A Travellerspoint blog

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The Decision Is Made

So my compromise agreement is ready to sign, my end date has been agreed, so now I can concentrate on what I do next.

I had a lousy Christmas and so in January I decided this was the year for my mid-life crisis, then work played into my hands and here I am, with a couple of months off, paid, to spend as I wish and that wish is to travel.

As someone who tends to go everywhere with her dog, a large white Labrador, that eliminated a trip round the US, and Asia would need 3 months plus to do it justice, plus same problem with Lexi the Lab, so Europe here we come.

I've bought the big, no huge, map of Europe and have provisionally planned my route. Having lived in France for 6 years, there are certain areas I know very well, but not the east side, so first stop is the Champagne region, then down to Annecy (I've always wanted to visit Annecy and the lake) then down into Italy, taking in the Amalfi coast, Naples and Pompei, down to the south and Brindinsi, ferry over to Greece, poodle around there a bit, then up to Albania, Montenegro (really fancy the sound of that) then Croatia and that gorgeous coast line, after that....well time will determine, depending on how much of it I have left.

Posted by Val G 15:20 Comments (1)

I'm not worried but....

I've just spent the last 3 hours on the Foreign Office website and now having a few thoughts about my trip through the Balkans. Initially when planning this trip I thought Albania, Croatia and Montenegro sounded quite daring, then tourist pages made me think it's quite a normal place to go, but now, well, I'm back to thinking maybe I was right first time.

Albania states "Although public security is generally good, crime and violence still represent a problem in some areas (though not typically targeted at foreign nationals). Gun ownership is widespread." So no problems there then!!

Meanwhile for both Albania and Montenegro it states that the roads are poor and driving is dangerous, 4x4's advisable, then further on states that 4x4's are vulnerable for car crime, well I'm going to rely on not even the Montenegrins wanting my 14 year old Landy, well I hope not anyway, as I'll need it to get us both home, intact :-)

Posted by Val G 16:15 Comments (0)

Let the spending begin....

....lets just say the local parcel delivery van now has a homing device set to my address.

With comfort being paramount, and I have to admit to being past the first flush of youth (!) and much as I'm happy with my little tent for weekends away with Lexi the Lab, when faced with upwards of 6 weeks in a tent, it's not realistic to spend all this time bent over or on my knees, so after many hours perusing the internet and visiting tent shows in the rain (at least I could test the waterproofing and rain in the door issues) I finally chose my new tent, a Vango Icarus 500, it's meant to sleep 5, 5 midgets in a rain free climate maybe, but it's perfect for me and Lexi. Large enough indoor space to sit, have a table, dog bed and corner for wet things, with sewn in ground sheet, fly screens at both doors and still just 3 poles it shouldn't take any longer to put up than my current one.

The Vango footprint was over £20, but as the tent has rectangular footprint I've bought a standard groundsheet and an extra, smaller one to go ouside the door to save excess dirt being trodden in. Lexi is brilliant, but she hasn't yet learnt to wipe her own feet when coming indoors!

Next on the list was bedtime, I've already got a great sleeping bag, but my self-inflating Aspen sleeping pad won't be sufficient for this long period, too thin and too narrow for 8 weeks worth of good nights sleep. So again after a scary amount of research and surfing, I've just taken receipt of an AeroBed PakMat that is just fab, it really is up in 60 seconds, comes in it's own tube/come pump and is sooooo comfortable.

Go Outdoors has provided the rest (well I did have to pay you understand); a small table, comfy folding chair and cool box that runs off both the mains and car. I realise this is all standard camping kit, but I normally go away just for 2-3 nights and travel very light, as long as I have my 1 ring burner, cafetiere, china mug and wine glass, well you don't need anything else do you?

International breakdown cover, health insurance for me, pet insurance for Lexi, full service for the car and first sea crossing all still to be paid, but research and best prices are sorted, I just need the green light on my exit paperwork from work, then it's all systems go :-)

Posted by Val G 05:50 Comments (0)

Well it's a woman's perogative.....

