Welcome to our Blog. We spend a large part of every year travelling in our beloved Rapido 741F motorhome.
We post regular accounts of our adventures as well as the occasional article, and of course, pictures.
Please click on the Archive pointers to see more.
Note. MS Internet Explorer may obscure parts of the viewed page, including the archive, please try Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome

Monday, 2 March 2009

Europe trip 2009 - Karlsruhe to Scheidegg

3rd Feb.
From 1st January 2008 many major German cities require vehicles to display an “Environmental badge” on the windscreen - these are either green, yellow, red or no badge issued (emissions category 1) depending on the pollution characteristics of your vehicle.

The legislation also applies to foreign registered cars. From 2010 only green and yellow badges will be allowed to enter city centres - not displaying a badge currently warrants a 40 euro fine! Once registered though, the badges will last the lifetime of the vehicle.

Feeling that we were now overdue to apply for ours we stopped at a TUV or MOT garage at Malsch, not far from the Gast Caravanning franchise where we had enjoyed another free stop over (GPS: 48.8908 N, 8.3069 E).

I wandered into the workshop with my registration certificate and it didn’t take long for the TUV mechanic to grasp what I was after, though he did need to make a phone call to check which category we came into. Ten minutes later and six euros poorer we left with a Yellow No 3 windscreen sticker and certificate.

Next stop was Baden Baden. There is a free stellplatz here on the bus route into town (GPS: 48.7728 N, 8.2187 E).

4th Feb.
It was a cold damp start to the day and we abandoned a planned visit to Baden Baden, tramping the streets in the rain just did not appeal.

Leaving Baden Baden

So, off on the B500 scenic route through the Black Forest, stopping off at the Berghotel Mummelsee (an obvious coach tour destination) for a look at the frozen lake.

For the winter period, all the tourist shops are accessed from the same entrance, so we walked through the cured meat store first, then the Cuckoo clock shop and so on until we arrived at the delightful Hexenkeller or witches cellar, which was literally stuffed with thousands of dolls, each trying to outdo its neighbour in grotesqueness. I particularly liked the ones waving a stick – grab the stick and it lets out a maniacal cackle and its green eyes flash alternately. Not to be missed for lovers of Witch dolls (we do actually know one!)

Then on through Freudenstadt, picking up the B294 to Hausach, then the B33 though Gutach turning right onto an even more picturesque minor road down to Schonach.

Here we found a Stellplatz adjacent to the town’s single ski lift. There is a bar and restaurant in the sports centre by the road, sign up here and also get your €1 jetons for the electricity and sani-station (1 jeton gives 8 hours electricity).

The sports centre and motorhome parking at Schonach

With the €5 stellplatz ticket comes free skiing (yes, a free lift ticket!), free swimming, buses and more, an amazing deal, (GPS: 48.1458 N, 8.1884 E).

Only two other vans were on the park (which could probably take 20), and because of the mild conditions the lift was not running during the day, but opened at night onto a floodlit piste, which certainly was popular.

The town is laid out on both sides of the valley, with a small park at the bottom through which a small river runs. The town was eerily quiet at five in the evening but we found our way to the Rebstock Landhotel, a 3 star traditional hotel with pool and sauna. (http://www.landhotel-rebstock.com/ )

Just the chef and two waitresses in traditional costume awaited us in the restaurant but they were more than happy for us to sit and have a beer. The girls chatted, smiled and laughed so much we tarried for another and only left when the evening diners filtered in.

5th Feb.
Triberg is just down the road from Schonach, a delightful hillside town in the Black forest tradition, with lots of attractive shops, murals on the walls and bunting all down the main street. Two Stellplatz were signed in the town but we didn’t investigate.

Traditional Triberg

Picking up the B500 we passed some more wonderfully scenic landscapes including a detour on a very minor road to Hexenloch. Not a route you would take if the conditions were not good, but we enjoyed an almost magical trip through a tiny snow covered river valley. There was even an old water mill, frozen in motion with the icicles hanging out of the buckets.

Finally we found our way through St Margen, St Peter and Glottertal and down into the ancient city of Freiburg. The Stellplatz here is a short walk from the centre of town. The free wi-fi here was so good we spent ages watching videos of the snow in England off the BBC website.
(€7 a night - electricity is on a meter though. GPS: 47.9990N, 7.8258 E).

6th Feb.
Freiburg was founded in 1091, and work on the cathedral was commenced in 1200. Now a university city and centre of the wine trade it boasts a member of the Green party as its mayor, the first to be elected so of a large German city.

An unusual "green" scuplture on the walk into town

It’s only a 20 minute walk into town, though you can take a tram if you wish. Our first stop was a visit to the Munster, very atmospheric inside with some stunning stained glass. There are some lovely decorated buildings around, despite the wartime carnage.

