Posted by: glenswatman | August 11, 2011

20110801-10 GERMANY FRANCE

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MONDAY 1 AUGUST 2011 – In Traunreut I visit the dentist who speaks good English as he has spent time in USA. He says to fix my tooth problem with root canal work and filling will cost Euro 285 (£250) but really it needs a crown as the dead tooth will crumble in time. I opt to wait until we get back to England as he says the temporary filling should be good for up to 3 months. We meet Lotte at the swimming baths and Max joins Daniel and Natasha for a swim. At €1.50 (£1.35) it is excellent value with 2 outdoor pools, slides and a lazy river. They spend over 3-hours enjoying themselves before we head to Lotte’s apartment. She cooks us a lovely meal of schnitzel, salad with lots of chips for the kids. In the grassy area outside her home Lotte, Steve and the kids take it in turns to play badminton. We move back to a car park near the swimming pool for a quiet night’s free camping.

TUESDAY 2 AUGUST – Lotte and Max arrive and Max asks to travel with us in the motorhome whilst we follow Lotte to Tuttensee Lake. This small lake was created by a meteorite crater and has good motorhome parking in a field nearby and a nice grassy area on the lakeside, €1.80 (£1.60) adults, 80c (70p) kids. You can also hire long windsurf boards for the day and these are great fun for the kids, big and small ones! In the evening Volker joins Lotte and Max for a meal at the restaurant. We eat in the motorhome and they join us afterwards for a farewell drink. Whilst we can handle the cost of eating out in Germany it is the drinks that frustrate us, here it costs €2.40 (£2.15) for a tiny, 200ml, Coke.

WEDNESDAY 3 AUGUST – We’ve had a very quiet nights camping so decide to have another day at the lake. Daniel stays in the van, on the computer, in the morning – he got a bit too much sun yesterday. The idea was to have our main meal at lunch time, a nap during the heat of the day then return to the pool when it is cooler. Of course this doesn’t work out as they all want to go straight back to the pool after lunch, I am the only one that stops for a nap then I don’t get up until 4pm just as the thunder is starting. By 5pm everyone is out of the lake and we are back in the van battening down the hatches. The wind and heavy rain continue through the night making sleep difficult.

THURSDAY 4 AUGUST – It’s still raining when we leave. Apparently in July they had lots of rainy weather compared to a lovely sunny month in April, a real reversal of what should be expected. Our journey takes us virtually through the centre of Munchen en route to the Rimor motorhome dealer, “Northaft Reiseservice” in Emmering. We’ve found it on the Internet and don’t have an appointment but are hoping that they can fix a broken window that we can no longer open. Owner Mike speaks excellent English and goes out of his way to be helpful. They swap over the broken gas fire cover (damaged by us but a bad design fault), fix the handbrake and look at but are unable to complete other jobs due to parts being needed. Excellent service, if we could just find a dealer where we could order our parts ahead it would save us having to go back to the idiots Cordoba in Bradford for anything! It is so nice to no longer look at the silver tape holding together the top of the gas fire! On the Northern outskirts of Munchen is the city of Dachau which is famous as the site of a war concentration camp. Daniel has expressed interest in a visit. €5 (£4.50) motorhome parking but no overnight stays allowed. Admission to the memorial site is free but we opt to get both the kids audio guides, €2.50 (£2.25). I first came here as a child with Mum and Dad but also visit in 1998 with Steve. Things have changed a lot as it now seems more commercialised with a visitor centre and they have also unearthed the remains of the railway track along which the internees arrived and created some memorial churches within the grounds. The kids show a surprising amount of interest and although we let them walk around at their own pace they take quite some time taking it all in but have special interest in seeing the gas chambers. However once we get there they have little to say so it has certainly had an impact. It is mid afternoon when we leave and we set out looking for a suitable overnight spot. On the outskirts of cities we see fields with gladioli flowers up for sale as individual pick your own blooms, 80c (£70p) each. There’s a nice lake just north of Augsburg with 3 car parks. The middle one has 3 roads going in so we opt for the middle one. The lake is very pleasant, shallow and much warmer than Lake Tuttensee but not quite so attractive. The kids are really into card playing now and ask to have a whole evening of card games. The night is not so good, we work out that this is an area used by men for pickups and even at 3am there are cars cruising around in amongst the Grand Prix drivers.

