Sunday 13th May 2018
We got back to the van thanks to the help of three bears and a woodcutter and I had a job to do. Armed only with a Leatherman and a hairgrip I managed to change the water pump that powers our taps and the flush. We have been carrying a spare pump ever since Daren Fasey suggested it was a ‘good thing’. The bullet connectors on the electrics were a bit of a surprise though and I had to recycle the original ones (that’s where the hair grip came in). Anyway, water pressure is restored and so too is peace and tranquillity in the Jones’ household.
This morning we made an early start, as did most of our fellow campers. This brought out Wendy’s competitive instincts and we managed to pack up and weave our way through the Swiss and German families still in the process of dismantling their awnings, stowing bikes and bemoaning the end of their holiday. The girl on reception warned us that next weekend there was another German Public Holiday and also the start of a two-week school holiday so the campsites were likely to be just as busy. Little does she know that we plan to be far, far away by next weekend! (Is that Narrativium creeping back in?)
In contrast to yesterday, today was a day of planned and considered stops. Our first destination was Donaueschingen. When we first began to plan this year’s European voyage, we were going to travel up the Rhine and then down the Danube to Budapest and from there down into Croatia. Our delayed start, an unexpected wedding invite and an article in the Lonely Planet magazine has meant that we have revised our plans. Following the Danube, or the Donau as the rest of Europe calls it will have to wait for another year. However Lenzkirch was practically in touching distance of Donaueschingen so we had to visit the fabled source of Europe’s mightiest river, as we were so close. The Donaquelle is a spring that rises in the centre of the town. Over the years there has been much civic wrangling between towns that claimed to be the source of the Danube, so much so that the state government became involved and in 1981 Baden-Württemberg decreed that Donaueschingen was the official source. They have done a good job with it. The spring is contained in marble surroundings with a statue and landscaping that adds a certain grandeur to what is quite a murky pond, more the green rather than blue Danube! (See what Narrativium does, I just couldn’t help it.)
We left Donaueschingen and headed south towards Switzerland, climbing up out of the valley of the Danube and back into the valley of the Rhine. At the Swiss border we jumped out clutching my map just to check with the customs official that we did not need to buy a ‘vignette’ if we were not going to use the motorways. Suitably reassured we drove on to the Rheinfall or Rhine Falls.
The Rhine Falls are simply stunning. The sight, noise and power of the water cascading twenty-three metres over the rocks are mesmerising and you do not need to know that they are the largest waterfalls in Europe as their scale and majesty are awesome. You don’t even notice how heavily commercialised they are or how modern buildings have been allowed to encroach on the skyline. Whatever else we see on this trip, the Rhine Falls will be one of the highlights.
We followed the Rhine on a trip down memory lane into the town of Kreuzlingen on the shores of Lake Konstaz or the Bodensee. Twenty something years ago I sailed in a Fireball European Championship at Kreuzlingen and here was a chance to show Wendy where Andy and I had spent a week, playing football, volleyball, having international dinghy paddling races, while waiting for the wind to appear. We couldn’t stop on the campsite as it doesn’t take dogs, so their loss was Seehorn’s gain. This is a lovely campsite on the shore of the lake twenty kilometres west of Kreuzlingen in the village of Egnach. Wendy considers it to be thebest-appointed campsite she has ever seen – and it takes the ACSI discount card too!