Summer Camping Weekend

8 08 2014

Berlin is famous for the many lakes in its backlands, and on a beautiful summer weekend in July we packed our camping gear and headed north, with the general aim of Bernsteinsee (lake amber) in the Schorfheide nature reserve. Realized again we should do this much more often – just 1-2 hours out of Berlin and one is out of the big city and quickly in holiday mode. We ended up on a campsite on Ruehlesee, just next to Bernsteinsee: Beautiful low-key campsite in a pine tree forest with its own lake. The backlands of Berlin all belong to former East Germany, and 24 years after re-unification it seems the camp sites are often still run in a different way to West Germany: Lots of space, landscape mostly left untouched, everything a bit low key, but the necessary facilities in place and very friendly and unpretentious people. This one comes with its own diving school, and a cable waterski facility on an adjacent second lake – not really our thing, but amusing to watch for a while. In addition to their German web site I found this English site, both also a bit out-dated.
Thanks to Wikipedia I’ve just learnt that parts of the Schorfheide nature reserve are actually a UNESCO listed world heritage: Protected since 2011 as one of the last surviving ancient beech forests that probably covered most of middle Europe some long time ago. It is also home to the lesser spotted eagle, which we actually saw when we meandered through the forests on the way back to Berlin!

Image1b

Image2

Image3





Of Autobahns and Country Roads

12 08 2013

Three weeks of vacation have come to an end. They started with a power weekend for Taiga Lily as she was booked as a wedding limousine in Stuttgart. Stuttgart is about 800 km from Berlin when driving via Marburg where I dropped of the dog with my parents for the weekend. With some stops along the way to fill up on petrol, coffee and food, to walk the doggy and to have dinner, the trip took me some long twelve hours. But the weather was great, traffic not too bad and Taiga Lily drove smoothly all the way, so I enjoyed the ride. The route took me through “Volkswagen country“, with VW production sites along the way in Hannover, Wolfsburg, Salzgitter and Kassel, and towards the end into the homelands of Mercedes and Porsche, Stuttgart and Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. Pretty amazing how much richer Stuttgart looked compared to Berlin.

Taiga Lily all shiny and clean for the biog day in Stuttgart.

Taiga Lily all shiny and clean for the big day in Stuttgart.

Official maximum speed of the van is 127km/h (70 h.p. CJ engine), and given enough time to ramp up the speed she easily goes 120-125km/h – haven’t pushed her beyond that yet. But on those hot days, the top speed quickly went down to 90 or even 80 km/h as the engine temperate otherwise raised beyond 100°C. Air cooling comes to its limits when its 35 to 40°C in the shade. The new sliding window in the sliding door paid out massively – always a nice breeze on the backbench, no more problem with too much heat in the back as during last summer’s ride to the Czech Republic.
To spare the little one of at least part of the long rides, my lovely wife and wonder baby flew from Berlin into Stuttgart. The way back was then still a long five-hour-ride from Stuttgart to Marburg, some days spent in Marburg and then another eight-hour-trip for the last 465 km to Berlin.

VW Bus Fans - The Next Generation.

VW Bus Fan – Next Generation.

After the VW Bus festival and a week at home in Berlin, we spent the last week in a bungalow on a campsite in the Spreewald, 100 km southeast of Berlin. This time we deliberately avoided the Autobahns and went for the small country roads, both to get there and while exploring the environments. Amazing how much more pleasant it was to drive the old bus at 60 to 80km/h through the forests instead of racing her at 100km/h over Autobahns. Probably this is more the speed for which these buses were designed in the late sixties. Now the holidays are over and it is back to work – what a shame.

Our dog enjoying the prime seat on the porta potti box...

Our dog enjoying the prime seat on the porta potti box…

Back streets in the Spreewald region southeast of Berlin.

Country road in the Spreewald region southeast of Berlin.





Tatra Mountains, 1972

1 05 2013

Look what I found! I stumbled over my own baby photo album when I unpacked our moving boxes and found this photo. Skiing holiday in the Tatra mountains in Slovakia (at the time Czechoslovakia). Probably taken in 1972 when I was about three years old. It could be that my uncle, the gentleman on the left, carries me in the backpack, but I am not sure. My parents borrowed the van from a friend in my hometown Marburg. It’s an early bay/T2a which in 1972 must have been almost brand new. No further details visible under all the snow, except perhaps for the plaid curtains which could be one of the Westfalia materials. I actually have some very early childhood memories of this trip. Mainly that on the way back to Germany a stone shattered the windscreen and we had to ride a long distance in below zero temperatures, tightly wrapped up in blankets.
This will be the last winter post for this year. Spring has finally hit Berlin with full swing and I will free Taiga Lily from her winter garage tomorrow. More soon!

Image1





New Video for Bright Blue World

1 03 2013

There is a new video of Courtney Leigh Heins on Youtube, performing one of the songs from her new album for the Park City TV from the Sundance Film Festival last month. Our New Zealand kombi cover photo gets some nice screen time as well, but mainly it’s a great song. So here is some more promotion, from the proud photographer, for the new album. Go and have a look!

