Showing posts with label romantic road. Show all posts
Showing posts with label romantic road. Show all posts

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Swimming with ducks

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Nido's parked up in a Stellplatz in the town of Meersburg, by Bodensee, also known as Lake Constance. There's about 40 vans here and we have enough room on our pitch to put out the awning. It was touch and go as to whether we could stay here, as the ticket machine refused every card I owned and we didn't have €12 in coins - very frustrating. Cathy went to the market a few metres away to buy a couple of pretzels to get some change, so we were able to scrape together enough for a night, although we'd probably stay longer if we didn't have to find the coinage to pay. It's very frustrating when this happens as the majority of visitors are foreign and even the locals are unlikely to have bags of Euro coins to pay. 

With a castle looming over the lake and medieval houses lining the waterfront, Meersburg is a snapshot of the typical, fairytale Germany, with a pedestrianised Altsadt (old town). A short way downhill from the medieval Obertor gate is the small Markplatz, from where Steigrasse runs down past rows of touristy shops to the lakefront and Seepromenade. A lane parallel to the Steigrasse leads to the Altes Schloss and Neues Schloss, the formidable old castle and Baroque palace respectively, that dominate the upper town. 

We left Donauwörth quite early this morning - the wind was still blasting through the trees. Having made the decision to leave the Romantische Strasse to the hordes of tourists, our journey to Bondensee was about 3 hours. We stopped by the lake at Friedrikshafen for lunch, then continued for another half an hour along the coast road to this Stellplatz. Hot and bothered, we had a cold beer under the awning. I chatted to the owner of the British van next door before we packed our swimming gear and walked into the old town.  Meersburg is a very pretty medieval town, with a castle on the high cliff above and a great view of the lake.  It's a hub for the many ferries that cross the lake. We saw a sign for the thermal-heated pool, so paid to enter. It was a lovely area, with a couple of very warm heated pools, plus easy access to the lake.  There was plenty of warm grass to relax on, plus showers, changing pods and a bar.  We were soon ready for a swim! The lake was quite warm and we really enjoyed swimming in fresh water, sharing the water with several ducks within neck-wringing distance! After a while we moved over to the thermal pool for a few lengths in the warm water. We joined the families to dry off and sunbathe and snooze on the grass, before enjoying another lake swim. We were finally chilled out. Dried and dressed, we walked through the lower town - quite touristy - but found a small bar where we ordered Currywurst and fries, sitting outside to eat with a glass of local wine. A short while later our Stellplatz neighbours - Ian and Helen from the Lake District - walked past. We sat together for a few drinks, chatting about motorhoming and travelling in general.  They were a lovely couple and easy to talk to - enjoy the rest of your trip. Walking back up the hill, we sat outside with a brew in the warm evening, feeling very relaxed.  Ian and Helen gave us some tips for places to visit as we enter the Black Forest tomorrow.  I think I'll need to do some serious cycling miles over the next few days to earn a big slice of Black Forest Gateau! 

PS - sat outside tonight with a clear sky, we saw the International Space Station fly overhead - a first for us. 

Our first view of Bodansee - get us in that water!

Where we sat for a drink and some currywurst

Our first official currywurst in Germany!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Donauwörth by the Danube

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Nido's parked on a free Stellplatz in the town of Donauwörth, another town on the Romantische Strasse. We're parked side on with the sliding open towards the river Danube.  This historical town was in early times a fishing settlement, on the confluence of the Wörnitz and Danube rivers. 

We slept well as it cooled down during the night and after breakfast, topping up fresh water and dumping fluids, we drove south, following the brown Romantische Strasse signs along the road.  Our first stop was the town of Rothenburg op de Tauber. The silhouette of this former Imperial Free City rises high above the Tauber valley. The town is surrounded by historic fortifications, with seven well-preserved towers and walls, which we were able to walk around in places. The medieval town centre is full of lovely half-timbered houses and a Baroque town hall. We enjoyed our walk, although it was quite touristy. Back at the van we carried on down the road, planning to drive for another hour or so. We pulled into the Stellplatz at Nördlingen, a town built in the centre of a huge meteorite crater, but decided it was a bit too open and noisy for an overnight stay, so decided to carry on to Donauwörth. Once parked up, we had a brew sat overlooking the Danube, before walking along the river. Cathy cooked a lovely dinner of Schnitzel, with garlic potatoes and salad. We drank some of the local young Riesling wine, very similar to Portugese vino verde, sat outside the van in the shade. Although sunny and warm with clear blue sky, it was blowing a hooley, which caused some of the small sweet chestnuts in the tree above to fall and bounce around and on us!  Later we walked into the town, but it was a disappointment as it all looked pretty new - I think the RAF beat us to it! So back at the van, it was brew and chill time before bed.

We've decided a change of plan is called for.  We were aiming to drive all the way down to Füssen, but we think most of the medieval towns will be similar.  So tomorrow we're veering off to Lake Constance (or Bodensee as the Germans call it), to find somewhere for a few days to relax, swim, cycle and enjoy the lake. That's the beauty of the campervan - the ability to change direction at the drop of a hat. 

