Isby On Tour

Fun Facts: Over 200 days on the Road

Bereiste Länder: 15

Schweiz, Lichtenstein, Österreich, Deutschland, Belgien, Niederlande, England, Schottland, Nordirland, Irland, Wales, Frankreich, Spanien, Portugal, Italien

Gefahrene Kilometer: 19‘763 km

50 Days on the Road: Tintagel Cornwall, England

100 Days on the Road: Moher Cost, Irland

150 Days on the Road: Porto, Portugal

200 Days on the Road: Guadix (Höhlendorf), Andalusien Spanien

230 Days on the Road: Rom, Italien

Benutzte Fähren: 5

Dunkerque-Dover, Cairnryan-Larne, Rosslare-Fishguard, Dover-Dunkerque,


Gefeierte Geburstage: 3

18.09. Plymouth Simon

29.09. Bristol Isby

15.02. Murcia Flurina

Besucher aus der Heimat: 3

Melli und Andre in Lissabon

Mama in Andalusien

Pannen: (Haben wir ständig irgendwelche;)

3x Wasserhahn ausgewechselt –Repariert durch Simon

1x Frontscheibe – Autoglas Bristol

1x Standheizung – Repariert durch Bristol Caravans

1x Dieselfilter - Simon

1x Ölwechsel – Simon

1x Luftmassenmeter -Simon

1x Kupplung – Repariert durch Joteca Chinicato

1x Zahnriemen – Werkstatt Malaga

1x Zündkerze – Werkstatt Malaga

1x Wasserpumpe –Simon

1x Herdplatte – Simon

3x Bus geflutet – Simon und Flurina

1x Fahrradständer - Simon

Posted by OBS Blogger in Isby on Tuesday April 10
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Report 38: Viva Italia!

Pizza, Pasta and Rome on Strike

First of all, we did not find a Pizzeria every day! At least, they were not always open. But we have discovered the most beautiful hot springs and enjoyed their sulphurous water. All around the Monte Amiata (a no longer active volcano) in the Tuscany, there are such thermal springs that are fortunately not yet commercialized and you can therefore bathe in complete nature. There, we meet a Swiss-Italian couple who picks us up at the Van and takes us to a tiny Italian restaurant. Mama Mia, the homemade tortellini with ricotta and pears were delicious :) and on the way back the cinghiale (boars) crossed the street in front of the car! Unfortunately, it rains quite often in Italy, so we either sit in the hot water or in the van. When finally a fair weather window shows up, we do not hesitate and drive straight to Rome.

Road traffic in Italy is demanding. Not only, that Simon is busy avoiding all the potholes, no, here no traffic rules seem to count anymore! Luckily, Simon is more relaxed about it then me. He just pretends our "Blue Wonder" is a Fiat Panda and also pushes and squeezes it into every tiny little gap.

Like that, we drive once through Rome to the official campground. The campground owner immediately tells us that tomorrow public transport will strike throughout Rome. Oh great, that's just what we needed. But never mind, in that case we drive with the bicycles into the city.

Isby has become the perfect bike dog and knows the commands left, right, over and behind (he should go behind the bike) now flawless. In general, he obeys on the bike much better than while walking, as then he mutates and becomes sometimes a park stray dog;)!

Rome itself is beautiful. We enjoy the 2000 year old buildings, the narrow streets and the Dolce Vita feeling everywhere. Only how to get into the Colosseum is still a mystery to us. Because with a dog it is impossible and without a pre-booked ticket you are stuck in the line for a long time, also at this time of the year. Fortune helps, at least me;) Just as we want to make our way home, a tourist guide approaches us. He explains how it works with all the tickets and of course wants to sell us some. But only one! Because YOU (he points to me) can enter today for free! How come, I think? The explanation follows immediately. Today is World Women's Day and therefore all women are allowed to visit the Colosseum for free and do not even have to queue for a long time! So half an hour later, I am actually in the huge arena and try to imagine how it was here 2000 years ago.

