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Europe 2012 - Westward bound

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Westward bound

We drove on a mix of busy autobahns and main roads to bypass several large towns, and headed for Fritzlar on the German fairytale route, with its many timber framed houses within the old town walls. The stellplatz was in the carpark just outside the walls, but we only stayed for a lunch break and a walk around the altstadt in heavy rain. We continued on minor roads to Edersee, a large reservoir and one of the WW2 Dambusters targets. It was only partially damaged and soon repaired, as explained in the small museum. The pleasant stellplatz at Hemfurth was situated below the dam and next to a hydroelectric power station, where there was a funicular railway up to the surrounding hills. There was a garden full of quirky sculptures in the village, but it was open by appointment only.
Fritzlar timbered houses
   Fritzlar main square
Fritzlar main square
Sculpture garden at Hemfurth
Sculptures at Hemfurth
The next day we drove around Edersee to Waldeck, the main resort on the lake, and took the quaint 50 year old cable car up to the schloss set on the hilltop. We didn't find any other access points as we continued around the lake, and ended up driving through the beech forests of the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park to Bad Wildungen, and another popular stellplatz by the railway station. The next morning was warm and sunny, so we walked through the timber framed old town, and the pleasant tree lined Brunnenallee, passing several smart spa hotels and kliniks, and several sculptures with a chair theme. We returned to the van and drove to Marburg which, according to the guide books, had an interesting altstadt. It turned out to be a much larger town than expected and we ended up in the steep and busy streets with nowhere to park, so we gave up and drove on to the small spa town of Bad Laasphe for the night, with more interesting sculptures in the park.

bad Laasphe wood sculpture
Wood sculpture at Bad Laasphe

The next morning, we skirted the large university and industrial city of Siegen and headed for Freudenberg, a town of black and white houses, built in a grid after a fire in 1666. After wandering around the streets, where we spotted many knitted sleeves on the lamp posts, and failing to find the tourist office, we eventually found the viewpoint for taking the best photographs of the distinctive layout.

Rhine barge at Unkel
Barge on the Rhine near Drachenfels

Driving west, we reached the Rhine in the afternoon at the pretty village of Unkel, and found the free stellplatz, luckily some distance from the busy railway line that runs along the river. There was a pleasant riverside walk with the Drachenfels castle ruins in the distance, so we watched the many barges and pleasure steamers. We had an interesting chat to a Dutch lady at the stellplatz, who had been brought up on a barge - it didn't sound as romantic as it looked, with a very interrupted schooling. We were then treated to an unexpected fireworks display at 11pm.

Now on the last leg of our German trip we bypassed Bonn, not too busy on a Sunday morning, and headed for the Unesco listed Augustusburg Palace at Brühl, which was undergoing renovations, but were able to visit the nearby rococo style Falkenlust hunting lodge, and enjoyed a walk through the park and gardens. Joining the autobahn we continued west to Jülich, where we stayed at the stellplatz in the large car park of the Brückenkopf Gardens and play park. After a peaceful night, we drove on minor roads to the Dutch border at Roermond, and diverted to the small town of Thorn, where nearly all the buildings have whitewashed walls and many interesting decorations, before reaching an ACSI campsite near Venlo to visit the Floriade Garden Expo, which takes place once every ten years at different locations in the Netherlands.
Thorn stained glass window

  Thorn new baby heart on door 
Thorn - house decorations

old cable car at Waldeck  Edersee Dambusters dam
               cable car at Waldeck                    Edersee dam                           
large chair sculpture at Bad Wildungen  another chair  at a road junction
Bad Wildungen chair sculptures

Bad Wildungen spa hotel
Bad Wildungen spa hotel

Freudenberg black and white town
Freudenberg black and white town

Knitted lamp post feature at Freudenberg  knitted lamp post  and another  
Freudenberg knitted sleeves on lamp posts

Falkenlust hunting lodge at Bruhl
Falkenlust hunting lodge at Brühl

Augustus Palace at Bruhl
Augustusburg Palace at Brühl

Thorn Netherlands whitewashed town
Thorn near Roermond, Netherlands

Driving on busy motorways to the festival site, we paid €10 for the P+R and later discovered that there was an overnight motorhome parking site much nearer the venue than the campsite. The day we spent at the Floriade was rather wet, but there was plenty to see with many garden layouts, pavilions of many countries, and flower displays, spread over the large site. It was Russia day so we watched some interesting entertainment by choirs and dancers in the open air arena. We returned to the campsite tired and damp after missing the motorway turnoff adding another ten miles to our journey.

Floriade Garden Expo
Floriade overview
FLoriade mossy rockfaces
mossy rocks
Venlo Laotian pavilion
an Asian pavilion
Floriade plastic garden
Plastic garden
Floriade Russian dancers
Russian dancers
Floriade vertical garden
Vertical garden
Overall we thought the expo was rather commercial without the variety of flowers compared to other floral shows we have visited. I guess an event that's open from April to September will have its peaks and troughs and the organisation was very good. Not sure that it was worth the €25 each admission price with the parking extra.

On our final day we had to cover 150 miles to the ferry at Rotterdam so we joined the motorway which got busier with more and more lorries as we approached the coast. As we had plenty of time before the evening ferry we turned off to the apparently pretty old town of Dordrech but the roads were so busy we gave up and parked up in a layby near the Europort terminal before boarding for a smooth overnight crossing to Hull having paid €15 for an upgrade to an outside cabin.