FRIDAY 5 AUGUST – It is still cool and drizzly but looks like improving so we relocate to the motorhome “Stellplatz” at Friedberg Lake. Here we are welcomed with signs directing us which parking area to use. The lake is lovely and in the middle has water ski-ing on a line. Over lunch we talk about the price and the kids decide to spend some of their own money to take the 1-hour package including a short wet suit. First they watch an American video describing the system and safety procedures. Then they have a wristband attached which they must scan each time they ski, and they collect lifejacket and skis. At the platform they wait their turn then are instructed how to squat down and wait for the tow rope to pull them forward. They both make the classic mistake of pulling on the rope rather than letting the rope pull them but after 3 or 4 starts they are up and running – for a short time. By the end of the hour Daniel is getting half way round the lake and Natasha almost all the way. They’ve had a brilliant time and lots of exercise, when you fall in your have to swim back to the floating pontoons then walk back to base. Daniel immediately heads back to the van to check out the photos whilst Natasha and I swim in the lake before a storm arrives. Another extended card evening follows. Mid evening a family motorhome arrives and answers. We thought that in a motorhome parking place you should literally just park but as Germans they dispel that myth by getting out tables, chairs open BBQ and the awning. Getting prepared for bed Daniel pulls to get the ladder from their bed and dislodges his computer which falls down and smashes a hole in the dining room table. New job on the list to either find out the cost of a new table top of find out how we can fill in the hole and make it match the shiny work surface.

SATURDAY 6 AUGUST – The kids get up around 10am and it is 11am before we make it to the lake. No early starts by choice for them. At lunch time we learn they both want to cut the trip short and go home early. Daniel is bored and getting Internet withdrawal symptoms. As he usually has up to 4 hours a day on Facebook this is understandable and in our opinion no bad thing to be doing without it. Natasha’s rabbit Snowball is sick and she says she is homesick. We pack up and drive to Friedberg to try and get wi-fi so we can Skype Claire for a chat to talk through options. Unfortunately the Germans are very cautious and the Internet we find is secured. At MacDonalds you must have a code sent to a German “handy”, mobile, and although a customer obliges with his number the code has not arrived before he leaves. In the end we opt for Claire to call me on our mobile, free for her and 11p minute incoming for us. The bottom line is there is nowhere for them to go if they return early and once they realise this they seem to settle to the idea of being with us for the rest of the trip – maybe it was all a bit of a try on. We are now near to Kuhlsee Lake which also has a “stellplatz” so we park up and explore around the long manmade lake. It is different to the others which have been round and ends at the dam where people are bathing on the banks of the river downstream. Although it is a nice spot we left the kids in the van whilst we walked all around the lake and they have told us there are buses every 5 minutes and lots of traffic. We return to Friedberger Lake in the hope of a quieter night, weekend nights are always a problem for noise. We are camped next to a corn field and can’t resist doing a bit of quality control on 4 corn on the cobs, very tasty but not quite ripe! A convoy of 5 Italian motorhomes pull up in the evening, it makes us laugh as they almost always travel in a group of at least 3, then proceed to set up camp and stand outside shouting loudly at each other. They are topped when the mobile disco arrives but luckily rain in the early hours drives people back inside their cars instead of partying outside.

