Our First German Trip

Discussion in 'Continental Touring' started by JockandRita, Sep 10, 2007.

  1. JockandRita

    JockandRita Funster Life Member

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    Hi all,

    We tried to "blog" this on here, but had too many characters. Then we tried to "hyperlink" it from it's original source, but no luck there either. So, copied, pasted and edited from MS Word, here goes.

    Our First German Tour (August/September 2007)

    Day One

    After spending the night at the Golden Lion, Luddesdown, courtesy of Scotjimland, (Jim, Jan & family), Rita and I headed off for Dover. Unlike on our French trip in March, we didn’t experience the wrath’s of customs this time, and joined the queue to check in.
    Having arrived three and a quarter hours before our sailing, and on a bank holiday weekend too, I was convinced that we would be turned around, and would have to park up on Marine Parade for a couple of hours.
    Wrong.
    The very helpful lady at the check in kiosk, informed us that there were spaces available on the next sailing, and that we would incurr a charge if we wished to amend our booking. (Having already learned that others had been charged around the thirty quid mark, we weren’t looking forward to this bit.)
    “Thank you, how much will that be please”, says I. “ Four pounds, seventy five pence please sir,” said the lady. Well, you could have knocked us both over with a feather. We were taken totally by surprise, and immediately coughed up the extra, before she realised that she might have made a mistake.

    After a very smooth sailing we disembarked at Calais, and headed along the A16 for Belgium. Wendy & Geoff, whom we met at the Fireworks meet, suggested that we stop overnight at Veurne, which was only about an hour away. They told us about parking near the canal, and the Autoroute confirmed the exact location as “Kaaiplatz”. However, the TT 700, indicated that the parkingplatz was right in the town centre. Not being too happy with this, we decided to stick with the canal location. The parking area on one side of the canal was full, so we just popped over to the other side. No problem.
    We took a short walk into the town centre, only to discover that the parkingplatz was cordoned off with metal barriers, and lighting gantries were in place. This was to be the venue for the town’s annual, musical extravaganza. It’s just as well that we parked where we did then!
    Having eaten and spruced up, back at the MH, we wandered into the town centre again, which was packed by now, and managed to find a couple of empty chairs outside a “Trappist Beer Cellar”. Now I was in heaven.
    I had several beers, which included “Affligem”, “Chimay”, and “Kastel” at 11%. Wow. We had a great evening, sat in the company of total strangers, who soon became friends, with Rita looking after one couple’s eleven week old Labrador pup, whilst having her photo taken with Joris, Belgium’s champion town crier. The music was excellent, with bands from Belgium and Holland and Germany, which included a pipe band. Brilliant. The evening’s entertainment finished with a wee Scottish number, played by the mass bands. A fine end, to what was our 28th wedding anniversary. Magic.
    The extremely friendly people that we were sat next to were drinking Gouden Carolus Triple at 9%. I tried to buy a bottle of the stuff, but was told that I had to buy it by the glass on draught, and get a card stamped upon each purchase. Once I had ten stamps, I would get the bottle free. Knowing that we were only there for one night, Edrich, the male member of our Flemish friends had his card stamped for the last time, and presented the bottle to me, insisting that I take it back to the “camper van” for another day. An extremely kind gesture indeed. Aren’t some people really nice?

    The weather was glorious, on both sides of the channel.
    According to the French chap moored directly behind me on the canal, for a couple of Euros, there are toilets and shower facilities for boaters, and MH’ers alike, just next to the bridge. If you need 240/220v hook up, you have to buy a card from the water authority office round the corner, and insert it into the meter. In all, there were twenty MH’s here.

    Day Two

    A very grey and overcast start to the day.
    The morning sees us heading for Dortmund to visit Duerrwang’s, which is a Hymer agent that we have contacted, to hopefully collect some spares from. According to the TT 700, it should be about 3.5 hours away. Probably at 70mph plus, but not at the maximum of 100kph (62mph) that we were doing. After 2.5 hours, we pulled in for a brew, whilst I looked for a campsite, knowing that, in Holland there are no Aire/Stellplatz type places to overnight in, other than on the Autoroute services.
    As we were just outside Eindoven, I picked the nearest site to the town known as “t’witven recreatiecentrum.” [COLOR="Blue"][SIZE="5"]www.witven.nl[/SIZE][/COLOR]

    They had vacant MH pitches, with all the amenities, for €19.50, or €15.00 with the ACSI card. WiFi is €5.00 a day for those interested. The site is quite pleasant and clean, with eating facilities if required.
    We would go as far as to say that this site is not ARV friendly due to the narrow entry to the pitches. At 8 metres (26ft), we found it to be a little tight. We also found the approach roads to the site, to be on the narrow side, with us having to straddle the white line, in order to keep off the grass verge. Having said all that, it was a very popular site, judging by the amount of pitches occupied by outfits, and rabbits too.
    According to the site receptionist, they haven’t had very many good days weather wise, this summer. They are certainly not on their own, in that respect.

