uk to europe

Newsletter - February 2005

to the February issue of our newsletter and a special welcome to all our new suscribers.

Thank you for all the positive feedback. We will continue to strive to make the information as pertinent and helpful as possible. Please continue with the feedback and send in your requests for any issues you would like to see covered.

We hope the information we provide is of use to you but please note that we accept no responsibility for the accuracy of the content. These are our personal opinions. We therefore welcome
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Clients Feedback:

" We had a great time and you deserve a lot of the credit.  Being honest with
people and ensuring that they have a good time and enjoy what they are
doing is very important to achieve success.  It is important that people know
what they will be facing so that they are not disappointed - and you were able to
do that for us. Many thanks for all your help and assistance"

Extract from email from EC in USA


A clients report on their motorhome triparound Europe. (Keith & Marianne R)

"Dear Tracey,

My husband and I have recently returned from our trip to Europe and only now
realise just how much good advice and tips you gave us! It was my husband¹s
first time in Europe, and he can¹t stop talking about it. We came back with
more than 1,000 photos which confirm that we found the trip most memorable
and exciting!

You remember we hired a motor home for a month, which we picked up outside
Paris and took through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the
Czech Republic, before delivering it back to Paris.

Even though we are mature travellers, we felt very safe and snug in our van,
which had a shower and toilet, a comfortable bed, lots of cupboard space and
a very serviceable kitchen! We cooked most meals ourselves, using the
wonderful variety of delicious European food.

For some transport stages we used the freeways, including the fabulous
German autobahn, which is the most efficient way to get somewhere quickly
but without missing out on the gorgeous scenery. However, we also often took
slow country roads, meandering past farms and forests and quiet medieval
villages, which was a completely different experience again.

Sometimes we spent a few days in one area and met the locals and other
travellers. We were surprised at the number of Œcampervanners¹ travelling
around Europe and picked up quite a few pointers!

We did not want to (it is not necessary to) stay in camping grounds and pay
extra if we could avoid it. It turned out we only needed to do that three
times in some very crowded cities! For our overnight stops we parked mostly
at picturesque rivers and lakes, in shopping centre car parks, on hilltops
watching the sunset, roadside picnic stops and often on freeway motor stops,
which are equipped with showers, restaurants, shops, patrol station etc.
People were always friendly, and there were never any objections.
We had an absolutely wonderful and fascinating time and loved both the
peaceful rural areas but also the most romantic and sophisticated cities. We
feel that the motor home gave us the opportunity to see a lot in a short
time; we could be as independent as we wanted and follow an itinerary or
not. It also turned out to be the most cost-effective trip, with the rental
being for our accommodation and transport and cooking our own meals. We
cannot recommend it highly enough and would encourage everyone interested to
get all the relevant advice, good websites and driving tips from your
company, buy some good maps and just go!

Well done, Tracey, and thank you again!

Car hire: Watchpoints when renting:

  • Be careful to note if extras eg. additional driver fees are per day or per rental.  The difference can be substantial.
  • Be aware of the rental company’s petrol policy.  Some companies charge you for the first tank of petrol and expect you to return it empty.  Others give you a full tank and expect it back full and if you don’t return it full and it needs refilling, expect to pay a hefty premium on the normal petrol price.
  • When you hire a car, you are always requested to leave a credit card imprint which they will use to charge your card if you have any ‘extras’ to pay.  If you do not have a credit card advise them when booking as your booking may not be accepted. 
  • Bearing in mind that they have a ‘signed authority’ to charge your card, check the car very carefully for damage or scratches and have it noted on the contract before you drive away.  If you return the car with any damage, the car rental company is entitled to charge your card for damages. Do also check the car when you are returning it and get it noted on the contract  that there is no damage  before you leave.
  • Familiarise yourself with the inclusions and exclusions of your rental and also whether or not your travel insurance policy covers “Rental vehicle insurance excess” . Some rental agents may intimate that you really need to take their extra insurance because you will have an excess if you have an accident or damage the vehicle when in fact you may already be covered by your travel insurance policy.
  • They may also offer you an ‘upgrade’ to a larger car.
    Ascertain if this is a free upgrade or one which you actually have to pay for! 
  • Free insurance on your credit card? Check to see if they expect you to take out the highest level of Waiver BEFORE they will cover your excess/deductible
  • Lastly, should you decide that you wish to extend your car rental period – be very careful. If you extend directly with that rental company, nine times out of ten, you will be charged nearly double what you paid in the first place! You have two options:  One you can try and negotiate a rate with the rental company, asking them if they will extend at the rate you paid on that rental.  Should they agree, I suggest in the strongest terms, that you get the agreement in writing and get the employee to sign and date it, making sure their name is legible.  Believe me, this advice comes from years of having to tell people, that our contract ended the day they were due to return the car as per our voucher and that they are responsible for the extension and that there is nothing we can do to help.  
    The second option is to contact the agent or company you booked with back in Australia, by email, fax or phone – quoting your current rental details and ask them if they can organise the extension for you.  Some car rental companies allow the extension or you can even ask for a new rental for the additional days and pay by credit card.  Try and allow at least 4 or 5 days notice if you can. Last-minute extensions or last-minute new bookings take up a lot of extra time and attention and someone who is really busy may just say “no” to avoid the time-consuming work.


