Blogs

2017-18 Videos on YouTube

Having travelled around 60,000 kilometres through 28 countries in Europe during 2017 and 2018 we managed to collect quite a few videos and still images.

Most of these have now been catalogued and we will post 2 new additions/week to our “Aussie European Tour” YouTube channel, commencing this week.

Tips on currencies, languages, driving, parking and camping have been included where possible to provide a little background information on each country.

If you are interested in seeing and hearing about our adventures in some of these countries then please click here

If you are interested in seeing more videos just click on the “Subscribe” button whilst on the YouTube channel

Our 2020 European Tour

We have booked our flights for our next European tour (one-way tickets) again.

We figured the best way to overcome our “Post Europe Blues” was to return to Europe.

This time we are flying to Frankfurt Germany and not London.

The current plans are to buy a motorhome in Germany and visit some of the sites we did not visit in 2017-2018.

So now the planning starts again – getting excited already

Post Europe Blues

2019-07-04 – Post Europe Blues

We have been home a quite a while now and are having difficulties settling in to our Australian lifestyle again – waking up in the same location everyday seems a little boring compared to our European nomadic ways – more so for the Driver than the Navigator

This has not been helped by hearing from Linda and David from Perth who did a 2 year European motorhome tour, returned home to W.A., bought a new caravan and car and only lasted about 3 months before selling the car and caravan again and heading back over to Europe.

They said they soon got tired of having to travel long distances with no change of scenery, having few places to choose from to stay and then having to pay high prices to stay overnight compared with their experiences in Europe.

They have now bought a Chausson motorhome in France, have returned to Europe and are happily travelling through Europe again.

In February Michael and Pam from Cronulla came and stayed with us for a few days – we travelled through a few places in Europe with them including Bad Waldsee (the home of Hymer) and Middenwald where we went hiking at the top of the cable car.

They have a Hymer 584 which they keep stored in S.E. England and for the past 6 or 7 years have spent their summers in Australia and the European summers touring Europe in their Hymer.

They left for Europe again at the start of June.

Whilst they were staying with us we had Michael and Debbie (ex Randwick NSW but now Bilinga Qld) round for dinner.

Michael and Debbie had a Burstner motorhome which they had done 3 tours of Europe in and sold at the end of 2017 before moving to Bilinga.

They told us that they have just bought a Rimor motorhome in France and returned to Europe in May.

We had lunch with Michael and Debbie at Currumbin in February 2017 before we went to Europe and then met up with them in Berlin, Germany and the Isle of Sheppey off the north east coast of Kent in the UK.

So the 6 of us sat having dinner on our front deck talking about our motorhome travels with the only problem being that Michael and Pam and Michael and Debbie were also talking about their plans for their next tours, but not us.

It was a great night but we woke up the next morning feeling a little sad.

In March Martina and Ralf our friends from Stelzenberg Germany travelled to Australia and rented a motorhome in Melbourne with the plan of travelling the east coast as far as Cairns.

In Germany Martina and Ralf have a Hobby motorhome and we toured Croatia with them in April 2018 before staying in their house which is about 10 km from Kaiserslautern which is home for a huge US military base of around 30,000 personnel.

After they arrived in Melbourne we connected up our Eco Tourer off road van and headed towards Sydney to meet them on their way north.

We wanted to show them some parts of Australia that they may not have seen on their own so we took them to Diamond Head in the Crowdy Bay National Park, Trial Bay Jail and South West Rocks in the Arakoon National Park and Lake Arragan in the Yuraygir National Park on our way home to Tweed Heads.

Relaxing at Diamond Head

Relaxing at Diamond Head

No don’t pat that one Martina – he is a bit on the big side – at Diamond Head

Lunch near Trial Bay Jail

In these areas they were able to see some our unique Australian animals including kookaburras, guinea fowls, wallabies and kangaroos but no snakes, sharks, sting rays, red back spiders etc which some Europeans seem to believe are lurking at every corner.

They were even able to pat kangaroos in the wild (not just at a zoo).

Whilst they stayed with us in our Unit at Tweed Heads we took them to Currumbin Sanctuary where they cuddled a koala, fed the lorikeets and saw an indigenous dance ceremony.


Krys and Martina at Currumbin Sanctuary

Indigenous ceremony at Currumbin Sanctuary

Ralf and Martina at Froggys Beach Point Danger

We spent the next day at Seaworld Nara Resort and then the evening at the Australian Outback Spectacular which they thoroughly enjoyed (and so did we).


Sea World Nara Resort

The four of us at Australian Outback Spectacular

Martina and Ralf have since returned to Germany but said they really enjoyed their time in Australia, even though they probably tried to cover too great a distance in too short a time.

We set off again in our off road van in early June and have travelled through Dalby, Chinchilla, Miles, Taroom, Banana, Baralaba, Duaringa and Emerald.

We then spent 4 great nights in Carnarvon Gorge and did a 5 hour 14 klm hike through the Gorge to the Amphitheatre, the Aboriginal Art Gallery and Wards Canyon.

Since then we have travelled through Roma, Mitchell, Mungallala, and Charleville and are now in Wyandra.

2018/11/10 – Brugge – Belgium

Saturday 10th November & Sunday 11th November 2018

Rainy this morning so hope it clears by Sunday.

Only 7 days left before the Chunnel Crossing – so so sad 😢😥.

We passed through many towns where it was the same, people everywhere so headed to the countryside on our way to Brugge, Belgium.

It was a year ago when we came through here and spent many days looking at all the World War 1 memorial sites and monuments in this part of the world.

