We were happy to be back in Germany. It seemed to us that the Germans were a pragmatic nation and everything was ordered to make travelling through their country easy and pleasant. There were no annoying road tolls and each evening we were able to park at a stellplatz – the German equivalent of a French aire – normally within walking distance of a town centre. There was often metered water and electricity available too. Germans ate earlier than the French or the Italians, so we could walk into town and find a restaurant before it got too dark and cold.
We visited Memmingen with its cobbled streets and interconnecting squares. The town had lots of independent shops and family run restaurants and was bustling with shoppers in spite of the rain. We enjoyed trying on almost every hat in a Bavarian hat shop and spent some time admiring the huge variety of stock in a specialist knife shop.
We loved the medieval city of Würzburg surrounded by vineyards. The city was famous for its family run wine bars and had a beautiful cathedral as well as traditional restaurants and beer cellars. There happened to be a circus big top in our car park. It was years since we had been to a circus and we thoroughly enjoyed the performance, an entertaining mixture of motor bikes roaring above our heads, naked men covering their modesty with frying pans and a lovely pair of female dancers plunging in and out of a tiny pool of water.
We looked up Würzburg with Mr Google and discovered that, in 1945, the Allies had destroyed the city in a fire bomb attack, killing 5,000 people. The historical buildings had been painstakingly rebuilt after the war.
One night we stayed in a small village with just the one restaurant which happened to be Italian. The streets were dark and deserted but, as soon as we opened the restaurant door, there was noise, warmth and bustle from inside. There was insufficient space to have our own table so we had to share. The lack of a common language didn’t spoil an enjoyable and convivial evening. The portions were so huge we barely consumed half of our meal before we were full to bursting – then the nice waitress brought a complimentary glass of an Italian digestif.
Our final stop before Poland was a stellplatz by the River Elbe at Magdeburg, fifteen minutes walk from our favourite Asian restaurant Hyaku Mizu.