Warsaw’s scars and rebirth

Warsaw’s scars and rebirth

Warsaw, a capital city and a stage for one of World War 2’s most heinous crimes caste with humiliation, destruction and defiance. Even its name embodies the scar of war which it is etched on the very fabric of the city’s landscape, which was changed forever. Although Warsaw was rebuilt, has come through the horror and every avenue has a dedication to those to fought, suffered and died amidst its grip of evil. Yet beyond Warsaw’s World War heroes the city is proud to be the home of Marie Curie, Copernicus and Chopin to name just a few – so it has some real passion, creativity and world stage influence.

We have chosen to tell our Warsaw story in a more visual way for a change and rather than a lot of text, this time, we offer you a pictorial guide and a video. Interestingly both capturing the same elements even though they were produced by us individually. So you have a choice about which you enter – or if you really fancy it, why not do both. Go on spoil yourself.

 

Part 1 – Our Story Page

The Motoroamers

 

Part 2 – Our Vlog Diary

For more information on our Poland Road Trip, why not check out this post. Click the image to read.

 

 

Poland Road Trip – Part 1

Poland Road Trip – Part 1

Poland, we had you in our sights the minute we crossed The Channel on 23 May 2018. You were our destination for a tour that would take us on a journey around your World War 2 memorials and a whole host of other surprises that we would unravel as we went along. On 16 June, we crossed your border at Bad Makau in Germany and immediately a crazy buzz throbbed across the street that welcomed us into your embrace. What joys would you offer us as we sought out your highlights, your cultural personality and unique characteristics?

Part 1 of our Poland tour saw us flirt with the Czech Republic border to the southern reaches of the Silesia region and then north-east towards our mid-trip goal of Warsaw. What a start it was and we found ourselves slowly, gracefully falling in love with you and your landscape.

Zagan and The Great Escape

I’ll be honest, our first Polish stopover happened to come from a pin on Search for Sites for no other reason than it was close by and we always like to find somewhere we can ground ourselves when we arrive in a new country and this spot seemed perfect. After the jubilation of finding an ATM and a Tescos we were thrilled to find our ‘home’ was Stalag Luft III – the Prisoner of War site that is famed for its Great Escape, immortalised by the 1963 film. What a find we had stumbled upon. A museum, a reconstruction of the 104 Hut from where the escape plan of 1944 unfolded and the ‘Harry’ tunnel deep in the woods for you to visit. What an incredible memorial to the men who lived, survived and died in this camp.  As always a very humbling experience. (51.596976 15.293282)

On the flip side, we had the additional joy of having a US Army training exercise in the field behind us giving us the chance to get up close and personal to Chinnooks and Apache helicopters – happy boy with big toys. For two days we settled our feet on Polish soil with a complete bang, satisfying the boy within.

Heading south-west to the Lakes

We love water and our tiny, eclectic campsite on Lake Czocha was amazing especially with the heat-wave we were experiencing. The Kayak got his first trip out and a short cycle away was one of Poland’s famed castles and with its lakeside view, which made for an awesome visit – even if our tour guide only spoke Polish. The pictures were lovely none the less. (51.032488 15.292713)

Not more than 45 minutes away we found ourselves a super ‘mini-farm’ campsite where we had to sit out a couple of days of storms. Still we made the best of it. (51.030694 15.381793)

Wang Church

Now who would have thought that a Norwegian wooden, stave church would have found itself in the deep south-west of Poland? Still it’s true, this magnificent church that originates in Valdres, Norway was brought over to Poland in 1842 and is one of the most popular tourist sites in southern Poland. There are a couple of nice campsites near-by and the road up to the church is narrow although very doable with a motorhome/RV. There’s a coach park which is the only suitable one for longer vehicles and costs 20PLN (£4.00) for 2hrs.  Driving down to the valley floor you will go through Karpacz, which is a buzzy ski resort, offering you the chance for summer and winter activities. We never really considered Poland as Ski destination. There’s a couple of campsites; one in town and another just five minutes on the outskirts, which is new and beautifully designed. Camp 66 has 39 hardstanding pitches with full facilities all for 45PLN per night (exc EHU) with an ACSI discount even in the high season, equating to £9 per night. (50.793705 15.769937)

Coloured Lakes and Swidnica’s Church of Peace

Trip Advisor has its place for sure and with a bit of research I came across some reviews of Poland’s Coloured Lakes hidden in the forest.    Old quarry pits that mined for pyrite closed in 1925 and they were filled in with water and over time, Mother Nature has taken her role in creating chemical reactions from the rock beds below. Each one has a different colour; purple, yellow, azure and green and although not the largest lakes or breathtaking thing we’ve ever seen, they were a very charming diversion. There is the possibility of camping up in the Forest, just a five minute walk to the lakes. It’s a primitive spot, although for 30PLN (£6) it looked ok. If you just want to park up for the lake walk, then it’s just 10PLN (£2). The hiking up to the azure lake is a tough one and not disabled friendly, so do make sure you have good footwear and are fit enough to do this walk. (50.82966 15.973466).

Moving on to Swidnica, a city in the south-west region of Poland most famous for its Church of Peace, a UNESCO site. There are only two of these churches left and are the largest timber framed Religious buildings in Europe. This 17th century church was built under very strict regulations; it had to be constructed within 12 months, not have a bell tower and be made from only natural materials. So their three hundred year history is a remarkable testimony to the character of the craftsmen. Inside the building the opulence defies the external simplicity as the Baroque artwork and is breathtaking. A stunning building worth the small entrance fee (1PLN – 20p).

Owl Mountain and Hitler

Deep in the Sudetes Mountains you will find a dark secret that is over 70 years old. Owl Mountain may well be a beautiful rolling landscape that appeals to hikers and sports enthusiasts, although there is something more sinister about this region. Hitler has had his hand in these precious lands and so yet again we find ourselves adding another jigsaw piece to our World War 2 education.

Owl Mountain is renowned for the Riese Project, which was a huge Nazi undertaking back in 1943 to construct a network of tunnels. The tunnels, dug out by Prisoner of War inmates, many of whom perished in appalling underground conditions, were never actually finished and with the end of the war came the end of the construction – with it dying their true purpose.  There are rumours that the tunnels which have the guise of underground cities, were to store Hitler’s gold bullion and treasures – a somewhat controversial suggestion or that there were there to store arms and build a super bomb. We can continue to surmise their role in Hilter’s master-plan, although today these tunnels have been secured and opened up to the public by way of a memorial to the thousands who lost their lives. With kilometres of rock drilled away to create these tunnels, you walk through them trying to understand their mystery and conjure up your own interpretation of their place in Europe’s evil perpetrator.