After Rome our travel plans change rapidly. Originally, we wanted to continue to the Volcano Vesuvius, but the weather forecast for the west coast of Italy is bad for the whole week. Therefore, we decide spontaneously to turn off, shortly before Naples and drive once across the country, so that we only make a stop above the spur again. On this drive through Campania and Puglia we reach the 20'000km mark! We stop for a selfie, our "Blue Wonder" has actually brought us 20,000km! It’s incredible that we have gotten so far and we really hope it will carry us another 20’000, all the way up to Scandinavia!

Finally, from Bari we take the ferry to Igoumenitsa, I am curious what to expect in Greece.

Posted by OBS Blogger in Isby on Sunday April 8
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Bericht 36

Weather Forecast: The Sea is rough and the Sky is cloudy!
28 Hours, Time to Review the Journey so far!

We chug up the east coast of Spain and stop often in small villages in the hinterland. These captivate with their colors, towers and castles. Finally, we reach Barcelona, which we explore in snowfall! Can you imagine that? Park Güel and Sagrada Familia behind snowflakes? It seems a bit unreal indeed, but we try to look positive, because who can say that he/she has seen Barcelona in snowfall?

Then it's time, already 2 weeks ago we booked the ferry from Barcelona to Civitavechia, (just north of Rome). The crossing should last 20 hours and we hope, that we can sleep in the van most of the time, after all Isby is supposed to stay there as well, otherwise he is only allowed on the outer deck. But as usual, everything is different. Instead of at 22.15 clock, we leave shortly after midnight, Isby must stay in a cage in a mini-room on the outer deck and nobody is allowed to stay in the cars. At least Isby's box is huge. Unhappily we leave him behind in it and then look for a place to sleep for ourselves. Just when we get comfortable on a sofa, a ship's employee comes and says that this bar would close in 15 minutes and we have to find another place in the middle of the ship. This means, roll up sleeping bags and search again. We find another couch, get dressed again and try to sleep, which is not so easy in the waves! The storm outside is powering up, we can hear and feel it! At 8.00 clock we are also expelled from this sofa, because now the ship must be cleaned up again. It is strange that, except us, nobody makes the appearance of moving away from their sleeping place. But we want to look after Isby and try to find a place for the day where he can be with us as well. Of course, his joy is huge, as we get him out of his cage and luckily we find a corner, in the corridor, in front of the door to the outer deck, where we can now cuddle up all three. Now the storm has something positive. Then apart from the dog owners and a few stubborn smokers, no one dares going outside anyway. When you open the door, you get almost blown away. So, our new place is comfortable according to the circumstances. We pass the time reading, writing and watching movies. At some point the weather announcement comes from the captain, "The Sea is rough and the sky is cloudy", as if we had not already noticed that;) The storm delays the journey and we are now supposed to arrive at 10 pm instead of at 6.45 pm. We are not thrilled about it, but at least we are not as sea sick as some other travelers. Most of the guests on board are truck drivers, who of course do not need any delays, after all they have to leave immediately after arrival. But you cannot do anything against the force of the sea and the weather.

Meanwhile, we review the last months, because we are already over 200 days on the Road! We have already experienced a lot, celebrated our birthdays in Plymouth, Bristol and in Murcia and yet we did not even manage half the distance we would like to travel! What adventure will come next?

Late in the evening we finally reach Civitavecchia and everyone is happy to have solid ground under their feet again. Let's check out Italy, hopefully we will find a Pizzeria every day. :)

Posted by OBS Blogger on Wednesday March 7
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Report 35

Andalusian Natural Treasures: In dizzying heights and breathtaking depths or from suspension bridges and cave dwellings

After a week of pure culture, not only Isby is happy that we're back in nature. Since we have already seen so many beaches, we venture into the mountains. Then Flurina got a premature birthday present, an LPG gas bottle. This is a gas cylinder, which we can fill up at many gas stations with Auto Gas (LPG), so we never have to freeze again;) and can confidently drive into the colder mountain region. We drive through huge olive plantations and past almost empty water reservoirs. This is a bit scary, because actually their water level should be higher at this time of the year. Our destination is the "Caminito del Rey", the royal path.

