Friday, 7 October 2016

T4rdis2 Tour 2 - Day 95 - 99 Germany

Day 95
Monday 3rd October 2016 - Cloudy and cool but with occasional sunny periods.

I'm sure that you've heard how people go to Scotland to ''bag''  Munro's, well just lately, it seems we're in Germany to ''bag''  Lakes - we've cycled around 3 in the last week, but I think we saved the best till last. Today found us parked high up on a Stellplatze above Lake Eder, and this really turned out to be an idyllic place for us.

As usual, our plan was to ride right around the lake, but this one proved to be much more interesting and beautiful, because for nearly all the way we were right on the edge of the water with fantastic views.  It also has the claim to fame of being the third largest resevoir in Germany with a capacity of 199,300,000 cubic metres, but as with the other reservoirs we've visited recently, this was massively reduced at the moment.  Therefore, the part of our mission to find the remnants of 3 villages and a bridge that were submerged when the lake was filled back in 1914, was likely to be easier due to the low water.

As we rode we spotted 2 of the villages - Brighousen and Berich - along with memorial stones and information boards (in German) that marked their places.  At each one of them there were loads of people exploring the shore line - maybe some of them were decedents and were there to visit their ancestor's memories.

How the village used to be

Much later  we also found the old bridge that crossed the original river bed, and again it was very popular with visitors, however this site looked as if it had been above the water level for a long time because there were benches near the water line and signposts indicating that you could cross the bridge to shorten the circumnavigation of the Lake - we were tempted but we still had plenty of time so we went the long way round!

But even by doing that we still didn't find the last village - Asel - or any marker to say where it had been - maybe it's still lost to the depths and remains submerged.

However, we couldn't have missed the Eder Dam, that today generates hydro-electric power and regulates water levels for shipping on the nearby Weser River.  It was built near the town of Waldeck between 1908 and 1914, and like the dam on Lake Mohne, it was breached during World War II by bouncing bombs dropped by British Lancaster bombers from 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force in an operation called Chastise.  It happened on the morning of 17th May 1943 and resulted in a huge cavity in the wall that emptied massive amounts of water into the valley below, producing a flood depth of 20 - 26 feet for a distance of up to 19 miles.  This caused widespread destruction of property and crops, and also claimed the lives of 70 people, but again, the damage was repaired within a matter of months.

Altogether, we were out riding for about 7 hours, but with our very frequent stops and breaks we were only actually in the saddle for about four and a half of those.  However, with the regular ups and downs of the track, and thinking of the exercise element of our ride, I think we should have been in 'fat burning mode' for much of that time.  Only problem is, my fat isn't listening and is stubbornly staying put - oh well, it's getting colder now so maybe I'll be glad of an extra layer to keep me warm!

Finally, our day was finished off with a well deserved and very nice Dark Dunkel Beer at the pub that sits right at the top of our Stellplatze.  We had fantastic views over the lake and tree clad hills, and more distantly, we could see the sun shining on the walls of Waldeck Castle - a building that used to be a fortress but is now a hotel.  As we sat and sipped we discussed 'should we stay another day', but in the end we decided we'd probably seen the best the lake had to offer, so tomorrow we'll start our long trek to our next destination which will be The German Wine Route - Deutsche Weinstrasse.  

Day 96
Tuesday 4th October 2016 - Cloudy and cool but Mr Sun kept popping out now and then to say 'hello'

Mostly a driving day today - as I said we are heading for the German Wine Route which starts in Bockenheim and ends at Schweigan, and passes through the endless vineyards that cover the slopes of Pfalzer Wald.  But it was too far to travel all in one day (about 430 kms in total) so we did about half of the distance and broke our journey to over-night on a Stellplatze on the River Main in the town of Marktheidenfeld.  When we arrived we found a circus had also rocked up on the car park in front of the Stellplatze so we did dither about weather to stay or not, but as it was only just setting up, and as there were plenty of other vans there already we decided it would do.

Do you think he think's he's still driving

So once we'd had our regulation cuppa, we went for a little stroll around to see where we had landed - and quite impressed we were too.  The town itself was quite pretty with lots of cobbled streets and half timbered houses, and there was a lovely promenade beside the river that provided about 150 kms of cycle track which extended all the way to Frankfurt in one direction, and I'm not sure where in the other.  We did debate if we should stay and enjoy some of it, but in the end we decided we wanted to get to the wine region while the grape harvest was still in progress so we will be moving on again in the morning.

Day 97
Wednesday 5th October 2016 - Very cold to start (only 10 degrees in the van), but the sun eventually got his had on and warmed us up nicely!

This morning the alarm clock went off as usual at 8am, but it was freezing so it was a very quick nip out of bed to put the heating on, and then we snuggled back down while it warmed up (but not me - I keep telling John I don't know how to do it)!  Then, after a quick breakfast we dashed to a very conveniently situated Lidl to stock up on essentials (and a few treats), before setting off to complete our journey to the wine region.  I'm writing this as we're bombing down the motor-way and we still have about 200 more kilometres to go to our destination which will be a Stellplatze about half way along the route at St Martin - a village that we've heard is quite enchanting, and one that will allow us to cycle in both directions to see most of the main sites.  So hopefully after such a long drive to get there, we will be staying put for a few days to enjoy the region and to celebrate my birthday tomorrow.

