Belfort was our last stop in France before crossing into Germany. It’s great being in a new country, getting used to the language and the new road signs which are yellow, so it feels like driving through a permanent diversion!
The weather has been ridiculously hot due to the heatwave, which has covered western Europe. The afternoons in particular have been so hot that we’ve been restricted to going out in the morning or the evening, and spending the afternoons sat in the shade.
Our first stop was a stellplatz (German aire) in Wehr. The small stellplatz was just a few minutes walk from the town centre, with some lovely shops including a bookshop. We were in luck, as the window display included the ADAC stellplatz directory, the definitive guide covering the whole of Europe. We bought the last copy, and are now getting to grips with it. There are no English translations, but the symbols mostly tell us what we need to know, and we can look up words in the dictionary when needed.
We sat outside a pub on the high street and had a glass of wine. We’ve been spoilt with the cheap wine in Spain and Portugal. Here in Germany €4 a glass seems to be the going rate, so it’s going to be more expensive than we’ve been used to, and will likely be an occasional treat.
The stellplatz was lovely and quiet, just us and one other van. We were supposed to pay €10 for the night, but ended up staying for free, as nobody called to collect the money.
The tourist information signs on the way in proclaimed “one town, two countries”, and so it was: one town with the River Rhine running through the middle, Germany to the north and Switzerland to the south, joined by an old cobbled bridge.
The aire, on the German side and just a short distance from the old town, overlooked the river giving us a great view from the comfort of the van. There was a convoluted way of paying for the aire, which involved completing a form in triplicate: the top copy went in the windscreen; the bottom copy in an envelope with €8 in cash, posted through a letterbox; and the middle copy to take to the tourist information office.
The lady in the tourist information office was really helpful, and gave us loads of information and maps for the Black Forest. It turned out that a tourist tax was included in the money we’d paid for the aire, and the form entitled us to a free travel pass for the day to use on public transport throughout the Black Forest. Whilst we didn’t take advantage of it then, we’ll definitely be doing so at another stop.
Crossing the bridge we were in Switzerland. We’d taken our passports, just in case, but we didn’t need them as the one-time customs office on the Swiss side had been converted to a toilet block. After a brief wander round the Swiss part of town we found a café and ordered a couple of coffees. We then twigged that we didn’t have any Swiss Francs to pay for them, but after a brief panic the lady told us that we could pay in Euros. Phew!
We’ve had a minor problem with the habitation door on the van whereby the door seal had started to come adrift. Knaus had arranged for us to take the van to their dealer in Waldshut-Tiengen, who would fit a new seal free of charge, so our next stop was at Lauchringen, on the outskirts of Waldshut-Tiengen, to ensure that we could be at the dealers early the next morning. With temperatures still in the mid-30’s we parked up under a tree, and spent the rest of the day reading in the shade and route planning.
Germany operates an environmental scheme in many towns and cities which requires a sticker to be displayed in the windscreen using a traffic light system. Depending on pollution levels, cities will ban the driving of vehicles with amber and/or red ‘umwelt’ stickers, and failure to display a sticker in one of these towns can result in a €80 fine.
Our van is elegible for a green umwelt sticker, so not wanting to get caught out, our first port of call in the morning was the TÜV office and, €6 later, the green sticker was proudly displayed from our windscreen.
Next stop was the Knaus dealer. They had been expecting us and, with typical German efficiency, quickly replaced the door seal with the minimum of fuss.
Schluchsee is a small town on the edge of a lake, around 30 KM north of Waldshut-Tiengen, so we only had a short drive. The weather has been slightly cooler today, so we were able to go into town during the day, which made a nice change.
Saturday and Sunday we will be staying on a campsite in Simonswald, where we’re looking forward to meeting up with another British couple we’ve been following on Facebook.