Friday, 31 March 2017

Alsace Trip, 31 March

We were up betimes this morning - well, the Swan Whisperer was - we had been told the bread van would arrive about 8:00, which it duly did. After breakfast, we went for a walk into the village which was very pretty,
but sadly one could not do a round trip, but had to walk back the way we came. Then we said goodbye to our hosts - we will certainly go back there - and set off to drive round a few more very pretty little villages until we reached the banks of the Rhine, where we had lunch. I drove for about 10km, gradually gaining confidence, but I do find it heavy to drive.
After lunch we came down the motorway to Strasbourg, where we had hoped to spend two nights, but the aire there was closed, although the services were open.  So we crossed the river to Kehl, a suburb of Strasbourg that is actually in Germany (how are we going to manage after Brexit if we need visas for every separate country?), and found a very nice aire here with services.
The Swan Whisperer went for a walk and when he came back we had a cup of tea and then walked into the town to find somewhere to have a celebration meal, as it is our wedding anniversary.  We found a nice resto that did us very well indeed, and are about to wander back to the motor home. All the signs here are in two languages, and we hear more French than German spoken!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Alsace Trip, 30 March

We had obviously travelled far enough east for the time zone to behave itself, as when the alarm went off at 07:30, it was light, which it totally hadn't been in Calais yesterday.  The Swan Whisperer went for a run and came back via the bakery, armed with croissants and a baguette.  We then discovered the services were out of use, unfortunately​ after we had put in €2, rather than before.
So we programmed the Satnav to take us to the services in Reims, on the grounds that they would be more likely to be working than the ones in the next village. And, indeed, they were. We had a bit of trouble finding them, as they had barred of the end of the obvious road to go down, but a very kind man redirected us.  When we got there, they were behind a barrier, but there was a telephone number to ring, which i did, and the person on the other end gave me the barrier code (in English - I think he was American}, and they were working perfectly plus there was rubbish and recycling.  So we made the van comfortable and then set off.
I had thought we might like to have lunch in Nancy, but it became rather obvious that we were not going to arrive there until nearly 14:00, by which time lunch would have been over, so we stopped in a small town called Void-Vacon and found a place recommended by Google. I had a steak with "pommes aux robes de champs" (boiled or steamed potatoes served in their skins) which came with sour cream, and a bit of lettuce, and the Swan Whisperer had a "Salade Vosgienne", which had ham and potatoes as well as the usual salad stuff.  Then he had a custard tart and I had an apple one, and we both had coffee.  I also had a beer (of course!).  It was good value for money, but not outstandingly good, we thought.
We then set off again and, after stopping in the outskirts of Navy to get diesel and a spot of shopping, really had a lovely drive across country, through tiny little villages, past fields and woodlands. I even saw two storks in a field!  Eventually we arrived here, in the village of Obersteinbach, which sounds as if it ought to be in Austria, and is very near the German border, but still in France. It is one of the farms in the France Passion network, where you can park up for the night and they offer you a chance to buy their products, in this case mostly goat cheese. I bought plain, black pepper and sesame, and I regret to say we sat down and tasted them on a Hob Nob with a cup of tea, in a greedy sort of way!
Then we went over to the milking-parlour to watch the goats being milked, which was fun and enough different from the cows milking we know about to be really interesting.
And now the Swan Whisperer has gone for a walk, and I am relaxing before supper, which will be eggs and bacon as we had a full meal at lunch, and will doubtless eat out tomorrow as it is our wedding anniversary.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Alsace Trip, 29 March

I fell asleep on the crossing last night, but woke up when we drove over the junction between the carriages on our way off the train. The back of the van is not sprung!  We parked up in Cité Europe as usual - huge numbers of motor homes in the parking; last time it was just us.
I didn't sleep terribly well, but we got up at about 08:30 French time (do bear in mind that last week it would have been 06:30 UK time!), although we didn't get away until 11:00, what with doing a bit of shopping, etc.  We decided not to pay motorway tolls, so the Satnav took us via Lille and Valenciennes, almost to Belgium (there was one place, only a few yards, where we couldn't have been nearer!).
We had a couple of stops, including a relatively long lunch break, and arrived in this little town at about 5:00. It was just as well we were not later, as there is only room for five vans, and there were already two, obviously friends. So we parked up and went for a leg-stretch round what is a not very pretty little town, but full of champagne houses!

  When we got back to the van, the other three motor homes in the party has arrived and were a bit anxious.... we did offer to move over, but they squooshed themselves up and have fitted in somehow!