Saturday, 24 September 2016

German Fairy-Tale Tour. Saturday 24

Not a great day. We started off in Bayreuth, which was lovely, and wandered down the main shopping drag, only then the Swan Whisperer realised he had mis-set the thingy you put in the windscreen to say what time you arrived so you don't outstay your welcome, which he bought one of the other day.  So he rushed back to the van leaving me to carry the rather heavy grocery shopping - and had we but known, there was a Netto much nearer to where we had parked.

So we set off to Nuremberg, and it would have been lovely. We found somewhere to park near the old town and had lunch and then we were just enjoying a walk in the old town when he suddenly said that we were parked illegally - which we weren't - and that we must leave at once, so we had to cut our visit to the town short, and I had been looking forward to funding an Eiscafé and having a delicious bowlful of something with whipped cream and fruit on the top. Plus I wasn't allowed to change my shoes - and my feet were hot - or spend a penny. I was very unimpressed and said so, in no uncertain terms, and then went to sleep.

We then arrived in Würzburg, which is a really lovely town but, sadly, the aire there was absolutely full, mostly of cars, so there was nowhere to park. But we had seen a place en route and went back to it, in the middle of nowhere but quite nice. Also busy, and rather noisy from a railway line nearby.  Oh well.

Friday, 23 September 2016

German Fairy-Tale Tour, Friday 23

Today started off well with the most beautiful drive between Carlsbad and Marienbad (yes, I know they are called by other names now, but in Germany they are still known by the old names, and nobody minds if one says Vienna instead of Wien, or the Danube instead of the Donau....). It was on a narrow road through pine-forests, occasionally clearing into agricultural land. There's was very little traffic, and we reached Marienbad by about 11:00. We parked just outside the town and walked up a mile or so and had Kaffee und Kuchen in one of the many cafés that line the main street.  I had one of those luscious Czech honey cakes and the Swab Whisperer had an Apfelstrudel, which he said was delicious.

We then walked back to the motor home and decided to call in at the local Tesco to get a sandwich for lunch, but the one thing Czech Tescos don't seem to do is sandwiches. There was, however, a Chinese restaurant in the complex, so we went there. And then headed off towards Bayreuth, where we are spending the night. But we had got about 35 km down the road and were well into Germany when I suddenly realised that there my cardigan wasn't, so we had to drive all the way back. Luckily I had left it in the restaurant, and they had kept it safe for me, but when we came away, we went a different route!

We are parked in a very nice aire, with services - that was another of today's worries, that we had run out of water, and when that happens the pump just runs, and if course the SW worried that it had broken. Which it hadn't at all, and soon stopped running once we had some water.

Then he went out for a walk, and then it was supper time.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

German Fairy-tale Tour, Thursday 22

One does not spend any time in Colditz without visiting the infamous castle, so after breakfast we drove up there and had a good look round. Party of it is a youth hostel, built as a hospital a couple of centuries ago, and part is now a museum. We didn't go in, but had a good look round the outside.

Then we drove to Meißen, what we also had a good look round. Unfortunately, the town was preparing for a wine festival over the weekend, so was not at its best, but it is still very pretty.  We didn't go as far as the eponymous porcelain factory, but still saw a good bit of the town.

And then finally to Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.  I wasn't sure what I'd chosen for us to spend the night in, but it turned out to be a very nice, shaded aire.  Unfortunately, it had no services - and our extra night meant the loo was a bit full!  We have services tomorrow night, but.... So came away and eventually found a camp site just outside the town, where we have been able to empty the loo, and the showers are free and hot! 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

German Fairy-tale Tour, Wednesday 21.

The open-air banquet last night wasn't actually too bad - a rather loud band, but we quite enjoyed it, and it stopped at 10:00, so no problems with sleep.  And it was much warmer this morning than it had been the previous day.

The Swan Whisperer said he wanted to see more of Saxony, so we would go to Weimar, which is in Thuringia. I am not sure if the logic of that..... So anyway, we set off about 10:00 am and arrived at about 12:30.  We found somewhere to park, and went for a walk, seeing the statue of Goethe and Schiller, and various other sights, and bought ourselves a delicious Thuringian sausage in a bun to keep ourselves going until we stopped for lunch just before we got to the motorway.

