The Romantic Road
For the first 100 kms or so of the Romantic Road Minty and I weren’t feeling the love.
We’d left a beautiful lakeside hotel, The Hotel Seeblick outside of Bad Endorf. After a morning swim and a great Germanic breakfast of cheese, meats, strong bread and coffee we had high hopes of increasing sensory overload.
Like many Brits we have an issue with the whole Romantic term.
For us it’s about love, lovers and the tingle of romance.
We have to remember that for our friends across the channel, and the cultured in general, the Romantic refers to the high beliefs of a period, obsessed with nature, the beauty of the tragic, even the horrific if there’s love involved.
Even with that in mind I found it hard to find the romantic or Romantic in the first few hours of this route.
We won’t admit that to each other though.
We’re both so excited about the van experience.
We so want it to work and become a new life for us. So we pull excited smiles whenever we know the other is glancing in our direction, but neither of us are convinced. Mile after mile of empty field passes by.
Not even any cute calves to coo over.
We skirt Peiting, Schongau and Landsberg. We sit in B road traffic queues. Occasionally we get excited about well planted roadside borders. But we both know we’re putting it on.
Thank heavens for 6Music on the iPlayer.
We pull into Augsburg, apparently the best medieval town in the country, but by now we can’t be arsed and decide to find the campsite and put it all down to experience.
The curiosity of German campsites.
Our average speed for the day’s driving was just 32 mph and our desire for a beer was higher than our desire for Romantic culture (sorry, but you have to admit these things).
The campsite, Caravaning Park Augsburg, was a welcome port in a storm. Just off the A8 motorway, but quiet enough and with a huge lake nearby.
Still, the site was interesting.
Sites always are.
The smiley people, the chatterboxes, the grumpy ones who avoid eye contact.
The strangest experiences are often in the different shower facilities.
In the German places folk strut their naked stuff, banter with their neighbours while swinging their swinging bits.
In England of course we hide our nudity and dress before emerging into the public areas. In Italy I was impressed with the range of piped music, and depressed by how late they like to go to bed.
And in France I was shocked about just how much they were prepared to charge for anything, beer, bread, smiles.
At Augsburg there is the usual complement of eastern European workers creating a cost effective base with all necessary facilities on hand. They leave early, come home late, and often have a mad hour of hard drinking before bed.
It seems that all sites have people living there, not out of poverty it seems, but just by choice. They put down roots. Their caravan wheels disappear and gardens are planted to create homes.
And there are more oddities.
I’m always interested in how many clearly monied folk are there among the rest of us mere mortals.
On this site there were three E63 Mercedes – they cost more than my first two houses.
There were VW Phaetons hanging around pretending to be Passats.
There were motorhomes that were worth a fortune. Vast glitzy palaces of the road.
But why here?
This was a decent site, but a seven out of ten kind of affair, not like the wonderful Camping Murinsel from a couple of nights ago in Austria.
When I have more time I’ll do some asking and share what I learn.
Anyhow. A good pizza at the on-site restaurant was washed down with Fernet Branca – a rather special Italian version of Benedictine and most drinkable. I’ll be ordering a bottle when I get home.
Next day, Wednesday.
First up – Minty gets pulled by the Park Police for outrageous anti-Germantic behaviour with Polly.
Taking the dog for a pre-road pee it seems they both contravened the law.
Minty was accosted by uniformed officers who reprimanded her for so many offences:
- Dog on wrong part of grass – dog must not be on the lakeside of the path.
- Dog not on a lead! The horror.
- Dog showing signs of joy and happiness. Is dog on illegal substances?
Ah! Happy dog off its lead. Is that why so many upright citizens have been staring at me? I though it was the dwarf living in my beard that they objected to!
A more romantic Romantic Road.
Disappointed with yesterday’s drive we invested more time and a little research into the next.
We identified Nordlingen and Dinkelsbuhl as targets for late frühstück and early mittagessen and good choices they both proved to be.
Früstück was an excellent bratwurst in a dry roll with lashings of mild mustard, and a smattering of ketchup. Mittagessen was a less exciting pretzel – but my, they’re good in these parts.
Both Nordlingen and Dinkelsbuhl are seriously well preserved walled towns.
Nordlingen looks almost perfectly circular and was celebrating the coming of autumn in its markets.
Dinkelsbuhl, the bigger of the two, was empty away from the main streets.
Its outlying parks seemed pristine, waiting for some event that may take until spring to materialise.
Its fine moat and massive buildings within its walls spoke of the wealth of its fathers. And its restaurants and fine bakeries left me wondering why there are no platoons of the obese in mobility scooters on its streets.
Im fact a post may need to be dedicated to the lack of human horrors here. OK, there are overweight Germans, but most folk look fit and healthy, and there’s not a scooter in sight.
German visitor facilities.
And its facilities? Wow! Just outside of the city walls of Dinkelsbuhl we parked with a dozen or so campers and motorhomes in a specific parking area with charging points, chemical toilet disposal and water top up points. When will we have that in St Just? Or any British town? Will I live to see the day?
Detwang and Rothenburg.
Twenty or so miles up the road we pulled into Camping TrauberRomantik(!) in the ancient village of Detwang, an sweet little place on the outskirts of Rothenburg.
The highpoint of the stop had to be the wonderful Gasthaus Tauberstube where we had dinner. The super cheerful boss put us at our ease. Our table neighbours suggested a great beer, and then with a bit of awful German I ordered a bottle of delicious Franconian wine. If you see something in a Mateus style flask try it.
Rothenburg, a couple of kilometres up the road has to be the best preserved medieval town in the country, if not Europe.
42 towers soar above the city walls, huge buildings fill the protected space inside the town, a drop of Christ’s blood drew pilgrims to its church, and Japanese and Americans ensure that the once imperial city will remain rich long into the future.
I mention the tourists – even here a few paces from Herrngasse, the main drag, the streets were empty, but I guess a few weeks ago that wouldn’t have been the case.
Great bratwurst and sweet Schneebälle made a perfect bench lunch, with a milche kaffe.
Earthquakes, fires and bombs have all tried to topple the town on the hill, but now only the tourist buses create a threat and I suspect the wily Germans have them under perfect control.
One downside of this amazing country is the autobahn. When it goes wrong it goes badly wrong. I’ve written this whole post (and I type slowly) while sitting in a queue. Google just keeps on telling me it’s getting worse – current estimate to next junction – 2 hours!
What’s worse – Minty chose this afternoon for her first go at driving Archie.
And sitting here waiting for the traffic to move I read online that the Romantic Road was a marketer’s creation back in the 50s for a country desperate to attract tourists from its neighbouring countries, most of which it had recently upset somewhat.