Posts Tagged ‘Black Forest’

Meet Mr. Mobi

July 6th, 2009 Comments off

This afternoon we picked up the motorhome, better known by its nickname, Mobi. It’s a smart vehicle, with a refrigerator/freezer that runs on 220 volts, 12-volt battery or propane depending on the situation, a flat screen TV with rooftop satellite dish and DVD player, rooftop solar panels to help charge the auxiliary battery, a bathroom featuring a separate shower and a toilet with a swivel seat (!) to maximize space, a three-burner range (but no oven, which was disappointing to Daughter who likes heating croissants for breakfast) and tons of storage. Tons.

At the dealership,I was taught how to turn the pedestal dining table into the second bed for Daughter, how to dump the toilet, how to run the GPS and how to know the difference between the diesel-fuel intake and the water intake. “People are stupid,” the young man said when explaining the difference. And then he added for some reason, “You’re American, yes?”

While I was getting the how-to tour, Daughter’s Boyfriend went inside the salesroom to find something to drink, and returned with two beers. Belgium.

Boyfriend followed me home, and not more than 3 minutes after leaving the dealership he waved me over on the highway. A corner of the rear bumper had come loose and was flapping badly. We’ll have to find some duct tape but hopefully this won’t be a sign of what’s to come.

When I pulled up to Daughter’s and Boyfriend’s downtown Antwerp apartment building, I encountered my first real driving test: parallel parking a 21-foot motorhome in a spot that was maybe 23 or 24 feet long. You can see the results. Jeanne and Daughter then loaded up the food, bedding and other provisions.

So tomorrow we begin our vacation in earnest. Jeanne is poring over the map and the tour books to find the best campground prospects, and they all sound marvelous, with rivers running through them. This won’t be the Europe we already know, the one with honking cars, police sirens with their signature European wail, and the constant rumble of the street cars. This will be its soft, quiet side. We are ready for Germany’s Black Forest.

Following the push pins across Europe

June 30th, 2009 Comments off

We leave for our European RV vacation in just four days, and we thought we’d better sit down and figure out what our basic plan of attack is once we get there. Plan of attack. Sounds like we’re planning a military assault. I’m hoping I can just pull the mobi out of the dealer’s lot without causing a scene. It’s heavier and larger than anything I’ve ever driven before. Well, there was that semi when we moved our daughter to college.

Our goal for this three-week vacation is to see as much beautiful countryside as possible, so we will immediately drop southeast out of Antwerp, where our daughter and her boyfriend live, and head east for Germany’s Black Forest, rather than heading northeast toward Berlin. We’ll cross southern Germany, through Bavaria, then head northeasterly toward Prague in the Czech Republic, then into  Poland and brace ourselves for Auschwitz. The basic route then takes us southwest, across western Slovakia and into Austria (Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck) before heading into Switzerland (Zurich, Bern and Geneva as the main targets but surely being seduced onto highways leading higher into the Alps). Then, we head back to Antwerp via Dijon and Reims, France.

We will, of course, be taking country roads versus the major highways, and targeting campgrounds outside the cities. And once in country, we’ll refer to our specific guidebooks and maps and solicit the advice of locals. In other words, we don’t know where the heck we’ll be, any given night, but probably we’ll be in the shadow of a huge blue pushpin.

We created a very general Google map showing the very basic route. It’s about 2,100 miles as the crow flies (are there crows in Europe?) but we’re assuming we’ll put in 3,000 miles or more. We are hoping, too, that the GPS doesn’t crap out, or we may end up in Slovenia instead of Slovakia.

Jeanne has been doing most of the research, and has relied heavily on what has turned out to be her favorite reference guide, “Central Europe” by Lonely Planet. She also has a lot of tabs sticking out of “Europe by Van and Motorhome” by David Shore and Patty Campbell, and is poring over Fodor’s “Eastern & Central Europe” and “RV and Car Camping Vacations in Europe” by Mike and Terri Church.

We could buy more specific guides, of course, but there is a weight limit to our luggage.

My diet-demanding health coach will be tickled pink with this news: Our route should take us to Uttenweiler, Germany, where we will visit her family’s bakery and we can say hi! to her cousins Gertrude and Paul. And pick up some streudel while weíre there.