Here we are in a Womo park virtually on the banks of the Rheine.
The sun is shining, there is a gentle breeze and it’s about 25C. Very nice. The owner of this park ( a no-nonsense but pleasant enough lady) runs a very tight ship. The place is well laid out and kept in immaculate condition.
We have everything we need here: fresh water; somewhere to dump our toilet tanks and our ‘grey water’ ; a washing machine and the internet available (for a price) on wi-fi. No toilet block or showers but we have those on board, so no worries.
We don’t always have it this good. If it is getting late in the day and we still have not found the park that was supposed to be ‘there’ we head for a parking lay-bye on the autobahn or a quiet free-parking zone by a park somewhere. But even that is not bad – and the cost is a lot less than booking in to a flash holiday park for the night.
But as I said, this place is situated close to the banks of the Rheine so while Rob and Jgirl14 took the bikes , baskets and back-packs for a 4km shopping trip into Bingham,
and while the other kids were either doing math’s, drawing or just playing – I went for a quiet stroll down to the river.
The Rheine is one big river. Here we are, several hundred kms inland and the river must be at least 1/2 km wide. Not only wide but deep: some seriously large shipping can be seen cruising up and down. A mixture of touristy sight-seeing boats and some very large barge-like ships carrying all manner of things.
Which prompts a thought: this nation certainly uses every type of transport available – and all seem to be fully patronised. At this camp we are also close to a rail system – 3 lines pass by – and the frequency of passing trains is astounding. While I was out on a 1/2 hr stroll by the lines, at least 5 trains went by – 12 coach passenger trains and a series of 2, 4 and 6 coach commuter-type trains. Goods trains we hear going past in the night. All, I might say, gliding smoothly over smooth tracks at great speed. On the river, large boats haul goods and people. On the roads huge truck rigs roar along in a seemingly endless procession. (and at Rest stops it is not unusual to see 20 or more trucks parked). Any gaps the trucks leave on the road are filled with cars – and on the autobahns these can be travelling at up to 130kmph! Motor homes are most prolific – there must be 1000’s of them on the roads. And the road network is really impressive and generally in excellent condition. I don’t doubt that the airlines are busy too. It makes NZ’s pathetic efforts seem ridiculous.
Another significant characteristic we have noticed is the natural tidiness of the German people. Probably some Germans would laugh at the notion, but to a Kiwi it is most noticeable. ALL the houses we have seen, in villages and cities, have been well-kept with neat and tidy gardens, flower-boxes etc. Most seemed to be in good condition and those that are not are being renovated! The streets are clean. The shops are neat and tidy. The people in the street all seem to be in their Sunday-best. The occasional jack-booted tattoo-ed person, or the greasy long-haired youth are a rarity. Body-piercing is not common, but bushy moustaches and beer-pots are ‘in’. All the vans in our park are immaculate (and on average the cost would be in the E45k-E90k range) and people sit around at night in their snazzy outdoor furniture settings. Really this is a picture of an affluent, contented people who like to do everything ‘right’ and have the ‘right’ things to do it with. An example ; I bought some washing powder the other day. It was one of a vast array of choices in the clothes washing/soap powder aisle. I picked one of the most economical, with pictures of shirts,sheets and a blow-up of a mesh of some sort. Looked ok to me so I bought it. (and have used it for hand washing stuff quite successfully) When I took the packet over to the wash-house today the proprietor would not let me use it in his machine. We eventually established that this was a powder for washing net curtains only. Now why would you need a special-purpose detergent for net curtains? They probably have a special one for socks too, but I did not go looking for that. But the Germans seem to have a love-affair with Rules and Regulations and happily obey them all, VERY different from the Kiwi attitude!
German road signage is a language you must learn as you are learning to walk. There is a sign for every conceivable situation on the road and a sign that tells you when the regulation is applicable and another sign to tell you when it is not, There is a sign to tell you the name of the place when you enter it and another (the name with a red cross through it) to tell you that you have left. They do not like the NZ style use of yellow lines on the road – so simple to install and to observe but have signs for no stopping, no overtaking, no parking this side, or that side, or both sides etc etc. But motorists are incredibly polite and safe drivers. They always seem to give way to pedestrians, cyclists and merging traffic. I haven’t seen a fist (or finger) raised in anger but have always encountered polite consideration from drivers. It has certainly lessened the stress of our introduction to driving vans in Europe.
Well today I tried out another aspect of German culture-the breakfast. When I set off on a quiet walk this morning I had no intention of having another breakfast. But as I walked past a small cafe right on the banks of the river, and observed how pleasant it seemed to stop and have a coffee in the sun, I went and checked the menu. I had been told that Germans love their sausage or salami for breakfast and sure enough here on the menu was a variety of sausages on offer, served with roll or chips. I ordered the roll with a beef sausage and a cup of coffee, The coffee came first, with 2 little pots of creamy milk, 2 wrapped lumps of sugar and a small biscuit, also wrapped. Shortly after, my sausage and roll was ready – served with generous dollop of mild mustard. A crisp, crunchy roll and a spicy sausage about 8 inches long! Tucking into that with the sun on my back and the Rheine spread out before me – castles sitting on the hillside across the water – was a really enjoyable experience.
The German breakfast met with my approval! But maybe not every morning – or I may start to get that contented roly-poly look that so many Germans have!Tags: Food, Observations, People, Travel, Weather, Tag Index