Dave the motorhome is here (N50.10267 E7.73581), watching barges barge past a few meters away on the mighty Rhine. After a fair few nights finding free and low-cost parking, we’ve spoiled ourselves with Camping Schönburg, in Oberwesel. Using our ACSI camping discount card seemed a good idea, at €16 for the night, until Ju spotted that they allow motorhomes to stay here for €8:50, as long as you don’t use the showers and loos. Let’s just say we’ll be VERY clean when we leave!
Fifty two petrol heads got together in ‘Comfy Corner’ last night, the Brit nickname for a German restaurant in Adenau. Plus us two. Half of them had been on a track day, burning around the ring all day, ripping up rubber and making the wooded valleys around the place roar. After about 10 minutes it became clear that (a) Ju and I know nothing about cars, being unable to add a single bit of inspiration to the discussion about wheel bearings and (b) we were in for a good night. One of the tables was occupied by Mission Motorsport, a charity dedicated to helping physically and mentally wounded soldiers to tackle their problems. Sadly we didn’t get chance to talk with them, as we were kept busy all night chatting with our friends and their like-minded Ring addicts.
One of their friends runs a guest house nearby and used to be an instructor on the track. He showed us an x-ray of his wrist, which was more metal than bone, and listed off the other injuries he’s suffered (broken back, broken neck, the list went on), like we talk through the countries we’ve been to. He was clearly one tough cookie. As the night wore on, and the running tally written on my beer mat threatened to bankrupt us, the idea of doing a lap in Dave became more and more tempting. Luckily for me, the guys around gave a knowing nod of the head, smiled and said ‘don’t bother mate’. They were right. Dave would make it round, we wouldn’t crash, but it wouldn’t be much fun, so why waste €26. We’ll have to come back in something more suitable, like a Reliant Robin.
We said our goodbyes last night. Jon and Anne are off to tear up the Spa circuit in their Porsche, after enjoying a luxury hotel for the night. We, on the other hand, slept in a lorry lay bye, being awoken a couple of times as night-shift drivers turned up to pick up or drop off trailers. Given a choice, I’d not swap places, I think…!
We’d a choice of river to follow today. The Mosel snakes off to the south west, and the Rhine to the south east. As we’re Stuttgart-bound, we took the sensible option for once and headed along the Rhine which runs in the general direction of our friends Marc and Jacqui. Taking a hairpin-enriched route out of the bucolic region which surrounds the Ring, we caught a few more glimpses of the track through the thick woods before hitting the motorway for a stretch, and dropping into the steep-sided Rhine valley.
There seems to be a rule about vineyards: if the soil is good, and the weather is good, then don’t worry about the fact you’re on a 45 degree slope. The valley sides are covered in them, apart from the odd sheer vertical rocky bit. As we rolled along the valley bottom staring at the ever-impressive immense barges, the sun shone and we felt great, despite my clinging hangover. Castles high up poke through the forest, evidence of past control over river traffic. They look majestic, and I try to avoid staring at them and to stare at the road instead.
Safely ensconced on the left shore of the Rhine, and once Charlie had fitted in an obligatory attack on the lapping river, we headed out to investigate medieval Oberwesel and the views from the castle which towers above it, which is now a many-star hotel and, weirdly, torture museum. This whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, although with both sides of the river being tracked by their own accompanying railway and river, it’s a little bit difficult to find it utterly charming. With the hill yomp up and down done, we saw off an ice cream and headed back to the site. The light’s gone now and we’re watching the lights of toy-like freight trains on the opposite bank rumble past, wonderful.