Feeling peckish we tried our first Grillwurst from a popular stall, unfortunately Sue broke a tooth on god knows what, so it was off to an Apotheke to buy a tooth mirror to inspect the damage.

Some immaculate restoration

After a browse through the big apartment stores we stopped for cups of hot chocolate and raspberry flan from a coffee shop, now they were good, and only €7 all in.

Finally we bought some Womo guides, the excellent German produced motorhome travel guides, from the huge Buchandlung Rombach bookshop.

7th Feb.
Rainy day, settled down with the laptops and made good use of the wi fi.

8th Feb.
Left the Stellplatz at Freiburg late in the day - the owner seemed a bit gobsmacked we had only used €2 worth of electricity in 3 nights, but all we had on were the battery charger and laptops.

Heading south and up into the hills a bit, we passed several small ski resorts which might have been worth a visit in better conditions, but in this dull wet and sleety weather we pressed on.

Rising above the small resort of Münstertal we found a free off the road car park with a view down the valley. Seeing as the snow was starting to fall more heavily it seemed like a good spot for the night (GPS: 47.8532 N, 7.8605 E).

9th Feb.
The temperature dropped to around -5 C during the night and the gritting snowploughs were out at about 4 am, back and forth, they certainly weren’t leaving anything to chance. As ever in these conditions the heater was left ticking over to stop any pipes from freezing.

Off on our woodland walk

After breakfast the boots went on and complete with ski poles we crossed the road to an uncleared track and entered the winter wonderland we had come to enjoy. It’s chocolate box stuff but the peace and beauty of tramping along a winter wooded trail in the snow takes some beating.

Back on the main road (317) we passed the larger ski resort of Feldberg then headed down to look at Schluchsee, a large frozen lake with more little family ski resorts. Plenty of potential here in the right conditions and there is a large, modern winter campsite right on the water’s (ice) edge.

The sleet was still trying to decide whether it was snow or rain so we drove past the large town/resort of Titisee-Neustadt into Hüffingen, another pleasant small town with a large Stellplatz - deserted apart from a single German van.
The electric hook-up so common on the German Stellplatz was jeton only, which had to be purchased from the Rathaus or Town Hall during office hours. However the other motorhomer had a ready supply and we purchased one from him. (GPS: 47.9230 N, 8.4861 E)
It was now raining steadily and bitterly cold, so we stayed put and ate “a la maison”.

10th Feb.
In the morning there was a two inch white carpet outside but the rain had virtually washed it away by the time we left.

Our destination now was Konstanz on what we call Lake Constance, but is also known as Bodensee. At 46 miles long it is the largest of the alpine lakes after Geneva. The Rhine enters from the south and leaves from the western tip.

There is a Stellplatz within a few minutes walk of the town centre - a bit noisy for an overnight though, what with the road traffic and the bus station (GPS: 47.6579 N, 9.1693 E).

Constance is an elegant looking lakeside town with many architecturally interesting buildings, pedestrian areas and shopping arcades. There is also the terminal for the ferry across to Meersburg.

After a drive round to the other side of the lake, the attractive Spa town of Uberlingen provided us with a refuge for the night. (Stellplatz €6, 50c for electricity, GPS: 47.7760 N, 9.1505 E).

11th Feb.
It’s a 10-15 minute walk downhill into town - another elegant munster and many well preserved half timbered buildings, gardens and promenades on the waterfront, plus an intriguing fountain of mermaids and a man on horseback wearing skates!
An open air market was underway and we picked up some local cheeses.

Our next stop was Lindau, the island resort on the eastern extreme of Lake Constance. The surrounding area is pretty industrial, with the likes of the engine/vehicle giant MTU and the crane/machinery manufacturer Liebherr.

The lakeside campsite was closed and our second choice from the Bord Atlas was a busy public car park, with the police seemingly making regular visits. It was probably Ok for the night but it didn’t feel right to leave the van for a sightseeing trip to the island, so we commenced our tour of the great Deutsche Alpenstrasse, the scenic route from Lake Constance to Salzburg.

A quick transit through Austria and in the fading light and freezing conditions we found a wohnmobilplatz attached to the Kurhaus restaurant in Scheidegg.
A large modern bar/restaurant sits beside a stream in the valley (complete with mini-golf and kiddies play area in the summer).

In the winter it is a great spot with access to many Nordic skiing pistes, a Nordic skischule and wanderwegs. (€9.60 a night, €2 for electricity, GPS: 47.5720 N, 9.8452 E,) (http://www.kurhausgastro-scheidegg.de/ )

The Kurhaus at Scheidegg

The motorhome parking area had been freshly snowploughed and we were able to park up without resorting to chains. Then it was time for a beer.

