Day 827 – Euro Mini Tour – 6 Jun 12
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.
Euro Mini Tour – Day 7-10
Well, we left t’Veld after a partial refund of fees – we did not book – so no fee. Simple journey to the campsite near Kalkar – Wisseler See – which is quite large with many statics and a huge lake with beaches and landing piers for yachts. However, Monday to Thursday, it's very quiet. Bar and restaurant are closed – but they still charge the high season fee – (€23pn) It's not right. And no ACSI – cos it's high season!!!
BEWARE: anyone touring Holland, Belgium and Germany in May and June should be wary of religious holidays. There are loads and campsites get full up as a result – and many don’t even take bookings – so it's pot luck!
Anyhoo, the weather has been brilliant. Almost 30 degrees C every day and the fridge is struggling. What's worse is that the AC on the Smartie has decided to run out of Freon gas just when we really need it. So I’ll have to find a Merc garage or German Kwik Fit to fill up. Alun in Luxembourg will probably help. We set of tomorrow (25th) to see them. We are staying at Trier as Valkenburg has to be missed due to holiday campers. That means we’ll miss the Tanswells on Sunday. But it's lucky we checked as I tried over a dozen sites for miles around and they are all full – but they don’t take bookings!!!!!!
We have visited all of the old haunts from our time here in the 80’s at RAF Laarbruch; Goch, Weeze, Kleve, Xanten, Kalkar and Kevelaer. Nothing much seems to have changed – even the old ice cream parlour in Weeze is still there. Laarbruch is Dussledorf/Weeze airport now and is very sad. Our married quarters are now an Eastern European ghetto – long grass and disrepair. The old Officers Mess is abandoned and overgrown. Carole didn’t even recognize it – which is not surprising as she was usually rat-faced when she was there! I’ve just about ‘churched-out’ as there are so many and Shirl wants a peek in all of them. The roads are very quiet but Germany must be feeling the pinch as it's clear that the local councils are not keeping up the standards as they used to. Most roadside verges are overgrown and the roadsweepers need to get out and about. Even so, it's much cleaner and tidier than back home. They also have some roundabouts here now!!! There are also loads of Wind Turbines in Germany. You are barely ever out of sight of a gaggle.
Had our first BBQ on the new mini-CADAC. It works well, but as with all gas BBQs, you miss the smoky taste. And it's a bitch to keep clean. Popped into Kleve for a looksee. Town of swans and Anne of Cleves. Quite nice really, I think we used to come here to a Greek restaurant. Anyway, we are packing up and loading Smartie tonight for a 0730-sparrowfart departure. It's 3 ½ hours to Trier in Friday traffic on the Autobahn. Wish us luck.
Euro Mini Tour – Day 11-14
Took us 4 hours to get to Trier, but it was a very pleasant trip. Clear, smooth roads and reached here about 1130. Bit of a problem getting into the site. As we stopped on the road outside, I looked down the sideroad and could only see a slope down to the Moselle, 50 metres away and no apparent campsite. SatNav was saying go another way, so we drove on. Then decided SatNav was in error, did huge 180 in middle of road and parked outside campsite whilst Shirl checked it out. In the end we entered via a narrow path onto a riverside area. After checking in - €30 per night – we set up overlooking the Moselle and Trier. It has all of the essentials but –once again – lacks attention to detail. The pitch grass hasn’t been mown for a week or more, the fresh water is 2 feet from the chemical toilet and there's not even a campsite map/plan, so each time you need to find a facility, you have to go back to reception, because nothing is clear. For €30 per night I’d expect more. Also, when we phoned, they said we couldn’t book, yet when we got here and requested a specific pitch in the sun, we were told they were FULLY BOOKED!!!!
Anyhoo, we drove over to Alun and Anne-Marie in Luxembourg and had a good night out at Chez Bocano, maxing-out on the famous ‘ garlic flaming gambas.’ Shirl drove home …in the dark!!
Cycled into Trier and did the sights – including climbing the Porta Negra (€3). It's a nice town with a very attractive market square. We also booked an evening cruise along the Mosel (€17) which we started at 7.30pm – after a couple of the typical German 250cl glasses of Riesling trocken. It wasn’t very crowded and was a pleasant way to spend the evening. We partook of a dodgy meal (discounted because we didn’t book) and listen the live entertainment. We then cycled home in the twilight – without lights as I couldn’t remember how to set the dynamos! Got back OK on one flickering front light.
