Tuesday 17th October – Multicultural Day
Sadly we are leaving western Germany today and within a couple of hours will be travelling through 4 different countries as follows:-
Population around 85 million
Area – 356970 sq km
Principal language German with English spoken by most people
Currency – Euro
Population around 600,000
Area – 2586 sq km
Principal languages – French, German, Luxembourgish
Currency – Euro
Population around 11.5 million
Area – 30518 sq km
Principal languages – Dutch, Flemish, French, German
Currency – Euro
Population around 70 million
Area – 543965 sq km
Principal languages – French, French and more French
Currency – Euro
At least this time we had consistency in the currencies.
Not a sign of any border guards anywhere which surprised us, particularly into France where we had heard of strict border patrols.
Again we found towns near these borders sadly neglected (particularly France) with very little done to them since WWII. Some still with bullet holes as a reminder of the past. Colours disappeared once out of Germany with buildings all now predominantly grey and stained concrete.
It was another day with a cloudless blue sky – the fourth day now in a row and temperatures during the day are just fabulous – even wearing summer shirts for a large part of the day. Nights are still crisp.
Using Mr Google, we polished up on our limited French words as we drove through the countryside. Certainly felt a little uncomfortable again from the lack of knowledge of the language here. Our inter-personal communication experiences on past tours through France were not good but people we have met on our travels have said things in France have improved now.
Once out of the dreary border towns, the rolling hills and lush green countryside were refreshing with agriculture consisting of mostly patchwork coloured fields of potatoes, other crops and grazing cattle. The soil is a rich red which contrasts beautifully with the hues of green.
Perched high on a hill in Montmedy is the amazing Citadel of Montmedy and its museum. The parapet walkway is approx 1 km long and provides a panoramic view of the countryside.
Camp for tonight: Port de Plaisance, Stenay
Only a very small village with not much happening. Some of the towns we travel through look like ghost towns with little or no signs of habitation. Everything happens behind closed doors we have realised and the only way one can find if a business is open is to open a door. Very different to home where everything is so open and visible.
The Aire (French campsite) probably was a sports ground on a canal (couldn’t call it a harbour really) where there are still massive overhead lights in the centre – once were probably tennis courts or similar. Now converted to an Aire and spots for nearly 70 motorhomes. The sign at the boom gates request registration and payment with the Harbour master called the “Captainere”. Looked like an old school marm and the office looked like something out of the forties with just her desk and a couple of chairs in a dark dismal room. She didn’t speak any English but we got there in the end and after parting with €8 and receiving the password for the gate happily nestled in. Really beautiful spot on the Meuse River and for our dollars, free electricity, water and Internet (but only at the Captainere’s Office).
Took a walk around the sleepy quiet town and ended up at the Musee Europeen de la Biere. What a fantastic old building that consisted of three floors of beer making memorabilia. The building itself took up a whole block and its architecture of stone walls and floors, worn old timber steps and timber beams that could hold up the Eiffel Tower, was in itself so interesting. Learned a lot about beer making and the art of taking the cloudy look out of the final product. Purchased a cloudy beer from the restaurant at the end of the tour – just horrible, tasted like beer with lemon juice and struggled to get it down quickly.
Came back to Ziggy and had a real Polish beer while watching the local folk play boules on a rink at the far end of the Aire.
Wednesday 18th October
Again another blue cloudless day with the trip through the countryside really beautiful.
Camp for tonight: Aire de Camping-car, Charleville-Mezieres
This is a free Aire and backs up to a Camping Resort now closed for the winter season. We are finding more and more camps closing now and by end of October heaps more closing making it more difficult to find spots coming into Winter.
Again we have spectacular views across the Meuse River and are right on a marina 5 star view and only 7 spots in total.
The twin towns of Charleville Mezieres are only a short 800 meters away along the river into the heart of town. We strolled down the Rue De Moulin – the Main shopping street into the main square. Massive square with the regulation restaurants and bars around each side of the square. The building architecture is all the same – three storey brown brick all butted up. Stopped for the usual beer in the square and people watched until the sun started to disappear.
Can’t believe the men’s hairstyles – shaved heads leaving only a small tuft of hair on top or shaved except for massive braids tied with rubber bands on top – a few feathers would give them a part in the latest western movie – playing an Apache.
Tattoos are also very popular with each tattoo parlour full as if the “sale of the century” was inside.
Beautiful clothes, shoes and bags everywhere so zipped the purse tightly on the way back.
Arrived back on dusk to find another boules competition in full swing on the harbour front. Certainly quite an aggressive sport with drives at the winning steel balls causing others to scatter in the head.