Austria to Home

For trip index click HERE – for all photos of trip see HERE

Austria isn’t really on the agenda for this trip, so we really just used it as a cut through. We stopped at Graz for a quick lunch and explore then headed back towards Germany via the mountainous route which became the Alpes. Running short on undies, a campsite stop was needed to brim the tanks and wash the clothes, and the site we chose was pretty decent and pretty. Sadly though the morning was cloudy and wet with mist over the mountains.

We planned to go to Burtchesgarden and see the Eagles Nest – something we tried to do on a previous trip but it was winter, snowy, and closed. However, this time the weather was cloudy and wet, but we thought it’d be OK. So we parked up, saw the coach-loads arriving and thought it must be fine. We had planned to walk up, but bit wet, so we paid for the bus – €16 each. 20 minutes later, we were at the top and what a f***g waste of money. They said “allow 2 hours” – but we, and others came back down on the next bus. Total white-out due to the clouds and you could see nothing. So we feel badly ripped off…. However, we did get to the top, spent 5 minutes walking around, and saw what we could. But top tip – only go on a cloudless day.

The documentation museum at carpark level however is worth a look as it explains the history of the area and when Hitler took it over for Nazis – and built the bunkers etc. Sobering, but worth seeing the history of how it all happened.

So feeling conned, we left and threaded through some more mountain roads and ended up at an Aire (Stelplartz) in Altotting for the night which is a town worthy of a minor detour, but not earth shattering. Clearly the town has some religious history as busloads of people were exploring it, and most shops around the square were selling religious tat.

Heading homeward our book mentioned the Romantic Road, so thought we’d find it and follow it as it was roughly in the direction we were heading. Donaworth was hit for lunch, and that is worth a lunch stop and explore – very pretty and some nice sites. Then up to Harburg where there is a mighty and impressive castle. We were tempted to pay to get in and explore, but in truth, it was a castle too many. So a quick walk and drive off for our final stop of the day in Nordingen.

Nordingen has a large stelplatz, perfectly placed just outside the town. It’s a huge medieval town but strangely built on a meteor crater!  The city walls are still intact, with the high walkway, and you can really imagine days of old with guards and bows/arrows walking the perimeter. Most definitely worth a stop, and explore, and of course plenty of eateries and beer gardens to enjoy!

Continuing up the romantic road, there were a fair few places little towns to visit but in truth, a bit same-same and only so many you can take! But Rothenburg is a must see stop – both the old town and the scenery and views from the park are stunning. Very touristy, lots of coach-loads, visiting, but an absolute gem. We may have been tempted to stop had we been there later in the day, but visiting for a fair few hours is worth it. Their traditional treat is a pastry/biscuit type “snowball” – nice and tasty but a bit strange. Very much a picture-postcard town.

Some more same-same towns and we eventually ended up in Tauberrettershem which is pretty enough, has free motorhome parking, but not as special as Rothenburg. That said, nice enough and a lovely restaurant for our last German meal. Not quite Czech prices sadly, but decent beer and authentic food in an authentic eatery can’t be bad!

Heading homeward on the country lanes can be tough going, especially when the weather is pants – but the weather improved and just checking google on whats near we found the Speyer Technical museum so stopped there for lunch and to look around. At €16 each it’s a bit steep, but what a place! Its not like any other museum really, it doesn’t really have all showroom pieces, but it is an eclectic array of boys toys – jets, planes, fire-engines, trains, engines, boats, submarines, farm bits, and a huge array of space related material including a soviet space shuttle and “real” models of the lunar landers. Really a very impressive collection and the fact they aren’t pristine or the museum focused on one topic meant it was very interesting all round.

Lots of the exhibit, like the sub, helicopter, boats and planes can be walked around – and some of the planes are mounted on pillars and quite high. The 747 was quite a walk up, and they then have a tube for you to slide down to the bottom – albeit with screams (if you are Mel!)

Well worth the money really.

But then the rain came and the forecast is solid rain for the next few days, so pretty grim outlook for the final drive home. Entering France over a country hill road, we found and had to stay in a place called Bitche…. And it was a bit of one, too wet to venture into the village for a beer so had to raid our stocks!

After Bitche, a half days drive to Givet, little French town on a little blib into Belgium. So a final meal out and camped on the river overlooking the fort. Quite a nice little stop.

And then, finally, to Wissent on the north France coast, and an aire tucked away there 15 mins away from the channel tunnel. Nice enough, and a pleasant little village, and a lovely bit of beach to walk around. Surprising to know its so close to the ports. Clearly well known as the Aire was packed, but would’ve been quiet except for a massive thunderstorm and torrential rain from 2am onwards! So a tired early start to the tunnel terminal and home….

Around 2,500 miles door to door, a month away and not many campsites and the van did pretty well – totally usable and comfortable! Weather could’ve been better. Exchange rate could’ve been much better! But we went through Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, then Germany and cutting through Luxemburg and Belgium to France. Interesting!

Next! ?!

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