Tag Archives: river rhine

Friday 14th August 2020 – THAT WAS A …

… nice break on my journey today.

My route brought me through the city of Luxembourg so I telephoned my friend Malou. We met in the city centre and went for a drink and a chat for an hour or two. It’s a long time since we’ve seen each other so it was good to meet up and have a chat for a while.

And I do have to say that I needed a break because it had been a long, hard day. It all went wrong before I went to bed because having had a little doze during the afternoon, I wasn’t tired at all and it was almost 02:00 before I went to bed.

Nevertheless I staggered out of bed as the alarms went off, tired as I might have been, and did some of the outstanding paperwork.

There was something on the dictaphone too. For some unknown reason we had been discussing tanks during the night. We were in a big one, the idea being to spray several other tanks with machine gun fire to find out how flammable they were and to see what the chances were of setting other tanks ablaze with just simply machine gun fire reaching vital parts or breaking fuel lines kind of thing

Breakfast was interesting because the landlady insisted on talking to me. We had a delightful conversation in a mixture of German and English that went on for almost an hour.

hotel kraichgauidylle 69254 malsch germany eric hallThinking on, I’m not too sure if I’ve mentioned my hotel.

It’s the hotel Kraichgauidylle in Malsch, the correct Malsch of course, and is one of these typical Germanic small village hotels that you encounter all over Central Europe. Somewhat tired, dingy and dark as if it was a throwback to the 1930s but while the price wasn’t a 1930s price, it was pretty good value for the money that I paid.

In fact, being on the Budget Economy plan that I am, the proof of the issue is “whether I would stay here again at the same price” and that emits a rather positive response.

The only issue was the lack of on-site parking. But arriving late and leaving early meant that I could use the parking space of the bank across the road without any problems.

On the road, the lack of sleep caught up with me before I’d gone too far and I ended up asleep in a car park for a couple of hours. It’s a long time that I’ve done that, isn’t it? Just like old times in Canada.

The bridge that I was intending to take across the Rhine was closed and I was obliged to take a detour to another bridge.

castle frankenstein  eric hallFrom there, through yet more roadworks and traffic jams, especially in the town of Kaiserlautern, I pushed on into the Eifel Mountains past the Castle Frankenstein.

One of those places where you have to stop and take a photo, even if you do have to drive around for ages and perform several U-turns in order to find a place to park where there’s a good vies

It’s not unfortunately the castle of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – that’s out near Darmstadt – but its etymology is the same, to wit, the stone (building) of the Franks, the tribe that occupied western Germany and eastern France in the early Middle Ages

The existence of this particular castle is first recorded in 1146 and is believed to date from some 50 years earlier according to some contemporary reports. Its purpose was to guard the road between Speyer, Dürkheim and Worms, presumably for the security of pilgrims and religious officials, and was owned by Limburg Abbey.

Severely damaged during the various wars of the 15th and 16th Century, it was finished off during the German Peasants War, a revolt that led Martin Luther to state that the peasants “… must be sliced, choked, stabbed, secretly and publicly, by those who can, like one must kill a rabid dog.”.

By 1560 it was reported as being destroyed.

concorde Flugausstellung Peter Junior Hermeskeil Habersberg germany eric hallContinuing onwards deep into the mountains, I came across an air museum with 20 or so aeroplanes on display outside, somewhere near the towns of Hermeskeil and Habersberg.

What actually caught my eye was the Concorde here so I had to do a U-turn and go back for another look. However I didn’t stop for more than a second or two because right at that moment we were having a torrential downpour outside – something akin to what we had on the previous day and I wasn’t getting out of Caliburn in that. A quick photo would have to do.

But it’s another one of these places to which I’ll have to return, even if the Concorde here is only a replica, as I was to find out later. Never mind 20 or so areoplanes, there are in fact well over 100 and not only that, there’s a railway museum nearby with a shed full of steam locomotives.

view river saar valley germany eric hallThe weather started to brighten up very slowly as I pressed on further into the mountains. And as I crested a rise at the back of the town of Vierherrenborn, I stopped in my tracks to admire the beautiful view.

Where I actually am is at the top of a range of hills that form the eastern shore of the Saar River, one of the tributaries of the Moselle which it joins a few miles further north near Trier.

246 kilometres long, it was a vital industrial route of Germany in the late 19th and early 20th Century when this region was one of Europe’s leading iron*producing areas, bringing raw materials in and taking the finished product out.

This was a region that was considered to be so vital to Germany’s industrial progress that for 15 years after World War I and 10 years after World War II it was adminsitered separately from Germany by various occupying powers.

radio mast near vierherrenborn germany eric hallBehind where I’m standing is what at first glance appeared to be similar to the Loran C masts of which we saw more than a few ON OUR TRAVELS AROUND NORTH-EAST CANADA.

