(2) TRIP REPORT
|Thursday 3rd June.
Rained all night. So hard
that it woke us a couple of times. Still raining when we
got up and we were a little concerned that the M.Van
might have sunk into the saturated grass but luckily it
was ok. It took us an hour to clear Prague taking a route
straight through the city centre heading for the ringroad
on the other side of the city. At last we met up with the
E55 motorway which took us towards Germany. Our route
over the border from the Czech Republic took us through
an interesting border town. We saw lots of
night clubs advertising girls and then several girls of
the day making very obvious pickups in
lay-byes. By the time we reached Dresden the rain had
stopped and the grey clouds, reluctantly, were clearing
to let the sun through. We had originally planned to stop
there for a few days but had decided to give it a miss as
we had had enough of city sightseeing for the moment so
we were going straight on to Colditz and we were also
missing out another planned stop in Berlin. We will go
there on another trip.
In Colditz we had trouble finding
the campsite for a while as it was crossed out on the
signposts. This because the road between the town and the
campsite went across a little bridge which was being
rebuilt. Had to back track for several miles and follow
signs through narrow roads and several pretty villages
for about 5 miles before we eventually came to the site.
It was only 100 yards from the bridge which we
couldnt cross !
My birthday and for once it wasnt raining when we woke up. Rode into Colditz (the long way round !) on the scooter. We had a look round the outside of the castle first the outer courtyard (German guard area) and the more famous inner courtyard where the prisoners were confined. Then had an excellent guided tour of the castle. Just 4 of us in the tour group, the other two being Dutch, and our German guide gave the tour in very good English. She told us about the various escape routes and attempts as we went round and showed us a French tunnel which went down under the wooden floor of the chapel. She also explained that since the war, while East Germany was under Communist rule, a lot of evidence of the prisoner of war camp was wilfully destroyed. This is the most famous prisoner camp of the war and the story of Colditz is known all over the world - except in Germany. Only since the overthrow of Communism have the Germans realised the significance of this site. The castle is now being renovated and will surely become a major tourist attraction. Pity they have painted the walls of the inner courtyard white should have been left as a dark and dismal grey. The castle was used after the war first of all to imprison the rich and the aristocracy and then as a mental hospital. Altogether a really interesting visit. We discovered that our campsite is in the middle of the forest through which several of the prisoners tried to escape.
Back down in the town square we shared an ice-cream extravaganza too big for one - then returned to the campsite. No outside meal rained for the rest of the afternoon and all through the night again !
Still raining when we got up. I was late as unable to get to sleep night before because of the noise of rain on the M.Van roof. Getting really depressing being so constantly wet. Thankfully the M.van came off wet grass without a quibble. Had great difficulty getting out of Colditz ! Major road works kept diverting us in entirely the wrong direction, sometimes taking us back on ourselves. Most frustrating but after an hour we did manage to leave Colditz behind and get on our way. Had intended to stop at one or other of the towns on the way but took so long to get on the route proper and weather quite foul wet and cold so decided not to bother and instead went straight to our campsite, at the top end of a lake, and pitched up for the night. Had drinks in our M.van at night with an English, now living in Australia, who seem to hve travelled just about everywhere including back-packing round South America. Every place we mentioned they had been there ! And we thought we were well travelled !
What a difference the sun makes. When we went to bed we were unsure as to whether to pick up our original plan and head north up the Veser River, Grimms Fairy Tale route or just head straight west and home. Had decided to wait for the morning to make up our minds after we had checked the weather. Cloudy when we got up (no rain !) but bits of blue sky (enough to make a pair of sailors trousers) and by lunchtime we had Sunshine. Went for a walk round the lake where a curious cable contraption towed water skiers around. Those who managed to stay on the skis that is. Those, most, who fell in had to swim back across the lake. After our walk we actually sunbathed. Not a cloud in the blue sky. Really enjoyed this campsite.
Another glorious day and the first time we had had more than 1½ consecutive good days since we started this trip. Seem to have jumped overnight from cool spring to hot (30°) mid-summer. Fantastic. Our route for the next couple of days was along the valley of the lovely tranquil River Weser. First stopped at Hann Mueden. This is a beautiful little town on the river and all, or nearly all, the buildings are half-timbered and wonderfully restored. We voted this one of the prettiest towns we have seen. Continued north and with difficulty and an unnecessarily long route (missed a turn as no sign-post) found the little hamlet of Sababerg and the Thorny Rose (Dornrosenschloss) castle home of the Sleeping Beauty legend. The Weser valley is supposedly where the Grimms brothers based their fairy tales. Not much to see at all but we were following a suggested route from a write-up in MMM. Next stop, Oberweser, again lots of timbered buildings but this time with a lot of new ones mixed in and did not compare with Hann Munden.
Last stop en route was Bad Karlshafen. Not half-timbered but pure white baroque with a big pond in the middle relic of an aborted attempt to link the Weser with the Rhone via a canal, in the 17th century. An attractive town where we had a drink (iced coffee again- yum) before moving on to our final stop for the day a freebie Motorhome site by the river in Hoxter. We walked into the town over the bridge and had a look round before dinner. Some pretty buildings, especially the town hall, but also lots and lots of modern buildings and shops not particularly sympathetically mixed in with the old. Had a quiet evening sitting by the river and we were late to bed as we were both reaching the end of good books.
Decided not to stop off to see Hamlin and all its rats as planned but to set off straight away for our next scheduled stop Munster. We stopped in a lay-by just outside Hamlin and had breakfast, washed etc. Here we were entertained by more strange goings on. A small Motorhome appeared with male driver and female passenger plus Dalmatian. This was followed by a car with a woman driver. The man in the M.van disappeared for a while then came back and loaded lots of things into the car. Another car with two girls and a second Dalmatian then appeared and everyone switched vehicles. Both cars drove away leaving the M.Van with one of the women and a Dalmatian dog. All most odd indeed. They didnt look to be German so presume some immigrant business was being conducted - stolen goods, illegal immigrants or roadside prostitutes ? We will never know.
Drove straight from there to Munster along pleasant green field route. Quite flat like Holland. We only stopped once, to stock up on wine for home. Bob can fit 20 bottles under his driving seat which is very handy. We wish though that they took credit cards in German supermarkets as such a nuisance to have to continually check that we have enough Euros to pay for everything we buy. Still it reduces possibility of credit card fraud the less we use them I suppose. Arrived at the campsite in Munster then scoootered into the city centre. This was virtually destroyed by Allied bombings in WW1 but has been very well rebuilt with many buildings in the same style we saw in Bruges. Very tall with high pointy false facades. Its also full of bicycles. There are no pedestrian areas just bike areas instead and pedestrians have to jump out of the way. We found the impressive cathedral square and inspected the astronomical clock inside. Fascinating but we couldnt really understand how to read it. After a walk round the town and a drive we returned to the campsite for another lovely evening. Ate outside again and then stayed outside just enjoying the warmth. Did not enjoy the mossie bites we found next morning !
Now had 3 glorious days in a row. The sort of weather we had expected after last year's lovely weather but have not really seen this time. Holland tomorrow - must buy one last bunch of lovely fresh white Spargel (asparagus).
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