Mild hangover the next morning – not used to proper strength vino. Quiet day by the 'van doing chores and a bit of shopping. I think Smartie might have a problem as the engine revs are ‘hunting’ in idle. Just hope it holds out for another month. Round to Alun and Anne-Marie again on Sunday evening for a BBQ and a dip in their roof-top Hot Tub / Jacuzzi. Very nice indeed.
Soaking up the bubbles as we watched the barges pass by on the Moselle. It was great to catch up with them again and perhaps we’ll make the Luxembourg RAFA Wings Ball in October 2014!
Today Shirl, was mostly falling off her bike.:Rofl1:
Did more rounds of Trier today (28th), taking in the Amphitheatre, Roman Bath remains and a good bar in town where the beer steins are kept cool by iced copper piping in the bar.
Got away from Trier by 11am on Tuesday after having a moan at the staff about the state of our pitch. The owner wouldn't admit that they hadn’t cut the grass – it was 18” tall in places with metre high nettles. ‘Can't cut it if I'm in the office’ he bleated. Well, get out of the bloody office! If a campsite charges OTT prices for pitches, then they should be of a high standard. AND, the WC Chemical waste tap should not be 3 feet from the fresh water drinking tap. Won't be going back there again.
Euro Mini Tour – Day 15-17
However, on a contrasting note, we arrived at Camping Kueser Werth, about 2kms outside Bernkastel, at 1201 and the office was shut till 3pm – WHAT IS IT ABOUT GERMAN CAMPSITES and LUNCHTIMES????? Don’t they realise that most people arrive around 1pm?oh:
Anyhoo, the owners son said, ‘just pull onto any pitch and come back at 3pm to book in and connect electricity’. So we did. The pitches aren't marked, so we just sort of drove onto the field near a water tap and parked. Nobody seemed to care very much. Biggest pitch we’ve ever had. However, we are sort of realising that German Campsites are very laid back and Caravan Club it certainly isn’t!!!
There must be about 60 outfits here all spread out higgledy-piggledy. Nice really, AND only €21 per night incl leccy. We got sorted and cycled to Bernkastel to get some dosh and look around. Be warned campers – many German ATMs do not take VISA or MASTERCARD AT ALL. Only the Sparkasse seems to take my HSBC VISA DEBIT. Might catch you out one day. If campsites take CC or DEBIT cards it’ll be EC/MAESTRO only.
On the way home we spotted a ‘weinstube’ – where we stopped and tried 6 different wines for €6. Great deal and we bought a couple of bottles as well. We are re-learning a lot about the niceties of German wine.
Carole didn’t fall off her bike on the way home.
We then chilled in the 30 deg C sunshine all afternoon watching another half dozen Brits arrive and surround us in their whirr-clunkers. Oh joy!
Cycled into Bernkastel again and rode the Noddy-Train (€8) - the highlight of Carole’s day. It took us all over town and up above to view the vine-carpet – 3 million vines – each producing one bottle. Then some café and kuchen before scoffing a jager-schnitzel and pommes by the harbour. A quick cycle home followed by a BBQ. We have recently purchased a CADAC mini gas BBQ - £75 – to substitute for a charcoal version which aren't allowed at Cabopino. However, as a BBQ, they are a bit of a disaster. It smoked and spat and when finished we had 4 filthy, greasy shelves/sections to scrub clean. It just isn’t worth it and the food doesn’t taste smoky on gas anyway. So the upshot is that we will only use it as a skillet and for paellas in Spain. We all live and learn. I wondered why I saw so many for sale second hand on ebaY.
Well, we thought we’d take the ferry to Traben-Trarbach (€19 return), 1 hour 45 mins up the river. We cycled in and caught the 1000, being told by the ticket seller that we could catch any of the advertised return ferries. The boat was crowded, mainly with German Fraus from a large cruising riverboat docked in Bernkastel. They certainly knew how to knock it back – with secret stashes of raspberry schnapps smuggled on board.
Anyway, we completed the 2 hour trip via a very large lock and the town of Krov, which many years ago was the centre of an empire, yes EMPIRE, of 8 villages. Small place really. The number of vines in this valley is incredible. 6 million in the T-T area alone and each one is visited by the grower weekly.
