Just at home and again we leave home – Part Two
Germany August 2020
The month of August starts with beautiful weather, the sun is shining and the sky is steel blue. Early in the morning it is already 75 degrees. After a breakfast with really huge croissants, we dump our black- and gray water and leave Weimar. We are on our way to the city of Ilmenau, where we find an enormous car-park next to the sports hall (closed due to Corona) on the skirt of the town.
It is really hot, 92 degrees, but of course we want to walk around in Ilmenau.
Fortunately, it’s only a 10 minute walk to thecenter of this pleasant town. Unfortunately, it is Saturday afternoon and that means that almost all shops are closed and we can only shop the windows. After a few miles we take a seat on a terrace to enjoy a delicious ice cream with lots of fruit. This terrace is very busy and it is the first terrace where the tables are closer together than 6 inches. But we sit at the side of the terrace and try to stay with our back to the other visitors. Of course, we have to fill out a form with personal information as name, phone-number and e-mail. It’s an obligation all over Germany (in case there is an outbreak) and we are already used to it.
Fully strengthened again by the fruit (and some ice) we continue our walk. Some caches are hidden in the woods just outside the center of Ilmenau. The prevailing temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as the fact that we just had a calorie bomb, makes us want to search for these caches. To get into the woods we have to climb steep streets and mountain slopes. But it is worth it and when we reach the trees, we enjoy the relative coolness in the dense forests above Ilmenau. These forests are located on steep slopes and in the time that Goethe lived and worked here (late 18th century) these existing forest paths were used as ditches to carry water along. But when we want to descend to the motorhome, after almost 5 miles of walking (climbing) around, we notice that the paths downhill still look like ditches and going down steeply. Not really conducive to Dick’s knee, but with the help of thick branches and foot by foot, we manage to return unharmed to the motorhome. The beginning of the evening a cool breeze blow, so we eat our delicious kebab meal inside and that’s good because soon a heavy rain starts. But late in the evening the sky bright up and we admire a beautiful full moon. We are not the only ones to look at this moon because from the hills next to us we hear regular gunshots echoing.
Sunday morning the weather is still upset because dry periods alternate with heavy rainfall and heavy thunderclaps can be heard regularly. Through the beautiful hilly landscape of Thuringia, we drive on narrow roads further south.
We regularly pass through small villages where even the walls of the houses are covered with slate.
In contrast to 1990, the time immediately after the fall of the wall, when Dick worked in this part of Germany, as contractor at a roofing company, the houses are now painted in different colors and the gray veil that covered the houses at that time is nowhere to be seen.
After passing a sign on the roadside, which alerts us to the former presence of the wall that separated East and West Germany, the mountains around us become higher and the houses are picturesque with balconies and many flowers. We arrived in Bavaria. In Naila, in a car-park next to the train station, we park the Frankia. Unfortunately, it starts to rain again so we stay inside, drink coffee and read our books. The rain stops at 3 pm. Time to explore the town on foot.
Unfortunately at 5 pm the rain start again, heavy rain and not a few drops and we are happy to have our thin plastic ponchos with us. They serve well and feel considerably better than when we wear them on our bike a few days ago. During the evening the weather clears up and without getting wet, we walk to the Greek restaurant on the market. A good choice to have dinner here because the food is really tasty. For the first time in Corona time we eat inside a restaurant, but it is not full and there is a lot of space between the tables. When we walk back to the motorhome in the evening it cooled down to 64 degrees and for the first time, we are happy to put on a jacket.
Monday August 3-rd, we get up early and although it is no longer raining, it is cloudy and we decide to continue our trip. We only have to drive 25 miles and therefore arrive early in the small town of Marktschorgast where we park our motorhome next to the Frankia factory. It’s a pity, it is vacation time, the factory has “betriebsferien” and is therefore closed.
