Go No Go

If you want to drive a vehicle in Austria and it weighs more than 3.5 tons (including all lorries, buses and heavy camper vans). A mileage-based toll applies on Austria’s motorways and expressways and you need a Go Box. The box costs €5 to buy and it must be loaded with a £75.00 minimum pre-payment. owch.

Electing to enter Austria without a Go Box meant avoiding the motorways and sticking to the minor roads, unless we wanted to risk a rumoured €2,000 fine. Following this plan the initial part of the route was a 600m decent down through Möserer. Judging by the smell of the Carthago’s brakes, if they could talk they would have shouting ENOUGH already!

This image doesn’t look as steep as it was but the descent was about 600 metres in about 6kms.

Care had to be taken after going through Landeck town to avoid the motorway tunnel and take the by-pass. Safely avoided we negotiated our way over the Resia /Reschen pass and into Italy.

Having spent the morning before we left walking the Leutasch Gorge and then with the 3 hour non motorway drive we ended up arriving about 4:30 at the parking lot on the other side of the lake from Reschen am See, just as the sun was going down behind the hills giving them a pinkish tinge.

Charlie looked a bit lonely on the huge, free, ski lift car park, which was empty waiting for more snow to entice the skiers before the lift opened in a few days time.

The lone Romanesque bell tower was part of an old church from the 14th century, which was drowned along with the rest of the town’s buildings when the water flooded in and is the only remainder of the old town of Graun and former life in the valley.

There are many stories and legends about the flooding event, and the lonely bell tower is often the main subject of them. One oral story of the locals about Lake Reschen is quite scary. It tells that the church bells sometimes still ring in the deepest and coldest hours of the winter nights. And the fact is that they were removed 60 years ago, a few days before the waters came and drowned the church and the lower half of the tower.

Heading down from the mountain ridge into the valley below we set our sights on a Carthago dealer near Merano.

The water tanks on the Carthago are accessible from inside the van. The white tank is for the fresh water the black is the grey water from the sinks and shower.

Normally you should be able to open the grey water tank (lever above red cap), but it’s become disconnected from the valve in the tank! With this jammed open we now run the risk of a frozen pipe if we rely on the tap at the end of the discharge pipe. (oh no, we’ve not got to get the hair dryer out again!).

So after some research we found the nearest Carthago dealer not far from Merano and booked Charlie in for 2 days later on Monday morning to get his water works fixed.

With the weekend to wait for the waste water tank to be fixed we settled in Merano’s very busy motorhome parking place and because it was the weekend, it seemed half the motorhomers in Italy had come to see the Christmas market.

Apparently the Penguins quite enjoy being steered round by the ears!

How could we pass by a stall selling Bombardino’s – Just has to be done

The next day the garage had Charlie fixed (common fault) in half an hour for €25 and once more we were free to head of to Brixen and up into the mountains.

We are still learning about e-bikes, I like to use mine in the TURBO setting to zoom up the hills and go as fast as I can. Lesley is more frugal (I can’t possibly comment why), as a consequence I use more battery.

Being a kind and generous wee soul Lesley offered to swap batteries for a quick 6 miler up the hill behind Merano, meaning she’d would have to make what was left in mine last!. A slight navigational error on my part meant the route grew to 10 miles. No problem for me with Lesley’s battery on board. But…… well my battery did last 6 miles. Oh dear!

When traveling in the van and taking photos it is inevitable you are going to capture a fair bit of Armco or crash barriers in your images. So I think we should celebrate the much overlooked and over photographed essential piece of infrastructure.- Here we’re taking the toll free route via the tunnel whilst the A22 Autostrade towers above us.

That’s it for now we managed to get through Austria without a Go Box and I survived giving Lesley my No Go battery, just!

Toodle Pip, Dave & Lesley

I thought it time to apologise for the many typo’s you have to endure when reading this blog, but to point out it could be worse!

Gust becos I cud not spel It did not mean I was daft. When the boys in school red my riting. Some of them laffed. But now I am the dictator. They have to rite like me. Utherwise they cannot pas Ther GCSE.

