Saturday 6th September
The season has definitely changed and we can see the trees taking on their autumn colours as we drive through the countryside. The crops are ripened and farmers are out in the fields reaping their crops and baling up the hay. We have had a wonderful time in the warm climate of Italy and Greece and now we see the change of seasons and feel the crisp air in the mornings which indicates it’s getting close to going home and being with our family again. The next 3 weeks will go fast, filled with visiting family and friends, spending a few days in Amsterdam and then packing up the camper for its winter break from travelling. Yes, we are planning another trip next year, of course there are always new things to see and places to go.
It was late in the day when we finally left the Czech Republic and drove into Germany we drove to a small town not far from the border where we could park next to a swimming centre and as it was heated we decided we needed a refreshing dip and a chance to have a decent shower in their facilities. The pool was relatively quiet, just a few small family groups and a few locals taking in the opportunity of getting some exercise and sun rays. We didn’t stay too long, although the water was heated the air was getting cool and so we had a warm shower, I had the chance of washing my hair and drying it under the hair dryers in the dressing room which was a bonus, then headed back to the camper to cook our dinner and settle in for the night.
We had a quiet night, I know this sounds funny to comment on, but when you are parked in a public place you never know what to expect, we have had cars doing wheel spins, couples getting frisky, youths meeting up for a drinking session, trucks parked near and starting up early, trains and buses roaring by, motorway noises, disco’s and nightclubs, barking dogs, church bells, Mosque calls to prayer, lawn mowers and other power tools, and other campers sitting up late and talking loudly, so we really appreciate a quiet place to sleep. Anyway we headed onto the motorway for a while as we had to find a petrol station and we were fortunate to pull off where there was also a car repair centre as well. We had noticed another of our back tyres loosing air and so Ewout wanted to get it checked out and fixed. So we pulled into the repair centre and they were able to help us, the tyre valve needed replacing and they were able to do it straight away. This cost us 40 Euros which for a Sunday wasn’t too bad, but a lot more than the 9 Euros we paid in Slovenia, oh well it’s to be expected when you leave the eastern European countries. Tyres fixed and tanked we moved on again, driving through a large National Park area, the roads were windy and followed the course of a small river. We drove looking for somewhere to stop for lunch and it took a while until we came upon a small car park next to the river on the outskirts of a village. We pulled in and with a nice view of the river settled in to have our lunch and take some time out from driving. Ewout spent some time on the computer writing up the next blog while I decided to make some onion chutney. You see we bought a jar of it in a Lidl somewhere on our travels and have enjoyed it on our lunchtime rolls, it was now all gone and I said I could make some if we had some time. So that is what I did, cut up the onions and guessing the recipe,( I know it had something to do with onions, sugar and balsamic vinegar, which we had plenty of) I got a pot of it simmering on the stove and it turned out pretty good, even if I do say so myself. (Move over Maggie Beer, lol)
It was getting late in the afternoon by the time we had done this “chore” and set off again to find our next parking stop, another car park/camperstop next to a tourist cave at Saalfeld.
So after a great sleep we packed up and drove up the road to the local McDonalds where we planned to check on the emails, upload the last blog and see if anyone loves us, (haha, this is what we hope anyway). After the ease of access to wifi in other countries we find Germany sometimes the hardest, their hotspots often ask you for a phone number or to be already a customer of one of their carriers. We don’t always keep our phone on and as it’s an international sim card it is not always convenient to go through their process. So to make a long story short, it can be time consuming just registering for the access than it takes to drink their coffee. Still we had the time and they offered 2 hours free wifi and so we spent some time catching up before the flies (yes, nasty annoying sticky flies inside the Macca’s) drove us to abandon our booth and get back on the road.
We were driving through a nice looking town called Arnstadt when we made an impulsive decision to stop, it was lunchtime and so we were looking for a convenient place to park. We easily found a large car park that was 20 c for 2 hours or 1 euro for a whole day we had our lunch and decided to go for a walk. We found our way to the Tourist information centre and picked up a map with information about the most interesting sights and then did a walk around the town. What a nice surprise it was to find it a very pleasant place with some interesting buildings especially the Church where Bach had played the organ for a few years.
When we got back on the road we found ourselves on a motorway, deciding to head back onto the smaller roads we were delighted to pass by the lovely buildings in the villages and also saw The Creuzburg bridge over the river Werra which has seven arches and is the oldest stone bridge of natural stones north of the river Main. It was built by order of Earl Ludwig IV in 1223. Since time immemorial an old military road crossed over the Werra at this place. A bridge at this place enabled the control of traffic and trade as well as a considerable influence on it, since it was the only safe crossing over the river for miles. But especially because of its strategic position, Creuzburg was often under attack and put to ruins. The bridge too was destroyed again during the Second World War. In 1986 a new concrete bridge was built, adapted to the requirements of traffic. The old bridge, and the Liborius chapel are still there to remind the visitor of the architecture of the Middle Ages. We arrived there to find a camera crew filming a couple riding bikes back and forward over the bridge. A tourist ad? Or for bikes? We took some photos and moved on. We found a camperstop nearby where we got to stay overnight on the edge of a small village, it was situated on their festival ground and apart from the locals going about their business we were on our own.
We were headed to a campsite on the river Weser near the town of Hoxter where we hoped to catch up again with our washing and have a break from sightseeing. We found the campsite and were a little disappointed, filled mostly with permanent Caravans set up with their little gardens, there was not a lot of room for fly by nighters like us. Still we had a site next to the river and we were able to watch the canoeists and rubber boaties paddle by. We did some washing and had a quiet afternoon.
We decided to move on to another campsite, moving north and closer to our destination for the weekend at Oelde. The next campsite was again situated next to the river Weser, but was a lovely open area and typical of a Dutch run campsite, neat, clean, good facilities and very quiet. We went for a bike ride in the afternoon to the next large town which was 10 kms away, did a little shopping before having a coffee and riding back. Ewout’s great achievement for the day was to bodge up a holder for our portable wifi antenna, we bought a suction holder for a tablet and with a little cutting and glueing it works well, sticking to the window so that we can get a better direct line to the wifi receiver at the campsite and for future sites.