Keep Moving and Travel Ur Dreams
Do you want to spend a little more time with me on the road? If you can Keep Moving, you can Travel My Dreams by way of these longer VLOGS. More scenery and sight seeing here than in my other videos.
When entering Switzerland by car, don’t forget to buy your Motorway Vignette. It is required to have this sticker if you drive on Swiss motorways. We tried to buy one at the border crossing, but it was unmanned. Fortunately, the first gas station had them for sale. The clerk noticed we were from USA and thought we must be from Colorado… Another one of those days when there is so much beautiful scenery to absorb, it gets a bit overwhelming. Some incredible mountain horizons, green lush valleys, and crystal clear lakes and rivers. And let’s not forget the swiss cheese. From our sidewalk cafe fondue splurge to the blocks bought from the market, there was rarely a moment one of us didn’t have some cheese in their mouth.. or in Tia’s case, mouth and leg. For now, we are just taking it all in, breathing the fresh air, and feeling perfectly relaxed.
Cathy flies WOW Air from USA to Iceland to spend an adventurous week Eldo-exploring with us. This required a quick trip into the big capital city of Reykjavik and of course a stop at the famed Blue Lagoon Spa. A bit of social culture shock for us after four weeks of remote northern Iceland exploration. Elizabeth got Eldo clean and looking her best for Cathy’s visit. Our broken windshield gets worse thanks to the heat from a candle, but we decide to wait until returning to mainland Europe to fix it. All in a days drive we see seals, arctic fox, Icelandic horses, beautiful waterfalls, and blue sky fjords. Chocolate chip pancakes and Road Nachos are on the menu, as well as a hot shower splurge. A lot more to see in Cathy’s Icelandic Adventure… part two. Coming soon!!
While checking our maps, somewhere south of Bilbao Spain, we decided that a 350 mile eastern detour to Andorra was going to be today’s itinerary. Our usual choice to stay off motorways and toll roads turned this into two solid days of driving. Still hours from the Andorran border, the sun setting, we see high on a hillside, the silhouette of a castle. A quick turn into the small gritty village of Quicena and a few miles of bumpy dirt trails and paved switchbacks we somehow arrive at the base of the castle. It is abandoned and in ruins. There is nobody else around. It’s eerie silence is only broken by the wings of bats swirling overhead and a few dog barks rising from the valley. We park Eldo just off the narrow road on a flat rock outcrop and walk 100 more yards to the castle. We explore the ruins as the magnificent huge sun sets over Quicena and Huesca. There is a presence here but we don’t feel unwelcome. Montearagon Castle, was constructed in the eleventh century by King Sancho Ramirez as both a fortress and monastery. Ramirez was killed by a stray arrow while walking the walls during the siege of then Muslim Huesca. We climb the ancient stairwells, sit in the thick reinforced wall openings, gaze out over the now darkening valleys, and breath in the cool night desert air. We decide to spend the night here. Back at Camp Eldo, we open a bottle of Spanish red wine, tap glasses and toast to the hope of a safe and quiet sleep. We make an offering to untold number of those who may have lived and died here and sacrifice a glass worth of the good wine into the dry red dirt. We rise early the next morning, just as the sun begins to back light the castle ruins. We set up for breakfast even though the morning mist clings on. It’s a ritual performed on countless mornings when we have safe camp. Our beloved Quincy table comes out of the spare wheel well, the worn camp chairs come down from the roof, and the dusty rug gets placed on the ground. We inventory our fresh foods and decide what needs to be eaten. The kitchen gear comes out, the coffee beans are hand ground while the water boils. It’s not long before the chill of the morning gives way to hot fresh coffee and the morning fog gives way to the rays of sunlight. We are on a Spanish hillside that’s seen an eon of sunrises and sunsets. We are living one morning of our life at a castle that has witnessed centuries of lives come and go. We are tens of thousands of miles from where we started, and yet, right at home at our table. Cooking, talking, laughing, sitting, grooming, dreaming, planning, being…. and realizing the significance of the simple rituals that tie all our days and all our lives together. Just another day on the road….
