On Sunday, May 12, 2013 we had a reasonably early start as we left Camping Waldpark Hohenstadt en route to Alsace. This was our second time in the little town of Equishiem and we were really quite excited to be going back. I suppose returning to the scene of a prior enjoyable experience can be a bit risky as very often it doesn't measure up but, truthfully, I will never tire of Alsace. It is an incredibly beautiful part of the world and hopefully the pictures here will give you a bit of an idea of what it is like.
First of all, a few words about the campsite. It is called Camping des Trois Chateaux and it is a municipal site. It is not the best campsite you will ever stay at but it is certainly adequate and the facilities are impeccable. It seems to be a favourite stopping off point for German and Dutch people but the occasional GB can be spotted.
One of the features of this part of the world is the presence of storks. Just a few hundred meters from the campsite there is a stork farm and, apart from that, they seem to travel quite freely in the area as their nests can be seen on roof tops in the town and equishiem. Don't be surprised if one or two turn up on your doorstep in the campsite as they tend to visit regularly in search of the odd hand out from kindly travellers!
The town of Equishiem is known as “The cradle of the Alsatian vineyard” and for good reason. Local vineyards stretch for miles and many independent wine producers have their cellars in the little streets of the town. The blue building in the picture entitled “The Equishiem style” is one such example.
Today is Saturday, May 11, 2013 and we promised ourselves a reasonably early start as we head beyond Munich towards Alsace. In keeping with the previous 24 hours it poured and so packing up, never an experience to savour, became downright arduous. In fairness to Camping Harass our memories will be clouded by the awful weather but, it has to be said, the location is pretty special. Like so many sites these days, Harass has a "run down" feel to it but maybe I should be a bit more circumspect as torrential rain seldom makes anywhere look good. I would go back if I was in the area and that has to be the real test.
Because Alsace is over 300 miles away we are stopping off en route at a site called Camping Waldpark Hohenstadt. It is located just off the autobahn west of Munich and I had a good feeling about it following a telephone call to ensure availability. The owners are a delightful couple, Axel and Heike Rohm. In my phone call I found Heike to be so helpful and clearly willing to go that extra bit to ensure you are satisfied with her service. Interestingly she confirmed something we have noticed throughout this trip, namely, helpful and attentive staff are invariably a good indicator of the quality of the campsite.
When we arrived we were not disappointed. This is a rural site with no real views but the pitches were well looked after and the toilet facilities are exceptional. There is an onsite Italian restaurant and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours unwinding after a long drive. Speaking of which, we fully expected that it would be a reasonably comfortable journey, all motorway except for about 4 miles. What we got was a pain. The longest and largest road works I have ever seen. I am sure the construction, of what will be a superb new autobahn, lasted for about 40 miles and although my German is pretty non existent even I could read that it is scheduled to be completed late in 2015! So, there is a road to avoid for a while.
Our time spent in Seecamping Berghof in Austria was spectacular and varied. From the last blog entry you can see the link to the site webcam displaying the incredible views across the lake. We spent two nights there and on the first day we piled into Gianni's van and headed off down the road to Italy! Yes, we were that close and we had received a glowing report about a restaurant in Tarvisio which, it must be said, lived up to its reputation. But while on the subject of food we came across something quite unexpected while at the campsite in Austria. On our first night we decided to try out the onsite restaurant and, as we have come to expect recently, the staff were just the best, welcoming us and being helpful in every way.
The food was quite good too and the experience was one we would have been keen to recommend but for one little thing. It appears the laws in Austria on smoking in public places such as restaurants are not just as strict in other countries. As we dined some other customers sitting relatively close by were smoking and we found it quite uncomfortable. Somebody once said that tolerance levels reduced in direct proportion to your age. They certainly knew what they were talking about! We chatted to one of the staff about it and discovered that there are, in fact, laws in Austria probably similar to what we are now used to but they just are not enforced. Seems restaurants do provide facilities for smokers but the area is not clearly defined. Pity because it was the only thing I could fault the site with.
They had a fabulous feature in their sanitary block. There are individual bathrooms which contain a toilet and shower and you can secure one of these for the duration of your stay and for that time it is all yours. They were as good as any 5 star hotel. An excellent feature.
Like so many sites on this trip we were sad to leave but that feeling gave way very quickly to one of sheer awe as we drove northwards through the alps. I could use words like "stunning" and "incredible" and they still would not do justice to the views. I can honestly say in my motorhoming experience I have never seen anything like it and that goes for the rest of us on this trip. I hope some of the pictures here can give you just a little idea of what it is like.
Our destination was to be another lakeside site some miles into Germany. Panorama Camping Harras, the coordinates are 47.839930, 12.373960, if you want to have a peek in Google Earth. Today was Thursday, May 09, 2013 which is Ms Nancy's birthday. However, it also happened to be Father's day in Germany so lots of families had clearly decided that Camping Harras would be a good place give the old man a night out! The result was something similar to putting a quart into a pint pot. Still the weather was good, the food was good and, as we say in Ireland, "the craic was good". That was yesterday.
Today it is Friday, May 10, 2013 and the heavens have opened. I have never seen so many fathers high tailing it out of one place so quickly. We are staying put until tomorrow when we will move on en route to Alsace. We expect to be there by Sunday.
By the way, a special thank you to Nancy for all of today’s pictures. What a way to spend your birthday! One final thought about yesterday's trip through Austria into Germany. As you know by now we are four people (and Dougal) travelling in two motorhomes. Gianni and Loretta Carbone are experiencing the same views and sensations so it was interesting to compare notes last night when we got settled into Camping Harras. So in her own words: Gianni and myself had a most memorable, first experience of Austria, when driving with our travelling buddies, Frank, Nancy and Dougal, as we headed northwards towards Munich yesterday.
The views on route were truly spectacular. Mile after mile of dramatic mountain peaks, capped with snow and smothered in evergreen pine forests of various description. All dotted with wooden, colourful Austrian style houses. Then to eclipse even that, we stopped for lunch at we believe, the most incredible MOTORWAY service station stop-off. Honestly, the quality of food, drink and goodies to buy, could not be bettered, even in a 5 star hotel in Hawaii or Monte Carlo. The traditional costumed staff, only added to the fairy tale effect.
The final cherry on the cake, was where it was situated, in a valley, surrounded by stunning, dramatic, snow peaked mountains. The name of the place was LANDZEIT autobahn-restaurant and if you are ever passing that way in the future, do not miss this Hansel and Gretel experience. The coordinates of the place are 47.247710, 13.425140.