Our campsite for two nights:  Smart-ijs, Wingene –

GPS N51.073769.   E3.265150

What a gem this place is – set in the country, there are only 6 places here with green pastures, braying donkeys next door and a restaurant and ice cafe on site. 

Pretty as a picture setting and so quiet compared to where we have just been.  

For €8 you get water, electricity and hi speed wifi.

The guys who run this place are super friendly, speak excellent English and deserve to do well.

The rain stopped us from doing little else apart from reading and enjoying the tranquil and picturesque setting.

Monday 12th November 2018

Our campsite for tonight:  Parking Kanaaleiland, Brugge –

GPS N51.195671. E3.226380

Brugee is the capital and largest city of West Flanders in Belgium and has a population of around 118,000 and is sometimesreferred to as the ”Veniceof the North” because of the canal networks.

Waiting for a water taxi

You do not need a tourist guide or tour map in Brugge –just simply walk around the streets and take in the many fantastic sights.

Sights not to miss include the 83 metre high Belfry andMarket Square, the 14th century City Hall, the Groeninge Museum, Saint John’s Hospital, to name just a few.

Taxi Sir?

All the sights were within a short walk from our over night campsite which has around 55 camping places and is 19 Euros off season or 25 Euros in season.

The city has many Belgian chocolate and waffle shops.

I have never seen all those colours in the one tree near where we live

Tuesday 13th November 2018

Our campsite for tonight:  Torhout – GPS N51.077648.   E3.061490

Belgium was invaded by the Germanarmy in May 1940 and on 25 May 1940 Torhout was bombarded by the Luftwaffe, with fire bombs resulting in the destruction of the church as well as some nearby houses.

The Castle of Wijnendale – our campsite for the night

The City Hall was unharmed even though it was only located some 50 meters from the church.

On that same day the King of Belgium was just a mile or two away in the Castle of Wijnendale together with the Prime Minister and three other ministers.

It was there that the king would sign the capitulation of Belgium.

Torhout was bombed again on 26 May, 27 May and 13 August, which damaged the hospital and some schools.

Torhout was occupied for 4 years before Canadian troops liberated the city on 6 and 7 September 1944.

It was also during the occupation that the City Hall was classified as a monument on 29 November 1943.

We camped overnight in the parking area for the Castle of Wijnendale – free of charge – only facilities were rubbish bins – had a quiet night.

There are still a few items of interest left over from World War 1 near the Castle.

FRANCE

Wednesday 14th November

Our campsite for tonight:  Aire de camping car, Ekelsbeke –

GPS N50.883911.   E2.431360

Ekelsbeke was a free camp spot with 7 places only 250 metres from the centre of the village.

The facilities included free grey and black water disposal and a rest room.

Water and electricity were available for 3 Euros each.

They were gearing up for a festival and the local people were very friendly and helpful.

Ziggy Sold

Mike Steers from Stafford had sourced Ziggy for us in late 2016 and helped to equip her with all the items we needed for our tour and had started to advertise her for sale a little while ago.

There had been a couple of people interested in the sale including an American couple who just about drove us crazy with an endless list of frivolous questions which went on week after week.

We had finally had enough and basically gave them a “put up or shut up” ultimatum and thankfully they dropped off the prospect list.

During late October/early November a British expat living in Spain had begun showing considerable interest in Ziggy.

His only concerns were based around all the challenges of importing Ziggy in to Spain.

Once he had all that sorted out he wanted to proceed with the purchase.

He gave us the go ahead in early November and transferred the purchase amount in full in to our bank account on the 14th November.

He had agreed to our “turnkey” approach” which meant that he was not only buying Ziggy but all the chattels as well including electric bikes, Garmin Sat Nav, crockery, cutlery, linen etc etc.

It was a good deal for us as foreigners in that we could just walk away but a good deal for him as well as it meant he could just walk on board and absolutely everything was there ready to go.

However it left us in a rather awkward situation – we had sold Ziggy, had been paid in full but we were still in France and had to get Ziggy across the English Channel and back up to Stafford for the hand over – every time I drove through an intersection I felt as though every car was going to run in to us – fortunately we got Ziggy back up to Stafford without any mishaps.

Thursday 15th November

Our campsite for tonight:  Aire de camping car, Watten –

GPS N50.831390.   E2.208790

Watten is a free camp spot catering for about 12 motorhomes and is one of the closest Aires to the Calais ferry or Chunnel.

The site is only a short walk to the shops and restaurants.

The facilities included free grey and black water disposal and water and electricity were available at 4 Euros each.

ENGLAND

Friday 16th November 2018

Our campsite for tonight:  Toby Carvery Stonebridge, Coventry –

GPS N52.446190.   W1.688470

Had another uneventful crossing from France to England via the Chunnel.

The new departure terminal has now been completed and there are restaurants and duty free shops in the departure waiting area.

Felt a little uneasy walking around the departure area with French police patrolling through the shops with their fingers inside the trigger guards on their machine guns.

Sailed through both the British and French immigration checks – the French check being the Schengen departure point and we had been in the Schengen zone for around 12 months and we were supposed to exit after 3 months.

Had to familiarise myself again with driving on the left hand side of the road in a large LHD vehicle, but it didn’t take long.

Endured a long and boring drive from Dover to Stonebridge near the NEC.

Camped in the Carvery carpark – no charge – fully floodlit – had a great meal and a pint in the carvery – very nice – but had to get used to the British high prices again.

Saturday 17th – Wednesday 21st November – Michaels Steer’s house – Stafford

Arrived at Michael Steers house in Stafford and began discussing all the arrangements regarding preparing Ziggy for her new owner.

Michael had arranged for a full engine service and MOT on Monday 19th November and a habitation check on Tuesday 20th November.

