We arrived in Germany, in the rain, over a week ago. After twenty four hours of rain the weather significantly improved to become warm and dry. Then warmer and drier. Then warmer still. Then hot. Then hotter. Now we are roasting. I have to keep remembering to turn Tim over every twenty minutes or so to cook him evenly on both sides. Temperatures for the last few days have been in the thirties. Just a little too high to be comfortable but we’re not complaining. It’s a good time to sit in the shade and catch up on this here blog.
Our plan for Germany is to keep to the southern half as the country is vaaaaast. Germany is a motorhomers dream destination. Like the French aires network, Germany has a similar set up with their stellplatzes. There are thousands of them. It makes travelling around in a motorhome so easy and we’ve been spoilt for choice. The ones we have stayed on so far are more like informal campsites and range from €5 to €10 per night. For the locations they are in I think that’s a bargain.
For example, I’m currently sitting writing this at a Stellplatz on the banks of the Mosel, flanked by steep vineyards, with the odd barge or tourist cruiser quietly chugging past. Ok I admit, I can hear the traffic from the road on the other side of the river but you can’t have everything.
So, we arrived in Germany and randomly picked out Saarburg as our first stop. No other reason than it is set on a river where we’d likely be able to get the bikes out for a tootle about. It turned out to be a good choice.
A pretty riverside town boasting not only a Lidl but an Aldi too. Double the excitement. Having now done back to back visits of Aldi and Lidl in a few towns since then we have decided we prefer Lidl in Germany as it has a better fresh bread section and some provide dedicated motorhome parking. It’s Lidl all the way from now on.
Breaking out the bikes in Saarburg we spent a very relaxing few days making the most of the traffic free cycle paths either side of the river in both directions. We joined hundreds of other people for a cycle event last weekend where the road from Konz to Merzig was closed for ten hours and open only to cyclists, walkers and a few roller bladers.
The whole stretch followed the river. As with all good events beer tents were set up at convenient points along the way.
We are still fascinated by the barges especially at the locks. We’ll quite happily spend half an hour watching a barge go through a lock and not get bored.
We also walked some of the steep wooded hillsides along the river Saar. We wanted to see the Saar river bend near Mettlach which can be viewed from the hills above it.
A huge wooden and steel viewing tower, which looked like it must have been great fun to design and build, enhances the experience. It will cost you €10 each for that enhanced experience. Suffice to say we remained on terra firmer with a more than adequate view thank you very much for €0.
Moving on from the Saar we have been moseying on down the Mosel for the last few days.
Eventually we’ll end up in Koblenz where it runs into the mighty Rhine. We are firmly onto the Mosel Wienstrasse, or Mosel Wine Road.
It’s the final 195km stretch of the Mosel between Trier and Koblenz and home to some of Germany’s steepest vineyards and best full bodied wines. We’ve spent the last few nights at a lovely stellplatz at Ensch right on the banks of the Mosel.
Despite the heat we’ve cycled twenty or so miles in each direction enjoying picnics whilst wondering how the farmers actually look after and harvest the grapes on such steep hillsides. I must look that up.
So far, then, Germany has lived up to our expectations. We are settling in and learning the German way particularly in relation to recycling plastic bottles, cans and beer bottles. I was bemoaning the fact that there seemed to be plenty of places to recycle glass and paper but nothing for tins and plastic. The Germans can do better surely? It wasn’t until our second visit to Lidl that the penny dropped. A machine at the supermarket takes any plastic or glass bottle or can which has a ‘Pfand’ recycling symbol on it and gives you money for it. 25c for each item. Wow, amazing.
There must be a catch right? Of course there’s a catch. We’d already paid the 25c for each of them in something called the Pfand, or bottle deposit. Any bottle or can with the Pfand symbol on incurs a deposit of 25c each which is added on to your grocery bill. Doh! When you return the empty items in non squashed condition you get that money back at the check out. Makes you think twice about throwing it in the bin.
Tim was mildly put out about the Pfand after he had thrown away some plastic bottles and a few beer cans in a fit of pique as we couldn’t find anywhere to recycle them and they were becoming a pain stored in the van. Shouldn’t have been quite so hasty.
Whilst out walking now if I see a bottle with the Pfand symbol on it I’ll pick it up to return on our next visit to the supermarket. Tim is incredulous. He probably thinks I’m just one step away from picking up road kill to cook but 25c is 25c and it can go towards the ice-cream Pfund!