Even More Ice Fun

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Our last night in the Harz Mountains was in a little town called Schulenberg (about 320 residents). There was a nice little camp spot with a view over the mountains and a lake which was very pretty.

While we were here we experienced what people who live in cold climates have to endure.

Our first experience was when we pulled up for the night. I went to get the ramps out to get Max level but could not open the side bin because the door was frozen shut and there was no way it was coming open – I decided we were level enough.

I have said before that it has been very cold, but here it was very, very, very cold. At about 9 am it was minus 6.5 degrees Celsius outside. All of the icicles that had been hanging on Max from Christmas were still there and had grown bigger and been added too, we even had ice on the inside of the windscreen – which MiniMandM took some good photos of.

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Earlier in the year we discovered that Max has a feature which protects the boiler (yes we have a boiler and central heating – just like a European house) from freezing should you leave the motorhome and the battery goes flat during winter. The feature will drain all of the water out of the system if the battery goes flat – we learnt this when we heard the pump working and noticed all of our sometimes hard to source water flowing down the hill.

While we were at Schulenberg we discovered a further feature of this system. If the temperature gets too cold it will again dump all of the water. We discovered this in the middle of the night when I heard the switch go off, the pump come on and then water running on the ground – a nice wake up call. In hindsight we should have had the heater running all night, instead we have just been running it before we went to bed and then it has been warm enough while we have been in bed; earlier in the year we would leave it on all night but then end up hot. So since we could not do anything about it we turned the pump off and then went back to bed.

In the morning the first job (after turning the heater on) was to swap the toilet cassette. Warning: This may be too much information for some.  Anyone who has spent time in a motorhome knows that the toilet will fill up at the most inconvenient time (I have learnt to check before going to bed to make sure there is sufficient room). On this morning the loo was quite full and Legoboy needed to go so I braved the cold and went out to swap things over (with a family of five we can need to swap cassettes fairly regularly so we have two spares in the boot). So I swapped them and Legoboy did what he needed to and then went to flush. In a motorhome loo part of the flush mechanism is in the cassette. Unfortunately as the cassette had been in the boot where it was very cold the mechanism was frozen up and it would not flush. I won’t give you the detail of how I had to rectify this situation, but needless to say I was glad it was a number one.

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Next was to put some water into the tank. In the boot we carry a couple of 5 litre bottles so we always have some water because you never really know when the water in the tank will run out. I got the bottles out which were partly frozen, but I figured that I could get some water into the tank. Next problem was that the lid on the tank was frozen on and I could not get it open – so I just took the 5 litre bottle inside and bypassed the tank.

Next issue was that even though we had water inside now (thanks to a big water bottle) the drain pipe from the sink was frozen so the water in the sink would not drain and we had to scoop it out.

Once we had overcome these obstacles we headed off to the service point to empty things and hopefully fill up with water. Things had warmed up a bit so we were able to get the cap off the tank now so that was a good start. We got the hose out which was very stiff. After putting our money in no water came out, all service points are different so it sometimes takes a few goes to get things working, considering that all of the instructions are in a foreign language. But nothing we did would make things work so we decided that it must have been frozen up.

So we headed off with not too much water and the hope of finding some later in the day.

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During the day we decided to have a bit of a snack, someone asked about the packet of chips that we had bought before Christmas but hadn’t eaten. We looked in the cupboards but couldn’t find them anywhere. In the back of one of the cupboards in Max there is a gap at the top. I got a mirror and was able to see down the back and discovered that the chips had fallen down there, so the only option was to pull the shelf out and the back of the cupboard out – so we could have some chips. I have no idea why someone would build a cupboard with a huge gap at the top which would allow things to disappear, possibly never to be seen again.

After visiting the Christmas/Winter Markets in Goslar (another post) we headed out of the Harz Mountains.

We found a camp spot which had water so we went to fill up. Once everything was hooked up and we paid our money, there was still no water. We discovered that our hose was not only stiff it was actually frozen, so we had to use our bottles to get the water into the tank, but we didn’t get too much in before the money ran out (some pumps measure the amount of water and cut off accordingly but others, like this one, are timed so if you are not organised when you put your money in you don’t get much water). We brought the hose inside and sat it in the shower so it could defrost in the warmth.

