5th January 2019 Koln, Germany

Although we’ve visited here a few times before, it has always been when the Christmas Markets have been on. We decided to stop here as (we love it anyway) it is a great stopover and we thought it would be interesting to see it without the markets.

From Schneverdingen it took us 5 hours (255 miles) with the only delay being the junction into Koln was closed so we had to make a detour. The stellplatz is situated right by the River Rhine, but the odd thing is the water point for collecting and disposing of waste is outside in the main car park. This is a tad inconvenient when you only have a 40ltr waste tank!

The price at this time of year was 12 euros per night and 50 cents per kwh for electric – very reasonable especially as you are so close to a popular city centre.

We were here for a couple of nights so the first day we walked into the city along the massive footpath alongside of the river. Although it was overcast it was still a pleasant walk in (about 40 minutes at a leisurely pace) and there were large barges passing by and lots of bird life to look at.

As you reach Koln city there is a famous bridge called Hohenzollern, where people have attached padlocks here as a symbol of their love for others. Looking at some of the dates it dates back to at least the late 1990s.

We also visited the cathedral this time but we were disappointed. One of the downfalls of being such a busy city is that everyone wants to visit it, but it was so full of visitors it lost any feeling of spirituality or peace. It is a very dark building.

There is no charge to enter the cathedral which is great, but we did make a donation towards the upkeep of the place. Thankfully they are not in your face like some do, so you felt more inclined to donate when you’re not bullied!

There seemed to be some disagreement about men removing hats, but it only appeared to apply to certain people…we removed our hats (as a sign of respect naturally, and we’d seen one of the staff instructing people to remove their hats ahead of us) but once in there loads of people still had hats on?

After our visit we were a bit peckish and luckily there was a Winter Market still open (rebranding from a Christmas market – smart move!) so we indulged in a mulled wine, followed by a handmade cheese and mushroom hot bread meal.

The next day we visited the botanical gardens, that are a few hundred metres from the stellplatz. Clearly at this time of year, a lot of the plants are dormant but it was still a lovely place to walk around and enjoy the peace and quiet.

We can imagine it is beautiful during the other seasons and would well recommend a visit, especially as it is free all year round! After our very pleasant meander around the gardens we walked into the centre again, but this time along the back roads which is always interesting.

By the time we arrived though we were hungry so we headed to the main train station and ate a huge bowl of chicken noodles, courtesy of Asia Gourmet. Another fix of the Winter Market then we headed home ready to move on the next day.

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2nd January 2019, Schneverdingen, Germany

For the last two weeks we’ve spent a wonderful time with Heike, Angela’s sister-in-law. We don’t get to spend much time together and even though Brian couldn’t be with us over Christmas, this festive season has been brilliant.

We arrived on 20th December to an amazing welcome from the dogs, who we absolutely adore. They are Tessa, Murphy and Piper – three completely different personalities, and all under the command of the cat, Oskar!

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Poor old Murphy was seriously ill the week before, but he has made a full recovery…thanks to an extremely expensive diet going forward!

Heike had to work another day before her holiday began, but after Friday we started preparing for Christmas in earnest. Over the next few days we bought all the food needed, especially the salmon for the day itself and lots of bubbles. Heike and Dean went and bought a tree that we dressed on Christmas Eve, plus we visited Luneburg to see the market while Heike did some last minute shopping.

Whilst in Luneburg we also went to an ‘English’ tea room called Johnson’s where we had some delicious scones and a pot of tea. It was lovely and warm in there as well which was such a treat as it was so cold outside.

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The Sunday before Christmas we visited an hotel in Bispingen called Schmucke Witwe,IMG_20181223_115441 where they serve an amazing breakfast buffet. You could choose from all sorts of cereals, bacon, sausages, eggs in all variations, salmon, herring, as many different types of bread rolls you can think of and lots of salads stuffs.

As it was so full we were at one of the tables situated in the gift shop area, which only served to encourage us to buy things!

