After chatting with Herbert about possible good routes back to Dunkirk, we decided to spend some time exploring the Black Forest. The first stop after leaving Radolfzell on Wednesday, 15 March was St. Georgen, where we found, quite by chance, the Deutsche Phonomuseum. This museum holds a fascinating collection showing the history of the music industry starting with a phonograph invented by Thomas A Edison in 1877. There’s also a wonderful collection of clocks made in the Black Forest.
Having headed for Offenburg, we were struggling to find any camping grounds for the night. It seems that, out of season, it’s not so easy in Germany so we crossed back into France. The first stop was a mistake – following signposts for ‘gens du voyage’ on the banks of the Rhine, we found a large site, but it was, of course, for travellers, rather than tourists! On the motorway around Strasbourg, we noticed a sign ‘Crit’air no. 5 interdit’. Luckily for us, we’ve got our smart yellow no. 2 sticker as the van is not that old, even though it uses diesel! I fear our trusty Bongo would not have been eligible to drive this route.
After a very stressful afternoon, in depressingly dull weather, searching for somewhere to stay, we finally stopped at a French ‘Camping-Car Park’ site at Soufflenheim, very close to the German border. We were the only ones there, but it was quiet, clean, had a fresh water tap, electric hook-up and all the essential services for just €12.36. We visited the village, which is famous, apparently, for it’s potteries . . . but nowhere was open. We noted where the baker was to call in the morning and retired to the van for supper and to plan for a better day tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will be a bit brighter too. We’ve only done 136 miles and don’t seem to have made much progress towards Dunkirk yet.
Thursday dawned, bright and sunny, we left Soufflenheim early after calling at the baker and headed for Baden Baden. Looking for somewhere to park, we noticed the Tourist Information Office and left armed with maps and information booklets, including directions to a place to park. Why didn’t we find this place last night?! Arriving at 1030 we purchased a 24-hour ticket and set out on the bikes for a day in the city, with a place already to stay overnignt. The history of the city is fascinating, well worth more research and certainly another visit for longer. We’d taken a packed lunch, but stopped for coffee near the Kurhaus, considered buying tickets for an evening concert, browsed some very expensive shops, marvelled at the numerous elegant villas and rode down the beautiful crocus-lined Lichtentaler Allee. Deciding against the somewhat expensive concert tickets, we stopped at the excellent Café Bar Trinkhalle for an early evening drink with flammenkuche. The bike ride back to the camping ground was only a couple of miles. We’d ridden down the well signposted cycle track, so had confidence in retracing our route back in the dark.