Some of the girls were ok. But those who laffed a lot. Have al been rownded up. And hav recintly bean shot. The teecher who corrected my speling. As not been shot at al. But four the last fifteen howers. As bean standing up against a wal.

He has to stand ther until he can spel. Figgymisgrugifooniyn the rite way I think he will stand ther forever. I just inventid it today.

We nearly missed Mittenwald

We almost drove straight past Mittenwald. Our plans as we left Garmish was to head for Innsbruck for a quick look at the Austrian Christmas market, before making a dash for Italy. However we were still uncertain whether we needed a ‘Go-Box‘ in Austria as Charlie II is over 3.5 tons.

On a whim we elected to stop another night in Germany and Mittenwald was the last town before the Austrian border with a Stellplatz. An empty, quiet spot by a river with mountain views to wake up to.

Because you did so well with the riddles on the last post I thought you’d like one more – or maybe not? Answers on a postcard.

A woman is sitting in her hotel room when there is a knock at the door. She opened the door to see a man whom she had never seen before. He said “oh I’m sorry, I have made a mistake, I thought this was my room.” He then went down the corridor and in the elevator. The woman went back into her room and phoned security. What made the woman so suspicious of the man?

Once again the cycle paths took us past some intersting spots including the back of this beautifully decorated wood shed

It really isn’t that cold – Ok I’m lying it’s blumin freezing

Even though it was cold we still decided it would be ok for a bike ride, so wrapping up warm we headed for one of the many cycle routes found via our friendly Komoot app.

The pretty Lautersee lake

As our cycle experience grows, we are learning from lessons along the way. Firstly if a route looks rocky and stupidly steep, it probably is! and before ordering food at a restaurant make sure you’ve brought enough CASH.

Needing a warm up, we found Gemütlichkei restaurant serving local comfort food right on the edge of the lake. The wood burning stove soon warmed our cold hands. Lesley went for the flat potatoes with apple sauce and I had the spinach Spätzle washed down with a small beer. As they were both specials the menu pricing (in German) wasn’t very clear. Perfect. Except when we came to pay they (like many places in Germany) didn’t accept credit cards, for the €22.50 bill…. In the end the waiter was very nice and accepted our emergency €20 note and our gratitude….

Chapel of the Queen of Mary

With warmed hands and red faces from our embarrassing payment saga we headed down the trail and back to the town.

Ace mountain “biker Dave” with the ever so slightly more impressive Karwendel Alps in the background

We really enjoyed a whizz round the area and decided (shock horror) to stay another night to do a walk to the gorge.

We are on the receiving end of a Pay It Forward moment today. Recovering in the van after our ride, there was a knock on the door and instead of the carkpark attendant wanting see our ticket it was a Tila. A German fellow motorhomer who’d arrived a couple hours earlier, came over to offer us a bottle of beer. Tila was passing forward a similar experience he’d had from a Brit whilst he and his wife Kirsten had been touring Scotland.

We ended up spending an enjoyable couple of hours chatting to to this lovely couple and listening to their experiences of travelling through Greece in their converted lorry and discussing the need or not for the Go-Box.

Meeting Tila and Kirsten once again served to underline that it’s not the places you go to or the things you see that makes motorhome travel enjoyable and enriching, but most definitely the people you meet along the way.

Leutasch-Klamm Wasserfallsteig – The sign says “Access Forbidden”

To save time we cycled to the start and began the ‘Mountain Spirit Gorge’ with the walk up first section most definitely ‘up hill’. This is an amazing and special place. And for us because it’s winter and was technically closed (when there’s been recent snowfall), we once again we had the place to ourselves.

They started building the Walkway in August 2003 and finished in August 2005. The total length of the walkway is 450meters. The Hell bridge is 24m long and the Panorama Bridge (picture above) is 27m long. It is very steep-sided and was not opened to tourists until 2006.

As the river can swell in a flood it was necessary to locate the walkway at a height of at least 15 m above the foot of the gorge.

It mind boggling how they managed to drill the rock face. The walkway sections are constructed with steel supporting brackets and bridge abutments drilled then somehow bonded to the rock so that the whole structure seems to hover above the river.