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The drain pipe in the sink was still not draining so I thought that maybe there was some issue other than the pipe being frozen, so for the second time I had to pull out the tools and pull the back of the cupboard out. After doing that I was able to confirm that the pipe was in fact just frozen as it ran outside uninsulated underneath the floor (another dumb design feature), and the next morning everything had defrosted and worked again.

Even though it was warmer here we were surprised to wake up the next morning surrounded by snow again.

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A Dog of a town.

We continued south and travelled through Rottweil where the dogs originated. Mini M&M was a little worried that everyone in town may be as unfriendly as the dogs. We drove through the Black Forest and stopped at Triburg where cuckoo clocks originated. P1010378 We came across more snow as we went through the Black Forest which wasn’t as dark and scary as I imagined (think Hansell and Gretel) There were some great views even if the road was a little windy. P1010386 We stopped at a pretty little town called Waldkirch for a couple of nights which is complete with its own castle ruin overlooking the town. P1010401 While on one of our walks around Waldkirch we sampled Schuhsohlen which is a bit like and apple turnover without the apple – nice and tasty but a bit dry and stuck to the roof of the mouth a bit.

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If you look hard you can see some snow on the mountains in the background.

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If only they let me have a sample

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Some places you go to you can get a sample – you go to a cheese factory and you get a sample – I was a little disappointed that when I did a tour of the Porsche factory they did not give out any samples.

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My official tour sticker

I had always planned to visit the Porsche factory when we came through Stuttgart. I thought we would drive by and maybe have a photo out the front. When I looked into finding the address etc I discovered some info online about a Porsche factory tour. So I sent off an email and discovered that a tour was in fact available but was only for 16 years and older so I had to go on my own.

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The tour starts at the impressive Porsche museum (which was closed the day I was there). When I met my guide I discovered that there were only 3 of us in the tour group. We began with a little bit of history about the site including the fact that the first VW Beetle was built here and the Porsche 356 (which was actually built by Recaro who later sold their equipment to Porsche – and now they make seats). We then went onto the production line and walked along a number of sections starting where the bodies come in from the paint shop right through to the engines and suspension being fitted and the wheels going onto the cars. As we went along the line we had to continually get out of the way of the robotic “ants” that scurry around the plant bringing parts to the different work stations. I was surprised by how handbuilt the cars are with only one robot on the line to fit windscreens.

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Porsche Museum – I had a peek

The factory builds all 911 models including all of the Carrera Cup race cars and some of the Boxster models and they all go along the production line at the same time so every car is different. The plant builds 200 cars per day and each one is built to order so each car is already sold before it begins production.

We also went through the saddlery where all of the leather is done and to the engine plant where all petrol Porsche engines are built.

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Porsche Museum

Unfortunately we were not allowed cameras into the tour (had to hand over cameras and phones) so there are no photos of inside the plant.

I am sure there should be one there with my name on it.

I am sure there should be one there with my name on it.

 

That’s not big enough – build me a bigger one.

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Ludwig (I don’t remember his full name so we will call him Duke Ludwig) had a hunting lodge built in the country. He liked it so much he had another built across the road.

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The second one across the road.

Eventually he decided to move to the first hunting lodge and rename the town Ludwigsburg and move there permanently. Now that this was going to be his home he needed to make it bigger. The new wing which was added created the square in the middle, when you stand at one end of the “new” (1733) wing you can look through all of the open doors to the other end – 150 metres away.
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Then years later Frederich who became the first king of Germany decided to renovate. We did a tour of this palace – Ludwigsburg Palace – and covered 73 rooms and walked about 1.5 km. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos inside the palace. In total there are 470 rooms including 2 churches and a theatre so the buildings are impressive, the gardens are also huge. There are also hidden doorways and corridors everywhere so that the servants (estimated at 1000) could move around without being seen. There was also a lapidary here – for those of you ignorant enough not to know (like us) what a lapidary is, it is a collection of statues which have been replaced with copies to preserve the originals.

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We spent a full day here which the girls especially enjoyed and then dropped into a local park for Legoboy  (and the girls also) to enjoy a German playground.