    Day Three

    Back on the Autoroute for Dortmund, and it’s looking like a nice sunny start to the day.
    As soon as I had crossed the German border, I made contact by phone to the dealer, Duerrwang’s, and it’s not looking very good at this stage, however, they said that they would do their best to help. An hour later sees us at their premises. It is quite an impressive set up, with excellent customer facilities. It’s just a shame that the senior management that I had emailed, and spoken to by phone prior to leaving the UK, did not communicate with staff on the shop floor, before departing for the Dusseldorf show.
    Fortunately, we had the laptop with us, and were able to communicate our needs via images. 2.5hrs later, and we only have five items from our list, and we still have to get to the Dusseldorf camping park, before it gets full. Having paid for our items, we left feeling a bit disheartened, especially after receiving enthusiastic encouragement from management, which had led to nothing short of wasting our time, efforts and fuel. Grrrrr.
    By the time we reached the camping park at the Dusseldorf Messe, it was absolutely packed, and with being turned away at each entry point, it wasn’t looking good. We found ourselves travelling away form the area, and along by the riverside, (Rhine) where we could see the waterfront Stellplatz in the distance, which also looked to be full. We then decided to follow two other MH’s which appeared to know their way around, and found ourselves heading back towards the camping park. We joined a small queue, which soon had us directed to a vacant pitch, after having paid for two nights. It turns out, that as we arrived very close to 16.00hrs, we weren’t charged camping for the night, so now we are here for three nights, but you must leave by 08.00, on the day of departure.
    We arrived with “all systems go”, which was just as well, as we didn’t observe any service areas on our travels around the camping park, although they will be there, somewhere.
    After a bite to eat, we jumped on the free shuttle bus to the subway, and then picked up the “Metro” for Dusseldorf. We had a wander round, but really we were just checking it out for our next visit, so we didn’t do too much of it. I cunningly spied an old alehouse, which appeared to be dispensing “Alt”, an old style dark beer brewed in Dusseldorf. I shall definitely be having some of that on my next trip into town. By now though, we were both “cream crackered”, and made our back on the free bus, all the way back to the camping park. Extremely efficient, and very civilised indeed.
    Early bed.

    Day Four

    Being close to the airport, it can be noisy on the camping park, as you are right under the flight path, however, flights appear to be kept to a minimum, if not curtailed altogether, between the hours of 23.00 – 05.00……………………..but they don’t half make up for it from 05.05 onwards. Lol

    I go and have a scout around while Rita sorts out “the boss’s breakfast”, (hers, not mine!). It is about 08.00 and the place is buzzing with campers, commuters, and some very smartly dressed business folks, and there are buses everywhere. I follow some chap carrying a toilet cassette, to suss out where I need to be, when needs must. It turns out to be a fair old trek, to the only service point for the whole camping park. Now then, having printed and studied a plan of the Messe service area before we left home, we honestly expected to find small service points dotted around, on what has to be one of the largest camping parks in Europe. There are Mh’s, ARV’s and caravans as far as the eye can see, in all directions. But more on the facilities later.

    Back at the MH, I sit down to “the (pretend) boss’s big breakfast” of bacon, eggs, tomatoes, etc. At about 10.15, we make our way to catch the bus to the exhibition halls, having purchased our tickets earlier. Within just a few minutes, we are entering the “Messe”, which is absolutely huge. We wander through each hall, but only stopping at the ones that interest us, they being Hymer, other A class Reismobile/Motorhomes, and Technical, as that’s as far as we got, (5 halls in total). In the Technical hall, we spoke to UK rep at the Reich stand, explaining that we needed the plastic lever for our kitchen tap, and that everybody want’s to sell us a tap at £90, but no one want’s to sell us the lever. “Not a problem”, says he, giving us a name and number to contact at the factory in the UK, whereupon, one will be in the post. Brilliant. We then procured some spares from Smev, arranged awning maintenance to be carried out at the Omnistor factory in Belgium on the way home, and we called into the Truma stand.
    We communicated to a member of the staff, that we were concerned about a particular smell, which we get from our combi boiler each time it is fired up from cold. They contacted the site engineer, and asked us to return in 15 minutes.
    We returned in 12 minutes, to find the engineer Klaus waiting for us, oop’s.
    He had obviously been made aware of the problem, as he gestured for us to follow him. Now we thought that he was going to find a translator, or a quite area to question us about the problem. It wasn’t until we were heading for the exit, that we communicated our surprise. “Car here”? he said. “Camping park”, we replied. “Come come, we go”, he said, as he showed us a set of ignition keys. Next thing we know, Rita and I are being thrown around, in the back of this Mercedes Sprinter, like two lonely sardines in a great big tin. Klaus certainly knows his way around the Messe race track………sorry……… road system, and soon parks up next to our MH.
    Having read all about the Truma recall, and knowing that the serial numbers affected, did not apply to our boiler, we mentioned our problem to Truma UK, at Derby a few months ago. They told us to fetch it in, and they would have a look, however, as it was a Hymer E690, it would be a major problem to gain access to the appliance, and the whole bar area would have to come out. Whoa there, not so fast matey.
    Klaus had only been in the MH about 15 – 20 minutes, and already he has gained full access to the boiler. (ex Hymer fitter apparently). Lol
    He communicates that there is nothing to indicate that anything has melted, nor burned, to give off the smell. He then removes the top cover, fan and ducting, and gestures us to take a whiff. Yes, that’s it, and it smelt more like sawdust. At last we have established the location of the smell. The fan and ducting had a layer of dust on them, so Klaus cleans them off with an airline………and the smell has gone. As a former firefighter, I do have a keen nose for anything that remotely smells like burning or overheating, and the dust build up was the cause, on this occasion. Klaus again communicates that the ducting has since been modified for better efficiency and less heat loss, so we have the replacement fitted.
    1.5hrs, form start to finish, including two coffees, Klaus walks away with €71 (£47)……….and two cans of my treasured Speckled Hen, and we are happy MH’ers again. Truma UK, please take note. All in all, it has been quite a productive day for us

    As it’s now about 15.00 ish, we wander off to catch a bus, and the Metro into Dusseldorf again. Parting with my beloved Speckled Hen has me wanting a glass of Alt, at Dusseldorf’s first ale house. Any old excuse will do. Lol

    (Messe Report)

    A trusted source of Continental touring info, (for many members of another forum), has asked us to report back on the Caravan Salon at Dusseldorf Messe. We’ll try.

