The route home

Back to the point where I was asking for help, from the last post, a little unsure which route we wanted to take to get home. The (bloody) sat-nav suggested shooting straight through Switzerland, I didn’t fancy that. So I have 2 options, hook left (west) into France, dodging the toll roads and pootling  north to Calais, or go right, clipping Austria and seeking the out the free, fast, auto-bahns of Germany. After asking for advice, Catherine (of Lobster fame) suggested the French route would be more pleasant. Pop through the Alps just below Lyon and mosey on up towards the Loire valley, dodge the tolls and take in a bit of France we’ve not seen before.

The Italian side of the Alps, just before we disappear into deep tunnel under them.

The E70 slowly climbs out of Turin, into the Italian side of the Alps, then ploughs into them through a 12.8km tunnel, Traforo del Frjus, probably the longest tunnel I’ve driven through. The other end of it pops out into France, no passport control, no border police, no fanfare, just a ticket office to relieve you of €58 for your passage through our tunnel.

The Traforo Tunnel entrance

The French toll roads start as soon as you exit the mountain, checking the map, it looked just as easy to drop onto the toll-free road which seems to run almost parallel to the motorway.

Lake-side tranquillity at Annonay, France. n45.3087, e4.63819

Way back in Sept/15 our TV satellite system decided to we shouldn’t be wasting our time watching UK TV, so every time we sent it up to ‘go find the satellite’, it decided to just whizz round and round until it got fed up and went back to sleep. A couple of times during our travels we’ve attempted to have it repaired, but the satellite remained elusively lost in space and we live TV ‘less. As luck would have it, the satellite system distributer (Antarion) is just south of Lyon, southern France, which is on-route home, so as soon as we pop out of the French side of the tunnel, we can call in & see the experts. After 3 hours, a new dish (apparently ours was bent) a new L&B and new cable (and the loss of €270) we can now automatically  locate satellite ‘Astra 28’ and listen to ‘BBC radio 2’s Pop-Master’ where-ever we are, maybe a bit of live Rugby too.

Bourges Cathedral

Statues…of who, I’ve no idea

The journey north continued, next stop Sully-sur-Loire, little did we know the town was in full swing with  a “festival of combat  [wars through the years]”. There were soldiers portrayed and camps from many countries, USA, GB, Canada and France, covering all era’s and all of it eerily real. Of course this being France it was also all free, including a fantastic 15 minuet fireworks show, if this was the UK there would have certainly been a charge to get in. The Aire was also gratis, close by & quiet.

Re-enactment on the field of battle.

The French version of the 101st Airborne.

All the camps were authentic too.

Shall we dance “cha-cha-cha”

In front of Sully-sur-Loire Château

Time to think about getting back to blighty, Chunnel booked for mid-week, nothing for it but to head up towards the Aire at Wissant.

All tightly packed in at Wissant.

Lovely beach at Wissant

That sort of concludes our 11.5 month tour of mainland Europe. We set off proper on 11/6/16 south, and on through France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, (Russia, doesn’t count because we sailed) Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, (Australia, also doesn’t count because we flew), Italy and then back to France. A huge driving circle of 14,700 miles. If you want to see every place we stopped (most with pictures) see the menu bar for Google Maps.

Other Charlie-like creatures boarding the sad train to the UK

Driving down the train

Sleeping spots:-
St Just Chaleyssin, Aire,colse to the satellite repair shop. n45.58875 e4.95330 All services FREE
St. Marcele-les-Annonay, edge of large lake. No services. FREE (Top spot)
Lapalisse, n46.25016 e3.63538. Nr nice town. All services. FREE
Camping de la Croix St Martin, France. ACSI €13 n46.10754, e3.43703. Heated pool, nice site 5 nights.
Issoudun Aire by a lake, disused campsite car park. Water & waste. FREE n46.9997 e2.09875
Sully-sur-Loire, Aire. Water & Waste. n47.77110 e2.38407. FREE
Camping I’lsle des Moulins. ACSI €17.40 Nice shower block. n47.86900 e2.11448. 1 night
Le Treport, Aire, €6.40 Toilet & Water waste free. Charge for Water & EHU. n50.05790 e1.36212 (Windy)
Wissant, Aire. Water & waste FREE. Perfect for Chunnel/Ferry. n50.88722 e1.67067.
Canterbury, P&R £6 free shuttle into town, Water & waste.n51.26154, e1.09988.
Margate, behind the winter gardens. No services. n51.39260 e1.39045. FREE.
Caister-on-sea, Never Turn Back PH. Water. (Beer & food excellent)n52.64969, e1.73327 FREE.

In a reflective mood in Treport

Breakfast in Folkstone, No…that’s not my beer, it must have been left on the table by another customer.

The ‘Jolly-boys’ outing to Margit !

