Schlossed Again

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May 9th 2011
Published: May 9th 2011
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Mon 2 May..... Having enjoyed our time at Obernai, we moved on.......but not before completing two necessary E.Leclerc supermarket shop (which was an even bigger one than last time) and a long session at MacDonalds Internetting......emails and blog. Whilst the text for the blog is written (when possible) daily and therefore can be copied and pasted, the photos (also downloaded/named daily when possible) have to be we chose 52 photos for this week’s blog out of a possible 197!!!! We will be selling tickets on a first-come first-served basis for a full showing of all our photos on our return (17ish May.....make a note in your diaries!)

As it turns out, Obernai was about the last of the really good villages on the wine route. In a similar way that we found the best bits slow in coming at the start, down in the south, they also tailed off in attractiveness for the last northern section............therefore, the middle bit is the best.

Amongst a mass of other little villages we passed through, we had ear-marked Rosheim and Molsheim to stop at, which we did. We parked in the main street at Rosheim for lunch in Hymie and a quick walk around, then on to Molsheim for another meander through the streets............all very pleasant in the sunshine but not as good as some of the other villages. Onwards to the end of the Wine Route and veering left, into the Lorraine area and up to Saverne......well actually north west of Saverne to Phalsboug, where we knew of a campsite. Once off the Wine Route, the roads and towns were more major......sitting in traffic/lots of lorries. We passed through Saverne which is big.........too big for us, so we won’t be returning as planned. We found this lovely campsite at the end of a most unlikely looking track, deep in the countryside and very quiet. Tomorrow we’ll find some peaceful backroads to take us to Strasbourg.

Tue 3 May....Sure enough the map revealed a large green area, criss-crossed with winding scenic routes. So we tootled along in lovely sunshine, passing though pleasant villages and wonderful scenery....forested high, high hills (chug-chug....then wheeeeee) and verdant valleys. We left seeking a boulangerie for our lunchtime bread too late....they were all closed for lunch. So in the little village of Duppigheim we found a charming restored barn restaurant. We weren’t really looking for a full on meal but they didn’t do we just had to have the Plat de Jour at 8.70Euros each + ¼ carafe of Pinot Noir (4 Euros). The food was superb.....a help yourself cold buffet for starters (lovely salads, prawns, tuna/beansrouts, cold meats etc) followed by the main meal........thick slices of smoked pork with mustard sauce, mashed potato and peas/carrots in another delish sauce. The family staff were very friendly speaking both French and German (no English).

Wonderfully sated, we drove on into Strasbourg, parking centrally and walked into town via the river into the area known as Petite France. There should have been some wonderful views of several bridges and towers....but the main bridge was under repair, clad in white polythene sheeting! However, we made our way into the centre, checked out the amazing cathedral with its equally amazing clock in one corner of its massive interior. This clock obviously has a lot of moving parts.....little turntables of figures, who presumably do various things on the hour. As we came across it, it was we stood and stared to see what would happen at 4.45. Sure enough on one of the little turntables an angel moved round and donged a bell...but that was it. So we moved further down the church to admire the fantastic organ but made sure we were back at the clock for 5pm. The anticipation for us and several others, all watching and waiting, was palpable! When the clock hands finally moved to 5pm, the same angel came out, did two dongs and disappeared .........we were underwhelmed!

The air was chilly but the sun shined on as we walked around enjoying the buildings, little streets, big streets with up-market shops and various canals. We stopped for a coffee to discuss plans before making our way back to Hymie. We had intended to spend most of tomorrow in Strasbourg too...but we felt we had seen all we wanted to see so we drove out of the city towards the east and an Aires site at Auenheim. The traffic on leaving was fairly heavy, including crossing over the River Rhine, which is the official border between France and Germany. However, the countryside gradually returned and we find ourselves in this extremely quiet spot but have no idea what we’ll do tomorrow. We have contacted German friends of English friends (Lorna & Ian) and have arranged to visit them tomorrow at 5pm. Perhaps we’ll do absolutely nothing and just chill out for the day....who knows?!

Wed 4 May....What a lovely day in every way. Being only 9 miles from the German friends, there was no point driving on. So we cycled out of the village and turned right onto a smaller road parallel but slightly lower than the River Rhine. Within a few yards was a well signed cycle route atop the grassy bank right next to the water....bliss. The difference between France and Germany is quite noticeable.............instantly well signed, well ordered just so very efficient! Anyway we cycled for about 6kms enjoying a few boats (both cruisers and working) as well as masses of swans and the odd low-flying stork. We then turned off into Honau seeking some lunch. This sleepy little place only seemed to have one hostelry, which as we entered we bumped into the owner who was closing up to go shopping! However, he suggested we cycle a further ½ mile to a little lake with its own cafe. This turned out to be a wonderful spot, only a couple of locals we sat overlooking the lake with a Radler each (shandy) then enjoyed potato salad with frikadellen (meat patties) for him and pork schnitzel for her.