The engine service and MOT went through very smoothly and when the habitation check was done we had a new rear skylight hatch installed.

Our purchaser Steve arrived and we went through Ziggy showing him all the workings of the Hymer.

Steve moved Ziggy to a nearby camping site that Mike had arranged and we picked up a rental car.

We had a last dinner with Mike and Anne at a nearby English pub, sampled a couple of local ales and had our last sleep at Mike and Anne’s house.

Wednesday morning we said our final goodbyes to Mike and Anne and headed off in the direction of Gatwick in the rental car.

Mike and Anne had been absolutely fantastic hosts and we couldn’t thank them enough.

If anyone is contemplating purchasing and or selling a motorhome in the UK then you could not do any better than have Mike Steers at UKMotorhomefinder assist you.

Wednesday 21st November 2018 – B&B Gatwick

Had a boring but uneventful drive from Stafford to Gatwick where we had arranged a B&B until our departure on Sunday 25th November arriving Brisbane at 06:40 on Tuesday 27th November.

We flew Emirates as we couldn’t get a seat on Qantas – must say we were disappointed with Emirates – the flight and staff were nowhere near as good as on the outbound Qantas flight.

2018/11/09 – Ypres Belgium

Friday 9th November 2018 – Ypres Belgium

Had a big sleep in this morning and didn’t surface until after 9.30 am.  With the days getting shorter and shorter there is very little light before 8am now and together with our wonderful silver screens that keep out light and cold (and heat) we sleep longer here than in our sunny bright light and airy apartment at home.

Didn’t venture into town this morning and decided to head to Ypres ASAP to try to secure a spot in the main Moho park until Sunday.

Not much luck here or at the other two in the area – all booked out and queues waiting at the gates to move in once a Moho vacated.  Many of the parking areas in town normally open to day trippers were closed from Saturday until Monday – ugh!!!

We had driven through the town on the way to the campsites and the town was truly alive and buzzing.  Thousands of people and cars everywhere so can imagine what it will be like by Sunday.

Drove out of town a couple of kms and parked on the roadside.  Waited until 4pm and then walked into town to enjoy the evenings festivities.  What a magic town with wonderful architecture, particularly the Flanders Museum and the square around it.

Walked to the Menin Gate where a field of poppies has been laid by the many visitors who have come here for these celebrations.  Like a massive red carpet in a sea of green.  All the walls on both sides of the road of the massive gate were etched with names of the lost ones in this terrible wall. 

We were here to be part of the Last Post bugle ceremony which is at 8pm every day and has been since 1928 hail rain or shine.

Every restaurant and bar was full with an unbelievable atmosphere of camaraderie of all nations.  We sat in a bar that was full of Brits, Aussies, Canadians and many others where shoulder to shoulder  they enjoyed a beer or two or three or more while waiting for 8pm.  We spoke to a Brit who has been coming here every year for over 30 years and had so much knowledge – very interesting.

By 7.30 pm the streets were packed a hundred deep in front of both sides of the Menin Gate and that was before everyone left the bars for the Last Post.

So much noise as everyone chatted and waited – then complete silence as 4 buglers marched toward the gate, stood in the middle of the road facing the Gate and began the Last Post.  So moving as the tears rolled down the face of so many around us.   This was followed by Scottish bagpipers who played Amazing Grace.  We couldn’t see much from our position in the crowd but captured the buglers and pipers.

The bars and restaurants again filled up so headed the 2kms back to Ziggy.  Were not happy about staying on the busy roadside overnight as it was a main road with trucks and tractors passing by within inches so were very relieved to find Ziggy in tact.

Parked in a nearby carpark next to a large shopping complex and were joined by several other Mohos before morning.

Had a very peaceful and quiet night which I am sure we would not have had on the main road.  Contemplated staying here until Sunday but as the carpark started to fill with other Mohos, we knew they would be moved on by the police soon, so opted to move on and away from the increasing multitudes coming into the town.

2018/11/03 – Belgium – Jalhay, Blegny

BELGIUM

Saturday 3rd November & Sunday 4th November

Our campsite for two nights:  Parking Barrage de la Gileppe, Jalhay – GPS N50.587570.  E5.969600

Before preparing the last post we published in Germany WordPress (the software for this site) updated to a Gutenberg editor – just what I needed was something more to learn with only a few more posts to do (not) so apologies as there were a lot of formatting errors in the last post and probably will be in this one.

We could not find new places now in this part of Germanyas we have been through this area before, so decided to bite the bullet andhead across the border into Belgium.

No border checks at all so entry into Belgium again was seamless.

A much nicer day today with no rain so really enjoyed the drive through the Autumn drenched forests and hillsides – awesome – so spectacular!

This is a gratis Stellplatz which has dedicated spots for 4 motorhomes only and 4 electric points at no cost.  Have not seen this very often in our travels.  We were lucky enough to get the last spot.

Looking across the dam from the lower restaurant

This place is really popular and so busy with the car park and all adjoining streets full by lunchtime.   Again set on a huge lake with cycle and walking tracks for miles. 

High on the hill overlooking the dam, there is a structure that is three storeys high with a restaurant at the top.  From the top there are 360 degree panoramic views.  

The dam wall is massive and the centre span includes a 20 metre high statue of Leopold the Lion  who guards the water and valleys.   The walk across the dam walls is really spectacular and today with the weather being a little better, the locals really came out to enjoy this.

Day two came with not a cloud to be seen.  The carpark filled very quickly and by 10am cars were double and triple parked with no spots anywhere and once any Moho vacated, cars quickly took their places with eventually Ziggy sitting all alone surrounded by cars. 

