Dave the motorhome is wearing his heat-retaining silver screens, in a stellplatz near the centre of Gießen (N50.58937 E8.68375). It’s 8:47pm, and the blown air heating’s on. It is officially Dave winter!
The pouring rain halted this morning, leaving behind a thick layer of mist over the hills in Winterberg. We climbed a little way above the town to get a look at it, the smoking chimneys and its distant ski jump, standing beside a tiny church, itself overpowered by two wooden crosses mounted along the hillside. Winterberg was clearly a winter resort town; the dull light and lack of snow portrayed it as a town in reverse hibernation, waiting for the cold and ice to awaken it. We filled our water tank, plotted in Gießen and headed south.
We’d heard that diesel prices in Germany vary by the hour and by the day, so weren’t surprised to find the first open station we came to costing €1:56 a litre, about 6c a litre over the usual prices we’d seen. We guess Sunday fills came with a premium, but held out anyway, trying the next station on route. Err, €1:46 a litre here, about 4km away? In we pulled and filled up. The next station a few hundred meters away was back up above €1:50. I guess people just can’t be bothered driving to a slightly further station; we saved about €5 on a single fill.
Turns out we may need that €5. The drive south took us along single carriageway roads, about fifty-fifty trees and fields. As we swung along the winding road, water decided to pour from our under-chair tank all of the inside of the van. The following tail of drivers were probably relieved when we finally found a place to pull in and check it out. A part has broken, but we bodged it and were on our way.
Unfortunately the €5 won’t just need to cover the new part, but also a speeding fine. Yup, after a year’s driving I’ve managed to get flashed. Some tiny towns along the road have 30kph signs up, along with a small 22 to 6 white sign beneath. As I tried to work out if that meant the speed was 50 during the day and 30 at night, all brain function must have been used up, and my accelerator foot took advantage. At 60kph the question was moot and the flash went off, the camera looking like something from Flash Gordon. Hurumph.
Parking alongside the swimming pool in Gießen is free on Sundays, and the area was pretty much packed with cars. There’s a fun fair on next door, so we guessed that was the draw. Nope, a short walk into town and we’re in the midst of a Nottingham city centre throng of shoppers, all the shops open and a French(ish) market lining the streets. In comparison with the usual European town on a Sunday, Gießen was heaving.
The market kept us entertained for a while but the town is pretty much like many German towns; modern, having suffered severe bombing during WW2. It’s an incredible shame, as the town’s existed for around a thousand years and was wiped away in, perhaps, a few hours. We headed back to Dave for a read and to write, before taking a wander over to the adjacent fair. Another first for both of us, this is the fair’s last night and half of it is being taken down as the rides still run. On one spinning ride a group of four men are almost dancing out the act of removing the rear framework and paintings, one of them climbing high with no protection and handing down heavy girders to his mates below.
Tomorrow will be interesting, as we’re off to the famous Nurburgring. Our friends Jon and Anne, petrol heads of the highest order, are there in their Porshe, well, burning around it we guess. We’ve spoken with Dave about having a go on track and he’s assured us he’s past it. Good. That’ll save us a few quid and a load of broken crockery then.