Our truck moving chores were completed for the time being and we felt we were ready to move on, maybe find some warmer weather. Our friends, Jacqui and Sergio assured that the weather was much better where they lived in Italy, so we decided to drive 1,000 miles south hoping to reach the Tarisciottis at Alba Adriatica on the east coast in time for Easter.
We stopped one night in Leipzig, Germany and another in Austria before we crossed the Brenner Pass into Italy. The weather was poor which made driving tiring.
Along our route lay the town of Bardolino on the shores of Lake Garda, where, in 2016, the whole family had spent many happy days when Issey and Ame got married in the Bardolino Town Hall. The busy little campsite was on the shore of Lake Garda and within strolling distance of the town centre. We were able to wash the van and do our laundry in the couple of hours before it was time to walk into town for supper.
The next day we went for lunch at Tre Camini where Issey and Ame had held their wedding reception. We had a wonderful meal, rustic cooking but with excellent local ingredients including venison and wild boar. We were flattered when the manager, Michaela, recognised us – until we realised that Ame had telephoned them to say we were coming! Anyway, the local taxi driver certainly remembered us.
We left the UK in the icy jaws of the Beast from the East, travelling north east through France, Germany, Holland then Germany (again) and on to Poland. Although we spotted patches of melting snow by the roadside, the roads were dry and clear, the worst of the weather was definitely behind us.
We made three overnight stops in Germany – at Bad Bentheim, Hatten-Kirchhatten and Magdeburg, arriving in Poland on the fourth day. En route we called in to Groningen in the north of Holland to say hello to John Stalman, a colleague in the boat business who ran Van den Bosch Yachting for a number of years. John and his wife, Sabina, owned a beautiful marina on the Paterswoldsemeer. It was almost ten years since we had seen John but he hadn’t changed one bit.
We were travelling to Poland to see the progress on our 2003 fire tender truck being converted into an expedition truck.
The project had begun over a year ago when we purchased the truck from a dealer in Preston, Lancashire and had it shipped by low loader to Poland where they stripped back the chassis, painted and serviced the vehicle. They fitted larger fuel tanks, an air pressure system for the tyres and they removed the rear twin wheels and replaced with single larger ones.
After settling in to our campsite at Malta Lake in Poznań we went to collect our truck from the local Mercedes Benz dealership, who had been carrying out some modifications to the vehicle. We were very excited as it was the first time we had seen the truck since the day we purchased it. Tony was able to get behind the wheel and, after a practice circuit of the dealership, we drove the truck for forty minutes to a company that would carry out exhaust pipe alterations.
We then visited Campersol, the company that was building the habitation unit that would sit on a galvanised frame that had been specially constructed to fit the chassis. The habitation unit was made of a grp foam sandwich. There would be a lot of work on this box over the next few weeks, fitting it out with all the paraphernalia needed to keep the Morgans warm and comfortable on their travels.
The journey home was hampered by the heavy rain which turned the busy Autobahn into a river of spray. The volume of traffic, roadworks and accidents added almost an hour onto our journey each day. We were used to travelling in short daily hops so it was not really a problem and we were able to find somewhere to stay by mid afternoon – first near Berlin, then Hannover and our final stop before Calais was in Belgium. The
rain eventually stopped and we were able to enjoy a glass of wine in the evening sunshine.
Bad Pyrmont, Lower Saxony
Blue dot was Bad Kissingen
Bad Kissingen was a spa town in Bavaria. It had beautiful parks well served with cycle tracks and you could cycle for miles through the parks and along the river banks. Splendid hotels and apartments overlooked the central rose garden and there were also lots of medical clinics; we noticed a high proportion of elderly folk out and about with walking aids. We spent a happy afternoon in the local spa, swimming in warm mineral water. You could swim through barriers and enjoy the sunshine outside.
It was time for a hair cut and we found a luxurious looking establishment on the main street where you just walked in and waited for the next available stylist. Although it appeared busy I didn’t have to wait long and very soon I emerged, washed, cut and finished for €33.
Most European camp sites displayed signs and notices in English as well as in their native language; our site only had signs in German – it was true the majority of campers were German but there were also Italian, Swedish and Dutch and it made it difficult to obey the rules of the camp. We had to used Google Translate a lot, with some bizarre results. An elderly Swedish couple at the next table in the camp site restaurant explained that East Germans historically had no love for the British. I hoped they were wrong – think so as they were playing Rod Stewart type piped music in the toilet block, so things British couldn’t be all bad.
“Goodbye and safe journey” but you could be forgiven for mis-translating.
We spent a couple of nights at a campsite near Besançon, eastern France on the River Doub. The large camp site was just off a dual carriageway next to an industrial area and it wasn’t particularly attractive or well looked after but it was surprisingly busy with French, Dutch and German campers. We guessed they used the site to visit Besançon, with its 17th century fortifications and citadel.
One Happy Bunny at Unimog Museum
We continued our drive north and reached Germany a couple of hours later, making a brief stop en route at the Unimog Museum in Gaggenau. I am not quite sure why we stopped – I suppose one of us was interested. . . . .
Our next campsite was in the village of Enzklösterle (pronounced something like Ens klers te le) in the Black Forest. It was a fabulous drive through the mountains, we climbed to 3,000 feet before going down to 2,000 feet into the valley. We had a warm welcome from the owner and were soon settled in his beautiful and well kept site. We walked into the village later to find something to eat. They were early diners in those parts and dinner was normally served between 5.30 and 8 pm.
Camp Müllerwiese, Enzklösterle
This was hiking country (ski in the winter) and we were given a leaflet suggesting various walks we could make from the campsite, most of them seemed to take four hours or more and were described as uphill – you can guess how we didn’t spend our time! Tourists were valued in the Black Forest and we were given complimentary passes to the local bus and tram services.
There was a continually running water pipe near our pitch marked “No Drinking Water” but I noticed several campers filling up kettles and jugs from that tap. I was told it was spring water from the mountain, untreated but certainly drinkable. I made tea with it and it was delicious. We were so used to the taste of chemically treated tap water or, even worse, water stored in plastic bottles and it was a real treat to have the pure thing. But I did boil before we consumed it as I didn’t want to risk getting a
tape worm or some other nasty disease. We seemed OK – so far.
RIP Anne Wright x
We planned to spend some days in Switzerland at Bodensee, the lake that straddled the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (where it was known as Lake Constance). Our journey took us into Germany and back into Austria before we arrived at the Swiss border. It had rained on and off throughout our journey. At the Swiss border we had to pay a €32.50 toll charge.
Our campsite was on the shore of the lake and the site had wonderful facilities and a brand new restaurant overlooking the lake. Unfortunately the campsite ground was soggy with the recent rainfall and more rain was forecast. Had the weather been better I am sure we would have found the area beautiful but the rain, plus the threat of more rain, dampened our spirits and we realised that we had made a mistake coming so far north. We ate in the restaurant that evening and were very disappointed. The food was perfectly edible but was more in the style of school dinners than fine dining. We paid almost £100 for a shared salad, meat and vegetables, one dessert and a bottle of wine. Even our bottle of mineral water cost £5.73! Switzerland was proving wet and expensive so the next morning we upped sticks and headed south west towards France.