We asked the Satnav to take us via Chemnitz, as we wanted to see what a town that had been called Karl-Marx-Stadt for 36 years of its life would be like.  Actually, much as you would expect - lots of buildings dating back to the Communist era and a very modern city centre.  And they still had their statue of Marx, which surprised us - Weimar had a place where a statue of someone like Marx or Lenin had been removed.

We couldn't resist spending the night in Colditz - not, alas, the allegedly escape-proof castle, but a car park about half a mile away. It was raining when we arrived, and by the time it stopped, it was too late for me to go for a walk if we wanted to eat, so the SW went by himself.  Hope to see it in the morning.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

German Fairy-Tale Tour, Tuesday 20

Another busy day!  We didn't get up as early as we meant to, but were away by 10:30, to arrive at our first stop, Wittenberg, in time for lunch. The town is really lovely, full of American - pilgrims, I suppose, as it is, of course, Luther's home town. We saw the church door where he may or may not have nailed up his 95 theses, and the Town Church where he was married.  The town is very busy preparing for the 500th anniversary next year, with loads of street art by Käthe Kollwitz, and all sorts of things in preparation.

All the same, the High Street was typical Euro high street, with familiar German and pan-European chains; I wished I could have seen it 25 years ago!

We moved on to our next stop, Leipzig, where we are spending the night. I don't think it will be a very quiet one, though, as the hotel next to the car park has an open air banquet for at least 50 people, if not more, all laid out!  The SW has gone for his usual walk.

Tomorrow we have a change of plan - we were going to go to Meissen and then on to Karlovy Vary, but the SW insists he said he wanted to go to Weimar, so we are going there instead, and then spending the night in Colditz (well, who could resist?) en route to Meissen and Karlovy Vary the following day, which puts us 24 hours late for the rest of the holiday. We had allowed for this (we will drive to Cité Europe directly from our last stop, rather than stopping in Belgium), but it means we won't see as much of our niece as we had hoped, although we will still park near her flat on Sunday night.

Monday, 19 September 2016

German Fairy-Tale Tour, Monday 19

Today was all about Berlin. We got up early and were away shortly after 09:00, walking to the U-Bahn station at Alt Tegel to buy one-day Travelcards.  We took the U-Bahn to Friedreichstraße, and went to see if we could find a river boat, but the company we found offered 1-hour tours for €13.50, and 2.5 hour tours for €16, so we said we would go on the latter, and they said it left at 11:45. It was about 10:00 by then, so we went off down to what had been Tempelhof Airport (just!) last time we visited, but closed very soon thereafter. It had, I believe, been turned into a public park, but the entrance was too far away for us to get there in the time, so we went back a couple of stops to Checkpoint Charlie, which has a lot more museums and a lot less wall than it used to have! 

After which it was back to Friedreichstraße, only to find that the 11:45 wasn't running today.... They couldn't have told us that earlier?  I was not impressed, and certainly not going to pay €13.50 for such a short tour. In hindsight, we'd have done better to go to Alexanderplatz, where there were a choice of tours and tour companies.

However, that was later. For now, we walked up to the Reichstag by way of the Tiergarten, and then to the nearby Hauptbahnhof, where we made use of the facilities and then went to see which of the tour bus companies would give us the best discount. We ended up with one that took us all round the city, with live commentary in English, and then got out at the Brandenburg gate, whence we caught a bus down to Alexanderplatz, which we had not seen properly, and then to Potsdamerplatz, where we had a coffee, and finally to the Anhalter Bahnhof. Whereupon we decided we had had it, and took the S-Bahn and a bus back to the camp site. And then the SW went to do a load of washing and couldn't open the dryer.... And when he could, it wasn't quite dry. He has gone and got us a take-away for our supper, which I am now going to eat.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

German Fairy-tale Tour, Sunday 18

Today was mostly housekeeping - changing sheets and towels - and driving to Berlin. SW went out for a walk when we got here, but I have done absolutely nothing except read, and have enjoyed it very much. Campsite crowded, but we knew it would be. Not at all bad for a capital city one.