But even if that was not the case we would not have been able to take a look inside. Also now, Corona is a spoil-sport. Because the town-center is not nearby, we take our bikes to explore the area. For the first time in ages we wear a jacket. The temperature took a downward plunge, it is only 60 degrees and a chilly wind is blowing. We notice that Bavaria clearly has more mountains because one 19% slope after another awaits us and when the mountains level, the percentages of the slopes are still between 14% and 16%.
How wonderful it is to have an e-bike now. If it gets too steep, we just put on our turbo mode and in our low gear we fly up the slopes. The bicycles have a hard time in the descents because the bicycle creaks and squeaks audibly. I think I wear out more than a brake disc and brakes.
But we have a beautiful trip in the area. We love the ride on the forest paths of the Schortal, despite the steep descents on sometimes slippery sandy paths and the urge of crossing a river. It’s more pleasant than climbing or descending on the normal roads where we are constantly overtaken by speeding cars.
After 4 hours of cycling around and covering more than 15 miles, we also take a look in the town of Marktschorgast. But it consists of only some streets and the shops are closed, so after a glimpse, we return to the motorhome. After a gloomy day, end of the afternoon the clouds are breaking and some sunrays appear, so we can sit outside in a corner, protected by the wind. There is no shop or restaurant around and we cook a simple meal ourselves. Our tomatoes are mouldy so it’s just rösti and sausages.
When we wake up on Tuesday, a bag of fresh bread rolls is hanging on the doorhandle. Compliments from the Frankia factory. And they taste great so before we leave this place, I go to the workshop to thank. We have already adjusted our itinerary several times and yesterday we decided we will also visit the city of Bayreuth. Again, a place that is very close by, only 15 miles away, so before 10 am we arrive at the large car-park, close to the center. We park our motorhome, not on the places intended for motorhomes, as our Frankia cannot stay there (places are too short) but between the parked cars.
Our laundry bag filled up considerable and since Bayreuth is also a student town, we think we have opportunities to do laundry again and we are looking for a laundromat. We do indeed find a washing facility not far from our car park. However, we cannot park our motorhome here, so we take our bikes, attach our pannier-bag, load all our laundry in it and cycle to the laundromat.
This one is significantly smaller than the one in Erfurt and also busier, but we find just enough empty machines to wash all our laundry. While Dick cycles back to the motorhome to return our detergent, I wait in the laundromat. And Dick is back when the laundry leave the dryers and together we fold up everything and cycle back to the motorhome at 3pm.
After everything is unloaded we cycle back into town, now looking for a supermarket because we need water. After crossing half the city, we find what we need. On the way back it turns out that Dick’s brake no longer works. Yesterday’s tough descents have taken their toll. Since you won’t get far in this mountainous environment without proper brakes, Dick look for a bicycle repair-shop. We are lucky because there is one less than 1000 feet away. While I put away our clean clothes and cover our beds with fresh linen, Dick cycles over to the repair-shop and walk back and forth and end of the afternoon he has a well-functioning bike with new brakes and brake disc.
This morning, when we were on our way to the laundromat, we saw a Thai restaurant in town and as we actually have an appetite for Thai food, we walk there early in the evening.
A 15 minute walk brings us in the center of Bayreuth and not long after, we take a seat on the garden terrace of Hua Hin. We are well protected against the wind in this courtyard so we can stay outside to have dinner, with our jacket on.
The food tastes excellent and we stay on the terrace for a long time.
Wednesday, August 5th , we don’t get up until half past eight.
The heavy clouds have disappeared, the sun is shining and the sky is blue. Really a day to go out again by bike after yesterday’s household worries. That’s why, after having a delicious breakfast, of course with fresh bread rolls, we take our bikes.
Dick read yesterday about the “Eremitage”, a park created in 1715 with beautiful buildings, old palaces, various fountains and springs.
And that park is within cycling distance of our car-park. As the crow flies, it is no longer than a 6,5 miles ride. Bayreuth has beautiful cycle paths along the Roter Main and it is a pleasure to cycle along this river and soon a geocache leads to a beautiful water basin of one of the old palaces in the park of the Eremitage. It is truly beautiful and many people agree with us because as we cycle deeper into this park, it gets busier.