Took the opportunity of such a beautiful (but still really cold day) to do one of the many long walks so once across the dam walls we walked through the reservoir forest and along the lake.  Couples, families all with man’s best friend in tow  (can’t believe how important dogs are to Europeans) were everywhere walking and cycling and enjoying probably one of the last sunny days left this year (hope not). 

The autumn shades seen on one of the hikes around the lake

The views across the lake were stunning and again the trees in full Autumn colours now drenched with sunlight were spectacular.  Autumn in Europe is really special.

Several hours later we returned and enjoyed a hot chocolate (for the navigator) and one of our favourite beers – Jupiler (for the driver) at the lakefront restaurant.

Monday 5th November

Our campsite for tonight:  Begny-Mine, Blegny – GPS N50.686138. E5.723820

A UNESCO world heritage site, this mine was really interesting.   It is out of season now so only option of viewing the mine was to go with a tour group of Dutch retirees with a Dutch guide but with the aid of English audio headsets.  Super information through audio but really missed the jokes the guide was sharing with the group.  Well worth a visit if in the area.

Memorial to the miners

The mine closed several years ago but is a top attractionin the area.  While we were there severalbusloads of kids, teenagers and old folk like us took group tours.  

The Navigator getting the stretcher ready for me

Great location to just stop and take in thesurroundings with playgrounds for the kids, an open air museum and an animalpark for the little ones (which the navigator also enjoyed).  The brasserie was also well utilised by thegroups and Moho owners.

About a 15 minute walk into town where there was little life to be seen and the church being the only point of interest worth photographing.

You want us to go down there???

The Stellplatz  itself was great and very peaceful once the gates closed in the evening.  Great complimentary facilities including water and use of the mines restroom during the day.

Tuesday 6th November

Our campsite for tonight:  Park Olmental, Herk de Stad – GPS N50.934059.   E5.166150

Beautiful setting in a wonderful park with water fountains, a picturesque lake (where fishermen sat for hours on end) and caught nothing and a beaver pond.  We went in search of the beaver but this part of the lake had dried up and the Beavers were long gone.

Great little town with heaps of shops with very expensive clothing in shop windows – the price was enough to scare me away – but did lots of window shopping.

Again a gratis site with a very new WC block where men and women went through the same door and the wash basin was right next to the urinal – so pleased the navigator did not strike anyone of the opposite sex while visiting!

Lots of automatic bread and sandwich dispensers in Belgium

Wednesday 7th November

Our campsite for tonight:  Parking Demervallei, Aarschott – GPS N50.984921.   E4.840760

Really worth visiting here.  A really trendy, funky town with a waterway running through the middle of it.  We arrived late so by the time we hit the town, it was getting dark so could not take pictures.  Very pretty walk in the evening with the cathedral well lit up and the streets now with Xmas trimmings was delightful.

Dropped into a trendy little bar where we had to choose from about a hundred different types of beers.  

Woke up to a glorious sunny cloudless day so armed with camera headed back into town to find the photo opportunities we missed last night.   Market day today prevented us from getting photos of the uniquely Belgish town square which was a little disappointing.

Just had to visit the cathedral (just love visiting these) and were rewarded with an exhibition gallery of photos of Armistice Day back in 1918.  The town is gearing up for celebrations for the coming weekend which is the 100th anniversary.

Laughed his head off???

We are keen to be part of these celebrations and wonder where we will be on the 11th – Ypres maybe?.

The Navigator negotiating in Belgish?to buy a cooked chicken at the open air markets

Great complimentary Stellplatz again with electricity included.

Thursday 8th November

Sadly left just after lunch after deliberating for some time about staying here until Sunday – Armistice Day.  Still so much of Belgium to see and now only days left before we head across the channel.

With only 75 kms to our next stop, no more than an hour on the motorway my driver said, took us nearly three hours with delays and detours that took us round and round with seemingly no way to get past them – very frustrating!

Our campsite for tonight:  Parking Lennik – GPS N50.807800.  E4.163050

Arrived as the sun disappeared but were happy to get the remaining spot (only 4 here but really pretty setting).  No walks tonight but hopefully in the morning.

2018/10/28 – Germany – Pronsfeld, Hellenthal

Sunday 28th – Wednesday 31st October

Our campsite for 4 nights:  am Alten Bahnhof, Pronsfeld – GPS N50.163010. E6.336810

Wow – is it getting cold now.  Martina and Ralf from Stelzenberg Germany warned us that come 1st November when the Autumn rains begin, the trees lose their remaining leaves and you say goodbye to summer, the sun and any hope of any warmth until March the following year.

The cold came four days early for us this year as we experienced cold, rain, sleet and snow in the 4 days at Pronsfeld.  The temperature during the day did not climb above 7 and the minimum on one day, even in the middle of the days was -2 degrees.    We sat in Ziggy for most of the 4 days and enjoyed the warmth of the gas heating and the wonderful strong internet speeds here.

Yes – we are sitting inside Ziggy at Pronsfeld watching the snow fall

Great little Stellplatz with everything you need and only a few minutes walk to the village.  The camping fuhrer comes morning and night to collect the camping fee.  Lots of lovely trees (now in full Autumn shades) border the camping area.

Met a great Belgish couple who gave us some tips on places to visit in Belgium.  They said there are not many camping places and Belgium is overcrowded, hence they holiday in Germany.  Advice from them was not to allow too much time in Belgium before going home.

Think without the internet we would have gone stir crazy as we spent many hours enjoying our movies and U Tube, sport and world news while the snow came tumbling down outside.  So pretty to watch through our picture windows but certainly kept us indoors most of the time.