However this one probably isn’t. It’s probably nothing more than an ordinary radio antenna – if “ordinary” can be used to describe an object quite like this one. I was rather hoping that it might have been the “Eifel Tower” – in actual fact the Sender Eifel – the tallest structure in the Rhineland-Palatinate at 302 metres, but that’s about 60 miles further north at Kirchweiler

So whatever it is, I shall have to continue to make enquiries

wind turbines saar valley germany eric hallThese objects are much easier to identify, because we have seen plenty of them on our travels around here and there.

Across the river over there – brcause the river is just down there in that velley in the middle distance – is one of the highest points in this particular region, a mere cockstride from the border with Luuxembourg, right in the path of the westerly winds.

Consequently it’s obviously going to be a prime candidate for a wind farm, and quite right too. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m all in favour of windfarms, having lived for many years with three wind turbines.

river moselle rehlingen nittel germany eric hallTalking of westward, I’m going west, aren’t I? Continuing along the road towards the border with Luxembourg myself.

It’s a really beautiful drive through this part of the Eifel so I wasn’t in any great rush, but soon enough I arrived at the River Moselle, the “little Meuse”. To the left of this image is Luxembourg and to the right is Germany, for the river forms the boundary between the two.

The town down there is called Rehlingen, a town first recorded some time in the middle of the 12th Century but lost its autonomy in 1974 when its administration was absorbed into that of neighbouring Nittel.

wormeldange luxembourg eric hallOver there is the town of Wormeldange, in Luxembourg and it’sdown by there that we will be crossing over the river into Luxembourg by means of the bridge that links it with the German community of Wincheringen, where I am at this moment.

Lovers of wine would love to come to visit Wormeldange because it’s one of the more important centres of production of Reisling and there are 360 hectares of grapes to have a go at.

But not for me though. Apart from a beer, which was all that there was to drink when we were stranded in a snowdrift half way up a mountain while skiing in Romania one year, I haven’t drunk alcohol for 30 years or so. And in any case, I have an appointment to keep and can’t spare the time to stop.

Into Luxembourg City to find a parking space, and Strawberry Moose received a wave from a friendly pedestrian.

Having found a place to park, I met up with my friend Malou. We had studied together at University all those years ago and still keep in touch. We’ve met up a few times while I’ve been on my travels but not in Luxembourg since about 2001. We went off to have a coffee and a good chat.

Having spent a pleasant hour or so with Malou I headed out of the city northwards in the vague direction of the Belgian border.

hotel kinnen Route d'Echternach, 6550 Berdorf, Luxembourg eric hallDeep in the mountains of the northern part of the country in the town of Berdorf, I ended up at my hotel, the Hotel Kinnen, in keeping up my tradition of spending a night in every country that i’ve visited.

This hotel is another place that has seen much better days in the past when Berdorf was the place to be. And it still has quite a few signs of its former grandeur. In fact, for value for money, it’s one of the best places in which I’ve stayed in Western Europe for quite some considerable time.

Walking around the town later that night, I stumbled upon a pizza place and prevailed upon the chef to make me a special pizza seeing as I hadn’t had one for a few weeks. Now I need some more vegan cheese.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Germany and Belgium. Well on my way home now. Looking at my notes I can see that I’ve already been out for three weeks and it’ll be four weeks by the time that I return home. I wonder if I can remember where it is.

Tuesday 3rd July 2018 – WHERE’S THAT CONFOUNDED BRIDGE?

Yes, I’ve been on my travels again through the western Germany countryside, haven’t I?

And finding a certain bridge (or, rather, what remains of a certain bridge) is not easy when you don’t use your head.

ludwigshafener pension ludwigshafen germany july juillet 2018But first, let’s return to the Hotel From Hell. Because it really was a bad night and I regret every moment that I spent there.

Yes, I’ve bombed spectacularly with this place.

Never mind checking the area to see about railway lines – this is the old station building that’s been converted into a guest house. So it’s right by a busy main-line railway.

And the shunting in the yard starts up at 04:00 in the morning, along with the accompanying warning sirens. If you’re a light sleeper like me, you can forget any notion whatever of having a decent sleep.

Closing the window didn’t help matters either because 5 minutes later the room was like an oven. And that was a shame because the room itself wasn’t too bad as budget rooms go.

But I did manage to go off on a few travels regardless.