Of the seven tunnels three of them are open to the public; We visited the Complex Rzeczka  (also known as Walimskie Drifts) near Walim, where there is a cemetery to honour those who died creating the tunnels. It is a very well thought out tour for 45 minutes although you will need an audio set for the translation. It gives you a great experience of the conditions the prisoners had to work in and leaves you to ponder on their purpose. For 16PLN per person you can join the tour and 12PLN for an audio set. (£5.60 all in per person).  Complex Ozówka is the other major tourist destination, which we believe offers a similar tour although is a larger tunnel.

A completely unique perspective of Hilter’s World War influence, which we were not expecting. We found a super free spot at the foot of the mountains just 10 minutes drive from the Rzeczka. (50.661201 16.478901)

Stołowe National Park – geological gorgeousness

After the sinister military experience and I must admit rubbish weather, we craved some fresh air, warmth and natural beauty. And so as we arrived at the Stołowe Mountains and the sun came out we knew we were in for a treat. This had been one of my ‘must see’ destinations as I researched this lovely Silesia region. We did consider by-passing it as the weather was really miserable, although I was determined to see this geological masterpiece, unique to this area. So we chanced our luck and were duly rewarded.

The mountains in this region are not akin to their angular relatives across in the Alps; they are more curvaceous, undulating and soft, with forests and acres of golden wheat fields caressing the landscape. It just warms your heart and forces you to submit to its beauty, which we did with ease.

Camped at an eclectic site just on the edge of the National Park, we were in a good position to travel in with the van and we had two main destinations in our sights. (50.40903 16.381647). One was the Labyrinth at Blędne Skały and the other was the forest at Szczeliniec Mały just outside Karlów. The geology here is just incredible and I have never seen rock formations like it, well not this side of the Atlantic anyway. Boulders that look like they have been thrown together by some giants playing tiddlywinks, which is now a safe playground for us to hike through and have a great experience. Both centres are easy to reach with a motorhome and with road tolls, entry tickets and car parks, the whole day only cost us £16. A fabulous experience, which we have shared more detail about in our blog. Click here to find out more about this fabulous place.  For an instant visual, check out our video below.

 

Wrocław – Poland’s 4th largest city

I give you fair warning here! Worcław will make you run out of superlatives as you try to describe its beauty – now firmly on our Top 5 favourite cities. The Silesia capital that stole our hearts has just been awarded Best European Destination 2018 – so it’s easy to understand the attraction that this place must have to win such an accolade. Aside of the aesthetic brilliance of this place after the tragedy of the 1944 – 80 day Siege, this city has soul, grace and resilience at its core. It is the truest example of a Phoenix rising from the Ashes that we have ever seen. 70% of this city was demolished both on purpose and due to battle and yet it has returned to its former glory with an artistry that simply demands your admiration. The main square looks like something out of a Disney film and is the real heart of the city and yet all around its islands, waterways and parkland you will find untold treasures just waiting to delight you. With mulitmedia fountains that dance to Madonna or Chopin, artwork that expresses liberation and over 300 gnomes, Wrocław has everything and it deserves more than a day to really understand its rebirthing from World War terror. We stayed at Wrocław Camping about 5 miles from the centre, easily doable with bikes or trams.  Not cheap, by Polish standards at £20 pn, although very secure. (51.0757781 17.089353)

Read more about our visit here and check out our video below for our highlights.

Łodz – Capital of culture

After the high of Wrocław, sadly Łodz (pronounced Wooge) just didn’t do it for us. You know sometimes how you just don’t feel a place? Well this is Łodz for us. It is a city built on its historical textile industry that has since disappeared. In its place, regenerated factories are now museums, restaurants and shopping malls. Deeper into the veins of the city, you will find Europe’s second longest commercial street reaching nearly 3 miles in length, which is beautifully pedestrianised. Piotrkowska Street offers you elegant buildings with intricate facias and all the shops you can imagine. This main artery though just felt a bit depersonalised and the culture and creative art, just didn’t match our expectations. The street art that we did find, was amazing, although the artistry that we hoped for really didn’t materialise.

Camping here is also tricky – there are no campsites within or close by. So we found a couple of car parks to stop in over night; one in the south about 8 miles away at Rzgów (51.663888 19.489379) and the other only 3 miles north of the town, outside a parkland and cemetery, (51.80521 19.440807) which was super convenient for catching a tram straight into town for just 50p per person covering a 20 minute journey.

Poland has been a lovely surprise so far. I had so few expectations although the diversity of the landscape and the depth of the recent historical scars make for such a profound trip. Someone has just described our World War memorial visits as a pilgrimage and I hadn’t really thought about it in that way before, although it is feeling a bit like that. It seems so much more than just a road trip and a real journey if that doesn’t sound too twee. We have been able to blend some of our beloved ‘off-the-beaten-track’ routes, with nature, history and cities that cry out for your understanding and compassion and not just a fleeting visit.  We are looking forward to the second chapter  of our Polish adventures unfolding and our minds expanding in tune. 

A moving visit to Treblinka, Poland

A moving visit to Treblinka, Poland

Treblinka, a seemingly lost world, hidden in the forest, out of sight although never out of mind for Poland’s World War 2 memorials. A place that invokes the stirring of emotion from deep within the belly of any visitor intent on learning more about the atrocities of this war’s holocaust and on paying their respects to the hundreds of thousands of people who died mercilessly here.

We have been inspired during our travels to continue our World War education since stumbling upon a cemetery in Slovenia that piqued our interested in understanding the real nuances of the two wars and fill in the shameful gaps from our schooling education. It was time we put this right and through our learning enable us to honour those who died at the hands of power, greed and dominance. Our most recent exploration was at Colditz in Germany.

Yet we knew that Poland would give us a completely different perspective of the war-time experiences and that it would feature heavily in our trip given that Auschwitz was an intended destination. Yet little did we realise just how much Poland would reveal to us as we committed to our educational journey from the depths of Owl Mountain in Silesia in the south to the horrors of Treblinka in the north east.

My research found Treblinka Extermination Camp some time ago, and after visiting Warsaw and understanding more about the Ghetto and Uprising, it felt an absolute must. A must because for almost 1 million people, this was to be their final destination, wrapped up in the vial guise of resettlement.

