Well it’s now been nearly a week since we picked up Frosty – time is certainly flying as we stay in a different spot each night.
[Warning Boring Visa Stuff Below]
Chelle’s visa process seems to have changed suddenly (is there anything worse than immigration bureaucracy?) so instead of ringing for an appointment they asked that she send all the stuff down by mail and they will then contact her within 1-2 months to arrange a date within the first 6 months. All a big hassle especially as we could be several thousand km’s away when they want to book the apt (we can’t say that though as the visa she’s getting is for 1 year in France, not all over Europe) so we thought, seeing as we’re heading down to Kate & Iain’s place anyway, we’ll just play ignorant and pop into the local office anyway and see if they will do an appointment on the spot. In the probable event that they won’t we can at least leave the piles of paperwork with them.
[End Boring Visa Stuff]
Since my last post, we’ve sped south to try and get away from the cold. Strategy worked well and the second night was a balmy -4 degrees – much improved on the -12.5 clocked on our first morning in the van. However we did wake up, in Goettingen, Germany, to a few inches of fresh snow. Made for a very pretty Australia day. The Stellplatz we stayed at was right next to a swim centre so we took the kids there for a couple of hours. We all had a ball in all the pools & waterslides (which the kids loved) although we stuck out like sore thumbs. Not just that we were wearing boardies unlike the German ‘tight boxer shorts’ look but they are a rather conservative lot and we seemed to be the rowdy lot (having a snowball fight in the outdoor pool was an unusual highlight!).
We got started late and made our way down to a little town near Heidelburg in Germany. The snow was still falling quite heavily which made driving Frosty a little more daunting. However, seemed to be going OK and literally, just as I said to Chelle ‘I reckon driving a big heavy thing like this in the snow is easier as it motors through better than a car’, we did a little fishtail at a roundabout. That was a wake-up call – nothing fun about going sideways in a 5.4 tonne 8m van which also happens to be our home for a year!
Anyway we tootled without further incident and set ourselves up in a little town in the German countryside called Ladenburg. It was very, very old. Buildings erected in the 15th century – lots of exposed wood etc. Made for a scenic outlook for both mine & Chelle’s daily jogs (both started this up in the absence of gyms and waves). We submitted to weakness and had a meal out in the end for dinner. A weird old (actually only about 250 years old this one) place with some funny looking blokes having a meeting in the room next door – they definitely had a vampire look about them although that didn’t stop James & Abbie sneaking up and spying through the keyhole.
Night 5 was spent at a lovely little town called Poligny in the Jura wine region. This stop was a little different as we took advantage of the ‘France Passion’ program we’d signed up to before we left Australia. What it is, is you pay 35 Euros for the year and they send you a sticker for the motorhome and a directory of about 1,500 vineyards and farms you can stay at for free! The only rules are that when you arrive, you go in and say hello and make sure you leave no trace when you leave. It’s also encouraged (although not obligatory) to have a look at what produce the hosts have and, if interested, buy some of their stuff. We were happy to oblige and after a brief winetasting picked up a couple of local bottles for next to nothing.
It’s now morning of day 7 and the van is just warming up as the heating conked out overnight. Thankfully after waking up freezing at 4am and going through the mountains of German user guides, I figured out how to fix it (a reboot of course, Mark!) and it’s now toasty again. So far this is our least favourite spot – it’s on a lake but quite far away from the town which isn’t much to look at anyway. Also the promised shower (which we were hanging for as Frosty’s living up to his name and we can’t seem to get any hot water) and toilets didn’t eventuate. Then the heating went, then the toilet overflowed (yeah, have to deal with that shortly) so we’ll move on fairly quickly I think.
We’re looking forward to getting to the Speedie’s lovely place on the Dordogne and giving the showers & washing machine a good workout (thanks guys!)