Somehow, we wound up in Andorra. (Note: Country 58 for Elizabeth and 21 for Eldo) Andorra is a sovereign state in the Pyrenees, located between France and Spain. It is the 11th smallest nation and has the world’s highest life expectancy, at 81 years. It is only 40km to drive from border to border. We found a great campground within walking distance to the wonderful capital city Andorra la Vella. We paid about 20 euro per night and had heated bathrooms and unlimited hot showers. Included in the price, was a personal kitty, that kept us company throughout dinner and sneakily explored Camp Eldo while we were away washing dishes. We are playing with the time lapse feature on our camera. Enjoy a brief glimpse into the Eldo kitchen set-up and the making and eating of a killer spaghetti dinner. We bought a loaf of fresh baked bread in the camp store for 1 euro. So much of our life is centered around our table, affectionately named “Quincy”. The table is constructed from the cover to the spare tire well. The carpeting was melted back to plastic with a propane torch and then painted with a urethane varnish. It is suspended in place with a single rope, and is strong as hell. We recently upgraded to a two burner gasoline fueled Coleman 424 camp stove and love it. We named our day Kitty “Andorra” and found her quite Andorrable.
Further exploration of Switzerland and the long Jungfrau Railway ride to the “Top of Europe”. At 13,640 feet, The Jungfrau is the main summit of the Bernese Alps and first climbed in 1811 by the Meyer brothers. We hiked along the glacier for over an hour to reach a small cafe. Upon hiking back, we explored an observatory and the inside of the Ice Palace. What trip to the top would be complete without throwing a couple snowballs over the edge of the world. The beauty speaks for itself, so no use trying to describe it. Enjoy the scenery for yourself. The bright sun, cold temperature, and high elevation takes it’s toll on all of us, and the railway ride back to valley is the perfect time to catch naps.
Champlitte is a commune in eastern France not far from Dijon and Paris. It’s a stop along the Via Francigena Pilgrimage and has history dating back to the Roman Empire. We hike some ruins and visit the Chateau de Champlitte. The cobble streets are narrow and fun to explore. It’s a hot day in July and Tia wins the morning’s water drinking contest by finishing her 1.5 liters first. Otherwise, typical life on the road scenes here. It’s never boring… with interesting signs, historical sights, numerous farm vehicles, fields, and campgrounds. Edlo gets new sparkplugs with the assistance of some huge orange slugs. And what summer day isn’t complete without puddle stomping in an afternoon downpour. We love our life.
We find ourselves travelling from Germany and France into Luxembourg and Switzerland. Along the way we enjoy countless miles of beautiful scenery and even more laughs. Camping and cooking are constant activities and with Cameron in charge of the Eldo Cafe, we churn out a lot of our patented Scissor Cut Pan Fried Frozen Pizza. In Luxembourg we get a taste of its hybrid German-French culture and of its own cool language, Luxembourgish. In Interlachen Switzerland, we attend Gauklerfest, a street performer festival. We enjoy shows from Mantega, Muruya, and The Flying Dutchmen; some of the best international buskers. Interlachen is tucked into the Swiss Alps and is the gateway to the Jungfrau, “The Top of Europe”. But, for now, we are enjoying the lower altitudes and the endless fields of wheat, corn, and beans. Much more to come…
We boondocked on the streets of suburban Amsterdam before heading to Germany, where we boondocked in a small car park in the forest. Boondocking isn’t for the faint of heart, as there is always a chance of getting hassled and kicked out. We utilize it as much as possible while still trying to respect the laws and customs of an area. Cameron adapted to it quickly and was an instrumental part in evaluating places to sleep safely. Enjoy some random road clips as we make our way from Germany to Luxembourg, where we stumble upon the tenth century Vianden Castle, now fully restored after centuries of ruin. The castle was a cool break from the warm summer temperatures. We particularly enjoyed the medieval body armor displayed in the Hall of Arms. Just another day on the road…
The start of a two week mad dash around Europe trying to get Cameron to as many countries as possible all the while reminding ourselves to slow down and enjoy every turbine. Flew from Orlando to Elizabeth City North Carolina, then drove to BWI, Baltimore International in a rainstorm. Packed light, carry on baggage only for the painful WOW Airline flight to Reykjavik Iceland for a quick layover before flying on to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Spent the day and evening roaming the old streets of Amsterdam before spending the night on the street, in Eldo, in front of Christiaan’s apartment. Next day we drove both backroads and Autobahn through Germany. We wound up boon-docking that night in the Udemer Hochwald Forest, somewhere north of Dusseldorf. The next day we cross into Luxembourg and hang out in a beautiful field of wind turbines. True geek nirvana. Grocery shopping becomes one of our main daily distractions, as we like to stop in all the local markets and look for the good deals. Today it was amazing, buttery croissants for only 35 cents. Watch more of Cameron’s European Vacation to see some amazing sights, find out where else we sleep, and check out our other amazing grocery store bargains! Just another day on the road….