    The exhibition area, consists of seventeen halls, all with excellent toilet facilities, The halls are clearly marked, are interconnected, and movement between each is very easy. They are clean and well lit, and the vehicle displays are well laid out. There are external seating areas, with several food stalls/small marquees. All areas have excellent disabled access, and there is a small shuttle bus that runs between the halls, for those not wishing to view them all. Transport to and from the Messe is free and extremely frequent, and again, disabled friendly. We personally found the display staff at the trade stands to be very helpful, generous, and good communicators, even though we cannot speak German, (our problem, not theirs). Opening hours are from 10.00 – 19.00
    At 19.30hrs the free bus shuttle bus (897) discontinues, and another (898) comes into operation, conveying visitors in and out of Dusseldorf. If you choose to go earlier, (advised, as the buses are packed), you can catch the Metro into Dusseldorf old town, at the North entrance of the Messe, and catch the 898 back, from the Opera House, opposite the Police Station. The 898 runs until just after midnight.
    Metro tickets can be purchased from the machine, on the platform, on the train, or at main shopping hall in Dusseldorf, (for the return journey).


    Camping Park

    As you enter the Messe road system, you are guided to the parking areas, P1 & P2 for camping. You will be directed into the rows, and be pitched under the trees. Spacing is closer than we Brits are used to, but not so, as to be intrusive. The one and only service point is at the entry to these areas, but as there were several stewards waving us on, making sure that we didn’t stop, we missed it.
    The camping park opens at 07.00 and closes at 18.00, and the cost of a pitch is €15, or €17 with electricity, (if you are lucky enough to get there in time). You have to vacate your pitch upon the day of departure, at 08.00. This is when the queue for the service area is at it’s longest, and it’s two rows deep.
    There is a marquee for entertainment in the evening, whereupon meals can be purchased, as can breakfast of a morning. Alcohol is served both inside and outside the marquee. In the same area, there are toilets and showering facilities for all, and the standard of cleanliness are, good to very good.
    Tickets to the Messe can be purchased at the small information centre at the Camping park service area, or at the entrance to Hall 17, (bus stop). Prices are €11 for a one day adult ticket, or €17 for a two day adult ticket. We would recommend the two day ticket, as there really is a lot to see, without even looking at half of the displays.
    It all sounds very good, doesn’t it?

    Now for the bad news. At it’s peak, aircraft movement overhead, is roughly about every minute, and they are only a few hundred feet above. So, bring you ear defenders, or a couple of bottles of your favourite tipple, and consume more than usual, if you want to get any kip. The earliest flight time I recall for A/C movements was 04.38. How do I know this? Because I was busy compiling this diary at the time. Yes it’s sad, I know. Lol.

    Day Five

    This morning, I decided to empty the toilet cassette, and due to the distance involved, I strapped it to the bike rack, and off I went. As I was emptying the cassette, a MH pulled up onto the service area. The driver got out, removed his cassette, and then pushed me out of the way, so as to empty his. I suddenly had a vision of this guy driving down the road with a grey Thetford cassette wrapped around his ears. Fortunately, I refrained from turning this vision, into reality. He then had the cheek to remove his cassette from the rinsing tap, before switching it off, splashing water over my trousers and shoes. What an arrogant _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (please use your imagination at this point). Fortunately, he is the only one that we have come across, so far.

    Upon my return, we went off to do the halls that we missed yesterday, hoping to purchase spares from Thetford and SOG. Thetford don’t recommend the application of a SOG kit to their units. SOG on the other hand do, and, if you cannot get the Thetford spares from the accessory stand, you can get them from the SOG stand, even to the point of procuring a new cassette.
    Having done what we came to do, we made our way back to the MH. On the way, we received a text message from SidT, (Sid & Shirley), saying that they were on their way, having been held up at Antwerp. Due to their arrival time they were not permitted to pitch near us. So, if you want to be pitched with friends, you have to meet up somewhere, and arrive at the site together.
    Sid & Shirley and Rita and I got together in the evening, and spent a couple of hours catching up, on bits and pieces. We thank them for making the effort to join us, before we moved on.

    Day Six

    Today has been a disaster from the start. Having arranged with the ticket inspector to vacate our pitch at 10.00, so as to avoid the queue for the service area, it then took 1.5 hours to drop the waste water, toilet, and fill with fresh. During the filling process, the tank kept air locking, causing water “back up” the filler neck. To assist the member of the service area staff, I removed the cap from the top of the tank, to allow the air to escape, and asked Rita to tell me as soon as the gauge read “Full”. The tank was now filling nicely, so I proceeded to empty the cassette. As I had finished, Rita shouted that the tank was full. With the water turned off, the filler cap replaced, I then jumped into the MH to replace the tank cap, only to discover that, not only was the tank full, but it had overflowed into the MH, soaking the area around it. I moved the MH out of the way, parked up, and started a lengthy mopping up period. I never did understand why Hymer never fitted an overflow pipe to the tank. The tank cap has a silly little spout with a ball bearing fitted, to allow air to escape. This then closes off, when the water reaches that level. However, the spout is not large enough to permit the displacement of air, at the same rate as the inflow of water. We eventually hit the road at 11.45. Grrrrr

