Good Friends and then troubles ahead................
That was quick - wasn't it !!
OK -So how many of you spotted the deliberate mistake in the last blog?
We have been corrected by a good German friend that there is no such place as Gotten in Germany! What we really meant to say was that we stayed North West of Gottingen!
We travelled to Weiterstadt – about 6 miles north of the town of Darmstadt and approximately 18 miles from Frankfurt. The camp (Campingplatz am Steinrodsee) was under the flight path from Frankfurt airport and this was great fun! The noise did not seem to disturb us at all (maybe because we were making more noise than they were!), although it was quite freaky when a Bowing 747 crossed our path, extremely LOW as we drove down the motorway! Don’t see much of this in Pyworthy!
We spent valuable time during the next few days with great friends in Darmstadt –Hartmut and Maria. There is a strong connection as Hartmut became best friend’s with Phil’s Dad many years ago and actually stayed with the family for a number of years. Phil has childhood memories of their time together and it was very special to be able to see each other again after more than 20 years!
Hartmut and his wife were ever the perfect hosts and kept feeding us delicious food! We also spent time at their garden retreat – referred to by Hartmut as a wilderness rather than a garden! They have a beautiful wooden chalet with a veranda. We had a garden grill (BBQ) with true wild boar meat. This had been kindly given to us by our friends in Poland and was the first time we have tried this delicacy.
Quiet time is enjoyed at this haven , reading and contemplating life – that is (of course) until Jemma and Ben get there! It then turned into water fights and games as Hartmut tried to water his trees in peace! Ben was even tied to a tree at one point?!
We were also able to use the internet back at base and would like to thank them for this – we caught up on emails and looked further into campsites and routes for the next part of our journey. We would like to thank Hartmut and Maria for their outstanding hospitality. We had to chuckle when we received an email from them after we left – saying how their house was suddenly quiet again!! We look forward to meeting again in a couple of years’ time – if they have recovered sufficiently by then!
Next Navman (and of course Phil at the wheel) took us into the middle of the Black Forest (Switzerland bound). We have never seen such windy roads on Navman’s screen to get us up these mountain roads! The town was Titisee-Neustadt and we received a very warm welcome and lots of interest in our adventure from the site – Naturcamping Weinerhof. This site has beautiful views set amongst trees, with a lake that the children swam in straight away and direct access into the forest. The beer called Waldhaus was supped and in Phil’s ratings is the most tasty in Germany so far - this is one of two beers local to the Black Forest. We had a BBQ on the first night (last Saturday night – August 16th) and as the temperature dropped - we snuggled into Nessie to watch the new series of X Factor through our satellite (something’s never change!)
We took a walk around Titisee which is a very touristic town in the heart of the Black Forest- the home of the Black Forest Gateaux! We also bought fresh bread which is made from a Black Forest recipe and has 100% natural ingredients and was very tasty!
Back at the campsite we took a rowing boat out onto the lake and enjoyed the magical views and sunshine!
We left the Black Forest on Tuesday (19th Aug) and had an unexpected and most unwelcome experience as we tried to cross the border into Switzerland. We remembered that we needed to buy a motorway toll sticker to travel through the country but as we are now in a larger vehicle (weighing over 3.5 tons) we were unable to purchase this sort of pass at the border control. We had to turn around at the border and go about 10kms to the town of Waldshut in Germany to purchase a ticket. We found somewhere to park Nessie (which in lots of cases is easier said than done) and Phil set off on foot to try and discover how and where to get a ticket. He had to cross the border on foot... and returned some time later –fortunately having got help from the same two border policemen that had turned us away at the other border control !
Within seconds of Phil’s return the Heaven’s opened and the gails rose out of nowhere to create a torrential storm with enormous hail stones ,thunder and lightning. We moved Nessie away from the trees in the car park only minutes before a large branch cracked from one of the trees and landed on two cars directly below it......
Phil was worried that the force of those hail stones would dent the sides of Nessie but luckily all is well.
Oh yes....back to the Border Control saga..... as we now had paid about 32.50 Francs for a motorway pass (on which you had to fill in the date for each day we were in Switzerland) – we progressed back to the same border that Phil had just walked across. We duly showed the officials our bit of paper and got glared at. Through a series of hand signals and gestures we arrived on a weigh bridge and were told to sit still. The bloke was gone ages with our vehicle documents too and we sat and waited.......
The Border Control official came back looking even more solemn than before and was greeted with a cheerful “OK?” from Phil !
“NO, IT IS NOT OK” came the reply......... “Pardon?..........” The weigh bridge results were then thrust at us and we were told that Nessie was TOO HEAVY for Switzerland. We assumed that we had filled in the wrong part of the form and would just have to pay more but when this was suggested he said “NO” again! (on later reflection Phil thought that perhaps he thought we were trying to bribe him!)
So we were told that we must LEAVE and there was no way we could travel through Switzerland. We had to turn back from the weigh bridge area and go back to the Border bridge. The official with zero sense of humour even kept our documents until we were safely back on the other side of the bridge again!
As Phil returned to collect his documents his blood was already at boiling point and he was up for a fight. We KNEW that Nessie was NOT over weight and when Phil knows that he is right the McKenzie temper cuts right in....... The legal laden weight limit for Nessie is 4.6 Tons and she was weighed in at 4.5 Tons ?? The official (in all his worldly wisdom) was taking the gross weight (UNLADEN) of 3.8 Tons on the documents as our weight limit.....
Hang on a minute.......with a twin wheeled truck of this size that would mean that if Nessie was completely empty – no water and only a dribble of fuel, with no passengers and only Ben to drive across the border – Nessie would STILL be overweight !!! How does that work exactly......We will leave Phil’s mood to your imagination as there was NO budging the decision. We even had to pay a fine of 30 Francs to get back out of the country again!!
We tried to think of ways to PROOVE our legal weight limit and Phil even telephoned Western Truck Rental (Mercedes dealership) in Barnstaple for conformation as he had began to doubt himself. We are now concerned that this might happen again at other borders and are looking into a way to get written proof about our limits.
So, as the chance of a Swiss Cuckoo Clock bit the dust we stayed in Germany for another night. We cheered ourselves up a bit by eventually finding a Thai Curry House and treating ourselves (it was lovely- but Phil still prefers the Bay of Bengal in Holsworthy!)
· Phil crossed the border into Switzerland 3 times in less than half an hour, got fined and then sent out again!
· Switzerland do not seem to like vehicles over 3.5 tons on their roads!
· We shall NOT be visiting Switzerland again, in the near future!
· The Black Forest also has their own traditional Cuckoo Clock – so who needs Switzerland anyway?!
WILD-LIFE HITS :
· We have seen Stalks in Poland.
· We saw Red Squirrels in the Black Forest.
Monday, 25 August 2008 18:05:41 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) Germany
HAPPY BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY ENGLAND !!
A NEW BLOG IS ON THE WAY !!! SORRY FOR THE LONG DELAY !!!
Monday, 25 August 2008 15:31:45 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) Germany