Week 4 finds us beginning the month of May… but jeez, it still feels like winter. Our southern coast exploration continues among more glaciers, black lava beaches, and more seals and reindeer. In the town of Djupivogur we encounter the Eggs of Merry Bay, a tribute to the native birds of eastern Iceland. Considering that chicken eggs in the grocery stores have been priced about 75 cents each, we wonder the value of these large granite eggs. Later that night we find another empty and free campground to relax in. As we exit the south coast and head back north we look forward to returning to the sparsely populated landscape.
Off season camping in Iceland can be a budget saver. Most campgrounds are available to use for free, although facilities may be closed. This one in Stykkisholmur not only had a friendly notice that welcomed us to stay for free, but also had bathrooms open and WiFi available. The golf course next door was busier on the sleet and snow filled the day before. This sunny morning, not a golfer in sight. More windy weather indoor cooking… although it’s an unexciting leftover bean and potato stew. Attention: Don’t get caught doing your business in the bush… you never know who is watching. In Iceland, you can get cited for littering. A bit of culture shock for us as we end 3 weeks of traveling through the sparsely populated rural north and begin our exploration of Reykjavik and the south coast. 60% of the Icelandic population lives in this region and 95% of all tourists enter and leave from here. In true Eldo fashion, we stumble upon the famed Blue Lagoon…. probably the most visited attraction in Iceland. This geothermal spa is actually water supplied from the local geothermal power station. It’s surreal blue and white colors come from the high mineral and silica content. Although it’s below freezing out, the water remains about 100F. Further down the road we stumble yet again into another beautiful waterfall. The energy of falling water can’t be denied. Look closely at the end.. yes those are surfers waiting for waves in the freezing ocean. Although after watching them awhile, we believe the wind was a greater challenge for them.
Iceland, land of snow, waterfalls, and tunnels. Even in late April, the weather remains extreme and unpredictable. The protection provided to us by our wonderful Jeep “Eldo” is priceless. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and our ability to adapt to harsh weather conditions. The wind has remained a constant challenge, the temperatures have hovered at or below freezing, and sunny days have been rare. This video captures a slice of these extremes and some of our adaptive adjustments. Most meals were not only eaten inside the Jeep but also cooked inside. Quite a challenge, but we figured out how to make it work. Despite these challenges, not a day goes by that we aren’t awed by the beauty and surprised at the abundance of wildlife. We enjoyed the company of a rather tame and friendly arctic fox that had already shed it’s white winter coat for it’s thinner brown summer fur. Turns out, this fox was friends with a local dog named Bangsi that lived on the horse farm where we camped. Later that day we found small colonies of harbor and grey seals scattered among the floating sea grass and the newly calved small glacial icebergs.
Most people consider us homeless. Living in Eldo, our Jeep, and rarely stating put more than a night or two. Having put Eldo on a cargo ship in Panama a month earlier, we find ourselves actually homeless while we wait an agonizing 40 days for her arrival and customs release in Antwerp Belgium. The anticipation builds as we take the express train from Amsterdam to Antwerp Central. Built in 1900, it is considered one of the world’s most beautiful railway stations. Despite the reputation and all that beauty, we had no desire to explore Antwerp. We had a long hour walk to reach our shipping agent and hopefully gain custody of our home. The release was relatively easy, at least compared to the dog-and-pony show encountered in shipping her out of Panama. Two weeks holed up in Panama City, numerous official appointments and inspections, and a TON of cash finally got her on that ship. Much to our surprise, upon picking her up, Panamanian customs has totally ripped apart her interior and gone through EVERY noon, cranny, and possession we owned. She was a complete disaster. However, rather than dwell upon the horror we found, we embraced the fact that we had our home back. She started right up and we hauled butt as fast as we could from the bonded Belgium warehouse. Life was finally back to normal. Looking back on it, despite the stress of not knowing if we would ever see Eldo again, we managed to enjoy the chill, historic, and hip city of Brussels. We visited the Royal Palace, which is not actually used as a royal residence. The Grand Place Central Square, surrounded by it’s amazing guildhalls and considered THE most beautiful squares in Europe. We woofed down some amazing street food and Belgium Beer. All while living like royalty ourselves thanks to being Hilton Diamond Elite status holders. The luxury and elegance of those Brussels Hiltons, and the pamper and perks of elite status was intoxicating. But, there is no place like home, and we would trade a year of those nights for just one more day on the road in our palace… ELDO!