The walkway was constructed with the help of dodgy looking temporary platforms anchored in the rockface, with the workmen suspended by ropes on the top of the gorge.

The construction costs of the Austro-German project to build the 970 metre long walkways in this steep sided gorge, including the steel and the two bridges, was approx. 1.4 million euros, supported by EU funding.

So what a great place, we didn’t even visit the violin museum! or the Karwendelbah cable car up to the ski area on the Austrian border. Ok so there’s no doubt that Mittenwald will be a much busier place in the summer time, this is definitely going on the not to be missed next time either list…

Toodle Pip

D&L

Answer – You don’t knock on your own hotel door and the man did.

Driving in and out of Austria

So this is a quick blog to play catch up and show some of the highlights on our route from Ravensburg through to Fussen, briefly into Austria before arriving at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Lake Constance

I’m driving home for Christmas
Oh, I can’t wait to see those faces
I’m driving home for Christmas, yea
Well I’m moving down that line
And it’s been so long
But I will be there
I sing this song
To pass the time away
Driving in my car
Driving home for Christmas

Chris Rea
Lesley at the wheel – Singing the song that became the sing along tune, as we approached the final weeks of this part of our trip.
Austria in the distance
A borrowed image of Neuschwanstein Castle, we gave it a miss due to far too many tourists even in December
Charlie II parked up in Schwangau near Fussen
Schwangau church
Charlie II admiring the view
Plansee Am – Austria
The road to Eibsee Lake – Near Garmish Germany

The video of the engineering of this cable car impressed the hell out of me when I first saw it.

It was quiet here at night at the bottom of the Olympic Ski Jump after the workmen had gone!

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is famous for the Kandahar, with its vertical drop of 940 metres, it is the resort’s signature downhill run. We like thousands of others have skied it but very few would want to try to beat the sub two-minute record time for its descent.

The Zugspitze cable car

Not all our plans quite worked out on the trip. In the North of Bavaria we arrived too early for the Christmas markets like Nürnberg and the ski season hadn’t yet started when we arrived here.

Next stop Mittenwald then through Austria again to Italy

Toodle Pip

D&L

PS – Sorry for the accidental early publication of a version of this blog

Puzzled in Bavaria?

I have decided growing old is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Forgetting peoples names, appointments and where I’ve put things, are all signs that like many of my generation, I am gradually losing it. Finding out that brain ageing to some extent is inevitable, is quite depressing. So is brain ageing a slippery slope that we just need to accept? Or are there things we can do to reduce the rate of decline?

A quick internet trawl and you find a growing body of evidence suggesting that people who experience the least decline in cognition and memory all share certain characteristics

  • regular physical activity
  • pursuing intellectually stimulating activities
  • staying socially active
  • managing stress
  • eating healthily
  • sleeping well

So to encourage you with some intellectually stimulating activity I have found 3 riddles I thought might help? If you don’t want the exercise ,the answers are at the end of this post….

1, A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven’t eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him?

2. Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday?

3. This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. Try to do so without any coaching!

EDWIN HYMER MUSEUM

Today we are slowly making our way down through Bavaria to the spa town of Bad Waldsee to visit the Hymer Museum. Hymer is one of the most well known and best quality motorhome manufacturers, so after finding they had a museum we decided to to add it to our plan.

The serpentine ramp you follow up to the 1st floor – I doubt some of the old cars displayed there would have made such a steep gradient towing their caravans behind.

The museum is not all about Hymer but more a history of caravanning from its earliest beginnings.

A Trabant from the former GDR with custom aerodynamics!
The Trabant is often vilified as being among the worst cars ever made, but during German communism, it was a status symbol. If you wanted to buy a new Trabi the waiting period was between 11 and 18 years. And it cost as much as one year’s salary. Which seems pretty expensive, but the Trabi had an average lifespan of 28 years because if you were lucky enough to own a Trabi you took meticulous care of it
This caravan’s interior represented the height of luxury

You could tell this caravan was the ‘dogs doodah’s’ with all its ‘mod cons’ and a hefty price tag to match. Lesley now wants a bath in our van!

