Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200107 France Italy Austria Hungary

Sunday 1 July 2001  28 years since we first met.  Linger at the club with another clamber down to savour the delights of the clear cool water.  St Croix is very close on the map but by the time we have made a couple of unscheduled scenic detours (including one through a village where motorhomes are banned) we cover 29 miles. This brings us in across the bridge by the dam which creates Lake St Croix.  Graham and Anne are already parked up waiting for us.  We last saw them 2 1/2 years ago in Spain so there is lot of catching up to do.  The motorhome parking is in a prime spot just above the lake with fabulous views from the terrace.  There’s a cold shower, toilet, sinks and dumping facilities.  Set up our tables by the rosemary hedge on the terrace for a meal with a view followed by cards until midnight.
ST CROIX – 29 MILES
[30F (£3.00) night]
Monday 2 July  Just down the hill from the village is a parking area by a park which adjoins a pebble beach.  Settle in for the day with frequent cooling dips in the lake.  Entertainment comes in the form of a "Canadair" plane which is training by swooping down onto the lake to pick up water then dropping in on take off.  These planes are leased from the Canadians and used to fight forest fires. Return to the terrace for another evening meal in the superb terrace "restaurant". 
ST CROIX
Tuesday 3 July  No one has called to collect the fees which would probably mean you could stay longer than the designated 48 hours. It’s a fabulous spot but there’s lots more to see and do in this area.  Up on the plateau we stop in Riez from some shopping and a coffee in a typical French bar in the square.  There are scant roman remains here but more impressive is nearby Moustiers Ste Marie.  Built into a hill side ravine a bridge spans the river over a thundering waterfall which splits the village in two.  Quaint streets with open wash houses and old houses with outdoor loos which hang over the river.  At the top of the ravine a chain spans the gap with a huge star hanging in the middle.  Dropping back down to the eastern end of Lac St Croix we stop to take a ride on a pedalo.  150F (£15.00) for 4 people over 2 hours.  This is the point where you can go under the Galetas Bridge and into the canyon.  Steep walls hem us in with interesting rock formations and caves.  A pretty waterfall makes for a bracing shower underneath.  Manage to pedal about 4 km into the gorge before turning back.  The place is full of pedaloes, kayaks and electric boats and it’s all great fun.  The nearby village of Les Salles Sur Verdon was built when the original village was flooded to create the lake.  Special motorhome parking is available and this time not only does someone come round to collect the money but he keeps calling round until after 11.00pm to make sure he catches everyone.
LES SALLES SUR VERDON – 27 MILES
[40F (£4.00) night]
Wednesday 4 July  Drive along the southern rim of the "Grand Canyon" part of the Gorges du Verdon.  The scenery is stunning and I hang with my head out of the window looking straight down into the gorge which at times is 700m deep.  The road is narrow and twisting and it’s a scary ride.  There are lots of scenic look outs and we see the pedaloes where we were yesterday. The route is known as the Corniche Sublime and has landmarks such as the Pont de l’Artuby (the highest bridge in Europe) and the Balcons de la Mescla where you can see down into the gorge where the river does a "U" turn. Reckon this could just be our favourite part of France.  Beyond the end of the Grand Canyon we head back along the northern rim a short way to the Carajuan Bridge which is a great swimming spot.  Unable to park the motorhomes we settle onto the municipal campsite nearby.  A short stroll along the river takes us back to the bridge where it’s great fun to jump in up stream and let the current take you for a ride in the crystal clear cooling green waters, just fabulous.
CAMPING MUNICIPAL DE CARAJUAN – 35 MILES
[60F (£6) + 15F (£1.50) electric]
Thursday 5 July  Castellane is the end of the spectacular area of the gorge itself dominated by a huge rock with a church on top.  Just North of the town is the Lac de Castillon where we are heading for a naturist club.  Graham & Ann are game enough to join us or their first visit. Drive up a steep and winding road to climb over the hill on the west side of the lake.  We are suddenly confronted by some enormous statues on the hillside one of which looks like a Buddha.  The club Castillon de Provence is situated on a hill side with access for nude bathing in the lake. Settle ourselves in with Ann & Graham soon stripped off and ready for the 20 minute walk to the lake.  More like a good half hour and not the easiest of walks but the lake is pleasant to cool down in despite twig debris in the water.  It’s takes much more than 30 minutes to clamber back to the van and as there is no swimming pool on site we would not choose to return here.  Make the most of the water supply to give the motorhome a good wash.