Got to Traben-Trarbach – and what an anti-climax. Talk about a non-event. Nothing open and nothing much to see (all the museums/attractions are in German), so we decided to get lunch and catch the 1320 ferry home. However, there was hardly anywhere to eat and after a ‘schnelli’, we walked to catch the boat, only to be told that it was cancelled – for no reason! Next boat 1445! Mildly irked we set out in search of a bus. We found the station just behind Tourist Info (they must have a quiet life). We are told we have an hour to wait, so we repair to a hostelry only to see our bus trundle by 5 minutes later! Not amused. So at this stage we gave up and had a glass of wine and waited an hour for the next bus. We picked up some shopping and arrived back after a pleasant bus ride (€6) to Bernkastel just in time for it to start raining. By this time we just wanted to get back so we cycled back in torrential rain to the wag. After drying off, the power went and after some investigation, we discovered that the clever, (possibly foreign), chap next door had left his pitch to go touristing in his 'van and had left his power cable exposed – pointing upwards so that rain pooled in the plug. I’ve disconnected him.
So the perfect end to a perfect day. Then we heard that poor old Anne-Marie in Luxembourg had developed shingles…..just what we need! However, the good news is that the problem with Smartie’s revs hunting in idle seems to be associated with the AC. I switched off the AC control and it's stopped. Just hope Smartie keeps going till we get back to Blighty.
Raining today and tomorrow so packing up ready for the off to try and arrive before the Campsite Receptionists go for a 5 hour lunch!
Euro Mini Tour – Day 18-22
Sorry, it's only 1hr 30 mins for lunch here in lovely Bullay. Where, I hear you say? Much like the man from ADAC who’d also never heard of it. Well, it's halfway between Cochem and Bernkastel and is a little gem. Bit tricky to find but once we got here – excellent. Friendly, helpful staff who gave us a large pitch overlooking the Mosel. A little ferry (€1.50) gets you to the village of Alf across the river and 4kms cycle ride is the larger town of Zell, where Shirl got a speeding ticket in 1985. It's a tidy, well run camp with all facilities, restaurant and close to the town centre. It's also ACSI! (€16pn). Makes a change here in Germany.
Downside is that Smartie failed to start and am presently awaiting man from ADAC (German AA) and we are hoping that it is a quick fix – otherwise it stays on the trailer till we get home. We don’t really need it though, as most of our touristing can be done by bike, but in the long run we need it fixing as it's our only car!
The weather is due to change on Sunday – rain – so we shall have to cycle to Zell tomorrow and find an alternative for Sunday and Monday whilst the UK celebrates the Jubilee.
Well, the very efficient ADAC man turned out and decided that the electronic gear switch was kaput. Basically, Smartie doesn’t know what gear she is in, so won't start. So we need to get it fixed and we’ve decided to book it in at the Storrington Smart garage we use near Carole’s brother. It's now booked in for 28th June and we’ll get it serviced and MOTd as well. Works OK for the Annual Servicing Schedule. These things are sent to try us – but it could have been much worse. Could have broken down OFF the trailer or out in the bundu!
Cycled the 7 kms into Zell – another hidden jewel. Lots of lovely ‘weinstubes’ plying one with wine and spargel. Easy cycling and not crowded. Very pleasant indeed. Did the shopping on the bikes – just like the old days!!! Lots of Egyptian Geese around – evil looking devils with rings around their eyes.
Raining this morning – a shame really as it's Mosel Happy Day, when all roads are only open to bikes. Lots of events laid on will be washed out. We are going to try and catch the train around midday to the next town 5 mins away – Reil, where the event starts.
Rain got heavier, so train abandoned and we walked round the bars and restaurants of Bullay eating and drinking till it stopped. Bought some nice fizz at competitive prices. Must get a bottle opener as ours from the shit-shop in Calahonda fell to bits.
Cycled to the next village of Neef today and then stopped for yet more kaffee und kuchen to avoid a shower. Now doing washing and admin and then will try to get some money. Always a challenge in Germany. Been in touch with Geoff and Linda and they are in Wismar which is right in the NE of Germany. Chasing the sun – don’t blame them as S Germany is dogshit!
Off to Cochem in the morning – 5th – as it's predicted sunny and we’ve done this area now. Don’t like travelling and setting up in the rain. Wx looks up and down over the next 2 weeks – showery mostly so we’ll have to be flexible. Just re-booked at Lee Valley for August so we can see Clo and the pitch fee has gone up from £19 to £39 per night. And the Olympics are finished! It's outrageous.
Almost everyone who passes the front of the 'van on the cyclepath, stops and examines our number plate. They are puzzled by the number BIL 7384 which is from Northern Ireland (and also BIL in Swedish means ‘Car’). In addition the Burnley crest is a bit of a poser for them as well, cos we don’t have a GB on the plate either. We get some funny looks and have struck up a few conversations. There are relatively few Brits on the Mosel anyway.
Got to Cochem and will sign off now (5th June) and start new entry.
Mun and Dad xxxx
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