We started off back at the taxi place where I have the Cortina LND9P. It was Sunday evening and I was awaiting the arrival of the radio operator – none other than our old friend TOTGA. And looking through the books I could see that we hadn’t turned a wheel since the previous Sunday when she was here. So I hoped that things would be better and pick up, or else I may as well close down.
Later, I was off to Stoke on Trent on a Saturday afternoon, with the plan being to visit a scrapyard. Saturday afternoons, as everyone knows, are really busy in scrapyards but this one was empty, no-one was about and all of the cars were overgrown with weeds. Of course, fewer and fewer people repair their own cars these days, and tighter pollution controls means that cars head off to the scrapyards themselves long before they are in need of any major repair.
Later still, we were on a big double-decker coach coming out of a French port, and up a steep hill on a gravel road. Our route took us up past a big camp site and then we disappeared into the rolling hills. At a certain moment we all alighted and the driver disappeared off with the bus. That gave us an opportunity to explore the area on foot. A crowd of us went through into some cave-type of places that were old lime-kilns and were stuffed with old French cars lying around abandoned and derelict. After we’d been talking for a while I drew the attention of someone in our party, a car enthusiast, to one kiln where there was a pale green Peugeot 403. He was so keen that I decided not to disappoint him by telling him of the even better ones he had missed. Two of us ended up walking in the hills and this was tiring me out. But the bus driver came to fetch me as he was having an argument in a garage and the proprietor didn’t understand him. He told me that the proprietor wanted to charge him for a whole ruck of repairs on the steering, but the driver had said that he had greased and oiled it himself and it was only minor adjustments that the garage had done. The proprietor said that the bill related to earlier work, and that rang a bell with me as I remembered the bus having to be suspended-towed in to the garage some time previously. And while we were discussing things, I went out for some fresh air and a walk, and there was another bus and an accident-damaged small lorry being towed into the garage.

Once the alarms went off I had a shower and settled down to write up last night’s note, but for one reason or another the hotel’s internet system wouldn’t accept the *.ftp procedures to upload the photos.

and my heart wasn’t much in it either after the bad night. 10:00 was checking-out time and the cleaner was knocking on the door to “encourage” me to leave.

Outside, not only was Caliburn still there but no-one had stolen his wheels. That’s one thing to be thankful for, I suppose. I was rather worried about that.

river rhine barge ludwigshafen germany july juillet 2018First stop was the river to see what was going on, driving past a B&B Hotel not 500 yards from where I stayed.

And you’ve no idea just how difficult it was to find my way down here too. There were roadworks everywhere and I couldn’t get to where I needed to be.

In the end I had to improvise something, and I ended up eventually on the industrial estate.

 germany july juillet 2018Here, I was treated to a nautical danse macabre by several barges.

You’ve no idea just how busy the Rhine is, and the amount of commercial traffic that’s flowing up and down it.

The UK’s only navigable commercial inland waterway, the Manchester Ship Canal, was closed down and a Shopping Centre built on Pomona Docks, but here in Germany, water transport plays a vital role in the economy.

worms germany july juillet 2018The assemblies of delegates of the Holy Roman Empire were called “Diets” and several of those took place in the town of Worms which is just up the road from here.

The most famous Diet of Worms took place in 1521, when Martin Luther was summoned before the Assembly to defend several of his works that Pope Leo X

The Assembly ended with him being denounced as a dangerous heretic, but his demeanour at the Diet won him some very influential friends.

gatehouse bridge river rhine worms germany july juillet 2018This gorgeous stone building here in the background is actually a gatehouse for the bridge that crosses the Rhine here.

Its style and immense size gives you some idea of the wealth and importance of the city in Medieval times.

It was a Free City of the Holy Roman Empire, its ruling Council being directly subordinate to the Emperor himself.

giant barge lighter river rhine worms germany july juillet 2018And river traffic is quite intense here too, with an endless stream of barges passing up and down the river.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Ship Of The Day of course, but this would qualify as a Barge of the Day in anyone’s reckoning.

It’s loaded up with scrap and is pushing a lighter down in front of it which is likewise loaded. There can’t be much less than 1,000 tonnes on there – the equivalent of 30-odd lorries.

Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous incarnations will recall that we once went for a train ride up through the Ruhr, and noticed how all of the land at the side of the railway was still flattened and overgrown following the devastation of the allied bombing during World War II

Worms was a fortified stronghold of the German Army and as well as suffering from Harris’s indiscriminate bombing, was attacked twice in early 1945 by massive fleets of bombers in an attempt to force out the defenders.

In one attack, on 21st February, 334 bombers dropped an estimated 1100 tonnes of bombs on the city in just a couple of minutes.

bomb damage worms germany july juillet 2018It didn’t work, and the city didn’t fall until it was outflanked after the Crossing of the Rhine.

And just as in the Ruhr, I bet that this area around the cathedral looked totally different prior to the bombing.

