Schwandorf, the friendliest place in the world?

Schwandorf, small, friendly, and simply beautiful

Dave the motorhome is in a free grassy stellplatz in Schwandorf, eastern Bavaria (N49.33193 E12.10206). I’m sat drinking a Mönchshof Kellerbier, which a kind motorhome neighbour insisted on giving me for free before they left. I’m seriously liking Germany. Prepare for more gushing below.

Last night we fought the sky, pitching our Digital SLR against a fantastically clear full moon. Come 11:30pm, on our 30th combination of settings (well Ju’s, I can’t drive the thing), we gave up and went to bed for a sound, silent night’s sleep in the Bavarian countryside.

Attempt one, moon capturedwe, off to bed then? Nah, lets try and get one with the trees in, they look atmospheric?
Attempt 28: what’s with the blue dot? You get the picture though, it was a wonderful unlit view of the heavens.

This morning we got up, geared up Dave and headed down to the Rathaus (town hall) to pay. As I pumped air in Dave’s noise-blocking, slowly deflating assisted air suspension, Ju did the honours. When I’d finished and she’d not arrived, I shut the door and walked the 10 meters over to the quaint, perfect little office.

A couple walked past me with a “Gruß Gott”. Ju’s just started to explain we stayed last night and want to pay. As we leave it transpires the couple are off to Marienbad, and she was practising her German explaining the Czech vignette system, as you do.

In my short experience of two days, I’m finding Germany to be a dream to drive in. The autobahns we have used are quite empty of traffic, and have excellent surfaces. The slip roads on and off motorways are wide, very well signed and don’t have the nasty habit of tightening up requiring brake stabbing followed by a Dave jangling. Best of all, they’re free.

German autobahns: wonderful. We’re not sure about the necessity of that ‘I’m a lorry’ sticker though?

We’ve sorted a plan out, of sorts. We’re going to swing south in Bavaria, taking in the Eagle’s Nest (depending on entry fee), Munich and the Bavarian Alps before heading north through the ‘Romantic Road’; castles amundo up to Würzburg we read. After that we’ve a date sorted with a great University buddy of mine and his wonderful family of five in Paderborn. Happy days.

So, south it was, and slowly. Our maps of low-cost sleeping spots in Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary and Czech Republic were all sparsely dotted affairs. Austria was a ‘sleep anywhere’ affair, wonderful. Germany is better, €5 or nothing around here gets you a town-centre-ish parking place, surrounded by the most friendly of neighbours, water and emptying points, maybe even unlimited electricity. The maps shows stellplatz everywhere, thousands of them. You could travel Germany for over ten years and not go back to the same place.

After a whole 30-odd minutes through countryside, castled villages visible off the road, we pulled in among a line of German and one Dutch motorhomes. Within minutes our elderly neighbour is chatting with us, in a one-sided, not really sure what you’re saying kind of way. His Hymer is a year older than Dave we glean, and he likes Charlie. Other motorhome dwellers are sat around outside their vans, drinking wine, chatting, joking with us when we apologise, in German, for not speaking German. We’re picking up a few words though, the tongue feels possible here compared with the difficult Czech and the you-have-to-be-joking Hungarian. We’ve not done much since, a five minute walk over a stout, lipstick-red rhodedendron-lined wooden bridge carried us into town to look around for an Internet SIM.

Schwandorf, small, friendly, and simply beautiful

More walking and chatting with neighbours follows, the sun gradually dips and we chill into the evening. The Kellerbier-furnishing lady was a teacher, who asked us what we plan to do with our 18 months of travel. Oooh, err, good searching question. Where exactly do we plan to visit in Germany? Err, well, Bavaria? The second one we’ll work out as we go along, come to think of it, same answer applies for the first too. A few things we observed and wondered about as we walked today:

Huh? Slow down if there’s someone else on the bridge?
Sexual age of consent, 14, but you need a credit card to prove you’re 18 to buy cigarettes?
We guess a baby has been born! If so, what a brilliant way to announce it to the world!
Germans do, of course, have a sense of humour!

Four more weeks of brilliant Germany bring it on! If anyone’s been around Bavaria and has any recommendations for places to go, please send them over!

Cheers, Jay

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13 Comments

  1. I was born in Rinteln a bit further north of Paderborn… just had a look at the old map and lots of places I know the names off… we went back when I was 7… I’d love to go over and see where I was born… not that the hospital is there anymore! x

    • Hi Anna! Ah, forgot you were born in Germany! What do you mean the hospital’s no longer there, we feel duty bound to make a pilgrimage? Love, Jay x

      • It was a British Military Hospital, think they all came down! We have organised said babysitter for ones return night out x

  2. Hiya Jay,Ju & Charlie, looks like you’ve found “Utopia” for motorhomers in Deutschland?
    We have family friends a little southwest from your current position, and have visited several times.
    It`s in the Black Forest area, the scenery is wonderful, forest`s, vinyards, lovely old towns,villages,buildings etc. The town is called Freiburg im Breisgau, if you`re interested take a look on the net. The Munster has a fantastic view from the top over the whole town.
    There are many bier haus, ya zer gut!! mein herren.
    atb Mike.

    • Hi Mike! Ah, Freiburg, we visited it a few years ago, before we learned the joy of Stellplatz! A lovely place, we went north from there to Simonswald, heavenly dog walking (and paragliding) territory. Cheers, Jay

  3. We travelled the Romantic road a few years ago and stayed on Stellplatz all the way. Fussen (at the South end) is a great place to stay a few days – great walking,cycling, cablecar, swimming in the lake, nice town and good Stellplatz (more of a motorhome campsite). Also enjoyed Obersdorf which had another great Stellplatz and fun wine festival.

    • Thanks Paul, much appreciated, will spy them out on the map. Sat on the steps of Regensburg cathedral at the moment, cheaply listening in to a tour guide and dog sitting while Ju has a look see. Cheers, Jay

  4. Kirchzarten has a most wonderful campsite, which although not the cheapest, does include unlimited access to the communal pool ( very high tech stainless steel)which even has a diving pool that shows you the best way to bomb, and they don’t mind if you do make a big splash. It also has a toilet block so modern that I thought it was an office block and would’nt go in until I saw someone coming out with a towel! Last but not least the price also includes a guest card which allows you unlimited train tram and bus travel for your party in the whole of the Baden wurttenberg area( huge area)So you can leave Dave at the campsite and travel in style ( not that Dave isn’t stylish) Germany has it nailed for the traveller

  5. How nice of you to visit my birthplace! :)

    I have answers regarding the two signs:

    1) The yellow one on the bridge is for the Bundeswehr (German Army) and is only valid for military vehicles.

    2) The “baby” sign is actually an incentive ;) and a local tradition. When a couple gets married their friends put up that sign. The couple then has one year to procreate. If they don’t succeed they have to invite their friends for dinner. :)

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