... Bonn to Neuwied 'Houston We Have A Problem'
So being in an industrial estate i was expecting the noise of cars, vans and HGV lorries passing on by and so there it was, at 6am, and i could here an HGV lorry. Managed to head on back to sleep again though as it was only the odd HGV lorry or vehicle that passed, seems to be that where i'm parked there isn't a lot of activity going on as i'm in the middle of parallel streets which next to me were the main roads so you'd only come down this street if what you needed was on it. So from 8.30am we were up and had a walk of which for Ellie we've gone from being at a beach at the North Sea yesterday morning to todays morning walk around an industrial estate! Don't say i don't spoil you!
With a few blogs written up we head off just before 12pm and input Dumbledore into TomTom...i've got to stop calling this place that!! Dusseldorf i mean TomTom! Don't know if you remember the blogs from way back when for when i was in Northern Spain mentioning the fact that i call cities, villages or towns by the names i think they look like with the spellings, well i still do that as you see! So we right turn out of the car park and onto the road, turning left before making a turn to the right onto the main one...that's when i got flagged down by a policeman. I was only 150 yards into my journey, should have stayed where i was!
He was still dealing with a car in-front parked up as he flagged me down so i parked up behind them and wondered what they were doing, were they searching random cars in an industrial estate, checking details of those cars looking usual but the car in-front was a normal German car with a German numberplate. Few moments later i put my window down as his colleague had finished with the one in-front of him and came to address me. 'Sprechen sie Deutsch'...now i had to think long and hard about this one as in my head i was thinking he was going to say Dutch, but was that deutsch, did it sound German the sprechen, was it sprechen he said...there was a long long pause! What was also going through my head at the same time was 'What Country and I Actually In'?!? I play that game quite a lot, especially now with the closeness of borders and time i'm spending in each country as with Italy i was there for about 45 days. So i remembered i was in the Netherlands yesterday, drove in and out of Belgium, back into the Netherlands before reaching....Deutsch, yes i'm in Germany!!
Er no officer i don't speak German, after all that! I was ready with our passports etc but what they've pulled me over for, as they did with the 2 cars i could see in-front of me, was that i didn't completely stop at the stop sign. Was that it...that was my crime?! Apparently we need to come to a complete halt at a stop sign here, even though you can see a good 500m of no incoming traffic coming your way. Main reason stated was because of the cycle lane i had to pass from the stop sign and onto the main road. Well with a €10 fine its not so bad and i have a little chat to the man as he states that its dangerous not to stop because of the cycle lane, so many accidents occur. He states that bicycles are a problem like in the Netherlands but i corrected him on this one as i told him i've just come from there and its the best system invented, i felt safe with the cyclists there than i have done any where else.
Don't think he's been to the Netherlands so think i beat him on that one, and the cycle lane here that i saw didn't look so bad, they have enough space for cars and bikes on both sides. So i asked him 'if this is a problem then is that why you are here at this junction, as the accident numbers are so high'. His answer 'er, i don't know about the accident rates on this particular junction'; so basically what you are telling me is that you policing a junction that you don't know is a hot spot that needs protecting but what i do know without you telling me is that this is a prime spot for people not to stop fully and you can get €10 of each of them! As i'm thinking that his colleague flags down another who rolled so near to a full stop that it was ridiculous to pull him over, but he did. What i think is that these €10 a piece you're picking up, and i've seen you pick up €50 in just a couple of minutes of me being here, is that this is your weekend drinking money with the rest of the lads from the force!
Fine paid and i'm off once more, and one thing that i'm glad for is that they didn't mind Ellie being on the front seat. I just don't know what the protocol is with dogs in cars in Europe but he laughed when he saw her and stated that dogs should be the drivers and not humans. Didn't know quite where he was going with that but I smiled anyway to be polite...and he was a policeman! What did make me laugh is that Ellie was absolutely fine with him as i spoke to him through the open window but as soon as he mentioned a fine she went into barking mode, told him that she wasn't happy about it either!