More enjoyable, flat cycling back though another village to Hymie, then on to Appenweier to find Gasthaus Engel...the Guesthouse owned by the German friends. We received a very warm welcome and spent some time sitting in the garden sipping delicious local wine and chatting with Karl-Heinz, his wife Mona their two delightful sons, Florian (9) and Simon(7). We were also joined by two local men (Ludwig....who Lorna’s father knows well and Siegfried) who had been gardening.

Despite our insisting we were happy to sleep in Hymie, Karl-Heinz insisted more strongly that we stay in the guesthouse. We capitulated and were shown to an enormous set of rooms (2 bedrooms and a bathroom...the bathroom alone was twice the size of Hymie!). As their popular restaurant is closed on a Wednesday & Thursday, we ate our delicious supper with just Karl-Heinz, Mona and the children (Florian in particular was very funny, telling Irish type jokes ...except they were Ostfriesland jokes). When the children were in bed we chatted on with KH & M, coffee and home-made schnapps and finally retired.

Thu 5....Breakfast in the guesthouse (wunderbar) then we followed KH & M for about 3kms to a fantastic castle, Schloss Staufenberg, up amazingly beautiful vine-clad hills. There we parted and said our goodbyes and thankyous. We explored the castle and admired the superb views before heading on towards the waterfalls at Alleheiligen. We had actually been there in 2009 but still enjoyed walking up the steep route with a series of very pretty falls and, at the top, the ruins of a 12th century abbey.

As we were leaving, a young Dutch couple accosted us explaining how they’d walked miles through the woods to this spot, hoping to get a bus back. Since the busses only run at weekends, they had an awesome walk ahead of them. So, being the nice people that we are, we gave them a lift (totally in the wrong direction for us) dropped them off, turned around and headed for Sindelfingen where we are booked in for work on the van tomorrow. The first half of the journey was lovely, travelling along the Schwartzwaldhochstrasse (Black Forest Highway), then we hit bigger towns and traffic...lots of traffic.

We finally reached the Hymer service centre at about 6pm and after a bit of a wait explained our various ailments and booked in for the morning. Ironically, despite us requesting and the garage ordering a RIGHT hand bumper transpired a left hand corner had been sent! However, we are now here for the night, in a designated spot with electricity, water etc and are hoping that either the correct part can be ordered and delivered tomorrow or we’ll stay another night and get it fitted on Saturday............we’ll see.

Despite these irritations, we are very comfortable and looking forward to our pork steak & red cabbage supper!

Fri 6....Good and bad news..........the correct part could be sent but not until another night on the forecourt. The chap we’ve been negotiating with is a wonderful character called Mario (we’ve now christened him Super Mario) who speaks excellent English and patiently explains everything.

We spent the day on cycles looking around camping/caravanning shops, garden centres, DIY stores and several hours, including a Swedish meatballs lunch, at Ikea. In the evening we walked to a nearby Chinese restaurant for dinner. A so-so meal but amusing to chat with the Chinese staff in German!

Sat 7....The part arrived at 10.30 and by 11.30 we were on our way to Ludwigsburg. Before leaving the garage there was an unnerving spooky moment watching a mechanic get out of a vehicle and going inside the workshop, yet a second later he climbed out of the driver’s cab! It turned out to be absolutely identical twins.........wearing identical clothes, with the same bald patch and even the same one ear pierced with the same earring! We bet they have some fun.

Anyway, about 40 minutes later we were in Ludwigsburg....parked up and off with the cycles. In the central square was a big fruit/veg/meat/cheese market where we stopped for refreshments, basking in the hot sunshine. We then discovered a large fleamarket behind the Rathaus (Town Hall) with a great wurst stall for lunch.

But the best bit was the enormous and beautiful Schloss (a palace rather than a castle) built by the founder of the town, Duke Eberhard Ludwig. We explored the two huge courtyards surrounded by buildings, catching glimpses of the ornate interior which we’d chosen not to buy tickets for and glorious views over immaculately kept gardens, both formal and natural. There were at least three weddings going on complete with beautiful brides.

