Day 1284 – Southern Germany – 9 Sep 13
For piccies see www.eastmidlandsdea.co.ukPrimarily this blog is aimed at keeping our daughter in the UK, Chloe, abreast of our adventures in Europe. Additionally, we hope that other readers will find snippets of info regarding campsites, prices and foreign travel interesting or perhaps just informative.
House and garden sorted, 'van dry and cleaned and packed, paperwork and admin complete, post to Spain pre-stamped, re-registered MPS, house spiders dealt with, bank informed of potential whereabouts, clothes and food ready, BBQ cleaned, Derrick briefed, central heating prepped, water off, bins empty, tax man placated, shed secure, Christmas cards written, route planned, Driving Licence still at DVLC - (copy in wallet), scary cats positioned in garden, car returned, meter readings sent, TV Licence Fee refund requested, bikes serviced, friends and family info’d, front door secure.
Hopefully, after 4 years perfecting the procedures, there will be no snags. Europe, here we come again.
Set off down the A1 towards Lee Valley with Shirl following in the loaned car. We COULD NOT have coped without it, especially during the flood, so, Chloe and Marie, thank you very much. :thumb:
However, we’ll both be glad to get back to European roads and driving. After 4 years of extensive driving experience, I think I can safely say that British drivers are near the bottom of the league table. The aggression is palpable and everyone is in a supreme hurry. It's much worse in the south, but I’ll put that down to more vehicles on the roads. I’ve lost count of the number of times cars and vans have almost swiped the front of the 'van as they pull in after overtaking…….and then sit at 50mph, forcing me to slow down. And don’t even get me started on the lack of care entering dual carriageways from slip roads! The Europeans (except the Germans) are very good at obeying speed limits and of course there is MUCH LESS TRAFFIC.
Anyhoo, rant over, we got to Lee Valley and spent a pleasant afternoon in the late summer sunshine. We drove over to Chloe, had lunch and discussed weddings at length, and said our goodbyes to the Tanswells for another year. The 'van was pre-prepped for a 4am departure and we sped off to Dover in zero traffic. The DFDS ferry (£44 single) has almost become a commuter bus - very slick and we were on French soil by 10:00 local.
We decided to take the Route National to Arras as we weren’t really in a hurry, but soon realised why we stay off these roads. I think it fine to travel like this if one is on a 2 week break and the idea is to experience French country life – but if one is actually heading somewhere – like Italy or Spain – then the best route is via motorways. The tolls are cancelled out by the excess fuel usage on N roads. It is almost impossible to go more than 3 or 4kms without hitting a one horse town. So, it's change gear, brake, negotiate roundabouts, stop at traffic lights and follow tractors at 10kph. The wear and tear is unacceptable, as is the stress and delay. So, it's Autoroute/strada/bahn/pista…….here we come.
We reached Camping La Paille Haute (2 Sep) around 1pm and picked our spot. It's quite busy, as I believe Brits stop off here en route to the ferry. We enjoyed the sun and ate at the bar/restaurant. Excellent local French cuisine for €12. Can't knock it.
We decided to stay an extra day as it's so pleasant and very hot – 30 degrees C. Shirl has gone walking and I’ll get her bike off the back later. I also checked the fuel consumption, and since Smartie was sold it has decreased by over 30%. That's up to 27 mpg from 20 mpg. That is going to save us over £500 on fuel this year. More than enough to cover car hire at Cabo.
After a quiet day lazing in the sun we departed La Paille Haute and set off for Epernay – land of Fizz! We did our first shop without Smartie and parked up in a local supermarket. No problems. Straightforward drive to Epernay via Péage except for an odd happening. As Shirl was driving and overtaking a lorry, as she signalled left, the Fog Light indicator started flashing and there was a sudden decrease in engine thrust. (right flasher OK). It happened every time, so on arrival at Epernay, I checked the fuses and the Fog Light/Cigar Lighter fuse was seriously melted. After changing it, all seems OK and will need a road test.