The post-war Strategic Bombing Survey suggested that almost 40% of the city had been destroyed in the air attacks of 1945. Nearly 6500 buildings had been damaged or totally destroyed and several hundred civilians killed.

electric multiple unit offenburg germany july juillet 2018I stopped at the kaufland supermarket on the edge of Oppenheim to do some shopping, and back on the road I was held up at a level crossing.

It’s not easy photographing a moving target with the little Nikon as the lapse time is longer than i ought to be, but I managed to photograph some of an electric multiple unit on its way to Mainz.

And when I’m reunited with my Jane’s Train Recognition Guide I can tell you all about it

Now, have you any idea just how difficult it is to drive around Mainz?

Mainz is like three cities merged into one and if you forget in which order they are, you can drive aroundfor ever in an eternal loop.

What doesn’t help of course is The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav who has difficulty in understanding grade-separated junctions, and a new fault that she seems to have developed in that she doesn’t know her Cardinal Points.

Here I was with the river on my right-hand side and the sun behind me, so clearly heading north-ish, and she telling me that I’m going south-west.

After a while, I gave up and finding a little quiet corner down by the river, stopped for lunch.

Back on the road, after she had tried to send me down a public footpath and then three times round the same corner of the city while I tried to work my own way round a grade-separated junction, I did what I should have done first rather than last.

I picked up a road sign for Koblenz, which is on the river north of Mainz, and drove 10 miles down the motorway, making sure that the distance to Koblenz was decreasing, and then pulled off the motorway to find the river.

fortress near bingen am rhein germany july juillet 2018And the interchange was exciting too.

Remember me talking the other day about castle ruins in the middle of Germany? Here’s another not-quite-a-ruin just at the side of the motorway exit.

We’re now in the Rhine valley – the Gateway to Central Europe – and this area was fought over almost as much as Flanders and North-East France

river rhine bacharach germany july juillet 2018Having rejoined the Rhine at Bingen am Rhein, we end up in the quaintly-named town of Bacharach.

We’ve seen all of the vines and grapes growing in the Rhine Valley, and just as in France, there are plenty of Chateaux here and there, just as in Bacharach, which are presumably the domains of the owners;

But I’m not keen on the colours of the parasols, I’ll tell you that.

river rhine bacharach germany july juillet 2018It’s round about Bacharach that we start to meet the typical Rhine scenery too as the river begins to cut its course through the mountains.

This is the kind of view that you’ll see on any picture postcard of the Rhine, despite the fact that probably only 100 kms of its route passes through this sort of terrain.

You won’t ever see a picture postcard view of the docks at Ludwigshafen, that’s for sure.

river rhine fortified island st goar germany july juillet 2018We mentioned fortifications just now, and also the fact that the Rhine is the gateway to Central Europe.

It was consequently heavily-defended during the Middle Ages and castles and the like were erected at every conceivable strategic location to control the passage up the river.

One of the best has to be the castle that was built here on this island in the middle of the river near St Goar. No commercial traffic could pass up here without being within primitive cannon-range of the castle.

river rhine castle st goar germany july juillet 2018And that’s not the only castle here too.

There’s a fortified castle at the same location but in the hills on the western side of the river overlooking one of the meanders.

From this kind of viewpoint you can see for miles any traffic coming up and down the river and have your rowing boat ready to nip out and collect the tolls.

Being a landowner with a castle on the banks of the Rhine was a very profitable occupation, although it did usually attract the ire of the inhabitants of the towns situated up- and down-stream, often with exciting results.

And talking of excitement, we had some excitement in St Goar. A bunch of grockles decided that they would amble across the road at their own pace right in front of Caliburn, doubtless too busy listening for the Loreley than to pay attention tp oncoming traffic, and were most upset when I gave them “Hail Columbia” on Caliburn’s horn.

And during the resultant discussion, I never realised just how good my German actually was. It’s a long time since I’ve had to remind people just who lost the war and they should get out of the way of the victors.

Not that it’s the kind of thing that I usually do, but it’s much more pointed than telling them to **** off.

I blinked and missed Boppard – a horrible nasty place full of even more grockles, and continued northwards.

city walls rhens germany july juillet 2018My journey brought me to the town of Rhens, of which the chief claim to fame is that it’s twinned with Barnsley in Yorkshire, for which I apologise.

It was also a fortified city in the Middle Ages and despite the warfare that has ravaged the area over the centuries, not the least of which was in March 1945, there are still some vestiges remaining.

There was also an old GPO red telephone box here too. everyone wants them except the Brits, it seems.

Koblenz received the same treatment as Boppard, mainly for the same reason but also due to the fact that it was now rush-hour.

