21st Aug 2022
The title will make sense later…
Unusually for us we are doing yet another blog in short order. We are doing so much that it would be a huge undertaking to cover everything in one. We know you guys already get tired and burnt out reading these blogs (!)so smaller chunks would be wise for a while.
When last we spoke we were in Luxembourg and headed…. somewhere south with no particular plan in mind as ever. Note – the fuel in Luxembourg was £1.44p per litre… compared with current UK cost of £1.88 or so.
13th August and we arrived at a car park immediately alongside the Rhein at Drusenheim. Still in France but only just. We could look across the river directly into Germany. This is kinda just west of the Black Forest. Now this car park was free and we were made welcome by the signage alongside. ‘Motorhomes can stay overnight’ or the equivalent French version. ‘Except for Sundays when you have to be gone by 6am’ – Bugger. This was a Saturday night so perhaps a bit of planning would have been handy..! Never mind, we have been known to ignore signs before so all should be good. 6am is far too early. Especially when you read on….
The site was quite busy but mostly with older folk watching the ships go past and the ferry shuttling back and forth from Germany into France. It would surely get quieter as the evening drew on. Our research did suggest this would be the case and we would sleep soundly. However……this was a Saturday night as mentioned. In the middle of the summer holidays so there was a loud karaoke event over on the German side. Crap singing of course, but very very loud. Bearing in mind the Rhine is a rather wide river it was still painful. However again…. there was a clown on our French side of the Rhine who wanted to drown out the rubbish karaoke with his own woofers and tweeters in his white van. Just ten metres away from us. We happened to have picked the busiest, noisiest time of year to stay here. The competition was not only intense but it was also prolonged. ‘White Van man’ gave up by midnight, but Karaoke Deutschland kept on until 2am…! So, there was absolutely no chance of us leaving by 6am. The funny part was that ‘White Van Man had parked up directly behind three old folks on a bench looking across the river. I mean like 2 metres away. Well, bless them, they just sat there and ignored him, for about 3 hours, determined not to move. ‘I have been through the war and I am not going to be moved by a knob like him’, I could sense them saying. (They probably just turned their hearing aids off).
Anyway at 4.50am the local cockerel decided that we had suffered enough sleep and wanted to confirm our poor choice of campsite. ! Thankfully we managed to survive until well after 9am before moving off into Germany.
Now this bit was fun. The ferry is a foot/cycle/car/motorhome ferry which is absolutely free and runs all day and every day. The tricky bit is that the max weight is 3.5 tonnes. Well we are 3.5 tonnes… and a bit. (Quite a big bit probably). And added to that the ramp down to it was steep and the ramp off the other side was also steep. There was a serious risk of grounding. I had watched other motorhomes on both sides and was a bit nervous. The short 2 minute journey was exciting and we were slightly anxious however we were right to be so. We did in fact hit the ground with the rear end of Ruby as we leapt across onto German soil. Just a little bang. No damage but enough to scare us. Sorry Ruby..
We were also surprised to learn from a local chap that the Rhine level was so low due to the current serious drought that the number of barges going up and down was massively reduced. Many of the larger, more interesting ones, had to be parked up awaiting the autumn rains.
Well after speaking to the same local chap we decided to stop over in Mummelsee in the Black Forest for a break after a long and strenuous 50 minutes driving (!) we stopped for brunch. Cup of coffee and a Bratwurst. Something we have always remembered fondly from the days we lived in Germany. Not quite as good as our memory recalls but a nice snack anyway. Mummelsee is a beautiful tourist lake with classic Black Forest tourist stuff. A good start.
14th August and we arrived at Camping Alisehof in Schapback, deep in the Black Forest. It was about time we had some elec hookup and a washing machine available. Down to my last pair of pants..! We stayed just the two nights but really loved the place. The toilets/shower facilities are immaculate quality and cleanliness and they even supply passes for the local buses and discounts at the nearby Bear and Wolf. There is a neat little shop and bar, a kitchen providing pizza and Flammkuchen (google it..) and there are proper play areas for the kids. Cost of €34 per night inc elec (£30 ish) was well worth while. Especially when you pop into the local village and see the beautiful classic Bavarian houses and shops all of which is also immaculately tidy.
The pitches on site were a little scruffy and dusty- again likely due to the prolonged heatwave. Twas indeed very hot but this was the turning point before we were met by some very cloudy days and some stormy weather. We took the opportunity to walk the 8km forest trail to the Bear and Wolf Park. It was good to get some exercise in after a while of travelling on the road. We accidentally got into the Bear Park for free as the back gate from the forest walk was left wide open so we just snook in…! Thankfully this was into the public area, not the bear enclosure. ! Mainly this is a retirement park for bears that have been collected from around the world that have suffered in circuses, ‘dancing bear’ shows and ‘selfie photo bear cubs’ from tourist spots. We did therefore contribute despite free entry.
Really enjoyed the Alisehof campsite and were glad to re-charge our batteries (literally).