Yes this is a 1930’s Morris Oxford Motor caravan

The Brits were some of the early pioneers in the motorhome world, entering the field with a “Timeless classic”.

The interior of the Morris Oxford – You can imagine the sales literature of the day describing the interior as ‘Home from home’
Not much difference between the Oxford and the interior of a Hymer 2020 model then!

Carthago City

Hymer has a huge factory in Bad Waldsee, but a few miles down the road in the town of Aulendorf is Carthago City. Deciding it’s ok to take ‘coals to Newcastle’ a few weeks ago we managed to book ourselves on an unscheduled Carthago factory tour with a free place for the night to park Charlie II amongst a few of his brothers and sisters.

Carthago only produce one of their model ranges (the E line) in Aulendorf , all other models are made in Slovenia 

They say confession is good for the soul, and yes it is probably a bit weird, but as both of us have spent a large part of our working lives in factories, even now we are retired, Lesley and I both still enjoy going around factories.

We were surprised to find assembly is from the inside out, with the sides, roof and the cab assembly added last.
The top 150 mm of the side panel is curved over at the top edge to meet the roof panel. Very neat.

Manufactured beside the assembly line, the side panels are made from a hard foam sandwiched between 2 aluminium skins. The roof is the same, except the upper surface is made from hail resistant GRP. The use of a complete aluminium exterior forms a Faraday cage that is alleged will protect against a lighting strike (but not wolves and bears).

The complete cab is pushed forward as one of the last operations.

We both went away quite impressed and reassured with the construction methods Carthago use to make their motorhomes.

A Motorcaravaner’s lament

Last night I sold my motorhome, today, the tear drops flowed;
Tomorrow’s urge will surely be, to get on down the road.

No longer can I sit up high, in that roomy Captain’s chair;
No longer meet the friendly folk, in campsite here and there.

To mountains, towns and seashores, where we often went to look;
We’ll long remember all famous places, written in our log book.

Through many years and many vans, our travels have been vast;
But the time has come to hang it up, sad now those years have passed.

If you get caught by wanderlust, or pressured by life’s load;
Just buy, or rent a motorhome, and get on down the road.

Before leaving the area we went back to Bad Waldsee to pay a visit the thermal baths. With dedicated overnight parking outside, it would have been rude not to!

The thermal baths were excellent – boil your head steam rooms, outdoor jacuzzis, water massage jets and a fast flowing river

Bad Waldsee lake
Bad Waldsee is a pretty place especially with the Christmas decorations added

Each of the Town Hall’s 24 blue windows were numbered and were being opened in turn during Advent.

Ravensburg

Our next stop was the town of Ravensburg, famous over the world for jigsaw puzzles
A busy Christmas market in the old town’s ‘Marienplatz’ (main square)

Once again our Moho parking spot was only a 15 minute walk to the centre of town. So we had a good wander around the traditional and the Christmas markets during the day managing to avoid the many temptations (felt handbags) although unable to resist enticing smells coming from the food stalls.

Ravensburg with the lights on
Our night out at the Ravensburg market Christmas ‘rave up’ the local swing band singing familiar festive songs mainly in English .

Merry Christmas to all our readers…

Toodle Pip

D&L

Oh yeah the answers to the three easy riddles Ans 1 – The third room. Lions that haven’t eaten in three years are dead. Ans 2 – The three consecutive days, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.Ans 3 – The letter e, which is the most commonly used letter in the English language, does not appear even once in the paragraph. Post a comment if you got all three

Castles, fairytales & legends

The well-known and much loved story of The Pied Piper luring rats away from the city with his sweet song has darker origins than the classic tale – a tale that can be traced way back to the Middle Ages. According to legend, in the small town of Hamelin in Lower Saxony, masses of children disappeared at the same time without trace. No one knows where they went, but suspicions are with a rat catcher who bewitched the kids away after The Town Mayor refused to pay him for a job.

When, lo! as they reached the mountain-side, 
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.

