Utah, February/March 2024

Utah – don’t know where to start!  We really had to drag ourselves out of the state even after five weeks of touring.  Utah was a favourite of ours after our previous visit in 2016 and it’s still up there.

Utah, we love you.

The weather pretty much decided our route as we were initially stuck between two storm fronts – snow to the east and torrential rain to the west.  The weather in Utah was pretty perfect though.

Free park ups like this on BLM land.

Southern Utah has some of the most stunning landscapes and we spent most of our time in the National and State Parks hiking and drooling over the sandstone formations.  

Delicate Arch with us for scale 

It’s worth noting that some places control visitor numbers by requiring a permit or pre-registration especially during the busier months.  Arches National Park, for example, requires that from 1st April to 31st October you go to their website to get a timed entry slot.  There is no cost above the usual park entry fee for this.

Just beyond here we started to reverse as the snow got deeper.

Just as an aside, The America The Beautiful Pass costs USD80 for a year and gives you free access to a long list of national parks, monuments and other sites.  If you visit more than two parks then you’ll cover the cost of the annual pass so it’s great value for money.

Gooseneck State Park.

Several sights run lotteries for visitor permits.  The Wave allows 64 visitors a day and the application process is online with a cost to enter the lottery as well as the cost to visit the actual sight.  We tried to get permits for the Wave near Kanab in the daily lottery but after five attempts at a cost of $9 per try we gave up!

Stunning slot canyons

Some places are on Navajo land, eg Antelope Canyon and require guides to visit.  We like to explore on our own and whilst we missed the most well  known, we found plenty of other slot canyons which were free to visit.

Nice little hike to the Calf Creek Falls, just off State Route 12.

One road deserves a special mention – State Route 12, designated a Scenic Byway and is the only All American Road in Utah. Along its 123 mile length it runs through part of Bryce Canyon, Grand Escalante National Monument and Capitol Reef National Park.  The Hogback follows a narrow ridge with steep drop off on either side of the road and to the eastern section rises to a height of 9,600ft through pine forests.  We have now driven this road three times and loved it so much the first time, we have a framed geological cross section of the route hanging at home!

From the Dugway Geode Beds you are allowed to take away a certain amount Geodes

We finally dragged ourselves away to begin our journey north.  We’ve done quite a bit of driving on gravel/mud roads in Utah and we did another 50 miles or so in the centre of the state.  We followed part of the old Pony Express Trail to the Dugway Geode beds where we indulged our rock collecting habit and dug for geodes.  We didn’t find any whole ones but did find some good pieces.

Our last real stop in Utah was Wendover and the Bonneville Salt Flats. We had to visit Wendover here as Bob can trace his ancestors in Wendover UK, through his mum, back to the 1600s.  The two towns couldn’t be more different and we were a little disappointed with the US version.

The Bonneville Salt Flats

The Bonneville Salt Flats were, however, well worth a visit.  The flats are known for the land speed records set at the Bonneville Speedway although at the time of our visit much of the area was underwater so there weren’t too many vehicles out there!

There are quite a few Petroglyphs in Utah.

We did make a quick stop in Salt Lake City but mostly for shopping.  It was pouring with rain when we arrived and when we woke up the next morning with a plan to visit the city, it was snowing so we decided to move on.  That decision was also taken due to the amount of construction going on making getting around a little difficult.

Some routes are easier than others.

Just to say that whilst we post a few photos here, our Facebook page, ClewleysOnTour, is the best place to see photos of our travels and we are currently, slowly, posting the Utah photos, place by place.


Driving an RV in the southwestern US outside the big cities is so easy.  The roads are wide (even the “narrow” roads are 2 lanes) and the choice of overnight spots is beyond words.  We’re using iOverlander on a daily basis to find park ups, water, dumps and laundromats.  

In Southern Utah we used a lot of the first come first served campgrounds in the parks.  As it was winter, no services other than vault toilets were provided but prices were great value for the locations.  Prices ranged from $15 to $25 per night but from the campgrounds we could walk right out onto the trailheads of some amazing hikes.

We found some of the cheapest diesel here at $3.60 per gallon (around 75p a litre) but also paid $4.50 per gallon although that equates to about 95p a litre so still much cheaper than a the UK! 

LPG, or propane, is easy to get and prices are pretty much as they are at home.

Nevada, January 2024

We had to hang around in Nevada awaiting a part for the van to be delivered from the UK. 

The Valley of Fire

Part of one of our rear light clusters wasn’t working and as it’s an integrated Hymer part rather than a change of lightbulb, we had to have the whole unit shipped out to us. Luckily we have friends in Boulder City who were happy to receive it for us!  From ordering to delivery it was nine days and the costs were £34 postage plus £25 import duty – many thanks to Darren at Brownhills for his assistance with this, we were really happy with the service.

Lake Mead

We spent much of this time around Lake Mead camping on BLM land close to the lake – no facilities but free so we weren’t on our own.

The Valley of Fire

We originally visited the Valley of Fire State Park back in 2016 but just drove through the park.  This time we had time to do some hiking in the park and spread our visit over two days ($15 per day entry fee).  The small hikes within the park are worth doing as you really get in amongst the rocks and a couple of small slot canyons.

The Valley of Fire


Driving an RV in the southwestern US outside the big cities is so easy.  The roads are wide (even the “narrow” roads are 2 lanes) and the choice of overnight spots is beyond words.  We’re using iOverlander on a daily basis to find park ups, water, grocery stores and laundromats.  

Many of the campgrounds in the national and state parks have service points outside their entrances and therefore accessible to everyone, so we’ve had no problems finding water.

We were finding fuel around $3.80/$3.90 per gallon (around 80p a litre).  It is worth keeping an eye on fuel prices as garages on either side of the road can have widely differing prices, as well as having different prices for cash or credit card.

LPG, or propane, is easy to get and prices are pretty much as they are at home.

California, January 2024

Having completed Route 66 we hightailed it out of Los Angeles as quickly as possible and headed back into nature – California does have the most diverse landscapes. 

Wild camping at
The Trona Pinnacles

We went from the snow covered mountains of the Sierra Nevada to below sea level in Death Valley (one place we keep returning to!).  

We visited the huge redwoods in Sequoia National Park and hiked out to Moro Rock where unfortunately the cloud cover gave us pretty much zero visibility.  

Not much of a view but still worth the hike up Moro Rock

As well as the largest trees we also tried to visit the 4,000 year old trees in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest but were sadly defeated by snow (there will be an amusing/nail biting video of us trying to turn the van around on a narrow, snow covered mountain road on YouTube in due course).

Retreating from the deep snow

Manzanar National Historic Site is the site of a former internment camp which held US citizens of Japanese heritage during WWII following the attack on Pearl Harbour.  Some of the buildings have been restored and descendants of the camp residents plus volunteers are working in the grounds to bring the gardens back to life.  A fascinating place to visit.

Manzanar National Historic Site
Manzanar National Historic Site

Our second visit to Death Valley this month took us to the northern section and we managed to get in some hiking.  We walked around the Ubehebe Crater and into Mosaic and Titus Canyons.  This was definitely a good time to visit before temperatures start to become unbearable.

Ubehebe Crater
Great hikes in Death Valley


Driving an RV in the southwestern US outside the big cities is so easy.  The roads are wide (even the “narrow” roads are 2 lanes) and the choice of overnight spots is beyond words.  We’re using iOverlander on a daily basis to find park ups, water, grocery stores and laundromats.  

Many of the campgrounds in the national and state parks have service points outside their entrances and therefore accessible to everyone, so we’ve had no problems finding water.

We have paid for a couple of campsites in the national parks but these were very basic with no facilities (as above the service points were outside the actual campgrounds).  Many campgrounds are currently closed but we used Potwisha Campground in Sequoia NP, USD32 a night, and Mesquite Spring Campground in Death Valley, USD14 per night.

Fuel has remained cheap right up until the California border where it immediately increases by a couple of dollars a gallon, if not more especially in the more remote places – the most we paid was $8.50 whereas back in Arizona it had been around $3.90!

LPG, or propane, is easy to get and prices are pretty much as they are at home.

Route 66 Part 2 – 8 to 15 January 2024

Having taken a few weeks away from driving Route 66, we picked up the road again just south of Kingman, Arizona taking the Oatman Highway over the Sitegreaves Pass and down to the Colorado River after which we were in California.


The drive over the pass was stunning but the town of Oatman, once a thriving gold mining town, is now one big tourist attraction with “wild” donkeys roaming the streets and a daily cowboy gunfight.

In Amboy, California we climbed the extinct volcano cone and walked down into the solidified lava lake in the centre. Definitely a unique experience!

A boy crater. Not the last crater we would see in the US

After a couple of days in the Silverwood Lake area we hit the road to Los Angeles – we couldn’t put it off any longer if we wanted to finish Route 66.

Crazy traffic of LA

Safe to say that the LA traffic lived up to its reputation and it took us 9.5 hours to drive about 150 miles into Santa Monica and out again to a campsite.

Lincoln Boulevard

We’re not big city people (a bit strange given June was born in and worked in London all her life!) and if it hadn’t been for Route 66 we wouldn’t have even thought about visiting LA in the van.

The tourist’s sign

There’s not a single designated finish point; there’s one on the road on Lincoln Boulevard, the much photographed “End of the Trail” sign on Santa Monica pier and a third, less well known original end sign on the door of the Route 66 booth at the entrance to the pier, where having signed the log book we also had our photo taken.

A few thoughts on Route 66

Planning is essential!  We thought we’d just hit the road and go but you do have to plan what to see and what road to take as there are so many options and unless your time is unlimited you won’t see everything.  As mentioned previously we used the EZ66 Guide for Travellers as our main planning tool along with the  Ultimate Route 66 Guide App.