The restaurant is under new management by Frau Kirchberger from Munich and Frau Rullo, her Italian business partner. Apart from a few local tradesmen using it as their watering hole it was quiet, but the chef kept popping his head out so we called for the menu.
The PostBier (brewed locally in Weiller) came in ½ litre steins and slipped down a treat with sizzling hot schnitzel and fries.

Later we got into interesting conversation with Frau Kirchberger who told us amongst other things that there was a major carnival in the town on Sunday and a party Saturday night, to which we were invited.

12th Feb.
It snowed heavily during the night with temperatures down to -5 C. The snow plough was out again early clearing the park and just when we thought he was finished he came back and started to clear immediately beside our van.
Sue was just washing and saw him pick up our electricity cable through the bathroom window. Disappearing out of the door with rather less clothing on than usual she managed to stop him ripping it to bits. Fortunately there were only a few nicks in the outer insulation. A lesson though to make sure the cable is well off the parking area.

The afternoon brought a brief respite from overcast skies and snow and we stretched our legs in the forest.

13th Feb.
The morning brought more snow, sometimes heavy, sometimes almost letting the sun break through. A good day to sit around with the laptops.
We had a short evening walk in the thick falling snow before retiring to the restaurant again, this time for pasta with melted cheese, garnished with crisp fried onions. The little side salads were great, with a mixture of pickled vegetables underneath the usual lettuce and a mouthwatering dressing.

14th Feb.
More snow, but the warm days and chill nights (-7 C) meant that freeze-thaw was becoming a problem. Despite some ice clearances, on the “sunny” side of the van we now had a sheet of icicles running from the roof over the windows to the ground, and the rear locker door was completely covered in ice.
I got up on the roof and cleared the remaining snow but it was too late really. The potential snag we had was that if we couldn’t get the cab doors open we couldn’t remove our “Silver Screen” insulation to drive away – oops!

We took a walk into town and what a pretty little place it is.


At 2000 hrs in the Kurhaus was the curtain raiser party night for the Fasnacht or Carnival on Sunday. Inaugurated in 1932, this would be the 77th carnival, with groups from the Allgaü, Bodensee, Oberschwaben and Scheidegg regions. The basic theme appeared to be die Hexe or witches again, the idea (so we were told) being that the witches would sweep winter away and bring on the spring!

On ordering a beer our host presented us with a shot of the local hooch – down the hatch in one!

One of the Carnival marching bands had been booked to liven up proceedings for the evening, and what a band, all manner of brass instruments and drums including some of the largest (and loudest) that a human being can possibly carry and play at the same time!

What they lacked in coordination they more than made up with sheer energy and exuberance, they couldn't not lift your spirits – it’s not often you see managers and staff dancing along with the guests!

A lot of the revellers were in witches costume, but there seemed to be an abundance of gorillas as well as many others that defy description. After another shot of a smooth cocktail from our host (and the beer) we were well on our way and enjoyed the bands musical effervescence from a cocktail bar above the main hall.

Later we discovered there was a basement disco as well and whilst Sue was in the loo I found myself in conversation with a trio of leopard-skinned kittens. By this time we were getting rather legless and suddenly it seemed like time to guide each other home through the snowflakes.

15th Feb.
It dawned a perfect day, more heavy falls during the night, but the skies cleared to bless the carnival with brilliant sunshine.
More than a bit muzzy headed we walked separately into town to see the start.

Don't mess with these guys or you'll get wet - very!

What an event – marching musicianship, masks, costumes in fantastic colours, weird props, (squirting fish heads, a working motorbike made out of a 12 foot log) acrobatics, pyrotechnics, they didn’t miss much out.

And they can really play as well!

The sheer scale of it was impressive. The first marching band was reaching the Kurhaus when I dragged myself to my feet and by the time I had walked a mile or two to the sports centre, the last groups were only just leaving. I admired the sheer stamina of the bands who could march so far in the cold and still play with such verve and energy.

I'll put a spell on you!

The witches were in the majority (one even handed me her broken broomstick) and the masks were endlessly artistic and inventive. Every witch's threat or menace inflicted on a bystander was eased by a sweet from a huge pouch carried by the broomstick bearers - the kids loved it, grabbing the strewn sweets from the snow to put in goody bags for later.

Passing my brushless broomstick onto a masked marcher who seemed to think he needed it, I finally met up with Sue.

Some people are just glad to see you

16th Feb.
Reluctantly we made our leave from Scheidegg, it’s a nice little town and everybody we met had been so friendly, we certainly felt we had made some new friends at the Kurhaus. We’d come back, just to relax and do all the wanderwegs, especially the Kneipprundwanderweg or Round-Pub-Wanderweg!

No comments: