Discovering a gem in Freiburg, Germany

I was heading from Germany to some potential campsites around Lake Geneva last week, but got stuck in traffic due to an accident near Freiburg in Germany, and took to Google maps to find me a local campsite for the night.

It suggested a campsite on the outskirts of Freiburg, and I headed there with absolutely no expectations.

Wow! Easily the best short stay campsite I have ever been to. Thank you Google Maps…I ended up staying a week!

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The rather long name of “Camping & Gastezimmer am Möslepark in Freiburg” is a bit of a mouthful, but the campsite is superb. Fantastically located right along a stretch of the Black Forest, and on the outskirts of this amazing student town, it offers bike and running paths galore (I am convinced more than car roads) and a calm, relaxing athmosphere that is bliss after a long day on the road.

The management has recently invested in an upgrade of the facilities and they went for upmarket rather than cheap! The facilities were more 5 star hotel like than campsite, but with just the right balance of quality vs practicality with plenty of strong, hot showers.

Attached to the campsite is a hotel with spa facilities and an incredible coffee/cake shop that also served breakfast. They also have a full kitchen with utilities, laundry room with washer/dryer and sinks for hand washing and plenty of well laid out sinks for washing dishes. There are not too many plots (about 30) and they are all short stay (no permanent plots). In the same spirit as Freiburg in general they are extremely eco friendly and focused on recycling and a more natural approach to things. They do not allow plastic or other types of outdoor ground sheets that will damage the grass, for instance. They also offer free, open WiFi that was good enough for me to use for work purposes.

What is strange about the site is that all of the above things I’ve found in some other sites as well but there was balance of things here that just made my whole stay so fantastic. It did not come that cheaply – €150 for 5 days – but it was so worth it, I will certainly be back.

I discovered many trail runs all around the site and the town was within easy reach either by bike or foot, with plenty of supermarkets and other shops.

As an added bonus, I discovered that I was not too far from my dear friend Kiki, who I then got to see towards the end of the week.

If you are ever near Freiburg and need a place to stop, don’t hesitate! 5 Stars.

Scenes from Denmark

In a first for Olli and Rayquaza, we camped in Denmark, in the lovely town of Vejle.

I wanted to go see a client we have there and the campsite  – Vejle City Camping – is about 300m from their offices! Could not be more convenient.

Quick review – lovely campsite, not too cheap but not bad at €104 for 3 nights which included a laundry wash/dry token. Decent, new shower and other facilities and some items for sale in reception. There is a nearby bakery and a bit further (5 more mins walk) a range of small shops and supermarkets.

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They had quite a few spaces but most were still too soggy from the winter and I could only choose from plots which were all a bit slopy. It took a bit of trying to get the van level. The only other thing that bothered me a bit was that it was next to a relatively busy residential road. Though thankfully quiet at night. I got lucky with the light and managed to get this pic of one of their cabins they hire out.

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What was amazing about the campsite was the forest right next to it, and the fantastic trail walking, running and mountain biking options it offers.

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It is truly spectactular and leads to an apparently famous Vejle landmark.

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All in, a nice place to visit – really friendly people, fantastic nature scenes and heaps of access to outdoor things to do.

 

 

UK > Holland > Germany > Denmark

I’ve been preparing to set off again, despite not having had the missing window (as a result of the incident near Barcelona) replaced. Seems it’s quite tricky to find that exact window, but before I replace the whole thing with a new frame and non-factory window, I thought I’d try in Germany, where Hobby (make of Rayquaza) is from. You never know! In the meantime it’s fine boarded up.

Overall, I had a lot of small jobs to do whilst I was here in the UK … after the break-in I never really re-packed the cupboards (almost done) and I’ve always wanted to fix some of the cupboard’s closing clips (done) whilst I had to pack up and store my winter clothes (done). Rayquaza also had it’s MOT (UK annual car inspection) test done. Other jobs included fitting an interior alarm to Rayquaza and adding a few other security bits I won’t talk about on here.

Olli had his Rabies vaccinations updated – and during the check-up I was told to run less with him, as our current efforts were apparently a tad too much for him. So now he’ll only join me for the odd short run. I also replaced his bike buggy with a new one, as they are relatively cheap and wear down quite easily. I’ve certainly had a lot of use from the old one and will keep bits of it for spare parts.

Overall I’ve also managed to take quite a bit of weight off Rayquaza with selling of pretty much anything I did not use as much as I thought, on eBay. Electric scooter, a range of video and other camera kit and some other items, all gone.

It feels good to have all these smaller jobs done now and I’m looking forward to setting off again. As the title shows, I’m heading for Denmark. In my dayjob we have a client there, and I’ve always wanted to spend more time in Denmark, so this is a great excuse.

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Olli and I are taking the Harwich to Hook of Holland overnight ferry next week – he’ll have to sleep in the kennels on the ferry – and then through Holland, past Hamburg all the way up to a town called Veijle.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is getting back into proper photography again. I ditched all the DJI videocamera for a superb digital camera, a Panasonic Lumix GX8. I just miss having a proper camera in my hand and looking through the viewfinder. So, be prepared for a few more pics on here soon!

 

Surviving the Beast from the East

I’m currently in the UK and staying in Rayquaza, despite one of the coldest winters ever, and tons of snow!