Understandably many places play up their Route 66 connection no matter how tenuous, but there are some real gems to visit that we are glad we found.  All the business owners we met and talked to were so friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable on not just their area but much of the Route, usually because they had driven it themselves and often several times.  It was sad to see how many places hadn’t made it though and were in various states of decay. 

Travelling when we did in the offseason meant that a lot of places were closed or open only for limited hours.  For us that wasn’t really a problem as we tend to avoid overly busy places but if planning a trip then it’s worth taking into consideration.  The weather is another factor to think about when planning and we were lucky to avoid much of the winter snow

We really enjoyed from New Mexico to eastern California but that was as much about the natural landscapes as what was on the road itself.

To be honest we were quite pleased to get to the end but at the same time we felt a real sense of achievement at completing the full distance and were pleased we did it.  We saw and experienced a lot of America that we probably would never have seen without Route 66.


Driving an RV in the southwestern US is so easy.  The roads are wide and the choice of overnight spots is beyond words.  Many of the campgrounds in the national and state parks have service points outside their entrances and therefore accessible to everyone, so we’ve had no problems finding water.

Fuel has remained cheap right up until the California border where it immediately increases by a couple of dollars a gallon, if not more especially in the more remote places – the most we paid was $8.50 whereas back in Arizona it had been around $3.90!

LPG, or propane, is easy to get and prices are pretty much as they are at home.

We avoid the large RV parks wherever possible as we don’t (or can’t) connect to the water, sewage and electrical systems. They are also expensive and in Los Angeles we couldn’t find anything cheaper than $90 a night. By contrast the Mesquite Campground in Death Valley National Park is $14 a night for a pitch without services.

Route 66 Part 1 – 10 November to 11 December 2023

We needed a plan to get us across the country to meet family in Las Vegas mid-December. Rather than drive aimlessly we decided to follow Route 66 to Arizona, have a break over Christmas and New Year, and then return to the Mother Road to do the last few hundred miles to California.

If you look close enough you can even see our sticker 😃

This first section took us through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. We’re using a book called EZ66 Guide for Travellers which (once you’ve read and understood the format – something we highly recommend you do before starting!) gives driving directions and lists what to see on the way.

There are multiple incarnations of Route 66 as development over the years has caused the road to divert from its original route in many places. We’re finding that we’re doing an hour or so a day of route planning – unless you have all the time in the world or are making multiple trips, it is impossible to see everything and drive every mile.

So many of these giants along the route.

With the exception of St Louis we have mostly driven through the cities and larger towns. Our van is not much bigger than some of the pickup trucks on the road so driving and parking has not been difficult. The southern cities, once away from the main tourist areas, have large numbers of homeless people and I’ve seen more drug taking here in the open in one month than in the 35 years I worked in central London.

Gardner, one of the many store with Route 66 memorabilia.

We’re not sure what we expected from Route 66 but everywhere along the route plays on its connection and sells the same range of tourist goods. A lot of places are closed for the winter but we are finding the towns and the weird and wonderful sights they have to offer are all rolling into each other.

Once we left the central plains the scenery slowly began to change and we took more time to explore Texas, New Mexico and Arizona beyond Route 66.

The Big Texan where if you can eat a 72oz steak in an hour you get it for free

As I’m rereading this it sounds quite negative but it’s not meant to be! We have enjoyed this section but it took us a while to get into what we wanted to see and where we were driving. But once we got our heads into it, we embraced all that Route 66 had to offer and yes, we do have some of that tourist tat onboard.

Boondocking just outside Santa Fe


As previously mentioned our vehicle is not big in the scheme of things here in America so getting around is quite easy.  As we’ve got further south and west, the fuel has got cheaper and we’re paying between 80 and 90pence a litre for diesel – it’s worth shopping around as prices vary wildly.  A word of warning though as not every garage has diesel pumps!

LPG, or propane, is easy to get and prices are pretty much as they are at home.

Water points in the northern states were harder to find as many are shut of for winter.  In the south we’ve had to hunt for free water but there are many places selling it.

As we’ve moved west, the choice of overnight spots has opened up so we have moved out of Walmart and Cracker Barrel car parks to BLM and Forestry Land – no complaints from us about that! 

We stayed on one campsite at Gillespie Lakes in Illinois which averaged $15 a night (we had a couple of discounted nights plus a couple at weekend rates), but we’ve avoided the large (and expensive) RV parks.

Into the USA – 4 to 9 Nov 2023

Five states in as many days from New York to Illinois via Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana!

The border crossing at the Peace Bridge

The border crossing at the Peace Bridge from Fort Erie to Buffalo was easier than we expected and took us just over an hour. At the first checkpoint we were asked if we were carrying any alcohol, tobacco and uncooked or fresh meat, fruit or vegetables, which we weren’t. There are several official websites which occasionally seem to contradict each other on what is permitted food wise, so we erred on the side of caution and emptied the fridge!

We were then pointed towards immigration where we were asked a few questions on why we were entering America and for how long we would be staying.  We had previously obtained a B2 Tourist Visa in the UK which allows, subject to the immigration officer’s approval, stays of up to 180 days as opposed to the 90 days allowed on an ESTA.

We were granted leave to stay for the full six months and after paying $6 each immigration fee, we were free to go on our way.

Very agricultural

Our first mistake was getting on to the interstate out of Buffalo! It’s a toll road and we, incorrectly, assumed there would be toll booths to pay but it’s all automated based on your number plate and when trying to pay online the only option is for US and Canadian registered cars. After a conversation with a very helpful lady on the helpline, we were assured that we’d be OK with not paying provided we don’t use a New York State toll road again. We had no option to pay despite trying so let’s hope she’s right!

After that little hiccup we ticked off the states on our way to Chicago from where we were going to start Route 66. Much of the drive was rolling agricultural land and we passed through a couple of Amish townships.

We loved the river cruise

We spent a couple of days in Chicago, walking miles and taking a boat tour to see the city from the river. Two days really wasn’t long enough but it gave us a feel for the city and it’s definitely worth a visit.

The start of Route 66. We would drive past this a day or so later. Now complete with one of our stickers.


We joined Harvest Hosts (US$84.15 for the year) as they offer non-campsite park ups and are found all across the country. Typically stays are free and in exchange you are encouraged to purchase something (lots of these are on farms, vineyards or breweries) or leave a donation. Our first stay was at a Law Enforcement Dog Training Centre where the owner had installed hook up points and provided fresh water.

Law Enforcement Dog Training Centre Park up

Walmart is known for allowing overnight stays in its car parks (check though as not all stores do this. Boondock WM is a good app to check this on). We also stayed at a Bass Pro outlet. These are obviously not the quietest of nights but they come in handy for the odd overnighter.

Not the best view from our window but needs must sometimes.

Chicago has a designated RV parking area within a truck car park just to the south of the city. There are no facilities and it costs $38 per night but the city is walkable from there or you can take a Metra Train from a short distance away – the short ride cost us $2 each. Despite it being a fairly open car park (although there is an extra/eit barrier) it felt safe and we were happy to leave the van to explore the city.

Park up in Chicago

Quebec and Ontario Provinces – 25 October to 3 November 2023

After leaving New Brunswick we moved fairly quickly through the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, knowing we were on borrowed time in respect of the weather, pretty much driving in a straight line along the northern bank of the St Lawrence river and the border with the US.

The USA just over the river.

We spent a few hours exploring the old town area of Quebec City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cobbled streets have a very European feel and French is the main language.

Quebec City

The old buildings are now mostly restaurants, art galleries or tourist shops and parking issues aside (more on that below) we enjoyed our time there.

Quebec City

We found a great spot near St Geneviève-de-Berthier where we stopped in the carpark for a nature reserve on one of the small interconnected islands in the St Lawrence River.

St Geneviève-de-Berthier

After a good walk along a couple of the marked trails, we awoke the following morning to our first sprinkling of snow!

On our way to Niagara Falls we drove through Toronto but didn’t stop having visited just a couple of months previously.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls are as you would imagine and the noise of the water and the water spray can be heard and seen long before you get to the actual falls. We found the actual town to be quite underwhelming!

Niagara Falls

Our final stop in Canada for this visit was near Fort Erie on the banks of Lake Erie and looking across the water to Buffalo, USA. Whilst here we were on a mission to eat anything we couldn’t take into the US which was mostly fruit and vegetables so we had a very healthy couple of days!

Fort Erie

This was the end of our stay in eastern Canada and we will return to the western provinces when the weather starts to warm up a little next spring. Now all we had to do was clear the van of anything not allowed into the US and hope that they let us in when we cross the Peace Bridge into New York State.

USA here we come

Motorhoming in Quebec and Ontario

We’re having no problems finding diesel (despite not all fuel stations selling it) and LPG, but water sources are starting to get harder to find in these northern regions where public taps are switched off for winter.  

Park ups have also been easy to find via iOverlander but day parking in Quebec was a nightmare – we had parked overnight in a small carpark a few kilometres outside the city which was just too far out to walk and despite our best efforts, we couldn’t really work out the buses! Parking for RVs was shown by the marina but when we got there we found the space full with boats that had been taken out of the water for winter. We eventually found another carpark where we fitted into one space and where another (Canadian) van had stayed overnight without an issue. However when we came back to the van after exploring the city, we had a ticket, thankfully without a fine, telling us there was no RV parking in that car park. At least we had seen all that we came to see.

Niagara, not surprisingly, has plenty of parking. We opted for the car park furthest from the city but still within walking distance (shuttle bus is also available).

New Brunswick – 8 to 24 October 2023

The guidebook mentioned that the province of New Brunswick was heavily forested and it wasn’t wrong! However there is more to New Bruswick than trees and the whole of the Fundy coastline is stunning.