From there we cycled through a park, which had been a former 72 hectare game park, with a number of amazingly friendly deer wandering around. Set in this park is a smaller palace called the Favourite Palace, built for Ludwig’s mistress! After that another long tree-lined path to Mon Repos, Ludwig’s hunting lodge set on the edge of a picturesque lake, with its own church on the central island. There was also a big craft/art fair going on with an umpah-type brass band playing to the crowds.

Our return cycle was interrupted for more refreshments before we finally return to Hymie. From there we drove a further 5 miles to an Aires site at Marbach am Neckar.....a river just below. Finding an open supermarket we stocked up on supplies and as we sit here by the village green, the German occupants of the only other two vans here, have recommended a nearby let’s go and eat!

Sun 8.....A lovely meal out last night.....we do love German food! Before moving on today we wandered around the town of Marbach.............another hot day and another charming town.......including watching a procession of young boys and girls following the vicar out of the 1450 church, after being confirmed.....interesting that the girls wear black.

Needing to get a jiffy on, we drove for 2-3 hours (inc a Hymie lunch stop) to Speyer.........partly because it’s sort of en route, and partly because it was marked in an orange box on the map (ie: special). Because when we set out we had not intended to visit Germany, we have neither our German road map, our German Rough Guide nor our German Stellplatze (overnight stops for motorhomes) we’re using a mixture of the Europe map and TomTom.

Anyway Speyer seems a hugely popular spot.......a lot of people about and of course it was a lovely place to look around. It has the usual accoutrements we’d expect with the River Rhine to one side. There’s also a huge Technology museum in whose carpark some sort of car show was going on, with beer/food tents, a band and so on. Having checked out the town we cycled along the Rhine, stopping at the Speyer/Rhine beach bar (all sand and deck-chairs) before cycling down to the museum carpark to find whatever had been there was finishing.....just a few interesting cars and bits to see.

Looking for an overnight spot we drove about 12 miles out of Speyer to an Aires site at Hasslock. Comfortably settled in the quietish spot, with no-one else around, we’ll think about tomorrow.

Mon 9....Our morning started by looking for bloody internet to do our blog! Driving to the next town we tried first Burger King with free instant wi-fi access, well it would have been except their system was down, so on to MacDonalds but as suspected you need to register to get on-line and they text you the log in codes. Whilst we have a German sim card, it has no credit. So somewhat pissed off we continued on our way....... destination Trier, some 108 miles away. The first part of the drive was along some lovely roads, passing through several pleasant towns/villages with miles of heavily forested areas in-between....with much evidence of the lumber industry including several paper mills. We were amused to pass through the little town of Frankenstein (last week we came close to driving through Munchhausen, but not by proxy). We then took the motorway for some 75 odd miles. Knowing we were coming close to the Moselle River, we came off the motorway before Trier at Schweich and drove up river for several kms, then crossed and returned to Schweich with vine-clad hills all around and stopped to meander around a little street market before coming across a campsite by the water’s edge. It was very hot and we were ready to retire for the day, so we checked in.

The necessity of doing a washing machine exercise had to take immediate precedence over chilling out. One would think this would be straightforward and hassle-free......NOT! However we finally achieved the task and with the sun being so hot, everything dried in record time. In the meantime we took the opportunity to sit....just a few feet from the river, to read and relax. It’s amusing to watch our fellow motorhomers................mainly German, some Swiss. They are SO neat and organised.........they sit at tables laid with cloths and vases of flowers, they not only make sure their vans are washed but they polish them! By stark contrast, we are the pommy slobs with a grubby van, festooned with drying washing!

We have just taken an early evening cycle deep into the countryside alongside the Moselle....with the sun getting lower, yet still really warm, it was a terrific ride. Now it’s cooking and then finally internetting/blogging. Tomorrow will be Trier and beyond.

Our Route (overnight stops in capital letters)
Since Obernai....Rosheim; Molsheim; Bergbieten; Wangen; Marmoutier; Saverne; PHALSBOURG
Lutzelbourg; Obersteigen; Oberhaslach; Duttlenheim; Strasbourg; AUENHEIM
Cycle ride alongside the Rhine, back through Honau, Leutesheim to Auenheim then APPENWEIER
Durbach; Oberkirch; Lautenbach; Alleheiligen; Unterwasser; Freudenstadt; Nalgold; SINDELFINGEN x 2 nights
Begsigheim; Bretten; Bruchsal; Germersheim; Speyer; Geinsheim; HASSLOCK
Neustadt am der Weinstrasse; Frankenstein; motorway from Kaiserslautern to SCHWEICH

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