John’s best day…..

Guess where we have been?

It rained heavily all night and we slept in a tin can disguised as a motor-home, you can imagine the noise!

We packed up and waved goodbye to the Bodensee with France as our next destination. Then John saw signs for Stuttgart and Google told us it was only a 30 minute detour to the Porsche Museum so that’s where we went.

Kim emailed the museum, requesting camper parking. There was at least a 10 minute delay in responding, shoddy we thought. With typical German efficiency, the reply came back with detailed instructions, photos, and a map – absolutely amazing!

The instructions were spot on, the camper was corralled in a dedicated space and we did the 2 minute walk to the museum. It’s not often it’s that convenient to park and we were very grateful.

As museums go this one deserves a return visit, we didn’t have time to do it justice. Attention to detail and a desire to provide visitors with a quality experience is wonderful. Every exhibit is in full working, drivable condition. Exhibits change regularly and there is a real sense of pride in Porsche’s history, development and current standing in the racing and motoring world.

Kim chose her car of the day….

John chose his two favourites. The “Pink Pig” from the 1971 Le Mans 24 hour race.

And a German State Highway Police 993, slightly more cool than a diesel Vauxhall Astra.

Kim hadn’t quite thought through our 30 minute detour. We came out of the museum with 130 miles and 2.5 hours driving still to do. As we left, the Porsche Factory closed for the weekend and we were swamped by workers…. think Vauxhall at clocking off time! It was busy.

Leaving our dedicated parking was a challenge. We’d been warned the road was narrow, and that was without parked cars on either side. It was a hairy 500m drive but we came through unscathed, as did all other vehicles.

We hit the motorway and arrived at the campsite at Hofmuhl at at 5:30.

It’s easy to tell we’re in France, campsites are not a patch on those in Germany or Austria. We are sandwiched between a road, river, canal and railway. Facilities are very French and the cliff opposite is propped up with brick pillars.

It’s a little unfair to grumble , the young man on reception was lovely, spoke perfect English and couldn’t have been more helpful.

Tomorrow, we visit the St Louis Arzviller Plan Incliné before wandering of to Luxembourg.

Hagnau to Uberlingen and back….. on a bike!

Yesterday’s sunshine continued so we stayed on at Hagnau and decided bike hire was a good idea for travelling the 7 miles to Pfahlbauten (Pile Dwellings Museum) at Unteruhldingen.

Kim and Ken opted for e-bikes – Ken had a good excuse with his bad back, Kim just dislikes hills.

John was most impressed with how the cycle hire shop organised their workbench and tools.

As we set off the owner told us to enjoy our trip as after Brexit we were unlikely to be able to return!

We managed 3 miles into Meersburg before a coffee stop was deemed necessary.

Kim was all set to stay there, when it was pointed out that she had proposed the museum. As we left the owner of the Cafe came running after us, although Ken had asked for the bill he’d forgotten to actually pay it!

Cycle routes around this part of the Bodensee are reasonably flat, wide and well signposted, they meander through pretty lakeside villages with a mixture of older established properties and crisp modern houses most with a view over the lake.

Pile dwellings on the Bodensee date back to Stone and Bronze Age times. Over 100 settlements have been discovered around the lake and the museum recreates 23 houses from 4000-800 BC.

These early farmers, who settled by the lake, often built their shelter in the water possibly for easy access to fishing and protection from wild animals.

Houses were built on stilts, which were driven 2-3m into the silt – all without the help of a JCB.

These settlements are quite astonishing when you consider how few tools were available. They also had fantastic views across the lake and would command quite a price these days.

UNESCO has declared 111 Prehistoric Pile Dwelling Settlements as part of the World Cultural Heritage of Mankind. 11 of them can be found on Lake Constance.

It was well worth the visit and we were obviously slightly lightheaded when we decided to cycle another 5 miles on to Uberlingen. It was another pretty German town with glorious views.

One thing we haven’t mentioned before are the painted trees.

We saw painted fruit trees in Italy and google told us that it’s chalk, often mixed with latex, to deter ants and boring insects. That’s insects that make holes rather than dull, dreary insects!

The fountain in Uberlingen famously depicts a 16th legend and was sculpted by Peter Lens. We were more interested in the young boy playing with the water and wondering at what point he’d fall in.

As we cycled back, the weather changed. Skies darkened, the calm lake became agitated and the wind became stronger. Beautiful Cherry blossom was blown from trees onto the ground creating pink paths.