I was curious to test Rayquaza’s ability to cope with conditions like these and I’m pleased to say she kept me warm and dry, without a problem.

I run the gas heating throughout the night on a low setting, boosting it a bit with the warm air blower from the aircon before bedtime. And then I invested in a really good electric mattress topper that is heavenly.

That made a big difference and again I keep that on a low setting overnight, just to keep the edge off. (we’ve had nights of – 5)

I can’t exactly tell how quickly I’m consuming the on board gas but with the snow melting quite fast now I’ll go to the local garage tomorrow to fill that up again and then I’ll know. I suspect however I’ve not used much.

I even managed to get a run in this morning, I’ve not been able to go for almost a week now.

All in, I’m well pleased with the way the motorhome retains heat and how well insulated she is. Easy to see how one can use her ever for a winter ski holiday. Well done Hobby for the good German engineering.

However I am very much looking forward to warmer times ahead and am dreaming of my Balaton summer already!

Desperation in Bilbao

I am catching the Bilbao to Portsmouth ferry today, with a special cabin booked where Olli can come inside as well. Its a 24 journey.

The ferry company allows you to check in the afternoon before, and then sleep in your motorhome in the Q. Having done this journey before and trying to get the timing right in the morning, I thought the overnight stay would be a good idea.

However during a quick Olli walk I started seeing a few suspicious characters weaving through the lines and when I saw one guy feeling the lockers on some motorhomes I knew I would not sleep much. (despite my garage being so full you won’t get a mouse in there)

It turned into a busy night with lots of police activity. I easily spotted up to 20 wannabe migrants being escorted out of the port (which is all they seem to be able to do with them)

It was upsetting in multiple ways since (and I took a short video of me talking about this but will have to upload later) the sheer desperation of these young people to get to England is very sad to witness. Their home situation must be utterly rock bottom. It’s freezing cold, the ferry will take 24 hours and you are very likely to be caught… This morning every motorhome is being inspected by the Guardia Civil.

My heart goes out to these people. In the motorhome two slots in front of me they removed a young guy from the boot and the look on his face was just so desperate.

But what can one do?

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Citystop Barcelona Camper Stop

Given me and Olli’s current passportless state, I have to come and see the British consulate in Barcelona first thing tomorrow, and was intrigued when I saw a camper stop in Barcelona’s Sant Marti district.

At first it does not look like much (effectively a truck and motorhome car park) and at €39 per 24 hours for a spot with electricity, not cheap, especially as its winter.

But what a pleasant surprise. Great security (which now is a major comfort) and a central building with nice kitchen, TV room and super showers with very hot water.

It’s right next to a metro stop and for exploring the city whilst knowing your camper is safe, it’s a bargain compared to what you’ll pay for a hotel in the city. And it’s quiet!

Highly recommended, and the graffiti on the wall is actually quite nice, for a change.

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When your home gets stolen

Yesterday early evening Rayquaza, my motorhome, got stolen from a public car park in my old stomping ground of Castelldefels, near Barcelona.

To return to the spot where you left all of your belongings and indeed your house no more than 30 minutes ago, to find it all gone, is as horrible a feeling as you can imagine.

Short story, I got her back. Minus cash, wallet, passports (both my British and South African), Olli’s papers (a huge concern as I’m not sure how I’m going to get him back to England now) and my beloved, new Macbook. (now remotely set to auto destroy itself when it comes back online, enjoy, bastards)

They did not steal the drone, other cameras or the harpeji or even the bike, as they simply did not have the time, but it obvious from how we find her parked in a dark alley, they were going to take it all.

And here are some lessons.

Car safes can be open. I kept passports and money in a floor car safe thinking it’s safe in there. Would have been better having it under my pillow!

Use the wheel clamp, always. Even if just leaving for 10 minutes to pop to a supermarket.

I had Olli with me, luckily, but it could have been 50/50, I do sometimes leave him in the motorhome.

Spending more on really good stuff worked – the 4g router I have has a bult in online tracker. (which till now I thought was a really expensive add-on with no real value) With that, I was able to guide the police and take part in quite a hairy police chase, sirens going and all. That allowed us to get to the motorhome before they could rip it further apart, and they only got away with what they could grab.

Luck. I could have been out of phone battery, and I would have missed the opportunity to track them, or call the police in time, or call friends (thanks Edd!) to help with the tracking. (I had 12% battery left)

Luck. They could have turned off the 12v feed or unplugged the router, and I would have had no way to trace it.

Luck. I could have stopped for dinner in town, and totally missed the timing mentioned. I came really close to stopping at an international beer bar I know in town.

They did absolutely trash the inside but damage wise its only one window that’s missing. With some rain forecast I’ll have to board it up.

Obviously checked the insurance. Does not cover laptops or cash. How convenient.

The local police in Castelldefels has been absolutely brilliant. They must have bad 10 cars out tonight, lights blasing, giving chase.

So my week next week is going to be filled with visits to the counsulate and hoping there is more good luck in getting Olli back to the UK.

I had zero sleep (parked outside the police station at their request) but obviously mind spinning and with the broken window, extra noise etc.

Could have been much worse.

– Riaan