CASTILLON DE PROVENCE – 16 MILES
[72F (£7.20) night plus 14F (£1.40) electric]
Friday 6 July  After a short rain spell around 7.00am we go outside to find the vehicles covered in a yellow sandy dust, typical when I cleaned the van for the first time this trip yesterday.  Check out the area with the big statues.  It’s the Holy City of Mandarom Shambhasalem and the World Headquarters of Aumism which is a unison of all religions in a true spirit of tolerance and fraternity.  "Aum" is the humming sound make during meditation.  Sadly it is closed until mid afternoon but a young "monk" hands us an information leaflet and through the entrance gate we can see the 6 main religious symbols – a 33m Cosmo-Planetary Messiah, 21m Cosmic Christ, 22m Adi Buddha Maitreya plus the temple of Kalki a golden temple and the Mosque of the Imam Mahdi.  The River Verdon is in evidence again once we have driven round the eastern shore of Lake Castillon and we follow it.  We start to climb as we are now in the Alpine region and an area of winter ski resorts.  Pause for our picnic lunch in Colmars which is an attractive fortified town.  A little further north Allos has motorhome parking by the River Verdon and at the bottom of a cable car.  4F (40p) takes you up to the ski resort of Le Seignus from where we have good views around the valley with Alpine Chalets and still some snow on the mountain tops.  In season ski lifts take you much further up the Alps.  The ride down is free and we still have time for our afternoon siestas before an evening BBQ.          
ALLOS – 39 MILES
Saturday 7 July  We take the lead over the Allos Pass at 2250m.  Not only do we have the usual hairpin bends to contend with but most of the time the road is so narrow the cars have to move into special passing places to allow us through.  Lots of ski lifts connect the towns in this area and high up there is still a little snow on the peaks.  We are amazed by the number of cyclists going over the pass, reckon they are crazier than us.  Barcelonnette proves difficult for parking as the market has taken over the main car park.  Settle out of town on a sports centre car park.  There is a noticeable Mexican influence here from when many of the towns folk emigrated there to find their fortunes.  Spend half an hour at the Internet cafe 30F (£3.00) catching up just in case it’s even more expensive or difficult in Italy or Hungary.  Ann & Graham want to catch the church service at 6.30pm so we opt for a mid afternoon meal which is accompanied by much wine as it is our Last Supper together.  When they return we burn the midnight oil playing cards and drinking.
BARCELONETTE – 25 MILES
Sunday 8 July  After 1 week, 142 miles, lots of games of cards, shared meals, drink and good company it’s time to go our different ways.  They are having 2 months in France before returning to their mobile home in Frejus and we are heading towards Hungary.  Just a few km’s down the road we stop in Jausiers where the church bells echo round the valley and we attempt to spend our last few francs.  By the time we return to France next year they will no longer accept them as they are changing straight to Euros.   Lots of nice free camping spots by the river before we head up the Larche Pass.  The summit at 1994m marks the border into ITALY and we reach it at 10.00am.  There’s just a shop and restaurant here so we are very surprised to find dozens of cars and camper vans parked.  Reading a board we learn that it is a big walking area with tracks to any one of 5 peaks. Even more cyclists seem to be on the road racing up the steep hairpins and often continuing to the peaks.  This area is known as the Parco Naturale dell’Argentera-Valle Gesso and wild flowers abound, there’s also a small pool where people fish.  Our mobile immediately tunes into an Italian Network.  Continuing down the pass in Italy we spot even more motorhomes tucked away free camping by the river.  Not sure what the exchange rate is but it should be just over 3100 Italian Lire = £1, confusing as the sign for Lire is £ but I shall use L.  Vinadio makes for a quick stop and stroll around the ancient fort then a withdrawal of cash from the ATM or not, it won’t accept our cards and we have to drive on to use the one in Demonte.  Once we drop down into the valley at Cuneo the traffic lessens and we make good progress to Asti.  It was our intended night stop but the parking is in the main square with roads all around.  Towns in Italy are very quiet on Sundays but we can imagine being woken very early tomorrow.  Notice a sign showing the temperature at 34C and we’d love to find a parking spot by some water but nothing comes up.  Negotiate through the centre of Alessandria and onto Voghera where the car park should be a little quieter.  Not much chance of overnighting in the lay bys as the prostitutes have chosen all the best ones.  Music filters our way at 9.00pm and Steve goes out and reports of a dance in the park opposite with older people waltzing round to an organist and singer. Mom & Dad would have loved it.  At least it is not an all night disco and the music stops at midnight.
