Day 26-30: Germany, guten tag und auf wiedersehen

Our time in Germany was short but sweet, visiting a different town everyday! There were our highlights…

A large, pleasant market town where we spent a few hours strolling around, grabbing some essentials and stopping off to see the castle. Located on an island in the middle of a lake, the castle was rather impressive – ornate towers stood proud against the skyline, whilst behind it a walled garden surrounded by an orangery was divided from the lawns and river by a decorative stone walkway.

Our verdict? If you’re in the area it’s worth stopping by for a few hours…

We came to Leipzig for two reasons; firstly their 360 degree panorama and secondly their renowned zoo. But first a word of caution – if you’re in a campervan parking is very limited (and expensive) which we found out the hard way!

360 Panorama: In the words of the leaflet “the 360 degree panorama of the coral reef…portrays the unique underwater world…in all it’s fragile beauty and complexity on a 1:1 scale”. It was both breath-taking and mesmerising, transporting you to another world.

We started with a pre-panorama exhibition focusing on the amazing reef environment, including the coral, sealife and plants. It was fascinating to learn more about the reefs, however the star of the show and reason for our visit was unquestionably to panorama itself! On walking into the space we were blown away by the sheer scale; 30m high and 100m round of image depicting the great barrier reef in real life scale. The room was quite dimly lit meaning you have to get up close and personal to the image to appreciate the detail. In the centre of the room sat a five story tower which we began to walk up to experience the image from another angle; about halfway up the lighting changed and the whole panorama was bathed in light allowing us to see the image in all its glory. The detail and depth were amazing – so much better than our photos could ever show! – and the more you looked the more you saw; coral, fish, stingrays, turtles and divers all came to life. Once at the top of the tower we stood and soaked in the atmosphere created by the imagery, lighting and music. It really was a magical experience and one I would recommend to anyone, whether you’re a marine enthusiast or not.

Zoo: For a city zoo Leipzig is very impressive! Split into five zones it’s home to everything from elephants and rhinos to lions and cheetahs, gorillas and chimpanzees to crocodiles and turtles! We had a great few hours exploring the zoo both on foot and by boat; oh’ing at the tigers, laughing at the orangutans and enjoying a boat ride through gondwanaland!

Our verdict? Definitely check out the panorama, as it’s very impressive! And if you coming by camper, caravan or anything bigger park outside the city and get public transport in – to save you time, money and hassle!!

Parking once again thwarted us with a park-and-ride system that didn’t cater for campervans so we arrived into the city centre about an hour after we hoped feeling a little frazzled! What greeted us was yet again a very pretty, characterful town full of narrow roads, streets and alleyways taking you to ancient church after church. There was lots to see and do – if you don’t mind the tourist crowds – from cathedrals to museums, people watching at cafes to walks.

Our verdict? Being a UNESCO world heritage site we should have expected the tourist masses, however maybe not as many as we found! A good place to see but in our view best to go out of season, really out of season. January or February maybe?

Landsberg am Lech
Whilst on paper Landsberg is your typical charming, historical German town it seems to have avoided the tourist masses making it feel (to us anyway) much more welcoming. For once (and to our great relief!!) parking was easy, allowing us to begin exploring the pretty market square, castle and river side.

Our verdict? We only found out about Landsberg by chance – via a Twitter post – and were very glad we did! Definitely one to visit if you’re in southern Germany.

Neuschwanstein Castle
After a very scenic detour due to roadworks (it turns out Germany isn’t all autobahns and was actually a series of roadworks, temporary traffic lights and detours for us anyway!) the castle finally came into view. A stunning structure sat high up on the mountain side, overlooking a beautiful lake. From a distance it really is a fairytale castle, however growing up around many castle ruins back in the UK, up close it was a slightly different story. On reaching the castle we were surprise by how ‘new’ it looked, discovering it was only built in the late 1800s and as such was purely a show of wealth by King Ludwig II rather than for fortification.

Our verdict? A good place to take children due to the fairytaleness, however for everyone else best viewed from a distance. There are lots of ‘real’ castles both in southern Germany and just over the border in Austria that we think would be a better visit and pose less risk of being hit with a wayward selfie stick!!


Day 25: Goodbye scandie land!!

After an earlyish start we headed south with the aim to reach Germany by the end of the day. We decided to head to Mons Klint first, an area famed for it’s white chalk cliffs and after a pleasant drive through pretty villages (with many, many speed bumps!) we arrived. 450 steps later we reached the beach to find crisp white cliffs falling straight into bright, crystal blue waters.

Back on the road – and via a quick stop for hot dogs with all the trimmings – we arrived at Rodby port to board the ferry and within 45 minutes we arrived in Puttgarden, Germany ready to head to our campsite for the night.

Day 3: The long haul…

Today was all about the road, as we drove north from De Hulk in the Netherlands with the aim of getting as far as possible before Rob went crazy, delirious or fell asleep! By early afternoon we were making good progress through Germany so ploughed on until we finally hit the Danish border. We both felt a sense of relief when border patrol waved us through, despite having nothing to hide!! Some 400 miles after we set off from De Hulk we arrived in the sleepy town of Tonder, parking up the van and wandering through the deserted (but pretty) streets.