due to a lack of WiFi while away, this is a retrospective series of blog posts from my back-to-back trips to Germany and Austria, written at the time to give a feeling on what was happening and my state of mind.
Tuesday 18th June, 10:00am LT; Eupon, Belgium
Belgium was always one of those countries on my list of 18 visited but it probably shouldn’t have been as i never stopped. I only admit that now as i find myself waking this morning just inside the German border, my quest to get to Ettringen yesterday ending abruptly at 11 o’clock when the road before me was closed. Thankfully, a local in the off licence i stopped at (for directions, not booze, i hadn’t sunk low enough to warrant a drink induced stupor) spoke French, sent me here and now i feel a lot more relaxed.
It does lead to the slight complication that today was planned to be a climbing day and didn’t take into account another two-hour drive and finding a new campsite but needs must i guess. After a much needed tea and a much more needed shower, we’ll be off again, Tess’s fun running through the trees surrounding my tent over for a little longer.
It is at this point that i must pledge a debt of gratitude: those of you who have navigated for me in the past (and i hope at least some of you are reading) all now have my eternal thanks. Yesterday, i navigated Brussels’ answer to the M25 – a total nightmare considering not only must i try and remember road numbers that are impossible to see on a map balanced on the steering wheel, but contend with place names that differ hugely. From Brussels, i headed to Liege, which is not called Liege in Western Belgium, it’s Luik, a name that wasn’t on my map in letters big enough to read at speed, until half way along the motorway when it changed back. (If you’re reading this, Belgium, just pick a language and stick to it, for the love of god! That goes for you Swiss as well) I made more wrong turns it that single day than in nearly three years of trips previous and so for that, to anyone who has held the map on the wrong side of the car: thank you, merci bien and bitte tschun.
Tuesday 18th June, 10:00pm LT; Pottenstein, Bavaria
Well, i’m glad that’s over! After a relaxed start that became a bit more relaxed than it really should have been, (even with the dog escaping at 7:30 through the gap under the flysheet, forgot to mention that earlier) i left the site at about 2pm and went in search of Ettringen, staying off the main roads for a change. It turns out, dear reader, that Belgium’s smaller roads are as awful to navigate as their main roads and after an hour, i found myself back in Eupon, now intent on getting the hell out of the country and just heading for Frankenjura instead. I can say this with complete confidence as i made another two wrong-turns on the border before hitting Germany proper. Now, either i wised up and started paying a LOT more attention or Deutschland is by far and away better signposted. I suspect it’s more likely the latter.
With all of that, the plan changed drastically; i really didn’t want two more days travelling not to mention stripping and pitching camp twice too so blasted down the legendary autobahns at a steady 90mph and now find myself in a campsite below a crag, near Pottenstein. And after all, i’m in a world renowned climbing destination, as opposed to an unknown quarry i saw in a magazine a year ago, and i now have three climbing days here to warm up and try to dredge up some psyche for next week. Shouldn’t be too hard – this may be the epitomy of what shouldn’t interest me (a limestone sports climbing venue really isn’t my usual scene) but it is spectacular in every possible way. Climbing or not, i’m truly glad to be here, more now than ever.
P.s. It’s apparently 396km from Calais to Eupon and took 6 hours. It’s 510km from Eupon to Pottenstein and took 5…