Until recently, it was considered one of the most dangerous paths in the world. Since 2015, it has been completely restored, but the thrill of the jetties, which cling to rock walls at 100 meters, remains to go!

The reason for its construction was a project to use hydropower (especially winter rains). A channel through the gorge "Gargante del Chorro" was supposed to connect two dams. In 1905 a first path had been created on planks, and gradually the path was fortified with concrete and iron reinforcements. In 1921, when the whole project was finished, the Spanish King Alfonso XIII dedicated it. That's why it was named "Caminito del Rey". The path was then used by the valley dwellers as a school and work path. At night it was even lit. But due to weather conditions and the soft sandstone the path gradually fell into decay. There were no concrete slabs anymore and only the rusty steel girders remained. Finally, only experienced mountaineers and climbers could continue to use the path. It was closed in 2001 after several people were fatally injured. In 2014, the restoration of the way for 4,500,000 euros began and since the 28.03.2015 the new, secured hiking trail is open to the public and should become a main attraction of the region.

Shortly after Malaga, we immerse ourselves in the history of humanity. Bones and tool finds, as well as rock carvings on the cave walls show that the huge cave system of Nejra was used by humans already 30'000 years ago. Only a small part of the cave is open to the public, but already this takes our breath away, we have never seen such large stalactites! Unfortunately, the battery of our camera was empty, but on the official website you can make a virtual tour of the cave and get a great insight into the fascinating world of stalactites.

Link Nejra virtual cave tour:

Behind the Sierra Nevada we discover in the city of Guadix the modern form of the "In the cave life". The landscape is bizarre here. In the background, the white mountains of the Sierra, then a completely flat plateau and deeper again suddenly shoot huge mounds from the ground. We had not read about such a landscape before and when we see the first door in such a hill, we are naturally curious. We find out that in Guadix there is a whole neighborhood with such "cave houses". In this neighborhood we visit a "show cave", which shows how the people used to live in these caves and what life looks like today. Totally comfortable, with flat screen and LED lights, top modern apartments, just in a mound. Incidentally, these are very sustainable, because you do not need heating, the temperature in the cave is around 18 degrees all year, which is not just now in winter (where it can get below zero degrees outside) but also in summer at over 40 degrees of course very pleasant. In addition, the ventilation is perfect due to the skillfully laid out floor plan, because the air circulates between the front door, windows and the fireplace, which also serves as a ventilation shaft.

Still today, in the region there are more than 5000 inhabited caves.

More pictures from Guadix:

Route: Sevilla-El Chorro-Malaga-Nejra-Granada-Guadix

Posted by OBS Blogger in Isby on Sunday February 25
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Reports 33 & 34

Willy, the writing Dog from Austria

Due to our forced standstill in the industrial area of Chinicato, we are actually a bit stressed. Because we get a visitor! My mum travels to Seville to experience the "Blue Wonder" in live.

As a result, we do not see so much of the southern coast of Portugal, but we do get to know an interesting Austrian. His name is Willy and he is a thoroughbred traveler. Because Willy grew up in a campervan and therefore drives almost his entire life through Europe. Willy is also famous! He has a Facebook page and is currently writing his third book! And Willy is keeping his owner busy, because he is a bright Golden Retriever. After initially competing, Willy and Isby get along well and exchange a few tips regarding the Internet presence :)

In addition, Willy's owner has made a great video of our dream beach, pay attention to the blue dot, this is our blue wonderJ and the cute dog in the end, you all know very well as well!

Andalusia, road trip in the Blue Wonder and we reach the southernmost point of the European Mainland and of OUR TRIP!

In time, we make it to Seville, to pick up my mum at the airport. The reunion joy is huge, after all, we are already over 6 months "On the Road".