An emotional ride – Treblinka 1

We set out early before any coaches arrived so we could treasure the peace that Treblinka demanded. The first thing that struck me was how abruptly the sound stopped. We had parked overnight in our camper in the museum car park and were entertained by the songs from the Golden Oriels.  Their wolf-whistle calls made me smile despite the sobriety of the occasion – it was a lovely alarm call. Yet as we walked through the mock gates of the Treblinka 1 Memorial Site, it was as though there was an invisible barbed wire fence that they could not or would not pass. And their sound ceased in the tiniest of moments that you could almost miss it. It was striking in its subtly.

The second thing that created an instant impact were the ribbons threaded through the pine forest as we approached the Memorial.  Each strand having half a dozen names of those who perished here. Weaving in and out of the thicket of trees, thousands of names hanging amongst the forest that was their deathly hallow, suddenly became people – real personalities who lived, breathed and died in this hidden camp. What an amazing testimony to their lives; forever immortalised, forever held in our loving thoughts. 

Treblinka was destroyed and burnt to the ground at the end of the war, so in truth there isn’t much to see visually of the camp, for which I feel thankful in some ways. Although the reconstruction of the platform and railway line gave me an instant feeling of reality. The enormity of Treblinka’s horror started to dawn on me; the huge stones, each one dedicated to a country who lost the lives of their loved ones; Bulgaria, Greece, Ukraine, France, Czech Republic, Poland to name just a few.  Although nothing would prepare me for the next vision as I turned the corner. A huge memorial stone that covers over the gas chamber, stands with strength and defiance against a epoc that saw no respect for humanity and cultural diversity. The Father stone carved with the suffering plight of the Jews held my gaze, although it is the stone forest that surrounds it that really took away my breath. Each stone representing a town, city or community that lost their families to the will of the Nazis. Thousands of them, large and small, scattered across the acres in front of me. It left me incredulous at the horror inflicted by man against man! And when they created this memorial in the late 1950’s, they created an inscription that simply states ‘Never Again!’

Two simple words begging us to serve up a dish of compassion not hatred – yet lessons have not been learnt. Ethnic cleansing continues to still the beating hearts of those persecuted by regimes believing in their own supremacy. Sadly humility towards our neighbour is an all too distant relation that has yet to come into the family fold. When will we learn from these painful memories that scar our history?  Surely it is time for us to stop our ego’s demand for dominance and to start to live with love, hope and unity?

 

The path to Treblinka 2

I thought that Treblinka 1 was the core of the experience, although as we walked towards the Black Road which was built by the prisoners, we realised that it lead to something more. More horror, more death and more sorrow.

The cobbled path was hard to walk on, although I felt it was important to honour all those who knelt on bleeding knees, in the heat of the day, laying each stone to create the path. The path to their deaths. I didn’t want to take the easy route – I wanted my feet to feel the discomfort of the uneven surface. They gave their lives for this path and the least I could do was walk on it in their memory.

The deeper into the forest we went – 2.5km to be specific, something strange began to happen. I became acutely aware of the soil, which was strangely blackened, a greyness that was not natural. Nature did not make this path, this was something more. Did this blackness symbolise death or something more sinister? It really didn’t bare thinking about. At the same time though, I noticed an acrid taste at the back of my mouth, almost as if the fumes, the smoke was still lingering in the air. I know in reality that this couldn’t be true, could it? Could the embers still linger? Could the smoke be forever carved deep into the bark and woven amongst the pines? Is this a legacy that the ghosts will never allow to cleanse? I felt their pain in every step and every breath I took.  

In an eerily still forest with little to bring it to life, the only colour came from the yellow butterflies that darted in front of us symbolising transformation and freedom. Beneath our feet nothing grew except the hardiest of grasses and heather. Nothing really flourished here. Even the old quarry that the Nazi’s used to hoodwink the community into thinking this camp was a commercial enterprise, looked lifeless and cold. And it feels right that it was this way.

As we approached Triblinka 2 – the Labour Camp, all that remains are the footings of buildings that stored the Quarry tools or the Zoo for the Guard’s amusement. Although constructed buildings were not needed to imagine the horror here. The cries and tears of those trapped in this place were carried on the breeze.  And yet, I noticed the thousands of pink scabious flowers that danced on the sparse covered carpet that now shields the evidence of Triblinka’s Labour Camp site, (which takes on more of a complexion of an archeological site than a historical horror film). It somehow belies the truth of what lies beneath the surface and the hatred and fear that hung in the air, yet each flower sprung from the earth in salute to each person’s death, a tribute to their heart-beats and a memory not to be forgotten. 

It may be over 70 years ago, although this extermination camp is as real as if it were yesterday. And that is less about the memorials that have been lovingly created and more about what still hangs in the air. A reminder of what has gone before and how it shapes who we are today. The forgiveness of a nation, the healing of a wound so deep and unity in the creation – at least this is what we pray for.

 

In memory of those who have perished, your souls float in the wind as it whistles through the Treblinka forest and we remember each and every one of you.

 

For more information about the horrors of this camp, reputed to have killed the largest number of people, second only to Auschwitz, click here.

Wrocław City Tour Poland

Wrocław City Tour Poland

Wrocław, may well be Poland’s fourth largest city and capital of the south west region of Silesia, although this seems not to be on people’s travel itinerary. Perhaps the lure of Krakow to the east has more appeal. After all the cities we have seen in the last two years of our full time travels, Wroclaw has shot up to poll position, sitting proudly in our Top 5 favourites.

Wroclaw is one of those places that defies adjectives, because something far more profound than simple words are needed. The best way I can describe it… is like a novel that you pick up from the library that looks pretty enough from the outside and yet once you begin reading its compelling story, you realise how little the cover does it justice.

This is how I feel about Wrocław. When I visit a place I am often in a quandary about how much research to do before we go. Do too much and it spoils the surprise; do too little and it’s easy to miss the real essence. So for our visit to Wroclaw, I had done a little reading up from a Lonely Planet’s Guide and plotted the main ‘tourist highlights’ from a Wroclaw website. Yet I have never felt quite so unprepared for the real truth behind the elegant facade of this city. In many ways I feel a little ashamed at the lack of knowledge that I had gleaned beforehand. Having remedied that on our return, I now feel like I know a bit more of the real Wrocław and, in truth would love to return to speak to its soul and not the glossy, yet delightful image that it portrays on the outside.

Wrocław – Did you know?

Did you know that this city used to be called Breslau and only became Wrocław after the German’s were defeated in WW2?

Did you know that the city was devastated and had to be rebuilt after a Mongol attack in 13th Century?

Did you know that the city was to fall to yet another attack which would devastate both the Medieval buildings and its population?  In fact 70% of the city was demolished by the Germans in 1944 so that they could build a fortress to encompass the city, trapping residents inside its walls as part of their defence agains the advancing Soviet Army.

