So it was with great anticipation that we let our noses lead us through Bavaria and Austria to the border crossing at Nauders.
But first things first.
Now, you should understand something about me: I am not a natural car traveller. Me being behind the wheel, okay, I can handle that. But someone else...mwah. Let's say I tend to get a little nervous. Especially when speeds exceed 120 kms (and in Germany on the Autobahn they usually do! - except when there is a Stau)
But the landscape provided plenty of diversion. Germany is absolutely very pleasant to look at. Even when your son is doing 190.
Being used to French and Greek campsites (read: either huge, crowded, relatively clean and expensive or small, not expensive, uncrowded and relatively dirty) the ones we stayed at in Germany and Austria were a revelation.
Our first one was the Sportcamping Schwarzwald near Calw. You leave the autobahn at Pforzheim and instant relaxation is your due. If you are not fussy about there being absolutely nothing in the village, this is a wonderful spot to unwind. There is a huge, beautiful pool next door, and on the campsite itself an unpretentious cafe served us the best salad I've had in ages. The population was either grey and quiet or very sporty and quiet. We met a fellow Dutch family who were cycling to Northern Italy with two kids under 6 in front on their bicycles and their tent on the back. Jeez, respect!
The second campsite was Camping Elbsee, near Aitrach direction of Kempten in Bavaria.
As the name tells you, it is situated on the banks of a lake, the Elbsee, an ancient moorsee dating from the time Germany was covered by ice. Nowadays it is protected nature, and is surrounded by farmland. On an early morning walk around this lake (2 hours) we met deer, foxes, and overhead saw numerous birds of prey. Do bring your mosquito repellant though, all that water and bogland and the many domesticated cows around breed a lot of creepy crawlies with wings and sharp stingers.
It is a lovely campsite, with clean, luxury bathrooms and a lot of funny art all around the site. It also boasts a great restaurant right at the lakeside.
The last campsite I will point out to you in this first part of my travels is the one outside Nauders, Austria.
We landed there by mistake; another site we wanted to stay at was fully booked, so we drove on towards the Italian border and saw a gas station cum campsite 500 meters before the border crossing. It looked very basic, but beggars cannot be choosers, right? To our amazement the shower rooms were great, clean and with as much free hot water as we desired. As the weather had taken a turn for the worse, this was lovely.
Baking our sausages in the drizzle somehow has no appeal to us, so we walked back to Nauders, a very pleasant downhill walk towards a 12th century castle-cum-restaurant. The only creatures we met during this one hour walk were a couple of cyclists (every present in this part of Europe!), some shy cows and a cuddly Berner Senner dog who did his best to pretent to guard his farm, but who flopped down on my feet to be petted.
Ah...what goes down must be trotted back up as well...One and a half hours hiking back in the drizzle gave us a very wholesome feeling; all that great food we ate surely had been well digested!
In Part 2 I'll tell you about our journey into Italy.
Hellevoetsluis - A67 Venlo
61 to Koblenz
E44 to join the E35/3 to Frankfurt
E35/5 to Pforzheim
463 to Calw - 1st campsite
295 to Stuttgart
E52/8 to Ulm
E43/7 to Kempten
but after Memmingen the 11 to Aitrach - Elbsee - 2nd campsite
7 to Füssen
179 to Nassereith
189 to Imst
A12/E60 to Landeck
180 to Nauders (1394 m) - 3rd campsite
All photos ©RenéeKoopman