The world’s largest axe

The province is also home to the world’s largest axe (Nackawic) and lobster (Shediac), a waterfall where the water flows uphill (Saint John), a road where you appear to roll uphill (Magnetic Hill) and the world’s longest covered bridge (Hartland) – thanks to our Atlas Obscura app for these gems!

The world’s longest covered bridge

We had to spend a few days in and around Moncton for an appointment at Mercedes to get the handbrake checked. They were really helpful and squeezed us in following a cancellation. They even offered us a cab back into the city or a courtesy car whilst the work was being done however we decided just to wait around to drink their coffee and use the wifi – seemed fair enough given the £££s we’d soon be handing over!

One of the many beautiful lakes

We’d also managed to get an appointment for a COVID booster through the local NB healthcare agency (really easy and free, which we weren’t expecting). And once we arrived for the appointment at a drugstore pharmacy we were also offered a flu jab at the same time.

Hopewell rocks

We spent most of the time in the province on the coast exploring more of the Bay of Fundy, visiting Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park, Fundy National Park and Fundy Trail Parkway. The extreme tides in the bay have created some amazing rock formations (our inner geologist went into overdrive here!) and although we didn’t get to see the tidal bore wave, we saw so much else.

There are multiple walking and hiking trails ranging from a few hundred metres to multi-day hikes in the parks. We did a couple of hikes combining a couple of smaller trails and found ourselves wandering through forests, clambering over rocks and up the sides of waterfalls.

One of the many Boondocking spots we used in New Brunswick.

We entered the National Park using an annual pass but there were separate entry fees for Hopewell Rocks and Fundy Trail Parkway (around £20 and £13 respectively for the two of us) but both were well worth the fees.

Motorhoming in New Brunswick

We didn’t use any paid for campsites or car parks during our time in New Brunswick, staying at places we found via iOverlander.

Many attractions have specific motorhome parking areas which makes visiting really easy.

Again we picked up water at fuel stations and in the National Park.

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley


Prince Edward Island – 30 September to 7 October 2023

From Pictou, Nova Scotia we took the 75 minute ferry to Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island on a beautiful sunny day. PEI is Canada’s smallest province and is mostly rural with pretty villages interspersed by extensive agricultural land.

Approaching Prince Edward Island

PEI has three main regions and each has its own clearly marked scenic drive; we drove the eastern and central routes which included the capital of Charlottetown. The tourist information centre just after leaving the ferry was a great source of information and maps.

Just one of the amazing overnight park ups we found using IOverlander.

We had some amazing park ups along the coast all of which were very quiet at this time of year. The main tourist season here is very short, just July and August so a lot of places were closed, although the cruise ships still dock in Charlottetown. The capital is a very pretty town and worth a visit. Whilst there we treated ourselves to two local delicacies – lobster and chocolate covered crisps (not at the same time I should add!).


We drove along the Green Gables coast (as in Anne of Green Gables – the book was written here by Lucy Maud Montgomery) but found the area to be overly touristy and think it would probably overrun in the summer. 

We were lucky with wildlife too – watching the seals and a bald eagle from one spot. If there had been a water source nearby it would have been much harder to drag ourselves away.

A bald eagle.

The coast is littered with lighthouses which make for great park ups (although not all allow overnight parking) and the beaches of the north coast were stunning. This was a very relaxing week!

Once the high winds had stopped we were allowed to cross the bridge back to the mainland.

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley


Nova Scotia, Canada – 9th to 29th September 2023

After almost two weeks apart and sleeping in five beds in nine days, we couldn’t wait to get back into the van. Don’t get us wrong, we loved seeing everyone and people’s hospitality has been endless but as they say, there’s no place like home!

Well we had to visit Bass Pro.

After a couple of days of shopping (still trying to get our heads around prices, taxes and conversions back to GBP), it was time to hit the road again and see as much of this region as we could before the winter set in. Whilst fuel is significantly cheaper, about £1.25 per litre, food seems for an average shop more expensive, and alcohol is definitely more expensive and sold only through government stores.

Our view at Nimrod’s Campground

We spent almost three weeks in Nova Scotia exploring the province via a figure of eight route starting in Halifax, then north to Cape Breton, south to Yarmouth and back to Halifax following the coast. There are a number of well signed routes around the province and roads are in reasonable condition but are not always tarmacked.

A recommended stop off for lunch.

As we left Halifax for the first time we were avidly watching the weather keeping an eye of the severity and route of Hurricane Lee (it’s the middle of the hurricane season) as we headed to a campsite to continue sorting the van. We also wanted to be around people should the storm be particularly bad, but luckily for us we escaped with just a lot of rain.

The Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site

There is so much to see and do here taking in the scenery, the history and wildlife. The indigenous people were the Mi’kmaq Indians but the land has been settled by the French, English, Germans and Scots (Nova Scotia means New Scotland) and many of the town names are familiar to anyone from the UK!

So many opportunities for ‘boondocking’ for the night.

We drove in a clockwise direction around the island of Cape Breton from the relatively flat south to the winding roads of the highlands of the Cabot Trail in the north.  Lots of Scottish influence here; some of the road signs are in Scottish Gaelic and the language is still taught in some schools.  It’s also a licence for the tourist shops to sell anything and everything tartan themed!

The beautiful red rocks of The Bay of Fundy.

The Bay of Fundy is home to the world’s largest tides and watching an incoming tide is apparently a sight to behold (I say apparently as we haven’t yet got our timing right to actually see it!).  The tidal bore can be surfed and a couple of companies offer rib trips out to play in the bore and the local red mud – too cold to do this now.  At low tide it’s possible to go out onto the rocky seabed in places with the knowledge that in a few hours the spot will be underwater by up to 16m!

The iconic Peggy’s Cove lighthouse.

The southern coves are home to many small fishing villages and the coastline is dotted with lighthouses, with the most famous being Peggy’s Cove. Being in the van we were able to stay in the carpark overnight and take photos before the place was overwhelmed with tour coaches.

So many lighthouses.

Nova Scotia was a great place to start our tour; friendly people, good food and plenty to keep us busy.  Next stop will be Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island. 

Campsites used:

Note re campsites! Due to power differences, we will not be hooking up on this trip, relying on our solar/inverter/battery set up to keep everything charged and working. Our travel style means no more than two or three days in any one place so even if there is little solar power coming in we will recharge the leisure batteries via the engine. Having swapped from a cassette toilet to a separating one over the summer this also means that we are not looking for black water disposal. This page explains the changes and improvements we have made to the van.

Porters Lake Provincial Park: small lakeside camping area in the park. Grass pitches with some gravel, BBQ pits and picnic benches. Some pitches have power and water. Walking trails and a small boat launch. Booking was via online system (www.parks.novascotia.ca).

We paid CAD28.85 p/n without services.

Nimrod’s Campground, Sherbrooke: small lakeside camp with a lot of seasonal trailer pitches. We parked on a small lakeside pitch (we are small by local standards) which was supplied with water and EHU. Pitches are grass and some areas were, not surprisingly, very muddy. Lots of activities available in peak season but our reason for visiting was to sit out a storm!

We paid CAD46 p/n over a weekend.

Other overnight spots:

We find our spots via the iOverlander and Park4night apps with the former having more entries in the Americas. These are usually public car parks where overnight parking is permitted and out of season, there is much more choice. Most are free but not always flat. We always review where we’ve stayed – just check out the app to see if we’ve stayed in a particular place.

Cape Breton – Baxter’s Cove, Pleasant Bay, Donkin and Gabarus Bay.

Mainland Nova Scotia – Fundy Tidal Interpretive Centre, Cape Split Provincial Park, Cape Fonchu, Peggy’s Cove (need to be aware of restrictions in the two car parks), Halifax city centre near Pier 21 (daily rate of CAD12) and Salt Springs car pool carpark.

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley


Canada – the BIG trip. September 2023

Two and a half years later than intended, we have finally realised our motorhoming dream and shipped the van to Canada!

Dropping the van off at Liverpool.

We were originally planning to leave the UK in Spring 2021 but COVID, ongoing shipping delays and finally family commitments meant that we wouldn’t begin the trip until September 2023.

Tracking the van. May have used this app a lot 😄

We travelled up to Liverpool and left the van on the docks, unlocked and with the keys in the cab, on 30th August with a scheduled shipping date of 3rd September. At this point we have to thank our friend Myles who works on the docks and gave up part of his day off to guide us through the checking in process and then drop us back at Lime St Station to catch the train home. Hopefully we’ll see him and his wife Helen on the road at some point!

Even managed a visit to the Open Air Theatre, Regents Park, London. One of our favourite theatres.

After a few days at home saying goodbyes to family and friends whilst watching the MV Atlantic Star carrying our van, start its journey across the Atlantic, we took a flight from London to Toronto (via Dublin) where we were proper tourists in Toronto, enjoying the warm weather, walking miles and visiting the main attractions including the CN Tower. Lots of eating too!

The amazing Graffiti Alley
Toronto by night.

No sooner had we arrived then it was time to leave and we flew a couple of hours back to Halifax, Nova Scotia to await the van’s arrival. We were lucky to be staying with an old work colleague of Bob’s who emigrated from the UK several years ago with his family. We can’t thank Simon, Laura and Rachel enough for their kind hospitality, for their tips for travelling in Canada and for letting us park the van on their drive whist we unpacked everything we had stowed away for shipping.

Thanks folks.

Despite leaving Liverpool a day late, the vessel docked on time and just a few hours later we had picked her up; thankfully all our fears relating to damage and theft were unfounded – nothing was missing nor broken.

Back on the road…just a new continent for the van.

After restocking the food cupboards and refilling all the tanks (fuel, water and LPG) it was time to hit the road properly. Just an incoming hurricane to contend with…..

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley


Slovenia – 11th to 20th May 2023

Very much on our way home, Slovenia was the penultimate country (excluding those that we simply drove through) of this tour. We said when we visited briefly in 2022 that we wanted to come back but didn’t expect it to be quite so soon!