    We headed for Koblenz, intentionally missing the Rhine, so as to concentrate on the Mosel. This theory was based upon the advice of others, (mostly German), as the Mosel is the prettier of the two river valleys, apparently.
    Having found an Aldi’s in Koblenz, but no where to overnight, we then headed off for a stellplatz at Kober, on the northern side of the Mosel. Upon our arrival, there was a MH in the car parking area. I approached the driver and said, “spreche kein ze Deutch”? To which he replied, “Oh aye lad, I can do that alright”, in a broad Yorkshire accent.
    We were later to know this chap to be Dave, and his wife Margaret, from Halifax. Dave explained that he wasn’t staying, but the actual stellplatz was at the other end of this large area. That was a pity as the views at this point were excellent. We said “cheerio”, and made our way up to the stellplatz, whereupon we came across three other Brit Mh’s. Everything appeared to be okay at this stage, until we got settled. Rita had the oven on ready to cook tea, whilst I went to pay for parking, (€5). We didn’t appreciate the noise levels upon arrival, from the dual carriageway, and railway behind us. Oh dear. Neither of us has had much sleep due to the aircraft noise over the past three nights, and we were in much need of quality rest. We ate our meal, and moved on down the road, looking for a quiet peaceful place to stop for the night. Some of the stellplatz that show up on the TT 700 are only parking areas, which would have been fine, but we couldn’t get away from that blinking railway line. We could see a couple of campsites on the other side of the river, but we had missed the first bridge crossing, and carried on. Apparently, there is a stellplatz at the SOG Company, but we drove through some very tiny streets looking for it, and getting some very awkward looks from the residents. Out of luck, we continued making our way along the Mosel, when we came to another bridge. We crossed the river, to be met by a Hymer S740 coming the other way. This was Dave & Margaret whom we had met earlier. We waved as we passed and turned right off the bridge, following the TT 700 directions for another stellplatz. Due to traffic re routing, we again found ourselves traversing some very narrow streets, and eventually came across a car park at the entry to a campsite. The sign on this car park clearly stated that no MH’s were permitted. We did contemplate the campsite, but decided to try once more for a stellplatz. As we turned right out of the car park, who should come down the road but, Dave & Margaret. We both stopped and exchanged our findings. They said, “we have found the ideal place if you want to follow us”. “Great, I’ll just turn round and catch up with you”, says I. Away the two MH’s went, through all those tiny streets again. The look on the local’s faces was a picture. It’s not as if we were invading the place, although it may have appeared that way.
    Dave didn’t realise just how far away this “ideal place” was, as we were now only about 10 km away from Kobern, but on the other side of the river. Dave slows down and he indicates right at the stellplatz sign. This turned out to be a spacious parking area, behind some housing, and hotels, and with large bays for MH’s. Excellent!
    We parked up and levelled off, and then went over to thank Dave & Margaret, whilst introducing ourselves.
    We all soon got chatting over coffee and a beer, and made arrangements to get together later in the evening, which was to turn out to be both enjoyable and entertaining, in the company of seasoned travellers. Magic!
    At the rear of this stellplatz is a religious looking building with a large loud speaker on the roof, which blasts out the sound of ringing bells at 19.00 and 07.00…………..but no trains, or planes. Lol
    Parking here is free, but there are no facilities. There were nine MH’s parked here.

    Day Seven

    It turns out that we had parked up at Brodenbach on the B49, on the south bank of the Mosel, and after a very peaceful night, we decide to move on. Dave & Margaret had brought a travel article from the MMM, which another couple had written. It was titled, “The Three Rivers”, and covered the Rhine, Mosel and the Saar. The article was lent it to us, and after reading it, we made notes and decided to follow the author’s trail.
    Dave and Margaret said their goodbyes, and set off with the intention of eventually heading for Italy. We had a short walk around the village before getting ready to move off. During our walk, I noticed that although water was available at the village garage, next to the car vacuum facility, it didn’t look very promising. However, next to the garage, is the village council depot, whereupon I did see a couple of taps, with hoses attached. If you were desperate for water on a weekday, it would be worth a try.

    We headed for Cochem , but upon arrival, it was found to be absolutely mobbed. It’s obviously a very popular place with tourists, but wasn’t for us, so we carried on to Erdinger – Ediger on the B49, and pulled into the stellplatz next to the river. As we drove down the approach road, who could we see, but our friends, Dave & Margaret, who by now were creased up with laughter.
    We all had lunch there, and then went our separate ways.
    The fee here was €4 if staying overnight. Other than a push button water tap, (half a litre a time), there were no other facilities here
    We were first to leave and headed for Enkirch along the B53. The views during our journey were spectacular, and the drive was very interesting, with such a variation of roads, gradients and hazards.
    As we approached the stellplatz, we could see a huge grassed area to the right, full of MH’s, but as we pulled in, it was evident that there was plenty of space to pitch. An attendant comes round at 17.00 (ish) and, again in the morning, to collect €6.00 which includes all service facilities, as well as overnight parking. VFM. The town has plenty of eateries, bars and wine cellars/outlets. It also has a couple of bakers, a butcher, two grocer shops, and a book shop, which has a computer available for internet access. There is also an electrical shop and a computer shop.
    There is a bread van that visits the site in the morning, and a veg van in the afternoon.
    A small foot ferry takes you across the river to Krov, whereupon you can catch the “regional train” which runs at very regular intervals. It appears to run between Cochem and just further down the line from Krov.
    At the side of the town hall, opposite the “Biergarten” (that’s handy), there are toilets and two communal showers. For the Damens amongst you, Rita has given the showers the thumbs up for being clean, with a good supply of hot water, and enough time for two to shower, (Interesting?). And, all for €1.00. On behalf of the Herrens amongst you, I hope to confirm her findings in the morning.

    Getting into the relaxation mode, I decided to have a can of beer, from a shelf on the fridge door, I then changed my mind, in favour of a glass of wine, and put the can back. CRASH. The blooming shelf fell off the door, causing the one beneath it to come off as well. “You and your bl##dy beer” says the Damen boss. “Oh I get it, nothing to do with the jars of tartar sauce, tomato relish and bottled vinegar then”, says I.
    For the next hour or two, I was “Herr Numpty”, (a regular terminology, but normally with English language variants).