Instead, I headed straight for my next destination, Remagen and the remains of its famous bridge.

For some reason, the bridge was quite difficult to find – as if a street called something like the “allee den Alten Rheinbruck” wouldn’t give me a clue.

In the end, I had to park up on the outskirts of the town and do some research.

river rhine ludendorf bridge remagen germany july juillet 2018But eventually I tracked down what remains of the bridge.

In World War II all of the bridges over the Rhine were packed with dynamite to demolish them should the need arise.

But following the premature explosion of another bridge when it was hit by a bomb and the subsequent court-martial of the officers commanding, the dynamite was removed, to be replaced when any enemy advance threatened the bridge.

By the time the Americans threatened the bridge, the only dynamite available was very substandard and not powerful enough to demolish the bridge. And in any case; some of the charges failed to explode.

And so it was still standing when the Americans arrived.

It didn’t fall until many days later, and then only due to the fanatical attacks by Luftwaffe bombing attacks and rocket barrages. But by then a pontoon bridge had been erected across the river.

Until the 1950s the pillars were still standing in the middle of the river but they were hazardous to shipping and were removed.

river rhine ludendorf bridge remagen germany july juillet 2018Its building had been proposed as part of the Schlieffen Plan for a rapid attack on France.

Linking the railways on the eastern bank of the Rhine with those on the western bank could speed up the deployment of troops and supplies.

And if you look very carefully, you can see the tunnel in the rock into which the railway disappeared.

Building took place between 1916 and 1919, too late to be of any real use in World War I

Bonn seemed to be the obvious choice for a place to stay, but I was wary after the budget hotel that I had had in Ludwigshafen.

So looking further afield I found much to my surprise that a hotel that I had seen earlier in Kripp, about 5 miles south of here and right on the banks of the Rhine, had a room with breakfast at just €53:00.

I’d been impressed by the look of that place, and so I reserved a room

container barge river rhine germany july juillet 2018On my way down back south we noticed another “Barge of the Day”

We’ve seen some impressively big container ships in our time, and although you won’t ever get them up the Rhine, this barge is impressive enough and shows you another example of the kind of freight that sails … “diesels” – ed … up here.

Having seen what I have seen of Germany’s economy and industry along the Rhine, long before we get to the Ruhr of course, it really is unstoppable and people living in the UK, where factories are being demolished and replaced by supermarkets selling imported goods, who think that they can compete with this are really totally out of their minds.

So now I’m esconsed in my little room. Small, and probably more at home in the 1970s (but then again, so am I) but there’s everything that I need just here and I even have a side-on view of the Rhine.

What more can any man desire – apart from Kate Bush and Jenny Agutter of course?

car ferry river rhine kripp linz germany july juillet 2018It was such a nice evening that I went for a walk outside later on.

Across the Rhine just here is the town of Linz and if you had been here in late March 1945 you would have had a completely different view than today.

Never mind the bomb and artillery damage – when the US engineers inspected the Ludendorf Bridge and declared it potentially unsafe, they constructed a pontoon bridge across the river at this point.

 germany july juillet 2018What we have today though is a car ferry, and that’s always going to be exciting news.

However, it’s not usually good news for Caliburn, Strawberry Moose and Yours Truly to see a car ferry, though.

We usually all end up in a bad mood, because a car ferry is that kind of thing that always makes us cross.

But we can see about that tomorrow. It’s bed-time right now.

Monday 2nd July – I’VE BOMBED AGAIN …

… with tonight’s hotel – and spectacularly too.

But not so with the hotel from last night and where I am this morning. Not that I was there for much of the time of course because I was elsewhere for much of it.

I was at some kind of airport waiting for a flight, but someone needed me to take a bicycle across to somewhere else on the site. I had this huge suitcase with me and I was wondering how I could manage to take it with me on the bike, otherwise I’d have to come back for it and that wouldn’t be very easy.
And somewhere mixed up in all of this I was on a road halfway up a mountain. It was summer and I was enjoying the scenery and the weather. But then news came out that I had to take a coach with holidaymakers to a village nearby. And by now it was winter and they wanted to go to ski. No big deal, until I learnt that the hotel where they would be staying was several miles away and this involved some tricky driving in some dreadful weather conditions, and twice a day too.

And having had a decent sleep, I wasup and about quite early, showered, breakfasted and having done all that needs to be done.

First stop was of course the town itself. It’s a very pretty city on the edge of the Schwartzwald – the Black Forest – with lots of nice things to see.

And this was one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. Whenever I’ve been in the area I’ve always driven around the ring road and never actually had the time to come in and admire the view.

So today I went to put that right.