Took the opportunity on the last day to do a walk through the village but not without coats, gloves, scarves and many layers.  The old railway cars at the railway station were quite interesting, but there is little else apart from cycling (not today for this little navigator though) and Nordic walking with lots of walking tracks to choose from.  Only lasted about an hour and a bit before the sleet came in and we retired back to our warm little cocoon.

The old railway station and trains at Pronsfeld

Thursday 1st November

Our campsite for tonight: Grenzlandhalle, Hellenthal – GPS N50.492409.  E6.380760

Travelled through more rain again today and struggled to keep the Windows from fogging up.  Has taken us a while to learn how to do this successfully but now it’s a breeze using the air conditioning in conjunction with the demister – no problem at all.

We are only travelling short distances in this weather and really appreciated getting to this great little camp spot only a short distance away. 

We are just on the outskirts of a very pretty little town with lots of great restaurants.  This Stellplatz is gratis and does not have any services but is a very quiet and restful spot.  Drizzled for most of our stay here so after a short time exploring this neat little town, we retired to back to Ziggy.

Friday 2nd November

Hard to believe we are coming home at the end of this month after more than 21 months away.  We are getting really very sad now and often there are several quiet moments when we are travelling where both of us are feeling the pain and knowing our holiday is coming to an end.

We have booked the Chunnel crossing between Calais and Folkestone back to the UK on 17th November to enable time to service, detail and register Ziggy and  have a habitation check done and neither of us are looking forward to leaving Europe.

Ziggy has been just wonderful and while we have two interested parties waiting to inspect her, I for one will not be disappointed if they do not fall in love with her.  If no sale eventuates, we will put her in to secure storage in the UK and return again for a while next year – now the thought of that makes us happy! 

Our campsite for tonight:  Reisemobilhafen, Rurberg – GPS – N50.605770.   E6.380760

Rain has stopped for the moment but it is still really cold.  We watch as the locals walk by in their heavy coats, layers, hats and gloves and wonder how they can stand this type of weather for so many months of the year.

Very dry in this area and the water level is well down

So many places are now beginning to close for the seasonand we really appreciate that back home, nothing closes ever for any part ofthe year.

This is a great campsite right on the edge of the village with only a short little walk to the massive lake which now only has a few boats moored, whereas a couple of months ago, sailing and small cruise boats happily cruised back and forth.  What a difference a few weeks make.

There is a really great information centre and a pretty village with lovely homes scattered up the hillsides around the lake.  Lots of hotels and restaurants on the waterfront but only a few remain open.

Quite happy to be able to take a really long walk today as the weather has improved (still no sign of sunshine – has been nearly a week now without seeing the sun).  The walks (and bike ways if you are brave enough) took us across the dam wall and around the lake which is stunning.

Temperature overnight was -3 and woke up to thick frost on the grass.  Even have a patch of sunshine this morning so hope it remains for a while.

Looking back towards our Stellplatz

My driver hasn’t had the opportunity of taking many photos over the last week or so – the weather has been so awful and the navigator has not had much to write home about for the same reason.

We have decided to head for Calais through Belgium so we don’t have to pass through France but will eventually have to cross in to France to get to the Chunnel crossing.

We are very sad about leaving Germany as we have had such a good time here – the country, people, food, beer and everything else have been really great.

It also makes such a difference when we have been able to understand what the locals are saying and they can understand us as well.

Important that you have plenty of cash at all times (same in many European countries) as credit cards are not accepted in many businesses with the exception of supermarkets and service stations.

Be aware of the “pay to pee” concept in Germany – when you can find a public toilet (offentliche toilette) there is a fee to pay on exiting the toilet.

We were surprised that this system was also in places like McDonalds and in some restaurants and bars.

The Driver was caught out a couple of times as he usually wanders around without any money at all as I am the one who carries the money, passports etc.

The other unusual concept for us was the deposit or “pfand” system whereby a deposit is paid on all drink type purchases both at supermarkets and in some restaurants and bars.

The supermarkets have automatic machines where you can deposit your empty bottles and receive a docket which can be offset against future purchases in the store.

Sometimes the deposit is more then the value of the drink ie 19 Euro cents for a bottle of water and 25 Euro cents for the deposit.

The most confusing situation we experienced was at a restaurant/bar at the Deutsches Ecke at the junction of the Moselle and Rhein rivers in Koblenz – we went to the bar to order 2 beers and were told we had to go to another section to pay a deposit for the glasses – 2 Euros each glass.

We did that and then returned to the bar and ordered the 2 beers which were then placed on the counter top – We went to pay but was told we had to go to another section to pay.

We consumed the beers and then went back to the bar to have the glasses deposit refunded but was told we had to go to another section to have the deposit refunded.

Just as well we could understand the signage (and there was sign pollution) or we could have been there for ever.

In many places staff are not allowed to handle cash – only the owner or manager handles the cash.

2018/10/17 – Germany – Moselle – Traben Trarbach

Wednesday 17th October

Our campsite for tonight:   Moselufer, St Aldegund – GPS N50.080662.   E7.131390

We have decided as we now only have a little more than a month before heading home that we revisit some of our favourite places on the Moselle.

This is a great winter spot as not many pitches offer shade as we found out on our last visit in summer. Bikeways run along the front of the campground and all pitches have magic waterfront views with a small but lovely village.

Thursday – Sunday 18th – 21st October

Our campsite for 4 nights:  Moselufer Reil – GPS N50.026272.   E7.114530

One of our favourite places again right on the Moselle where barges and river cruise boats meander past every few minutes.

The Moselle at Reil

One of the prettiest and safest bikeways we have ventured on which travel through the vineyards past old stone bridges and a castle to boot.  A little tractor towing a wagon that takes about 10 tourists shares this bikeway and leaves little room to get past.  So many little villages to pass through along the way makes this place a must to stop at and do several biking adventures.