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Christmas Eve was spent shopping for the fresh items we needed food wise, dressing the tree and taking the dogs on a very misty walk on the heath. Dinner consisted of a cold buffet, stuffed jacket potatoes and mini italian style filo pastries. We had a few games of cards, opened our presents then cracked open the bubbles and settled to watch a movie.

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Christmas Day was even more relaxed – heaven! After a bottle of bubbly and breakfast Heike and I went for a very long walk with the dogs, while Dean chilled out at home.

Dinner started with Portobello mushrooms stuffed with blue cheese and tomatoes, followed a few hours later by a massive fillet of salmon, crusted with walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, sage and parmesan on a bed of roasted vegetables.

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Late evening, after further card games Heike make crème brulees that perfectly rounded off a wonderful, relaxed day.

The period between Christmas and New Year was equally relaxing, spending time with Heike and the doggies. Heike had a couple of days away with Piper at an agility tournament where she came 2nd (Piper, not Heike!) so we made ourselves useful and painted the front room.

During our time there, Brian was able to join us for a few days and arrived back home on 31st December. Despite suffering from jetlag he managed to last (on and off) until midnight.

Dinner was a Raclette with both meat and vegetable options, alongside loads of delicious sides. We also watched ‘Dinner for One’, a German tradition apparently which was very silly but very funny. Same procedure as next year…?

When midnight came, oh my goodness! The German’s attitude to fireworks is nothingIMG_20190101_001011_1 short of mental – every house must have spent hundreds of pounds on fireworks, that they left off in the street immediately outside their houses!

The spectacle lasted well over an hour and to be honest it was nerve wracking for us as our van was literally a couple of metres away from fireworks. We’d love to view the displays again, but no way will our van be anywhere near them next year…Brian and Heike are still not sure why we were so anxious!

Once we were sure the van wasn’t going to go up in flames, we relaxed and had a few bottles of bubbles to celebrate the arrival of 2019 along with some retro music until about 3am!

The day before we left, the four of us went out for dinner to Landhaus Höpen. Mother had given us some money to put towards a meal which was lovely, as we do not often get together.

We were all a little bit subdued to be honest, as it has truly been a wonderful couple of weeks together. The fact that we’ve all been so relaxed and chilled has been a delight and we cannot wait to see them in the summer, hopefully even in England…?!


Dog Walking Pictures

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19th December 2018 Hameln, Germany

This was our last stopover before arriving at our Christmas destination. It took 2.5 hours IMG_20181219_123020and 109 miles so another short journey. Before we arrived we stopped off at a Penny Markt just outside the village and were able to park out the way while shopping.

We found the stellplatz really easily and there were a number of motorhomes already there which is always useful. It cost 8€ for 24 hours (it only takes coins) and 1€ for eight hours of electricity, but you can load the machine up so there is no need to pop out every eight hours!

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Once sorted we walked in to the centre which took about 15 minutes, and were soon sampling our first mulled wine of the day. It was a particularly cold day when we went in, and Dean was intent on finding the impressive statue of the Pied Piper…he was very disappointed, but we found out later that half of it had been covered up as part of the Christmas decorations. We’ll have to return for another visit in the summer as every year they put on a festival, celebrating the Grimm fairy tale that the place is famous for.

There are some very pretty buildings here carved in wood and finely decorated.

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18th December 2018 Münster, Germany

We visited this place again after a nine year break! The journey to Camping Münster took 3.25 hours (148 miles) and was another really pleasant trip, with the site immediately off the main road.

It costs 15€ a night on the stellplatz which includes electricity at 10 amps, with an additional cost of 50 cent per shower token (3.5 minutes). The shower complex is one of nicest we’ve seen in a long time! It is very clean and modern, with very spacious showers that have been decorated with animal caricatures in the shower cubicles. 



We decided to stay in the first afternoon we were there as the weather was a bit rubbish, so we had a good tidy and sorted out a load of washing after our week away. The campsite is really well planned out and we’d already bought a few tokens for the machines (at 2.25€ a wash and 1.75€ for a dry, it was a bargain) so by the end of the evening we were all square and ready to go again.