It's SCORCHIO here and we will walk the 1500 metres into town this evening to sample the fizz on offer. Epernay is not too big, so we covered most of the Champagne Houses on the Avenue de Champagne. Really large old chateaux with chilly caves below. Difficult to find a decent restaurant so we settled for a brasserie where Shirl had a ‘snail salade’. Not a good choice!
Today (5th) we are visiting a cave on the outskirts where no doubt we will be ‘persuaded to buy’ champagne! Still SCORCHIO! It's a pleasant campsite on the river with all facilities and very friendly staff. Ignore the 6m limit warning in the CC book. Plenty big pitches!
Small world! Met up with Tony and Jenny from Cabo who were here en route UK. They came on the Champagne trip, which was interesting and we bought the obligatory plonk which is now rammed into the last space in the 'van…….
Thunderstorms predicted for the weekend, so we’ll have to take care.
Standard trip to Nancy and Camping Le Brabois. Typically, it was closed from 1230-1330 and we only just made it in. Several motorhomes were soon queuing whilst the receptionist just buggered off! It really isn’t good enough – what ever happened to customer care? Sometimes I really do despair. What could be more important than DOING HER JOB?!
Anyhoo, we caught the bus (€1.50) into Nancy and took the Noddy Train on the tour. Nancy is very sleek and has some very impressive architecture, none more important than in Place de Stanislas, the Polish King who appears to be responsible for the city’s prosperity. We partook in some Quiche Lorraine and then bussed it back to camp for supper. It rained for 6 hours overnight and thanks to Donnington Caravans, the roof Heki did NOT leak. Great sighs of relief all round as we expect some rain before we get into Italy.
The campsite emptied very quickly in the morning (7th) and we were the last to set off at 0930 for Eguisheim, near Colmar. We went through the ‘Tunel’ at €17.10 for 7kms rather than go over the substantial mountains. Les Trois Chateaux campsite was very busy, as another close by had shut. Late arrivals may be disappointed. We walked the 5 mins into Eguisheim which is a Medieval town very well preserved. Thankfully, it's not too touristy and not too crowded. We bought some wine after ‘degustation’ and walked home to the sound of thunder. Can only get one bar on the free wi-fi so will be moving around later to try and log on.
Walked into the village and ate a typical dish of the region, Tarte Flambe, basically pizza without tomato! V nice. During the night we experienced the ‘Mother of all Thunderstorms’ and we were out bringing in the chairs and awning at 1pm. If only the so-called bl**dy free wi-fi had been working, we would have been pre-warned. Anyway, we decided to set off a day early to Lake Konstanz, where it was predicted to be no worse weather-wise. Unfortunately it was. It started raining as we arrived and continued for 16 hours!
However, Camping Alpenblick (non-ACSI - €28pn) is large and well appointed, sitting on the lake edge with all amenities and a short walk into town, where there are many restaurants – which were all FULL by 6pm! There are millions of German tourists here. It's really busy! Only seen one other Brit wag.
Sun is out this morning (9th) so we dried out and cycled into Meersburg. It's like all of the villages on Lake Constanz, COMPLETELY given over to tourism for the Germans. I suppose it's the closest they come to the seaside. There are little ferries going between towns all day and the retired couples stroll up and down, going from restaurant to restaurant!
It's a shame the weather is so poor or I'm sure we'd go across to the south shore. However, it's forecast to deteriorate again, so tomorrow we are off to Landsberg for 3 or 4 days, where we’ll train it into Munich and then straight across the Brenner Pass into La Bella Italia! Should get to Toscalano by Sat 14th – where it's predicted to be very warm for at least 2 weeks! Hurrah!
Well, that's all for now, as I’ll post the blog as the Wi-Fi is good and cheap here. Still got the engine problem, but we now know it's electrical. Will have to sort out a solution. No turning left for the present.oh:
M and D
PS: Heard from the Silvonnies: they are still in Sicily, but are planning to catch the ferry to Sardinia and then Corsica and then to the French mainland en route Cabo.
PPS: Clarets are 3rd in the league
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