Our cycle hire shop was a 700m climb up a steep hill which after cycling 25 miles was hard work. Kim however was suitably smug being able to cycle all the way thanks to the assistance of the e-bike, normally she would get off and push!

The Bodensee area where we are stopping is well known for fine wines and any spare piece of ground no matter how small is covered in well tended vines. John decided to visit the Hagnauer vineyard on the way back. The rest of us didn’t appreciate it was a free wine tasting and headed straight back to the campsite for a cuppa!

Rain has set in so it was a case of dining in this evening. Another banquet using up left over food found in the fridge.

Tomorrow we are off to France.

Meersburg and other wanderings

Before we start, an apology. WordPress sent a notification a couple of days ago congratulating us. We have officially wittered on about our travels in over 200 posts….. sorry and thank you for reading.

The sun came out, John put his shorts on and we caught the ferry from Hagnau to Mainau, via Meersburg.

Cruising silently at an altitude of a 1000 feet, the Zeppelin NT on one of its sightseeing passenger flights kept us company for part of the voyage. Should you be tempted a 45 minute flight costs €370

Ken and Jacky waved us off at Meersburg.

The town looked interesting and will have to wait for another day.

Mainau is maintained as a garden island and model of environmental practices. Managed as a foundation, by decedents of the original owners the gardens both in location and planting were stunning.

Gold of the Italian Floral Water Cascade glowed as the water tumbled down.

An unusual Insect Garden with some clever and amazing habitats.

There are over a million flowering bulbs across the site in spring, in formal beds and woven through meadow planting.

A stroll through the vineyard. Wine has been produced on the island for centuries and is now only available for special guests and tastings, which didn’t include us.

Our final stop was the Palm House which hosts an Orchid Show until later in May. The Palms were completely hidden by orchids and people. We hadn’t realised today was s bank holiday and the whole island was very busy.

The ferry route back was slightly different and we left from the quaint harbour.

Our evening was spent relaxing by the lake at the campsite before al fresco eating. This is the first time we’ve managed it this trip and it was a real treat.

From Austria to Germany

As we left site today we noticed this German camper van demonstrating how it should be done, spotlessly clean with full-width awning and ground cover, bikes carefully positioned one side and a barbecue the other. They even have a beer crate for empty bottles.

Only 150 miles covered today and we managed to make it last 7 hours. John was determined to enjoy the drive by avoiding motorways. We did and the drive would have been even more stunning if the skies had cleared.

It started with Google taking us an unexpected route out of Natterer See, we thought there was only one way in and out so this was a surprise.

We followed the D171 Tiroler Straße through pretty Tyrolean villages and past the Stams ski jump.

Followed by the D189 which was fine other than rocks the size of footballs started rolling down the hillside into the road. Luckily we were able to avoid them but it was rather a shock.

Elevenses was at a remote mountain top restaurant in Biberwier, overlooking Blindsee, where a cup of tea was eyewateringly expensive. There was a chance for an atmospheric photo though

Past Ehrenberg Castle and it’s 400m footbridge suspended across the gorge. The footbridge was an amazing site as we drove under it and we were too surprised to take a photo, sorry.

We arrived in Friedrichshafen to visit the Zeppelin Museum. We’d failed to do so last year having been spooked by low bridges and unable to find anywhere to park last year’s monster van. No such problem this year with Kim’s new friend, the Campercontact App.

The museum was fascinating, charting airship history from early 18th century with the first powered flight taking place in 1852.

Scale replica models accompanied the history and it was interesting to see how airships were further advanced than aeroplanes of the same era.

Sections of omega shaped aluminium were still being riveted together by hand until the 1990’s although the latest airships now use carbon fibre.

During WW2 the Zeppelin factory was used to produce V-2 rocket propellant tanks resulting in the town of Friedrichshafen being heavily bombed by allied forces. It seemed surreal looking at photographs of damage to the town we had inflicted.

Our next couple of nights are at Hagnau on the Bodensee. Hagnau’s a 15 minute walk along the lakeside and is very pretty. We have high hopes of some sunshine.

More about Lindau

We felt we didn’t do it justice yesterday and, as we’re in a traffic jam trying to get to Friedrichshafen to visit the Zeppelin Museum, we thought we’d give you a bit of history!

The Mangturm, with its colourful roof, dates back to the 12th century and was built as part of the town’s medieval fortifications. It served as lighthouse until 1856 and is currently used for storytelling events.