The Village is set on a hillside and surrounded by grapevines.  So many winemakers here in the village and wine sampling is a must.

Reil main street from the river bank

Spent many days here and had such a wonderful time. 

The campsite has a small waterfront Imbiss (cafe) where the campers and locals gather throughout the day and night for food and drink.  The Imbiss closed for the season on Friday night and the big finale was the BBQ with outside bonfire which attracted a huge number of people who partied on until the wee hours of the morning.  Beers were €1 and wine €2 so there were a lot of untidy people.  Last look at our watch was after midnight so time to leave the party animals and indulge in some beauty sleep.

Monday – Tuesday 22nd & 23rd October

Our campsite for two nights:  Wohnmobilplatz, Kinheim – GPS N49.972141.   E7.057040

Haven’t been here before and guess we avoided it when here in summer – no trees here at all but lovely and sunny with the wonderful Moselle/vineyard views forever. 

Not a lot in the village but lots of interesting heritage buildings and a waterfront hotel which was very popular particular with bus groups.

The morning ritual here is a bit daunting with the church bells peeling at 8am, the campsite fuhrer arriving in his tractor at 8.10 am to collect the camp fee and the baker sounding his horn at 8.15 am.  Given the temperatures in the morning are single digits and it is still relatively dark at 8am, there were not a lot of happy campers at this time of morning.  Got to say the campsite fuhrer was not the friendliest.

One of the many interesting laneways in Kinheim – a bit narrow for Ziggy

Lots of little veggie plots border the campsite where veggies grow and the walnut tree on the border of the plots was dropping nuts in abundance.  Lots of campers out with their bags gathering up the nutty pickings.

Great little Stellplatz but the 8am forced start is the only negative.

Wednesday & Thursday 24th & 25th October

Our campsite for two nights:  Moselstellplatz, Traben-Trarbach – GPS N49.957180.   E7.104980

Couldn’t get in here during the summer months as it was packed out but this time round we won the lottery and got the best spot right on the waterfront with only the bikeway between us and the Moselle –   no campers either side as well – just wonderful!

Looking towards Traben from the Iron Bridge which was destroyed in WW2

Can understand now why this spot is so popular.  Our 20 minute walk along the bikeway riverfront track led us into one of the prettiest towns we have visited.  The double city is on opposite sides of the river and after spending two days here, not sure which side is the best.  Traben is the oldest with records dating back to 820 and Trarbach 1142. 

The Navigator taking in the views from the Iron Bridge

The architecture is spectacular on both sides with many old churches, cathedrals and buildings renovated back to their previous glory.   Spent the whole day exploring one side then the other and had to pinch ourselves as we walked through a wonderland – street after street of awe inspiring architecture. 

Old Railway Station in Traben

The main tourist attraction is the Bruckentor (Bridge Gate) on the Trarbach side which is a three storey entry structure on the bridge leading to the Traben side.  Looks like a small castle and is now a wine tavern on the second and third level.

Looking towards Bruckentor from Trarbach

On day one, we saw from the town, the ruins of Grevenburg Castle high on the hill and day two we took the challenge and climbed the mountainside to the top.   Only a few kms uphill, but all the way up a steep hillside left us breathless at the top. 

Looking towards Grevenburg Castle from Trarbach

So worth the effort as the 360 degree views over the Moselle, Traben and hillside vineyards were amazing.  There is a cafe right at the top (a road from the other side of the mountain leads to the ruins). 

View of the Bruckentor from the hiking trail

It was the old commandants quarters refurbished to a rustic cafe with an open fireplace, where we enjoyed a beverage before taking the steep descent back down to the twin towns.

Watching a cruise boat on the Moselle from the castle

Definitely worth a visit to see these twin towns and the Stellplatz was great but very popular even now out of season – it was full by lunchtime.

Ready to make the descent and yes it was cold

Friday & Saturday 26th & 27th October

Our campsite for two nights:  Reisemobilpark Treviris, Trier – GPS N49.750189.  E6.624440

The Stellplatz itself is on the Moselle about 3kms from the Old Town.  No real views as such as the fence and shrubs on the border block out most of the view.  It is well laid out and the best spot to camp because of its proximity to the Old Town.

A nearby regular bus service runs from Monday to Friday but not on weekends.  We arrived late on Friday and still tired from our long treks in Traben-Trarbach yesterday opted to rest and take the challenge in the morning.

The Navigator ordering the Gluhwein (to warm us up) from a bar in the middle of the Old Town Square

It is really cold now with this morning’s temp at 3 degrees with a high of 7 predicted so on with the coats, scarves, gloves and backpacks, we walked the 3 kms along the river, over the Romerbrucke (Roman Bridge) (2nd century) and soon found the Old Town.  

Trier is Germany’s oldest city (over 2000 years) with seven Roman UNESCO heritage sites in the city centre to explore. 

Wow, wow and double wow – what a fabulous Old Town where there is street after street of pedestrian only zones and with a mapped tourist trail to go by, made the exploring without missing anything so easy.

So much to see it took the whole day just walking and enjoying every moment.  Some of the most memorable for us were:

1     Porta Nigra is the world’s best preserved Roman city gate (170 AD) the town’s landmark. Set in the heart of Old Town in the main square, it stands tall and ominous amongst the newer buildings.

Porta Nigra

2     Konstantin Basilica (4th Century)

Konstantin Basilica

3     Kaiserthermen Imperial Baths (4th century) currently being renovated but many parts still visible.

Kaiserthermen

4     Dom St. Peter (4th century) – just amazing.

Dom St Peter

5     Liebfrauen Basilica (13th century) and joins the Dom.

Were a little disappointed with the Amphitheater (100 AD) as it was a long walk out of town and though some of the original gates in the lower level still stand, would not recommend this as we have seen some in Greece that were much better.

