2016 Caravan Trip - Europe travel blog

Carolyn sitting comfortably at our first German campsite.

The local force out on parade on a Saturday afternoon.

Some of them not so involved - a wee drinkie!

The huge campsite - 500 pitches and many static caravans.

Typical street scene - soo German!

Well, here we go again, but where will we end up?

The Italian Interlude Part 1

Thursday 19th May

Ferry Good. We leave Edinburgh on a cool morning only 10 Deg C and drive down to Moffat the pick-up the caravan. Leaving our little storage area is like leaving an old friend, but needs must, we have a ferry to catch at Newcastle.

The boat sails at 5pm and check-in is supposed to open at 2.30pm but we get there (the sat nav takes us a circuitous route round the North of the city) at 2.35 and there are already two long lines of vehicles waiting.

But we eventually get our turn and are handed two boarding tickets which are also our cabin door keys – pretty good – and after a brief security search – just a look in the caravan we are boarding quickly.

Our cabin has bunks and a “porthole” to see the sea as we go along.

We head for the bar and have our first drink of the holiday, yes even before 5 o’clock!

The ferry sails on time and we stand on deck watching as North Shields and Newcastle disappear as we head out into the North Sea.

The boat is not that busy and so we opt not to book for dinner but just turn up and see how it is – we of course have brought a bottle of wine with us to have in the cabin – so we settle on the Italian restaurant have a fairly decent meal and a wee stroll on deck (bloody cold) before bed.

Friday 20th May to Wesel, Germany

The ferry docks bang on time but it takes ages to get off-loaded and then there a traffic jam as we get out of the port.

The road South and East is pretty busy and we make slow progress out and towards Germany.

The campsite we have selected is huge 500 pitches and has lots of entertainment – not usually our thing – but it was within reasonable driving distance an we make it there just before 1pm – many German campsites close the barriers between 1pm and 3pm and so you can sit waiting to get in – a real pain!

However, we are quickly checked in and directed down to a large flat area by the lake where an “adviser” would meet us and take us to our pitch. So, a guy appears in a van and gestures us to follow him and he takes us to a crowded little pitch, squeezed in between others all lying side on – so we ask can’t we pitch up over there – nice flat grass and not muddy and away from near neighbours – Nein, park here – cant park there.

So, we pitch up and put our levelling boards out to make stepping “stones” to our step and doorway. Usually at campsites you can just plug into the distribution board/pole – but here it has to be unlocked to plug in and also, clearly, you have to get the guy to unlock it when you want to leave – Pain!

Later we discover that there is a small toilet close by – so no “three day camel ride” to the facilities. The campsite has an extremely well stocked supermarket and a couple of bars/restaurants – a real holiday complex.

Saturday 21st May – Grav-Insel Campsite, Germany

We wake early and have breakfast before most of the campsite is up.

The forecast for the day is good, but it’s not looking promising – so, we head out to the town in the car to get fuel – much easier job without the caravan in tow.

Then back at the campsite the sky turns blue and it’s almost shorts weather. So, we cycle to the little village of Fluren – and there’s a really good cycle path and the town is a dinky – but has all you need – well just, no cinema or opera house – but the sort of place where people do not need to lock their bikes up.

We discover that there is something happening this afternoon – but we cannot decipher the German language to tell what but it all kicks off at 2.30pm – so we make a date to be back.

So, we arrive at the market square (platz) at 2.25pm and whilst there are folk around and some people dressed up – nothing is really happening! So, we sit and wait – about 2.55pm the distant sound of a band is heard – but is it for this bash?

Eventually they appear and turn into the square - but no one else seems to bother – no clapping no standing to attention – pretty lax I’d say.

The whole thing seems to be about a bunch of guys dressed up in green jackets, with acres of jangly medals (is it one for each year of service?) wearing silly hats with sprigs of oak leaves/white carnations/or white and green plumed feathers in them!

But the really strange thing is about eight of these chaps hang about in the nearby biergarten drinking and smoking whilst this ceremony goes on!

