Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Road to Berlin

Sunday 15th September 2013

Leave home, raining, windy, cold, makes you pleased you are going really.

The plan is to have a Sunday Lunch en-route. Being an organised individual, otherwise known as a nerd, I look up several possible places on the internet. Not a very successful venture. We choose one (the Jolly Wagonner, Ardley, Hertfordshire), because we are reasonably near there, at about the time we are about the faint from hunger (ie about 14:00 on Sunday).
The sat nav takes us there, with some false starts, and some rather narrow country lanes, only to find they stopped serving Sunday Lunch, despite the fact that their website says they serve from 12:00 – 19:00.

Undeterred, we find an alternative, “The Bull”, in a village called Cottered, very pleasant Sunday lunch.
As we approach Dover, the weather has become even worse, strong winds and driving rain. The ferries are running late, so, at 19:30, we are boarding the 18:00 sailing, which deposits us in Dunkirk at 21:30 (22:30 French time).
Kathleen surpasses herself by navigating us to Gravelines Aire, in the dark, without the sat-nav or a map. We will never hear the last of this feat.
Monday morning dawns clear and sunny, and we set off for Charlesville de Meziers. Apart from some heavy traffic, on the outskirts of Lille, a completely uneventful drive.
The Aire at Charlesville de Meziers is full, so, we have to use the adjacent campsite (Camping Mount Olympus ).
We have time for a walk into town, and a beer, before the rain starts.

Tuesday morning, still damp and chilly, no, make that cold. We make a leisurely departure. East to Sedan, then north into Belgium, and then east through the Ardennes region of Belgium, into Luxemburg. How I love all of this “open borders” stuff in Europe, no hold ups, no passports to be checked, no customs, travel as it should be.
Soon, we are in Germany, arriving at our next stop, just south of Koblenz, on the banks of the Rhine, at a very picturesque place called Braubach (N50 16’ 11” E7 38’ 50”). This is a Stellplatz, German style, electric hook up, shower, toilets, etc, all beautifully kept, for 7 Euro/night.  

We are there early enough to get a riverside spot. I was never really aware of being nautically inclined, but, I love to watch boats or ships coming and going. Here, I have a ringside seat as Rhine Cruise boats and barges sail past at regular intervals. I think it is the wanderlust in me.

Pity the sun is not shining.

We are parked next to a very flash Concorde Motorhome, about the size of a small bus! It turns out, the lady of the outfit was born in South Shields. Is there no escape? In the course of out chat, we get useful pointers on where to stay in Berlin.

Wednesday 18th September 2013. It is pouring with rain. So, pretty as it is here, if you cannot get out and enjoy it for the rain, there is not much point in sitting here. So, we head off for Kassel.

Kathleen has picked out a Stellplatze, which is (according to the book) a Country and Western Music venue, sounds interesting. According to photographs in the book, it all looks very "authentic", wild west style. But, when we arrive, it turns out to be a rather dilapidated farm, no other campervans in sight, a couple of old cars chocked up on bricks, and a very battered caravan. We decide against staying!
We move on to the second choice, still in Kassel, another Stellplatze. Rather more appealing, but, almost campsite prices (ie 12.50Euro, plus 50 cents Kw/Hr for electricity). So, we decide we may as well go to a campsite. We push on for another 35 miles (well maybe 40 after we have fallen foul of the tricky German double exits, yet again).

We arrive at Eschwege, Knaus Campingpark (N51 11’ 29” E10 10’ 7”), an ASCI site, so, 16 Euro gets us all facilities. The rain stops, the sun comes out to give us a very pleasant evening.
Thursday 19th September 2103.
One of those crucial days, hair washing, straightening etc, I stay out of the way for a couple of hours. It has only taken me 25 years to learn that is the wisest course of action.
It is dry and mild, with a little sun, so, we have a walk into the pretty town of Eschwege.
Very German, but, just the kind of town I like, not too many clothes shops to stand outside of whilst Kathleen looks at exactly the same things she could buy back in the UK, but, plenty of places with cakes, coffee, bars, and food.
I buy a Vodaphone (Germany) SIM, so I can get on the Internet, then find somewhere for lunch.
What a hard life this is.

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