Mosbach

P1010175We stopped into Mosbach because we know some people who used to live here and also because it is a Tudor style town and MiniM&M was keen to photograph some Tudor style buildings. It was rainy when we were there and it was a Sunday afternoon so all of the shops in the market place were closed so there were not many people around. While we were there it turned four o’clock and the town hall and the local church in the market place started what seemed like a bell ringing duel ( I think the church bells were louder but the town hall had the last dong). The bells rang for a full 10 to 15 minutes which seemed nice and quaint when we were there for one ringing session – not sure how it would be if that is what happens every hour.

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Ringing church bells is something that we have experienced occasionally in Australia – here I think you hear them every day.

While in Mosbach we tried another German treat which was a loaf with nuts and something that looked like chocolate but was not chocolate – this one was not a winner but you have to try these things.

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Schwetzingen

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We stopped for a couple of nights in a town called Schwetzingen. The next day we went for a walk around the town and to the local palace and market place.

It was valentine’s day while we were here so of course, ever the romantic I purchased my lovely wife some Tulips which seemed very European (its still romantic even if you only spend 2 euros isn’t it?).

We also purchased some ski pants for 6 Euros for the kids from Lidl (pretty much the same as Aldi).

We had to sample some more good European treats and figured what could be more German than a Berliner.

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Legoboy seemed to enjoy it.

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Look closely – it may mess with your head.

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Bookworm found a kindred spirit.

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We didn’t expect that

Snow

Not a great shot but you can see how much snow was there.

We were driving between Trier and Schwetzingen when we started to notice some snow on the ground. Before long we were driving through a landscape covered in snow. It was a little strange because in Australia anytime we have encountered snow it has been after driving up a windy mountain road. Here we were on a 4 lane highway with snow all around us. The locals were obviously very used to it and continued to drive past at 120 – 130 Km/h.

A couple of other things we have noticed while we have been driving but have not yet photographed are; very tall bridges – we crossed one recently that was 918 metres long and 127 metres high (makes you drive nice and straight and away from the edge) the Germans seem to like to build a bridge rather than drive down into a valley; Wind turbine – there are heaps of wind turbines dotted all around. When we were in Tasmania last year there were wind turbines close to where we lived but you could not get close to them, here you drive right past the base of some; Solar panels – houses, shed and farm buildings are covered with them, there are also solar panel farms where there are acres of solar panels even when we were driving through the snow there was a solar panel farm half covered with snow so not sure how effective that one was.

Bring on the Gladiators!!

We are beginning to get used to 900 year old castles and 500 year old houses.

When we went to Trier they took things to a whole new level.
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While we were there we visited Porta Nigra a Roman building that dated back to about 160AD.

The thing that really amazed me was that we were able to go into this building and up to the top of the four floors – the floors were not average height but more Roman sized so the building is actually one of the tallest in the town even though it is almost 1900 years old.
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It is a little weird, you think to yourself as you walk across these old stone floors, “this is almost 1900 years old better be careful or it may fall down” then you think “this has been here for almost 1900 years, it is probably not going to fall down any time soon”.

Most of the Roman buildings in town are no longer standing as they were pulled apart for their building materials. Porta Nigra survived however because there was a hermit who lived in the building who would not allow it to be pulled down – he was latter canonized.

There are a few other Roman remnants in Trier – there is a bridge which I guess survived because people needed to cross the river. There are also some ruins of Roman baths and a ruin of an amphitheater.
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There was also the cathedrals and also the market place in the centre of town.
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And we had to try some local food which was in fact just hot potato chips which somehow tasted different to those in Australia. Ferrero Rocher were also giving out chocolates so we of course had to sample some of that local food.

Trier was a nice place to visit and it was interesting to notice how these old, old buildings just become part of everyday life for the people who live there.

I could have done a sub 7 minute lap!

Nurburgring
For those of you who are into fast cars I am sure you will know of the Nurburgring (if not look up Nurburgring on youtube).

I have read about ths race track (and seen youtube clips) and could not drive past without having a look.

There were a number of things that surprised me:

It is on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere -there was actually snow on the ground heading to the track and around Nurburg.

There is a huge trackside complex.

There is an industrial area just down the road full of manufacturer R & D facilities and race shops.

There is a small town in the centre of the circuit – Nurburg – hence Nurburgring – it makes perfect sense in hindsight.

As you drive toward the track you get glimpses of the track as it winds through the forest for a considerable distance before arriving at the track complex. This is also not a surprise as the lap is over 20 km.

Unfortunately we did not get to do a lap but it was great to be able to see a place I have read so much about.