Together we tour Andalusia for a week to explore the city of Cadiz, which is said to be the oldest city in Europe and the southernmost point of mainland Europe, as well as the meeting of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, in Tarifa. We feel "back in good old England" at Fish n 'Chips in Gibraltar, crossing the many bridges in Ronda, a city that towers over both sides of a canyon and is therefore connected by many bridges, and marvel at the Mezquita in Cordoba and the flamenco dance in Seville.

It is an entertaining week, where mum gets some insights into our life in the "Blue Wonder". For example, we cycle together with Isby over the border and the runway of the airport of Gibraltar, the only access to this city and the only place in the world where all transit traffic is routed through the runway of the airport. We mingle with the locals at the weekly market and promptly get to know another travel couple from Switzerland. But their vehicle is much bigger than ours and we even get a tour of the truck, which only exists twice with this setup in the world!

Sevilla-Cadiz-Conil de la Frontera-Tarifa-Gibraltar-Ronda-Arco de la Frontera-Cordoba-Sevilla

Posted by OBS Blogger in Isby on Saturday February 17
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The Unlucky Day

The Unlucky Day
Report 32

After Lisbon, we drive again with our English friends from Brazil to the south. We are looking for a workshop, because we have to fix a few small things on the van. Therefore, we plan to go to Sagres, the south western most city of Portugal and make an appointment with a nearby workshop and then enjoy the Algarve, the southern coast of Portugal, until we can go to the workshop. But this plan is vehemently abbreviated, respectively redesigned. Just started driving, it happens suddenly. Simon wants to switch gear and says immediately, “Now we have a problem. The clutch is not working anymore!” After two calls at the ADAC and a three-hour wait, a tow truck finally arrives.

The guy with his huge loading platform is a number in itself. Permanently smoking and nothing to calm, he sets about to charge our "Blue Wonder". Of course, not without cursing, because the long Van puts his creativity to the test. At some point our van is actually loaded and the towing-man takes us to a friend with a workshop that would "only" take 2-3 days to fix the bus. The workshop, to which he drives us is big and very busy. The van is parked directly opposite the workshop and there we are waiting. Nothing happens today, maybe tomorrow. Well, now we spend our Algarve holiday in an industrial area of a suburb of Lagos!

The next day a mechanic looks briefly at our bus, makes a rough diagnosis and disappears. Nothing will happen before the weekend. At least we get electricity and wifi! We have to sit idle here all weekend. The only change is the local flea market.

Monday, today finally something should happen. Just before lunch, at 1 pm, they actually push the van into the workshop. That's a good feeling, hopefully they'll accelerate! In the evening we know better. They did not accelerate at all! At 6 pm the van gets pushed out for the night, after all we have to sleep somewhere. It is probably the broken disc in the clutch, but the rest of the clutch does not look good eighter. Tomorrow they have to see further. The uncertain wait tugs at the nerves.

Tuesday, we continue to wait and nothing seems to happen and at 11.00 clock I cannot stand it anymore and decide to go back to the reception to ask for the state of things. With a slightly whiny, very desperate tone, I ask for information. I also mention that we urgently need to take a shower and go shopping and that on Friday we have to pick up my mother in Sevilla. Apparently, my tear gland tactic works, in any case, they all look a bit mediocre now. A short time later someone actually comes to us. The woman has good and bad news. The good news are, that they now have all the pieces together and until tomorrow evening at 6 pm everything should be repaired, the bad ones, that it is going to be very expensive! But what do we have for a choice? We want to continue! I reassure that they will be done by tomorrow 6pm and she nods, so we are having a deal. Now, it is once more time to keep nerves and wait.

Wednesday, punctually at 9:00 am we are ready again and to our big surprise, at 9:15 am the receptionist actually arrives and says we should take out everything we need, the mechanics would push the van in in a few minutes. Fortunately, the weather is gorgeous again and we pass the time with dog walks and research about Sevilla. At 5:00 pm, I set off with Isby, for hopefully the last walk around this damned industrial quarter! My nervousness increases immeasurably as I come back into the street and really, the bus is out there! Big relief spreads in me, hopefully he runs too and they did not just push him out! But I can already see Simon holding his thumb up. Cool, we're really getting away from here! We do not hesitate for long and just want to get away from here! The clutch is stricter, but that's normal, the old one was so worn out. At a nearby beach, we celebrate our newfound freedom and enjoy one last evening with our Brazilian friends, because tomorrow our paths will separate again. Many thanks to the two, without you the week in our "Algarve Holiday Park" in the industrial area of Chinicato would have been even longer and more tedious!