SUNDAY 7 AUGUST – We’ve promised to try and find Daniel Internet so head into the city of Augsburg, one of the oldest in Germany. We manage to park in the streets near the centre and according to the meter it is free on non working days. Nearby “The Fuggerei” is the oldest social settlement in the world. Founded in 1521 it became a small village community where needy people could rent small basic apartments for a cost of what today is 88c (80p) month plus 3 prayers a day for the Fugger family. The most prominent resident was Franz Mozart, great grandfather of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The settlement has been in continuous use and today houses 150 people between 140 apartments. A few of the buildings have been retained in the old style and are open to the public as are museums and an underground bunker. The family ticket at €8 (£7.20) is the same price as 2 adults so we are not too worried that the kids are barely interested. They do hasten their step when we set off walking to the information centre where there are 2 computers, free to use. Today is a long weekend, Augsburg day is a public holiday for the country tomorrow. I watch the first marathon runners returning with a band playing them in. Realising the computer is going to be no quick fix I walk back to the van to update Steve and leave the kids to return when they are finished – 1-hour later. It’s still raining so between us we decide to put in a long drive to get us towards France. On the motorway we spot a hold up ahead and opt to take the smaller roads which turns into a much nicer journey, in fact I don’t know why we take the motorways at all in Germany as we have lots of time and find them very boring. We see the typical fields of gladioli for sale, lots of corn fields, pretty villages with Alpine homes festooned with flowers. We proposed to stop at Bad Ulrich but at the “stellplatz” the motorhome service machine is broken and we need water. Press on to Rottenburg Neckar and get the water from the main parking (€1, 90p for 80 litres) but move to a different “stellplatz” nearer the town centre with the bonus that the second one is free. Tonight we teach the kids the game of “Newmarket” that I used to play as a child. They love it, especially the sweets on the centre cards which everyone has a chance of winning.

MONDAY 8 AUGUST – It’s been an incredibly quiet night and we all had a good sleep. I walk into the city with the kids so Daniel can try to get wi-fi but the only option is €4.95 (£4.50) hour. Head off west towards France on another scenic drive through valleys and hill with lots of attractive villages. At one point we seem to go up and over moors then make a steep descent with fine views up a valley. By mid afternoon we arrive at Oberkirch and it is pouring with rain. Motorhome parking looks good by the stadium so we settle in and play lots of card games. After supper we walk into the village and Daniel takes up the €1 (90p) for ½ hour internet whilst the rest of us enjoy a walk around the really pretty town. We’ve not been back long when Steve notices a number of youths pulling up in cars then standing around drinking. This does not bode well for the night so we pack up and drive about 20 minutes to the last town in Germany, Kehl, with motorhome parking at the Burstener motorhome dealer. It is not the best parking being near the motorway but at least that is a safe noise.

TUESDAY 9 AUGUST – By 7.30am it is really noisy with motorway traffic and cars pulling onto the car park. We drag the kids out of bed and set off across the Rhine into FRANCE arriving in the city of Strasbourg. First we head to the European Council headquarters where we stop to take photos. By the time we are driving in the city the kids have fallen back asleep. Whilst trying to find parking we end up driving past pretty much all the sights. Finally find a place to park but it doesn’t have a good feel to the area and the kids are showing no real interest in visiting the city. Opt to have breakfast then head on west. Avoiding the main motorways we enjoy the quality of the roads in France and finally I get to take the wheel. Driving Eddie is much easier than our other motorhomes as it is narrower; the biggest problem is reining him in as he wants to go too fast. All is going well until we get a diversion when I change back so Steve can do the narrow roads. We end up cutting across country following a small canal, slow progress but we are in no hurry. At Richardmenil there is pleasant motorhome parking for 4 vans, including free electricity, water and dumping facilities. It’s raining again so we settle in for lunch of French stick and pate. It brightens up in the afternoon so I do a couple of buckets of washing, a small inroad into the laundry basket full.

WEDNESDAY 10 AUGUST – Stop at McDonalds so that Daniel can get an Internet fix. You’ve gotta love Ronald for providing free wi-fi. It is lunch time as we are passing through Ligny En Barrois so we decide to make use of the Aires at the canal. This turns out to be our final resting spot for the day as there is free wi-fi. There’s an old barge anchored in front of us with the Aussie flag flying, a couple from Melbourne own it and come over to use it for a couple of months each year. Natasha has just had permission to go on Facebook so we leave the kids on line and set out to do the town walk, moderately interesting. We spot a dentist and as my tooth is now aching a little we check out options. It seems that in France there is a fixed price for root canal work and including x-rays this comes out at just short of €90 (£80) for the 3 canals. The bad news is he cannot fit me in.


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