Did you know that The Siege of Breslau in 1945 was one of the worst human tragedies of the War loosing a recorded 170,000 people during an 80 day siege?

Did you know that in the aftermath of the battle, more devastation was to rain on Wrocław as poverty, raping, pillaging and disease took their toll on the remaining civilians?

Did you know that the Anti-Soviet movement – the Orange Alternative was founded in Wrocław in the early 1980s and they used creativity and humour to stand up against the Communist rule and they played a significant role in Poland’s fight for independence. Their symbol was the dwarf – more on that later.

And did you know that it was awarded European Capital of Culture in 2016 and was voted Best European Destination of 2018. Now that is some come back!

Of all the great cities we have visited, Wrocław is the one that stands head and shoulders above others for its sheer tenacity and strength against opposition. Whilst they may have been brutalised, overwhelmed and beaten, it feels like today’s Wrocław is saying ‘We are not defeated’.

The example of the Phoenix rising from the Ashes, has never been more apt.

Every building, that looks so immaculate in the Market Square has a tale to tell and, whilst its frontage may delight your eyes, it is what lies behind the facade that is more important. Perfectly reformed, a scar or three may be, although tough, strong and irrepressible. Wrocław will have your admiration and undying affection when you blend its historical battles with today’s modern and award winning city.

With this historical context in place, I feel it is now appropriate to show off the visual display that this city offers the eager visitor. Click on the image below to see a short video of our highlights.

 

The Motoroamer’s Wrocław City Tour Video

 

Wrocław strangely doesn’t have a feel of a city, as even on the outskirts there is very little evidence of the built up, residential and industrial zones that are so often found in large cities around the world. The one thing that struck us most was how well catered for cyclists are around the city. Everywhere you look there are dedicated bridges, cycle routes and even traffic lights – reminiscent of our trip to The Netherlands last month. And then there are the trams, buzzing all around the city offering car-less travel if you wish. And I’m sure this contributed to the feel of the place. No traffic jams, no honking horns and no congestion. It was a joy to cycle around without the threat of being clipped by a passing lorry.  That isn’t to say that it was deserted. There was still plenty of atmosphere, just not the sludge that you often feel in an inner city.

Whetting your Wrocław appetite

Situated on the banks of the River Oder, Wrocław is often described as Poland’s Venice. Having been to Venice I’m not really a fan of this comparison as it’s a huge set of shoes to fill and I feel that Wrocław deserves an identity of all its own. That said, there sure is a lot of water here and its 130 bridges and 12 islands form the basis of Worcław’s charismatic allure.

Wrocław’s Art

Wrocław is colourful. It embodies its creative history and it really does demand that you to look up from your phone and see the roof lines that stand out against the afternoon’s brilliant blue skies. Or perhaps you just want to listen to the music that seems to float around the streets in some sort of melodic happiness.

As I mentioned earlier, gnomes played an integral part in Wroclaw’s history. When the Soviet rebellion group, The Orange Alternative was born, they adopted a creative strategy to their resistance. They would deface the propaganda posters around the city with street art, most noticeably mischievous gnomes, as a way of laughing at the establishment. Every since then, the gnome has been an important symbol to Wrocław and in 2001 the city decided to commemorate the rebellion’s artistry by placing a bronze statue called Papa Dwarf at the Group’s meeting place. Five years later a local artist had the idea to create smaller statues, which have since been placed all around the city – between 300 – 400 of them to be precise, each one telling a modern-day tale of city life.  They are so easy to miss and yet once you catch one, you find yourself on a mission to find others.

Aside of the cheeky chappies that are found at ground level, slightly higher up on your eye-line you will find some other pretty stunning monuments to people, events and ideals. In fact almost around every corner, there will be some statue or another that will intrigue you. There are chairs, footballs, fountains to name just a few that really give Wrocław its character and charm.

Worcław’s Market Square

Having said that the comparison with Venice was a mute one, I am about to contradict myself when I come to describe Worcław’s Market Square. Whichever direction you approach it, whether from The Shambles or The Penitent Bridge, the Market Square will impress. From streets bordered with the tallest of buildings that sometimes feel claustrophobic suddenly you open up into this atmospheric square with cafe-lined edges, where a piano tinkles filling the air and an acoustic rhythm that bounces off the walls. And that’s all before you caste your eyes around the skyline of buildings. Gothic, Medieval, Baroque, they all have a presence here and you could imagine the history that holds them up. And I think armed with the know of the bygone era it makes these facades even more impressive. You will not want to leave this enigmatic space and you could easily while away a couple of hours drinking their cheap beer and people watching.

The centrepiece is the St Elizabeth Church and the Town Hall which elegantly and assertively stand with pride relishing the placement of every piece of rebuilt brickwork. These are just testimony to Wroclaw’s culture.

Worcław’s Cathedral Island

Don’t miss the 14th century Cathedral – St John Baptist, which like so many other dwellings was destroyed in the Siege of 1945, yet has been beautifully rebuilt back to its former glory. There is some evidence that one of the towers is 10th Century, hence why they look so different, so the attention to detail in the reconstruction is outstanding. Can you just imagine what the view looks like from the top of this 97m viewpoint?

As you amble down the tree-lined avenue you get sucked into the effervescent buildings, despite the tourist trains disrupting your peace. The Tumski Bridge has got to be one of those Instagram moments, as lovers capture their sentiments in a padlock and a statue of Pope John XXIII stands with grace and presence overlooking the river that surrounds this stunning piece of heaven, leaving you mesmerised.

Modern Wrocław

And to complete our Wrocław city tour who could not put a park and a fountain on the agenda? Although this is no ordinary park, nor any normal fountain.

This is a park that includes acres of landscaped zones including a Japanese Garden. If like us, half a day on your feet exploring has been enough, then do make time for an evening display at the multimedia fountains. Chill out on the grass as you watch the synchronised water play in time with classical, jazz or modern music and what how the lights and visual effects dance around the arena. The shows are free and go on throughout the day, on the hour from 1000 and the evening shows start at 1800 through to 2140 and it is lovely to be part of this event and I guess at night with the full effect of the lights and the setting sun make it even more atmospheric.

