Rhine Valley

It seems a long time since we left you back in Genk. That’s probably because it’s actually been a long time since then, oops! Sometimes we just get carried away visiting the next destination, then the next, then it’s hard to remember exactly where we went and what we did. Or possibly it’s just old age and failing memory cells. In any event, we can now catch you up with our drive down the (mostly) mobile-signal-free Rhine Valley.

After our rather random start in Bruges we decided to follow a route recommended in our Lonely Planet guide. We’re also building in some of the family, Instagram & Facebook recommendations I’ve been saving over the last few weeks. So far we’re finding Germany not quite as ‘foreign’ as on our previous jaunts in France, Spain and Portugal. Which sounds a strange thing to say, I know. Especially as our knowledge of the German language is even more sketchy than our French.

In the north of the country at least, it seems very UK-like in terms of population density, landscapes, types of buildings and dare I say aggressive driving habits. They seem as keen here as at home to fleece the tourists wherever possible – including a 70p charge for using the loo at a service station. Revenge was mine though, as I refused to fill Vince’s tank there. We spent €120 filling him up at the next garage we came to, so there!

The old crane in the Rhine Valley
The Old Crane, Andernach

As we’ve moved south things have chilled out a bit more and it feels like a holiday again. Our first stop after leaving Belgium and entering Germany was Andernach on the banks of the Rhine. The lady who took our cash at our parking spot gave us a town plan with suggested places to visit. We followed the guide round all the churches and squares with an outdoor coffee along the way. The pic above shows the old crane, built between 1554 and 1561. Two burly blokes supplied the power via a giant hamster wheel! As the plaque shows, it was still in use right up to 1911, unloading millstones and wine barrels sent downriver. It also shows the maximum flood levels of the Rhine during its lifetime, some of them way above my head.

We’ve had a running gag going this trip, following the words of Al Murray the Pub Landlord. “If you had too many rules, where would you be..? Germany!” We thought we were in for a long night of boy racers and drunken teenagers in the car park next door to us when they set up shop at 8pm. But good as gold zey followed ze rules and at 11.45pm every single one of them slunk off and peace descended. I promise that’ll be the last bit of casual racism this trip. Probably.

Deutsches Eck
The Mosel meets the Rhine

Next stop was Koblenz, a much bigger city, where sadly the oldest part of town was largely destroyed in the Second World War. Gill had been here before, supervising a school trip. She couldn’t remember much about it – well, you know what teachers are like when they’re let off the leash. I’m surprised they managed to get home with the same number of pupils they started with… Koblenz’s claim to fame is that it stands at the confluence of two of Germany’s most famous rivers; the Mosel and the Rhine. There’s a large landscaped square overlooking the swirling meeting point – the Deutsches Eck or German Corner. Every tourist in the city gathers there, takes a photo, shrugs their shoulders and heads off for a beer. As did we.

We’re getting used to the slightly different motorhome parking setup in Germany. Travellers are certainly well catered for here with a system of Stellplatze, like the aires we use in France, they’re areas set aside for campervans but are of a slightly higher standard. They have filling and emptying service points for all Vince’s various bodily fluids; often they have toilets and electricity hook-ups as well. 

All this comes at a cost however. You generally pay for water, but only €1 for 90 litres or so, the electricity is €0.50 – €0.75 per kWh. The main charge is for an overnight stop and that can range from €8 to €14 (highest so far) per night. It’s not a fortune, and we should be grateful that there are so many places to stay, but we miss the odd free night that you can find in France or Spain. A few free nights here and there fund the campsites we need for laundry – and believe me, the campsites here are the priciest we’ve encountered anywhere. Oh, except the UK of course 🙂

Horror Circus
I’m already scared…

Our Stellplatz in Koblenz was on an exhibition site. Most of the time, it’s quiet and deserted. So why did we have to turn up when there was a Circus of Horrors on the site? Right across the access road from us was a huge Big Top tent surrounded by generators and trucks, and decorated with scary murals. In the early evening there was a two hour show with lots of families parking up and excitedly going into the tents for the entertainment. Then the deafening music and sound effects kicked off making poor old Vince’s sides tremble. Still, we could handle that. What made it difficult was the second show. And the third. And then the dismantling & packing up of the Big Top which continued right through until 4.30am! Well, Gill tells me it was 4.30am – I’m afraid I’d sleep through the Apocalypse, so I didn’t hear a thing.

With matchsticks holding our eyes open we set the controls for the Rhine Valley proper. We had a beautiful drive south through a number of towns and villages, all surrounded by near vertical vineyards. Goodness knows how they are cultivated; mostly by hand I suppose as I don’t think normal farm machinery would get up those slopes or between the closely packed vines. We wanted to stop off here and there for a coffee or a break, but parking spots for a big beast like Vince were few and far between. At the one trucker stop we found Gill had her head bitten off by the sales assistant who shouted NEIN! at her when she asked for sugar for my coffee (I know, filthy habit). She threw two sweetener tablets at poor Gill before dismissing her with a scowl. We didn’t leave a tip.

Rhine Valley pitch
Perfect pitch in the Rhine Valley

The laundry was beginning to pile up by this time so we pulled into a campsite in Oberwesel which had pitches right on the river bank – ideal. Once we’d negotiated the er… rules i.e. “If you want to use the toilets & showers it’s this pitch. If you want to use your own facilities it’s this (identical) pitch”, we whipped out the camping chairs, the table and a nice cold flasche of wein and settled in for a couple of sunny chilling out days.

Next time, we leave the Rhine Valley, and don’t find a vineyard stop-off that wasn’t there, then venture to Baden Baden, so good they named it twice…

See you there!

xx

Deutsches Eck
Statue at the confluence of the rivers, Koblenz
Oberwesel Schloss
The castle at Oberwesel – more of which next time…
About Ken Tomlinson 207 Articles
Semi-retired biker, blogger and world’s best grandad. Doesn’t take life too seriously. Discovered motorhoming in 2015, sold up and downsized to fund more travels. Now with added Yorkshire.

5 Comments on Rhine Valley

  1. Hi Ken & Gill, some fascinating observations on your German trip so far with their fixation on “keeping to ze rules! Looking forward to your report on the Rhine valley. I recall On my road journey to Munich via the Rhine valley, I stopped overnight in a lovely village called Assmanhausen where I had the best red wine I had ever tasted! Best meantime, Fred

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