Kurf Palace – adjoins Konstantin Basilica

Stopped in the main square for a hot gluhwein and watched some locals joining in for a display of how “The Macarana” is done German Style.

A truly wonderful day ending with a brisk walk home and then “feet up” in front of the heater for the rest of the day.

2018/10/05 – Germany – Stelzenberg to Bad Sobernheim

Friday 5th – Sunday 14th October

With friends Martina and Ralf at their home in Stelzenberg Germany

Sunny skies and fantastic warm October weather for the whole stay here which gave us the opportunity of spending lots of time detailing Ziggy both inside and outside.  She is more than sparkling now and we are sad to think that it is only six weeks before we head home.  Ziggy has been our home for such a long time now, it is hard to imagine not having her as part of our life in Australia.

Petra keeping an eye on the BBQ and the fire on Martina and Ralf’s back deck

Ralf is a real whiz with motorhomes and he installed a new micro-switch in one of the taps, adjusted the sun awning arms, renewed the waterproofing membrane on one of the skylights which was looking a little tired and made all of his equipment available for us to detail Ziggy – much appreciated Ralf.

We had such a fantastic time with our friends and their family and did so many things it is hard to remember them all.

Vegemite received a mixed response with Ralf, Martina and Petra

Martina’s mum and dad Christal and Emile are singers as part of a 40 strong choir in Kaiserslautern and we were lucky enough to be invited to their Schubert concert which also featured many great movie films such as Lion King, Aladdin and Phantom of the Opera to name just a few.  Accompanied by professional operatic soprano, baritone and piano player, the two and a half hour concert was just wonderful.

The Schubert conference with Christal and Emile in the Choir

We celebrated a 50th birthday with Ralf’s sister with her family and friends in a restaurant several kms away and they welcomed us with open arms.  Spent many hours talking about Australia with a few who had visited Australia previously and others who want to go.

Had a wonderful afternoon tea with Martina’s sister, brother, mum and dad and enjoyed cakes you can only dream of and the best home-made apple crumble pie (made by Cornelia – Martina’s sister)  –  yum – had to have two slices of this one.

Went on some wonderful hikes through the Pfalzwald with Martina, Ralf and Petra and on one day enjoyed the panoramic view at the top at the Hohe Loog Haus with a wonderful traditional German late lunch/dinner.

In front of the Hohe Loog Haus with Martina and Ralf – Petra taking the photo

Tucking in to the sauerkraut and lebernudeln

The road on the way to the departure point was a little testing – it is called Totenkopf Strasse which roughly translated means Deadhead road and there are many traffic accidents on this road.

Our last day and also our wedding anniversary (our second in Germany) was spent in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse on the last day of the two week wine festival where more than 110 floats paraded through the streets. 

Mostly pulled by tractors, beautiful horses, vintage cars and some man power, the floats carried wine princesses from all the wine regions in the area. 

Haven’t seen a Porsche like that one in Australia

Wine flowed freely and helpers with the floats were eager to fill up any glasses you had in hand. 

The Navigator getting a top up in her wine glass

Several bands in full colourful German costume passed by and created a wonderful atmosphere.

A wine Princess on one of the floats

Back in the town centre, Ferris wheels and other rides were in full swing and every spare spot was taken up with food and drink outlets.  Spent a whole afternoon here – just fantastic.

We have made wonderful friends in Martina and Ralf whose hospitality, friendship, companionship and help over this week with Ziggy have left us so sad to part company with them and their wonderful friends and family.

Ralf and Martina are going to try to come and stay with us in Tweed Heads in March next year and our Polish relatives from Biala Podlaska will be staying with us in August/September and we hope to be able to show them all some Aussie hospitality.

Ralf and Martina are also keen for us to return to Germany so we can go touring in our motorhomes together again – maybe Ziggy goes back into storage over winter??? – something to chat about in the evenings to come.

Monday 15th & Tuesday 16th October

Our campsite for two nights:  Am Nohfels, Bad Sobernheim – GPS N49.778881.   E7.658640

After a large shop at our favourite Lidl store, in Kaiserslautern, we travel through a colourful  countryside with Autumn now in full swing.  We passed along many roads where both sides of the road were showering autumn leaves creating a carpet of orange, red, brown and green – so pretty.  We just love the Autumn tones but can imagine it being a nightmare to clean up the tons of leaves everywhere.

Many artistic wood carvings in the park

The campsite is set in such a colourful Autumn setting with apple and nut trees scattered throughout the campsite.   Hedges are well groomed and everything is perfect here.  The small cafe adjacent attracts lots of visitors and campers and overlooks a small river.

Several walks and bike ways lead in every direction.  Walked to the village only 10 minutes away where there are loads of shops, cafes, old churches, quaint buildings and of course a small town square where we enjoyed a quiet ale.

The Navigator dwarfed on a seat

The walk/bikeway in front of the cafe led along a treed avenue to the Barfusspfad which is a local attraction where you take your shoes off and walk barefoot across the river to the other side with the aid of ropes.  There is also a suspension bridge though dismantled at present so only way across was through the river.   Really worth the effort though a little chilly in the water now.

Local restoration work

They have a local tree artist who has carved fantastic animals out of logs and these are right beside the cafe.

Nice architecture

 

2018/09/25 – Germany – Hornbach to Oberbrombach

GERMANY

Tuesday 25th & Wednesday 26th September

Across the border again with no border checks.

