eclerc for a baguette so will continue with our saga at our next mcdonalds stop..

we are at brignoles..heading for the aire at carpentras for tonight..it is absolutely chucking it down...i hope my skylight repair with duck-tape holds out !


we really appreciate your feedback...hope we aren't boring you


mike202..don't let our misadventures put you off.. that will be a lovely experience to meet the folks who looked after your dad..all the local people have been so helpful and kind to us when we have been in difficulty


battery is going ..

so cheers for now











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hi everyone

we are at valreas heading north to see the folly at hauterives

the duck-tape didn't do the trick last night as the rain was very heavy

arrived at carpentras 6.00 and only 1 parking place and the dump..needless to say the parking was occupied so we drove around but no luck and getting tired so went back and parked on car area..maybe one to avoid in future

the leak on skylight over fixed bed was getting worse so put a bucket/bin bags on the mattress and thought 'we will have to sleep on the overcab bed '...


in an effort to shed some weight we had left the mattress and ladder at home as we never ever use it !!!!

so we had the sounds of heavy rainfall right above our heads, the drip/drip in the bucket and our old bones were aching with no padding under us !!


rome to naples...the next episode

having read somewhere that there is parking on mt vesuvius we departed rome but enroute made an unplanned detour to monte cassino abbey...i was fed up with sightseeing and fancied a bit of a challenging drive...the ascent wasn't a problem ( my motto being..if a bus can do it so can i )

although the abbey is free, parking for m/homes is €8..2€ for car..€15 for coaches..bit of a rip-off for us we thought

as we pulled up 3 coaches pulled in, full of very dressed up folk and men in some uniforms..not the usual attire for tourists!!

so we followed them in and it was an ordination service for some new priests and these people were family,friends and top brass..so we weren't allowed to walk around or take photos until it was over ...almost 2 hours !!

however, the long-winded ceremony included some wonderful singing from the choir....

as we had paid the €8 we decided to stick it out and afterwards the cardinal and priests opened up a side room and all the guests went inside ...crikey ....it was really sumptuous..tv cameras were covering the event so we may have popped up on italian tv !!

the church is covered in really ornate inlaid marble panels...all faithful copies of the originals which were blitzed to smithereens in the war..and the crypt underneath the altar was quite something ..covered in gold mosaics

leaving the church at 1pm we went to see the polish cemetary..lots of coach parties from poland there...they travel with their priest who conducts a mass at the altar in the centre...quite a moving experience..

so all this and a late lunch left us behind schedule somewhat but we had seen an area de sosta quite near to vesuvius...so thought we would head for there and visit vesuvius the following morning


what a disaster !!


sorry to keep you in suspenders but the battery is getting low now

so will have to leave it for our next post


caroline...we are in a hymer...we looked in the van for some details of the gas but haven't brought the info with us....will put a separate post on it when we get home or can pm you...we bought it at pickering show

it has been a life-saver..bottles not readily available in italy but lots of gpl


lo and behold... the sun is shining now so we press on


cheers for now



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