The next day we caught the bus into the city as the bus stop is about a five minute walk from site. We bought a day ticket for 12€ and the bus took us into the main station. The campsite helpfully provide you with a bus timetable that also tells you where to disembark and which stand you get the bus from for your return journey.

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There are quite a few Christmas Markets in Münster but before we even got to one we discovered a bicycle shop where we found a seat cover for Angela’s new bike that matches the bell we bought in Amsterdam – result!

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We visited all five markets in Münster, indulging in the food and drink before heading back to the van when it got cold! To be honest, as we’ve been to so many markets over the years the shine is wearing off them but it has been nice to be back in Germany.

The best is yet to come though as in the next couple of days we’ll arrive at our ultimate destination – to spend Christmas with family!

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16th December 2018 Amsterdam, Holland

It took us 3.5 hours (160 miles) to arrive in Amsterdam but the weather improved throughout our journey, so we arrived with the sun shining.

Our Sat Nav told us we’d arrived about 700m before the entrance, so if ever that happens IMG_20181214_125830to you keep going across the intersection and it is up on the left hand side. Access to the campsite was very straightforward, apart from an irate couple trying to get out at the same time we were coming in. Never leave your exit until the last minute before you get charged for another day!

Amsterdam City Camp is a fully enclosed site with secure access. It is a self check in kiosk and we paid for three nights with electric (6amps). There is free fresh water and an emptying point on site. Pitches are definitely not six metres apart – think more along the lines of an aire – but when we were there everyone was considerate of each other.

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Our journey into the city was easy too. A ten minute walk from the site and you are at the ferry terminal where you can take a fifteen minute ride (free) into the centre of Amsterdam. You are also able to take your bicycles on too, but be mindful there are no seats.

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On our first day in the city we were distinctly underwhelmed as the first place you come across is the Old Town, that is so busy just like London. All we could smell was cannabis and it was so frenetic with trams, daredevil cyclists and dumb tourists (us) not watching where we’re walking!

We managed to find a little cafe bar and had a warming gluhwein before getting the ferry back.



However, the next day we came in on the bicycles and while looking at the map we were given some tips by a local gentleman. He sent us off in the direction of the Jordaan area and gave us specific instructions of a wonderful bar/cafe that served amazing apple pie.

We’d told him of our disappointment the day before so it was great to get some brilliant advice. As we cycled away from the centre, the feel of the city became much calmer and friendly so we locked the bikes up near the cafe and stumbled across a local market.

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IMG_20181215_124602IMG_20181215_124852It was especially cold that day so after a wander around we headed into the Papenieland Cafe (founded in 1642), where coffee and apple pie was duly ordered. The cafe had a lovely warm feeling about it and the staff were very friendly and relaxed. When we’d had our second cup of coffee we headed back out and just cycled all around the west canals, taking in the sights and sounds of the city.


We made it to the small Christmas Market in Museumplein opposite the Rikj Museum, it did have an ice rink where loads of children were making the most of it and having great fun. As it was getting cold we started our way back to the ferry, picking up provisions on the way.

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As we arrived at the terminal, the ferry was just about to leave but we made it with seconds to spare! To round off a great day, we watched Strictly Come Dancing and enjoyed a wonderful turkey tagine and red wine.


For the final day we left the bicycles behind, and we’d had snow the day before so thought it unwise to cycle in. This time we headed to the east side and wandered (briefly) into the red light district, curiosity getting the better of us!

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The canals in the Old Town area felt much more relaxed, maybe as it was a Sunday there seemed to be less traffic around. We mooched our way in and out of the side streets and canals, ending up in a nice bar and having two beers each (2 large, 2 small)…for a whopping 24€!

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We agree that we need to come back to Amsterdam another time and maybe go further out from the centre. Many people say how beautiful the city is but we don’t feel we’ve seen it in all it’s glory this time.

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