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Due to Covid and other bits, we’ve not had a van adventure for a while.  So we booked a tunnel crossing in back in October just to pen something in and worry about what and where nearer the time.  Amazingly, the day we left I looked when our last 8 week+ campervan trip was and it was 2011!  Eek.  No wonder we’re out of practice!  (Ok, a few 6/7 week trips, but not 8!)

Even a few days before we were undecided where to go with no plans set in stone, but we decided its time to hit Slovenia and Croatia.  So the van got loaded, and I mean loaded, every cupboard is full and the garage is full, satnav set, and ready to go!  But with current “things” even then it was 11th hour, as Mel had a hospital appointment the day we left and another one “due” – and literally hours before we planned to leave we had confirmation that it was a phone/web appointment.  Phew.  And even then on the drive down another appointment was scheduled, again phone.  Phew.  (NHS is being great for us at the moment).  But before anything else happened we set off…

This trip will be a bit different for us but we’ll make the most of it.

Interestingly, the van, fully laden, is driving superbly.  Our last trip it felt a little “restricted” and only returned 27.5mpg and didn’t really feel like it had full power.  Since then, its hit 6200 miles (10,000km), been serviced, and had computer software upgraded.  Now it holds cruise speed easier; has more pulling power; and seems a lot more powerful.   For sure something changed, but first service?  ECU updates?  10k run in over?  Who knows.  Who cares – it’s now a joy to drive and suits our style.  And now exceeds 30mpg

Our first night was a random overnight in France, and from there we cut across the top of Luxemburg.  We try and avoid Belgium mainly due to the drivers there (remember we got rear-ended there previously).  But this part of Luxemburg is really rural and pretty – quite unexpected.  A random overnight spot in Vianden – a rather pretty riverside village with a castle, dam, and many nice bars.  Randomly, some local guy chatted to us and wanted to give us a leaflet on Luxemburg… We were awaiting the sales pitch or religious spiel but no – just a local proud guy sharing is country.  Loads of info on walks, biking etc for another day.

Moving swiftly on, we hit Germany and found Frankenstein’s castle with a large carpark suitable for overnighting as well as a small castle to explore.  A perfectly placed and “ok” restaurant is there which filled us up and served cold beers.  But before that, we did a bike ride – notwithstanding its rather hilly, and visited a few castles – fortunately Schloss Alsbach had a café and served cold beer needed for the way back.  Ended up being about 600m ascent so my poor legs were aching.  Mels battery made it though we were getting a bit worried as the return to carpark was uphill!  But really worth the effort, lovely scenery all round.

After a dark nights sleep, no monsters, we headed to the Speyer technical museum.  We’ve been before and loads to explore – so spend a good few hours there.  They allowed Mels scooter in fortunately so able to get around everywhere, but just not able to climb all the ladders into the planes.  Very much worth a visit if you ever pass – everything from cars, plane, spaceships and boats, submarines and trains.  Oh – and best to go away from weekends and school holidays!

Continuing with places we’ve been, the next stop was Baden-Baden – as Mel wanted a spa and its famous for and has some great spas.   (Bad = spa in German).  So a sneaky “ok ish” overnight spot, but convenient for the spa.  In true camper style – remember to take the shampoo!  (Though saying that, van shower working perfectly and water/waste all as planned).  The spa is worth visiting – large indoor and outdoor pools, equally nice over a cold winter or a sunny day.  Worth a chill out.

Our next port of call I can blame on Mel who read good things about Lake Constance – being a nice place to view and cycle round.  Hmm.   We hit it at the northern edge and the only reason we think it got its came was from the constant traffic!  It was awful.  The campsites were hideously expensive and the ones we saw were in full view of the main road so the noise was constant and the sites looked more like car parks.  We looked a bit but just kept going… Maybe other edges are better, but nothing really stood out in awe to be honest.  We managed to escape to a tiny village hidden area to park, lovely and quiet but sadly the bars were closed.  Bit of a disaster day!

Having had enough of Germany, we headed onto some quieter roads into Austria and stopped for a wander in Innsbruck.  Funny – people on escooters/ebikes or kick scooters get ignored, but a few kept looking at Mel for some reason – maybe it was as she is like Queen B standing on her thrown being pushed around by a young stud.  Maybe.  But flat enough to explore quite easily and looking very different to out last visit at Christmas in 2009!   Only a few bits reminded us we’d been before.

Escaping Innsbruck we found another quiet place for the night.  Not sure how it is in season (summer or winter) – but both Austria and Germany seemed to be more challenging to find somewhere discreet.   However, I have no idea why I bothered washing the van before we left – the amount of bug road kill over the front is one thing, but today (and for the next few days) there is an inordinate amount of green pollen in the air so the van is partially green, and everything has a light dust coating.

Our final day of the first week is heading over the Grossglockner High Alpine Road – which is an expensive toll road over the Alps which is supposed to be superb with superb views petty much aimed at tourists.  It only opened a few days ago so we expected some fun. To be fair, the road was impressive as were the views, but worth the €38 toll?  Not sure – if you’ve never driven in the mountains before maybe, but didn’t jump out as anything more special than some Alpine passes in winter.

Out the other side, we decided to hit a campsite for a few days at Dellach im Drautal which is next to the river with spectacular views away from the road and cheap enough with ACSI.  Reasonable internet and good laundrette to allow the usual chores to happen.  Flat enough (ish) for a nice run to a castle, and a bike ride to a waterfall “walk” – which we did as far as we could without killing the battery…..

To weeks 2 and 3….

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