....nothing's cast in stone until I set off....and so my route is now changing from an escapade into the sun, to adventures into the midnight sun, yes, I'm going to Scandanavia.

I don't like to make sensible decisions, but sometimes you just have to and although I had thought the heat could be a problem for Lexi the Lab, what with her double coat and all, it sort of sunk in properly when actually pointed out to me by someone else, so along with the security concerns over Albania and Montenegro, the fact that neither embassy had got back to me on dog import regulations into their country and the concern at the back of my mind that I wanted to take it easy and mooch around Europe, but the route I'd chosen didn't allow for a short cut back to the UK if I was running short of time, so yes, there were more concerns than I'd realised and once the suggestion was put in my head about Scandanavia, almost overnight I've changed my plans.

Now I've started looking into Norway I'm absolutely hooked, there are already so many places I want to go and things to do, including going as far up as the Lofoton Islands. I don't actually think I'll get the full midnight sun, but hopefully at least a very short night as I would like to have a little barbeque in the middle of the night as that just has to be done when up that far, outside of winter anyway. The provisional plan is then to go across to Sweden and down to Stockholm, across to Gotland, then back to the mainland before meandering across to Copenhagen, through Denmark before travelling down to Germany, Netherlands and home, simple.

Lexi's thick coat will come in handy and I won't need to worry about getting my air-con repaired, but I will need to get central heating for my tent, only joking, but I may have to get some flannelette pyjamas, nope, joking again, I may be the wrong side of 40, but really...?

Today I got my signed exit papers from work, so it's really going to happen, everyone else is counting down to the 27th July (apparently there's some sporting events starting then!) me? I'm counting down to the 17th August, no more Olympic housing, no more high maintenance guests, no more squished journeys on the tube, just 8 weeks of me time, well me and Lexi.

Posted by Val G 14:37 Comments (0)

The shopping was the easy bit....

I'm currently sitting on the Jubilee Line, squashed and hot, and that's with the majority of commuters heeding Boris Johnson's dulcet tones over the tannoy the last few weeks to stay off the trains.

Only a few more weeks to go, well 2 actually, then I'm eventually going to stop talking about it and actually get on my way.

My crossing is now booked and apart from buying a GB sticker for my car I'm pretty much ready. I do love a project and preparing for this trip has certainly kept me busy, because working on the Olympics has only been filling 14 hours a day, so what is a girl supposed to do with the rest of her time?

I was over at my Mums the other day for bit of a family gathering and was quite pleased when my brother came out to my Landy to talk through the logistics of packing the car, yes it might seem easy, open the door and put it all in, but when you've taken out the back seats, the wonderful large space is no longer safe for the dog. So a dog cage had to be purchased and bolted down in the car in such a position so the dog doesn't jump down into the traffic, the cage is nearer me than the back door and I still have a sensible and usable space to pack the larger items, some of which (the tent) need to be the last in, first out, thereby defying the food shopping rules of bag packing, heaviest at the bottom. Anyway, I digress, but it was good to get someone else's input.

I bought the aforementioned cage last week-end, but had a distinctly sulking dog all the way over to see the family with a "I can't be expected to be comfortable in this..." kind of look (any of you with dogs will know exactly what I mean). So tomorrow I'm back to the pet shop for the next size up. This may well result in the need for a top box, because more space for Lexi the Lab, means less for our kit but I can't have a sulky woman for 7 weeks.....

I say 'our' kit because although Lexi and I don't share much (I don't really enjoy dried food and she doesn't need a sleeping bag) the tent is obviously a shared bit of equipment, but so also is the kayak, yep, I really have taken this dog companion role one step beyond and bought a 2 seater Sevylor kayak! It's a tough white water rafting Colorado, that I needed to prevent claws going through the side and rigid enough base so she feels stable, well as stable as you can be in a kayak on a Norwegian fjord with a 6 stone Labrador !

Posted by Val G 00:48 Comments (0)

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