Blog on the Rhine

Blog on the Rhine
The Golden Mile campsite on the Rhine sounds more prestigious than it warrants. The site was jam-packed with vans but luckily our allocated pitch was on a lake and so relatively private compared to most.

After getting Cleopatra settled on her pitch we went for a walk along the Rhine and covered quite some distance. The river is wide and fast flowing, and clearly deserving of a lot of respect. You wouldn't just plop a dinghy in here and go for a row.

The scenery on the river bank either side, with its painted houses and castles is stunning. A railway follows the course of the opposite bank and freight and passenger trains pass by frequently. The whole scene looks reminiscent of a Hornby train set.

View from our pitch
I had said to Tony only five minutes before that a pub with tables outside would be ideal here when we arrived at one. Actually it was a restaurant but most people were enjoying only drinks so we stopped, and I ordered what we assumed must be wheat beer. We were correct and we ordered two more once the first had been consumed.
Working out our money to settle the bill Tony searched for a tip and came up with a camp-site shower token. We chuckled to ourselves about what kind of tip the waiter would have thought that was.

Hillside church
Back at Cleopatra some hours later we discovered the electric hookup wasn't working. I tried plugging it in to a different socket on the shared electric point but it was still the same. I immediately worried there was something wrong with the van only two days in to a ten day holiday; where on earth we might have it fixed on a bank holiday weekend?

Wheat beer on the Rhine
The other pitches using our shared hookup point didn't seem to have a problem but I thought I'd just try asking in the site reception if there was a problem at their end. The conversation didn't go too smoothly. The man understood I was talking about the electricity but that seemed to be all, so he motioned me to follow him to a tent of three young lads.

The impressive Rhine
One was pushed forward and the older man told him what to translate. 'Does your van have electric?' He asked. 'Yes but it is not working,' I replied. 'Es nicht funktionert,' the lad reported. I think I might have been able to come up with something along those lines myself.

Site with dodgy electrics
There followed all manner of plugging and re-plugging before a rusty-looking four-way extension lead was produced, plugged in to a hookup point some way away. This still didn't work and so I asked if they had something else to plug into it to test it. The older man disappeared and, instead of coming back with something electric, he produced a screwdriver which he proceeded to stick in one of the spare sockets.

I stood back, in awe of the man's stupidity. 'It's working,' reported Tony from inside the van.

I conceded. If there's one thing you learn from travelling in Europe it's that electricity isn't dangerous there.

Walking in the rain
On Saturday we had a plan that involved a walk taking in some sights, but also allowing us to walk past Lidl. We arrived in Germany on Good Friday with everything closed. Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday would be the same so today would be the only chance to buy food and drink for several days.

We walked as far as the church on the hill that can be seen from the Rhine in the centre of Remagen. From there a sign points further uphill to what I understood to be a campsite. Interested to see if the site was any good I suggested following the path.

Halfway up the hill a viewing point provided stunning views of the church, town and river. Before long we arrived at the campsite, a small clearing in the woods. It was equipped with a small shelter, a picnic table and a fire pit. Perched at the top of one of the highest hills around it would be a great place for hikers to pitch for the night.

Remagen on the Rhine
We decided to follow the path further since it appeared it would bring us back into town near our intended shopping destination. We had to clamber over a few fallen trees which I persisted in referring to as 'obstakels' in my best German accent.

There comes a point when following any signed footpath when you'll not have a Scooby which way you're supposed to go. Reaching a road it became unclear where the path continued the other side. Tony thought a trail into the woods from a bus stop up ahead was the obvious option. I was more sceptical, envisioning us ending up having to clamber over barbed wire some way down the hill. But Tony was right and we arrived back in town, turning to the map on my phone to get us to Lidl.

As we passed through the town centre at 2pm the small shops were beginning to close. I didn't know what was the preferred option: pop into a small butcher's here and have an awkward conversation in a mix of English and German or continue walking in the hope that Lidl didn't follow the ridiculous opening hours of the rest of the town. Lidl won.

Lidl's wheat beer
I'm pleased to say Lidl was open for business and we rather over-filled our trolley considering the contents would need to be fitted into our rucksacks. We bought meat for three days, a few vegetables, milk and then some German beer and wine.

Normally I drink red and Tony drinks white wine but I felt like trying a proper Riesling. We bought six bottles. Then I spotted the wheat beer. Six half litre bottles for €1.99. That worked out at 25p a pint - too good to resist. The thought of spending a few sunny afternoons drinking wheat beer by the Rhine and in the Black Forest had us adding 24 bottles to the trolley.

I've never carried a heavier load on my back. And of course we both had a carrier bag each to hold what the rucksacks wouldn't. When we arrived back and I was able to hand over the shopping to Cleopatra I felt like a spaceman experiencing weightlessness for the first time and went skipping off to the loo.

Steak for dinner
Dinner was the biggest beef steak each. They only just both fitted in our pan and were a good two inches thick. We ate them with salad and bread, and we were pleased to find that we'd been correct when buying a tube of what we had assumed was mustard.

Despite the German booze consumed during a pleasant evening by the lake, we managed to leave Cleopatra in a tidy enough state that leaving for the Black Forest in the morning was quite straight forward.

I had really enjoyed this little town on the Rhine and our two days here made me wonder if a week just pitching up at sites along the banks would make a pleasant future holiday.

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