Rothenburg op de Tauber centre

Great views from the town walls

Lovely potager at the base of the walls

Old bus loaded with presents outside the Christmas decoration shop!

Storks nesting on the rooftop - a common sight

Covered town walls walkway

Monday, 4 July 2016

Hot in Röttingen

Monday 4 July 2016

Nido is parked up at a Stellplatz beside a flowing river, on the edge of the town of Röttingen. It's right on the Romantic Strasse and a typical small, medieval town, surrounded by the old walls and high towers at the town gates.  There was only us and an old Austrian Motorhome here when we arrived (and it looked like they'd been here for a few weeks) although more vans arrived during the day. Although only 30 minutes from our night stop, we felt we needed a day of little travelling and some decompression time. So we're staying here until tomorrow morning.

Röttingen was first mentioned in 1275, although the first settlement was thought to have been around the 5th century AD.  In the 16th century it became more economically important  because of the wine production. In August 1953 Röttingen was proclaimed the first "Europastadt" in Germany.  Young people wanted to build a common Europe. The proclamation aimed to demonstrate the idea of living in unity and freedom and marked the start of the journey to the European Union. Given events in the UK over the past couple of weeks, and having walked around this restful, peaceful place, it's a shame others don't feel the same way.

After breakfast we followed the satnag to this stop, driving across very smooth roads through fields of wheat, potatoes and corn. Once parked up we had a walk around the town - very pretty and didn't take long. In particular, the allotments running alongside the river were immaculately kept, with a mix of vegetables and flowers, each with its own old-fashioned water pump and shed.  We said " morgen" to a few of the owners as we walked around, finishing up at the bakery to buy some bread.  This being our first trip to Germany, the variety of breads were a bit overwhelming, so we pointed at one we liked the look of and with a "bitte", "danke" and "auf weidershen" we returned to the van. After two long days driving we still wanted to stretch our legs a little, so took a walk along the river footpath. Back at the Stellplatz we sat in the shade as by now the sun was out and it was hot - yay!  A brew and a light lunch and it was time to chill, read and watch the wildlife and flowing river.

A little later I unhooked the bike and went for a spin. Turning right out of the Stellplatz, I was soon cycling along a smooth, wide cycle path through the valley, both of the steep sides covered in vines. The Germans really know how to promote cycling. I followed the green cycle signs - even through the towns and villages - and felt safe away from the traffic.  If it was like this at home, I'd be out every day, rather than staying off the roads to avoid the speeding motorists.  I only rode out for about an hour, but it allowed me to see some of the real southern Germany - lots of small, well-tended allotments, healthy fields and clean, tidy and very pretty villages. Back at the van we sat in the sunshine before enjoying dinner sat outside by the river.  We finished off our day with an evening walk around the town, pausing to listen to the live music at the outside concert by the wine museum.  A local chap stopped to speak with us, telling us about the structure of the medieval houses and how many had been encased in concrete but we're now rotting from the inside.  He also told us about all the younger people moving away, leaving just the older generation living in the town, although a few Syrian refugees had arrived, bringing a welcome addition of young children to keep the school going.  Tomorrow we'll head further south down the Romantic Strasse.

Original wattle and daub on one of the medieval buildings

Lovely aire by the river

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Long haul to Lauda-Königshofen

Sunday 3 July 2016

Nido's parked up in his first ever Stellplatz.  In fact, this is also our first time in Germany too. There's only us here - €5 for the night, but the hotel where we pay appears to be closed tonight, so its a freebie.  It's a very quiet aire in the village of Marbach, not far from the town of Lauda-Königshofen, which sits in a small valley with vines clinging to the side.

We slept well last night, although the local cockerels decided to have a crowing competition at 0430! After a quick breakfast, I dialled in the coordinates for a Stellplatz near Würzburg at the start of the Romantic Road. But before that, we drove a short distance up to the Polygon Cemetery and the New Zealand Buttes monument, which also encompassed the new British Cemetery from those killed in another battle in 1917. It was very peaceful and, as always, immaculately kept. The birds were singing and we soaked up the silence. It was so different 100 years ago, when Polygon Wood was a muddy quagmire and water logged trenches. We wandered around, reading the gravestones and paying our respects to these brave men, some of them only just out of boyhood. 

Back on the road, we decided to drive all the way to our starting point, despite the 6 hour estimate on the satnag.  So it was a long haul down Belgian and then German motorways. It rained hard for some of the time and the roads were busy, much more than France.  We stopped for lunch and continued on for a couple of hours, before pulling in again for a brew. Eventually we left the motorway and arrived at the Stellplatz. It had 90 spaces and is next to the massive Hymer World Motorhome superstore by Wertheim.  There was plenty of space, but was within hearing distance of the motorway; after the long slog we fancied somewhere quieter. But I took the opportunity to empty the grey and black water at the service point, then headed for the Stellplatz we're now on.  Cathy cooked a lovely chicken one-pot dinner, enjoyed with a bottle of Muscadet.  It's been a long driving day, so an early night is called for, then tomorrow we'll really slow down and start to enjoy the delight of the Romantic Road, slow heading south.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning

We Will Remember Them