The harbour is guarded by the Bavarian Lion and the ‘new’ Lighthouse. The harbour used to be owned by Deutsche Bahn before being sold to the town of Konstanz in Baden-Wurttemberg. It was only returned to Bavaria in 2010, after a long dispute. Can you imagine a German row over a harbour?

We’re aiming for Saverne in Alsace, fingers crossed we get there before Reception closes at 5:30. Only 180 miles to go after Friedrichshafen!

A day by the Bodensee and then there were 8

We cycled into Bregenz this morning. It was only 4.5km but some of the signage along the way was a little alarming.

You’ll be relieved to know that we arrived unscathed and headed for the cable car which took us to the top of Mount Pfander. The views were stunning and we were treated to a Zeppelin Air-Ship flying past. Can you spot the sea plane?

We were back down in Bregenz for the 12:30 ferry to Lindau and look who we bumped into as we waited to board.

In typical German style the ferry was looking its best…..

…… and the approach into Lindau harbour was very pretty

We abandoned the bikes, and our friends, and found a little bakerei for lunch and decided it would be the healthy option

Well, apples and apricots were involved so it must be healthy!

We cycled around the island and then back to the campsite and suddenly six became 8. Jacky and Ken’s friends, Sue and John, joined us for the night on their way home to Datchworth from Malaga

The problem with John and Sue arriving was they brought this with them…

At just under 6m long, with everything you would need, we all had motorhome envy. This was shortly followed by bike envy as we all took turns to ride around the campsite on their electric bikes, very impressive – another new experience to add to the list.

Off to Saverne in France tomorrow, the end of the trip is fast approaching. It’s a shame we can’t stay here longer, there’s so much to see and do.

Next stop Germany…

As we prepared to leave the land of magical showers and amazing views, Google Maps gave us an alternative route. Only an extra 35 minutes on our journey and it looked far more interesting than a run up the motorway.

The message on the caravan says it all. Surprisingly no-one else wanted to join us….. some people have no sense of adventure!

We had a fantastic drive through the Austrian Tirol. The roads were a joy, even in a Fiat motorhome, and snow capped mountains kept us company.

Sorry about the quality of photos through the bug splattered windscreen!

We arrived at Lindau am See, on the shore of Bodensee late afternoon with just enough time to rent some bikes and cycle to Lindau Islet.

Rain stops play

It’s raining, no cycling for us today. Can you hear Kim cheering?

The year we came here for Christmas, we spent some time in the small town of Daun and bought a wooden Christmas decoration from a lovely little department store. It is one of only a few items at home that Kim has put her name in the event of divorce proceedings! The store is still there and full of things you didn’t know you needed, a great place to browse while it’s raining heavily outside.
From there we tried to find Hit Markt for John’s supermarket hit…… sorry about the pun. You would not have thought it could be so hard but the satnav packed up and the phones had limited internet access. Tempers were frayed and many circular miles were driven to find a supermarket which had been within 500m at one point. John spent a happy 30 minutes pottering around looking at German Dinkel biscuits before we decided to drive back to the Mosel for some wine tasting.

We headed towards Koblenz and stopped at Klotten to admire the neatly planted vineyards which appear to be mainly on the South slope. Obviously more research is required to understand why or if we’ve just made that up,

We’ve not had great weather today but the rain stopped long enough for us to have beer overlooking the Mosel before venturing into a small shop for a wine tasting. Our latest favourite is a dry Rivaner and the Beetle has a boot full.

We have an early start for Dunkirk tomorrow so no more from us other than to say, we understand the Tour de France started in Germany today. If you see a couple of Bromptons taking part, please be clear it isn’t us!

A day on the Mosel

The breakfast here is lovely and quite unlike any we’ve come across anywhere else, John is always captivated by the array of homemade preserves

Today, we drove into Cochem for more cycling. Our bottoms were sore but we’re heroes! The plan was to cycle down to Beilstein and catch the ferry back. As we set off, John asked ‘are you sure we’re on the right side of the river?’, Kim assured him we were.

We had a flat 7 mile cycle alongside the river and arrived to find Beilstein and the ferry on the other side. John had comments to make! We fortified ourselves with a cuppa at a campsite and all was not lost, there was a small passenger ferry to take us across the river.

We managed to catch the 12 o’clock Kolb Passenger Ferry back to Cochem.

The Bromptons caused a bit of confusion, should we be charged for them? There was some debate amongst staff before they were pronounced ‘really very small bikes’ and travelled free. They attract attention wherever they go and curious people are usually treated to a demonstration of how small they fold. Kim thinks John must be working on commission from Brompton.