The sun came out for us for a few hours during week two. In true Icelandic fashion, the highlights of our methodical tour of all Westfjords open roads were too numerous to mention. We visited Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The impossibly beautiful multi-tiered Dynjandi is considered Iceland’s most picturesque, and earned it’s name “Jewel of the Westfjords.” The breathtaking Latrabjarg bird-cliff is nine miles long and is considered the westernmost part of Europe. It is home to uncountable numbers of gannets, guillemots, razorbills, and in breeding season, puffins. You are warned… “Don’t get too close to the edge”, as the ground is quite unstable. The miles click by as we snake our way up and back along the narrow fjords. Along the Arnarfjordur road, there are signs warning of sea monsters. The deep blue cold water certainly could be home to the bus size Largarfljot Worm. Due to the constant extreme winds, most of the cooking was done inside Eldo. Today’s menu was BBQ sauce glazed chicken wings and pan cooked onion rings. Chicken wings, as it turned out, were our best source of frequent affordable Icelandic protein. We figured out a quick and easy way to pressure cook them before throwing into the hot skillet of caramelizing BBQ sauce. Cliff side Wing and Ring night in Cafe Eldo can’t be beat. Just another week on the road.
Flying to Amsterdam from USA with a quick stop in Paris. We agreed that the 6 hour layover was plenty of time to make it from Orly to the Eiffel Tower and back. With just our usual light backpacks as the only luggage, we figured out the best train route, bought our tickets, and took the shuttle train to Antony and the Metro Train to downtown. Then, a few quick blocks by foot, and there we were on the Champ de Mars, gazing up at the beautiful steel latticed tower. Our mission still not complete until we enjoyed some homemade apple pie from Florida and some cookies from North Carolina. As we sat on a wind swept bench, just for a brief moment, the winds subsided and the sky went from dark gray to bright blue. Just another day on the road…
Eldo hits the ground running! We spent the past eight months slowly driving the dirt and gravel side and back roads of Mexico and Central America. It was a rare day we got to open her up to even 55mph…. Now, just hours after liberating Eldo from a 40 day ocean crossing, we find ourselves navigating the German Autobahn. For the most part, speed limits are “advisory” or suggested rates. Really, just about anything goes. As we cruise along at a blazing 70-80 mph in our tired jeep, the sleek Mercedes, BMWs, and Audis scream by us in 100+mph ease. All we can do is hang on tight and laugh….. and, well…. eat some great German meat and cheese while brewing up some long missed road coffee. We missed Eldo too while she was in transit, and it feels so good to be home. Night fall couldn’t come quick enough for us to find a safe quiet camp spot to call home for the night. Just another day on the road…..
Haiti, a beautiful country of so many contrasts, so many people, and so much poverty. Despite it all, the people are wonderfully proud, hardworking, and honest. We stayed away from the tourist sanctuaries and drove the streets and roads through towns and villages that were bursting with activity. The chaotic traffic of people, cars, trucks, livestock, and motorcycles seemed to find a cosmic balance. Somehow, miraculously it all worked together. Make no mistake, it was hard travel… but the reward was worth it.
Oh Iceland! You exhaust us with your never ending beauty and overwhelming energy. We arrive just as winter is reluctantly giving way to spring. The extreme weather is painfully cold and windy yet invigorating and inspiring. We have no plans for the next five weeks. Just going to drive the open roads and explore every fjord, cliff, and trail we can find. Keeping in budget is going to be a challenge as prices here are crazy expensive. Keep checking back for weekly updates full of breathtaking beauty, exciting adventures, our best travel tips, and to see just how well we do with our budget. www.travelurdreams.com
Three days crossing the North Sea and Atlantic is not a pleasure cruise. The Smyril Line ferry runs between Hirtshals Norway and Seydisfjordur Iceland. Vehicles and cargo take priority on this cruise and people are a distant third. There are some amenities… a bar, a couple restaurants, and cabins and bunks. Let’s not forget the hot showers! Although trying to enjoy a north sea rolling shower is quite an experience. The extremes of this environment are incredibly inspiring though. Cold, harsh gray seas and far distant misty fjords are as breathtaking as the facefull of freezing cold sea winds that slap you hard whenever someone opens a door to the deck. It’s still one of the great adventures available. Be sure to say hi to Henrik at Hirtshals Camping in Denmark before or after your journey.