Posted by OBS Blogger in Isby on Sunday February 4
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Tales from Portugal and No Gas on NYE!!

Report 31

Culture in Sintra and Lisbon and on New Year's Eve we run out of gas, in the house!

After Christmas, we set off to Lisbon to pick up our friends from the airport. Unfortunately, we often drive through burnt down forests. There have been a lot of forest fires in Portugal this summer and fall and the traces of it are visible everywhere. It is depressing to drive / walk through this dead landscape, but luckily the first, new, green peaks are already visible again. The last stopps before Lisbon are the beaches and cliffs of Nazaré and Peniche. The former is famous for its huge waves. The surf elite of the whole world is bustling here to ride these monster waves. On our day, the waves are too uncoordinated to surf, but they are still gigantic, up to 5 meters! Peniche is one of the westernmost points of the European mainland and its cliffs are breathtaking.

City traffic in the "Blue Wonder" is an adventure in itself, but we did not have to head for an airport so far. Fortunately, the airport of Lisbon is quite small, but we don’t fit into the parking garages and on the long-term parking we are not allowed to stand, because you need to buy a ticket online in advance (which we only find out at the entrance barrier and thus need to back out laboriously with the van). The only solution to this parking problem is to take rounds from the arrival terminal to the next roundabout and back until the timing is right and we can stop in the 10 minutes loading and unloading area, right in front of the terminal. I speed in and hope to see our friends soon, Simon and Isby hold the position in the bus. Luckily their flight is not delayed and so everything goes well and we can leave the car park in time.

We enjoy seeing friends from home and have a lot to talk about. In Sintra, a small, idyllic town on the Portuguese Riviera (west of Lisbon) we find our cottage quickly. It's tiny, find our friends, it's huge for us. That's how perceptions change.

In any case, it fits architecturally into the image of the city, which is known for its many romantic buildings from the 19th century. We explore these in the next few days, even by Tuktuk, because the streets and alleys are meandering snake steeply up the hill. Once at the top we visit the Castelo dos Mouros. A medieval castle on the hilltop. In good weather you could see all the way to the sea, but we have rather Middle Age feeling in fog and rain. The castle was built in the 8th and 9th centuries by the Moors (Arab conquerors of Portugal) and was an important strategic point in the "reconquista" of the Christians' recapture of Portugal. Just one hill further is the Palácio da Pena, a romantic palace that towers over Sintra. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site and already looks from the outside impressive and very colorful. It was once the summer residence of the royal family. Since the access to these monuments is forbidden for Isby and we have the 31st of December, we decide to return, so we can walk Isby before the fireworks start.

We want to celebrate a cozy New Year's Eve in our house and have shopped, to prepare lots of local specialties. So we sit quite comfortably with the appetizer and suddenly our friend calls from the kitchen, "I think we are running out of gas!" At first, Simon and I are laughing, after all, this is one of the biggest concerns in the life of a van traveler, but our friend stays serious. Just a minute ago, the seafood was still simmering in the sauce, now nothing works. But where do you find gas on New Year's Eve at 21.30 clock? The nearby gas station is already closed and it is dawning on us that we probably will not get a new gas bottle this year. We have no choice but to move to the bus with all the pots and finish cooking there. Ironically, but somehow also suitable for this end of the year. Incidentally, we have not heard any missiles. In Sintra it is absolutely silent, it seems as if all the residents have gone to Lisbon to celebrate.