Our route was basically straight across the north of the country from Hungary to Italy taking in some of Slovenia’s most scenic spots.  Given we were back in Schengen, the border crossings were simple and usually unmanned.

We were keeping a close eye on the weather forecasts as they were not looking good. Our next stop would be northern Italy where they were currently experiencing severe flooding and most of Europe was wet to say the least!


Having decided to slow down the drive to Bled, we first stopped in the small town of Sentjur where we stayed a couple of nights in a new, free aire. It was a great place to park up but just a shame that they didn’t appear to have switched on the fresh water and EHU posts!

Katie building a snow candle

With a small break in the weather forecast we moved on to Velika Planina, which literally translates as “high pasture”, a high scenic mountain plateau. It is home to numerous shepherd huts used by herdsmen when they move their animals up to higher pastures in the summer and some are now available to rent as holiday homes. The area is also a ski resort during the winter with a couple of chair lifts and a cable car from Kamniska Bistrica, although nothing was running at the time of our visit.

Velika Planina

Having driven up the mountain roads and paid our park entrance fee, we were directed to a car park where we could stay overnight and set off for a walk.  The break in the weather was sadly brief, so cold and wet, we headed back to the vans for the evening. 

Iconic Bled

By contrast, two days later we had a fabulous day visiting Bled! Still with Jason and Katie (@forevercopilots), we strolled around the lake, stopping halfway round for lunch and maybe #justtheone, and then stuffed ourselves beyond full with Bled cake delivered by a robot waiter in a lakeside hotel.

Slovenia is a stunningly beautiful country, the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park in particular. After driving the 50 hairpin bends of the Vrsic Pass where it was snowing at the top (1,611m above sea level), we stopped at Camp Soca for a few days from where we could explore the Soca Gorge and swim in the icy waters of the river.

Top of the Vrsic Pass

Having seen a write up on another Hymer owner’s Facebook page and having a couple of days spare, we doubled back on ourselves to visit the old mercury mine in Idrija. It’s a fascinating place to spend a couple of hours and have a history and geology lesson all rolled into a 90 minute tour (€15 each entry fee). The town itself grew around the mine and many of the original buildings still stand.

Inside the mercury mine at Idrija

On our way back from Idrija we stopped at the Tolmin Gorges and the lowest point in the national park at the confluence of the Tolminka and Zadlascica rivers. Free parking is available in the lower car park which is a 15 minute or so walk from the gorge entrance. There is an entry fee for entering the gorge of €8 per adult and access is in allotted time slots. You follow a self-guided walk down into the gorge and back up again crossing the rivers whose water is the most vivid shade of turquoise. We thought it was well worth the visit.

Tolmin Gorge

So another short but very sweet visit to Slovenia, a country we find to be safe, clean and easily accessible in a motorhome, especially as there seem to be more aires popping up so avoiding expensive campsites.  We haven’t spent any time at the coast but the northern mountains are an area to which we’d happily return.  

Next stop Italy and lots of men in Lycra riding very fast bikes!

Campsites used:

Camp Soca: €29 per night. EHU available at extra cost. Water taps across the site, several black tank disposal points, two toilet/shower blocks (one with washing machines and dryer) and a drive over motorhome service point. Grass/gravel pitches. A large campsite right on the Soca Gorge with all usual facilities plus a small coffee shop and bar. Fresh bread available to order. Wifi was a little flakey and depended on proximity to the router. Parking was a free for all meaning that in the areas close to the river, vans were jammed in – there were no rules/guidance on keeping any sort of distance. We did manage to find a quiet part of the site, still next overlooking the river – turn left immediately after entering the campsite and there are several pitches by the chalets. Private access to the river and gorge.

Other overnight parking:

Sentjur Camperstop: a new five pitch aire with fresh water and EHU which should be available at a small cost but it looked like the services had never been switched on! With the weather not looking great we parked up here in the quiet car park for a couple of days to catch up on stuff. A short walk into the town centre where there is really fast public wifi – a good excuse to stop for a cup of coffee!

Velika Planina: car parking €20, payable on entry and we were able to stay overnight. No facilities but toilets are scattered throughout the national park.

Preddvor/Hrib: free overnight parking next to a sports stadium. No facilities. Close to a small lake with a cafe although that was closed when we visited.

Bled aire: €25 per 24 hours and payable via a machine in cash only! The parking fee includes up to 150l of fresh water, a small amount of electricity, grey/black disposal and free wifi. The aire is close to a couple of supermarkets and is a 10 minute walk into town and the lake. Not picturesque but definitely functional and the spaces are large and hard standing.

Idrija Camperstop: free aire close to the mercury mine and town. Surprisingly quiet given its location by the bus station and on a supermarket car park access road. A small service point offering fresh water (€1 for 100l of water), black and grey disposal and EHU (paid for as required). Hard standing but slightly on a slope – we are not fussed about being exactly level but we did get the ramps out here.

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley

Polar Steps: https://www.polarsteps.com/ClewleysOnTour/5755379-the-balkans-and-beyond?s=0A28668E-486F-4DEF-80BA

Hungary – 2 to 10 May 2023

Our original plan was to head to Serbia after Romania but we decided to follow Jason and Katie from Forever Copilots into Hungary.

Celebrating Bob’s birthday with Katie and Jason

By doing so we were heading back into the Schengen area but at least this time we had no time restrictions other than to be home by the end of May for family reasons. The border crossing was straight forward and with our passports stamped we drove straight into the Great Plain region.

A rather disappointing Nine Hole Bridge.

Our destination was Hortobagy National Park, an area known for its bird life and cowboys. Sadly when we arrived at the small town of Hortobagy, it was mostly closed, including the tourist information centre. We took a stroll to see the “famous” Nine-Hole bridge, apparently the most photographed and painted bridge in the area, and then given the lack of overnight spots, drove straight on to the city of Eger.


The historical town of Eger is full of grand baroque buildings, some of which are from the time of Turkish occupation, including an original Ottoman minaret.

One of the many cellars in the Valley of The Beautiful Woman

Just outside the town is the Valley of the Beautiful Women, home to more than two dozen wine cellars which are built into the rocky hillside. We spent a very enjoyable afternoon wandering from cellar to cellar sampling the different wines (tasting was usually around 80p to £1.50 for a 100ml glass). There are also some food options here if needed. It was then just a short stagger, oops I mean walk, back to the campsite!

June and Katie with a couple of purchases

We’re not usually city people but thoroughly enjoyed our couple of days in Budapest, a lot of which was down to Jason’s planning! We bought a Budapest Go travel card which for HUF5,500 each (just under £13) gave us 72 hours of unlimited travel on the buses, Metro and trams. The motorhome park up is close to the Mexikói Metro station from which trains departed every few minutes and arrived in the city centre about 15 mins later.

City Park opposite the Motorhome park up in Budapest

We walked miles, saw lots and ate ourselves silly. We didn’t go into any of the museums but if you have time it might be worth considering buying a pass which will give you free or discounted entry.

The Danube…. We decided not to park too close this time

We timed our visit perfectly – we had good weather and places were busy without being overcrowded. We’d definitely recommend Budapest as a place to go as there’s something for everyone there to many of the attractions.

Central Market Hall

City Park was a short walk from the camperstop so, as it was another sunny day, we took a picnic and had a wander around. The Millennium Monument in Heroes Square is also close by and features important figures from Hungarian history.

We may have eaten too many of these Langos
Ruins Bar

Our whistle stop tour of Hungary would finish at Lake Hefiz but on the way we stopped for a little Urbex (urban exploration for those not in the know!) of two abandoned areas. Firstly it was the Hajmasker Barracks, one of the largest military barracks of the Austro-Hungarian period. The buildings became a POW camp during World War I and it grew so big it even had its own currency. World War II saw it move into Nazi hands and then post war it became a Soviet army base. The buildings were abandoned in 1990 after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Hajmasker Barracks

We also visited another abandoned Soviet base at Szentkiralyszabadja which has been out of use since 2004 when the last Hungarian helicopter regiment which was based there was disbanded. The base is gradually succumbing to nature but a few buildings are still accessible.


There are so many thermal springs across Hungary but it’s very hard to find any natural springs as they have mostly been developed into spa resorts or health centres. Lake Heviz is a small lake fed by underground springs and even in winter the water temperature doesn’t drop below 22°C. Sadly though it is fully fenced off and you have to pay to access the water. We opted for a “closing hours” ticket which allowed us for the last two hours of the day (and you can’t get in a minute earlier!) which was the cheapest option at HUF3,600 (about £8.50) each and we had plenty of time to float around the entire lake. There are multiple spa and recuperation clinics around the lake and in the town.

Lake Heviz

However, it is possible to swim in the thermal water for free! You need to follow the river out of the lake, passing by the campsite and to an open area where you can easily get in and out of the river. The water here was just as warm as the lake but as it’s used by locals, is probably very busy in the summer.

Free swimming just out of the campsite

And that was our brief tour of Hungary!  The country is very clean (a welcome change) and easy to drive around but we found few opportunities for overnight parking outside campsites.  That said, we were visiting the most popular places so that always limits where we can park but they haven’t really embraced the idea of aires yet.

With the weather taking a turn, it was time to move on an next stop, Slovenia!

Campsites used:

Kemping Tulipan, Eger: HUF8,500 (approx £20) per night, EHU extra. Well marked and maintained gravel/grass pitches. Toilet and shower block with washing machine (paid for token from reception). Fresh water and toilet dumping area are next to each other and people were using the fresh water hose to clean their cassettes – we used our own hose! Despite being advertised as such, the Wifi didn’t cover the whole site. Easy walk into the town centre and the wine cellars in the Valley of the Beautiful Women.

