We left Switzerland in rather a grumpy mood, knowing we were on our way home. We were leaving ourselves plenty of time to make the return to the UK but it was very deflating to know it would all soon be over.
As per usual we had planned a few stops on the way back home to make the journey feel like a holiday in it’s own right. The first of these stops would be a relaxing couple of days on the shores of Titisee as part of our homeward journey. Partly because it was going to be my birthday, partly because it was still very warm and we wanted to be able to swim to cool down, and partly because Titisee made us giggle like school kids.
We decided to break the journey just over the border at Bad Säckingen for a bit of sightseeing and to get some chores done. Unfortunately the car park where the stellplatz is located was closed for a harvest related event, we saw the signs as we drove through the nearby streets but we were committed and needed a couple of minutes to work out what to do instead. We pulled over briefly while I consulted SearchForSites and Park4Night for an alternative stopover and settled on a smaller Stellplatz someway further down the Rhine at Murg. This was just an overnight location, but pleasant enough, next to the river and an outdoor swimming complex which we would have visited if it wasn’t closed for winter.
A few days on the shores of Titisee
We arrived at Titisee just before lunch the following day and made our way around to the western end of the lake where we were planning to stay at Terrassencamping Sandbank, an ACSI campsite right on the edge of the lake. There was a queue at reception and as I walked in I was told that it was almost quiet time and they were due to close reception at midday. “Ruhezeit” is something I’d heard about but, never having stayed on a German campsite, I hadn’t encountered it in real life.
Something, somehow, got lost in translation because I was sure he’d told me to go and choose a pitch and then come back after lunch to check in. As we drove to our selected pitch (at 11:55) we were chased by the warden telling us we couldn’t possibly drive into the campsite now as it was definitely ruhezeit. When the mood takes me I can be as pedantic as the best of them and as it wasn’t quite midday we agreed that we could drive onto our pitch, but if we needed to level up we would do so when the lunch break was over. I felt as though we’d had a proper telling off in front of our neighbours, but hopefully I’d given (very politely) as good as we’d got.
We had made a bit of a mistake with our visit because we hadn’t stocked up with groceries before we arrived. At the eastern edge of the lake is a tourist village; made up of hotels, gift shops, cafes and restaurants. There was no supermarket, corner shop or grocery store to be found (maybe someone can tell us where one is?). It was a good 30 minute walk along the south edge of the lake from the campsite to the village. It was very pleasant to stroll in for lunch but not so enticing in the dark. We snacked on cheese and cured meats bought from the gift shops and bread from the campsite shop but were yearning for some fruit or veg by the time we left. We found out (too late) that we could borrow a car from the campsite to visit the supermarket. A very good idea when you’re out in the sticks.
We strolled round the lake one day. The northern edge of the lake is mostly private meaning you need to walk along the road or make a bigger detour out into the countryside, a bit of a shame. The next day we cycled through the forest and passed through some very wealthy seeming villages with vast immaculate bungalows. Our target was Feldsee, a glacial tarn where we saw Arctic Char swimming in the water (we couldn’t swim here because of protected aquatic plants). On the way back we cycled past ski areas and the ski jumps of Adler Ski Stadium.
On both days we swam in the lake, just a few meters from our van. The water here was a little cooler than the lakes in Switzerland and there were fewer people joining us in the water.
On my birthday evening we treated ourselves to a meal at the next door campsite (Camping Bankenhof) for my birthday. The menu seemed a little more diverse than the cafe on our campsite and we both enjoyed a bit of golden fried schnitzel goodness. And some much needed salad.
Disappointment in the Black Forest?
After leaving the lake we drove through the black forest to Triberg, the home of the cuckoo clock. We navigated to the motorhome parking behind the supermarket where we thought we might stay for the night. it was very busy and we were lucky to get a space as people arriving shortly after us had to wait for people to leave. Obviously a very popular destination, we decided to take a walk around the streets along with the many people who were being disgorged from coaches. After wandering for half an hour, and looking at some exceptionally over the top cuckoo clocks, we decided it just wasn’t for us. Maybe we were missing something, but there just didn’t seem to be anything other than the clocks. I couldn’t even be bothered to find some Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. We left our carpark space for someone who might appreciate it more and looked for somewhere else to stop.
We didn’t go far. Triberg had put us in a despondent mood and as we ventured north a closed road with diversions caused us to overheat. It was too hot to even argue, we just wanted to find somewhere to stop that had a bit of space where we could put our chairs out and relax.
We ended up at the medieval town of Gengenbach. This was more to our liking, a large stellplatz by the river, a pretty town centred around a medieval Altstadt, and green hilly countryside. I tried to persuade Paul to go for walk into the hills, but the heat was too much for him and we just strolled into town for cake and sightseeing. Our mood was lifted, mostly, I expect, due to the cake.
The Saar Polygon
The following morning it was time for a long drive into Luxembourg. As we were due to drive through Saarland we made a tentative plan to visit the Saar Polygon. We’ve seen this highly visible landmark on previous drives through this part of Germany. This time we wanted to stop for a visit. It took a little while to work out the best place to stop, but we finally decided to park up at the nearby leisure centre in Saarlouis .
The polygon looks like a large industrial scaffold, very geometric. It changes it’s shape as you approach it from different angles sometimes an arch or a gateway, other times an inverted triangle. It’s a monument to the coal mining history of the area and sits on top of the Ensdorf spoil heap, the waste from the last coal mine in the area – Bergwerk Saar – which was closed in 2012. It was another addition to the interesting places we have visited in this area of Germany where you can find heavy industry juxtaposed with vast forests and natural features and see some very visible reminders of the strained relationship between mankind and the environment.