Our campsite for 2 Nights:  An Der Pirminiushalle, Hornbach – N49.183819.   E7.365600

We rate this little CP with a 10.  It is just so well organised and designed by a Moho owner – very obvious as everything you need is here and is so well done.   A really beautiful treed setting and peaceful and quiet.  There is a small sports ground beside the CP which provides several boules lanes, a mini golf course, table tennis, snooker and a small soccer field – all equipment is supplied to play these games and is  gratis and included in the tariff (though you can make a donation).  We spent a few really enjoyable hours in there and sad to say the driver outshone the navigator in every game we played. 

Hornbach Town Hall

The CP hut includes a big covered area with tables and chairs and loads of tourist information.  Beside the hut is a fire pit with seats around it.  Timber can be purchased from the supermarket.  Wifi was great on one day but a bit iffy on day two.

Still showing the signs of war

There are several great walks in the area and the first was to explore the historic town only 15 minutes walk away.   The old church was built in 1573 and is currently being refurbished while the monastery’s (Kloster) interior has been converted to a five star + hotel where we enjoyed a pint served in their own beer stein, in the sunny beer garden.

The Driver with a stein of beer in the Kloster Biergarten

Thursday & Friday 27th & 28th September

Reluctantly we left here, could definitely have stayed on longer as there are so many walks here and it was so beautiful. 

Our campsite for two nights:  Freizeitpark Zweibrucken Wohnmobil, Zweibrucken – GPS N49.253639.   E7.376230

This small town (town of roses and horses) has a proud history despite its nearly complete destruction in 1945 during WW2.  The town was declared derelict by the Americans and plans were to abandon any consideration of rebuilding.

The Castle

The locals got together and held a compulsory lottery, the funds went to the rebuilding of the town and some old buildings were rebuilt to the original specifications including Alexander church, Karlskirche and the Castle.

From the CP you walk along tree lined pedestrian avenues to the Rosegarten – beautiful gardens that are open all year round, though sadly the rose season ends in September, but still a few there now and lots of other blooms and gardens.

A cafe setting in the town square

The town’s sporting facilities are fantastic and we passed by many sporting fields and equestrian centres where horses were being groomed and put through their paces.

The CP again is really well done with excellent bathroom facilities and showers included in the tariff that have no time limit and loads of hot water.  Washer and dryer at €2 a load – took advantage of that and excellent wifi to boot.  Beside the CP was a beer garden and restaurant where we spent both afternoons in the sunshine with the locals.  A great Stellplatz though the €50 deposit for the bathrooms was a bit daunting (key was well looked after).

Government buildings

Saturday 29th September

Our campsite for tonight:  Wohnmobil-Oase Schwarzindersee, Weiskirchen – GPS N49.527168.   E6.831630

Unusual place this which is nowhere near a town but included as part of a hotel and resort.  The CP setting was natural bushland bordering a small lake where there were lots of beautiful nature walks.  Wifi excellent and you could use the facilities of the hotel when it was open.

Wine barrel accommodation set in amongst the vineyards

One section included the most unusual cabins looking like large oak wine barrels.    Separate barrels for each room i.e. one barrel on its side was the bedroom and beside it, the bathroom – all on a small deck with a couple of deck chairs.  If you wanted a two bedroom, then you got another barrel.  The setting was in a vineyard with the grape vines separating the units.

A closer view of the accommodation

Sunday – Friday 30th September – 4th October

Hohenblick, Oberbrombach – GPS N49.694721.   E7.259440

This place is just magic.  Very private on the outskirts of a small village.  It is high on a hill with views forever with several grassed terraces and large pitches.  Wifi again is excellent so taking advantage of this whenever we can.  The property has several rustic timber huts where tables and chairs, a fireplace (with timber) and the most unusual western artefacts create a wonderful ranch style atmosphere.

There we were amongst a group of Germans enjoying pork off the grill and schnapps, of course – the Navigator is on the right

Again there are so many nature walks from here where great tracks take you through forests where quite often the tree canopy is so dense you cannot see the sky.   No sounds of life in any direction with just us, the trees and the birds – thank goodness it is well signposted.  Something we soon realised is that being on top of the hill, all walks go downhill first and then the inevitable – the walk back is all uphill.  Took a few of these walks with the smallest being 5.5kms and each time, the uphill took a lot longer 😅.

One of the many hiking huts on one of our walks

The days have been very cool with overnights at around 3 degrees so walking has been a real joy.  Nights are spent around the fire pit where the owner puts on a great fire where the conversation becomes more lively once the moonshine comes out.  It amazes us that everyone seems to have that bottle of clear liquid in their alcohol stocks and are really keen for novices like us to share it.

One of the fire pits

The owner puts on the occasional BBQ grill where he cooks outside for the campers – only does this when there are enough numbers, and produces the biggest, fattest  and juiciest piece of meat we have had since leaving home.   This comes with cooked potato and you bring your plates and cutlery, bread, salad etc.  Total cost €5 each and the rustic beer garden is large enough to house a large group.  Had a real hoot on one evening but as the Germans began speaking faster and faster and with different dialects, we lost some of the communication.

So many times in our travels we have come across people who really would love to come to Australia but think it is really dangerous with the number of deadly animals and sea life we have here.  Evidently several documentaries shown overseas portray this.  The tourism bureau really needs to lift its game here as our image to overseas travellers is really scary.

The Navigator relaxing at Hohenblick

A really special peaceful place for those that enjoy a rural, rustic, unique and interesting environment.  All services here including wifi with electricity and water at a small cost and camping with the panoramic views only €7 per night.

Loved the meat so much have organised the butcher for some of the same to take with us.

Well done Hohenblick – your property and staff have been 10 star plus.