The above points pertain to car rental or car hire. They do not apply to car leasing.

With car leasing it is different. Everything is covered. No insurance or excess if you damage the car etc and if you wish to extend your lease, you can do so by contacting the Paris head office of the leasing company.  They will arrange the extension for you.  It cannot be done in Australia.  However, they too will charge you more than you paid in Australia.

Trivia Competition!! Closes 29 February 2005

Email your answers to :

The prize: A Nike travel bag, 2 bottles of Aussie Wine and a $100 travel voucher to be used on this website. The prize will be mailed anywhere in the world.

  1. What is the capital city in Spain?

  2. Where does the Running of the Bulls take place?
  3. Where were the 2004 Olympics held?
  4. Which city/country is not in Eastern Europe? Budapest, Bucharest, Belgrade or Belgium?
  5. In which country would you find the River Thames?



The Best Canal Boat company in Britain?

Canal holidays are fun - whether with family or friends, you can choose an easy relaxing route or a holiday of adventure and exploration. Drifting along at no more than 4 miles per hour, enforced activity as you come to a flight of locks. Camaraderie when you meet other boaters, friendliness when you tie up at the pub for a drink or a meal. Every bend in the canal brings forth some new delight, every mile some new feature. You can never see it all, no matter how many times you return. But why worry? Narrowboat holidays are for relaxation, for unwinding from everyday pressures, for doing what you like, when you like. So which is the best Canal Boat company in Britain? Black Prince Narrowboat Holidays.

As a recent Heart of England Gold Award winner for Hire Craft Operator of the Year, Black Prince Canal Boat Holidays pride themselves on being able to offer you the choice of luxury narrowboats to suit all requirements including 30 new boat this year. The operate from a choice of 6 ideally located UK bases viz: Chirk, Acton, Stoke-on-Trent, Stoke Prior, Napton and the magnificent Falkirk base in Scotland which is home to the dramatic Falkirk Wheel. We were just dying to mention these interesting facts regarding ‘the Wheel’. …!!

The Falkirk Wheel is 115 feet high - the equivalent height of eight double decker buses. It is 115 feet wide and 100 feet long. The wheel will lift loads of 600 tonnes (300 at each end) - the approximate weight of 11 adult African elephants!! The structure stands in a 330 feet wide circular basin with moorings for over 20 boats. Before redevelopment, the site was a deep open cast pit left behind by mining, which ended in the early 1980s. The total project cost to get the wheel going was approximately £17 million and work took 22 months. The wheel is designed to last for at least the next 120 years. I hope you are were as impressed as I was ?

Over the past few years, Black Prince has invested more than any other company in building a fleet of really modern boats. All their award winning boats have quiet water cooled engines, full central heating, airing cupboards, showers or small baths, modern flushing macerator toilets, cookers fridges, colour TV, radio, CD players and much more - in fact all the comforts of home. The fleet has been inspected by the New English Tourism Council Quality Scheme and has passed to the 4 Star standard. Star ratings run from the lowest 1 star up to 5 stars.

Your cruising week goes from Saturday afternoon to Saturday morning. You could also have a ‘short-break’ which can be taken from a Saturday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning to Saturday morning. Simply look up the week of your choice and take 40% off the weekly rate.

Other discounts on offer include:

  • 10% off your second and subsequent week

  • Springer: Holiday between 02April and 09 July and get a second week at HALF price...

  • Bouncer: Flexible? Dont mind which base you travel from? Get 20% discount off the brochure price and you will be notified, at least, 14 days prior from which base you will travel.

Click here for more details:

Are You a Golfer?

We are happy to indulge your passion for golf and even take into account a non-golfing besides golf, there will be sightseeing, winetasting, shopping for the ladies and fine dining!