Castrum Camping, Heviz: HUF9,994 (approx £23 per night), EHU extra. Large riverside campsite with grass pitches. Pricing is partially based on pitch size but there are few cheaper pitches available. Two bathroom blocks with washing machines and one dryer (a rarity we’ve found!). Small restaurant on site and daily visit by a bakery van. Easy walk to Lake Heviz and the town.

Other overnight spots:

Stellplatz Budapest: Approx EUR20 p/n, payable EHU available. The actual cost is charged by total parking time via the PARKL app which you need to activate the access gate. Fresh water and dumping facilities are available. It’s a large car park with an area specifically for motorhomes so not picturesque but great for easy access to the Metro into the city and despite being on a main road, it was fairly quiet at night. The City Park is a short walk away.

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley

Polar Steps: https://www.polarsteps.com/ClewleysOnTour/5755379-the-balkans-and-beyond?s=0A28668E-486F-4DEF-80BA-D43AA17F7A87

Romania – 21 April to 1 May 2023

We finished the last post at Camping Honigberg, taking a few days to catch up with ourselves. Whilst there we were joined by friends and fellow travellers, Jason, Katie and Elsa aka Forever Copilots. We had planned to meet up in a couple of weeks in Slovenia but as often happens with this lifestyle, plans change.

Camping Honigberg

We left them the following morning with arrangements in place to meet up again in a couple of days and then wend our way out of Romania together.

Having not seen any bears in the wild we decided to visit the Libearty Bear Sanctuary near Brasov, a large enclosure for bears rescued from captivity and often traumatic lives in circuses, zoos and private owners. You have to take a guided tour (daily tours in English are available) and we were lucky to time it so the lunch truck was doing the rounds so the bears were all coming out for food. Some of the back stories are truly awful and whilst we’d rather not see animals in captivity, they were definitely living better lives here.

We met up again with Jason and Katie at Rupea Castle, the partially restored remains of a 14th century fortress on a basaltic outcrop which separately is a protected geological natural reservation.

Rupea Castle

Although the town of Bran is closely linked to Dracula, Sighisoara was actually the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, better known as Vlad the Impaler, or Dracula. The UNESCO protected hilltop old town is worth a visit to explore the narrow cobbled streets and take in the pastel coloured houses. There are lots of tourist shops and the town is probably overrun in the summer, but whilst busy when we visited, it wasn’t too overwhelming.


Next stop – Turda, to visit a salt mine. Oh and it was Mr C’s birthday so we wanted to be on a campsite to be able to celebrate without worrying about getting moved on. We had read and heard various reports about the salt mine so we visited it with low expectations and had a great time! Where else can you ride on an underground ferris wheel and row a boat on an underground lake? The mining operation closed down in 1932 and there are still remnants of the former industry on display as well as information boards explaining the history of the various chambers. Yes, it is aimed mostly at tourists but it’s a fascinating place nonetheless.

Yes, a boating lake in a salt mine….why not?

We finished the day with a BBQ and birthday cake after the campsite let us decorate the communal outside kitchen with balloons for the birthday celebrations and maybe a glass or two of the local hooch was consumed….

Bob’s Birthday Bash

After a quiet night parked outside the Lupsa Monastery, in which is the oldest (built in 1429) remaining wooden church in the country, we moved towards the Apuseni National Park stopping high in the hills outside Garda de Sus to visit the Ice Cave (Pestera Ghetarul), one of Europe’s largest underground glaciers.

It’s a steep climb down a metal staircase to the cave which contains a large lake of ice which also descends into three vertical chambers. The “Great Hall” which you walk around on a wooden walkway over the ice, has many stalactites and stalagmites. You then follow the same route back up the stairs to exit. Visits are all guided and group size varies – we had at least 100 people on our visit and couldn’t hear (nor understand) the guide said!

Our final night in Romania

Our final night in Romania was a quiet night near the village of Finate, next to a small stream and with an occasional flock of sheep passing by.  To get here from the cave we drove along road number 75 which takes you through the Apuseni National Park, a stunning drive with amazing views over the surrounding countryside.

Campsites used:

Camping La Foisor: Lei70 p/n (EHU at extra cost). All usual facilities available plus a washing machine at Lei20 per wash. Flat grass parking. Communal kitchen area plus shower and toilet block. Once parked the owner shows up with his bottles of homemade Palinka and fruit brandy. This scenario was repeated a few times during our stay, ie each time we stepped out of the van! They were very friendly and chatty and not just because they always seemed to have a drink in their hands. It’s an easy walk into the town centre and the salt mine is within walking distance but is about 3km and mostly uphill on the way there.

Other overnight parking:

Poiana Narciselor Nature Park: A small hard standing carpark surrounded by rolling countryside. No facilities and very quiet.

Rupea Castle: hard standing parking in the castle car park. We asked if we could stay when we visited the castle. The security guard puts a chain across the car park entrance at night. Toilets in the upper car park but no other facilities.

Sighisoara: Lei10 per day parking in a busy town centre car park. No facilities but great access to the old town. Lots of restaurants and bars nearby.

Lupsa Monastery: free parking in their car park (we did talk to one of the monks first). Again we were asked if we needed anything and were told the toilets would be accessible all night. There is a water tap just inside the gate.

Ghetari: Lei25 for overnight parking in a field close to the ice cave. All grass and not many level areas. Cars parking for the day got tickets/receipts but we didn’t – there was no advertised going rate for overnight motorhome parking. It’s an uphill walk to the entrance to the cave and there are a few eating places and souvenir stalls around.

Finate: parking at a popular local picnic spot but quiet enough overnight. Grass parking next to a small stream – needed ramps to get somewhere near level. Shame about the rubbish strewn around the place but that has been par for the course in a lot of areas.

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley

Polar Steps: https://www.polarsteps.com/ClewleysOnTour/5755379-the-balkans-and-beyond?s=0A28668E-486F-4DEF-80BA

Romania – April 7 to April 20, 2023

Well the Romania blog is now going to be in three parts! We were enjoying the country so much and after meeting up with friends (more of that in the next post) we extended our vignette twice more to spend six weeks there.

The Neamt Monastery

The Moldavia region of northeast Romania (not to be confused with the neighbouring country of Moldova) is home to the Bucovina Monasteries, UNESCO protected painted monasteries dating from the 15th and 16th centuries and one of Romania’s top tourist attractions. There are in fact so many monasteries in the region, it could be difficult deciding which ones to visit so we opted to follow a route suggested in our Lonely Planet guidebook and take our time over a few days.

The Library roof at the Neamt Monastery

Initially we based ourselves at the Neamt Monastery where we were welcomed by one of the priests to stay in the car park as long as we needed. From here visited the monasteries at Sihastria, Varatec and Agapia. We had also tried to get to the wooden Sihla Monastery but access is via a muddy forest track and after the recent clutch incident, we didn’t dare attempt the last few hundred metres up a steep hill to the carpark!

This was the easier section

Whilst visiting Sihastria, we were asked if we would like to join the monastery staff for a meal but politely declined as we had so much to see.

Such generosity

As we arrived at Varatec, the man who had earlier invited us jumped out of his car with fresh bread, stuffed cabbage leaves and a bottle of wine which he insisted we took. He also gave us an impromptu tour of the church at Varatec, explaining the different icons and paintings. Our brains seem to be hardwired into thinking that he’d want something in return, but no, he was just a kind man sharing the generosity and hospitality we still struggle to accept.


Following the loop in the guidebook we took in the monasteries at Moldovita, Sucevita, Arbore, Dragomirnaa, Voronet and Humor. The northwestern part of the loop is over the Ciumarna Pass which sits at 1,100m above sea level and is reached via winding mountain roads which were still covered in snow when we visited.

Horse and carts are still a common sight in rural Romania

Most of the monasteries were free to park at and visit but we were out of season. Where we paid entry fees, it was usually lei10, under £2, each

The Transraraul Pass

After visiting so many monasteries we were looking for something different and headed into the mountains of the eastern Carpathians. Romania has a few famous driving roads and high passses but the two big ones we had on the list, the Transfagarasan and the Alpina passes were both closed for the foreseeable future but luckily for us the Transraraul was open….well sort of!

Not a bad view to wake up to at the Transraraul Pass

The Transraraul Pass is reached via either the 175A or the 175B and our first attempt was from the 175A near Campulung Moldovenesc. After tackling a few steep sections (one tight hairpin was on a 16% slope) we found the road closed until 30 April so we backtracked to the main road and tried again via the 175B. All looked good and after spending a couple of glorious nights near the top we tried to rejoin the 175A to come down the southern side of the pass. As we got to the top there was another sign to say this part of the road was also closed but we met a local who told us to ignore the sign – it was definitely OK to drive as he’d done it the previous week. Glad to say we got down the narrow winding road without incident!

The Bicaz Gorge

We drove through the Ceahlau National Park which includes the 1907m high Ceahlau Massif, Moldavia’s highest point. Unfortunately we were unable to park anywhere overnight so drove straight on to Bicaz, and then the following day we headed into the Bicaz Gorge. The road here cuts through 300m high limestone walls which you can almost touch in places, the road is so narrow.

Following the road 12C out of the gorge you reach Lacu Rosu (Red Lake) which doesn’t live up to its name and even less so on a murky, drizzly day. It is a good place to stop though for lunch and souvenir shopping, not that we did the latter!

Lacu Rosu

One last mountain drive took us to Lake Saint Anne (Lac Sfanta Ana) which is actually a lake in the crater of and old volcano. There is a good path down to the lake from the car park (a minibus is available for less mobile visitors) and there is a walk around the lake. This is bear country and although we didn’t see any, we did spot large birds of prey and got a great shot of an owl sitting in a tree by the road.

The first campsite we used with an electric fence surrounding it….. to keep the bears out.

As we were in the area we decided to head back to Camping Honigberg to catch up with ourselves for a few days before beginning our drive westwards and out of the country.

