We departed for our final destination in Germany, sad to be close to leaving Germany behind. We’d anticipated we’d have more time but our return to the UK was looming and the bike parks were slowly shutting down for the end of the summer. We headed for the border, divided by the natural border of the Rhine. We we’re within striking distance of Strasbourg (in France), but we remained on the German side of the border.


Emerging from a beautiful sunny mornings drive through the last parts of the Black Forest, it seemed like a fitting end to our departure. We most certainly will be back to explore more of it and importantly, more of Germany.


I’m constantly left in amazement by the beauty of the natural landscapes we see. One strong feeling in Germany I felt was the sympathetic nature of the built landscapes against the natural. It was great to see so many solar panels, solar heaters and plenty of log cabins. Very easy on the eye.


Alas, we must head forth. We happened (as per usual) on another amazing Aire in Emmendingen. This one, for all purposes was just a glorified carpark, but a large one at that. Adorned with vans from all over Europe, it appeared to be a mecca for fancy vans, hand-built vans and over landers. Places like these have a real sense of community and understanding. I wish we had more places like this in the UK because its just amazing to be able to able to park for free in such beautiful places.


Parked up, unusually for once we were surrounded by British vans, must be the last of the summer holiday travellers! We always try make conversation with any nationality, we find overall everybody to be exceptionally friendly. Not saying the British are not so friendly, but we have observed the British to be more reserved than the Italians and Germans we often see walking around in their Speedo’s. I’m leaning on my European side here as I think on our own journey and how we’ve opened up along the way on our trip.


We did our usual explorations of the local area in the light of the sunset. The town had a buzz about it, lots of students around, people milling about drinking coffee. We we’re admiring the scenery with one eye, but with the other eye we were looking for camping gas. We have enough for the large bottles, but for our Alpkit kettle, we needed the mini gas bottles (screw on ones). So much easier to set up, we used this to boil water a lot because of its efficiency.


Trying every shop we could find, we couldn’t find gas anywhere. Returning empty handed we detoured down the canal side back to the van. Preparing our meal outside hoping to entice conversation out of our British neighbours, we failed miserably. We even surpassed ourselves, extending to two pots, rather than our usual one pot wonders!


The next day we decided to explore a little, taking in a canal walk in the sunshine. Chief was most happy with this, running about excited at his day ahead. We rested upon the grass and decided to take it all in, enjoying the warmth on our faces. Its at times like these that we find ourselves in the deepest of conversations.


Returning to the van, we had just opened up when the police circled around the Aire and approached us. I cant speak German but I knew he wanted our passports and documentation. We’re prepared for such checks and I had everything ready for him. We’ve experience this before but it doesn’t get any easier, you’re always worried that there will be something wrong with your paperwork. A quick look around and exchange of pleasantries, they waved and left us alone to relax. Chief, unphased by this all remained relaxed and reclined on the bed for the entire meeting. I don’t know if its that we’re a plain white van or whether we’re conspicuous looking characters, but its happened a few times. Maybe on our next trip we will get motorhome printed onto the side of our van.


That afternoon I decided to embark on a cycle towards the Rhine. The canals and roads were filled with awesome (flat) fast cycle lanes. Smooth tarmac is a road bikers dream. Chewing up the miles, I found myself distracted with thoughts of returning to France, the place we’d first started our journey some 5 months earlier. It was during this lovely ride that I was hit with my first wave of dread during the trip… I don’t want to return I thought…


Returning back, exhausted physically and emotionally, I unloaded my worries onto Han, poor Han! I’m a perpetual overthinker and I know it. Han has a lovely way of framing my reference and I was soon relaxed again. We agreed that tomorrow we’d push on, if not to France then at least for gas.