 

Practicalities

  • Wrocław is a great all-year round city in part because of the lack of crowds. We visited at the beginning of July and were not overrun with tourists – which is our worst nightmare (even though we are one of them!)
  • Cycling is a great way to get around, as to see all the sights by foot will make for a tiring experience. There are plenty of cycle tracks into and around the city and bicycle parks to chain up your wheels allowing you to go on foot for a while.
  • There are plenty of trams moving around the city, so if you don’t have bikes, then there are alternative transport options.
  • We thought a beer in the Market Square would be expensive, although unlike other cities we have visited, we didn’t feel ripped off. A beer and juice cost us 17 PLN, about £3.40.
  • There is a Tourist Information centre in the Market Square. (51.109416 17.030572).
  • If you want camping, then we stayed at Camping Wroclaw, about 20 mins south east of the city (51.075781 17.089353). It’s 100PLN per night, which on Poland standards is expensive although it is convenient and a very good quality site that is secure.
  • Wroclaw is accessible from Poznan in the north west and Krakow from the east.  Even Warsaw is only a 3.5hr drive away.

 

And so, what say we about this city of Poland? An example of a place besieged and ravaged by war and oppression, yet has risen up against its opponent to reclaim its rightful place in Europe’s ‘Best Destinations’. You will not be disappointed by Wrocław in any way.

Stołowe National Park Poland

Stołowe National Park Poland

Stołowe National Park is a hidden gem, tucked away in the south west corner of Poland on the border with Czech Republic. And you could be forgiven for looking at the Polish map and conveniently by-passing it both with your wheels and your eye as it seems a long way south. After all the draw of Krakow, Warsaw and the Tatra Mountains will undoubtedly entice you. Except you will be richer for the experience if, like us, you put your energies into this Lower Silesea region.

We have been flirting with the Czech border since we arrived in Poland ten days ago and we have taken a slow meander with no particular place to go other than a loose plan in my mind about seeing the Stołwe National Park in the Sudete Mountains. I’d seen pictures of rock formations that fascinated me enough to make this detour to this tiny peninsular south of Wrocław.  Weather, as per norm has proved to be our nemesis and almost influenced a left turn to the north than heading to our southern destination. Although we persevered as the camera loving spirit in me kept a firm eye on my goal.

This mountainous region of Poland is just wonderful. Not dramatic and angular like its Alpine or Carpathian cousins; more gentle, curvaceous and alluring as its topography seems to ebb and flow gracefully mimicking the ocean’s waves. These forest and fields of corn drape over this voluptuous landscape giving it a softness that melts your heart. Yet do not be fooled, these gracious mountains pack a mighty punch at up to 3000ft.  Who would have thought that within their embrace, this Sudete Mountain range would hold such a magnificent geological secret.

Stołowe National Park really does look unassuming as you arrive in the region and I found myself wondering if it had been worth our diversion south. Pretty enough although not the spectacle I was hoping for. Although parked up in our eclectic little campsite in Duszniki-Zdrój overlooking fields of Roe deer we were determined to set foot on this unique landscape and, with a great weather forecast we would be in for a treat.

Stołowe National Park (pronounced Stowlove) is about 10 miles long and in the heart of the forest are 100 million year old sandstone rocks that have been formed in layers, and through erosion, have created the most incredible formations. This landscape is unique in Poland and locals flock here to experience its magic. And I say magic for good reason as the two areas of the Park we visited, transport you into a world of fantasy. In fact The Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian was filmed here. And it is easy to see why.

Area 1 – Blędne Skały 

22 hectares of protected natural beauty known as Errant Rocks would hold for us a memorable hiking adventure, although getting there was an interesting journey before we even donned our walking boots. Heading out from our campsite in blissful ignorance following SAT NAV we ended up in the back of nowhere with our faithful machine having a meltdown. Doing a double-check with maps.me it had, once again, taken us off on a magical mystery tour of the Stołowe Mountains – just not our planned destination. So a point to note if you do this route – when you reach the lovely spa town of Kudowa-Zdrój keep straight on the 387 carriageway – do not turn off left, even if Tom-Tom is screaming at you to do so!!

Reading reviews on t’interweb, I was unsure whether we would be able to reach to this region of the park by camper thanks to the numerous comments of ‘access is via an extremely narrow road’ being mentioned. So suitable doubt was lodged in my mind yet intrepid we always are, so decided to check it out and make an alternative plan B if A didn’t come off. Needless to say, reviews must always be taken with a pinch of salt because it was absolutely fine.

Indeed there is a narrow road, although it is simple one-way, single track road. Access and exit is controlled by way of 30 minute slots that allow you to drive up and down without meeting any on coming traffic. It is well organised and we had timed it beautifully and drove up instantly. The Ticket Office at the entrance, take a small toll fee of 20PLN (£4.00) and off you go. Now I will be honest that the road isn’t the smoothest we’ve been on and the road is punctured with holes and it is a little, what shall I say, bumpy, although we’ve been on far worse in Italy, England Bulgaria. So given that you are only doing 15mph, the road is completely doable and we’re driving a 7.5m camper. The journey takes just 15 minutes and you will be guided into the car park. We arrived at 11.30am after our little SATNAV detour and there was plenty of space for our length of vehicle.  There is no additional parking fee, although you do have another Ticket Office (Kasa in Polish) at the entrance to what they call the Labyrinth, which is 10PLN per person; £2 – a billy bargain for the experience we were about to have.

As we followed the well marked walking boards that protected us from the often muddy ground, I found myself wondering what delights would lay ahead. Whilst I had seen pictures on the internet, nothing can really replace seeing it for yourself – same is true for you as you read my blog. Although I hope words and images might entice you none-the-less.

So how can I describe this playground of geological genius? Imagine being a child again and in one of those mazes where you have to find your way out. It’s a bit like that except surrounded by rocks rather than privet hedges. And the word rocks is really an understatement of the reality. These are formations that reach up to 11 metres high that look like they have been sculptured by a giant not of this world. Sandstone boulders that have been weathered by rain, wind, snow and ice create deep crevices, weird and wonderful shapes that even have personalities such as ‘Hen’s Legs’, ‘The Ship’ and ‘The Gate’ to name just a few. It truly is a geological work of art.  Around every corner you will find yourself looking up, within, around and through as the Labyrinth really does take you on a mysterious tour of its unique world and we felt like we were privileged visitors in a special kingdom – The Land of the Rocks.  And just like that kid who is having a huge adventure in the maze, you will find yourself squeezing through the narrowest of gaps, crawling through low tunnels and clambering over rocks and tree stumps that have somehow found a way to co-exist in this secret world of nature.

