MOTORWAYS ARE NOT the way to see a country. They're good for bypassing boring places and wonderful for whizzing by, oblivious of your surroundings, but with a few days of our travels remaining, we really wanted to enjoy the journey as much as the destinations for the last few days.
As chief navigator, Mrs Donnelly studied the maps and considered how long we had before we were due back in Dover. She decided we could leave the motorway and head north up the famous Romantic Road. This gave us the chance to see some of the best sights in the area while still heading back to the channel ports.
Germans use the term ‘Romantic’ in reference to the medieval historical period, rather than roses, chocolates and terrible films. The full 320km (223 mile) Romantic Road route runs from Fussen near the Austrian border and terminates in Wurzberg in Central Germany.
The road was originally a trade route during the middle ages but enterprising marketeers seeking to rebuild Germany's tourism infrastructure in the 1950s decided to brand the route. The road links the clutch of pretty little towns and quintessentially German countryside along the route, making the journey a destination in its own right. Judging by the number of coaches and the Japanese signposting along the route, it worked.
One thing that doesn’t work so well is the frequency of the signposting, particularly when you have a caravan in tow. On several occasions, we found ourselves flung off the route as it nips around the towns, only to rejoin it on the other side, having missed the things we were meant to see. And on one particularly joyous occasion, we entered a walled town, squeezing the Sprite through a gatehouse in Dinkelsbühl and sweating on the fact that there was nowhere to turn around, no signposts and a lot of very puzzled Germans wondering why someone had bought a very scruffy caravan into a very beautiful town.
Breathe in, we're going through here...
To be honest, exploring Romantic Germany was made a lot more pleasurable when we found a site for the Sprite. Medieval towns weren’t built with caravans in mind, even small ones like the Sprite and trying to thread it through the pretty bits wasn’t good for the blood pressure. Once the van had been pitched, the small towns along the route are easy to park in and most can be explored fully in a couple of hours.
Stopping on the Romantic Road
Camping Romantische Strasse near Credlingen is a fab little site. As the name suggests, it sits on the road, although at the time of our trip, the dreaded ‘Umleitung’ road sign on the outskirts of Rotherburg om de Tauber meant we had to follow a convulouted detour to find it. It was well worth the effort.
Compact pitch at Camping Romantische Strasse was big enough for us
The site is split over two sides of the small Hergottsbach stream which runs through the middle. Short stoppers like us are directed to the behind reception and we took the pitch directly inside the gate. Longer stayers go the other side of the stream and this is where a lot of the seasonal pitches are.
For larger caravans, some of the pitches in our area were a bit small so it makes sense to inspect before you select and all arrivals are given this chance. The site is geared up for long stops and family holidays, providing kids play areas, mini-golf, an indoor swimming pool and an onsite bar and restaurant.
For low season visitors like us, Camping Cheques kept the cost sensible too. It worked out to £16 per night by the time the admin fees were taken into account. For a top quality site, that's not bad at all. Elsewhere on the trip, we'd paid as much as £26 per night for similarly equipped parks without discount schemes.
The weather was glorious on arrival on site and after the soggy splendour of Walchsee, we draped our coats and towels from inside the van across the mirrors, bonnet and doors of the Volvo to let them gently steam themselves dry.
We also put our Isabella Capri Lux awning up as we were there for a couple of nights and the late afternoon sun made the van oppressively warm. Sitting in the awning kept the sun off but still allowed us to enjoy the warm, dry weather. The forecast was good for the following day too, so we decided to stay for a second night, for a chance to soak up the scenery and enjoy the extended living space offered by the awning.
The site and setting were idyllic and we'd stumbled on them by chance by taking a turn off the main road. We had friendly Dutch neighbours on all sides, cracking facilities and a site owner who could not do enough for us, even dragging the van onto a pitch for us on arrival. It was a real little gem of a site.
And if we'd stayed on that motorway, we have whizzed straight by.