Bavaria, Germany VW T25 1981 Campervan

Stuttgart, we arrived just north of Stuttgart to meet up with a mate that lived in Gracefield flat in Christchurch. Preparations for their wedding to his lovely partner Josephine from Philippines who he meet on a volunteering relief work, when there were large typhoons that had destroyed local communities. Having a good catch up with Flo it seems he has fallen in love with Joker! The Green Machine sure does lure in admirers. Settling in with a solid meal cooked by Josephine, Flo had introduced me to a good Bavarian beer called Paulaner which is a Hef-Weißbier, this stuff is gold and I’m hooked lined and sinkered. Its a cloudy wheat beer with such a smooth taste nothing has even come close to this sort of beer I’ve had in Germany. Cheers Flo!

So it was decided we would head to Baden-Baden for the day and night to let Flo, Josephine and family sort the last bits off for the wedding. A cracking breakfast with pastries and meats galore it becomes quite clear that pretzals are top of the list for German breakfast, said our goodbyes for the day and we will meet in a short while to meet his parents who will host us while we stay in Stuttgart.

Baden-Baden here we come, supposedly this is casino central for Germany with the casino being from atleast 1800’s. Another is for its thermal spa’s, this town has a feel there is money here. Wealthy and extravagant buildings this town was made popular due to it’s thermel baths, with evident the Roman baths. So upon arrival all this travelling around we are doing we need a good spa to treat our hard work. So the spas consist of many big pools that really put Hanmer NZ to shame, many saunas and steam baths with many more other additions. This place is called Caracalla Spa and after an hour of relaxations in the pools we thought to move around and look for different pools. Well… I’m abit of a bogan when it comes to swim shorts and have jean shorts with tears on the bottom, turns out not acceptable ! Sternly from the woman monitoring the pools I was nabbed and told pronto you can’t wear those or you go up top. Awesome … So obviously I don’t have spare shorts, togs or swim wear so if your wondering what’s up top or some of you may have already clicked, it’s the nudist play area, booya! Naked older people prancing around this is what I’m here for! So basically we had no choice and we are not leaving so up the spiral stairway we go to the nudist recreational area of nature!

So open the doors, to our left are the shelves, oh that must be where my shorts go! Karen also quite hesitant it’s not your every day activity. Nothing but towels on we find a sauna, waddle in with the naked Germans we sit there not quite sure. Now don’t tell me its normal or its natural, if that’s so you go down to your local nudist beach or naturist park and let it dangle! Thought so. Now not dismissing it but it was quite an experience and one we laugh about till now, this is our memory of Baden-Baden basically. That was us done and time to head back to the camper, but first lets stop at a bakery. I had bought myself much to the discustment of Karen this huge donut roll filled with chocolate cream! That’s mine! Now this was amazing I ate this in two minutes flat, it felt like a meal, 1kg under my belt. When you see the picture, yes it was delicious, what a stupid question!

Morning had rose and we set off to explore the town some more, it’s quite a shopping spot for your well hmmhmm snobs, you got to have money to shop here. Anyway it was time to head up the hill, there was a castle that caught my eye so we thought lets take look and check out the scenery, 3/4 of the way up and we park and walk to this castle. This is called Altes Schloß it has a view point beyond what we could imagine. There were no information signs on this castle so I can’t really elaborate on it too much, will take it for what is and let the pictures do the talking.

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Time to make our way back to Stuttgart and meet Flo’s parents.

So we arrive at Flo’s parents the night before the wedding, greeted and treated to a great traditional Bavarian meal called Maultaschem, which is basically like a meat dumpling that is the size of a lasagna made of sasauge meat incased with pasta. It’s amazing and my best dish in Germany by far. Flo’s parents were so accommodating and friendly it was such a pleasure to stay there. You could see Flo’s farther was very interested in Joker, having been shown the pictures of him owning old school VW kombis and other assortment of vehicles he was one that appreciated them very much.

Wedding day and boy Flo was nervous! Up since 2am and just couldn’t eat anything. All set for the registry office we all head down, it was unusual to be at a wedding in another language but luckily it was translated in English for Josephine as she is still getting to grips with German, but I still think she does pretty well speaking it. Once the vows are said and done we get ready for the function room, for food drink and socialising. Photo’s taken we were treated to an assortment of food and plenty Paulaner beer! Most people were capable of speaking English and had a really good time chatting to Flo’s mates, and most of all me and Karen took full advantage of table football. Congratulations to Flo & Josephine on their amazing day!

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Flo took us around Stuttgart city to show us around, first a view point over the city from one of its hill side parks. A wander around we are looking for Lederhosen and Drindl for me and Karen for Oktoberfest prices come in such vast differences we didn’t want to pay through the roof for a day that’s pretty much getting pissed.

We hold off in the meantime and keep our eyes peeled for any other shops around Bavaria or Austria. We set off to a local coffee shop in Stuttgart that Flo is fond of, a real alternative cafe, it had a good vibe and buzz about the place. That was that for our time in the city.

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Flo had been talking about going to a theme park called Europa Park to surprise Josephine, I’ve only ever been to one other being called Thorper Park and that pales in comparison to Europa . Up in the wee hours of the morning we head to the theme park. This place was huge and the size of the rollar coasters made you gulp you own tounge, I won’t lie when told we are doing some of the rides I may of passed shit in my pants. Karen is like an expert in riding these having been many times before. Now if photo’s are anything to go by of you riding these monsters its clear I pooped my pants, but… it was good fun. I’m glad I went and was a great surprise for Josephine and great day out for us four.

