After spending the night on the Camperstop in Bingen very peacefully (we were the only ones there), we headed off on the side roads towards Kaiserslautern. Quiet roads took us through woods, past small sleepy villages and empty fields. A pleasant, picturesque drive with a watery sun breaking through and brightening up the landscape. We stop along route for some provisions, the cakes were just too nice to resist and at €1.99 for 6 bottles of beer, we had to sample them as well (There is a deposit -Pfand-of €1.50 on the bottles returnable at any of the stores). There are so many varieties of building styles, from really old farmhouses to modern eco-friendly houses in the villages and countryside we pass through, but I find that this is what makes it so pretty, they compliment each other and as they say variety is the spice of life! This is also true of the houses in Brugge.
We pass through the village of Dielkirchen and spot a nice looking campsite, must make a note of that for future reference. We arrive in Kaiserslautern in rush hour, it was too busy and it was just going dark so we fill up with diesel ( the cheapest so far at €1.37) and head out of the city towards the quieter wine road, and in the direction of Landau. One of the villages we pass through catches our eye because of the name-Frankenstein!-don’t really think it would be the place for me! Came into Neustadt an der Weinstrasse and found a good camperstop next door to the Martin Luther Church (then realised we have been here before). The Camperstop is very well sign posted. We pay our €4 for 24 hours, top up our water (free) for a nice hot shower, cook our tea and turn in for the night. Everyone seems a little worn out today.
In Neustadt an der Weinstrasse
Woke up to beautiful blue skies and sunshine. Such a difference to the previous cold, wet mornings. The warmth of the morning sun pours in as I open the windows on the motorhome to let the air circulate. Breakfast tastes so much better in the sunshine. I decide to venture out on a reconiasance mission of the surrounding streets whilst the motorhome gets a good clean up by the last waking stragglers. I find my way there and back again without too much of a problem, and after a hot cup of tea to warm me up, we all head off towards to Marktplatz, the centre of town and the information centre.Near to the Camperstop the streets are lined with tall buildings full of appartments, most are fairly new buildings but every now and then there are quite old buildings which are more ornate. On reaching the centre of town there are quaint, winding little streets with tastefully renovated buildings, many of which house restaurants, bars and antique shops. Signs of recent Christmas celebrations still evident with lights,Pine branches and various decorations still adorning the window sills and door frames. In the St.Marien Church, a beautiful crib scene still stands on show. The large church houses a wonderfully ornate Altar and statues, the gold on the statue of Our Lady with Our Lord shines brightly in the flickering candlelight of the many votive candles lit by people dropping in to spend a little while in quiet prayer and contemplation. In the central square the entrance to the large town hall is guarded by a fierce looking stone lion. There are several fountains in the town, all empty of water due to the time of year. We spot an O2 store and on going in are met with a very helpful man, who also speaks excellent English,who takes the time to explain our options. We can buy a stick for €29, which we will be able to use in all European countries, to add to this we also need a SIM card which is €25 for 5 gigabytes and lasts for one month and can be loaded up at any O2 shop, this was definatly our best option as Vodaphone could only offer 1/5th of what O2 could offer. With all this sorted out, plenty of photos taken and streets walked up and down, we finaly found the Tourist Information Office at 5.15pm, it closes at 5pm! Not to worry we will come back tomorrow. We have a bite to eat and headed back ‘home’, parked on the Camperstop at Martin Luther Strasse. We spotted an electric box in the corner of the parking lot and decided to plug in, only €1, this seemed very reasonable, but it was only low wattage and it ran out after only 20 minutes, only had 1 light and the lap top on, so maybe not so good after all!