After yet another wait the whole thing starts up again but at least this time there is more action. A wee procession starts up with the mayor? Speeches are read out –no idea what about and so we go for a drink in the biergarten whilst it is quiet.

Then the whole thing draws to a close, so we high-tail it out of town.

On the cycle back we decide to take another track that seems popular and so we follow a bunch of cyclists along what feels like an old railway track towards Wesel.

And so we end up on the banks of the Rhine – by magic – and it’s lovely – biergarten, nice hotel with outside dining – and a view of the old bridge destroyed by the retreating German troops in 1945 – but don’t mention the war!

And so back to the caravan – when you cycle, why does the wind always seem to be in your face? And for you sailors – it’ not just because the Apparent Wind moves forwards the faster you travel!

Sunday 22nd May 2016

We are back on the A3 for the 120 mile drive to Diez an der Lahn, our next selected stop. And yes you guessed right – Diez in on the river Lahn!

The drive is much more pleasant today as most lorries are off the road – only those with perishable produce can be on the road on a Sunday.

The site is down a small road that seems to go nowhere, but then a nice site by the river opens up. Level grassy big pitches, with WiFi, 3 Euros a day, Toilet and showers clean and have to pay for hot water, 10 cents to wash up and 1 Euro for 6 min shower. 1.5km level walk to Diez, nice little town.

So, after lunch we walk in – and what a surprise – we find a HUGE fleamarket in town – most of the old town streets have stalls and there’s hundreds of them – all selling the tat that a normal car boot sale would have – but gosh there are so many!

Back at the campsite Neil decides to try the on-site bar (only open between 5 and 8pm) for a wee drinkie – so, he rolls up to the bar, orders a bier, and the barmaid (well not a maid any longer, by a long way) starts to pour the bier from the font – and it’s frothy, so she stops and goes away to do something else – AND this goes on for AGES – a little top up and then away again – In the end Neil says start my second bier NOW.

But just as the first bier is consumed, the second is ready – ah! Planning – The moral of this tale is ORDER A BOTTLED BIER!

Monday 23rd May 2016

The weather is still pretty iffy, so we decide to have a day out in the nearby town of Limberg. It’s not far, but we take a wrong turn and end up on the highlands with great views over the surrounding countryside.

So, we manage to find an on street parking space and wander into the town centre towards the main church on the hill. The Town is pretty lively – not a charity shop in sight – and the church on the hill is impressive – if that’s your bag – but we only have a wee wander around it.

We do however have an interesting lunch at a street takeaway called Nordsee – yes it’s about fish. They do prawns or breaded fish or herring in buns, and you sit outside having that. Neil had the prawns and Carolyn the Herring, plus a bottle of water all for 8.27 Euros.

Then we wander across to a local mall – and Carolyn spots a reed basket with a handle that’s she’s been looking for for ages – all for 5.95 Euros.

We head back to Diez for shopping and to check out what the town is like without the flea market – actually pretty boring as most of the shops are closed!

Then home for drinks and dinner.

Tuesday 24th May 2016, Germany

Wet drive from Diez to Ochsenfurt

Cloudy and damp start to the day. But we are underway by 10am and off back to join the A3, which runs East/West in Germany.

It’s so wet that the speed limit is reduced and when we get to road works we are down to 50KPH, slow, still we have to wait behind lorries on some stretches, because we are not allowed to overtake on two lane roads! Bummer.

We end up in a traffic jam not long before we are due to turn off the Autobahn and discuss taking an overland route, but decide to stick with Plan A. The reason being that most German campsites close the barrier between 1 pm and 3 pm – so you can’t get in or OUT. And we reckon we should be there by 12.40pn.

Result, we arrive on time and get checked-in and are given a choice of pitches – none fantastic – but we pick one not far from the toilet block and within WiFi range.

In the afternoon we walk to the main part of Ochsenfurt, over the river, but the nearest bridge is being demolished and so we walk over the new one-way bridge system to a very pretty little town – quiet on a Tuesday afternoon but nice – We search for and eventually find a supermarket – yes drink required, but discover that the “Netto” does not sell Gin, so we slum it with Vodka.

Pics to follow.

Neil and Carolyn

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