[France Diesel 5.08F – 6.18F LPG 3.20F – 3.57F]
VOGHERA – 165 MILES
Monday 9 July .  Lidl turns out to be closed on Monday mornings so we continue passing under a sign proclaiming the 45th parallel.   It’s confusing in Italy as the road signs for motorways are in Green (mainly with tolls) and other main roads are Blue which is the opposite of England.  Near Pavia we cross a very long impressive old iron bridge over the River Po.  There’s a naturist beach on an island near here but either we can’t figure out how to get to it or they lay on boats at the weekends.  Park at the Lorry Park on the outskirts of Mantova but after lunch and a siesta we are unsettled.  Steve goes out for a walk and finds us a much nicer parking spot on the edge of Lake Superior.  A family of swans are nearby and we watch the babies taking to the water.  There’s a beautiful sunset over the lake and then fishermen arrive.  We chat to them and later one knocks on the door to show us an enormous catfish which he has caught.  It must be over 2 feet long with a mouth that looks as big as a side plate.  Glad I didn’t take a swim earlier on.  Next point of interest is a fireworks display in the town which we can see across the lake.  What a lucky find this spot was.
MANTOVA – 110 MILES
Tuesday 10 July  We spent a night in Mantova in 1993 but the kids were with us and wouldn’t have enjoyed tramping round the city.  Steve is somewhat easier to persuade when he finds that Palazzo Te has erotic paintings on the ceilings and walls.  It’s easy to find parking and L12000 (£4) gets us in with each room having a hand-written leaflet in English.  Some of the paintings are very unusual with ceiling pictures done as if you were looking from the ground upwards and therefore getting a splendid view of bottoms.  The hall of giants is also good with figures fighting and columns collapsing around them.  Move to a car park nearer the old town then walk in to view the main highlights.  It’s strange to notice that people are now visiting cathedrals and churches wearing skimpy tops and shorts.  I will never forget how in the late 60’s Mum, Netty and myself made a spectacle of ourselves just walking around Venice dressed like that.  Anyway the cathedral is famous as it contains a cask with some of Christ’s blood but apart from that is pretty ordinary.  It’s a pleasant town with the usual array of interesting buildings and squares.  Most shops in Italy still close from 12.30pm until at least 3.00pm but we are lucky to find a book shop open to buy a map book of Italy then a free camping guide from a magazine stall.  The town is surrounded by 3 lakes and very humid so we retire into an air conditioned restaurant for lunch.  The pizza’s are still as huge and wonderful as ever and Steve enjoys pasta.  Prices don’t seem to have increased much with pizza and pasta starting at L7000 (£2.35) but can’t remember if they always added L2500 (75p) a head to the bill for service (at least it includes bread and grissini).  Heading towards Padova we pass through Montagnana with impressive town walls.  With difficulty we find the motorhome parking in Padova near Prato della Valle which is a super spot.  An old arena has been demolished and a garden created in the area surrounded by a moat.  Bridges cross the water and dozens of statues stand around both sides of the moat. The Basilica di San Antonio contains the remains of Saint Anthony and has become an area of pilgrimage.  The square outside is full of stalls selling tacky religious souvenirs. It’s an impressive building with lots of cloisters.  Pilgrims file past the tomb and touch the marble, some hoping for miracle cures which others have found according to the tributes posted nearby.  The university area is packed and we can’t quite make out what is happening with the students.  Lots of joke erotic posters are displayed and many students are dressed up and being forced to run the gauntlet whilst others slap them hard on the back.  All in all it looks like a good excuse for a piss up so it may be the end of the student year.  Pass a few more interesting buildings and squares before returning somewhat footsore.  After dark we return to Prato della Valle and are amazed to find the perimeter awash with people on in line skates.  A stall nearby rents them out and it’s just like a busy ice rink with people tearing round past the floodlit statues.
PADOVA – 78 MILES  . 
