Germany - June 2015 - Our First Camping Holiday

Who would have thought that at our advanced years we would agree to go camping in foreign places?  Still Germany seems like a good place to start!

Farewell blighty, we are off to invade Germany.

Bring it on.  Really enjoyed the overnight ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge.  Very relaxing way to travel, with a fine meal, good beer and wine, and excellent company.

First camping day at Grimbergen just north of Brussels.  Tent up, all set, and well chuffed.

Into Grimbergen for lunch - not much going on on a Sunday - bread and water (and a tomato)!

After a nightmare drive trying to find the centre of Brussels, we eventually managed to get in and get parked.  What a nice place.  This is the Grand Place, a "small but delicately sculpted 15th century town square".  With a massive Zumba class on the go.  Not exactly tranquil!  Everyone else stood still for my panoramic shot, except that girl at the front.

And the obligatory picture of the Peeing boy, just a few narrow alleyways from the Grand Place.  , the Peeing Boy, or Mannekin Pis, as it is normally called by locals, is a fascinating little statue. Not only does it attract thousands of curious tourists every year to Brussels, local Brussels people celebrate many festivities with this bronze fountain. On last count there are over 700 costumes for this fellow for all events of the year and from countries around the world.

Such fine bronze work?

I liked this picture of a picture up an alley.

Last remnants of the old city walls.

Joy of joys, a cathedral.

Had lunch in this nice park - the Square du Petit Sablon.  Very nice it was too, despite the tourists.

And gosh, look what is next door - the Eglise Notre Dame Du Sablon - just what we needed.

The Royal Palace of Brussels .  Where the King hangs out.

Looking back down on the city from the royal bit.

The Charles of Lorraine Palace.  Impressive.

Apparently one of these was Anne of Cleaves' house?  Or maybe the whole row?

Really not sure about this selfie malarkey.  The Mont des Arts Garden was nice though.

And a view from the bottom looking up.

And another cathedral, great stuff.  They had a choir singing which was somewhat interesting.

Outside the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, and a nice bust of King Baudouin I whose funeral was held here in 1993.

And a nice shopping arcade.  Then it was tea, and the horrendous drive back to the campsite,
about an hour and a half for a twenty minute journey.  Still we got to see lots of Brussels!

The next day we struck camp in the rain, and headed to Aachen, as it had a cathedral (is there a theme developing here?).

Ok so it dates back 1200 years to when Emperor Charlemagne who ruled over large parts of Europe from here founded a church in the ninth century

That big gold box at then end apparently contains Jesus's nappies!  And one of Mary's dresses, Christ's loin cloth and the decapitation cloth of St John the Baptist.

This was our helpful German guide, Philip.  Unfortunately the tour was in German, with no concession whatsoever for those who didn't speak the language.  Still there were things to look at.

The throne of Charlemagne.  Some 30 kings were coronated here, though not Charlemagne.

Impressive ceiling!

And the 2nd Century AD "she-wolf" in bronze.  

And after all that the rain still hadn't stopped.  Had more navigational problems getting out of Aachen, but after that the journey to the next campsite was just wet.

Despite the rain we got into the campsite (Camping Berger)
Fand pitched pretty well.  Needing a wee gin though.

Rain still coming down the next day, but we soldiered on.  What do to on a wet Tuesday in the Rhineland?

Cologne, or Koln, Germany's fourth largest city.  Yes, it has a cathedral.  Does anyone know how to actually pay for the right ticket on the train?

Germany's most visited landmark, and the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe.  It was the highest building in the world until the Eiffel Tower was built.

Impressive too.

The cathedral suffered fourteen hits by aerial bombs during World War II. Badly damaged, it nevertheless remained standing in an otherwise completely flattened city. The twin spires were an easily recognizable navigational landmark for Allied aircraft bombing.  Repair and maintenance work is constantly being carried out in one or another section of the building, which is rarely completely free of scaffolding, as wind, rain, and pollution slowly eat away at the stones.

We did a tour of this cathedral too - this time in English thankfully.  Though the guide had a penchant for quoting old Supertramp lyrics, which was odd.  This is the Altarpiece of the Three Kings by Stephan Lochner, which is apparently significant.

And this big old gold box from 1190 contains the bones of the three wise men.  Can you feel the vibes?

Plenty of pictures/sculptures of this guy.  

Looks equally impressive from this end.

Apparently this is 1000 years old, and the oldest large crucifix north of the Alps and the earliest-known large free-standing Northern sculpture of the medieval period.  Got that?

On 25 August 2007, the cathedral received this new stained glass for the south transept window. It has 1,220 sq ft of glass, composed of 11,500 identically sized pieces of colored glass resembling pixels.  And despite the apparent randomness the third column mirrors the first, and the second column mirrors the fifth.  No idea why. 

Next door was a Roman museum with a huge amount of artifacts - we spent ages here.  A Roman villa was discovered here in 1941 during the construction of an air-raid shelter. On the floor of the main room of the villa was the renowned Dionysus mosaic. Since the mosaic could not be moved easily, the architects Klaus Renner and Heinz Röcke designed the museum around the mosaic. The inner courtyards of the museum mimic the layout of the ancient villa.

And to cap of an educational day we visited the Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum (Imhoff chocolate museum).  This is the Cacao tree that chocolate bars grow on (in the right climate).

Look, chocolate.

A chocolate fountain, and the Rhine.

Dinner in Koln - Schnitzel.

Onto part two of the holiday                                      Back to front page