Lake Saint Anne
What a beauty.

Campsites used:

Camping Cristal, Sucevita: Lei40 per night without EHU (usual rate is Lei70 p/n). Flat grassy area for motorhomes. Shower and toilet block. Lots of open space which would be great in the summer. An easy, flat walk along the main road to the Sucevita Monastery.

Cabana Turistica Lac Sfanta Ana: Lei80 (a little over £14) for 24 hour parking. At the time of our visit there was no water to the campsite as it was still too cold to switch it on but toilets are available at the ticket office/reception when open and because of the grass/mud parking it was difficult to find a level spot. We were given a 5l bottle of water and offered firewood when we checked in but it wasn’t the weather to sit outside! The campsite is surrounded by an electric fence to keep the bears out and there is a path down to and around Lac Sfanta Ana directly from the campsite.

Camping Honigberg: EUR18 p/n for two adults, the van but no EHU (available at additional cost). Grass parking within the vicarage garden. Washing machine available. We liked this campsite so much we came back! We were in the general area so decided to come back here to do the washing and make use of the good wifi.

Other overnight spots:

Neamt Monastery: we stayed in the overspill car park, a short walk to the monastery and the Church of St Nicholas. Water available close to the monastery library from an unthreaded pipe, and there are toilets at the monastery (not sure if they’re open when the monastery closed).

Transraraul Pass: in a roughly north to south direction, two roads cover the pass, the 175A and 175B. We initially spent one night at the end of the 175A near Campulung Moldovenesc in a large gravel car park. On the 175B we found a layby close to the top surrounded by snow and with stunning views over the mountains. We had a couple of peaceful nights parked here. No facilities.

Bicaz: a small carpark next to a small stadium. Flat, hard standing car park. No facilities. OK for one night.

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley

Polar Steps: https://www.polarsteps.com/ClewleysOnTour/5755379-the-balkans-and-beyond?s=0A28668E-486F-4DEF-80BA-D43AA17F7A87

Romania – 22 March to 6 April 2023

It’s easy to split the Romania blog into two parts – before and after the mud incident! We’ll start with the former and the latter will follow in a couple of weeks once we’ve moved on to our next country.

The Mud Incident

Before entering Romania we bought an online vignette (www.roviniete.or and there is an option to select the site in English) which cost Lei157.39, just over £28 for 30 days. We then renewed for a further seven days for Lei79.18, about £14 after receiving an email a week before our first vignette expired.

We entered Romania on a grey, wet day and drove through extensive flat agricultural land which in places looked unchanged from centuries ago – we saw so many horse and carts on the road!

Always good to meet up with friends on the road.

We were on a mission to reach Bran where we were meeting up with Ali and Martin (aka The Triggols), fellow travellers and also Hymer owners. The sun had finally come out and we had a couple of glorious days exploring the famous Bran Castle (admission Lei55 each) and the surrounding countryside.

Bran Castle

If visiting the castle, which tenuously has links with Dracula, we would advise avoiding the weekends – even out of season we could see the long queues on the Saturday (we had been the previous day). Whilst some of the rooms display local myths and legends, one floor has been restored to show artefacts from the actual history of the castle and overall is worth a visit.

Just one of the many rooms in Bran Castle

We also had our introduction to the sweet delicacies of langos and kurtos – hate to think of the calorie count but nonetheless, delicious!

Kurtos (top) Langos (bottom). Both very tasty.

With the need for a washing machine starting to nag, we headed to a campsite in Harman, the former Saxon town Honigberg. The campsite is in the vicarage garden of the Harman Fortified Church. Within the walls is the Church of St Nikolaus which dates back to 1240 and houses “women’s benches” in place of pews from 1753 when ladies’ stiff clothing didn’t allow them to lean back!

No leaning back here.
Inside the fortifications at Honigberg Church

After three peaceful days by the church it was back to nature and this time, mud volcanoes…yes they are a thing. The mud mixes with gases and rises from about 3km below the Earth’s surface to erupt and form cones or large burping pools of muddy water. There are two areas of these volcanoes close to the campsite and we visited both. We found the smaller area to be the better of the two – there is more going on there and not so many school parties. Each area cost Lei4 per person to enter.

Mud Volcano

Our next destination was to prove an expensive one! We drove to the Danube Delta, a large area of wetlands with a large migratory bird population. Having walked the dry mud road first, we parked up on the bank of the Danube looking forward to a couple of days watching the comings and goings on the river.

Food from the local fisherman.

We had a visitor in the form of Kate (Overlanding Solo on Instagram) who we had previously met in Turkey and spent a few hours chatting to a couple of local fishermen who shared their food and wine with us. All seemed well in the world but then it began to rain….and it continued to rain.

A cracking park up…or so we thought.

We had been watching the river and the water level was fine but we had come down a steep slope off the road to get here. The weather forecast had changed to show rain for the next few days so we decided to move on after one night. Just had to get back to the road and after 4 hours we did, being towed behind a tractor driven by a local farmer. It was lucky that we’d seen Kate the day before as she’d been on a boat trip so put us in touch with her tour guide who contacted a friend in the area who found us the farmer. No matter the situation, it seems there is always someone who will help. We saw no birds.

Even the tractor struggled.

The whole sorry episode is played out in our “Stuck in the Mud” video on YouTube and the upshot was we needed the clutch looking at so we drove to the closest Mercedes truck shop which was a couple of hours away in Galati.

Park ups aren’t always glamorous. This was perfect for our needs though.

We ended up needing a new clutch, flywheel and bearing and luckily for us, they were able to fit us in within two days. We were in a free car park down by the Danube (couldn’t get away from it!) and had a launderette a short walk away, so a couple of days’ wait was not a problem.

At least we managed to get the washing done too.

With the clutch sorted we headed north only to wake up the next morning with a rapidly deflating rear tyre. Fortunately tyre shops are everywhere in Romania and once we found one with a jack big enough to lift us, it was a 20 minute repair job after removing a piece of metal which was embedded between the treads.

Great service.
Two inches long and no idea where it came from.

Having also broken the toilet flush handle (and in the absence of a Thetford dealer in the immediate vicinity, mended with an improvised spindle cut down from a 9mm knitting needle) during this time, we needed a change of scenery so it was back to the mountains for us. More of that next time when we visit the beautiful painted Bucovina Monasteries.

Back in the mountains. At last.

Campsites used:

Camping Honigberg, Harman: EUR15 p/n for 2 people and a motorhome without EHU (EUR3 extra). The campsite is within the walled garden of an old vicarage and parking is on grass. Standard water and WC facilities are available plus a washing machine at EUR2 per wash. Immaculate shower/toilet block – so much so that we used it rather than our onboard shower, which is a first since COVID. The fortified church is just across the road and there are shops close by. In fact we liked this campsite so much we came back!

Muddy Camping: Lei60 p/n (approx £11) without EHU. Clean water and black dump on site. All grass. Didn’t use any other facilities. Ongoing building work re toilets and showers. Great onsite restaurant offering traditional home cooking. Easy walking distance of two mud volcano sites.

Other overnight parking:

Snagov: free overnight spot next to a small football stadium. Quiet and flat – great for one night. No facilities.

Bran: parking is currently on the land of a house owner just outside the centre of Bran, who is in the process of building a small campsite. Currently just fresh water available and he is only asking for donations to the new facilities. Really friendly owner who can advise on walking in the local area. Short walk to the town and Bran Castle.

Near Garliciu: after a long day driving we tried a few places before settling here for the night. It’s nothing other than a pull off from the road and grassy (potentially muddy) but OK for the night. No facilities.

Danube Delta: one of several grassy areas used by fishermen right on the banks of the Danube and just across from the nature reserve. You are supposed to buy a permit to stay overnight – there are no signs but one of the fishermen gave us the website so we bought one each online for Lei5, less than £1. Access is via a mud track with steep banks down to the parking areas – great when it’s dry but in the wet, the mud turns very quickly to clay making driving out very difficult. In our case, a tractor was required to pull us out of the quagmire, up the slope and back along the track until we hit the tarmac.

Galati: Free riverside car park by the border force building. Flat and hard standing but no facilities. Easy walk into town. The road is busy but does quieten down a little at night.

Bacau: roadside park up next to the old stadium. No facilities but OK for one night to break up a long journey. A busy road which did calm down a little overnight.

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley

Polar Steps: https://www.polarsteps.com/ClewleysOnTour/5755379-the-balkans-and-beyond?s=0A28668E-486F-4DEF-

South and south-west Bulgaria – 22 February to 10 March 2023

It was with a heavy heart that we left Turkey and crossed the border into Bulgaria. We had had an amazing three months exploring Turkey and hope to return some day but new adventures lay ahead as we began our slow journey back to the UK.

Bulgaria here we come

The border crossing was fairly straightforward and it’s worth noting that you have to pay €6 (in Euro) to have the van disinfected as you enter Bulgaria.  

Tolls in Bulgaria took a little thought as we are over 3.5T so couldn’t buy a simple vignette and had to use a pay as you go app. We used the Bulgarian Tollpass app which allowed us to input that day’s route and pay the appropriate toll. The tolls were often just pennies and over a four week period, it cost a total of around £10.40.

We had very little idea of what to expect in Bulgaria and had a route which would cover the most popular tourist spots plus see some of the quieter countryside. The weather was variable and in the mountains there was still plenty of snow.


The old town of Plovdiv was worth seeing and we spent a few days in Sofia, as our daughter flew out at the last minute for a visit. June was treated to an afternoon in a hotel spa (bliss!) and we wandered around the city admiring the buildings and many churches including the Aleksander Nevski Cathedral.

Aleksander Nevski Cathedral
Aleksander Nevski Cathedral
Changing of the guard Sofia style.