[L8000 (£2.30) from 8am – 8pm with overnight free]
Wednesday 11 July  Up and away before 8.00am which is not difficult as we haven’t slept much.  There were lots of noisy cars and motorbikes through the night, a nearby clock chiming the hours and then the early morning "reveille" from the army camp.  Travel beside the Brenta canal which we did with Sandra 4 years ago.  It’s still very attractive but the mansions are looking even more neglected.  Successfully make our way around Venice then out to the coast near Jesolo but a little further East.  Eraclea Mare is like a scaled down version of Jesolo less than 5km’s away.  Park and make the typical Italian walk to the beach through pine forest.  Emerge onto a classic beach with bodies everywhere, areas roped off for you to pay for chairs and umbrellas, lots of inflatables in the water plus a few crabs, just as I remember it.  My air bed is put to good use as I enjoy paddling out between the breakwaters then drifting back in and Steve enjoys some peace and quiet back on the beach.  There’s an evening street market but prior to it starting we are entertained watching the tow trucks removing illegally parked vehicles.  Double check that we are OK and settle in for the night.
ERACLEA MERE – 56 MILES
Thursday 12 June  A dull and cooler day but not as cold as the Italians are making out dressed in jumpers and coats.  Heading for Austria we cross the wide dried up river bed of the Tagliamento.  It starts to drizzle so we keep going crossing into AUSTRIA at 3.30pm.  Approx. 21 ATS (Austrian Shillings) = £1.  Our guide books says there is LPG available in Villach but after spending over 1/2 hour in traffic we find the garage no longer sells it.  Lake Worther See is heaving with tourists and the traffic crawls slowly along the narrow roads.  Get lost trying and failing to find LPG in Klagenfurt but we are helped by a kind motorbike rider who escorts us out.  We then waste even more time at roadwork’s over a bridge and give up trying to make Graz before nightfall.  Make do with a lay by in Twimberg.
TWIMBERG – 193 MILES
Friday 13 July  Due to the noisy traffic we make an unplanned early start at 7.30am.  Dozens of sawmills line the route with a staggering number of log piles.  Well over half an hour later we realise we are on the wrong road but with the absence of signs we had no way of knowing.  To use motorways in Austria you have to buy a Vignette for a minimum of 10 days so we haven’t bothered.  Our problem now is that they have up graded some dual carriageways and you cannot use them without the pass and the main road out of the town we are now in is one of them.  This leave us with a huge detour to get to Graz made worse by us getting lost again on more than one occasion.  Receive duff information from the tourist offices when we eventually manage to find them and that is if they are not of the open just one morning a week variety.  Road signs in Austria are either non existent, inconsistent or of the disappearing variety which means we twice end up on the motorway risking a huge fine.  In future we shall buy the Vignette even for a short visit.  Strike it lucky in Graz where we buy the LPG at what is now the only garage selling it in the whole of Austria. The Park & Ride car park charges a very reasonable 35 ATS (£1.70) for 24 hours and it’s a short walk to the centre of the town.  People seem friendly with shopkeepers always looking up and greeting you with a cheery "Gruss Gott".  The sun is shining and we enjoy seeing the sights of the town being immediately reminded that the typical churches in Austria have extremely ostentatious baroque interiors.  Prices for most things seem reasonable and we are beginning to like Austria again despite propaganda leaflets asking tourists not to visit whilst the "national front" is in power.  Heading towards Hungary we find the back entrance to the motorway service area and settle on the car park for the night.
[Austria Diesel 9.95 ATS – 11.40 ATS. LPG 8.30 ATS]
GLEISDORF SERVICES – 123 MILES
Saturday 14 July  After a brief passport check we emerge into HUNGARY and immediately spot a garage selling LPG cheaper than Austria.  So Austria doesn’t have it in the places the book says but Hungary has it in places not shown in the book, maybe it’s time to buy a new book.  Although the main language is Hungarian most people speak German and many also English.   The change bureau is offering 350 (HUF) Hungarian Florints = £1 but they are known to give a poor rate of exchange so we stop in the first town and use the ATM.  The road signs are good and with no mistakes we drive straight to Heviz which has the largest thermal lake in Europe.  The tourist office fix me up with a map, phone card, stamps and information brochures and as soon as we leave town we see signs to the Angela Farm naturist campsite at Nemesbuk.  It’s a small site and we pitch near the swimming pool with a view over the valley.  Enjoy a lovely relaxing afternoon then make use of Angela’s washing machine on offer for 600 HUF (£1.70) a load.  We’re on the edge of the village and take a stroll to find the shop.  Miss it first time round as it is up a side street in a garage behind a house with just an advertising poster at the end of the drive.  Bread, fruit and vegetables seem cheap and most things you may need are stocked.  After dark the pool is floodlit and as it is a hot evening temptation gets the better of us.  Dutch Henk is in the pool and after our swim he and his wife Klare join us for a drink.
