Sunday, 16 September 2012

121 Into Germany...again...he ..he ..he

Monday 10th Sept
And were off again.... The next installment arrives.
After a hectic morning, dropping off the caravan after decommissioning it (we do not want to buy another water heater) and the final clear up and admin type bits and
bobs. Its funny, no matter how many times we do it it is still difficult to decide what to pack for the differing scenarios that we envisage coming across.
After parking the caravan in its allotted slot at the Kingsburys we popped in to see Billy and Sue for a cuppa and to make sure we were still on track to visit them in France in 2 weeks time. We also stopped off at Trulas work place at the hospital and saw her in her security guards uniform. It was weird to see her in a police type set up. Karen was promptly arrested as she got out of Gromit. 

We then drove back to the Hertford campsite to collect Wallace.
We then had a marathon run around to buy a full gas canister as they are not available in much of Europe. Then it was the final mind numbing trip to Sainsburys (Karen is easily pleased - sometimes ;-) ).
Our main mission for the day was to be in the midnight ferry from Dover to Dunkirk. This was thwarted to some degree by our late departure, having decided to have some grub and let the evening rush our go past first. We actually arrived at Dover at 9pm and they let us on the 10pm ferry. The crossing is 2 hours and with adding the Euro time difference on we arrived at about 1:15 am. I managed to get some sleep on the boat but Karen did not.
We then drove straight down to Disneyland Paris....

Tuesday 11th Sept
We arrived at Disneyland just before 7am, knackered and stiff. The park was shut and it was clear that they now charged for parking. At 7:30 the gates opened. 15 Euros later we parked near the entrance and waited (slept - ish) till the park opened at 10am. We were in a bit of a daze but we will get over that. The day was warm and overcast so we decided just to go in in T shirts and shorts. The entry fee was 75 Euro each -Whaaaaat.

Celebrating 20 yrs of fleecing the public
The whole experience was significantly more expensive that our previous visits. It was legal robbery. Just after we got through the gates the rain started and stayed on all day. We decided, rather than go the 5 minute walk back to Gromit to get our coats we would buy a thin plastic (throw away) poncho each. A snip at 9 Euros (bloody hell this is taking the mickey - pun intended).
How do you like our new sexy kit ?
The good thing about the time of year and the weather is that all the rides had no queues so we did not get grumpy standing around all day long. The Space Mountain was the best ride and we did that twice (when does that ever happen ?). 

Shaken and stirred

After the second one we were both dizzy, shaken, stirred and had the makings of a headache. Either it was one Mountain too far or we are getting old.
Karen grumbled something about my ancestors here. Under her breath needless to say

The pirates of the Caribbean set

The dragon under the castle

It was animated and very good
Whilst browsing the shops we refrained from buying any T shirts, Grumpy for me and Dopey for Karen. We decided to call it a day at the park and moved outside to the Hollywood bit with the bars in. We stopped in a German bar and paid a measly 10 Euros (£8) for a Pint (yes a pint).
We were sat next to an English couple and fortunately the clocked tipped forward into Happy Hour where drinks were half price - at last.
After the bar we staggered back to Gromit and moved to an area of the car park set aside for motor homes and pitched the tent. We were asleep by 9:30. Needless to say we got our moneys worth out of the parking fee. 

Wednesday 12th Sept
We were rudely awoken by the cat being sick. Luverly. After a clean up we slowly struck camp for a slow (as is always in Gromit) drive to Trier in Germany, just past Luxemburg,  so we could get a Currywurst. A mere 419km (about 260 miles) drive for a sausage. We (Karen says I should have written "I") are nothing but dedicated sausage munchers. On the route there we did see a Honey Buzzard (exiting for us anyway) and lots of wild deer.
We parked up in a small campsite where we had stayed before and wandered into town in search of a currywurst. We struck out on the sausage and had to settle for a very nice Italian. At about 10pm we went in search of a bar only to find them all shut. Bloody inconsiderate considering that we won the war after all. Time for bed said Zebedee.

