December 17, 2008

Random five days

NOTE: Catch-up post

Tuesday, 16 September, 2008
Breakfast: None
Lunch: Peanut butter on a baguette
Dinner: Chicken nuggets, mashed potato and carrots

After four fun, exhausting, pinch-yourself days, it was time to say goodbye to Paris. Next stop, Dijon, France. We punched in the address of the Dijon camping ground mentioned in Lonely Planet, and let our Garmin navigate us out of the crazy puzzle of lanes, tunnels and overpasses that make up the French capital.

After the hell that was Bellebrune, we held our breathe for pretty much the entire four-hour journey, questioning every rattle and bump, waiting for something horrible to happen. While we managed to get there safely (and enjoyed some of the beautiful French scenery along the way), the trip was not without incident – a perplexing rattle on the roof forced us to pull over, and we discovered the windscreen was a bit loose. Craig pushed the glass back in the seal and we soldiered on with visions of the windscreen flying off in our heads.

We arrived in Dijon to a frosty reception from the camping-ground chick – our initial attempts to communicate in English were shut down with a 'I don't speak English'. I'm tempted to write to A Current Affair regarding her miraculous ability to pick up the English language after just a few short minutes of me trying to say 'two people, one van, two nights with electric' in French.

After a day of driving, we decided to spend the rest of the arvo chilling. We headed to the supermarket to pick up some supplies, and ended up spending the evening at the camping ground with a group of four Aussies who were also doing the 'van tour' thing. Our first travel friends!

Wednesday, 17 September, 2008
Breakfast: Peanut butter on toast
Lunch: Vegemite sandwiches
Dinner: Two-minute noodles

After a night downing cans of random French beer with our one-night friends, we treated ourselves to a highly deserved sleep-in. Once we had mustered up the energy to shower and get dressed (no doubt in the same clothes worn the day before), we moseyed on into the Dijon.

Ah, Dijon, the mustard capital of the world. Why we chose this place to stop in anyone's guess, but I suspect that it may have something to do with the whole mustard association, plus it was getting us closer to Oktoberfest.

We decided to get a feel for the town by doing a lap in the free shuttle bus that loops around the main attractions. We immediately fell in love with the little fella (purely for the novelty factor), and shared our ride with silver-haired pensioners who were also getting a kick out of the free ride.

Our day was mainly spent searching the charming streets for a decent Dijon magnet. And let me just put this one out there: Dijon, your magnets suck! Seriously, the variety was appalling. We chose one eventually, but to this day, it's the Tori Spelling of our magnet collection. (Er, in other words, it sucks).

Thursday, 18 September, 2008
Breakfast: Croissant for Lisa, zip for Craig
Lunch: Baguette
Dinner: Spaghetti cabonara

With Oktoberfest looming, it was time make our way into Germany, the land of sausages. Having heard lots of good things about The Black Forest (well, I'd heard of it and Lonely Planet made it sound good) we decided to check it out.

Called The Black Forest because of the hue all the pine trees cast when looking at them from a distance (the Blue Mountains has a similar thing going on, but with blue), this place really was extremely picturesque. We chose Freiburg as our first port of call. And instead of going to the Lonely Planet-recommended campsite, we decided to take a punt and just follow the random tent/caravan signs we spotted as we drove into town.

The tent/caravan signs really know their shit. Not only did the lead us straight to a camping ground, we were also treated to possibly the best campsite showers in the universe. After showering in freezing, smelly, dirty, lukewarm conditions, these babies were a real treat. First, the building was fully enclosed and sealed, the showers were all regularly cleaned and the water was hot, hot, hot.

With the day closing to an end, we decided to make a quick dash into town to check things out. Taking the scenic route, we walked along the river, stopping to watch the ducks play in a mini waterfall like it was a waterslide. The town itself was bustling and very pretty, lots of cobbled streets, trams and traditional German architecture.

With the light quickly diminishing, we decided to call it quits and head back to the van. Confident I knew which direction to walk, I pretty much lead us round and round in circles, and eventually to the complete wrong side of town before I admitted defeat and let the sat nav lead us home.

Craig wasn't too happy with my navigation attempts, but he soon came around when I whipped up a delicious spaghetti cabonara for dinner. Which just happened to totally rock!

Friday, 19 September, 2008
Breakfast: Eggs on toast
Lunch: Spaghetti cabonara sandwiches
Dinner: Toasted sandwiches

After enjoying the longest showers of the trip yet, and scoffing down some surprisingly fabulous spaghetti cabonara sandwiches for lunch, the town of Freiburg once again beckoned.

Truth be told, there isn't a whole lot happening in 'The Burg', so the day was spent walking around the canal-laden streets – there were biggish ones (like in the pic) and some were just a mere 30cm wide.

An indoor food market soon became our favourite destination. Our poor backpacker budget-deprived tastebuds leapt with anticipation as we walked past schnitzels, currys, sausages and crepes and the adjoining wine bars made the whole culinary scenario extra tempting, but, knowing Oktoberfest would be the biggest 'blow-out' of our trip, we resisted and saved our euros for the steins and sausages that were to come.

That evening, Craig scoffed down four toasted ham, cheese, tomato and avocado sandwiches, prepared lovingly by yours truly.

Saturday, September 20, 2008
Breakfast: None
Lunch: German sausage hotdogs
Dinner: Pasta

Shock! Horror! Garmin let us down. Having arrived at the 'been there, done that' point in Freiburg, it was off to nearby Titisee (insert boob joke of choice here). Garmin got us to the town OK, winding us up and down through some pretty spectacular hills, but when we got to the town, it kept trying to take us down a pedestrian strip.

Usually in these situations, we would just drive the wrong way and then Garmin would present us with a suitable alternative route, but not this time, it kept insisting we drove in the legs-only zone. So we did what any lost Australian couple in a beat-up old campervan would do, we drove down it. It was extremely embarrassing making our way through all the people – everyone was staring at us – but it was even more embarrassing arriving at a dead end and having to do the whole head-dropping journey again.

Eventually we found a camping ground right on the lake – can you believe this place charged 50 cents to have a five-minute hot shower! Like the 15 you're charging us just to park our van for the night isn't ridiculous enough!

With only one day to check this place out, we headed straight into town, enjoying the walk around the scenic lake. Magnet hunting was the top of our agenda – since we had failed to find any in Freiburg, we chose a Black Forest one to cover both destinations – then, we discovered the meat. Meat, glorious meat, there were shops full of sausages and deli meat, the smell was divine and the free taste testing was even better! We'd make our way around the shops, sampling a bit of salami (or something salami-like) here, and a bit of wurst there, it was heaven – and free!

Eventually we decided to free ourselves from our usual vegemite-sandwich prison and splurge on some kinda wurst (German sausage) on a roll with mustard. Craig whoofed his down without really tasting it, while I savored every meaty bite. Tasty!

A whole day was probably too much to spend in this sleepy town, so we made like the rest of the tourists and hired a paddle boat on the lake. The sun was shining, the lake was glistening and birds were probably singing somewhere – it was pretty damn spectacular.

The afternoon was spent searching for a supermarket. Seriously, Wally (of Where's Wally fame) has nothing on this place. Luckily Sherlock O'Shannessy was on the case, and we eventually found a small mini mart, where we stocked up on dinner supplies and I found the most awesome chocolate mousse in the history of supermarket-bought chocolate mousses.

That night, with our van parked right on the lake, was seriously the most freezing night of our lives. I was wearing thermals, PJs, two pairs of socks, a beanie, was in a sleeping bag and had a doona over the top and it was still extremely painful.