Some practicalities 

Having sold this wonderland experience to you, it is worth mentioning some important facts that will help you enjoy your adventure;

 

  1. Good walking footwear is essential and although there are good boardwalks, climbing over roots and boulders are necessary so sturdy shoes will give you a safer experience.
  2. Weekends are going to be busier than week days and coaches do come up here too. So consider this when you visit. Although there weren’t too many on our trip, on a Friday morning in June, if you can avoid school holidays and weekends I think this would enhance your experience.
  3. You need to be reasonably agile and not be holding any injuries as there is a lot of bending, climbing and squatting. Sadly this is not a disabled-friendly environment.
  4. Be cautious if you have dogs and very young children. This is not a great environment for these little guys either.
  5. Some of the crevices are incredibly narrow and means you will often need to take off rucksacks, watch for cameras around your neck as you squeeze through some really narrow gaps. So without wanting to be disrespectful in any way, if you are on the large side, then this may be tricky for you. My boobs just about managed although there was a little scrapage!
  6. The walk takes about 45 minutes and is done in a clockwise direction, so unless someone decides they have to turn around for some reason, then it makes for an easier passage.
  7. It is very shaded in the forest, so on a hot day it will be light relief from the sun; on a cold day, you may need some layers of warm clothing to take with you.
  8. There are toilets at the car park if you don’t have your own facilities.

 

Area 2 – Szczeliniec Mały

Ok so have I got your attention so far? So you fancy more? Well we have more to give you.

I have to admit that having seen the labyrinth I wasn’t sure anything much could top it. Although I was about to be proved wrong. Again my trustee companion Google showed me images of our next adventure and it looked nice enough. A plateau of forest and rock with two viewing platforms on the edge, over-looking the valley. Still those thoughts aside, I have come to learn that low expectations is far better than too high an anticipation of an event or situation. So parked up in a large field, that interestingly you can camp overnight at, we began our trek. There’s about 1km to walk before you get to the actual entrance of the park and you must run the ‘tourist trap’ gauntlet with little sheds offering you their wears, ice creams and scrumptious looking gofry (waffles to you and me) topped with jam or ice-cream.

You arrive at the entrance with the sight of steps; steps, steps and more steps, in fact over 665 of them to be precise. They were constructed in 1804, so in themselves there’s even history in them there steps! A steady if not slightly out of breath ascent, in about 15 minutes brought us to what we thought was the top. A restaurant and resting place afforded us stunning views across the valley into Czech Republic. This could have been our stopping point – although the icing on this veritable fruit cake was literally just around the corner.

With the parting of another 10PLN per person (£2.00) we entered the second wonderland, with the anticipation of Alice and the grins of the Chesire Cat. At first the walkway looks a little similar to Blędne Skały, they certainly look related and of course in geological terms you would expect it to be this way. Although it really doesn’t take long for the landscape to become more dramatic. Crevices deeper, boulders strewn across like bridges making for that perfect Instagram shot if it wasn’t for the railings to stop us. More characters greeted us along the way; the monkey was sublime, the table top, the chicken, all there for our entertainment and the incessant clicking of my camera.

And then there was a sign for The Devil’s Kitchen and with eyes wide open like a child at Christmas we headed down. Down deep into the earth into one of the crevices. And boy did the temperature drop. We were hurring it was so cold. Although somehow this really didn’t bother us partly because of the experience and we really had to concentrate with the steepness of the steps that lay before us. And then as we started to climb back up, with only chains as our support, we got the full scope of this magnificent place and the role that Mother Nature has played in its creation. Either that or there really are giants who are having the greatest of fun with us. This place just got better and better. Every corner we turned there was something new for us to gawp at.

Past the Devil’s humble abode, we were then showered with sunlight as the landscape opened up and huge boulders looking like lego sat in front of us with a viewing platform to climb. Wow this place was just incredible. Surely though this wasn’t what we had seen from the car park in the valley below?  No this was just the warm up show. Two outcrops of sandstone rock that signalled the end of the forest had views across Poland and the Czech Republic. It was just a stunning scene and after the hike to get there and the adventure with the Devil, we really felt like we had had a ‘Famous Five goes on a hiking adventure’ – just that there were only two of us.

And then was simply the descent to master. Whilst it didn’t feel as if there were 665 steps back down, the views were completely different here as we hugged the rock face on the well managed steps and forest paths downhill. So much attention and care has gone into this park and all for £2! The whole experience took us about 2 hours from door to door and we calculated that it was about 5km in total. So a good old stretch for our muscles and our lungs and one I would do again in a flash.

Some practicalities

A bit like our hike through Blędne Skały’s Labyrinth, this incredible walk comes with some health warnings.

1. You must have a good level of health and fitness to attempt this hike as there are no car parks at the top – you have to walk. From the car park in Karłow, it’s a good 2km to reach the restaurants and the Ticket Office, of which a good 1km is those 665 steps.

2. There are some incredibly steep steps up and down through Devil’s Kitchen, which have chains to help you ascend, so this doesn’t lend itself to pushchairs or wheelchairs or really carrying small children. And again although dogs are allowed on leads, as a dog-owner in a previous life, I wouldn’t have wanted to take Fleetwood on this walk with the steepness of the steps.

3. There are toilets at the beginning of the stairway and again at the restaurant at the top.

4. You pay 10PLN per person (£2.00) to enter the park at the viewing point past the steps.

5. On a hot day take plenty of water, on a cold or snowy day take plenty of warm clothing and on both days sturdy footwear is essential as once again you are climbing over tree roots and boulders.

6. Car parking in the area seems to be capped at 20PLN (£4.00 for the day) and there are plenty of them. We parked at Michalówka Restaurant (50.476, 16.33776).

 

Both of these areas of outstanding natural beauty will take your breath way. And whilst you’re in the area, why not visit some of the other hikes around where you can take in the Mushroom Rocks and other sandstone rock formations.  We really can’t recommend enough diverting here and having a couple of days to explore the area. It truly is beautiful and a great way to hop over the border into the Czech Republic if this is your route.  Check out the main Stołowe National Park tourist website here.

In terms of camping possibilities, there are two that we know of in the area, both of which are basic although perfectly acceptable to explore the area;

 

 

Check out our latest video below, to give you a real ‘bird’s eye view’ of our adventures.

2 weeks crossing Germany

2 weeks crossing Germany

2 weeks in Germany is surely not enough to absorb a country’s culture let alone navigate its compass points sufficient well. In truth though we were only passing through en route to Poland, so we knew that it would be ‘short and sweet’.  Although now into year three of our full-time travels, we have evolved our travel philosophy and rather than racing from A-B, we have come to appreciate the journey so much more and to stop along the way to smell the roses, or the Lime trees as we have come to enjoy here in Germany.  Every journey is precious and should never be taken for granted.

