After leaving Ernst, we passed through Cochem, the next town upstream. It’s quite large with a lovely old town. There were motorhome parking spaces on the edge of town, so we parked up and walked into the old town. It was very busy for a Sunday morning, and lots of shops were open which is unusual, but this was because it was the annual wine festival. The bunting and flags were out, and a brass band was preparing to play in the square. We didn’t stop for long as it was getting busy, and we only had an hour on the parking meter, but we did wander through the town and enjoyed what we saw.
We’d planned to spend the night on a stellplatz next to a campsite in Koblenz, where the Mosel tips into the Rhine, but when we arrived there were lots of vans coming and going. We couldn’t see the stellplatz, but as it only had 10 spaces it would have been full. The campsite would cost upwards of €34 for the night, hugely expensive for a large impersonal campsite, so we decided to move on.
After consulting our ADAC Stellplatz book and Camper Stop app, we drove on to Limburg. The small stellplatz had a couple of free spaces and, once we’d worked out how to manage the electricity and water with the swipe card, we walked off into town.
It was a lovely sunny afternoon, and the walk took us along the river, with the huge castle-like cathedral on the opposite bank. Crossing the bridge (like so many, rebuilt in 1946/7) we were in the very pretty old town. It was also busy, with lots of cafes, bars and restaurants open, but alas no wine festival was taking place. After a good stroll through the pedestrianised streets, and a climb up to the top of the hill to visit the cathedral, we headed back to the van.
Limburg doesn’t even get a mention in the Lonely Planet book on Germany, but is well worth a visit if you are in the area. The stellplatz cost around a third of what we would have paid in Koblenz, and being tucked away on a small site meant a peaceful night’s sleep, with no noise apart from the distant sound of the weir on the river a couple of hundred metres away. We were so glad that we decided not to spend the night in Koblenz.
We’d booked the van in at a Knaus dealer in Butzbach to get a new battery fitted, and to have a couple of things checked out, and Wetzlar was the nearest stellplatz with electric hook up.
The stellplatz had loads of spaces and, as usual, we walked into town after lunch. It was a hot day, so we didn’t hang around for long and returned to the van, passing the athletics stadium on the way. We’ve seen quite a few of these on our travels, usually located in smaller towns, and the facilities are superb
We spent the afternoon reading in the shade. I’ve just re-read Berlin Now: The Rise of the City and the Fall of the Wall (worth reading if you’re about to visit Berlin) and I’m now reading Stasiland to find out about all the shenanigans that went on in the old DDR, as we’ll be visiting the Stasi museums in both Berlin and Leipzig.
Not being sure how much longer we’ll be able to pick up Freesat, we also watched Pointless – I’ve never really watched it before, but I’ve become quite addicted to it when we’ve been able to pick it in the van.
Rotenburg an der Fulda
After making an early start, we were at Reisemobile Albert ahead of time. The guy there was really good, and he changed our leisure battery for us, replaced an exterior light cover which had been knocked off by an overhanging branch and adjusted the habitation door. Unfortunately he didn’t have the part to fix the broken catch on the freezer door, but I now know what part’s needed and we’ll book the van in somewhere else.
The stop for the evening was a stellplatz in Rotenburg. Arriving late in the hot and muggy afternoon, we sat in the shade reading waiting for it to cool down. Unfortunately we could no longer pick up the Freeview satellite, so no more Pointless for at least another year. I’m sure I’ll manage!
Like so many German towns, there are pedestrian and cycle paths everywhere, so we followed the path from the stellplatz to the old town, where there were some lovely buildings and quite a few street sculptures.
The morning got off to a good start. Many stellplätze have a baker’s van call in the morning, so when Carol heard a van drive past she looked out of the window to check it out, only to find that it wasn’t a baker, but a mobile Dometic engineer, and I was immediately sent to see if he could replace the broken catch on our freezer door. The guy didn’t speak any English, but we got there with my very basic German and some pointing and sign language, and our freezer is now fully operational.
It was a longer than anticipated driving day. We’d originally planned to stay at Bad Harzburg, but when we got there the stellplatz was on a hill alongside a main road with noisy lorries climbing their way up so, after checking out Camper Contact, we set off for Blankenburg.
The stellplatz there was empty, apart from a German van, so we were unsure whether to stay as we prefer safety in numbers when staying in towns. Chatting to the guy in the other van, he told us that he was local and wasn’t stopping and advised us to find somewhere else to stay.
We looked up a couple of stellplätze in Quedlinburg, and punched the co-ordinates into the sat nav. The first of these was empty – more daytime parking than overnight stopover – but fortunately the second was much better, with five vans already stationed for the night. It was by a busy road, so there would likely be some traffic noise through the night, but by now I’d had enough of driving.
Quedlinburg is a very pretty old town, though very much a daytime place as most places apart from the odd bar or restaurant had closed by the time we had walked round.
At night time the road was a bit noisy, but we managed to get a decent night’s sleep.
After all the kerfuffle the previous day, the drive to Bad Belzig was much better. Getting deeper into the former East Germany, the landscape became much flatter, rather like a prairie.
Bad Belzig is a small-ish town about 70 km south west if Berlin. The stellplatz was tucked away in the car park of the thermal baths, and was nicely laid out with good facilities.
After lunch we went for a walk into town. The weather had become colder and greyer, and when we stopped for a coffee it absolutely poured down with rain.
With a few Berlin-based films in our library, we spent the evening watching Bridge of Spies (Tom Hanks/Mark Rylance), and we plan to visit the bridge and museum whilst we’re in Berlin.
After a quick visit to Lidl to stock up the freezer, we made the 30 mile journey to Brandenburg. The route to the stellplatz took us through the old town, with its cobbled streets and trams, but we made it without any skirmishes.
It’s a fairly large town, comprising the old town, the new town and the cathedral area. We walked through each area and both of us felt rather underwhelmed. Whilst there was nothing wrong with the place, there was definitely no ‘wow’ factor.
We’d originally planned to stay for two nights, but decided to just stop for the one night, and spend an extra night in Berlin instead.
We had a bit of a nightmare getting out of Brandenburg. Driving across the inner city roads was like driving along a rumble strip – no major potholes, but very uneven where lots of potholes had been filled in. Then the cross-country road the sat nav took us down was closed for roadworks, and the traffic diversions in Germany are less than intuitive, so we had to pull over and reprogram the sat nav. In the end it took us two hours to go 59 miles, but at least we made it, and we’re now parked up on a lovely camp site in Spandau, on the outskirts of Berlin.
We’ve been to Berlin once before for a long weekend, and only saw a little of what the city has to offer. This time we’ll be staying for six nights and there’s so much to see and do that I think we’ll still have trouble fitting it all in.