We visited several other churches and monasteries in the region including the Rila Monastery which was quite simply stunning. We stayed in the car park right outside the gate so were able to visit early the next morning, having the place almost to ourselves.

Rila Monastery

We met Oxsana and Brad, aka Frenchy Le van, who we had previously spent some time with in Turkey. Oxsana introduced us to the tradition of “Baba Marta” or “Granny March” which marks the beginning of spring on 1st March and is when Bulgarians exchange red and white tassels and bracelets which are then tied to the branches of trees.

The Rila Mountains
The Rila Mountains

Bulgaria has a number of natural thermal springs and we visited a couple, going from one extreme to another! The first was at Repite where there are a number of shallow outdoor pools used by locals (a paid, more landscaped area was also available) and then we visited Thermal Camping Velingrad, a campsite with properly built pools filled with naturally heated water.

Thermal Camping Velingrad, not our normal park up but nice little treat.

Campsites used:

Kamping Kromidoro: BGN40 p/n (approx £18) which was BGN16 for the van, BGN8 per person and BGN8 for hook up. A small eco-campsite run by a very friendly English couple who kindly opened up the site despite being closed for the winter. Washing machine available at BGN10 per wash – includes powder. Lots of communal space and BBQ area. Free wifi. Lots of walking around surrounding vineyards and fields. The road through the local village is full of potholes but if driven slowly, it’s definitely worth weaving your way around them!

Thermal Camping Velingrad: BGN90.20 (yes, about £40) p/n including EHU. Fully serviced pitches, free wifi, washing machine and tumble dryer. The site has its own thermal pool complex including indoor and outdoor pools, two saunas and a steam room – dressing gowns provided free of charge. BBQ area, bar and restaurant area. Although the per night cost is expensive, taken the facilities in account, it is worth it and if you can arrive on a Sunday or Monday, you can get 4 nights for the price of 3.

Other overnight spots:

Plovdiv Stadium: a large car park next to the sports centre just outside of the town centre. Fairly quiet once everyone had left but the trains across the road ran all night. No facilities.

Devin: the car park at the entrance to the Devinska River Gorge and next to a thermal pool complex. There was a port-a-loo in the carpark but no other facilities. There is a hike into the gorge and up the valley side to a waterfall.

Rupite thermal pools: a large open grassed area close to the pools – some are free and others you pay to enter. There is a walk to some ancient Roman ruins which are still being excavated. There are a couple of port-a-loos in a small car park. Only noise was from a building site close by.

Vitosha, near Sofia: a slightly sloping car park at the base of Mt Vitosha and next to the Dragalevski Monastery. Water is available at the monastery but only for filling small water bottles. No other facilities.

Vasil Levski National Stadium: BGN20 p/n and there didn’t seem to be a limit on how long you could stay. No facilities. Parking is on the road around the stadium – we were asked to get as close to the back as possible and did manage to find a long space although slightly sloping. The stadium is in almost constant use but mostly quiet and we backed on to a large park. Great spot for walking into the city and good value given the location.

Rila Lakes: BGN10 p/n and parking just below the lower cable car station. A large gravel car park. No facilities but cafes nearby (limited opening off-season). Lots of walking and it’s worth taking the cable car up to the lakes (although all covered in snow when we visited). The cable car was BGN25 each for a return ticket – it’s possible to walk down when the snow has melted.

Rila Monastery: small car park outside the monastery costing BGN10 per day and if staying overnight, you have to pay for two days. A must visit if in Bulgaria, the monastery is free to enter and by staying overnight you can wander in before any coaches arrive. Water available but not via a threaded tap. The bakery is also worth a visit for a freshly cooked “mekitsa”, a fried bread/donut pastry and utterly delicious!

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley

Polar Steps: https://www.polarsteps.com/ClewleysOnTour/5755379-the-balkans-and-beyond?s=0A28668E-486F-4DEF-80BA-D43AA17F7A87

Our Route: http://www.bobandjune.co.uk/the_balkans_and_turkey_route/

Northern Turkey – 9 to 21 February 2023

To complete our trip to Turkey we had planned to follow the Black Sea coast pretty much as far as the border with Bulgaria but as usual we took a few detours along the way!

Sunset at Silivri

The coastline itself was a never ending series of, well to us anyway, very similar towns spread along one of the main truck routes from Georgia and Azerbaijan and not very inspiring. Maybe it was the weather, or that places were busy so we had problems parking but we just weren’t feeling it. Heading inland a little though, the hills are covered in tea plantations and very quickly you are back in the mountains again, much more our thing.

Sumela Monastery

We did however enjoy our visits to the old towns of Safranbolu and Edirne, our final stop in Turkey.

The streets of Safranbolu

Safranbolu made its name as an isolated source of the precious spice saffron. Nowadays the old cobbled streets cater for tourists but it’s well worth visiting. We loved the workshops of the Metalworker’s Bazaar where Bob was invited to try his hand at forging something.

New occupation for Bob

Most people leave here having bought saffron or local Turkish delight but we came away with a hand forged axe and some handmade cups and saucers from the pottery next door.

Hand crafted axe

We had to stop for the obligatory gözleme and this time we got to see the café owner making the pancakes.

We stopped in Edirne to see the Selimiye Mosque but it is currently undergoing extensive renovations. However there are several other beautiful mosques close to the old town so we visited those – we both love the architecture and the internal decoration of the mosques. We will miss the daily prayer calls, even the dawn ones!

Such Beauty

We have really enjoyed our trip to Turkey and will come back again one day and not just because we were buying fuel at under £1 a litre! Motorhoming was easier than we expected as water and LPG were readily available, although the roads can only be described as variable! Don’t underestimate the size of Turkey (we drove just under 5,000 miles in all) and even after almost three months, there is still so much to see.


There is something in Turkey for everyone – beautiful coastline, high mountains, ancient history, modern cities and great food. The people are so friendly and we were welcomed everywhere we went.

We will post a summary of the trip shortly but if you are thinking of visiting Turkey in your motorhome then do it!

Campsites used:

Danzi Camping, near Ardeşen: tl250 per night including EHU. A relatively new riverside campsite close to the Georgian border, run by a very friendly couple. The site is mostly for tents but there are a couple of mostly grass but flat pitches for vans. Newly built block housing showers, toilets and a communal kitchen which has a washing machine and tumble dryer (both cost tl50 a use). Small lounge area in which food and drinks are sold.

Safranbolu Karavan Kamp, Safranbolu: tl250 per night with metered electric extra. Very sloping site although the owner said he intends to level out the pitches, and when we visited, it was very muddy! Pricing was a bit confusing and he didn’t mention metering the EHU until the following morning – not that we had an issue with that but we just like to know upfront! Great site for walking to the old town of Safranbolu.

Other overnight spots:

Sumela Monastery: we would have stayed in one of the payable car parks but because of the snow, they were all closed! We managed to tuck ourselves away for a free night. Toilets close to the monastery but closed when we visited.

Terme: an overnight stop on a beachside track to the east of Terme. A rough track surrounded by lots of rubbish but it had been a long driving day and all the campsites were along the main road. No services.

Vezirkopru Park: tl95 for entry to park. A beautiful country park that allows overnight parking. Toilets and freshwater taps throughout the park. Slightly sloping but hard standing parking spaces.

Horma Kanyon: another park up disrupted by heavy snow! We couldn’t get into the official car park for the canyon so tucked ourselves into a little pull in and spent a night there wondered if we’d get out the next day! No services.

Alapli: large beachside car park and picnic area. Given it was a Saturday night there were a few locals around revving their engines but they quietened down as we went to bed. Toilets nearby but no other services.

Silivri: a large grassed area, a short walk to the town with its restaurants and cafes. Lots of cars coming and going but quiet at night. Close to a supermarket. No services.

Selimiye Otopark, Edirne: tl105 for overnight parking. Large flattish car park close to the Selimiye Mosque, with large spaces for motorhomes and coaches. Be careful of some people trying to steer you to parking in less salubrious areas! We nearly fell for it but gut instinct told us we were not in the right place. No services.

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley

Polar Steps: https://www.polarsteps.com/ClewleysOnTour/5755379-the-balkans-and-beyond?s=0A28668E-486F-4DEF-80BA-D43AA17F7A87

Southeastern Turkey – 21January to 5 February 2023

As usual, I’m writing this post a few days after we were in this region and if some of the names seem familiar, it is because this is the region that was struck by the horrendous earthquake in the early hours of Monday 6 February.  As of now the recovery process is still ongoing but it is being hampered by the weather which turned cold and snowy just before the disaster struck.

The people of this region have been some of the most friendly and hospitable people we have ever met and our thoughts go out to them all.

A food market we wandered into in Tarsus

We left the cold of Cappadocia to head back to the coast at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Our first stop was Tarsus, the birthplace of St Paul, although we have to confess that our primary reason for visiting was the free washing machines at the municipal motorhome aire! With the washing drying we wandered into town and followed a tourist walking route which took us past most of the main historic attractions – well worth a few hours of our day.

The municipal motorhome aire at Tarsus

After Tarsus we drove around lakes close to Yumurtalik but couldn’t find a park up there so we headed to a car park near Yumurtalik Beach. As we were sitting outside the van having a coffee, we were approached by a family who were having a picnic nearby and who asked if they could look inside. No problem, we said, and after all three generations had stuck their heads through the door, we suddenly had an invite back to the grandparent’s house for coffee, so we packed up the van and followed them the 30km or so to Ceyhan. Having settled down for a cup of tea, we were then offered dinner, a shower and a bed for the night! Not wanting to offend anyone, and knowing the Turks are incredibly hospitable, we ate the delicious soup and the kibbeh but very politely turned down the bath and bed.

The family would have been in the region impacted by the earthquake and we just hope Yusuf and the rest of the family are ok.