Robert Browning, The Pied Piper of Hamelin: A Child’s Story
This castle is real but the image is borrowed

Heading south from our over night in Esslingen, we found a great stellplatz (car park) in Bad Urach, complete with hook up, next to a pool a bar and a short walk to the town. There is also some good walks and cycle trails nearby.

Once again with the aid of Komoot we were able to plot a good route to have a zoom about on the ebikes. Although, we had to leave to make the steep climb up to see this water feature, which was billed as a waterfall. It was worth the yomp up, but it featured too much water re-routing by man for my taste.

Oh dear….. But it’s only flat at the bottom….

Admittedly we aren’t experienced bikers, but we do carry a tools, a repair kit and a quality pump. So getting a puncture shouldn’t be a problem? Or should it? The one thing we/I overlooked was that the pump was only suitable for….. our old bikes with Schraeder valves!

I only had to push 2 kms back to the van. So with the horse well and truly bolted, all that was left was to find a nearby bike shop with Presta to Schaeder adaptor and another spare tube.

Bad Urach

Whilst enjoying our two days in Bad Urach we heard there was a good castle not too far away. We made an early start and after stopping off en-route to visit the Washerie in Tübingen to ‘do our smalls’ we easily found Hohenzollern castle, sitting on a solitary bump amidst a flat plane south of Hechingen.

You don’t have to a military historian to work out why most castles are built on a hill. a) Few armies would be eager to attack up a steep sided hill, b) It’s got to be easier to defend by throwing rocks burning oil down on any foolish uninvited guests c) Lookouts could spot trouble coming a mile off, allowing plenty of time to stock up at Lidl, in case of a seige.

Hohenzollern Castle

Search for sights led us to the parking for the castle with spaces for three motorhomes. The walk up through the forest up to the castle is steep but the views from the walls of the castle are stunning.

BTW "Dracula has moved out of his castle for a few weeks. He's getting it revamped"
if only they’d cut back the trees a bit

The Hohenzollern Castle is the third of three hilltop castles built on the site. The first castle on the mountain was constructed in the early 11th century. However although it was constructed in gothic revival style the current castle was built in 1850… so it’s Victorian then!

We joined a guided group for a tour of the interior, unfortunately the guide was all given in German so we missed almost all the detail. But we picked up a few snippets. And we got to wear some very comfy over-slippers to protect the library floor from our hobnail boots.

Access once you reach the top of the asphalt switchbacks, is through an internal cobbled road that spirals up inside like a medieval carpark, complete with portcullis and draw-bridge. Designed to be suitable for horse, carriage or Daimler, me thinks

You can learn lots of useless facts coming to a place like this. For example, as it couldn’t be properly heated it was too cold to live there in winter. Partly because of that, Burg Hohenzollern has never been a royal residence.

The castle belongs to the Prussian royal family and does contain some interesting artefacts including the Prussian royal Crown. Amongst the displays’ is King Frederik William IV snuff box collection. Amassed after it’s said he was shot in battle but was saved when the shot hit a snuff box in his breast pocket.

We liked the route from Bad Ulrach so much we decided to go back that way to get to Blautopf Blaubeuren. So named because of the unique spring feed blue pool. The water’s peculiarly blue colour, varying in intensity due to weather and flow, is the result of physical properties of the limestone in the rock.

Blautopf (Blue Pot)

Next the Blautopf is a Hammer mill fed by the water from the spring

Numerous legends and folk tales refer to the Blautopf. Its characteristic colour was explained by the account that every day someone would pour a vat of ink into the Blautopf. 

The fish must like the colour of the water as the river flowing from it was teaming with sizeable looking specimens

Although we may never know the true events that fuelled the Piped Piper story, there are still lessons to be learned from fairy-tales, myths and legends.

I wonder if you can recognise what story the advice below is related to? – Throw all caution to the wind and have a grand adventure! Follow the white rabbit, drink from that mysterious bottle and go to tea parties with strangers. You’ve already made so many other inadvisable decisions in your life – what’s the worst that can happen?