At the Sun Temple, the walls and pillars are so beautifully constructed that we can’t get enough of taking pictures. But it is also warm and therefore we disappear deeper into the woods. That the grounds of the Eremitage also have very steep slopes becomes clear when we descend a more than 20% steep forest path. People climbing up ask us or we really dare to decent. Again our brakes are working in overtime. It is fortunate that our bikes have fat tires so we have more grip on the sandy and gravel trails. But the time comes we have to leave the park and after 17 miles of cycling we are back at the motorhome at 3 pm.
The rest of the afternoon we don’t do much, well I do nothing but reading a book. Dick has yet to log all our found caches. Because the weather continues to be good, early in the evening we walk to the center of Bayreuth where again, we have dinner at our Thai restaurant. It is much busier than yesterday, but we still find a vacant table. We do not know if they forgot it yesterday or the registration of data only takes place when it is very busy, but now we have to leave our address details. The food in this restaurant, already existing for 23 years, is again excellent and more than satisfied we walk along the river Roter Main back to our motorhome. It’s late in the evening.
Before 7 am we are already awake on Thursday August 6th and after an early breakfast, we drive to the autobahn. Our friends Marjo and Wim have informed us that the town of Dinkelsbuhl is more than worth paying a visit, so that will be our next goal. At 11 am we arrive at the car park close to town and as a German motorhome just left, we can occupy the last spot (suitable for us) in this car park. As it is often the case in Europe, motorhome spots in car parks are more suitable for shorter cars and our almost 27 feet long motorhome can therefore not be parked everywhere.
But now we have a spot and soon we walk through the city gate into Dinkelsbuhl. Marjo and Wim have not exaggerated. It definitely is a beautiful medieval place. Immediately upon entering this walled town we are surprised. All the houses are painted in different colors and we enjoy walking street after street. Definitely this city is worth seeing and famous because lots of people walk everywhere and the terraces are crowded. Actually it is not a temperature to walk around, the thermometer already passed 78 degrees. Entering the 15th century Gothic church feels good. It’s cool inside and of course we light a candle. After some reflection we walk along and over large parts of the city walls. After 6.5 miles we call it a day and go back to the car-park where it is much quieter. It appears that many day trippers use this car-park during the day and do not spend the night. The next day we decide to stay another day. This time we want explore the area, a good choice because it seems that today the temperature is skyrocketing high.
We print out the route that takes us to the surrounding forests and leave. It is pleasant between the trees and we enjoy the narrow forest paths. However, the hilly terrain demands again the utmost from our brakes. After 4 hours, we crossed the entire forest and found the necessary geocaches, we return to Dinkelsbuhl. Between the houses in town it is 92 degrees and the heat simply falls on us. We take a seat on a terrace in the shade to enjoy another delicious ice cream. After an hour, it is now 5 pm, we slowly cycle back to the motorhome where we sit outside and enjoy the evening. We don’t eat something until late in the evening.
Saturday August 8th we get up in time and after dumping our gray and black water and filling up our fresh water tank, we take the autobahn to Karlsruhe from where a narrow road takes us through the vine-covered mountain slopes to the town of Wissembourg in France.
There is enough space in the parking lot at the local swimming pool to park our motorhome. As everywhere in Europe, the pools and lakes work with time slots so that, at the same time, only a limited number of people are allowed to enter. It is a pity of course that you cannot stay in the water indefinitely because the temperature exceeds 94 degrees, but Corona times require drastic measures.
Dick takes my bike from the back garage and I cycle to a supermarket. It takes a while to find it, but eventually I find one on the outskirts of the city and I can load my panniers with Perrier, the famous French sparkling water and the reason why we came to France.