On 16th we reverted to type and parked overnight in a terrific tarmac lay-by near Schliffkopf. This was still in the Black Forest alongside what is sweetly called the Black Forest High Street that seems to pretty much run right through the middle. A wide road of good quality. It did get nice quiet overnight with the added bonus of a view away into the distant mountains. We managed a 8km walk through another forest track to the ski centre at Ruhestein. Unsurprisingly no snow but a cafe alongside the slopes for a coffee stop. This was also our first view of those classic Bavarian cows with bells round their necks.
So continuing to move on we arrived the next day at a car park by the lake in Kork. Just on the German side of the Rhine close to Strasbourg. On arrival in heavy rain the place looked tatty, soul-less and rather exposed but as ever we parked up, had lunch, the sun came out, cars arrived, everyone jumped into the lake, so we did too. Ended up really enjoying the place. Had several warm swims in the quarry formed lake and were joined by 3-4 other camper vans for another cosy (free) night. Win win.
The next morning however and we had plans. We had been told about the glories of Strasbourg so had to arrange a site within easy reach. We therefore pitched up on the 18th at the Kehl ‘Am Wasserturm’ overnight site. It was never meant to be anything other than a secure place to stay with the location being key. It was in actual fact pretty rubbish as a site. €12 with no services other than a toilet and grey waste disposal. Fresh water was an extra €1. Parking was pretty cramped and very busy. However it was just a 15 minute walk to the Kehl Rathaus (townhall) where we caught the tram straight into the centre of Strasbourg. €3.60 each return for the half hour journey in a modern clean efficient tram. Over the Rhein (again) and back into France where Strasbourg lives…..
The old town of Strasbourg (Petite France) is basically an area including three small islands with buildings that haven’t changed in hundreds of years. Beautiful classic houses and shops with the rivers passing through the middle. Reminded us a bit of Amsterdam. Lots of great photos opportunities despite the fact there was a lot of cloud around. I always had in mind that Strasbourg was just a modern city with strong links with European Union Organisations. Well, thanks to a conversation with a fellow traveller this was a good option to visit.
We then popped into the slightly more modern Primark (!) in the shopping centre to make some cheap clothing purchases.
And .. to buy a replacement camping chair for my pretty rubbish recent failure of Hi-Gear kit..
The next day we had a productive morning. By 10am we had found a TUV (MOT) station to obtain a sticker for the German Green Zone. Michelle discovered at the 11th hour that if we drove through Frieburg we would need a sticker for Ruby otherwise big fines will follow. There were limited other routes plus the Green Zone sticker lasts for ever (apparently) and covers increasing numbers of towns and cities (including Switzerland as it turns out). The Zone sticker cost €17.50 and simply requires the TUV office to check our V5 UK registration document for Ruby. This fitted neatly below the French equivalent on the windscreen. I hate stickers on my windows..!
Secondly Michelle had discovered a self-wash car wash big enough for Ruby, plus it had a gantry alongside to enable us to give Ruby’s roof a damn good scrub with a power brush. Totally necessary. Cost of €10 enabled us to do a great job on the roof and a pretty average job of Ruby’s sides..!
So at the time of writing – 21st August- we have pulled up onto a paid site at Titisee (chortle..). A small town and lake, still in the Black Forest. We had to pay a massive €41 Euros per night but the site is directly alongside the large lake with terraced pitches, all with views across the lake. You cannot book in advance but with 220 spaces there was plenty of options. Damnit. We always struggle with options. We consider everything…where does the sun rise? Set? Which way is the prevailing wind? Where are the noisy Germans? (Everywhere!). Are there midges or mosies? Anyway we managed to fail once again. But hey, we had great views across the lake. The site does, once again, have brilliant, modern, clean toilet and shower blocks AND you can use a SUP – Stand Up Paddleboard for free every day… AND a courtesy car for free every day for an hour to pop to the shops…. ! Well I never…! We made use of the SUP two days and managed to not drown as there is no training and no previous experience. Bloody hard work but pretty satisfying on this large calm lake.
The couple of days we planned however had dodgy weather with some sun, lots of cloud and some heavy heavy rain. So we opted to stay for a third night in order to capture the much better weather today.
So tomorrow we are headed off slightly east towards deeper cuckoo clock land so will speak later.
Did you know..
The Black Forest is a large scenic area in Southwestern Germany, in the state of Baden – Wurttemberg. It is full of trees, mountains, valleys and lakes just waiting to be explored. The vast and alluring nature park stretches from the town of Baden-Baden to the Swiss border, and from the Rhine almost as far as Lake Constance
Roughly oblong in shape, with a length of 160 kilometres (100 miles) and breadth of up to 50 km (30 mi),it has an area of about 6,009 km2 (2,320 sq mi).
Historically, the area was known for forestry and the mining of ore deposits, but tourism has now become the primary industry, accounting for around 300,000 jobs.