Two days later, we explore Lisbon and admire the many different tiles that adorn the walls of the houses. Of course, our friends also want to take some souvenirs home with them, therefore the beautiful things made of cork offer a good choice. Cork is a material obtained from the bark of cork oak. The bark is harvested by hand. Like sheep are sheared for wool, the bark can be peeled off at the cork oak. However, the bark of a tree can only be harvested every 9 years. The trees can grow between 200-300 years old and generations of families can harvest on the same tree. It is an art to remove the bark from the tree without damaging it, so training as a cork farmer takes up to 9 years. The cork industry is the highest paid agricultural industry in Europe. Originally, cork was used for the cork tap as a wine bottle closure. Today, there is almost everything made of cork, just as many souvenirs, such as handbags, coasters, hats or even shoes.

Then we have to say goodbye again, our friends fly back to Germany, we return to our home, the "Blue Wonder".

Posted by OBS Blogger in Isby on Tuesday January 16
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Feliz Año Nuevo: Isby in Spain & Portugal

Isby as an advertising medium in Santiago de Compostela and driving in the blue convoy to the Christmas party on the beach

First, we wish you all a happy and exciting New Year!

Much has happened to us since the last entry. This is the blessing of traveling, but also the curse of writing it down :)

In Santiago de Compostela, for example, we had an unexpected but very amusing experience. It only rained once that day! Nevertheless, we wanted to see the famous pilgrimage city and its cathedral and hurried in full rain gear towards the center. Even with rain jacket and pants you got wet after a short time and Isby was a dripping fur ball anyway. We did not get far. Already on the city wall, a woman waved to us and gesticulated that we should come into her business, even with a dog. Of course we did not say no as every shelter was convenient. When we entered the shop, we were excited to see that we had landed in a local specialty store. The shop assistants were so taken by Isby that he (and luckily we too) were allowed to taste the delicacies right away. When we wanted to said goodbye, the two saleswomen quickly donned a raincoat out of plastic bags for Isby. That’s how he became an advertising figure for their business and amused the brave tourists and locals who ventured out into the streets in this weather. When we finally left the center in the afternoon, Isby ran straight back to "his" shop and sat in front of the counter in his raincoat. Of course, he got some goodies again and a couple of days later I received an e-mail saying that they would hang up his photo in the store.

The rain in Santiago was followed by a storm in the night. We hid the van behind a tall house so we stood in its slipstream and played cards with our bus neighbors, but the noise outside grew louder and louder. Finally, Simon had to go out and look, the gutter of our "shelter" had already flown away and now rattled across the street. He secured the parts and put them in the lee of the house as well. Nevertheless, we slept well, after the hurricane streamer in Scotland, we don’t lose our patience that quick anymore.

"Noch em Räga, schint d'Sunna", it says in a Swiss nursery rhyme and that's how it was. The next week we had pure sunshine and it got even better. In the city of Ourense, a bit inland from Spain but almost right on the Portuguese border, we found a paradise for travelers. A free parking space with electricity and many hot springs, were led into several public pools along the river. We enjoyed the hot water and tested the different pools. One day we were particularly lucky, because the water level of the river was just right, so that the hot spring in the cold river was visible and we could even swim in the middle of the river. The town of Ourense was already founded by the Romans, who were originally interested in the area because of the gold in the river, but happily noticed that hot water was bubbling out of it. So, even today you have the chance to bath in pools built by the romans, in the middle of nature.

Here we meet a Brazilian couple from England. They also travel in a blue van and so we cross the border into Portugal in a blue convoy. Northern Portugal is beautiful green, first mountainous, then hilly. In Porto, the largest city in the north we explore the narrow streets, fortunately on foot, by bus we would get stuck. Together with the Brazilians we make Christmas plans and on 23rd of December we go shopping, fill up water and petrol and then we look for a nice beach for our Christmas in the Van’s. The 24th is a nice day, starting with a long beach walk, followed by a delicious brunch in the sun. Then we get really started. I decorate the cars, the men collect wood for the campfire, and from the blue van's flows the scent of Christmas biscuits and mulled wine. We enjoy these in the sunset, already in a group of six. For the cooler evening, we have also taken precautions and extended the awning between the buses and even covered it with a tarp from the back. We sit around the campfire enjoy the different delicious dishes that we had cooked. As a digester, we have real Oporto wine and home-made brownies with hot raspberries for the grand finale. Although I had some jitters about Christmas without family and snow, I have to say, we had a very nice and solemn evening!