It’s a bit like Dorothy’s dance up the Yellow Brick Road. Without the path on the way to see the Wizard of Oz she would never have met the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin-man.  It feels the same for us now.

So with hopes high and anticipation strong inside Scoobie’s walls, we donned our leder-hosen and turned our wheels to the Fatherland. Myles had three years in Germany as a Force’s child, so we had the added advantage of his fluency as we coursed our way through the Germany countryside. So what would Germany teach us along the way – plenty we were sure of that.

Check out our Interactive Map that shows our route, Points of Interest and of course our Camping spots with co-ordinates.

I’ll be honest, our arrival into Germany wasn’t blessed as a joyous occasion as I was nursing sciatica so it made for an uncomfortable initiation. Well I say initiation, we have been to Germany in Scoobie before – as we visited Bavaria in 2016, although this year our entry point was from The Netherlands so it did feel like completely new territory.  Whether it was my state of mind I’m not sure, our first day didn’t bowl me over. What did interest me though was to see how the Dutch culture seemed to temporarily fuse with German, as we crossed the border.  For a good 50km, bicycles continued to be ever-present and traditional style windmills still speckled the flat landscape with their sails. We’ve seen it before with other border crossings, although on this particular trip it really hit home how cultures blend before claiming their own unique identity. I wonder if it will be the same in Poland?

Rees 

Rees was our first stop, on the banks of the Rhine. Sadly we didn’t get to explore the town; well nothing much more than Lidls, and I even say ‘we’ loosely. I saw it from my bed at least. We were told how nice Rees is as a town and the Promenade along the river, certainly seemed to have promise as we shimmied past it.   There was a well organised Stellplatz just five minutes from town for €8 including EHU (co-ordinates 51.76422, 6.38886)

Dülmen

Our next station stop was driven by the wet stuff – no not rain, water…. we love being by water of any kind, although Dülmen sadly fell short despite the blue patches on the map. Our overnighter was though by the river, which was some consolation although sadly no exploration was permitted until sciatica decided to ‘do one’. Still the Stellplatz was lovely and worth the short diversion for one the few freebies in Germany.  Hausdülmen Stellplatz – 51.8074, 7.24697 no services

Heading for the mountains

After the disappointment of far too many autobahns, an enormous volume of traffic that we are just not used to in Europe and an uninspiring landscape, I headed for our trusty, slightly disheveled map, in search for bumpy green bits. We don’t use paper maps very much with our digital resources, although on this occasion with a weak internet that plagues much of the country, the map was actually a great source of info that guided us eastwards.

I found mountains, I found ski stations and I found Natural Parks. Yeah, at last! This was more like it and our sort of landscape. Perhaps finally Germany was going to deliver. Our vista changed after we hit Meschede and we thankfully exited the painstaking movement from the caterpillar style autobahn. Rolling hills, forest and reservoirs had our hearts sighing with relief. These mountains were simply gorgeous.

With red kites flying overhead and fresh forest pines as our borders, the ride was just lovely. And this region’s houses were changing too. Characterful black and white Tudor style buildings welcomed you into the countryside. No more cities to bypass, no more industry, just warmly embracing villages that oozed charm and delight. We finally came upon Schmallenburg, a delightful spot that is just hugged by forests and mountains. Our stop for the night was Winkhausen, a lovely Stellplatz in someone’s back garden; for just €8 per night with EHU and water extra, payable with coins. Why not treat yourself to a discounted visit to the Spa, which for guest of the Stellplatz was only €8 from 1800-2200  (co-ordinates 51.16073, 8.34074).  With walks, lakes and a 5* Spa just next door, there is everything you could wish for, for an outdoor experience.  

Now on first glance, Winkhausen may seem like a backwater place, although come April and you will be treated to an annual musical festival that puts this place on the German map.  

Edersee

Riding high on our success at finding some wonderful countryside, our spirits were raised and our hopes soaring as we continued our path towards Poland. It was amazing to think though that we had been travelling four days and still we hadn’t reached half way across this great land. I don’t think either of us had realised quite how expansive Germany was.

So water was our calling yet again and as we wound through the beautiful countryside full of bountiful crops and quaint towns, we found our home for the weekend – Edersee. A man-made reservoir that is heaven on a water-sport lover’s plate.  With wildlife abound, especially the nightly chorus of frogs, we withstood some pretty full-on thunderstorms that gifted us some amazing lake-side views in their  aftermath.  We stayed at a great Stellplatz – Rehbach (co-ordinates 51.18388, 9.026714) for €6 per night and it was ideal. If you have yourself a kayak or bicycles, then this is the place for you.  

Sondershausen

We love getting off the beaten track and if we can find ‘home’ in the middle of nowhere, then that is what drives us (and water!!) Just off the A38 autobahn is Sondershausen which, like so many of its village neighbours has an oversized castle for the size of town. And the houses are just so incredibly ornate, stately even.  Yet just ten minutes outside of the town you will find dense forest, which offers shelter to an amazing Wildlife and Adventure Centre for kids. After what seems like miles driving through the pine-scented woodland we arrived at a huge clearing where they have created this Adventure Park and you are allowed to park there for €4 per day, although there are no services.  A super diversion. (co-ordinates 51.33821, 10.86295)

A bit of Modern and Ancient History coming up

I have to be honest that our trip to Colditz came completely out of the blue. Whilst looking for a sensible halfway point to the Kromlau Rhododendron Park, which was my border crossing aim, I found a church icon on Search for Sites.  It revealed the name Colditz. With a growing excitement about the World War 2 links and our desire to expand our knowledge of this period, it surely had to be our next station stop?  And indeed it was.  With a small ACSI campsite about 1 mile from the town (co-ordinates 51.1302 12.8308) whose silence was only punctured by the orchestra of birds, we made our way for a tour of this infamous Prisoner of War camp.  Read more about our exploration of this fabulous spot on our blog by clicking here – Escaping from Colditz.  The history, both old and new (relatively speaking) was exhilarating and I got an overwhelming sense of resilience, camaraderie and respect and not the War-time horror that we are taught to expect from camps such as these. It was a great trip that enriched us beyond belief and one that will most certainly stay in our memory banks.

