After our long bike ride to the med, we decided we needed another holiday to recover. Sadly, time was not our friend so our plans of visiting Scandinavia were put back again – and we had to pick a plan B. But even then, plan B was altered at the 11th hour just because we were so busy, and hence this trip was a blag-it-and-see-what-we-see trip that will take us to Prague. Anything else enroute will be a bonus.
The route to Prague can easily go via Dresden, and as we liked our last visit there, we thought we’d include Liepzig and Dresden and hopefully the scaffolding and cranes have gone!
This trip will be the second big trip for the new van, and the first trip taking in new places and going on a bumbling tour across Europe, wildcamping and hiding away, and using aires and campsites where needed. So will be a massive test and no doubt show off the shortcomings.
Crossing from Harwich to Hook of Holland was smooth enough, but too many kids squeeling – so top tip – book massively in advance to get much cheaper prices for overnight crossings and cabin! But we made it, and settled in to a campsite in Amsterdam which, on a Friday/Saturday, meant Amsterdam was a very very busy zoo! Seemed busier than we remember it, but without the party buzz – though we didn’t stay out too late (both still under the weather with coughs 🙁 ) Not a huge amount had changed, same menu at the Ozzie “Coco’s Outback” – so a nice Kangaroo burger for me! Had me up and jumping in no time! But as this trip isn’t about Holland, after a couple of days we escaped to Germany.
Now maybe it’s a sign of age, or just too much travel, but on entering Germany we did a random trail of castles around Muster, just walking around and exploring, and seeing one that was quite awesome (Schloss Nordkirchen). OK, not Angkor Wat scale, but impressive. It was only later at another castle I recognised the photo Mel had taken, in that we’d taken the same picture a fair few years ago! And on reading our blog (aka our diary) realised we did almost the same route of castles on a previous trip (except Schloss Nordkirchen) – though last time they were all closed.
After a night on a stelplatz we cycled into Munster, on very pleasant and easy cycle ways, had lunch and an explore, and cycled back. A very easy 25 mile ride. And now being touring cyclists (ish) are overly impressed by how many cycle ways there are – they are pretty much everywhere, along “most” roads, nicely segregated, and even with better priority at crossings and junctions meaning th journeys are so much easier. OK France is good, but this puts France to shame. And puts UK well into last place.
Continuing East, we dawdled along all the tiny roads, which is very slow going but you see a lot, and found a random motorhome place for overnight. Good enough but not exciting to explore. This did show off a van design flaw in that its designed to fill up from a water tap – not a “hose”. So a lot of the facilities are €1 for “5 minutes” of water, but this doesn’t help us – as we fill up a container, then pour it in – so we’d waste most of the water… Hmmm. Fortunately we found an aire with a free water tap and not a problem in the end, but something we need to be aware of – stay full when we see a tap!
Further East we stopped at Detmold to explore the forest trails in Teutoburg forest, but the town itself wasn’t conducive to parking – so many people and so few spaces! So after a bit of frustration we headed into the forest and found a perfect flat level parking area perfect for wildcamping, including BBQ area and campfire. We went for a run, I say run, but both struggled on the hills – either being unfit or still cough-bound who knows! But we made it, and did a loop round an impressive statue at the summit. Back to the van and had a shower. Yes, we do have a shower in the van J I say in the van, but its portable, so actually was outside, but parked next to a big bank so wasn’t too obvious to everyone else (!).
Dawdling further east we found Bad Karlshafen which is a pretty but small town, and a perfect wildcamping area next to the canal – so we hid there for the night and just enjoyed more cool German beer in town! The town has some history and a superb spa/pool – which had we known we’d have skipped the nature shower and had one there!
We wanted to explore more of the Harz mountains, and so we threaded through the mountains stopping for walks wherever possible, and were heading to Wernigerode where we planned to take a steam train up the mountain that the guidebook recommended. Googling en-rotue though, we thought €27 was stepper than the hill – so opted to detour away! After a few interesting stops and small town tours we went to Thale where we’ve stayed previously. But blimey! Last time we went the place was deserted, and the mountain roller-coaster was just us. OK that was winter, but in August there was a huge amount of people with 50+ queuing – so we just did our own thing and walked around and found somewhere quiet to wildcamp the night. Well worth a stop still, but probably best avoided in August!
Our map showed Quedlinburg which is an old town with 1200 wooden buildings. We had no idea if we’d been there before, but on arrival it was clear we hadn’t. A gem of a town with overnight motorhome parking permitted (paid), and an old area and a huge square further on and maybe easily missed if you didn’t have GPS! But would’ve been a great overnight stop with a bustling square and many restaurants. However, van was low on water and full on waste and we’d run out of clean clothes – so needed a full campsite pitstop and so we headed to Leipzig…
See next part here