We like the Life in the “Blue Wonder Bus” and after 5 months we have definitely got used to it. But soon a welcome change is coming up. New Year's Eve we will spend with friends, who come to visit us from Germany, in a house in Sintra. But I will tell more about it next time. Bye, bye and take care!

Posted by OBS Blogger in Isby on Thursday January 11
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Blue Wonder Bus Gets Festive

Isby Post 29

It gets festive in the Blue Wonder Bus

Even in the south of France it is getting colder and we are happy when we find a parking space with electricity. Then Lisa (our fan heater) will be used. Many things in the van have a name. Our navigation system is called Sissi,, because it is a moody diva, then we got a coaster called Tobi, because we bought it together with a Tobi and the teapots name is Hermine, but it was already called like that, when we got it. Oh yes, the milk frother is called SeverinJ All these things are now used more often in the run-up to Christmas, because we tried our best to bake. That's not so easy, in such a small van. But with our Swedish camping stove, which consists of three aluminum parts, it becomes possible. The lowest part is placed on the stove. Then comes the actual shape, which looks like a Gugelhopfbackform. In this one fills the dough, or even a casserole, everything you can do in a normal oven and finally the red lid closes from the top on it. Through the hole in the middle the heat of the gas flame rises and descends into the form. This creates top and bottom heat. Meanwhile, we are already quite good in it and have baked both coconut macaroons, and Totenbeinli (Swiss nut cookies). Often we also make bread, or baked casseroles and gratins.

The natural highlights of the last two weeks could not be more different. First, we feel like in the desert of the Sahara, then at home in the Flumser mountains. But one after anonther.

In Southwest France, the highest dune in Europe, La Dune du Pilat, rises out of the sea. It is up to 115 meters high and migrates from year to year deeper into the pine forest behind it. Isby thinks the huge sandbox is great, but not only did he jump around like a savage, we also had a lot of fun in the sand!

The second highlight is the National Park Los Picos de Europa, the oldest national park in Spain. Just over the border, the high, snowy peaks protrude. First they belong to the Pyrenees, then to the National Park Los Picos de Europa, which extends over parts of the autonomous communities of Asturias, Castile-Leon and Cantabria in northern Spain. We even drive through snowy landscape and everything looks much more familiar than in the last 3 months. Gentle hills turn into wooded slopes and end up in steep rocks. In the evening we always go back to the sea. There it is a few degrees warmer and smells pleasantly of eucalyptus, because everywhere are these mighty, fragrant trees. Since a week we are traveling more often in a group of four. We met a couple from Hamburg who explores Europe in their VW bus. Together we drive along the river Río Deva in the small mountain village of La Hermida. Directly below the village bridge, a hot spring is to flow into the river, so that you can sit in the hot water in the middle of the cold river. Sounds tempting, unfortunately, the river has high tide and we climb along the bridge, feeling with our feet, if we find the warm water. But it is at most lukewarm ...

So we go hiking instead. Many horses and sheep stand in the rugged slopes, looking for food. We cross a herd of sheep under the watchful eye of the Spanish herdsmen, luckily Isby walks confidently between us and then we climb the summit in the snow. The vultures circle above us, the whole thing seems a bit unreal, because we are at most half an hour from the sea and yet in the middle of the mountains. Simon and I are so excited that we return to the park the next day. This time we walk part of the way "Senda de la Ruta del Cares". The Cares is a turquoise, crystal clear mountain river meandering through the rugged limestone cliffs. A rock-cut path leads through the breathtaking gorge, connecting the two villages of Caín and Poncebos. You feel tiny, in this huge mountain world.

