Fixing our van and relaxing in the old West Germany

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Europe » Germany
August 7th 1974
Published: September 28th 2021
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We crossed the border from Austria into Liechtenstein around 7pm and were into Vaduz soon after. We stopped long enough to take some snaps of the castle on the hill above the main street, then drove up a hill just out of town for the night, where we got a really good view of the town below, before free camping for an early night.

Next day was a special day for us as we celebrated having been on the road for 6 months, but the weather wasn’t in celebratory mood as a heavy storm had hit us overnight. We wandered into Vaduz for a look around, but there was nothing particularly startling. However, we did observe that about the main feature of the economy appears to lie with postage stamps and other local souvenirs. We drove up to Schloss Vaduz for a closer look – the place was really attractive, with lines of cloud drifting over the mountains. We split from Vaduz just before midday, with the weather clearing, and we even got some sunshine later in the day. Most of our drive was through Swiss territory – very lush, prosperous looking countryside, with dark brown alpine houses dotted throughout. Again, the low-lying cloud gave rise to some amazing effects.

On arrival in Konstanz that afternoon, we made it straight away to visit the Lamms, a couple I had got to know quite well when they visited Fiji while I was working there, just over a year earlier. They had insisted that we come and visit them when we finally reached Konstanz, so we were happy to agree to that. Peter was away in France when we arrived, but we caught up with Gaby on arrival and again after dinner. We were joined for the latter visit by Julie and Peta, who had arrived a couple of days earlier and were staying at the local Youth Hostel. A record mail haul of 16 letters made my day. Peta and I did the right thing by Bob and Julie and we checked ourselves for the night into the local Youth Hostel.

It was a pretty inconsiderate crowd in the dorm of the Jugendherberge Kolpinghaus last night and neither of us got a heap of sleep. We were picked up by Bob and Julie at 9am and drove out of town for breakfast. We spent most of the morning looking for accommodation for the four of us in hotels, campsites, caravans etc but had no luck at all. The weather, which was crummy earlier, cleared and we spent some time down on the water’s edge of the Bodensee and lay in the sun for a couple of hours. After dinner, we all shot up to the Lamms as Peter and his mother had just returned from their trip to France. We discussed the Kombi, Nixon, travels, Fiji and how we would spend our time in Germany, before returning to the Youth Hostel at 10.30pm.

We had a late start next day after all getting a much better night’s sleep. We went over to Switzerland to buy some food and petrol before making it back for a late brekkie. The weather was stinking early but cleared up and we spent the late morning again by the side of the lake. We caught up again with Peter and Gaby mid-afternoon and took the ferry across the lake to Meersburg. There was a heavy downpour on arrival, but again it cleared. We walked along the vineyards that skirted the shoreline and past the castles on the hill, taking just over an hour in all. We then returned to the restaurant where we consumed some great rusty coloured wine (a local brew apparently) and had a great ‘schnitzel unt salat’. We were back at Konstanz by around 10pm in the drizzle and made it back to the hostel for a relatively early night.

We had a fairly inactive next morning, taking our time over breakfast and lunch, sitting in the van just yakking and catching up with Julie and Peta’s travel since we left them in Copenhagen. Lousy weather stopped any outdoor activity, so we finished up all our eats and made it over to the Lamms by 1pm. The seven of us (including Peter’s mother) then set out for Schweiz (Switzerland for you non-German speakers!) in the Kombi. We travelled some 30kms beside the lake until we came to the small Swiss town of Stein am Rhein. We wandered around the town for a while, checking out the great architecture of the houses. We then hiked up the hill to the Burg Hohenklingen, where we had arvo tea of strawbs and ice cream, as well as getting a great view of the river and valley below. The weather was a mixture of light rain and sunny periods but didn’t disrupt the trip. We decided against taking the ferry trip back down the Rhine and instead drove back to Konstanz by 6pm, before an early night.

We were up early next morning and down to the garage with Peter for advice on the van. They were not able to do anything until the following day, so instead we took on some banking, got two new tyres on the back and picked up a fibreglass repair kit for the roof. We then made it down to the Mainou parking lot, where we got funny looks from the attendant who has seen the van there most early mornings, but we were driven out by the mossies. So we went to the Youth Hostel instead for lunch and then proceeded with the job of fibre glassing the roof. A shower late afternoon preceded a macaroni and pancake dinner, washed down with a local wine, in the railway parking lot, another place where we were becoming pretty regular customers. We discussed future travel plans that evening – Peta and I would split back to England from Rome, and then Peta would return home as she had run out of money, while I would meet up with Bob and Julie in the Kombi again in about 6 weeks in Munich for Beerfest.

We had another early start next day for the car repairs. It was a frustrating morning sitting around in the hot sun while they did nicht on the van. I went into town for a few items, and later, Bob and I walked down to the lake where we caught up with the girls, Peter and Mama. It was a pleasant afternoon just lazing in the sun, swimming and chatting. We went down and bought some wood for the roof, then returned to the garage to fix the roof while the boss tuned the van. We were pleasantly surprised at the really low charge of 70Dm (28 bucks) for repairs to the door, motor and brakes. We celebrated our cheap repairs by the four of us eating out at the Traub Restaurant near the Meersburg ferry before returning to the hostel by 11pm.

Our final full day in West Germany was pretty much a non-event day but pleasant nevertheless. After brekky near the station, we went shopping in town. Bob and I attached the pop-top to the van and got it all aligned again. We then made it down to our regular swimming spot by the lake for the afternoon. We were fortunate to have bright sun early, but it clouded over later. We were away by 5pm and parked the van for a general cleanup, as well as finishing attaching the cloth to the roof. We made it back to the Youth Hostel for a shower then drove out for a dinner of Polish chicken, or should we say chicken bones, and apricot crumble.

Next morning, we were up early but unfortunately not early enough to catch Peter before he left for work. So we said our goodbyes to Gaby and made it to the (invisible) Swiss border by 10am.


28th September 2021
Vaduz Castle

When I was a kid I used to play Capitals of the World with my Dad. I reckon I was the only primary school kid who knew the capital of Liechtenstein was Vaduz. Brings back memories of my late Dad. Great pic. I'll post it in TB's "Palaces & Castles" thread in the Photography Forum. Check it out.
28th September 2021
Marina at Konstanz.

Really like this pic too!!!
29th September 2021
Marina at Konstanz.

Yeah, the scenery around some of those parts of Europe is outstanding, but to my mind travelling through them is not half the experience of the developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America. A lot of folks are more comfortable with that broad security but as I remember from our discussions, you share a similar enjoyment to myself of some of the 'out of the way' places.
29th September 2021

We enjoyed a few days there a few years back and were surprised by this little piece of land. There was more to see than you would expect.

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