    MH’s were still coming in at 20.30. It certainly is a popular stellplatz. There must have been in excess of eighty MH’s by the end of the day. At €6 a shot, it is a good source of revenue for the town. Whilst some may shy away from such a gathering, for others, it would mean “safety in numbers”. On this trip so far, personal safety has not been an issue for us, and long may it continue to remain that way.

    Day Eight

    I can confirm Rita’s findings re the showers, and not only is there enough time for two to shower together, but there is also enough room. I leave the economics and/or practicalities of the situation to your own judgement. Lol

    Having rained during the night, the sky is slowly clearing, providing a hazy but sunny start.
    Rita & I have agreed that, although facilities are a plenty here, both in the town and on the stellplatz, we will move on, albeit only 17km along the road, to Losnich. Remembering the info that the parking attendant gave us regarding the “all inclusive” services, we proceeded to the service point to carry out our MH ablutions…………only to find it all locked up, from 11.30 – 15.30. What use is that?
    Staying on the B53, we followed the river to Losnich. The stellplatz is down on the left as you enter the village, however the service area is on the main road. We did our daily’s here. As there wasn’t much else in the village for us, we headed for Schweich, via Bernkastel. This is where things started to go horribly wrong.
    On the downhill approach to the town, we could see by the amount of cars parked by the roadside, that it was a busy place. The road was closed off, and the detour went through a large parkingplatz. There appeared to be some sort of town festival, (probably wine), but I was too busy desperately trying not to knock over, the droves of pedestrians that would just walk out in front of us, to bother about local signage. At this point, I had needed eyes up my backside. All traffic passing through the town during this event had to negotiate this busy parkingplatz. For me, this was an accident waiting to happen, with impatient pedestrians and drivers alike, jostling for access. It was even worse for the numerous coach drivers, as they were trying to park up, before offloading their passengers. We eventually got out at the other end, turned right, and came to a set of traffic lights. This is where we should have continued following the Mosel along the B53. However, the road was closed ahead, and we had to turn left, and up through a long tunnel. Having lost the sat nav signal Rita was hot on the map by the time we reached the set of lights at the other end. We found ourselves on the B50/E42, and not knowing how far along, the B53 was closed for, didn’t help us to get back to it at a suitable point. The lights changed and we turned right up the hill. Some hill!!!!
    This has to be the steepest hill and the largest number of hairpin bends that I have ever had to negotiate, in a large (ish) vehicle. At some points, we were down to first gear in order to get round the bend without stalling. I did contemplate dropping the water tank, at the next straight, in order to ease the load, however, there weren’t any straight’s long enough, where we wouldn’t be creating a hazard to other road users, by stopping.
    We eventually got to the top, and found ourselves on the B269/B327, a crossroads just outside Morbach. Guess what? This is where the signage is telling us that the road ahead…………….is closed!!!! We pull into a bus stop, and I took the map and proceed to the directional signs at the junction. Whilst trying to make some sense of it all, a car stopped, and the drivers window opened. “Please, can I help?” said a young lady, in perfect English. “Ooooooh, yes please” you little treasure.
    This young lady certainly knew her way around, and commented that our Michelin Touring and Road Atlas, was not detailed enough to show the nearest alternative route. She then wrote down the names of the villages, and gave the directions that we had to take, to bring us back on track.
    I thanked her (and her male companion), very much, and returned to the MH.
    Having passed on the info to Rita, we made our way as advised. The young lady’s directions were bang on, and we came out at Thalfang and headed along the L150 towards the A1/E422 for Trier. We soon picked up the minor route into Swheich, and aimed for a stellplatz next to a “weinhause”. It turned out to be a bit pokey and cramped, so we headed for a Camping platz right on the edge of town, by the riverside. Although they display the ACSI logo, it is not listed in the 2007 directory. (There appears to be two stellplatz, on the Bord Atlas download for Schweich, but we didn’t check the other one out.)
    Parking overnight outside the barriers, (near the flyover), is €5.50 a night, or on the site for €11 plus electric. We needed to catch up with some laundry, so that made our decision for us. Upon initial impressions, it appeared to be a nice site, with a bar/restaurant at the entrance, and nice grassed pitches, however the amenities block tucked away in the farthest corner, was “nothing to write home to mother about.” Rita stated that she would rather shower in the MH, than use the site’s own.
    We ate, then walked around town, and came across an Aldi’s as well as a Lidl’s and an E Store. Back at the site, just as it was getting dark, we viewed a camper with two braziers blazing away, close to his caravan awning.
    Surely there has to be a more neighbourly way, of keeping the mossies down. I was more than happy for this idiot to inherit the title, “Herr Numpty”, and was so glad that he was a fair distance from us, for safety’s sake more than anything else.

    Day Nine

    The Grupen Fuhrer here on the site wouldn’t let me pay, nor would she return our CCI card until she had been to read the meter, and disconnected us. I gave her the money at the meter, and we would collect the change, and the card when we exited the site and returned the barrier key. It all comes across as “a minority have spoilt it for the majority” syndrome.
    We were so impressed by this site, that we’ve forgotten what it was called. Anyway, if you are coming in from across the river, it is sign posted at the roundabout.

    With the “stallag” in the rear view mirror, we wheel spun down the track, heading for Trier along the B53. I would recommend using the E44/A602 for this short journey, as the road surface on the minor route approaching Trier was terrible.
    We drove through, and circuited Trier, looking for the stellplatz that kept coming up on the TT700. The only one that we found was down a very narrow lane leading to another “wienhause/restaurant. Great for some, but not for us. We came back out and picked up the route for Mettlach, again following the river where possible, on the B51. (Leaving Trier, we could see some MH’s parked up at two locations on the opposite side of the river.)