The ferry ride was relaxing and the boat travelled slower than even Kim cycles which you wouldn’t have thought possible. We were treated to a commentary in German along the way, the only part that was translated into English was the historic and technical data of the Frankl lock we had to negotiate.

Finally, we rounded a bend and Cochem came into view

Back in Cochem, the bikes were stowed in the car (but not before a demonstration for a couple from Leicestershire) and we walked into town. Our target was the Sesselbahn, the cable car up to Klotten leisure park which has views across the town and river as well as looking down on the castle

We stopped at the top for a quick cuppa before descending back down.

Next stop, Nordschliefe. John has done really well to resist going before now. A visit to the Nordschliefe brought us here over 10 years ago. It may have 6 or 7 years since he drove a car round it but he is still drawn back. The car park was full of cars from around Europe, from family VWs with local plates to McLarens from the UK and Nissan GTRs from Spain – its an interesting place to sit and watch. At one point Kim was worried, John had disappeared and had the Beetle key with him…….

55 kilometres and counting….

Photos have been added to yesterday’s instalment.

Today started early, for us. If we were to cycle 55kms from Daun to Bernkastel-Kues, we had to be in Bernkastel by 10 to take the bus up to Daun – there was no way Kim could be persuaded to do the round trip, particularly as one way is all uphill.

We were parked in Bernkastel by 9:45, we’d paid for three days parking and found out where to get the bus from, how smug were we feeling? The bus journey takes 2 hours mainly because the driver has to get out and load more bikes onto the trailer he’s towing. Negotiating a bus and trailer round hairpin bends deserves a medal!

The cycle route, Maar Mosel Radweg, starts from a disused railway station in Daun and goes along the old track to Wittlich before following the Maar river down to the Mosel.

Helpfully, the cycle route has the distance written on it in 0.5km intervals. This is fantastic when you’re on a downhill section and kms fly by. However, the first 2-3 km from Daun are uphill and knowing you have another 40+km to go is not helpful. We arrived at Wittlich, for lunch, just before 3 and having cycled 35km. We then discovered it was another 20 to Bernkastel!! By the time we reached the Mosel bottoms were sore and we’d been caught in a couple of torrential downpours. Luckily after each one, the sun came out and we dried off nicely before getting soaked again. We couldn’t help but be impressed by Schloss Lieser as we cycled past. It was built for the Puricelli family in 1880s and has its own Wikipedia page…

Finally, 6.5 hours after we’d left, the castle at Bernkastel came into view. We’d last visited when we spent Christmas here with Ken and Diane. We couldn’t remember what had possessed us to walk all the way up but think it was probably Ken and Matthew egging each other on. Kim did remember that Diane gave up at the cafe halfway up and settled down for a coffee while the rest of us carried on!

Germany, here we come!

It was a long drive to Auderath, 200 miles and 3 hours, most of which was on motorways and rather boring. For the last 30 miles we resorted to our 15 year old map of Europe and recklessly ingnored the satnav. The drive through the Eifel region is glorious.

Our new route took us on familiar roads, past Altenahr and into Adenau where we stopped for a late lunch. We sat outside, under a parasol, in the rain watching the world go by before heading onwards via the Nurburgring. We stopped briefly on an access road to the Nordschliefe and watched a few cars go past. Interestingly, they were all very quiet, apart from the Aston Martins. There was a debate as to whether or the Beetle should have a quick run round the circuit..

Six hours after leaving Etten-Leur, we reached Hotel Wilhelmshoehe where we’ll stay for the next 4 nights. It’s been 6 or 7 years since we were last here. On that occasion John and Matthew took our Honda Civic for several laps of the Nordschliefe while Kim drank tea at the hotel and tried not to worry that they wouldn’t come back alive!

We were met by Jacqueline and Ulrich’s daughter who is the spitting image of her mother.

The rest of the afternoon was spent planning our cycling trips for the next few days. Suddenly a couple of 7 mile rides have turned into a 35 mile marathon. We’re assured that it’s all downhill!

Ediger to Westende, Belgium

We survived the night in the high roof bed but won’t be doing that again! It’s far more comfortable than the fixed rear bed but the rest of the van was completely unusable once it was lowered.

We woke to the sound of something with a very large engine going past on the river but were too cold to get up and see what it was. There’s frost on the ground so the heating went on for a while. We’re not being weedy – we like to think we’re giving the van’s heating system a good test on behalf of the owners JustGo!