ANGELA FARM, NEMESBUK – 91 MILES  .
[ 2565 HUF (£7.30) plus 540 HUF (£1.50) electric with a 10% discount for the naturist card, 20% out of season and a further 20% for stays of 30 days.] 
[Compulsory to drive with headlights on at all times in Hungary]
Sunday 15 July   Another hot day which is perfect for making good use of the swimming pool.  Unfortunately it also attracts the wasps and I manage to get stung when I stand on one. 
ANGELA FARM
Monday 16 July   My foot is in bad shape with what started as red spots now becoming a large area of swollen blood blister.  I struggle to put weight on it and only just manage the occasional hobble to the pool.  Angela’s husband comes over to say he is a Doctor and offers help.  He looks at it and gets a second opinion from his visiting son in law who is a Gynaecologist! and his wife (Angela’s daughter) who is also a GP.  It seems I picked a good place to be ill as it’s not everywhere you have 3 doctors for a house call.  They seem to think the poison is spreading and it is infected and needs antibiotics.  Angela’s husband writes a prescription and the son in law offers to collect it when he goes out.  They won’t accept anything for consultation or collecting the tablets which are very expensive with 5 antibiotic capsules costing 4225 HUF (£12).  Eat typical Hungarian goulash at the campsite restaurant and finish just before the thunder and lightening brings a heavy rain storm.
ANGELA FARM
Tuesday 17 July  Although no better at least the red bloody area under the skin of my foot has stopped spreading.  My foot is swollen and I have to hobble in Steve’s shoes when we call at the Penny Mart grocery shop.  Hoped (or should I say hopped) to look around the famous palace in Keszthely but it’s pouring with rain and we can’t park anywhere near it so give up.  After lunch in a lay by we see a German family with problems and end up giving the parents and two young children a lift to the next town with a garage. Henk & Klare have invited us to visit them at their summer home in a typical Hungarian country village.  Notice a change in the type of properties once we turn off the main road.  Most houses are close together and built side ways on to the road.  They have big windows on their front but only small high windows at the back to give the neighbours privacy.  They have a small garden in front of the houses and a large piece of land continuing to the side.  Henk & Klare’s house is of this design. We’re amazed that in their tiny village of Ibafa the village hall offer Internet for just 100 HUF (28p) an hour so I don’t waste any time in making good use of it.  After a lovely meal which Henk has cooked we settle down to watch the last episode of Inspector Morse which they taped in Holland.  Fortunately it is in English with Dutch sub titles.
IBAFA – 87 MILES
Wednesday 18 July  Enjoy and egg and bacon breakfast sat out on the terrace.  Henk sends us off with a bag full of "Morse" and "Prime Suspect" videos telling us it is their way of guaranteeing a return visit from us.  Plenty of LPG available which is frustrating after our panic in Austria.  In fact it looks like Hungary are putting it into more and more fuel stations.  In Pec we stop for shopping at the huge Tesco hypermarket.  Most big cities in Hungary now seem to have a Tesco which is something we didn’t notice when we were here 4 years ago.  The bank inside shows the exchange rate of just over 400 HUF = £1 which makes things even cheaper.  There are two naturist clubs in Mohac and to visit the first we have to cross the River Danube on a ferry 770 HUF (£1.95).  We get hopelessly lost down single track country lanes and stuck behind a combine harvester.  Just about to give up when a man says he knows where it is and we are to follow him and his son who are on a motorbike.  The track is poor and when we reach an area where you have to drive down a steep slope then through a huge puddle we say we will give up.  The man says we are nearly there and if we drive slowly we will have no problem.  Steve says he will walk first to look but the man is most insistent that we continue in the van.  They drive ahead quickly leaving us to get well and truly bogged.  With mud flying everywhere Steve somehow manages to get us out by quickly changing from forward to reverse.  The van is filthy but no damage seems to have been done.  Despite our noisy engine revving the man and his son do not come back to look for us.  Something seems a bit fishy so we quickly get ourselves out and back to the main road and the ferry.  The next club "Arena Camping" appears to be no longer naturist.  Fortunately we know that the one we previously visited in Szeged definitely still is so after a very late lunch stop we continue.  With great relief we reach Siksofurdo near Kiskundorozsma.  Little has changed including the price.  It’s very busy with most sites booked for the sports week which starts on Saturday but we soon find a nice spot at the end of a row. 