3 Hours later .....

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!  When we arrived at St Martin we did find an enchanting little town, and an even more enchanting little Stellplatze - that seemed incredibly busy - and when we went to pay we were told we couldn't stay because they were fully booked.  Never mind we thought - there's another parking area down the road.  And guess what? That was full too!  Altogether we visited about 4 parking areas but there was absolutely 'no room at the Inn' , so we had to initiate plan B - which at that time didn't exist.  Anyway, to cut a long story short, we ended up on a huge, but much nicer Stellplatze Bad Durkheim - a place that is famous for, of all things, sausages, which they celebrate with a  huge Sausage festival every September.  The town itself is located right at the top end of the wine route, so maybe it wouldn't have been our first choice, but we have near views of fields full of vines, and St Martin is still within cycling distance so this will be home for the next few days.

Day 98
Thursday 6th October 2016 - A bit overcast and quite cool

Today is my Birthday - (21 and a big bit) - so happy birthday to me

And  this day 2 years ago was were our story of living our nomadic lifestyle really started.  At that time we had an old 4 berth Luner Champ (which we fondly called Champy), and  had just spent the previous month touring the west coast of Scotland and a lot of the Isles.  We'd had a fantastic time and I can remember feeling quite jealous of John, because he was already retired but I had to return to my full time job - possibly I thought, for another couple of years to build up our retirement fund.   However, I had only been back at work for 3 nights when I fell and broke my left wrist resulting in a 6 week period of 'sickness' - and of course, we had to find something to do.  Well,  that wasn't difficult, we packed up Champy again and toddled off to spend the time touring England's east coast, but on the way we just happened to nip into the NEC exhibition centre while they were having their Caravan and Motorhome show.   And as they say 'The rest is history' - but it did all take slight longer than we first anticipated.   While we were at the NEC we ordered our second van - The T4rdis' - and when we got home a month later we put our Bungalow on the market. We'd decided that, as long as we were reasonably careful, we could live off our 2 small pensions, and that there was really no need for me to carry on working.  We eventually sold the house in July last year, and to coincide with that, I retired from my 40 odd year career in nursing.  Finally, we moved out of our Bungalow on 5th September 2015 and took up full time motorhome residence.   However, our second van - The T4rdis - proved to be a little snug for full-time living, so last May we traded it in and we now reside quite happily in the slight larger T4rdis2.

That's a grape harvesting machine!  John did suggest I
ride under it but I didn't think that was a
 good idea!
Anyway, I think I've digressed a bit, so I'll stop rattling and get back to today's story - guess what we did as my birthday treat .......We went cycling back to the village of St Martin.  And I know that wouldn't be every-bodies cup of tea, but we mostly had a lovely time although we did need to wrap up warm because it was  c  co  col - blood freezing!  We left T4rdis2 and had the pleasure of cycling through huge vineyards and several little villages where we found cobbled streets, half timbered buildings and brightly coloured flowers and vines festooning our way.  However, at one stage I did wonder why we kept wobbling - I couldn't decide if it was the rough cobbles or intoxication from the smell of fermenting wine that kept wafting from the court yards of the many wine produces that we passed.

After about 30kms we arrived in St. Martin where we explored it's quaint streets and admired it's huge number of wineries, but sadly, we couldn't find any shops that were open to buy just a little 'drop'.  There were loads of places were you could go in for a 'Tasting', and buy in bulk but single bottles were less available and we thought it might be difficult to balance all the way home carrying several 'pounds' of wine!

Anyway, our lack of purchase didn't matter because we'd already got a nice bottle of 'red' for our celebratory meal later, and we're going to explore the town of Bad Durkheim tomorrow so I'm sure that will provide the retail opportunities we're looking for.  So without to much delay, we turned our bikes around and made our way home - for a lovingly cooked and very tasty 3 course dinner.

Day 99
Friday 7th October 2016 - Mostly cloudy but with occasional glimmers of sun and only half a dozen spots of rain!

After our mammoth 60 kms ride yesterday we had decided to be slightly less energetic today, and have a sedate walk around Bad Durkheim.  Apparently, around the town there are 848 hectares of vineyards and 115 wineries that are said to produce 1st class beverages, but I think, even if they all contributed everything they produced they wouldn't be able to fill the barrel on the right.  It's the world's largest wooden barrel with a capacity of 1,700,000 litres and was built in 1934 by the master cooper Fritz Keller.  However, it's never been filled with wine - it's function is as a restaurant, but you can take a tour! (only in German)

The next thing to catch our eye was the Gradierbau - a 333 metre long salt evaporation structure that earns the town it's title of Bad or Spa.  Salt water is trickled over blackthorn twigs and  then nebulised  to produce 'a healthy marine atmosphere inland' - a process that can have many health benefits!

Our stroll then took us to the  Wurstmarkt Fountain - designed by Walter Graser in 1986 it depicts the past and present of the world's largest wine festival - the Durkheimer Wurstmarkt, which sadly we'd missed in September.  However, we found the fountain quite funny - look carefully and you can see 2 dogs having a tug of war!

Now you would have thought, with the towns history in relation to sausages, we'd have been able to buy some quite easily, but no - so no bangers and mash for tea tonight!  But we did manage to make our other little purchase, which are now safely stowed until we fancy a drop - it won't last long!

To finish our day we went for another walk amongst the vines, some of which have been harvested, but some of which are still laden with fruit, and even though I do say so myself, we've got quite good at identifying the different types of vines and the grapes they produce.  We also enjoyed picking a few and having a little taste - it's to be hopped we both haven't got belly ache in the morning!

And that's about all for now.  We're going to move on again tomorrow to Worms, which apparently is famous for dragons.  So, until next time - bye for now xx