Soon, Christmas is here and we have tried to decorate the bus as much as possible. This is not so easy, after all, the space is limited and almost every little spot has a double function. So I have to tidy up my advent calendar for the rides and I also come up with a new version of the Christmas arrangement again every time we stop. "Nevertheless, the Christmas spirit comes up when we sit and discuss by candlelight and hot tea in the evening about where we want to spend the X-Mas days. We are still on the north coast of Spain, but soon we want to be in Portugal. Maybe we are celebrating Christmas in Lisbon. In any case, we wish you all a wonderful, stress-free pre-Christmas time. Enjoy the lights and scents, and your heaters, when it's cold and gray outside again :)

Posted by OBS Blogger in Isby on Saturday December 9, 2017
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La vie est belle en France!

Isby Bericht 27

La vie est belle en France!

We finally made the jump! On the 18th of November, the night ferry brings us from Dover back to the mainland. The time in Great Britain and Ireland was fantastic, but now we are drawn to the warmth of the South.

Before we can start to the south, we make a short trip to the Netherlands. Because despite the EU and international standards, almost every country has other gas bottles and so it is always difficult to get the right bottles for our stove and heating. But the Dutch should have the same bottles as the Germans, so it's worth the trip to the north for us. Without any problems we get two new, full gas bottles there and can now drive gladly south.

It pulls us into the heat, that's clear. That's why we drive for two days and make only a first stop in Rennes. France is great, many villages and towns write at the entrance to the village that they have free Wifi and almost every place has a communal parking space for campers. This is a signposted parking lot where you can sleep for free or very cheaply and drain both wastewater and fill up with fresh water.

Back on the coast, we visit the famous salt marshes of Guérande. If you enter Guérande on Google Maps, then you can see the size of the salt gardens that run between the sea and the city along the coast. Here, about 500 families work with the help of sea water, sun and wind to gain the perfect salt. The most valuable salt is called "Fleur de Sel", salt flower, and forms only during hot summer afternoons, when the wind blows. Then the salt crystallizes on the surface of the water and has to be skimmed off very carefully by hand. The salt of Guérande is exported all over the world and of course we cook with it now, as well :)

While the first photos of snow reach us from Switzerland, it actually gets warmer for us and thus gives Isby time for a new haircut. His fur did a good job in Scotland and Ireland, but now it has to go. See for yourself, the Before-After pictures. Now he looks like a plucked chicken, but feels poodle well again :)

Another highlight on our way south is Nantes. A city famous for its art and culture. We visit "Les Machines de I'ìle". A new art project, which was launched by the imaginative theatrical artists, François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice. On the site of the former port facility of Nantes, they build huge mechanical structures in the former shipyard facilities, which are to unite the "imaginary worlds of Jules Verne, the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci and the industrial past of the city of Nantes", as they say themselves. Specifically, this means that they have built a giant elephant on which you can ride through the city. The second project was dedicated to the sea. The "Carrousel des Mondes Marins" is 3 stories high and you meet the different sea creatures on the different levels. Of course you can ride on these, or in these, in the carousel and thereby operate various levers and move the animals so. The most intriguing project, in my opinion, is the momentary one. It is called "L'Arbre Aux Hérons", the heron tree. The idea is to construct a 35-meter-high steel tree with 2 herons sitting on it, which can fly even higher. All of Les Machine's projects are inspired by nature, and the art is to mechanically re-enact the movements of various living things. So, one should be able to fly up into the tree with a spider, be transported on oversized caterpillars from branch to branch, or ride on ants crawling along the trunk. The whole project is definitely beyond my imagination, but the tour of the production hall and the many illustrative models and prototypes make you want more, and we like to follow how the project 2021 looks, when it is finished! Unfortunately, the "Grand Éléphant" is in maintenance in winter, but there is a huge horse-dragon in the entrance hall. If he walks out, it can even spit fire!

Now we are on our way to Spain. A bientôt!

Posted by OBS Blogger in Isby on Monday November 27, 2017
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Tag: Isby Blog

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