Thought You Might Like To Know….

Everyone who notices the European country flags on the left side of Tulip asks about it and when I tell them that we shipped Tulip to Europe the first question always, without fail, is how much did that cost.

Port in Belgium

Zeebrugge

It was roughly $2800 to ship our RV from Jacksonville, Florida to Zeebrugge, Belgium.  The amount is calculated based upon cubic feet so every inch makes a difference.

The return to Halifax, Nova Scotia was about $3800.  We could have saved a little by shipping Tulip back to the U.S. but we learned that Europeans always ship to Halifax because it is totally hassle free as opposed to jumping through U.S. Customs and Homeland Security hoops.  And it was.  We also had nothing stolen as opposed to shipping from Jacksonville where even the shower head attachment was removed from the wall.

Then you have to factor in transportation to the port, to Europe, and the return.  It adds up but I would do it again if Steve agreed to go and I get healthier.

We often get asked “wouldn’t it have been cheaper to rent an RV?”  Yes, if we were going for a few weeks but we stayed about 5 months.  For instance, I have been checking on prices to rent an RV in New Zealand (should our house sell this summer) and it’s $10,000 for just six weeks.  That’s just preliminary research with one company so hopefully something else better is available and for a longer period of time.

Now you know.

Overnighting

Reader Lynne asked some good questions about our overnight places and that gives me something to write about. 
Stellplatz (Germany), Aires (France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain, Portugal), and Aree di Sosta (Italy) are parking areas set aside specifically for campers.  They run the gambit from being just a small asphalt parking lot with no services to being a huge grassy area on a river or lake.  So far most of the ones we have stayed at are owned by the city or town. We have books for all the countries that tell us where these camping spots are with the particulars and often a picture.  Generally, it’s similar to boon docking in the US where you don’t put out chairs and awnings.  The Mosel River area was an exception in that awnings and chairs were out and there was no limit on length of stay.  Prices range from free to generally 6 or 7 EU  (about $10).  Usually there’s no office or attendant; just a machine with instructions in several languages where you pay and then display the ticket in your window. 
Last night we paid 12 EU (about $17) and that was a mistake because it was the first place that was really noisy.  It was also the first time we have had electricity included and also water at the site. Internet was included too.  About half the time there are central electric posts to plug into that you pay extra each day for but our solar panels have been sufficient for our needs.  Normally there is a dump and water station.  Often the water costs 1 EU for 100 liters, especially if the Stellplatz was free for the night.  European RV’s use a cassette toilet that the men (always) roll to the dump.  Occasionally the dump is in a raised platform which we can’t use but it’s really not a problem because there are so many Stellplatz and Aires everywhere.
Tonight, we are staying at a free Aires in Luxembourg that even has electricity, water, and dump included at no cost.

Diesel in Luxembourg

Our motor home uses diesel fuel which costs less than gas in Europe.  Diesel has been running us between 1.39 – 1.49 EU per liter.  1.49 works out to about $8.34 a gallon.  We had been told that fuel prices are considerably less in Luxembourg and it is true.  Today’s price of 1.147 was the equivalent of $6.42 a gallon.  Huge difference!  Can you imagine being happy over paying $6.42 a gallon? 

Groceries

So far we are not spending more for groceries than we did in the U.S.  We found out that Aldi grocery stores sell for quite a discount over the normal grocery stores.  We made a big haul yesterday, filling our cart to the top, and spent $113.  That included a lot of meat, French cheeses that would cost a fortune in the U.S. and even 3 liters of wine.  Some of the fresh produce costs much less (lettuce and cucumbers for instance) and some is more.  We buy accordingly.  Dairy products are less expensive and there’s so much to choose from that is really good.  Fresh bakery bread costs about the same or less.  For the most part meat costs are about double with the exception of lunch meats and bratwurst type sausages.  I think that if a person wants to eat healthy and is willing to cook more from scratch, then food costs are comparable to the U.S.  It is fantastic that every little town has a bakery and a butcher.  Our friend in Bremen thought food prices in Canada were more expensive than in Germany and I agree.
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And the juices!  There is an unending variety of good beverages.  Right now I’m drinking a glass of black cherry juice.  Some that we like are apple mixed with lemonade, beer mixed with grapefruit, apricot, and multi-vitamin.  And then so many beverages are “schorle” or “sprudel” which means mixed with carbonated mineral water.  We bought a six pack of 1.5 liter bottles of carbonated mineral water yesterday for only $1.70.  But since the bottles are hard plastic, there was an additional deposit on the bottles of $2.25.  They are returnable along with our glass containers of yogurt.
All in all, the food is very, very good!