The start of week 8 sees us setting a new record for us in our longest trip away – 50 days, and all of them away from campsites and electrical hookup – the van has done very well indeed. Sadly though week 8 started with rain which curbed our plans to cycle into Lubeck, but on driving in we found a special motorhome parking area right outside the old town – perfect. You can even overnight there if you need.
Lubeck is added to our list of must-visit cities in Germany, the old town surrounded by its rivers and canals has a huge amount of character and a few “wow” sites. It is fair to say the post WW2 construction has mixed in some naff buildings, but the town hall and a few of the churches still give good views. Off the main streets there are plenty of unique shops and buildings worth exploring. Reluctantly we decided to leave Lubeck and chance a random spot nearer to Wolfsburg for the following days activities.
As a random pin-on-map target we routed TomTom to Bad Bodenteich via empty backroads, and found dedicated motorhome parking with free electric and water, and the Blues bar had free wifi – rare in Germany. The town itself is tiny but has multiple eateries, we gambled on a Chinese restaurant that did all sorts – and I had a German mixed meat grill dish, and Mel an Italian veggie Cannelloni, along with beers it was a bargain – Mels meal was €5.50 and she couldn’t even finish it. Very much worthy of an overnight stop if you are in the area.
It appears we’ve driven south enough to get the better weather, so we had a good run along the canal before heading down further to Wolfsburg to the VW factory for their Autostadt experience . This took up pretty much the entire day, and I had a play in one of the Torrino (?) 4×4 cars that was far too clever for its own good and managed most of the obstacles by itself. Most impressive is the camera screen which showed obstacles you can’t see, and also an “overhead” view of the car so you can see what is around you. Very clever. Some of the areas were just a marketers dream bombarding you with adverts, but the factory tour was interesting. There is an aire there but we couldn’t find the water or waste and as we needed to empty waste we headed back to Celle where we knew there were facilities as well as good bars for a beer! Along the way, the B138 (which should have been renumbered to BJ-4-1) were around 20 campervans all “end on” on every opening possible. Some with red lights, and all with big-breasted women sitting in the front.
So either this is a popular wild-camping area for big-breasted women who like showing them off, or a potential money maker should we ever become unstuck. No idea if they were independents or there was a Pimp master who had a big RV! We simply continued to Celle for our dinner and some refreshing German beer.
The excellent weather continued as we made a long drive to Munster which we’ve bypassed previously but never entered. The town had a few interesting buildings but as usual most have been rebuilt post WW2, but overall the town had a Cambridge-esque feel with the look of some of the buildings and the mass of students and cycles. At least we were able to enjoy reasonably priced ice-creams with generous scoops! (Denmark has a lot to learn about icecreams!)
For the night we tested a few small towns, some were a bit dull, but we stopped in Billerbeck where they had a lovely area for motorhomes with facilities and the town itself was quiet but busy enough for a few bars and restaurants.
Needing to make headway we headed to Xanten via the large camping accessory place in Winterswijk, convenient as Mel broke the bathroom window in the morning and they had stock of spares! Xanten was actually quite an impressive little town in itself and had a good vibe around the square. The main attraction is some Roman ruins of an Amphitheatre etc, which was quite pricey to see and in reality not as good as Rome, Pompeii, Nimes, Herculaneum, so if you’ve been to those don’t worry. That said, Xanten is worth a look around and they had some good icecreams!
After a noisy night in a bad-choice “aire”, we headed to Waterloo in Belgium. In truth, the area surrounding the battlefield and the Lion monument is a bit dilapidated and the wax museum smelt of mould and was tatty. Beyond that though if you are passing it is worth a look, the couple of films were interesting and taught us a few facts of the Battle of Waterloo. After seeing the films, reading the paperwork, hearing all about it at the wax museum you tend to get the same story 6 times. Legging it we headed to Veurne in Belgium where we’ve stayed before next to the canal for our last meal and Belgium beer of this epic trip. Due to a sudden downpour of rain and a mad dash into the nearest eatery, this turned out to be an omelette and sausage salad… After a few beer we returned to the van ready to run to the Ferry in the morning (via a Carrefour beer & diesel stop) calling a close to our longest and wildest trip….
Most definitely – to be continued next trip…