2 Ann´s route planning

20/02/2013 16:02


When Ann returned from Australia, I went to fetch her from Schiphol airport near Amsterdam. I don´t think I ever in my life was more emotional then the moment I saw her coming through into the arrivals hall.
I took her to a quiet managed campsite near the German border. There I showed her what I had bought and what I had done to the interior. A few days later when the GPS was working again we discussed where to go. We first went to Normandy.
It was going to be a long summer!


Omaha beach D-day monument for fallen American troops.


It was July 2011 and it was chilly in Normandy. Our main reason for being here was to visit the landing places (and dying places) of so many brave men in such a short period. I am still a bit sentimental about that. I was 4 years old when the second world war started and I still have problems, when mentioning the war, younger people want to know which war. People think you don´t remember things that happened so early in life, but I remember plenty.
Areal combat over Walcheren, parachutes floating down in the darkness, machine gun fire aimed at a low flying spitfire, a bomber exploding in mid-air, German troops exercising in our neighborhood, our upright piano floating on the meter high water in our lounge and many things more.
It was raining and the wind-swept beach of Omaha was almost deserted. Earlier we had visited  Juno where the Canadian and French flags hang rain-soaked in the wind. It were the Canadians who pushed through via Antwerp to the South/Western point of Holland: Bastion Walcheren. Earlier the dykes had been bombed and salt seawater flooded the island.
A week or so later we were in the south of France. Languadoc  is yet another place where a man-made tragedy took place in times past. Here thousands of Christians were killed, many burned on  a stake, as reprisal for not accepting the pope as their holy father.
A quick jump through the Pyrenees and a  drive over European funded highway´s took us to Valencia and our good friends Doreen an Alec. We had met them for the first time on a camping  in La Roquette near Almeria in the south of Spain. A short time after we had left for new horizons, they had bought a house in the middle of an orange orchard and settled down. We could stay only for a few days, because it was our plan to visit a come-together of “long-range” camper vans in Germany. Well, they were certainly long-range vehicles, but few of them had ever been out of Germany, although some could boast a trip to Morocco. One Hollander confessed he had owned his monstrous contraption for 16 years and never been anywhere.
After the show where we also had met an Australian couple in another Toyota troopy, we headed for Croatia. It may still be Europe, but when you get further into the Balkan a world with a completely different flavor opens up.  The written language, the lack of English, the stern looking but gentle people, the border crossings and so many other seemingly trivial things make you look up and wonder. With so much history, mostly violent in spades, behind it (and still simmering) it´s no wonder it has a different feel, a different ambiance. Ann and I enjoyed this trip. We visited Dubrovnic,villages, monasteries (once not welcome after 11km climbing a rough mountain track), still strong looking castles and I marveled at the beautiful women of Monte Negro, the colorful clothing and stories of meter-high snow in winter.
When we have stopped traveling I intend to read up on the history of many places I have seen and know so little of. It means that with the painting and writing I plan to do I have a very busy life to look forward to.
Talking about winter. It was now October and getting distinctly cooler; time to move to warmer places. That would be Marocco and Mauritania for us.
The drive to Gibraltar was eventless. We made a short visit to Cadaques,  a small village about 25 km south of the French border on the Mediterranean cost, of which I carry fond memories.  Nothing much has changed there in a long time, because it is difficult to reach with one road in and the same one out. No driving through  here on your way to a further destination. In Gibraltar we took the ferry to Cueto, a Spanish enclave in Marocco. This was done because border crossings on land are a lot easier than when debarking from a ferry.
Once in Marocco, we started to look at the route Ann had planned for us.