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It was time to say our goodbyes as we needed to catch time up and head south of Germany to Füssen. First and foremost I want to thank Flo & his parents for their amazing hospitality and giving us the great opportunity to try good traditional German food, we look forward to catching up with you in September on our way through to Oktoberfest.

The road south, this the furtherest we have been south with Joker, and we are in the heart of Bavaria. Point of interest is Füssen where the main attraction is Neuschwanstein Castle of which Lugwig II glorified this castle of knights tales and artistory style. This castle is the model of Disney land castle, here we are driving in snow and what would be described as our first real experience of heaving tourist. Yuck! We have been so lucky with minimal tourist thus far with obvious reasons for out of season or no school holidays it’s been quite nice.

Anyway the castle sits upon the hill that has the Austrian Alps as it’s back drop and Bavarian landscape ahead. The views are jaw dropping, and no more so than when we caught a period of sunshine and snow. It has been very stormy down here with deaths and fallen trees, they have been riding a tough few days. Neuschwanstein Castle was built by the Bavarian King Ludwig II in 1868 and never completed as he died swimming in a lake. He became king in 1864 , two years later he was forced to accept defeat and domination of his country by Prussia. He therefore built this castle in a middle age or baroque theme that would see him live like a king alone. This castle was only a 1/3rd complete and after his death was turned into a museum 6 weeks later. This castle to say the least had money splashed at it like it was nothing, he was a very wealthy man and the architecture and arts in this castle are phenomenal, as you will see with the pictures. A must see if you ever have the chance.

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From here it’s time to find a free pitch and one that would take us to the middle of nowhere in Bavarian country and the back drop once again the alps. Absolutely stunning scenery and at the end of the road is a typical German restaurant and bier garden with an empty car park, I take a walk and see if lights are on in the restaurant area and seems its pretty quiet here. So off to the housing quarters where there may be a worker.

Knocked on the door and the tall bloke looks down at me like what the hell I’m doing here… “Guten tag, can we stay here tonight?” this sight being in the Stellplatz books as a camper and RV park I thought lets be polite and ask if it’s ok. To his stunned look, he elaborated that other people just park without asking! I think he was taken a back of my politeness . “Where you from?” responding that I’m from New Zealand. Now excuse my language to some of you more polite readers but I have to put this basically every word this guy said to detail, because he’s brash as they come! “shit you come a fair distance, of course stay here you are more than welcomed” shaking my hand it must have been 30 seconds before he let go… Awkward. Now let me describe this guy, tall with a proper Bavarian hat, rugged facial hair like he’s homeless, a wooden peg and a thirst for weiss beer. This guy if any swears more than Billy Connelly, he was one hell of a character. So on my way back to the camper and sorting ourselves out 1 hour later a loud knock on the door. Open up and he’s 8 metres up the carpark with two long beer glasses full of weiss beer, “Come! Join me, we drink, lets drink!” shocked at first I was intrigued and tell him I’m not alone and we both head out for a beer with Gustl. Now I don’t know this guy and he’s got a wife and a 10 year old boy who’s out swimming, and you at the back of your mind gaurded and aware that you have to be careful what your getting into. I thought and Karen also would think we are drinking in his house, no no in the man cave which is his shed in the back corner with chairs and an old outdoor gas heater with a dinky little radio. Hesitant because this is a scene out of a horror movie, but if anything the guy is crippled and not a fast mover and also I think a little pissed. Here sat with a beer in our hand, a red in Karens talking about Bavarian way of life and how hard working they are, it really made me wonder who this guy is. This bier garden is host to top gatherings of government officials and so many other events, this was supposedly a well known spot. He could of just been a worker for all we knew and talking out of his ass, well onto more pressing matters he was intrigued where we are travelling to, shouldn’t of said Romainia! “Fucking Romanians, shoot those mother fuckers!” complete shock this was said with such distinction and anger. “I go to Romainia, I take a gun” with the sound of shooting with a gun pointed finger. “If they come here those lazy bastards, they kill me? My wife pick this hammer up and tap them on the head,” again picking a hammer up and insinuating what she would do! Obviously not a big fan of Romainians…… I didn’t know whether to laugh or keep my mouth shut, talking more this man was very interesting and very flamboyant and expressionate, what an absolute character. Promptly saying to us ” You people from down under will remember this for the rest of your lives, you did not know what to expect of this!” another beer was offered again and swiftly said we hadn’t had dinner and would be keen to join him for one tomorrow. Saying good byes me and Karen still not sure what to think and if this guy was genuinely super friendly. And yes we were abit apprehensive about him to back in the camper. Well your going to laugh about this upon research on the net of this place and the man himself, he’s part of a line of generations that inherit this restaurant/bier garden and he’s super wealthy and did not look it! This place is one popular attraction in Bavaria and we were the only ones there with the man himself, Gustl.

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What an experience and was so unexpected, that’s life travelling around for you and you do look back and laugh how did that even happen.

Ready for the morning we decide we should head to Salzburg Austria and I pay Gustl one last visit with a couple of beers in my hands as gifts, it seems he drank a few too many last night and was still asleep. Another man answering the door said he can leave it in the office for “chief” as he described, cementing that he is a well known figure. It was time and this would see our trip coming to an end in Germany, what a country and what a mammath size this country is, it was truly such a pleasure to experiance such culture and way of life for the Germans. Austria here we come we are getting deeper into Europe and into less familiar ground. That concludes Germany I hope you enjoyed the ride because we sure did.

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