We departed Blaichach after relaxing over breakfast in the local konditorei and retraced our route to Lindau and then on to Ludwigshafen (our destination for the night) via Meersberg. Meersberg was very busy and very ‘touristy’.
I know that is a crass thing to say, when we ourselves are tourists, but there’s a difference to independent travelers such as ourselves and the bussed in hoards; half with selfie-sticks and half with walking sticks; catered for with kiss-me-quick hats and sticks of rock (not actually, but the German equivalent).
At Ludwigshafen we were disappointed to find that our 4-star hotel did not have air conditioning. It was >38ºc outside with no wind and no clouds to reduce the built up heat. Sharon and I had been given an attic room with south facing velux windows – it was horrendous. So, the short story is – we had to be moved. Despite saying they were full, faced with two angry Armstrongs (one of whom speaks German like a native, the other who can be unreasonably tenacious) we were given what turned out to be better rooms in the hotel next door. It appears that this hotel was owned by our hotel but didn’t have the 4-start rating required by our Booking.Com reservation. It also turned out that this particular hotel reserves the smaller, less desirable rooms for Booking.Com customers and advises them to ‘find us’ on the site and then contact direct.
Breakfast was a laugh a minute with stereotypical German correctness on the one hand (“no, no, you cannot have THAT coffee, I will bring you a different one”) and idiotic food v personnel placement planning on the other. Staff and customers were using the same narrow throughways (and therefore bumping into one another) and the breakfast buffet was in what could be described as a cave, where only one or two people at a time could gain access. Whilst Ludwigshafen is a pretty place, we have no desire to visit there, or, especially, the hotel again.
Today we drove to Freiburg (Freiburg im Breisgau) via Schaffhausen, adding another country (Switzerland) to our tally for the trip (5). Schaffhausen was more or less en route so we all wanted to see the falls – http://www.rheinfall.ch/en/. As we drove into the car park and as we saw the falls through the trees, we all uttered ‘wow’. It was a magnificent sight.
I’m not sure that I can describe the views, or the noise, suffice to say that if you ever get the chance to visit the falls at Schaffhausen – take it. It’s worth the time and moderate parking fee.
We took one of the many boat trips available, a round trip taking in a bit of history with facts and figures via an audio-link-up and sailing close up (REALLY close up) to the falls. I had been advised to take a trip to the island in the middle but when booking we really didn’t see that option, although it was there. It’s not really clear what is available on site so visit http://www.maendli.ch/ first and check out what’s available.
And then, heading up through the Black Forest, we called in at Titisee. It was by now blisteringly hot again and the going was tough. The lake is obviously used as a major leisure resource and it reminded me of Ambleside, without the narrow streets. Again there were the busloads of tourists, the kiss-me-quick stuff (like I said – German equivalent) and lots of food outlets. We had stand-up food (sausages, bretzles etc.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretzel.
Our hotel in Freiburg had been hastily arranged by the Armstrongs and it DID HAVE a/c. So that was a relief. We were here for two nights and slept well, unlike the previous few evenings.
No one felt like eating the first night, as it was so hot. It cooled a little the day after so we drove around the Black Forest and headed for Triberg, where we could see the falls and sample the ‘original’ Black Forest Gateau.
Tuesday – From Freiburg, it’s only about an hour to France and our first stopover there, in Colmar. Once again the girls had re-booked a hotel so that we had a/c. This hotel, The Hotel Europe: http://www.hotel-europe-colmar.com/uk/index.php is situated out of town but has everything we needed, including our first hotel pool of the trip. What’s more it is just u[p the road from a huge E. Leclerc Hypermarket where the diesel was around 6 cents per litre cheaper than anywhere around.
We were disappointed with Colmar. The pictures and information had promised so much, but the waterways were dirty, the town itself wasn’t as ‘appealing’ as we’d hoped and the waiter who served us for lunch was downright rude and surly. So we spent a good bit of our Colmar time in the hotel pool.
The weather eased somewhat overnight, following the storm that passed over.
Wednesday – Our next stopover was at Chalons en Champagne. En Route, we stopped for a coffee in Nancy, in Stanislas Square. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_Stanislas. This is a large pedestrianised area, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our hotel in Chalons was undergoing some repairs and renewals, so upon arrival we went out for a walk around the town. We had our evening meal just down the road from the hotel and in the morning set off for Calais.
We were in Calais for 14:00, just in time for the hotel to allow us to book in. Sharon and I then went out for a walk and found lots of interesting places we’d never had time to find before. We also saw many more of the elephants we first noticed on our first evening in France way back in June. There are 21 elephants to be found – I managed to catch 11 of these.