Unfortunately, my panniers have a maximum capacity so when I unload the Perrier at the Frankia where Dick gives it a place inside, I cycle again to the supermarket, now a different one, to buy another load of Perrier. You cannot have enough water with this temperatures. Because it is too hot outside (in the afternoon the 95 degrees is exceeded) we stay in the shade and don’t walk into town before 5.30 pm.
It is always great to wander through the narrow streets of this beautiful town, but with these temperatures we have less an eye for the beautiful houses and are more interesting in the terraces with cool drinks.
Due to Corona, there is no menu and we have to place our food order by looking at blackboards where the available dishes are listed. We are in the middle of a wine region and of course order a carafe of wine and while we sip our glass, we agree that sitting here is a better place to be than walking around town. The food is a bit disappointing, but that is also because we have been spoiled with German food. The wine is more than excellent. It has to, because if we look at the bill, we see that we have to pay 20 euros for this half liter (0.13 gallon) of wine. It cools down a little by some wind so when we return to the motorhome, where the thermometer inside indicate 103 degrees, we stay outside for a long time. Of course we sleep again with all windows and shutters wide open.
When I walk into Wissembourg early Sunday morning, all three bakers I know are closed. Incomprehensible for France where everyone gets fresh baguette every morning, but it’s reality and we have breakfast with old German bread. After stowing everything away, we drive back to Germany.
Near Wissembourg, we cross the border of St. Germanshof. Here is a monument for Europe.
On August 6, 1950, students from all over Europe destroyed the border barrier at this historic site. The students stated that for the first time in history they did not march to the borders to kill each other but they wanted to be known that only a European state, without borders, could bring security and prosperity. However, this federal European state never materialized and we will have to live with an European Union. After some pictures we slowly drive north and arrive in Mettlach at the end of the morning. It is very busy with guests on the terrace of the brewery, but there is no one in the sunny car-park. Although no shade at all is found here, we park our motorhome and take our bikes to drive to the forest. During our previous stay here, at the end of June, it was not accessible due to logging work.
We took some extra water with us, not a bad decision with the current temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit and we climb the slopes in the forest with our bike in turbo mode. Huge piles of tree trunks show that this forest road was rightly closed last time and we enjoy the slightly lower temperature between the trees. Here it’s only 89 degrees. The forest is extremely hilly, one steep forest slope after another appears and that means that once again the utmost is demanded of our brakes and accelerations. We are pouring with perspiration.
Sometimes we drive between huge pines, at other times all the trees are thickly overgrown with mosses and another part of the forest consists only of deciduous trees, while large ferns and blackberry bushes form the foundation. We find all the 35 caches hidden on this Powertrail and at 4 pm, after 3 hours of climbing and descending and covered 10 miles, we are back at the car-park where the temperature inside has reached 109 degrees. I assure you that in the evening the excellent meal and the delicious draft beer on the terrace of the brewery tastes very good and despite the heat inside (fortunately it cooled down to 95 degrees) we fall asleep like a block of concrete.
When we get up at 7:30 on Monday morning, August 10th , it is only 77 degrees. It feels wonderfully cool and gives a great start to a new day. Of course, we dump and fill our tank with fresh water before heading north.
We are not far from Luxembourg where fuel is cheap so we fill up with diesel and drive along the river Moselle straight through Luxembourg to Echternach where we want to spend the night and visit the Teufelsschlucht. However when we arrive there at 11 am, it is extremely busy and the parking space is overcrowded so we leave and drive on to Deudesfeld where we park next to a water source. However, the town is boring, everything is closed and no shops, so after sitting in the shadow for a while, we drive to Kelberg at the end of the afternoon. Here is a large car-park at the local swimming pool with enough space. The temperature is less suffocating (82 degrees) and we relax outside. We do have to close all windows of our motorhome because our neighbor motorhome is having a barbecue and extensively smoke is detected. All though this behaviour does not belong in a car-park, it takes place with these temperatures.