In Neustadt an der Weinstrasse
Morning starts with blue skies but temperatures of -2o. Condensation on the windows make us wonder how far the temperatures dropped during the night. After breakfast we wrap up warm for the 20 minute walk into town. We finaly get to the Information centre and are welcomed by the freindly staff who offer us a nice cup of coffee while we discuss what there is of interest in the area and they find us brouchures written in English to make things easier for us. We leave the warm interior of the Information Office and with cameras at the ready head out to explore further the town of Neustadt. We wander around the cobbled streets gazing through the windows of the the small quaint antique shops and artists studios. We take our pictures as we window shop and find ourselves outside a beautiful cake shop which includes a boxed cake dedicated to the heroine of Neustadt, who alledgedly saved the town from French invasion. As the daylight fades and the moon takes over, we make our way back to the Motorhome. The temperature drops and an icy mist surrounds us as we walk. We call in at one of the three shops that surround the Camperstop (Aldi, Lidl and Rewe), and pick up some Gluhwein (Mulled wine), to warm us up, and chicken for our tea. Temperatures drop to -4o and I can feel the cold now coming through my clothes. We look forward to our warming drink, our evening meal and a nice relaxing evening before making an early start in the morning when we will leave Neustadt and head for the villages which line the wine road of the Pfalz. Quiet evening! oh no! after dinner a Motorhome calls in to top up with water and we get speaking to the man in it, Walter von der Pfalz, a well-know musician from the region, who has travelled all over Europe over many years playing his music of the region, the wine and the people of the Pfalz. He plays 20 musical instruments and he has his guitar with him. We invite him in for a cup of tea and he repays the favour with songs and music on his guitar. He tells us of his travels and the people he has met along the way. What an interesting character! We spend a lovely couple of hours in his company and wave him on his way, maybe we will meet up again on the road, who knows!
Along the German Wine Road
A cold night in Neustadt but we were lovely and warm in the motorhome. First thought that there was no evidence of frost outside, but on leaving the town and heading out into the countryside we saw that the tree tops were white with frost and really looked quite pretty. Blue, clear skies make the landscape look lovely as we head off towards Diedesfeld, one of the nine villages of Neustadt and the centre of the German Wine Road. After parking the Motorhome, which we found a bit difficult, we went to look for the Baroque church of St.Remigius, narrow streets with sandstone houses caught our eye as we wandered through the village. The church is set in a small, quiet square overlooking the bronze and glazed vulcanic rock fountain with the staute of the baptism of Frankish King Clovis, an ancient wine weighing machine and a well worn set of stone stairs leading up the side of the church. We go inside and the beautiful interior stuns us into silence, the wonderful Rococo pulpit, the stained glass windows, statues, the magnificance of the wonderfully ornate altar and the huge organ at the rear of the church are really well worth seeing. We follow the narrow street along admiring the many different forms of architecture of the buildings and wine houses. We come across the huge water trough, the largest in the Pfalz and carved out of one piece of stone, how did they manage to get it here? We carry on taking our pictures as we go and are stoppped by a young woman who invites us in to the ‘Wein und Sektgut of Kurt Isler in Kreuzsrasse (www.weingut-isler.de), to sample the wines. We learn her name is Carolin and she is very helpful in trying to find the right wines that we are looking for. We enjoy our winetasting and chat and bid Carolin goodbye, and make our way back to the motorhome to carry on towards Maikammer. Again we find another lovely village and park up to explore. The village is very quiet and again the church of St.Kosmos and St.Damian is very beautiful, with ornate statues and paintings adorning the interior of the church, the pulpit is also well worth seeing. One can imagine how crowded this village must get in high season and there are many hotels that can cater to the many visitors that flock here to sample not only the good wines but also the good food and the warm welcome. After Maikammer we make for St.Martin, perched up quite high on the hillside, there are spectacular views over the countryside and the expanse of vineyards.