But the major claim to fame is that Donaueschingen is said to be the source of the River Danube, the longest river in Europe at something like 2850 kilometres.

And that’s where it’s said to begin, down there in that spring. This is probably the biggest tourist attraction in the city and this is why I’m here.

On my way out of town I stumbled across a LIDL so I stocked up the supplies. And a big difference between a German one and a French one is that here they sell hummus, and vegan hummus at that too.

Somewhere along the route I came across a village that had its war memorial on prominent display. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have talked about German war memorials before.

In the UK he situation seems to be that there were about three times the casualties in World War I than in World War II. In Germany, while the World War I losses were comparable with those of the UK, the situation is reversed in that there are three times as many deaths in the latter war.

And most of the deaths – by far the most – took place in the final two years of the War. From the fall of Stalingrad onwards, these must have been cataclysmic times for the German soldier.

Another surprise awaited me further along the road.

Ruined castles and the like are things that are quite common to find in many parts of Western Europe, but in Germany they are quite rare.

And so I was impressed to see what looked like medieval stone ruins here at the side of the road.

But not even that could surprise me as much as this.

And I bet that many people won’t ever remember having seen one of these in their lifetime, and I’m certainly surprised to see one even now, especially with a green “pollution control” sticker in the windscreen.

This is an IFA-Wartburg 353, made in East Germany from the 1960s up until the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Sold in the UK as the “Wartburg Knight”, they had three-cylinder two-stroke engines and the pollution was legendary.

Only 9 moving parts in the engine, all of which used to go wrong and you could never find the spares to repair them.

Seeing one still alive, and with a pollution control sticker, is extraordinary.

For lunch I found a nice quiet corner to sit and relax in the heat, and then headed off out of the mountains.

This is where the traffic queues began and it was a nightmare to fight my way through the roadworks and the accidents.

At last I hit the Rhine where I could relax by the water for a while.

Having safely negotiated Karlsruhe I found the Rhine again, and it’s always a bad idea for me to see a ferry. It always makes me cross, as you know.

So more traffic queues, arguing with German drivers, all that sort of thing. And I eventually tracked down my hotel.

That wasn’t made easy by the fact that the street has been cut in two by a new by-pass and The Lady Who Lives In The Sat-Nav couldn’t work it out.

Now you know that bitter experience has taught me to check out the area before booking into a hotel. Well, this is the old railway station and it’s on a busy line.

The whole area is derelict and while the room itself is reasonable, it’s stifling hot and the noise from the railway right outside the window is deafening.

But at least the new plug on the slow cooker works okay. That’s one thing.

Saturday 16th May 2015 – IN SWITZERLAND

ferry bodensee friedrichshafen germany romanshorn switzerland may 2015It’s taken me long enough to find a ferry on this journey, but nevertheless here I am.

This is the ferry across the Bodensee, or Lake Constance for the English-speakers amongst you and it sails from Friedrichshafen in Germany to Romanshorn in Switzerland and I am about to make my triumphal entry therein – the first time on this journey.

waterfront bodensee friedrichshafen germany may 2015The waterfront is quite modern too, and unashamedly so. and not the result of wanton vandalism on behalf of the civic authorities but wanton vandalism on behalf of RAF Bomber Command in World War II.

Not that too many people can have too many complaints about that for once (although they might protest at the lack of accuracy) because there are at least two good reasons why the town of Friedrichshafen was a legitimate military target in World War II.

modern waterfront friedrichshafen bodensee germany may 2015And indeed not to mention World War I because the first ever bombing raid in World War I took place here just a matter of a couple of weeks after the start of the war took place here and given the primitive state of the equipment and navigation, was a stunning success that matches anything that the Dambusters could come up with in World War II.

We’ll be going for an inspection of these two legitimate targets in due course.

suspension bridge river argen germany may 2015But it took me ages to arrive at the Bodensee as I was being continually interrupted.

This is a suspension bridge over the River Argen. according to a sign at the bridge, it was built in 1896/97 under Kaiser Wilhelm, and that shows you just what a really big man he must have been because the bridge really is quite impressive.

Today it’s flanked by a railway bridge and a modern pre-stressed concrete road bridge, but this one outshines them all.

covered bridge eriskirch germany may 2015The village of Eriskirch a little farther along the roa was full of surprises, and this is just one of them.

It’s one of our old friends a wooden covered bridge. We encounter dozens, if not hundreds of these on our journeys around North America, but Europe has its fair share to offer as we have seen in the past, and as we shall indeed see again before we are much older. I would have gone for a wander through here, but it was closed for repair.

ford taunus eriskirch germany may 2015And that’s not all. Eriskirck also came up with a Ford Cortina Mk V too, excet that this is a mainland European version called the Taunus.