These personally escorted and carefully chosen golf tours feature the lush, green golfing precint of France, sparkling Biarritz and the Basque country, as well as a touch of Spain, always against the spectacular backdrop of the Pyrenees. Not to mention Bordeaux with its highly acclaimed Medoc wine region and an optional 3 day add on being pampered in the sumptuous surrounds of a superb Dordogne chateau – with its own golf course.

The cost for the fully escorted Golf Tour featuring 8 different and well known golf courses, all transfers and travel by luxury coach, accommodation on twin share basis in upmarket accommodation with breakfast each day, dinners and lunches as specified and greenfees for 7 or 10 rounds of golf with golf buggy, is $7190 per peson and the 3 additional days in the Dordogne would cost $2045. We have places left on the tour departing 07June2005. If you'd like a detailed programme, please just email us.

We also have a couple of places left on the Italian Tour – taking in the natural beauty of Italy's Lake District (Lakes Como, Orta, Maggiore plus the Riviera) is unsurpassable – and at it's best in Autumn. Whilst you stay on the water, the superb courses you play are strategically located in the foothills of the Alps – or in the case of Rapallo, by the sea. In this setting what more does one need, than a few rounds on top courses, with good company and exquisite cuisine. This 16 day tour departs 21September until 07October at a cost of $8925 per person, twin share ex Milan. Email for a detailed itinerary or with any questions you may have.

Free Stuff ? Is anything in life 'free'?


We have just launched a brand new section on our website - called 'Budget'. Whilst we should wait until the whole section is complete, we just couldn't wait to share a bit of the info with you. We will be adding a lot more info....just give us a bit of time. Ideal for backpackers or those looking to travel through Europe for a length of time and save some money.....and yes, there is 'free stuff' !!

We have included a section that shows you things you can do for free in cities around Europe. We will be continually adding to this - so bookmark our site. Let us know if you come across any others. Your fellow budget travellers will Thank you. See

Eurostar Earlybird Offer:

ROUTES: London to Paris or Brussels and Vice versa

- Valid for travel from 04April2005 until 30Sept2005

- Book by 28 Feb 2005


  • Youth fare – only valid for travel from Monday to Thursday on services departing between 11:00am and 3:00pm. 2nd class only.

  • Adult and Youth fares only– no Child or Senior Earlybird fares.

  • To book full payment required and no amendments can be made after the reservation has been confirmed

    COST: (In Australian Dollars, per person, one way)

      1st Class 2nd Class
    $ 116
    Plus File fee of $ 30.00

Holiday Cooking: (Thank you to Marianne R for these recipes)

One Pot Vegetarian Pasta

- Raw pasta of choice

- one onion and one clove of garlic

- one tin of beans eg. Butter, kidney, borlotti – drained

- one can of tomatoes

- dried oregano or sweet basil or a bit of both

- Parmesan or other cheese

Heat pot add tsp of oil. Saute chopped onion and garlic and herbs.

Add tomatoes and beans and heat through. Empty into a dish.

Fill the pot with water and cook pasta.

When pasta cooked, drain and return to pot. Add the tomato mixture

back in, heat through and serve with cheese on the side.

For a really complete meal – serve with a salad and crusty bread

One Pot Olive and Tuna Pasta

- Raw pasta of choice

- Cherry tomatoes cut in half or large tomatoes roughly chopped

- 1 clove garlic, dried oregano or sweet basil or a bit of both

- Three quarter cup of sliced olives or whole pitted olives

- quarter of a fresh lemon or lemon juice to taste

- small tin of tuna – drained

- optional baby spinach leaves

Heat pan. Add a dash of oil. Add garlic, tomatoes, olives & spices and cook until just softened. Then add drained tuna , olives and spinach leaves. Set aside.

Fill pot with water and cook pasta. When cooked, drain and return to pot. Add tomato mixture, heat through and serve with grated cheese. Enjoy.


Motorhomes - Tips to Save You Money: 

Flexibility pays off.  Some countries charge a lower price than others for a variety of reasons.    Try to avoid starting in Switzerland.  Scandinavian countries are also pricier, so consider picking up in Germany and driving to Scandinavia.    If you choose Germany, have a look at the seasons for each pick up city.  Strangely enough, different cities have different seasons.  So in one city you may be paying high- season rates, in another you may still be paying mid-season rates. This can be a tidy saving.


CHOOSE YOUR SEASON & DATE:  Peak season = top dollar = crowds.  Why not travel just off-peak season when the weather is still good. I think early September is perfect in Europe.  The bonus is you avoid long queues if you are going to see popular attractions.  If you are planning to travel in the real 'off' season, ie. between October and April…you will be the winner.  You can negotiate a bit on price or take advantage of a really outstanding Winter Special from Braitman and Woudenberg who operate out of Amsterdam.  You can choose any 2 or 3 month period in this time and pay less than half the normal price.


