Sunday 18 to Saturday 31 March 2012, Algecirus, Spain to Den Haag, Holland

The weather started out warm but the further north we traveled the colder it became. South of Madrid there was sleet and snow. However it improved rapidly and we spent the night in a campground for a shower and to wash the clothes that had been soaking for days. These were left outside on the line. I figured they would be much drier in the morning and easier to manage in the car. We woke to thick snow everywhere! So much for dry clothes. I managed to drape them inside out of Pieter's rear view. Just takes some imaginative thinking.

Bilbao Guggenheim Museum was as fantastic as I expected. Not the paintings so much as theArchitecture. It was designed by Frank O Gehry and built in 1997. One end is pierced through by the Puente de la Salve bridge, one of the main access routes into the city. It is a fantastic structure of glass, titanium and sandstone with a variety of interconnecting spaces. I have seen a documentary on it but it is best appreciated by actually visiting the building.

Near Bilbao we met Andre and Judith Hemelryk and their two daughters. They have been living in two gypsey caravans for 12 years. The girls have been home educated but soon they will settle in France to allow the girls to attend normal school.

Visiting Mado and Jean-Paul in France was a delight. We origionally met them in Jordan in March 2007. They are currently preparing to travel through South America, starting in July.

Finally we arrived in Holland. 3000k in 13 days is something of a record for us.

Gibralter      Washing hanging in the snow       Gugenheim Museum       Gugenheim Museum       Horse power homes

Sunday 1 April to Thursday 3 May 2012, Holland Harjet's 75th birthday

First step was to apply for Pieter's new passport. With Easter in between, this took 2 weeks and allowed us to go north to visit Harjet and Kees in Groningen. The Kazakhstan and Russian visa took over 2 weeks. Then there was my Ukraine visum. This time we paid for an express service, just so we could get going.

The weather was typical for Holland. It could be very cold, wet, windy and hot all in one day. Queens Day was beautiful. We took out the chairs and enjoyed the sun. We found two stops on the highway where we could stay for days along with many trucks. We had coffee and croisant for breakfast in the nearby hotel while using the free daily hour of internet allowed. Occasionally we went into campgrounds to clean up. Even so Europe is expensive. Of course it doesn't help when we buy lots of gevolde koek and stroop waffel. I can't resist either, they are so delicious.

Unfortunately my PC caught a virus from an unsecured internet connection. The hard drive had to be reformatted and all thesoftware reloaded - in Dutch! They did sort out the operating system but word and excel are in Dutch and can't be changed without reinstallation. It took a while for me to work out how to get English software from the Internet since we are in Holland and the default on the PC is permanently set to Dutch. Replacing the software took a lot of time. Worst of all I can no longer use Microsoft FrontPage for the website. It became defunct years ago but was easy to use although without all the modern bells and whistles. It was compatable with the English version of Windows 7 but not with the Dutch version. This meant finding an alternative. I am now teaching myself HTML because all the free packages require that knowledge. Easy I know, especially for an ex programmer, but what a pain.

Friday 4 to Monday 7 May 2012, Germany

The highlight of our drive through Germany was Berlin. We spent an afternoon on a bus tour through the city. All the embassies were pointed out. They seem to be competing with each other for design. The other focus of the tour was various aspects of World War ll such as Checkpoint Charlie, remnants of the wall, the Holocaust memorial and Brandenburg Gate.

     Brandenburg Gate      Victory Monument       Remnant of the Wall       The old, the modern, the future

Tuesday 8 to Monday 14 May 2012, Poland

Poland is very rural. Lovely green small hills. There seems to be a lot of business in wooden pallets and second hand cars.Wroclaw seems to be a lovely city -maybe we can see it next time. We spent a day in a camp ground sorting out the usual chores and trying out our new cook tent purchased in Berlin. It is very small but Pieter can cook inside out of the wind and rain. At least we could find a place to store it after throwing out some things we have not used in the past year. Time is running out so we moved on only to be brought up short in Katowice. The timing belt needed attention. This is a big job. It took a full day AFTER the belt had arrived. At least it went smoothly and we could leave soon after lunch. While waiting for the belt to arrive on Monday we camped on their property. There was a toilet available during the night and a shower during the working day. What more could we ask?

We now have very little time to get to Kazakhstan by 24 May. OOPS! I screwed up our timing badly.

Tuesday 15 to Thursday 17 May 2012, Ukraine

Three days in Ukraine is no time at all. We just drove about 400k per day to make sure we arrived on time. We camped in forests with lots of VERY friendly mosquitoes. The undulating landscape is covered in new crops interspersed with many forests. There are no fences and the large fields have borders of trees which makes camping easy.

Quite a few houses have large veggie patches. Horse and carts are still used for transport, small herds of cows are looked after by herders and the road side grass is cut with a scythe as in third world countries. There is however quite a lot of building going on. Especially on churches. The long distance buses seem to be in good condition. Vodka is sold in service stations. Perhaps they don't need a liquor license! And the weather was warm with lovely sunny days - finally.

           Ukraine houses      The long road      Camping in a forest      Ukranian Church

Friday 18 to Wednesday 23 May 2012, Russia

6 days and we made it with time to spare. After travelling fast all day on good roads we were able to slow down when the rodas deteriorated past Borisoglebsk. We also needed the shorter days as we were becoming tired. One such day we stopped early and I sat outside enjoying the sun. There were lots of little flying insects but they didn't bite or so I thought. Next morning I was scratchingeverywhere. They had gone under my clothes, into my hair and had a lovely chow on my ears. I wont trust little insects agian, thatsfor sure.

We also treated ourselves to lunch in a restaurant. The first was a soup with lots of veggies and meat. The second time there wasvery little communication as there were no other diners so we could not point to a dish. We ended up with soup again followed by a large pork chop and raw onions. It was a very satisfying meal. Many cafes have proper coffee machines and we enjoyed some good cups of coffee. The croisants are to be avoided though, a bit doughy or very dry and crispy.

The landscape is flat and cultivated. Forest are rare but there are still road and field borders of trees. We usually camped behindthe trees on the edge of a field.

The last 3 days we could take it very slowly. I had set our exit from Russia and entry into Kazakhstan for the same day.We couldn't go through the border early. In Saratov we did some essential shoppping, had the nail in a tyre removed and the hole plugged. Pieter also bought a Russian made air rifle. He had to leave the Gammo in South Africa as he had no space to bring it with him. He misses shooting at targets. He is very good. He can hit a bottle top at about 40 meter. A distance where I can't even see it.

The border crossing into Kazakhstan was tedious. It took the Russians a long time to sort out our passports, much longer than for Kazakhs or Russians. Must be the Roman characters. Kazakhstan was just long. But we made it on time!

          Russian Church           Camping in a field           Some insects love bacon and egg

Average costs Euro Back to Morocco Next to Kazakhstan
per litre diesel 1.50     in Russia 0.70
Camping per night 13.60 Europe Menu
Kilometers travelled 8,867
Days 67 Home