Thursday 13th Sept
Having decided to spend a few days in Germany, as we both love it so much, we are heading down to Offenburg near the French border and on the edge of the Black Forest. 
We saw this at service station. Eat your heart out the Rhino's of Dumfries.
The land of cuckoo clocks and witches. The route we took took us back through France and Via a place called 'Bitche'.  Karen thinks I am trying to give her a subliminal message.
No comment...
We found a campsite just North of Offenberg. It was a nice place but appeared to be mainly used as a stop off site as the residents did not tend to stay long.
As we intended to stay for a few days we pitched the big new Jet Tent intending to sleep in it instead of the roof tent. On erecting it we found that the front door fly screen had been sewn on upside down and would not zip up. 
This was the only bit we did not test out after purchase - Doh!
Now, the more cynical among us would say that we should have tested the tent before leaving the UK. Well, we did. We erected it in Bob and Liz's garden but as the fly sheet is on the outside (unusual for tents but this is an unusual tent) we tested the door and not the screen - Doh!
This left us with a bit of a problem. We could not take it back as we were some 1000 miles from the dealer and we would struggle with the postage. We rang the dealer who despite it not being his fault, was very apologetic. We did a mutually beneficial deal on the phone. He would supply another part of the tent, an extension part, (I told you it was an unusual tent,) that was not available when we bought it due to it being brand new and imported from Australia, for a reduced price and we would ignore the screen problem. In reality, Mum has given us an old sewing machine and I can fix it when back in the UK. Job done. They don't call me Cinders for nothing. All we need now is somewhere to send the new bit to, not as easy as it sounds with out life style.
This is our current set up.
Friday 14th Sept
We dragged Wallace off the trailer and set off on two wheels into Offenburg town. Yippee....back on the bike again....
We needed to find a place with WiFi access so we could send some pictures of the defective tent to the suppliers in the UK. Offenburg is a typical German town with very clean streets and window boxes everywhere. One of the reasons we love the place is that responsibility for the up keep of the street immediately outside your property is yours and fines are issued if it is not done. In practice, this works very well and the country as a whole is very clean and proud of it too. We eventually found an internet cafe but what a nightmare that was. The German keyboards are somewhat different with the Z and Y keys being reversed - Not funny when your first name ends in a Y  and the @ key location had to be shown to me by the shop owner. I still do not know where the +  or - keys are!
When I eventually got onto my e-mail site, it was a piece of cake to load up the photos but for some strange reason it would not let me write any text. I had to send another e-mail with the text in it via the dealers own web site. I pitied the poor guy at the other end trying to make sense of it all. On our way back to the bike we popped into a little bar in the main pedestrian precinct and whist supping on delicious Greman Pils, I opened my phone and discovered that the bar had WiFi (or WLAN - pronounced VeeLAN) and we could have done the whole lot very simply on Allan. I cannot remember if we have introduced Allan. He is basically a computer tablet, like an iPad but better, as he also comes with a detachable keyboard which I am currently typing into. It runs Google software, like most smartphones, so if you can use a smartphone, you can use one of these beauties. We then rode back to the campsite and had a bite in the attached restaurant.

Saturday 15th Sept
Time for some exploring intending to blast down to Frieburg on the motorway and ride back over the mountains. We set off on Wallace at a steady (but legal) 100mph down the motorway to Frieburg (Oh Yessss...!). A small city we have previously been to in the South of the Black Forest. The market was in full swing around the cathedral and needless to say we found a Schnell Imbiss (Quick Snack) bar and devoured more sausages. 
The pride in their town center's is incredible 
 Despite the market, the square was virtually spotless. Compare that with Harlow or Walthamstow markets.
Spotless and quaint markets

We parked our bums in a busy street bar on the side of the market for a beer and when it came to paying, rather than wait for the overworked waitresses, I went inside to pay. From the reaction of the bar owner you would think I had been caught flashing at his mother. I just said OK, not understanding what he had just said but gleaning that I needed to deal with the waitress, I then turned and went back out side. A few seconds later he came outside and started shouting at me again. I gave him a look that told him he was the moron that I thought he was and turned my back on him. Karen was more confused than me but he eventually got the message and left so I paid the waitress and whispered in her ear that her boss was an idiot (it's the same word in German). She smiled in agreement.
Then it was back on Wallace for a trip through the mountains. We climbed to almost 1000m and (it was cold up there) and dropped into Triberg, another place we had visited before and went shopping. The land of the cuckoo clocks was a tourist trap, but again very clean and beautiful.
Looking down into Triberg

 Another bar, again, one we had been in last Christmas. We ordered a delightful Black Forest gateaux and whilst eating it, the proprietors son was sat up at the bar. He was about 7 years old and had a 6" bowie style knife attached to his belt. He later started to play with his 'do everything' Swiss Army knife.
The bar we visited (behind the car) and the street we had just ridden from

Black Forest Gateaux - Mmmmmm

The one man mini Army

Before leaving I decided to go to the loo. Thinking the toilet was past a closed section of the restaurant I walked past the 'closed' sign to be firmly told off by the one man mini Army. I was not going to remonstrate with a 7 year old psycho with two knives. The culture is somewhat different here.
The town of a thousand cuckoo clocks
The bear is actually climbing the rope...
Before leaving Triberg we did some more shopping and then headed for home. It was getting quite late and the sun was low in the sky when we reached the top of another 1000m mountain. The view was spectacular. We then rode down the 'bob sleigh track' style road and back to Offenburg.
It was good to be back on the bike.
A viewpoint on the way home
Once back at the campsite we found a little bar in the village and went in hoping to get some food.   The place had about 5 locals in it and 2 young female staff. We ordered some drinks and a sausage salad and sat down. When the food came we were a bit taken aback. It was sausage strips that looked more like spaghetti with gherkin on the side. It was not the best meal we have had. We ate most of it and fitted another beer in when one of the bar staff asked us what country we had come from. (Up to this point we had been practicing our bad German - hence the unexpected food presumably.) When we replied England, we were immediately joined by the other girl and then one of the locals and had an hours conversation about world travel and rafting down the 50m waterfall at Triberg (not !). The conversation was surreal, us speaking little German and them speaking only school English but it was extremely funny and we had a great time. It was a typical German encounter. They are all very friendly and will talk to anyone - like me really.
We then went to bed. The previous night, Karen had told me of how Leon had figured out a way to escape from the tent. I was a bit skeptical but as I was dropping off, she woke me to the sound of Leon scratching at the zip. Most tents have 2 zippers on one track so you can open them either way. Leon had figured out that if they are close to the ground, he can push them apart creating an opening and go in and out all night. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks but you cannot stop an old Leon from learning them for himself. Not bad for a 16 year old.

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