Fantastic kibbeh

From here we drove further south along the Mediterranean, spending a couple of nights beside the beach at Arsuz, catching up on admin and housework.

The Titus Tunnel

We visited the Titus Tunnel near Samandag, a flood prevention tunnel built by the Romans in the first century and whilst there had a great homemade flatbread stuffed with cheese and spinach – that was worth the entry fee alone!

You won’t get fresher flatbread.

We reached our southernmost point a few kilometres south of here, about 12km north of the Syrian border, when the track became impassable so we turned north again towards Antakya (also known as Hatay).

The most southerly point for us on this tour.

Sadly the city carpark was unable to accommodate us so after a few twists and turns through the busy narrow streets we found a campsite out of town. This meant we missed exploring the town and all that it had to offer.

Esenbahçe Kamp Alani, near Hatay

Our bellies were looking forward to our next stop at Gaziantep, known for its baklava and other foodie treats! The town is in the centre of the pistachio growing region and given our habit of stopping occasionally for coffee, we had to try the local pistachio coffee. Well, what a revelation – we really liked it!

Who knew pistachio coffee was a thing? We both loved it.

We wandered around the old bazaar area where we had all our kitchen knives sharpened in a small workshop and had our first kebab of the day.

The Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum is definitely worth a visit. The mosaics were unearthed at the Roman site of Belkis-Zeugma and moved when the Birecik Dam flooded the area. The size and detail of the mosaics is phenomenal.

The Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum

We had taken a taxi from the campsite with another English couple, Rich and Sarah, aka tracey_van_ness on Instagram, and met up with them again later in the day for an early dinner at Kebap ve Baklava (worth a visit and don’t be put off by the queue as it moves really quickly). We don’t eat out much as a rule as we’re on a budget but we knew we’d blow that in Gaziantep! We had different kebabs so we could share and of course had to finish with a couple of pieces of pistachio baklava.

We were now beginning our journey east and spent a couple of nights near Halfeti on the banks of the Euphrates. The old town of Halfeti (Eski Halfeti) was partially submerged following the construction of the Birecik Dam. It’s now a destination for boat tours to view the Rumkale fortress on the opposite bank and the flooded village of Savas, where the minaret of the submerged mosque stands above the water.

The flooded mosque.

We had hoped to visit the famous statues at Nemrut Dagi but knew there was a good chance we wouldn’t get there and indeed, at a height of 5,500ft we found the snowbound and very much closed approach road.

The end of the road for us.

We spent three nights in Mardin but had only one day when we left the van – can’t be helped travelling in this region during the winter! We did have one glorious day when the sun came out so we could explore the old town and look across the plains to Syria.

Looking out from Mardin towards Syria
Mardin old town

Our final stop of this leg was the Mor Gabriel Monastery where we spent a couple of nights in their very snowy car park! The monastery is the oldest surviving Syriac Orthodox monastery in the world having been founded in 397AD and is located near Midyat. Although still home to practising monks and nuns it is possible to take a guided tour of the monastery.

We are there somewhere
Mor Gabriel Monastery
Mor Gabriel Monastery

The snow of the last couple of days was a gentle introduction to what was to come next!

Campsites used:

Tarsus Municipal Campsite, Tarsus: Free, including EHU and limited use of a washing machine. Small individual pitches for 10 vans and any overflow was accommodated in the car park – it’s worth arriving early to secure a pitch. The maximum stay is initially 3 nights and return visits are limited. The washing machine is under lock and key and used under the supervision of the site manager but it’s free so can’t complain! Great restaurant next door and others within short walking distance. The city of Tarsus is about 2km away, a flat, easy walk.

Esenbahçe Kamp Alani, near Hatay: tl150 p/n (£6.50) including EHU. Small, rural, riverside campsite. All grass pitches. All the usual facilities but we only stayed overnight (only because we were on our way to somewhere else) so can’t comment on them.

Gaziantep Karavan Park, Gaziantep: tl150 p/n including EHU. Free use of washing machines and DRYERS – yes, tumble dryers, although it did feel like you had to fight with local caravan owners who had bought their week’s washing from home with them! A fairly new, 24hr guarded, large, tiered site with hard standing pitches next to a lake. Reception building with a communal seating area and terrace. Pitches available for long term rent and lots of caravans seem to be long term. Taxi point just outside the front gate and it cost us tl150 to get to the centre of Gaziantep.

Mardin Karavan Camping, Mardin: tl150 p/n including EHU. A small car park run by a really friendly and helpful family – we drank lots of tea with them! A great location for access to the old town of Mardin and it has all the facilities you need, albeit it’s not a pretty site. Some noise as you are right next to a mosque and the owner’s dog barks at anything and everything passing the front gate day and night.

Other overnight stops:

Buyuk Ataturk Park, Ceyhan: Free overnight spot in the car park. A few cars around in the evening but once they had gone, it was quiet enough.

Arsuz: Free parking on grass close to the beach (no swimming allowed though at this point). Some noise from the construction site behind the parking area but quiet at night. A great place to rest for a couple of days. Short walk into town.

Siverek Picnic Area, Siverek: Free parking overlooking a dammed lake on the Euphrates. Large parking area. Toilets at the entrance. Very quiet night.

Halfeti: Free parking on a track alongside the Euphrates river. They are working on the track so some lorry noise during the day. Short walk to a few shops.

Mor Gabriel Monastery: Free parking in the outer carpark. We arrived during a snow storm and staff from the monastery came out to see if we needed anything. Great views across the countryside.

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley

Polar Steps: https://www.polarsteps.com/ClewleysOnTour/5755379-the-balkans-and-beyond?s=0A28668E-486F-4DEF-80BA

Cappadocia – 11th to 21st January 2023

This small area needs its own post – we spent longer in the Cappadocia region than anywhere else so far on our travels!

The Balloons over Cappadocia

Moving towards the east, we first stopped in the Ihlara Valley and began at the north of the valley at Selime Castle, the largest cave complex in the region. The valley was a favourite retreat of Byzantine monks and many of the buildings carved into the rock are monasteries and churches.

June’s favourite cave at Selime Castle
Selime Castle

We spent a couple of hours here exploring the churches and other buildings before driving a little further south to a small hot spring we had read about. We have visited a few hot springs and this was definitely the hottest but also the smallest! Shame about all the rubbish lying around though.

Nice hot spring. Shame about the rubbish just out of shot.
One of the churches in the Ihlara Valley

We then parked at the visitor centre near the town of Ihlara and from where we took the 350+ steps down to the valley floor to walk along the valley and explore the churches here.  There are a dozen or so churches built into the valley walls and some still have amazing frescoes dating from as early as the 9th century.  The total walk was about 10km.

If timed correctly you can probably explore the whole valley in one day and pay only one fee of tl90 but we took our time so paid for two days.

Love Valley

Goreme is the main town of the Cappadocia’s tourist industry and much of the town is geared towards tourists (several Chinese, Korean and Indian restaurants are just one example of this!). Although we stayed on a campsite for a couple of nights, we much preferred being parked up overlooking the valleys from where we could watch the hot air balloons, one of Cappadocia’s biggest tourist draws, and view the strange rock formations. The balloons only fly when the weather allows and we saw them twice in six days.

Park up above Love Valley

Whilst here we visited the Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site of a Byzantine monastic settlement built into the rock. There seemed to be a few churches closed when we visited but it was still worth going and also buying the extra ticket to visit the Dark Church which has the most breathtaking frescoes. The church gets its name from the lack of windows which has gone a long way to preserve the frescoes and their strong colours.

One of the frescoes. Just stunning

There are some fantastic hikes in Rose Valley and we covered a lot of it, from the peak of Aktepe Hill and down a few hundred metres onto the valley floor.  

The Columned Church (Kolonlu Kilise) is well worth hunting out.

Between Ihlara and Goreme we visited Derinkuyu, one of several underground cities in the area.

One of the tunnels in the underground city.
The round stone to the left would be rolled to close off the tunnel.

If on a quick visit to the area it is possible to cover a lot with the Cappadocia Pass which gives access to seven locations for 400tl (just over £17) and is valid for 72 hours. We decided to take our time and paid for each place we visited (3 out of the 7 but we had to pay twice for Ilhara Valley) which cost us a total of tl480 (around £20.50).

We’re not usually ones for big tourist centres but Cappadocia was a must, although we were grateful that it wasn’t overly busy. Saying that on our last morning we think they hit the maximum permitted number of balloons flying, which is 100, and some of those baskets carry 28 passengers!

About the max of 100 balloons that are allowed to fly at any one time.

It has been quite cold here (we’ve been in thermals for the past two weeks!) so time to head south again for some warmth. 

Campsites used:

Panorama Camping: tl450 (£19.50) per night including EHU. Tiered, hard standing campsite, close to the town. Small pitches but plenty of room out of season – upper terrace has the views and lower terrace the best wifi signal! Swimming pool and washing machine were out of service when we visited. Friendly, helpful owner who is very responsive on WhatsApp.

Other overnight spots:

Ilhara Valley Tourist Facility car park: was free when we visited. There was building work going on close to the main car park so we used the overflow area. There are toilets but they were closed when we visited.

Love Valley viewpoint: no pay point on the track we used. Parking is a free for all along the western ridge overlooking Love Valley and which has great views of the balloons, some of which land in this area. Access is via bumpy tracks which could be muddy if there’s any prolonged period of rain. Restaurants and toilets nearby.

Rose Valley viewpoint: tl50 for a motorhome to access the valley (only pay to enter and not a daily fee). Bumpy mud tracks again off the main access road. Great views of the balloons taking off and plenty of local hiking. Restaurants and toilets nearby.

Blog: www.bobandjune.com

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/bobclewley

Polar Steps: https://www.polarsteps.com/ClewleysOnTour/5755379-the-balkans-and-beyond?s=0A28668E-486F-4DEF-80BA