    We pulled into an off road parking area, as we had seen a river cruise boat, which appeared to be moored up. By the time I had got parked up, sorted out, and the camera at the ready, the boat had disappeared. “Gordon Bennett, he’s not hanging around”, or so I thought. I wandered across the bridge to discover a large set of locks, and there in the middle one, about two thirds of the way down, was the river cruise boat. This is at a place called Hamm. Once the river boat had cleared the lock, and the large coal barge had entered, we continued on our way.
    As we approached Mettlach, the stellplatz came up on the left with the entrance road running between a hotel and a pub. It looked clean and tidy, and very busy, with coaches struggling to find parking space, amongst the MH spaces. We were soon to discover that parking was free, as were the use of the service facilities. Having set up, we wandered off into the town, just a short walk away. This is a “designer outlet” type of place with a very pleasant, shopping mall, (if there is such a thing!).
    Across the bridge Rita discovered a restaurant, which was open for lunch. Feeling a bit peckish we entered and took a table for two. This was our first meal out since leaving the UK. It was a very pleasant experience, in a German town, sitting at a table on a restaurant terrace, overlooking the Saar and watching the cruise boats go by, whilst tucking into a typical…………………….Chinese buffet! ! !
    Rita has to be very careful about what she eats, and believe it or not, Chinese/Cantonese cuisine agrees with her. It absolutely agrees with me too.

    I am not getting on too well with the German, lager type beer nor white beer, and I cannot seem to find a dark beer anywhere, other than a Guiness. (It’s a long way to come though, for a pint of the Black Velvet.)
    So I hope that the “real ale” Herrens amongst you will sympathise, if I tell you that I have been sat here with tears running down my cheeks, and feeling very distraught indeed, since I discovered that I am parked up next to a ……………………………blooming great brewery pub, and it’s all that lager-ish white stuff that they brew.
    Roll on, our return to Belgium. They certainly know how to brew good dark beers.

    The coaches have gone now, and some MH’s have come down from the supermarket car park behind us. Others have decided to stay there for the night. There are eighteen of us here.

    Day Ten

    The weather for the first time, is absolutely abysmal. We visit the supermarket behind us, which I think has a wider choice than your usual Aldi/Lidl type places, and I managed to get my Kellogs corn flakes.
    We pack up, do our MH ablutions, and head for Saarchleife just off the B51 at Orsholz. According to our German cousins, this is a beautiful view point of the Saar valley right at the river bend. You park up in the parking platz, and take a short walk to the spot.
    Due to the awful weather, including fog, we gave it a miss, and carried on to Remich, right on the German/Luxembourg border, which would have been a good stop, but for the weather again.
    We pick up the N2/N28 and head for Luxembourg city. Having contacted the Luxembourg tourist office in London a few weeks ago, we received a pack of very useful information, including area maps, a city map, and campsite details. So where was this info pack now? Oh yes, I remember. “Eh, I think it’s lying on the coffee table dear”, says I, to the not very impressed Rita. We found ourselves driving down a road, with three lanes going one way, and only one lane going another. We were in the middle lane, and as we approached a junction with an official looking person controlling entry to the street ahead, the car in the left lane turned left, the bus in the right lane turned right, and we were the only vehicle to go straight on.
    Ahead now we could see barriers across the road blocking off the street, and a market in situ. We followed a very narrow route round it all, and came back on to a more suitable road for our type of vehicle. Lol. I pulled up at a convenient place, brought up the “camping parks” on the TT 700, clicked on “nearest to destination”, and away we went heading for the site that I had originally earmarked from that info pack mentioned earlier. It is on the N3 and is known as, Camping “Bon Accueill”, 2 Rue de Camping, 5815 Alzingen, Hesperange.
    (I already knew that overnighting by the roadside in Luxembourg is not permitted, although a seasoned German MH’er told me that for one night only, it is accepted. We only came across lay-bys, on our way here.)

    The site is closed between 12.00 and 14.00, so we sat at the barrier and had lunch. The wardens came back at 13.30 and let us in to pitch, with the finer details sorted out at 14.00. We suss out the facilities before deciding to stay, and initial impressions are very good.
    All of the pitches are grass, but have a honeycomb structure imbedded, giving a hard standing effect. The site felt empty with only about six outfits, but judging by the sporting and children’s play amenities, it appears to be a popular families site in the high season. The site fees for us were €16 for two adults, (including two shower tokens), plus electricity at €3.50 per day. The toilet, shower, and laundry block is basic, but spotlessly clean and very functional. Much better than the last dump we were at.
    There is a pleasant walk outside the rear turnstile gate, to a nice park area at the rear of the Mairie, with water features, flowerbeds and bench seating.
    Buses run back and forth to the city centre all day, from 06.30 (ish) through to 23.30 (ish). Eurobus appears to be the most common, with service No’s 125, 172, 175 and 192 being the most frequent. There are bus stops just outside the site entrance near the church.
    Although in the middle of a residential area, the site is quite quiet.

    Day Eleven

    Last night (Sept 4th) was the coldest night so far, on our wee jolly across parts of Northern Europe, and this morning, the gas heating is “going full belt”, for the first time on this trip. We venture off into Luxembourg on the bus. Two adult returns for €8, and it takes you right into the centre and drops you off at the Luxembourg Hotel, at stop, Royal 1. You can catch the return bus, across the road at stop, Royal 2. The city is very impressive looking, with its bridges crossing a large gorge. The centre has some very fine architecture, and appears to be a shopper’s paradise. Rita came across a C & A’s, which as a housewife’s favourite, has long gone from the British high street. However, on this occasion, it was to be “man at C & A’s,” as Rita couldn’t find anything that she liked, (typical woman). I on the other hand did find something that I liked, shortly after visiting the gent’s department, (typical man).
    After a couple of hours, we returned to the site, and had a relaxing day, ending with a BBQ.