Tuesday August 11th we don’t get up until 8 am, it cooled down a lot because inside it is only 77 degrees. After a good breakfast we drive to a supermarket to hand in our empty (returnable) bottles. Unlike other European countries, there is a deposit on every bottle and can in Germany. When we are at the machine, it returns our bottles and cans and with the same full bag we walk back to the motorhome.
Later in Nideggen we will try it again at another supermarket. But there the struggle to return our bottles starts again. One bottle after another is spit out and we don’t understand what’s going on until Dick, who always looks around, better than I do, discovers that there are two types of hand-in machines, for “Mehrweg and Einweg flaschen”. All the time we were at the wrong machine.
Discovering this, all our bottles are now quickly returned and with an empty bag we can drive to the carpark next to town, on the edge of high rocks. We arrived in the Eifel. There is only one other motorhome here, but many cars are parked, so it takes a while to find a place where we can park and stay straight.
At noon we grab the bikes and ride to town where we want to order that delicious “Teufels ice cream”. Unfortunately, the ice cream restaurant has “Ruhetag” and is therefore closed, so no ice and we continue cycling. Several caches are hidden on the plateau next to town, which we can trace one by one by riding between the corn and wheat fields. It is a nice route, sometimes with steep descents over the grassland between the corn fields. But we are already used to descend steep slopes.
As the sky is increasingly threatening, we decide to cycle back to the motorhome at 4 pm. A good decision because as soon as Dick has stowed away the e-bikes, a heavy rain starts. Late in the evening the rain stop and it brighten up. The sun shines again, but a small lake formed around the motrohome. While driving to the town of Brüggen over back roads on Wednesday morning, the temperature rises quickly.
There are only two motorhomes parked and we can choice a site. Very special because normally it is completely full here. The heat clearly scares people.
After a good cup of coffee, we take the bikes to have some exercise. Actually, we have to leave because it is much too hot to hang out here.
As we cycle in the direction of a few lakes, I take our swimming gear with me, just to be sure. After a few detours, almost every path we pick is blocked by a river, Dick manage to find a right way and we arrive in the forest around the lakes. The water of this lake doesn’t look tempting, it’s brown and full of leaves, so the chance we will put on our swimsuits is minimal, although with the current temperature of 92 degrees I would like to make a cool dip. But there are some nice geocaches hidden so we are off the street and stay in the relative coolness of the woods.
At 4 pm we are back at the car-park where at least 6 motorhomes arrived. Because my bike shows signs of malfunction and creaks and squeaks a lot, Dick clean the bikes in the shade of a tree. In the meantime, I walk to the shop across the street to get some food and cookies. In the evening we buy a Kebab meal from Aladdin restaurant next door. As always, it tastes delicious. When we drink our coffee outside, we look with utter amazement at our neighbors, taking a shower outside their motorhome (now the shower does not need to be cleaned). This is really behavior you never ever see in a car-park for motorhomes. It belongs to a campground.
Later in the evening it cools down a bit and when we go to sleep the temperature is fallen from 104 to 77 degrees.
After breakfast on Thursday, August 13th , we leave Brüggen. On our way home we stop at an outdoor shop in Schijndel, where, again, we look for a new table but we don’t find what we are looking for so we drive on. Before arriving at home we stop in Moordrecht and unload my e-bike, at the bicycle shop. It need to be inspected because it is certainly not in good shape.
The rest of the afternoon we clear out our stuff and clean the inside. Not an unnecessary luxury because the heat and dusty conditions we met, left a thick layer of dirt behind. There is a nice welcome card from Hannah and Henk with an image of a woman on a huge pile of laundry and the text: “even after enlightment you still have to do the laundry”. Very appropriate because when all our laundry is carried to the attic, it turns out to be a real mountain. Because we run out of time we park our motorhome at the back of our home and the next day we clean the outside of the motorhome. A lot of work because some dirt left stains offering a stubborn resistance when we try to remove it. But finally we can bring our polished and shiny motorhome at the storage. It’s Friday afternoon.
When travelling again, we don’t know. Unfortunately it’s Corona who rules the world.