SZEGED – 167 MILES
[16/6 – 30/8 950 HUF (£2.40) motorhome, 600 HUF (£1.50) adult, 400 HUF (£1) electric .Stay 7 nights then 1 free with INF card.  300 HUF (75p) tax per day avoidable if no bill required.]
Thursday 19 July  After a peaceful night we wake to glorious sunshine.  My foot is much better so we explore around the lake where you can also camp at the far side but with no facilities other than electric.  Food and drink are still cheap at the bar and we reckon we could easily settle in here for a good few weeks.  It’s easy to get into the lake from the grassy bank and the lake bottom is sandy.  The air bed gets some stick with us making frequent visits to cool off although the water is quite warm.     
SZEGED 2
Friday 20 July   A hot but windy day.  At the nearby textile camp site there is a truck show tomorrow and from early evening they are obviously arriving and announcing themselves by blasting their horns.
SZEGED 3
Saturday 21 July  A cooler and cloudy day so we take a look at the truck show.  Two at a time they take part in a obstacle course but nothing very riveting.  Most of the trucks are plain and uninteresting with just a couple of the big American style decorated ones.  The textile campsite Country & Western evening blasts out music until after midnight when we can then hear the disco thumping away until daylight.
SZEGED 4
Sunday 22 July  A day of alternating rain and drizzle which is a shame as there is Jet Ski racing on the lake.  Thank goodness for the Inspector Morse tapes.
SZEGED 5
Monday 23 July  A dull cool day but at least the rain stops in the afternoon and gives us chance to sit out and eat our evening meal.  Receive a text message from Claire to say Daniel has cut his head and gone to hospital.  Phone up and find that whilst playing around he fell and hit his head on the radiator.  Fortunately a later message says he is OK and has had the cut glued and received a Bob the Builder certificate for being brave.
SZEGED 6
Tuesday 24 July  More rain and more Morse.  Seem to remember that when we were here 4 years ago we had a fair amount of rain.  At least August is known to be a good month with temperatures of 40C last year – roll on August.
SZEGED 7
Wednesday 25 July  American Ricky whom we met here last time arrives – along with better weather. 
SZEGED 8
Thursday 26 July  Start with a nice morning and finally sports week which should have started on Monday.  Steve enters and gets through to the next round of the pool competition.  A Hungarian girl called Anna who is 5 attaches herself to me.  She speaks no English which is about the same as my Hungarian but she soon learns to count in English and chatters away to me even though I can’t reply.  Rain stops play in the afternoon but things brighten up in the evening when Ricky drives us into Szeged.  It’s a lovely city with Neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau buildings erected after the great flood of 1879.  Eat at the Csirke Etterem (Bocskai u. 3b)  which serves very good traditional Hungarian food at reasonable prices.   Although in the "Lets Go Guide" it is down a back street and still seems unspoilt with prices little more than in our 1996 book.  Find a 24 hour Internet cafe with fast computers for only 5 HUF a minute (75p hour).  Before leaving town we are buzzed by an old plane which is crop spraying and seems to almost fly down the streets between the buildings.
SZEGED 9
Friday 27 July  More sports with Steve getting through another round of pool and lots of children’s games.  I should re phrase that as Steve doesn’t do the children’s games.  Plenty of time for cooling swims in the lake and sunbathing.  Back into the city with Ricky to Roosevelt teri Halaszcsarda restaurant in a square by the river.  Good atmosphere with a live music and a violinist playing at the tables but prices have obviously increased since they were mentioned in the "Lets Go Guide".  We all share 2 portions of the famous "halaszle" spicy fish soup which is excellent and filling.  Follow this up with an ice cream from the shop which also sells cakes at around 100 HUF (25p) each.  Too full to eat cakes and ice cream we get a tray of cakes for tomorrow.  Szeged Plaza is a typical out of town mall and includes a cinema and bowling lanes.  There are four lanes and they charge 2500 HUF (£6.25) per lane for an hour including shoe hire.  Steve bowls a good 157 and 175 whilst I struggle to get 112 and 126 but don’t feel too bad against Ricky’s 136 and 113.    However he hasn’t bowled for 8 years and I don’t have that excuse.