Screen shot taken from Courtney’s video by Park City TV, Sundance Film Festival 2013 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI8o11dzADE)

Screen shot taken from Courtney’s video by Park City TV, Sundance Film Festival 2013 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI8o11dzADE)





Our New Zealand Camper on a CD Cover!

25 02 2013

One of our photos from last year’s trip through New Zealand has just made it onto a CD cover! The bright blue campervan “Number 5” from Classic Campers now graces the cover of the new CD “Bright Blue World” by Courtney Leigh Heins, a singer/songwriter from Los Angeles. Courtney found the photo on my Flickr photo stream, fell in love with it and asked me whether she could use it for the cover, which I gladly agreed to.
The kombi, a 1975 late bay Devon camper, was parked on a rest site along the Summit Road on the Akaroa peninsula on the South island, overlooking the bay formed by an old volcanic crater. Here is the link to the Akaroa blog post and to the complete New Zealand road trip. The original photo is from the NZ album on my Flickr photo stream. Check out Courtney’s new CD – great music! You can find a video of one of the songs on the CD, “We were young”, on YouTube.

Now Courtney generously sent me several CDs and I’d like to give five away to readers of Campervancrazy. If you’d like a copy, please say so in the comments below!

Image2

Image1





Travelling the Czech Republic (Part Two)

22 08 2012

We took our one week in the Czech Republic easy and were not too busy doing touristy things. But it did turn out that the small town next door, Český Krumlov (German: Böhmisch Krumau), was quite an impressive view and worth having a closer look. I had never heard of it before, but it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and you understand why when you see the set-up of the town. The old town is nestled into an almost 360° turn of the Vltava river and overshadowed by an unusually large fortress/castle structure high up on a rock rising steeply on the outer side of the river. The architecture in the Old Town is a mix of medieval/gothic, baroque and renaissance, so there must have been some wealth in this town over a very long period of time. We also visited a beautiful museum for the painter Egon Schiele who had lived and worked here in the early 20th century.

Viaduct connecting two parts of the castle in Ceske Krumlov.

Part of the Castle above Ceske Krumlov.

Market Square.

Aerial View of Ceske Krumlov.

Taiga Lily at the Viaduct of Ceske Krumlov Castle.

We visited Český Krumlov twice, then did a day trip to České Budějovice (German: Böhmisch Budweis), a small town with a less spectacular but still lovely renaissance / baroque town center and the Budweiser Budvar Brewery. And otherwise spent several days at the hotel, doing not much and playing with the kids. On Sunday we made the long ride back. It took us again around 9 to 10 hours for the now 540 km. The day was probably the hottest of this summer, with temperatures around 34°C in the shade and 46°C on the road as signs along the way pointed out. Not so good when you need this air to cool down an air-cooled engine. We had to slow down to 85-90 km/h for most of the way to keep the engine temperature below or at 100°C.

Having a Budweiser at the market square of Budweis/České Budějovice.





On The Road in the Czech Republic

13 08 2012

We decided quite spontaneously to join friends on a week of holidays in the Czech Republic. So we all hopped on the bus yesterday and went southwards. We had a moment of worry when at a rest place smoke was coming out of the air inlets in the back. Turned out the wax sealing pumped into the frame around the engine three months ago now had started to melt, and some wax had probably dropped onto hot exhaust parts and started smoking. Somehow the smoke had gone into the air vents and then came out of the fan of the old aditional petrol heating system, in the engine bay. It all stopped when we drove a little slower (90 to 100 km/h instead of 105 to 115 km/h) where the engine temperature was more around 80 to 90 than 100°C. We passed the German-Czech border after 240 km and 3.5 hours from Berlin. The border is fully open and we only had to stop for a moment to buy a vignette for the Czech highways. A fantastic sunny summer day, but again a bit of a stressful ride, with the baby not being too happy to sit in her capsule for hours, and still no window in the back that can be opened. We reached Prague after five hours and about 350 km. We noticed a bit too late that Google Maps was taking us actually through the Old Town of Prague and not around via the ring road. On the plus side we got a first view of the beautiful city of Prague on a sunny early summer evening. After about nine hours and 540 km we arrived in Kaplice, near České Budějovice/Budweis (where the Budweiser Budvar beer comes from) and already close to the Czech-Austrian border. Hotel Zamicek is a restored large villa originally built as the estate of a German industrialist at the turn of the 19th century. It is about two kilometers outside Kaplice, in a forest-covered and hilly region of South Bohemia. This morning we had a first nice walk with three kids and two dogs along the creek which passes the hotel. All quite lovely and relaxing.

Taiga Lily proudly carrying her new Czech Autobahn Vignette

Hotel Zamecek, an old villa in Kaplice in South Bohemia.

Leon enjoying the summer.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 103 other followers