Although we were unsure of the legality of camping out the front of a castle, somehow the biggest camping van in the world went unnoticed and we awoke the next day with our good luck intact. We left her where she was, and arranged to be picked up by a German friend of Mark's, Beate, before all heading off to check out a winery and devour a Jagerschnitzel. Washing it all down with a bearable Rosť, it formed what was easily the best meal we had seen let alone tasted for quite some time. Although I don't have photo evidence, I swear that the meal also included a salad.
That night we recommenced drinking games on the castle grounds - they had thoughtfully left out some tables and chairs for us to use. The game was once again "dice", but on this occasion it was being played with a sinister twist. Whereas the previous night we were using the remains of some of the worst beer you are ever likely to sample (seriously), this time we were using the last of a tasty Vodka/orange mix so we were all trying to "lose" in order to get a drink. I even saw a killer hedgehog (or something) as I was venturing back to get another bottle from the van. I grabbed my camera, but when I returned it became clear it was in fact the Ninja variety of hedgehogs that are capable of disappearing into thin air.
Next day we met up with Beate again for another special treat - thermal baths. As well as easing the pain that had developed in our aching joints over the course of a bruising month of road tripping, the thermal baths also doubled as our hygiene salvation after quite a few days on the trot without a wash. Powerful waterjets were just the ticket for van-induced aching backs, but they were on some sort of timing system which meant a battle for position every time the "good" waterjets erupted back into action. A thoroughly relaxing day had by all - even after management put a stop to our "dangerous" practice of drinking from beer bottles at least 20m from the nearest patron or pool.
With a handful of days up our sleeve before the return of the van was due in Munich, we consulted some maps and guide books to find a suitable pitstop point somewhere in between - it was hard to go past a town claiming more than 200 different local beers, so Bamburg it was...
Still licking our wounds, we arrived in Wiesbaden and immediately went searching for somewhere to park Vinny's Mum's Van Van. We were all feeling suitably depressed by that stage, thanks partly to Australia being knocked out of the Germany World Cup 2006, but also partly because for the duration of the drive from Kaiserslauten only cliched gloomy songs were permitted. After all, the dream was over. I managed to momentarily slip in "John Denver - Sunshine on my shoulders" but it was shut down with immediate effect by the grumpy old men I seemed to be sharing the van with. Moments later Meatloaf was again chiming in (for the 800th time) with "Two out of three ain't bad". The only campingplatz we could find was roughly in the middle of nowhere, so instead we opted for Plan B - free parking in front of a castle. The great thing about a castle in Germany is that it is called a "Schloss" - which is not only hilarious to continually pronounce and butcher (and don't forget the plural form!), but is also one of the two key ingredients required to "Get sloshed at the Schloss". Drinking games ensued, and Brettski had the auspicious fortune of being the only one of us to successfully spew on a castle. The hijinx continued when Mark tried to use a nearby self-cleaning public toilet but instead ended up fleeing the scene after a few too many hydraulics and bright flashing lights put him off the idea. Enough can't be said about sleeping with the Biebrich Schloss on one side, with the Rhine on the other.