Well Dusseldorf in the end came and went as from the van there wasn't much to see and with the rain coming on down once more i didn't fancy getting wet. This isn't on my list of what to see in Germany, it was on my itinerary as it was a major town / city that i was passing...and i'll keep on passing it now. So Cologne was next and this was one place in which to park on up as there is a cathedral to see. Although i got a little confused as there was a statue on the main motorway just as you entered the city, a statue with a bear on hits hind legs standing up with the wording of Berlin underneath it. The last time i saw this exact statue was in, well funnily enough, was in Berlin!! This is Cologne and i've not made a wrong turn somewhere?!
Parking space found and we walk over to the Cathedral of St.Peter and St. Mary which stands on the banks of the River Rhine and is Cologne's most impressive landmark. Its easily the greatest Gothic Cathedral in Germany and has been for many centuries. Construction began in 1248 and took, with interruptions, more than 600 years to complete and is one of the largest in Europe. One thing i can say of this large, magnificent cathedral...it needs a good wash!! It was so black and dirty looking that it needs a clean of which they'd done a tiny bit and think they've got a good 100 years left on the contract to do so with that cleaning company!
So Cathedral done and next on the list is Bonn which again was one on the list of the itinerary as it was a major city but not one on the list of what to see whilst researching Germany. And i keep driving as there isn't really that much to look at here but before i moved completely out of the city i need petrol so TomTom is instructed to find me the nearest one. As i do i'm still debating whether to find a parking spot and have a walk around but first i see a petrol station, one in which i've not heard of but a) its cheap and b) everyone is heading on into it and looks modern enough.
So petrol in and i head off to the cash payment till to pay...but 'Houston We Have A Problem', they don't accept any of my cards, not a one of them! Erm, please tell me that there is a cash point machine then near to here! Luckily he says that the Shell garage just a 100 yards down has one, why oh why did i just not go to that one and lesson learnt once more, go to petrol stations you've heard of as they'll always accept your cards...these random one off's may not! So off to the Shell garage and i look around outside for the ATIM machine and nothing. I look inside and nothing...outside...nope still nothing! I ask the man behind the counter and he says he's the cash machine...okay then!
So this is a cash machine that's new to me as when i put my card in the normal card machine that you pay petrol from he put in the amount i wanted. Then as it was thinking, which took ages and had a queue now of 4 people behind me, i could here a machine start to whirl. He had a slot behind the counter where the money came out like a cash point machine would...very random! Well money in hand and i go back to where i left my van at the petrol pump so that i can pay for the petrol...i ask again what card is it that i didn't have as i didn't quite understand him the first time. Hasten to say that i didn't understand him the second time either!
So after that debacle i decided that the van tour of Bonn was enough and so to head over to a place near Koblenz which is the start of the Romantic Rhine of which i'll start in the morning. I got to the car park and it said it had the internet...it lied! And for only a euro more there was a place by the river and not situated in a car park by a supermarket like this one. By the river is a much better setting...so Neuwied it was. Its here that i realised i still have things to learn on the camping know how as it stated it was a euro to plug into the machine to get electricity, of which there were 6 of them. Number 6, the one i started with, wasn't working and as i flicked through on the machine of the others available it had varying numbers of kwh's stated and so i went for the one which was the highest as i thought that was the one to make sure had enough power running on through. Nope what i realised was that when i put the euro in that the amount went up and so there was some power left in there from those before me i could have used without inputting mine as they hadn't used it all...euro lost for no reason!
A man in his little van pulled on up not long after and told me the payment of putting the money into the envelope and slot it in the box by the door to the building that was close by...noted, and now its time for dinner, blogs, few chapters to read and then bed as i was still debating what to do tomorrow as tomorrow could be a very very long day but i needed confirmation of something first and that's when i saw it on Facebook...Mel had made it to Croydon for the start of her London to Paris trip with Wendy and Michelle so i'm off to Paris tomorrow so i can see them for their final leg coming into the finishing line of the Eiffel Tower! Okay so the plan has changed, tomorrow the Romantic Rhine before heading to Paris once more...Day 3 of this trip is when we were last in Paris and this time i'm not going to lose my mobile phone, or have a baboons bum looking toe with tears by the end!