If you read this blog and enjoyed it, that makes us feel good, if it helps fellow travellers find a sleeping spot, if it fires an idea or inspires you to go somewhere we’ve been, then every minute I’ve spent preparing it, has been worth it. THANK YOU to all those who have commented, your words of encouragement have been truly welcome.
We’ve both got things we need to do now, back home in Norwich, lose ends to tie, walls to paint & carpets to lay. With any luck we will be attempting the NC500 around Scotland later in the year, so I will keep you posted. Ta tar for now, enjoy the summer.

And finally…Fish & Chips in Margate…welcome home.

14 thoughts on “The route home

  1. Marilyn Cass

    Congratulations on an epic trip. You might find it hard to settle again. Perhaps you should mark out a motor home size area in your home and live there until able to venture into larger spaces. I’ve enjoyed your blog reliving some of our travelling but we’ve only ever gone away for a couple of months. Lots of amazingly useful information for readers with humour throughout shown. I suspect you have come from the education world? Enjoy the UK now and you are back in time 😳 to vote and have the European perspective now.

    1. Wayne Post author

      Thanks for you very kind words Marilyn, can’t wait to vote. (Is Santa running for PM?) Love the idea of setting out the living room like our bus, I don’t think the current occupants would approve. 🙂 I’m afraid you’re off-the-mark a bit with Education, I’ve always been an engineer (type), more happy with a screwdriver in my hand than a pen., this week its a paint-brush. Can’t wait to ‘Get this bit done’ and get back on the road, maybe with new E-Bikes and a slightly shorter Charlie Bus.
      We’ll meet again. Hope you enjoy the summer.

  2. Chris and Peter

    Oh, I am going to miss your jolly posts! But I am glad you arrived back home safe! Wish you all the best with painting and carpet laying, quite different from looking for free aires, and you are experts at that.
    Thanks for all those encouraging words, the beautiful pictures and the guided tour! It’s our turn, somewhere next year, fingers crossed, and we are certainly going to make use of all your wonderful information!! Time now to enjoy all the British delights, may you have a great summer too!

    1. Wayne Post author

      Hi Chris & Peter, thanks also for your support and kind words. The ‘Jolly posts’ will return in the not too distant future, we just need to get a few bits done first, then we hope to get tramping around Scotland, somewhere we’ve never been before, so I’m really looking forward to that. Let us know how you get on with ‘Your Tour’
      Kindest, Wayne.

  3. Kimbo

    Thoroughly enjoyed following your adventures.Your blog is a great resource for anyone thinking about European touring. Many myths dealt with. Looking forward to your posts on NC 500

    1. Wayne Post author

      Thanks for the support Kimbo, it won’t be too long we hope, I may even squeeze in a post before then.
      Cheers, Wayne.

    1. Wayne Post author

      Thanks Sandra, it did turn into a bit of a long one didn’t it? 🙂 Can’t wait for your tales of Russia. (For some reason I can’t comment on other ‘wordpress’ blog sites, some confusion with the password. But I do read and enjoy tales of your travels too, keep up the great work.. Regards to Iain. (and Dora)
      Sandra and Iain’s blog here:-

      Kindest, Wayne.

  4. Jason

    Fish and chips! Beer! Hmmm. Might have to pop up and join you. After the Tour de France maybe. Had a go on an electric bike again the other day. It FLEW up a steep hill, with me clinging to it feeling like Superman. Enjoy Scotland, thanks for the blog posts, have a beer for me (I owe you one or two as I recall). Cheers, Jay

  5. Wayne Post author

    Ho, yes you do mate, nice of you to remind me… and one day, in a country far, far away…you may get chance to settle the score 🙂 😉
    Just toying with the idea of E-Bikes at the mo, several reasons to buy them, only a couple of reasons not to.
    1) the cost £650 + extra security + insurance. 2) Would you ever dare walk away from them in a strange city?
    Jury’s still out!
    Will enjoy the beer & chips, will also toast your (and Ju’s) good health.
    Till somewhere….sometime. Cheers.
    Kindest, Wayne.

  6. Mark Bloom

    Gidday Wayne and Angie,
    Great to hear you are back home and getting stuck into that good English tucker and already planning and dreaming of your next adventure.
    What type of new Charlie will it be?
    Will it be electric bikes or keep the old scooter?
    Thank you again for the informative and entertaining blog and also sharing with us your overnight spots.
    Hopefully one day we will beable to catch up and share a beer or two.
    Cheers Mark and Mireille

    1. Wayne Post author

      Hey G’day guys, hope your doing well on your travels in Norway, we loved it. What can I say Mark, the old Pommy tucker is good and we have missed some of it, good (warm) beer & hot chips mostly. Still deciding if we need E-bikes or not, if we do, I can shorten the overhang at the rear a little because the bikes will be in the garage. Frankie the scoo-ped will never be left behind, he’s part of the family.
      Looking forward to sinking a cold one some day…some place.
      Kindest, Wayne.

    1. Wayne Post author

      Hi Ian, yes, next stop Edinburgh, then anti-clock around the NC500. Looking forward to doing some miles again.
      Kindest, Wayne.


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