It was a beautiful morning and the Mosel obliged with the sight of an incredibly long, coal carrying, freight barge cruising past just as we were getting ready to leave.

A brief stop in the town to pick up last nights purchases from the vineyard…..Did we really buy that much wine?

It took over 8 hours to do the 260 mile journey to Middlekerke and Westende which was far longer than anticipated. Luckily Ken and Jacky arrived at the campsite just as reception was closing and booked us all in before it closed. We were lost in Westende! Colin’s satnav has been brilliant but, today, it just couldn’t cope.  First, we ignored an instruction because ‘Ken probably knows where the supermarket is’. Next, the satnav really wasn’t convinced that the main road through Westende was impassable, even though there was a big hole in the middle of it, so we drove round in circles. Finally, a lovely Belgian man, who’d seen us go past several times as well as reversing back from dead ends,  flagged us down and gave us directions!

We parked up with a huge sigh of relief and treated ourselves to a beer on the campsite before heading out for dinner. We’re about 150m from the beach and its very windy and sandy. It was too much for us to head into town so we ended up at the nearest restaurant. The highlight was when the bill was presented in a stylish box, almost like being given a gift.

We’ve earned a leisurely start tomorrow and plan to take a tram ride

Ediger Eller

It was a long journey through Germany to the Mosel. Motorway most of the way with some very fast driving  by German drivers on the unrestricted sections but a lack of beautiful scenery, unlike Switzerland.

After about five hours driving, and losing Jacky and Ken along the way, we finally arrived at the Mosel.

We took full advantage of being campers – set out our picnic chairs, made a cuppa and ate lunch overlooking the river in the sunshine.

We have a lovely campsite, right on the banks of the river. The only problem is the cold wind and long walk to the shower block. We may never work out how Ken and Jacky arrived before us when they were several miles behind for the last part of the journey. The afternoon was spent wandering around Ediger, which is beautiful. We had forgotten just how lovely the Mosel is. John was particularly taken with the quality of copper guttering and lightning conductor on the church


We stumbled upon an opportunity for a wine tasting which was too good to pass up. Jenny (from London!) and her German husband run a small vineyard and guesthouse. We were treated to a tasting of seven of their wines and tomorrow morning we will be driving back to pick up several cases of wine!

Dinner was in a traditional German restaurant with wiener schnitzel all round.

We’re trying our drop down bed for the first time tonight. John has already bumped his head and it’ll be interesting to see if either of us fall out in the night

Lugano to Freiburg

We missed one of yesterday’s highlights – Kim driving the van! We stopped at services, just north of Genoa, and she announced ‘it’s now or never, and the next services are only 20k away!’ It turned out that she drove the final 100 miles with the only row being about which pitch to use for the night. John would like to point out that he was able to assist with navigation directions without the need to write left and right on his hands.

Lugano is meant to be a favoured area for the rich and famous, the Monte Carlo of Switzerland. All we saw were a couple of ducks and a few coots! Switzerland, however, was determined to throw every type of weather at us. From last night’s downpours and thunderstorms to today’s rain, sleet and snow, we saw it all. Driving through the Lugano Pre-alps, we saw beautifully manicured forsythia hedges in the central reservation. The splash of colour on such a grim day was welcome.

The weather was hideous until the 17km San Gottardo Tunnel (thank goodness the pass was closed otherwise John was tempted to give it a go). As we came out the other side, into snow, the weather changed and the sun came out.

The weather just got better and better and Switzerland put on a real show for us as we drove past Bern and towards Zurich before heading into Germany.

It took two, overpriced, stops at motorway services for us to remember we’re in motorhomes. We have toilets, food and tea so lunch was homemade at a motorway rest area with a lovely view across the hills

We arrived in Freiburg about 4, having left Lugano at 9:30. Long gone are the days when 200 miles takes 2 1/2 hours, these journeys are done at a far slower pace which takes a bit of getting used to. The good news is we are now averaging 24mpg.

The site is lovely, the sun is shining and the temperature’s back up at 18. We had a pleasant walk into town along the river although we had to dodge lots of mad cyclists and the tram. We wandered around the historic centre, and treated ourselves to a beer, before heading back to the restaurant next to the campsite for dinner.

We’re running low on water so brushing our teeth in bottled fizzy water is a new experience. We’re saving the last of the proper water for a cuppa in the morning – we really must work out how to top up our fresh water at the next site! In case you’re wondering, the Olive tree has enjoyed its journey today and relished the warmth of the German sunshine.