SZEGED 10
Saturday 28 July  A very hot day and we hear on the news that it is 30C in England so Europe must be having a heat wave.  The site is heaving with all the pitches taken and people camping on any available spot and numbers swollen by many day visitors.  More sports with one of the funniest competitions being the body painting.  Four sisters end up as the "Telly Tubbies" and there are some excellent entrants.  After the judging 3 Dutch men appear as "The Swamp People"  They are coated in mud from the lake with weeds and foliage strewn over them and a sign saying "made in Hungary" on the front of Jack.  What a laugh.  Steve wins the pool competition which is rather better than he fared in the beer drinking.  He just doesn’t seem to have the knack of drinking through a teat.  The crop spraying plane comes over the campsite and it’s first run takes him directly above our motorhome which should make for a good picture.  Whilst playing backgammon Anna comes and joins us and throws the dice for me.  Hope she doesn’t have a passport or we could be landed with her when we leave the country!  The evening disco commences predominated by the thump thump of Hungarian "rave" music which all sounds the same.  The dance floor is the lawn beside the lake and we do partake to one or two songs we recognise.  Retire after 1.00am with the music still in full flow for many hours.
SZEGED 11
Sunday 29 July  By 9.00am we are sweltering and grateful of any breeze we can catch to relieve the heat.  The site is packed again and today they are awarding the competition prizes.  "Stiff Svatman" receives his pool certificate and a T-shirt which says "Feels Like Paradise – Sziksosfurdo Naturista Camping Hungary".  I do 8 non stop crossings of the lake which leaves me with a cricked neck.  There is some doubt about the quality of the water in the lake so I swim breastroke but with my head well out of the water.  Either that has caused the problem or too much floating on the lake on my lilo with my head up on the pillow!  At one stage there are so many inflatables in the water you could almost use them as stepping stones across the lake.  I’m picking up a few words of Hungarian but it’s very confusing when Hello meaning Good-bye and See You means Hello.  It’s Ricky’s last day and we return to the restaurant by the river and have an excellent meal.  I start with traditional fruit soup and order a small portion.  A tureen arrives with enough for 3 servings of what appears to be cold fruit salad in juice mixed with sour cream.  Tastes good but would have been better after the meal.  Both Steve and Ricky get equally huge portions of their chosen soup and both enjoy deer whilst I have stuffed pork Hungarian style.   Another stroll around Szeged reveals more nice area’s and a pedestrian street with a John Bull pub complete with a big screen for sports which delights Steve.  Opposite is a British red phone box which I use to call Claire.  By the time we return the day visitors have left as have some of the campers so Ricky sits with us and some Dutch friends for a last chat by the bar.
SZEGED 12
Monday 30 July  Up just before 6.00am to take a cup of coffee to Ricky.  He’s a popular guy and we are not alone in waving him off.  Back to bed for a few hours sleep and by the time we get up even more people have left and the site is very peaceful.  It’s a cloudy day so we will have to hope the good weather hasn’t gone with Ricky.  The cold showers here are outdoors and whilst taking my morning reviver I feel a sting inside my elbow.  Don’t think it was a wasp but a big red patch soon starts to spread.  Feel like a walking disaster area at the moment as my neck is still causing me problems.  Again I am in luck as there is a Chiropractor on site who does a quick massage then yanks my neck back into place, all for the price of a kiss.  The bite on my arm heals itself but I am sure there would have been a surgeon available to amputate it if not.  It’s still very warm which calls for lots of cool downs in the lake.  Mid afternoon a very strong wind suddenly gets up followed by a cracking thunderstorm and torrential rain.  About an hour later the sun comes out and we have a very pleasant evening.  We are invited to join the mainly Dutch group for a sing song.  Rob plays the banjo and German Lauther the guitar whilst 11 of us gather round to enjoy the atmosphere and occasionally join in with the singing.
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Tuesday 31 July  A beautiful hot morning with not a cloud in the sky so all is forgiven Ricky, you didn’t take the sun away with you.  In the evening German Lauther invites us the share some of the "cow" he has bought whilst out shopping.  Along with Dutch family Jose, Christine and children Braham and Martin we gather round the table complete with red cloth, candelabra and fondue style serving set.  We cook our own chunks of beef in the hot oil washed down with copious amounts of wine under a starry sky.
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