    Day Twelve

    Yet another cold night, but leading to a beautifully clear blue, sunny sky.
    Today we are starting our homeward leg, with a journey to Menen, to the Omnistor/Thule factory to have a couple of wee jobs done on the awning.
    After vacating the site just after 10.30, we hit the road, and refuel with diesel and LPG, taking advantage of the cheaper fuel prices in Luxembourg. Diesel @ €0.93 per litre (£0.62p), and LPG @ €0.48 per litre (£0.32p).
    We decided to stop off at Nemur for lunch, just off the E114. We made our way down towards the river Meuse, following a TT POI for an Aire. It looked a bit residential, so we turned round, and made our way across the road to the other side, which was much quieter and more accessible. Having reversed with Rite’s assistance, I pulled forward to line myself up with the kerb on the correct side of the road. It’s at this point that our “holiday”, (in the true sense of the word), came to an abrupt halt, with a horrible crunch, followed by a painful whining noise from the engine. Knowing that I had not hit any other vehicles, nor the safety barriers lining the edge of the quay side, I was absolutely astounded that this had happened. I jumped out and ran round to the front of the MH only to discover that the lower front R/H side had embedded it’s self on a old metal bollard or capstan, that had been cut down to nine inches at it’s highest point. There was oil and water pouring out onto the cobbled street, so I decided to reverse back out of the way, and turn off the engine to prevent seizure. Upon closer inspection, the front cross member was severely damaged, which had damaged the oil cooler, and possibly a bottom radiator hose or pipe. At this stage, this is only an assumption until a more qualified opinion is given. It turns out that there are three of these obstacles, and guess what, each has an oily patch around it, so I wasn’t the first, and I don’t suppose I will be the last to hit one of these low level hazards. From the drivers seat, it could not be seen, from the point where I stopped reversing, to move forward.
    Normally, I am Mr Organised when it comes to documentation, tickets, timings and appointments, etc, etc, but this time, all I had was the number of the insurance broker, and not the help line number in the event of an accident. Doh! I explained what had happened, to the young man taking our call. He gave me a couple of telephone numbers to try, and that was that. Both numbers couldn’t get us a response, no matter what configuration we tried, ie, country codes. Feeling a bit let down, we called Britannia Rescue, who instigated the procedure with their European counterparts. 2.5 hours later, we were attended to, by a local recovery firm, who took us to a Fiat agent, despite our insistence that it had to be a commercial workshop. True enough, the Fiat car agent couldn’t do the work due to the size and weight of the MH, so we were recovered to the recovery company’s depot, to await the arrival of an “expert” to assess the damage. The recovery company, CASSART, made available, a toilet and shower facility, as well as electricity.. We ate and settled down to a night in front of the telly. What a miserable end to our adventure! Bye bye Menen and Ypres……………..and another opportunity to sample that lovely Trappist beer.

    Day Thirteen

    It was our choice to stay with the MH, rather than go to a hotel, and accept car hire. A very wrong move on our part, as we ended up at the entrance to a busy industrial estate, with truck movements going on, all through the night. We are now almost 24hrs down the line, with very little sleep, and we still await this so called “expert”. Not happy with the lack of progress, we contact the brokers office again, and they gave us another European number for rescue. This was successful this time with a response from Europe Assistance, and we tried to get the ball rolling that way, with regards the MH. Britannia have now explained, that whilst there priority is our welfare, due to “a road traffic accident”, rather than “a breakdown”, the MH is no longer their concern, and it is down to our insurers to facilitate repairs or repatriation to the UK. If all else fails, they will recover the vehicle, but it could take several weeks. Gulp!
    The day goes on and Rita and I are getting really peed off now. People say that they will call back in a few minutes, and then leave it for an hour or two. Then they don’t understand the concept of holidaying in a MH, rather than hotels. We are eventually promised a taxi to a hotel, with car hire to Calais in the morning. Still no “expert” to assess damage repair times, so we empty and drain down all the systems, empty and chuck away all the contents of the fridge freezer, but gave the recovery guys the beer and frozen food for their small canteen. We packed what we could into carrier bags, as we don’t carry holdalls or suitcases in our MH, much to the surprise of the rescue call centre operative!!! With the MH all ready for abandonment to some total stranger’s care and attention, we await this blooming taxi. 1.5hrs after asking us where we were, the taxi finally turns up, and conveys us to the Hotel Beauregard by the riverside in Namur……………about 200 – 300 yards, from where disaster struck. Cry.

    Too late for anything to eat at the Hotel, we wandered about town, and had a look at a couple of restaurant menus in passing but couldn’t make out what was on offer. In the end, we had a fish burger and chips, and a bottle of Coke. We then visited a small bar and sat outside with a Chimay and a Vodka and Coke reflecting on the events of the day. Due to a call on the mobile, we make our way back to the hotel, where they can call us back on the room phone.
    It is at this point that Britannia informs us that they are now relinquishing their responsibility for us, and that we must seek repatriation through our insurers.
    Well, talk about a red rag to a bull, I was absolutely consumed with anger by now, as it was at their insistence that we were to be accommodated, and then and repatriated to the UK, in the absence of initial contact with our insurers European partners.
    It was now midnight when I finally got off the mobile phone with the Britannia duty manager, meanwhile Rita is talking to our daughter in the UK, on the room phone, and daughter could over hear parts of the heated conversation between me and Britannia. This caused her to worry about her parents welfare, to the point that she was prepared to come and get us. This was not to be an option in our book, and explained our concerns to our daughter.