Toodle Pip

D&L

Tales of the Riverbank

Lesley outside a very special multi-story car park

Today we are in Stuttgart on the banks of the river Neckar to visit the Mercedes museum

The company was started in 1890, when Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach engineered and sold the world’s first four-cylinder cars made in a factory. Unfortunately for him, Daimler died 10 years after founding the company, but his name lives on as one of the most important in MercedesBenz history.

Each of the exhibits were in immaculate condition as if hey had never been used

The first petrol powered Mercedes vehicle was made by Karl Benz, the Mercedes-Benz co-founder. His fiancee, Bertha, had to invest in the project as a part of the prevailing marriage law. Not only did she use her dowry to finance Karl’s horseless carriage venture, she taught her husband — an engineering mastermind but clueless marketeer — how to popularise his invention.

In 1888, at age 39, Bertha Benz and her two teenage sons climbed aboard one of the two Patent-Motorwagen vehicles her husband had assembled and set off on a 66-mile romp from Mannheim to Pforzheim. She didn’t bother to tell Karl, though she did leave him a note on the kitchen table

Where does the name Mercedes come from?

Mercedes Jellinek

Emil Jillinek a much valued Daimler retailer would purchase Daimler vehicles, modify them, and race them. After establishing credibility, Emil began to work with Wilhelm Maybach to design cars that delivered more performance and reliability. In 1900, the first Mercedes was born. It was a name given to a car that Jellinek modified and it came from his daughter, Mercedes. It had 35 horsepower and was considered to be one of the world’s first “modern cars”.

The variety of vehicles on display in the impressive museum spans from the very first patented car in the world to the hydrogen vehicle.

The Museum is on nine levels, covering 16,500 m² of floor space. I was curious as to how they move the 1,500 exhibits into position. A bit of research suggests there’s a custom-built 40-tonne crane concealed beneath the ceiling of the central atrium. It is used to install or remove vehicles on levels 2 to 7 via the atrium. The exhibits on level 8 reach their positions by conventional but no less spectacular means: they are lifted over the roof terrace from outside, to a height of over 40 metres, by a heavy-duty crane.

The automotive exhibits are what visitors have come for. However as you descend the spiral walkway between the levels, the panels on the walls capture and bring to life via snapshots of contemporary history and culture. This brought relevance to the period in which the assortment of cars, buses, and competition vehicles on display were produced.

An example of an interesting fact from one of the displays Oldham – 1978 the town where world’s first ‘test tube baby‘ was conceived.

Like many automotive brands the Mercedes three pointed star immediately associates it to the Mercedes Benz brand, but I bet ya didn’t know what the symbol stands for? Ok the secret’s out, it symbolises air, land, and sea.

Red with cream upholstery – Not to every one’s taste but this model was WOW
Is Hydrogen the future?

A growing proportion of vehicles produced today are based on renewable energy. Alongside developing battery technology the Hydrogen Cell is likely to become an increasingly attractive option in the future, with ultra clean technology playing a more important part once the infrastructure is there to support it.

Otto – Mercedes 300 GD

Gunther Holtorf, and his wife went on an impressive 26 year, 897,000 kilometres, 215 country adventure in “Otto” his Mercedes 300 GD off-roader. You can watch Otto‘s globetrotting expedition in a short story about a very long trip. I found their travels inspiring but also sad that his wife died before they completed their incredible journey.

The sound system reverberated the noise of race cars roaring around a circuit

There is a lot of discussion in the F1 press as to whether the Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is the best F1 driver of the modern era. The Briton is now within reach of equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles, sparking more debate on who is the greatest F1 driver of all time.

Schumacher at the wheel of a Mercedes

So is it the car? or the driver? or the whole team? Could Lewis have been as successful if he was still at Mclaren? How would today’s drivers fair in cars of an earlier era. Ayton Senna never drove for Mercedes but is still regarded as one of greatest F1 drivers of all time. Check out this interesting site- FiveThirtyEight

Mole asks Ratty if they can visit Toad, so off they both go to Toad Hall. Toad is delighted to welcome them and reveals his passion for boating has recently been replaced by a canary-coloured caravan. In fact, Toad intends all three of them to start a caravan adventure that very day.