St. Martin is a small village but with so much to see, the narrow streets are filled with inviting wine houses offering wine-tasting, antique shops and a small fast flowing stream winds its way through the streets and past the houses. The village is so clean and tidy and well kept, the older houses have obviously been lovingly restored. Having been here in September/October time I remember the wine houses offering ‘new wine’ (a young wine) in the gardens of their premises and the people filling the wine shops and hotel gardens, now at this time of year it is quiet and the hotels are having a fresh lick of paint ready for the begining of this years season, but it is still so pretty and we enjoy our walk through the village and up the hill ( and steep stairs!) to the church of St.Martin, whose statue stands on the wall overlooking the village. We are ready for a cup of tea and a bit of lunch after all this fresh air and walking so we head off back to the Motorhome which is parked near to the Camperstop in the village ( the Camperstop is closed at the moment). Leaving St. Martin after lunch we make for Edenkoben, only about 2-3km further on. We make for the Camperstop set just below the church and ideally placed for reaching the top of the town.We walk up into the town and get a little bit of shopping for tea and wander slowly through the streets.
Many of the Hotels and Guesthouses are closed but the lights from one seemed very warm and inviting and we decide we have time to stop for a while and enjoy a beer. We are welcomed in by a young man and find a seat in the warm,cosy room, drinking our beers we realise that it is indeed a greek restaurant from the decoration around the room, had we spotted the name outside it would have given it away ‘Gasthaus Korfu’ (www.korfugasthaus.npage.de/). We were joined by the Lady of the house Frau Uzunidis who chatted away to us and made us feel very welcome. Originally from Corfu,she has been here for thirty years now and her son and nephew work with her in the Gasthaus. We look at the menu and decide we will be coming here for our lunch tomorrow before we leave. Frau Uzunidis brings us all a glass of ozou before we leave which we thought was very kind of her, yes we are glad we decided to go in there! We make our way back out into the cold and back through the square down to the camperstop area. We have our evening meal and set to work writting up our days adventures.
Edenkoben -> Rastatt
After breakfast we walked up the short, steep path past the kindergarden, to the square where the church borders one side and houses and restaurants line the others. A statue of King Ludwig I stands regally on his pedestal watching over the cars parked below. We turn left down the hill past shops and small eateries many of which are closed at the moment, a new watercourse built in sandstone with a small bridge looks smart and there has obviously been quite a bit of renovation going on in this part of the town. We retrace our steps up the hill and make our way to the Gasthaus Korfu, where we had been the previous evening. The lunch-time menu for €7.50 gives several options and we all opt for Wiener Schnitzel with chips and salad, it is all delicious and well presented and we can certainly recommend it! We order some beers and wein schorle (wine and water) to go with our meal and we are offered esspresso to finish off with. We come out feeling full and satisfied and make for the motorhome. Leaving Edenkoben we follow the wine road towards Landau, which is not very far away. Parking near to the centre of the town we take a walk around part of the shopping area . The town has renovated many of its old buildings and these now house offices, shops and appartments. We make our way to the camperstop which is situated at the swimming baths on the outskirts of town and try to decide whether to stay here or go on to Rastatt. The price for an overnight stay is €10 inclusive of electric, and if you want to go into the swimming baths it will cost you €4 for 2hrs just for the waterworld or €8 for a day ticket, waterworld and the sauna cost €11 for 2hrs or €15 for a day ticket.
We decide to head towards Rastatt and make our way out of Landau. Before leaving the area we visit one of the small outlaying villages, Insheim. The village of Insheim is a trip down memory lane for us as we lived here 30 years ago for a few months. There are not many changes, although there are some new houses and the village is growing a little bigger. We take some photos as we walk along the streets reminiscing and being pleased that the place looked much the same as it had all those years ago. We left the village and joined the mainroad towards Karlsruhe. We were keeping a look out for deers as we had always seen them in the surrounding fields before. It was just starting to go dark and we were giving up seeing the deers when there in the middle of a field was a large one, just standing nibbling away oblivious to our delight in seeing him! We made our way along the side roads, after Karlsruhe, to Rastatt and found the Camperstop advertised on the map, it was a service station and was used by truckers to overnight, but the staff said it was fine for us to stay it would cost €5 but this could be used the next morning to put towards breakfast. We parked up and got the kettle on, priorities!
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