    Day Fourteen

    We eventually got to sleep, but a few hours later, I was up, washed and dressed at 05.30, and was now on a mission. Downstairs at reception, I used the hotel phone to contact Europe assistance and explained our plight. The very nice young lady understood, and promised to sort something out as soon as possible.
    After breakfast we returned to the room and received a call to say that a hire car was made available, and we were to get a taxi, to the location, pay the driver and obtain a receipt. By about 9.30, we were on our way to Calais, where we would drop off the car, and hopefully get a ferry.
    We approached the Sea France desk with our MH booking for Sunday 9th Sept, and explained our problem. Within a few minutes, we had our tickets, and were sat in the departure lounge, awaiting embarkation.
    By 15.00 UK time, we were at Dover, on a P&O bus to the railway station, and on a train to Peterborough, via London Bridge, the Underground, and Kings Cross. Daughter then picked us up and took us home. We got in the house at 19.30, feeling absolutely worn out, and at this stage, not being able to reflect on the good times of our motorhome holiday.
    Now starts the lengthy process of form filling, expense logging, cancelling prior travel/weekend arrangements with the MH, certainly until we know more about the amount of damage and repair timescale.

    Up to the point where “disaster struck”, we had travelled 1,427km (891mls), used 138 litres (30.32galls) of diesel, at an average economy of 8.9km per litre, (25.5mpg).

    We hope that our diary has been of some use, to those of you, who might be contemplating this type of tour, but have not yet found the incentive, or the courage. Don’t let our little disaster put you off, as accidents will happen from time to time, wherever you are.

    Happy travels,

    Jock & Rita.
     
  2. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Hi Jock and Rita

    So sorry to read about your accident, what an abrupt end to an otherwise great trip..
    Hope all goes well with the repair and you are back on the road soon..

    All the best pal

    Jim
     
  3. JockandRita

    JockandRita Funster Life Member

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    Thanks Jim,

    It will be about 10 - 14 days before it is shipped back to the UK. Sigh!

    Jock.
     
  4. RockieRV

    RockieRV Deleted User

    Hi Jock

    I was enjoying the read until I got towards the end - so sorry to hear that your holiday didn't end on a high note.
    Would you like me to leave your name on the golden lion meet for now?
     
  5. Don Madge

    Don Madge Funster

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    Hi J & R,

    Very good write I'm sure the inexperienced will benefit from your efforts.

    Day 12 our worst nightmare come true.:cry::cry:

    We had a wheel bearing go in the wilds of Portugal in Feb/March this year. I rang the Norwich Union/RAC help line at 17.00hrs Sunday and the job was completed by 16.00 hrs on Tuesday at a very reasonable cost. :Smile:

    I hope the incident has not put you off and you will carry on touring the continent.:Smile:

    Safe travelling.

    Don
     
  6. JockandRita

    JockandRita Funster Life Member

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    Hi Sharon,

    Thanks for the comments.

    I have already cancelled the "Driving Experience" scheduled for that weekend, whereupon, we were going to call into the pubfor the night, on the way back round the M25.

    Thanks for the offer though. If repairs are speedy, (doubt it), we will take pot luck.

    Cheers,

    Jock.
     
  7. JockandRita

    JockandRita Funster Life Member

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    Hi Don,

    Thanks for that.
    I am sure that in the months to come, we will look back and laugh at what happened.

    Right now though, I am crying in my beer. :cry::cry:

    :Wink::Wink:

    Jock.
     
  8. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Have one on me Jock.. :Wink:
    [​IMG]
     
  9. JockandRita

    JockandRita Funster Life Member

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    Cheers Jim,

    My favourite ale.

    Jock.
     
  10. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    Hi Jock & Rita
    What can I say???? A fantastic write up of a fantastic trip mate only to end so badly...... I sincerely hope that the MH gets repaired quickly. I would have thought that it would have been sensible for the repairs to be carried out where it is, they probably have better facilities in europe that we do here??? And it would be a great trip to go and collect it and drive it back home (plus probably cheaper than paying for recovery back to a UK dealer??). Has this option been offered to you?
    Well anyway, here's hoping that you have not been put off and look forward to seeing you both again in the near future :Smile:
    Chin up mate :Smile:

    Keith
     
  11. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    Hi Jock glad your both home safe, a very well written and enjoyable account of your escapades, sorry to hear of your woes,
    When Keith had his mishap in France he had to wait nearly 7 seconds for the Mechanic to get there, terrible service:Rofl1:
    Geo
     
  12. kands

    kands Read Only Funster

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    And he had to endure a schrapnel storm too :Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1:

    Keith
     
  13. JockandRita

    JockandRita Funster Life Member

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    Hi Keith,

    Thanks mate.

    No, we weren't given the option of staying there for the repiars, which is why I wanted this "so called expert" to assess the damage, and if necessary, Rita would have flown back, whilst I stayed with the MH. Europe assistance took the opinion of the recovery team, as to the repair options for the vehicle.


    Hi George

    Thanks too mate,

    Our rescue would have been quicker, if A, I had the emercency helpline numbers, amongst all the other important docs that we carry, and B , if the two rescue numbers that the numpty from the insurance broker's office gave me, had been accesseable from a mobile phone.
    It wasn't until we got back to the UK, that we discovered why we weren't getting any response. As they say, you live and learn.

    Phone calls made, forms filled in, and images sent, it is in the hands of others now, and beyond our control.

    Jock.
     
  14. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    Send em here too Jock we love pics on ear we do
    Geo
     
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