This was parked in a yard with half a dozen other noteworthy cars. I gave it a good going-over and I reckon that a good weekend’s work would have this back on the road. There didn’t seem to be much wrong with it and it was solid in all the suspect places

zeppelin friedrchshafen germany may 2015It’s amazing the things that you encounter on your travels but seeing this flying over me as I travelled further west reminded me of what I was doing down here in the first place.

And that’s just a baby too. could you imagine something maybe five or six times as big flying over your head, because that’s what used to happen in World War I when these monsters were legendary.

zeppelin headquarters friedrichshafen germany may 2015Yes, well done that man. It is indeed a Zeppelin and here on the outskirts of the town of Friedrichshafen are the headquarters of the company.

On a Bank Holiday weekend it was expecting too much for me to be able to go for a trip around, much as I tried, but I had a nosey about instead.

And my hat went off to the intrepid pilots of November 1914 who flew here in rickety string and canvas biplanes who managed to fly here from France and hurl a bomb into a Zeppelin shed, even if they didn’t manage to accomplish very much

dornier museum friedrichshafen germany may 2015I did say that there were a couple of legitimate military targets here in Friedrichshafen. The second one was the Dornier aircraft factory here.

Dorniers were known mainly for their seaplanes and they were built and tested down on the waterfront, hence the bombing raids down there. They also made bombers, the Do-17 and Do-217 but manufacture of those was dispersed throughout Germany

dornier museum friedrichshafen germany may 2015The only aircraft here from before the war are those that have come from elsewhere, such as the flying boat which, if we are to believe the registration number on it, is that flown on the Amundsen expedition to the North Pole in 1925 but which I strongly suspect is a replica.

No Do-17 though – not even a replica and I found that very disappointing. I can understand there not being a real one, although if they made an effort they could certainly find some bits, but no replica is a shame.

ferry boat bodensee friedrichshafen germany romanshorn switzerland may 2015Back on the ferry now and I forgot to take any details of the boat upon which I was sailing, which isn’t like me at all.

Anyway, it was a boat that looks very much like this one. This is sailing in the opposite direction to us and while they might not look very big, they are ten times bigger than the Hatteras Ferry boats that sail across the Hurricane belt in the Carolinas.

diessenhofen switzerland germany may 2015I’m back in Germany again and that’s the River Rhine just there.

The town in the background is called Diessenhofen, a beautiful little walled town that is first recorded in 757, although there are considerable remains from much earlier than this, even as far back as the Stone Age, and a substantial Roman hoard was discovered here.

covered bridge river rhine germany diessenhofen switzerland may 2015To cross the Rhine is a substantial covered bridge, and this was part of the secret of the wealth of the town – the tolls that were generated by people wishing to cross the river.

Today though, there are no tolls, and not even a border post, despite Switzerland not being in the EU. I simply wandered across unchallenged.

border crossing germany ramsen switzerland may 2015But why I crossed over back there was so that I could cross back here. That’s the border and the Rhine is behind me. Theres a little finger of Switzerland that is north of the Rhine, near the village of Ramsen and this was the favourite spot for escaping prisoners of war to cross the border from Germany, where they didn’t have to contend with the Rhine.

On the German side of the border here, the guard was asleep and in the Swiss hut, the place was deserted. And the border was so unguarded (well, relatively, anyway) during the war that one escapee passed through and out the other side where he was recaptured, without even realising that he had been in Switzerland.

rhine falls schaffhausen switzerland germany may 2015Ive come here to see the Rhine falls at Schaffhausen. This was somewhere else where I came on my honeymoon with Nerina and with it being mid October, the river was fairly low.

This time of year is the peak time to see the falls as the last of the snow melt roars through and it certainly was impressive from up here.

rhine falls schaffhausen switzerland germany may 2015From close to, while they may not be as impressive as the Niagara Falls, they are certainly as good as anything else that Europe has to offer and it’s well worth the trip to come to see them, even if you do have to fight your way through the participants of a bus trip from the local mosque.

But be warned – it’s quite a hike back to the top again so I was glad that it was late evening when I passed by here.

old renault van 1920s Switzerland germany may 2015I now try to find some accommodation for the night and I’m not very successful. I forgot about the Bank Holiday weekend and everywhere is either full or closed.

I do manage to find an old Renault van from the 1920s, in a very sorry state, so it isn’t all doom and gloom, despite the fast-approaching night.

In the end, I give up and head for the autoroute. There will be a rest area there and I’ll sleep in Ccaliburn tonight.


Wednesday 2nd July 2014 – THERE MUST HAVE BEEN QUITE EXCITING TIMES …

rheinstadion vaduz national stadium liechtenstein… at football matches in Liechtenstein in the past if the sign here at the National Stadium is anything to go by.