Meißen

With our European travels we have come across many beautiful sights and some stunning cities and towns. We are fast accumulating our Top 10 lists of these stunners. And a new addition to the Medieval Towns compilation will be Meißen, famous for its porcelain – and so much more.  Poised on the edge of the Elbe river, this grand yet exquisite town will charm you and take away your breath. With its 12th century castle, its orange-roofed buildings and atmospheric square, you could almost have stepped into a scene from Pinocchio.  Scaling the heights to the castle to take in the river panorama will certainly impress; as will the descent to the hub of the market square, where horse and carts wait to escort you on a sedate tour. The chocolate-box houses with their brightly coloured facades draw you as if wanting you to be part of the cartoon animation waiting to be played out and all you can do is look and stare. So many different angles, shapes, colours – it truly is a feast for the eyes. And if you’re lucky a quick saunter over the bridge will give you a river reflective perspective of the castle as it states its regal place on the banks of the Elbe. 

We had a lovely, if not a tad noisy Stellplatz that was right on the river’s edge, with the castle as our back drop and our foreground the fast-flowing river. What a joy this place was and I think in truth two days would be perfect at this iconic town to really do it justice.  (co-ordinates 51.16767, 13.47332)

Not bad – Bad Muskau

Our final German destination was calling. Kromlau – a place that appealed to the photographer in me. This tiny hamlet may well be in one of the most remote places in Germany, right on the eastern border with Poland and certainly not on any tourist itinerary. Yet it was its Rhododendron Park and famous Devil’s Bridge that intrigued me.  And what a great shout it was too, although not for the reasons we expected. 

It was a really interesting drive here from Meißen as the landscape changed completely. We drove through a huge expanse of forest with not a car to be seen – not even a fast one! It was like we had entered the twilight zone. We found ourselves at Weißwasser, a place where we considered for overnighting, although throughout our whole German experience, it was the one place I felt the least safe. So needless to say we moved on. Bad Muskau in contrast, was a breath of fresh air and couldn’t have been more different from its neighbour. 

Bad Muskau is a delightful town that rubs shoulders with Poland – the border being in the middle of the river that dissects the two countries. Bad Muskau is full of goodies, each one with their own unique pleasure.  It has two churches, the most ostentatious castle I think I’ve ever seen, Russian War Memorials and gardens that serious put some of England’s Stately Parks to shame.  There are four official cycling paths that give you between 4-10km routes, each one allowing you to dip your toe into Polish water if you wish. Truly a delightful place that we would highly recommend.

Although what of Kromlau, the very reason we ventured this way, I hear you ask?  Well we knew that we would be too late for the Rhododendrons thanks to my back, although it was the iconic bridge that truly caught my eye. The Park is free to enter, you just pay €2 for a two hour car park, that leaves you free to wander around the grounds. Sadly even the bridge wasn’t presented at its best, as after 150 years, it has been fenced off for reconstruction so that it may be protected for generations to come. And much of the lake it spans has been drained in preparation for the work. So I did manage to get some shots, although not quite the iconic masterpiece I was hoping for. Still our joy at Bad Muskau completely made up for it, it has to be said.  We had a super Stellplatz run by Eric a fast-speaking Berliner who liked Myles’ fluency that he gave us free bread on our three day stay. It had all the facilities and was only a mile from this stunner of a town and all for €10.50 per night (or €10 if Eric has been out drinking the previous night and can’t be bothered to work out the detail!). Stellplatz Heideweg can be found at the following co-ordinates (51.53378, 14.71925).

What we’ve learned in Germany

So as we sit here with Poland reaching out its hand of friendship, what of our German experiences?  With memories of red kites soaring above us, a daily dawn chorus that made for a beautiful alarm call, mountains, lakes, castles and history, we will look back fondly at our two-week German route. 

The journey was seriously worth the ride and despite our initial disappointment, we came to love the country and all it has offered us. Interestingly it has been one of the places that we have planned the least and yet has given us some of the most memorable experiences – how often is this the case?  It seriously promotes the ‘travel loosely and let the plans evolve’ philosophy, which we will most certainly be adopting. This has been my most beautiful revelation on this trip.

Germany has many more insights, that we thought we would share as we close this blog.  We hope it helps and informs ready for your tour through Deutschland.

  1. Germany, much like its neighbour France, is very well set up for motorhomes. Stellplatz appear in almost every town and village we passed through. They are well signposted and many of them offer you electrical hook up as well. So never worry about having somewhere to stay. And it feels so very safe here. I never felt threatened in any way – except for Weißwasser.
  2. There’s not much wild camping here, although the Stellplatz are so cheap, it still makes for a great value trip. I think the most we spent on a Stellplatz overnighter was €10.50.
  3. You will not find many touring vans in Germany, especially once in the centre of the country. Most seem to head south to Bavaria, The Black Forest and The Romantic Route. Central to east Germany certainly we saw very few Brits – 2 to be exact. All the other vans were German. No Dutch, no French, just us and our German friends. 
  4. The autobahns are horrible. When you look at a map of Germany, the web of motorways connecting all the major industrial areas and cities are extensive and on every single one, you will always encounter a right lane caterpillar of lorries. It doesn’t make for pleasant driving. So if you can, avoid them.
  5. If however you do decide to take one, then they are toll free for any vehicle under 7.5T.  
  6. Do be aware that there is no universal speed limit on Germany motorways. Although there are guidelines of 81mph, no one sticks to them and speeding is not punishable. So do take care when overtaking as the road may look clear and before you know it, there will be someone royally up your bum flashing you.
  7. Sunday is a great day to travel on autobahns as lorries are forbidden to drive on them and there is a huge fine if they are caught doing so. It made a huge difference to our journey experience on the day we had to course through the country via autobahn.
  8. Take plenty of cash with you (münzen is coins in German). The Stellplatz often have automated machines that only take coins. Manned areas only take cash and in fact in many places we went, cash was preferred and sometimes our Caxton card didn’t work. We were fine in petrol stations and supermarkets though. 
  9. Due to the lack of Brits travelling through, surprisingly there was less  English spoken than I expected. Although with a few phrases you can certainly get by sufficiently. The Germans we met were lovely, warm and welcoming and of course it did help that Myles is fluent. 
  10. Deisel is, outside of the main cities, cheaper than its west European neighbours (@ June 2018). The cheapest we found was €1.239. LPG is freely available and we had no problems filling up. 
  11. Internet is very weak in Germany – we remembered this from our trip here in 2016. So just be prepared that connection may not be easy at all times. Strange how we come to rely on internet…..
  12. And just a little side note – I’ve heard more cuckoos here, in June than anywhere in UK ever! 

 

And so with the heady smells of the Lime tree blossom hanging in the air, we say auf Wiedersehen to Deutchland, and genuinely hope that more Brits head your way to indulge in your joys. We have loved this short and sweet road trip and know that we will back.  Tschüss.