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2019 - Germany - October - cont:
After a two night stay in Tennsee we turned back towards Aulendorf. We had to get the rental van back by 10:00 on Friday morning and so we needed to be close by on our last evening stop. We checked the Bord Atlas (guide to Stellplatz in Europe) and found a suitable location at Bad Wurzach just 30 minutes east of Aulendorf. The stellplatz was just on the edge of town and it was an easy walk into town to shops and to pay for the overnight stop at the Vitalium, which is a health spa and medical centre.
The formidable lady in the Vitalium reception was very specific as to where you could park and where you could not. The stellplatz fee was reasonable and gave you access to the Vitalium facilities should you wish to use the spa, etc. We had found that we did not sleep well at all in the transverse bed. It just seemed odd so we decided, today, to turn around 90 degrees and sleep lengthwise i.e. across the bed. Although our lower legs and feet were dangling over the edge we both had a sound nights sleep. Problem solved !
Bad Wurzach seemed to be a pleasant location and worth remembering for any future Carthago factory visit. We returned to Aulendorf in good time and were pleased to learn that our Carthago motorhome was ready for us and that all the work had been carried out successfully, at no charge to us. The cause of the problem was analysed as water ingress. The motorhome has a 10 year water ingress warranty. The rest of the day was spent looking at a variety of Malibu vans in the showroom to answer the various questions in our heads that had arisen during the rental period.
We had been so impressed with the quality and characteristics of the van that we decided to seek a further quote from a UK dealer. We were offered a much improved quotation for part exchange which nudged us towards committing to trading in our lovely Carthago motorhome and purchasing a new Malibu Van. Much food for thought! Our journey was now due north as we were going to visit some friends in Germany that we have known for many years, Rolf and Marita Jungbluth. They live in Borken just south west of Kassel. It was too far to drive there in one day and so we chose to stop at Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber. Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber is a spectacular medieval town. We have visited several times. There is a stellplatz right outside the city walls. You pay for your overnight stay at a machine, which has a touch screen. My old fingers were too cold and dry to make the touch screen work and by the time it recognised that I had touched a button the transaction had timed out and gone back to the start screen - arrrrgh! After a while a young German boy of about six or seven came up to me and asked if I wanted some help - in perfect English!! He whizzed through the transaction and told me to insert my credit card. Job done! He walked away with a cheery wave and looking very pleased with himself - bless him.
(left) the classic photo of Rothenbourg-ob-der-Tauber. You can see several more from our previous visits.
One of the big attractions in Rothenbourg odT is the Kathe Wohlfahrt shop. It is the most amazing Christmas shop!! It is only a small shopfront but it is huge inside, on multiple levels and packed with every type of Christmas decoration you can imagine. But, my goodness, it is expensive and we felt that the prices were aimed at the Japanese and Chinese tourists. We thought we would just look but not buy. Guess what? we spent about £50.00 on just a few items that we could not resist!
North again to Borken where we were invited to park in Rolf and Maritas driveway for two nights. It was a bit of a wriggle but all was fine and we were parked up next to Rolf and Maritas equally large Carthago.
Click to enlarge
Apparently, the town was founded by St. Boniface in 724AD.He had cut down a very large oak tree and used the timber to build a small church. Some of the same timbers have since been used in the construction of other buildings in the town. The present church was built of stone in the 12th century. Beside the church was an unusual sculpture. A very large table and chairs. Rolf and George examine it and agreed that if they were younger they would have climbed up into the chairs!
Rolf and Marita were wonderful hosts and provided us with breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. They had moved, north, to Borken from Landsberg-am-Lech in Bavaria to be nearer their daughter. The sale of their grand appartment in Landsberg had allowed them to buy a beautiful, large house in Borken with a very large rear garden. Marita is a keen gardener and grows her own vegetables and fruit whilst Rolf has some very large sheds, garage and workshop to tinker in. We took a day out to the nearest large town, Fritzlar. Another German, medieval town with some quaint, wonky, old buildings --- and quaint, wonky old men !
All too soon, it was time to leave. Rolf and Marita had looked after us really well and made us feel so welcome. Unfortunately, both of them were due to have significant hospital treatment later in the year and we gave them our best wishes for a speedy recovery. We hope to see them again sometime in 2020 either in Germany or UK. From Borken we drove due west towards Calais. It was a heavy traffic day and progress was slow. We stopped overnight on a stellplatz in Alpen, which is just on the west side of the river Rhine and close to the Dutch border.
The photo (right) is taken from the Internet, in summer. When we visited there was only one other motorhome on the stellplatz. It is a convenient, quiet location next to the local tennis club. A few hundred metres along the road is a good sized supermarket where you can buy your groceries and fresh rolls in the morning. Handy to use when you are outbound.
The next day we entered Holland and then Belgium on our way to Calais. The traffic was bad again and there were long stretches of motorway where vehicles over 3.5t were not permitted to overtake. There were also several stretches of motorway roadworks where the speed limit was 90 kph but 70 kph for over 3.5t. Really frustrating and lent more influence to the argument to downsize!
All would have been acceptable until we reached the very centre of Antwerp. Everywhere you turned the road was closed or only one way because the city centre roads were undergoing reconstruction. Bridges had disappeared from where the SatNav expected them to be - it was a nightmare! We were taken down dead end roads around the dockland area and had to make multi point turnarounds. In exasperation George ignored all further navigation instructions and followed his instincts.
The worst part of the journey was around Antwerp. The Ring Road was blocked by an incident and there were 45 minute delays. The SatNav is set to automatically find another route if the delay is longer than 20 minutes. So, rather than the ring road we were guided through the middle of Antwerp. The old concrete slab rods were in atrocious condition and we crashed and banged our way through busy urban streets, with Desnée complaining that our drinking water was spilling over the tops of the glasses.
We found our way out of the city and were heading west. All was well. We had lost at least an hour or more. We would have been better off sitting in the original traffic jam for 40 minutes!! It was still heavy traffic all the way to Calais - not a good day! Chilled out a bit on the ferry and then battled the M20 and M25 rush hour traffic on our way home! Happy touring ! This was the last major trip for 2019 and we look forward to travelling again in 2020.