Who in their right mind would have gone to a football match in the past with a knife, a pair of knuckle dusters, a rocket launcher and a firearm? Not even a Millwall fan I suspect (“and of course, this is three years before Bala Town were drawn to play here in a Europa League match” he added in 2017).

Still, they wouldn’t have put this notice up if they hadn’t had any issues with these in the past. That’s why I reckon that it must have been quite exciting to have watched a match here.

rheinstadion vaduz national stadium liechtensteinNever mind the football – come here to watch the spectators.

And you have a nice stadium to do it in too. It’s quite modern and comfortable, currently undergoing refurbishment too, and which has a capacity (following the renovations) of 7838.

“Not a lot” you might be thinking. But then again, the population of the town is all of 5429 at the last count, so the inhabitants can have about 1.4 seats each.

liechtenstein bus vaduz bendern sargans vaduzSo in the pouring rain I crossed the road from Ze Gasthof zum Deutschen Rhein to the bus stop and here’s the bendy bus that brought me into the city of Vaduz. I’m becoming quite adept now at public transport in strange lands.

However, in contrast to everywhere else I’ve been (except the UK of course), I’ll be passing an adverse comment about the bus fare. Despite the minimal sales tax of 8% here in Liechtenstein, it was still CHF4:80 each way.

And it wasn’t just the bus fare either. A pot of coffee cost CHF7:80 and two tomatoes cost CHF1:00. Liechtenstein is definitely not the place to be if you are on a limited budget like Yours Truly.

Mind you, this is one of the richest countries in the world with the second-highest standard of living and the lowest amount of income tax so I suppose that the people can afford it.

vaduz liechtensteinSo I ambled around the town in the pouring rain and, believe me, it doesn’t take long because there isn’t very much of the town to see. My memories of the place from October 1988 were that it was just two roads – into the centre on one road, do a loop around at the far end, and back out on the other.

It’s very different today because one of the roads has been pedestrianised. So there’s just one road through the town today. And there’s a fair bit of traffic trying to negotiate it.

royal castle vaduz liechtensteinAnd Nerina wouldn’t recognise the place either from those days as many of the old buildings that I remember have been ruthlessly carved down and modern monstrosities built in their place.

The royal palace is still perched up there on its cliff, and that is a surprise seeing all of the other changes around here. I would have expected that to have gone too.

Mind you, I wonder what Prince Hans-Adam II, the ruler of the Principality of Liechtenstein, has to say about the changes to his view of the city from the terraces up there.

government offices vaduz liechtensteinWhen they built the Government offices at the beginning of the 20th Century they made a good effort to try to keep something of the Medieval traditions. Today however, there is not even a pretence.

Having “done” the city I went for a walk out of town to the River Rhine. It’s not very far, even in the pouring rain. Formerly the river ran in a meandering course much closer to the city but a disastrous flood in 1860 caused the inhabitants to divert the river away from the city and reinforce the banks.

covered bridge river rhine switzerland vaduz liechtensteinCanada might well have a preponderance of covered bridges as we all know, but Europe has its share too. I saw one at Lech the other day, and here’s one crossing the Rhine.

By the way – on the other side of the river is Switzerland. So the border is clearly defined. In other places it isn’t, and the Swiss Army has “invaded” Liechtenstein 3 times “by mistake” in recent times.

And why didn’t the Liechtenstein Army fight back? The answer is that it doesn’t have an army (that’s why taxes are so low). Well, it does. It consists of two men – one to fire the rifle and the other one to ask for the bullet back.

By the way, Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in Europe. The Papal Enclave is certainly smaller (we were there in 2000 if you remember) and it’s quite possible that San Marino is too.

interior cathedral vaduz liechtensteinAnother thing that is quite surprising for a capital city is that it was not until the last 20-25 years that Vaduz became a city in the traditional sense of the term when the parish church was consecrated as a Cathedral. And it’s certainly one of the smallest cathedrals that I’ve ever been in.

Another claim to fame that the city possesses – or maybe doesn’t possess – is that it is probably the only capital city in the developed world that possesses neither a railway station nor an airport. You have to fly in to Switzerland or Austria and catch a bus.

Anyway, that was my trip to Vaduz and, soaking wet, I caught the bus back to the hotel.

And the verdict on Vaduz? Frankly, Nantwich has much more to offer. Not that that’s any surprise either. Nantwich has a population of about 12,000 if I remember correctly. Vaduz has less than half of that and is probably the smallest capital city in the world.

It’s a fact that there are more Limited Companies registered in Vaduz than there are inhabitants.