Friday, May 5, 2017

The journey begins

On the 19th of April  25 couples set off from Edinburgh to fly to Munich. We had not met any of them but we were destined to travel together, all the way to somewhere 4 miles on the German side of the German/Czech border.
And you know that there is always one. The blowhard, the asswipe---the sort who will conjugate a German verb because he can.

And Alan  got to sit beside him on the plane. He was a huge man whose massive buttocks spilled over his seat into that of his skinny wife, and Alan. I was sitting across the aisle. I did offer to swap. I didn't mean it.

Edinburgh was sunny and rather lovely. Like most Glaswegians, I think the best thing to come out
Edinburgh is the Glasgow train but today I was settling for the Munich flight.

We were put up in the Ibis at Munich airport - the carpet in the corridor was specially designed to  induce migraine.

We decided not to join the rest of them at the bar- as it had already started...well I've done this 25 times. Oh really, I've done it 46 times. And two of those were backwards. Yackety Yack.
We woke early the next morning to be driven to a caravan factory up near the Czech border. It was about a three hour journey by coach. And it was snowing in Munich  when we woke up. 

Alan looking out the window and contemplating the snow.

The weather was bright and sunny when we left... but minus 1 degree.

As the coach pulled into the car park we caught sight of the camper vans - Wohnmobiles! The company Bunkcampers had bought 25  for their Edinburgh hire base and needed 25 couples to drive them back.  And they gave you a week or ten days to do it.  It was a licence to roam. And we had no idea what we would get. A biggie or a teensie. Alan, the driver, was hoping for an inbetweenie.

There are a lot of advantages to one built on  van chassis as it is a 'car', those coach built  have a lot more hassle when parking or driving through small villages. 

We were treated to a tour of the factory ( no pics allowed ) and a talk about the factory who build Knaus, Tibbert, Weisberg caravans and campers. The caravan market collapsed in 2007 and the mobile home market rocketed. They cannot get enough work force to keep up with the demand. I know a second hand camper can be sold for the same money it was bought for.
Even a small van, bought as a van and then converted, will cost £39,000.
In the rough bits of Glasgow, you can buy a flat for that.  

Germans make huge pretzels and butter them.
A**hole kept us late by asking questions he knew the answer to.
The bunkcamper boys were out there - Scots and Irish ( two of each) and that's where it fell apart.
As one has a geno type of extreme organisation, and the other...well doesn't.

So think of living in a camper, and all the stuff needed. Bedding, pans, knife, etc. Somebody (Irish) went to ikea and bought 25 sets of everything.  Somebody ( German) was supposed to put them in  each van. Somebody ( Irish) was in the pub and had a hangover and forgot to tell the German to do it.
Let's just say there was a bit of a rush and certain folk (us) were found to be duvetless.
We didn't find that out until forty miles down the next Alp.

Being a Scotty Logicus ( or a female), it would have been better if the presentation earlier showed how to work the computer control in the campers which were all different but variations on the same theme.  But alas no.
So hungover Irishmen were showing us individually how to empty this and switch on that while being constantly interrupted by German asking politely when we were going 'Go home from their car park as they wanted to go to their houses.

In our case, this nearly had dangerous consequences of hypothermia. No duvet. On a German Alp at minus 5. Although our version of the camper had a flat switch next to the cooker ( gas), there was no automatic ignition that we could get to work.  So no hot drinks and no hot food. Nobody told us to get matches. We had no duvets, and although the heater was on 'full blow' there was no heat at all coming through. Except in the loo, where it was tropical. So we slept with the toilet door open and the heating on.
 Alan could see the vents the next day in broad daylight and opened them up.

A wash stand outside the shower block in the camp site.

Campers are very fond of dogs and clean grass.

Our campsite, first night, minus five. This is about 8 at night.

Bits of art scattered around the camp.

The hobbit houses  in the corner

Small hedges keep the campers apart.

Alan had filled the water tank - that took an hour. Over night it emptied itself so he was underneath it trying to find where the leak was. On the ferry coming back we saw another couple who had bunkcamped and they had met another couple in a supermarket in Stuttgart and they were so fed up with  the water draining out they phoned Edinburgh to moan.
And were told, well of course it will if the temp goes below zero.
 Makes sense but it would have been  nice to know.  
This was the view from our front window as we parked.
We decided to try and sleep on the upper bed , the one that sits over the driver compartment.
I gave up after an hour, too claustrophobic and  I was too aware  of drowning if the handbrake wasn't on right.

Next week we travelled south to the capital of the Barvarian Kings, but did an important stop on the way. That's the good news. The bad news is I have 4000 photos!

Caro Ramsay  05 05 2017


  1. Good God all Friday, woman. If you're gonna make your livin' as a travel agent, you're a-gonna haveta work on yer selling techniques. But I do love the carpet, it makes a statement. It also makes me nauseous, but it's best to act certain of your convictions about what you're saying, right or wrong. And that's just wrong.

  2. I laughed so hard at this travelogue. Hope the trip improved.
    And, yes, that carpet gave me a headache immediately.
    I think things would have been better if the women were the organizers, but sounds like there were a lot of things wrong with the campers overall.
    Still a funny story.

  3. I think I could run a travel agency - based on truth. And everybody would stay at home and think of the good that would do the planet. Google maps and a fine malt - that's all you need.

  4. Kathy, the way the world is today raising a smile is sometimes the best we can hope for.

  5. Some people just naturally know how to party...pretzels and all.

  6. Listen, I'm for virtual traveling since we have the Internet. I get to enjoy everyone's escapades and photos -- without airfares, hassles with airlines, long lines, expensive meals, passports, etc.
    I'm quite content to enjoy everyone else's trips, including at this blog.

    And then there's reading global crime fiction! I can be anywhere.