Stone cold sober in a wine region AGAIN!

Trip Start Mar 22, 2010
Trip End Jun 10, 2010

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Flag of Germany  , Rhineland-Palatinate,
Friday, May 28, 2010

Lovely, cold, rainy and quiet overnight - conducive for 2 exhausted bodies to sleep so deeply that even the bladder alarm didn’t get us up until after 9:30am. A bit panicked - starting to really truly understand we just don’t have enough time yet to do what we want to get done. Have already started making a list of places to go and things to do next time. Next time? I don’t think I can go another 3 years without holidays to save up my leave balances! Will just have to resign! (or smile extremely sweetly to Kathy! Hi Kathy!!!).

Packed up in the rain - glad not to have planned a bike day, which was a possibility. We’ve decided to drive through the Moselle Valley, along the Moselle river, where they grow grapes for - you guessed it - Moselle region wines. We thought riding might have the consequence of drinking, so since we are driving we won’t taste, and will drive stony faced past all the offers of tastings, lovely sausagey-potatoe-y lunchy goodness teamed with appropriate wines, and choose coffee and sandwiches instead. How sensible.

We didn’t stop to see very much of Trier. The road works and the traffic jams at such a non-peak-hour completely turned us off. The lights would all change with 3 second intervals, and trucks seemed to have themselves parked diagonally across intersections. There was so much confusion, that we decided to add a little camper called Hans Bubi and 2 nomadic Australians would just throw the balance! So off we went - switched Helga on to “Deutsch” to get our ear back in, but then chose to ignore her anyway - and Seano threw ME the map! What a strange and unusual thing to do! We are both more than comfortable in the knowledge that I don’t know where I am most of the time, and turn me round 90°gets me more lost . I think Seano summed up my navigational skills as “remedial”, and really hammered it home when we were lost in Slovenia and I asked where we were by responding “Slovenia, dear”. I think he wants me to go home with a new skill which doesn’t involve beer, so he is enforcing map reading. (I was never a scout like Billy Bragg!)

Luckily, the Moselle Valley strasse is a pretty well signposted road, and I picked up after a few towns that it was number 53 - so we followed that until number 53 disappeared!!! Then, I thought number 49 was going in about the general way that we were after, so we followed that one. The vineyards are all up and down the steep slopes of the hills on either side of the river, with little towns peppered in between. Space is certainly at a premium, and there is no space wasted - I saw one tiny little spot between 2 rocky outcrops where there were about 6 rows of vines planted, and perhaps 10 stakes per row. We were amazed that the rows seemed to go straight up and down the hills, and thought that the harvesting must be an incredibly difficult job, because it would have to be all done by hand - there’s no way you could get vehicles on such a steep slope or between such narrow rows of vines. There were little flying-fox type vehicles in some of the bigger vineyards, but only enough room for one person and perhaps 1 or 2 buckets. Hard yakka.

The villages ranged from big rather touristy towns with very traditional looking German houses and buildings, but advertising international food, to tiny little charming villages with front doors literally opening out onto the road. We ended up stopping at a little imbiss on the river, where we got ourselves a couple of bratwurst on buns and some kartoffel salat. Had a coffee and were all over very smug at getting through most of the moselle valley without having a drink - I bet we’ll be angry at ourselves later for not buying just a little bit, but we still have Champagne in Hans Bubi that we have to get through, and are heading for Munich where beer is king, so the last thing we need to do is add more drink into our remaining week. Man, a week.  

We feel a little bit funny using our German again - feels like we have forgotten the words and phrases that we worked so hard to learn before we left and when we first got here. But so far today, Seano has managed to get a gas bottle exchanged, I have my post office spiel ready to go, we got to a toilet which was a hidden one, and I managed to order us lunch and coffees from an Imbiss where we got exactly what we were after, so clearly things were ok.

Headed for region called Halletau in Bavaria to a tiny village called Attenkirchen. Attenkirchen are hosting a 3 day beer festival over this weekend (supposedly to celebrate the hops growing), and we have every intention of attending to lend our support for the cause (the cause is to keep the beer festival annual, or let it all slide - we are on the “keep it going” team). Drove around the village and there were no campingplatzs, so we drove in a 15-20 kilometre radius - still nowhere to camp (unless you count on the side of the roads!), but we did see plenty of the hops growing across the countryside. We scoured rivers and train tracks (usually the haunting ground of camping sites) - nothing. Pulled in to a service station to get a map, and scoured it - nothing within about 35 kilometres. Even for us that might be a bit too serious a distance for beer. Getting on for about 9:30pm, and it became very clear to me the things that I loathe about campervanning - not being able to find a spot to sleep, and time seems to go a lot faster between 9:30 and midnight… Midnight comes quick when you have no where to sleep and are getting progressively more tired and cranky. But we are getting better at coping - we both came to the same conclusion - head for Munchen, and deal with the beer festival issue tomorrow. Great plan!

Driving through Munchen, we passed the Allianz Arena, a huge new sports stadium with rubber type walls which can change colour depending on the team colours, or the sport - tonight it was electric blue, slowly changing to bright red. Absolutely huge place. After that we reached the city itself, which reminded us of Paris - probably because of all the road works, traffic jams and the fast approaching lateness of the hour! We were hoping not to have to sneak in to use a toilet again, but to actually have a legitimate site. We reached the campingplatz just after 10pm, and luckily for us it was one of the busier ones, where they have someone at the gate until about 11:00. Pulled in, set up (poor Seano getting soaked to the skin in the rain) and after showers (we didn’t realise that the showers needed special tokens, so poor Seano had a cold shower before ducking out to the reception area to get me a token - bless him). A quick bite to eat and the warmth of our bed.

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