THE LENGTH OF YOUR RENTAL:  If you are planning to rent for 27 days, consider perhaps renting for 28 days as the rate often drops which makes 28 days cheaper than 27 days. (It works like that with car rental as well!) Or with some companies the rates are 'tiered' ie from 7-11 days, then at 12 days the price drops and then again at 20....   If you intend to rent for more than four months – consider a ‘buy-back’ scheme.  Braitman and Woudenberg, who operate out of Amsterdam, specialise in this sort of deal as does EmBee motorhomes in the UK. .  See our December 04 newsletter for more details on a buy-back scheme.


HOW YOU ARE BEING CHARGED:  Are you being charged for the pick-up AND the drop off day or are you only being charged for each night that you sleep in the vehicle?  If you only want to pick up in the afternoon and return in the morning, try and negotiate to only pay on a ‘per night’ basis.  It does vary between the companies.


BEDDING / LINEN:  Most companies in Europe (excl UK, Holland) charge for bedding.  You can pay as much as $75-$100 per person.  So if you want to save money, feel free to put your towel inside your sleeping bag and roll it up and take it with you.


GROCERY SHOPPING:  If you are flying straight into the country where you are collecting the motorhome, and you have space in your luggage,  why not each take a couple of grocery staples with you.  We took a large jar of our favourite coffee, and boy were we glad, because when we ran out in the last week, we bought a local brand and it was not pleasant!  The husband insisted on a jar of Vegemite and I took my favourite cooking spices & a roll of clingwrap..  The kids brought my favourite pepper grinder, 2 film containers of salt, soap, a couple of boxes of muesli bars and about 6 packets of Continental Pasta and Sauce and two tins of tuna…and I knew that we instantly had two meals sorted out.

When it's time for you to do your initial big shop – look for an ‘Intermarche’, ‘Carrefour’, Aldi, Schlecker, Metro or Hypermarche.  Some of these are massive stores – about 10 to 15 times the size of your local Coles! Also shop at local fresh produce markets for the freshest ingredients and local specialities.


FREE CAMPING:  Exactly what it says – when you park or camp without  charge – therefore it’s free.  With campsite fees averaging about Euro40 to Euro50 per night for a 6 berth motorhome and 5 people…it can add up if you do a long trip.  We prefer to freecamp in some lovely scenic spots and some 'not so lovely' and only spend about every 4th or 5th night in a campsite to have long showers and catch up with laundry! We did have an onboard shower and toilet.  So even when you're thinking of taking a very small pop-top type camper, it may be worthwhile considering taking a vehicle with shower and toilet. (Germany has small 2 berths with shower/toilet). Ideally, for your own safety and security we would officially say that you should park at a campsite.  However, you will see that lots of budget- minded people freecamp.  The secret when you are free camping is that common sense must prevail.  Obviously you cannot park in the city center, but alongside a river, in a sportsground car park, church ground or even tucked away in a supermarket car park is fine. If you are travelling along the autobahns, highways you will see special areas called ‘Aires’ – and you are welcome to park there.  You will see the symbol for motorhomes and caravans.  Also the petrol stations have areas around the back which will be filled with big trucks.  You are also more than welcome to park there – but be warned – it can get noisy when they all start moving off about 6.30am!!  I have to make special mention that Eurodisney in Paris only charge Euro20 to park overnight and they provide fabulously heated, clean shower blocks!


CAMPSITE CHAINS:  Some campground chains offer you a loyalty system  with a card eg. stay 6 nights at any of their sites and get the 7th night free.  Another one was 10% discount at any of their member sites.


CAMPING CARNET:  When you stay at a campsite they will ask you to leave your passport as a form of identity and security that you won’t do a ‘runner’.  If you don’t want to do this, purchase a Camping Carnet from RACV or your local equivalent before you go and that will do as a replacement.  It costs about AUD$25 and you get a plastic credit card type identity card and a list of discounts offered by certain campsites around Europe.  Some offered free bikes, percentage discounts, half-price meals etc.


TOLL ROADS:  You will come across toll roads in  France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.

You can avoid these by travelling on the secondary road, which often runs parallel to the flash newer, wider one and which was previously the old highway!


EARLYBIRD DISCOUNTS:  If you are an organised person and plan well in advance you can take advantage of Earlybird Specials.

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