Ratty can see that Mole is anxious to agree to the trip so both friends set off on the open road with Toad. They spend an uneventful night in the caravan and the following morning a distant cloud of dust appears on the horizon – a motor car.  The car flashes past and the caravan falls into a ditch. But far from being annoyed Toad is entranced: as the car disappears once again all he can say is ‘Poop! Poop!

Toodle Poop

D&L

The Romantic Road

I hope I’m not going to spoil your cornflakes with an unwanted lecture in 18th century history, but my understanding of this period became a little less fuzzy today, so I though I’d share what I now understand better.

The ‘Age of Enlightenment‘ occurred during the “long 18th century” (1685-1815). It was an intellectual movement emphasising reason, individualism, and skepticism. It presented a challenge to traditional religious views. Enlightenment thinkers were the liberals of their day – typically humanists who supported equality and human dignity. They stood opposed (in varying degrees) to supernatural occurrences, superstition, intolerance, and bigotry.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

We’re in Rothenburg, an extremely attractive place on the Romantic Road, so to balance the diet of Disney’s fantasyland, we decided we couldn’t resist a visit to Rothenburg’s Museum of Medieval Crime and Torture.

Your guilt was on full view when carted off in one of these.

The exhibits in the museum include all manner of torturing devices, such as racks, thumb screws and dunking stools. Contraptions designed and used to extract confessions and inflict punishment.

A comfy chair and flat bed to help relax your tongue?

Before the Age of Enlightenment, punishment for crimes was arbitrary, court cases were often just a precursor to the sadistic torture and barbaric punishment of the guilty and the innocent alike! ‘The Law’ as we know it didn’t exist.

A Neck Violin – used to publicly humiliate or shame offenders

A good example is witchcraft and witch-hunting, where hundreds of innocent women were ruthlessly persecuted and mercilessly punished, with convictions based often on nothing more than fear and superstition.

Witch catchers were used to retrain witches’ necks from a safe distance
A shame mask – I can think of a US politician who could do with wearing one of these!

With Age of Enlightenment came a separation between law and morality. Religious justification’s in criminal law were replaced by secular equivalents.

The old inquisitorial proceedings – in which the accused, who was obliged to tell the truth and was investigated by a judge through a secret written fact-finding process – were replaced by reformed criminal proceedings of public and oral hearings.

The concept of a constitutional state based on the role of law with separation of power and protections of individuals rights began to prevail. A clear statutory regulation was necessary for punishment. Discrimination based on the social status was increasingly disregarded.

The prosecution was assumed by the district attorney whose duty it was to be guardian of the law. Defendants had rights and no longer had to assist in their own conviction. Judges ruled on the basis of evidence rendered during the trial. This judicial freedom to consider evidence made torture as a means of obtaining evidence redundant.

Seeing the the artefacts and reading of life in those times was disturbing and powerful. It brought home some horror of what it was like for the folks who lived through that period of history and makes me grateful for the laws that society is governed by today.

Rothenburg is on the German ‘Romantic Road‘. This route visits some really pretty chocolate box places, as it meanders through the provinces of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Many of the towns are overflowing with medieval timber framed buildings inside walled perimeter defences. So for someone with a soft spot for timber framed houses, this makes them cute and attractive but trapped in an another age.

An Old Romantic

Ok so I’m not that romantic but I’m old, NO, I’m no that old. BTW – You know you’re ‘old‘ (not just getting old) when no one is at all surprised or bats an eye when you ask at a museum for an over 65’s confession concession.

The Rothenburg picture postcard shot
“These City walls

I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you,

I have run I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you,

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for

U2 – From The Joshua Tree
Charlie parked up the night outside the fortified town walls
Dinkelsbühl – Our next stop on the Romantic Road

Arriving in the Stellplatz in Dinkelsbühl we were surprised to see three other motorhomes all UK registered. As these were the first ‘Brits’ we’d seen since Vogelsang about 30 days ago, we had to go for a bit of a ‘blether’. We were soon learning about the town (given a map) and hearing of one couple’s trials and tribulations whilst motorhoming in Italy.

FlorryTheLorry

The most interesting of the three couples was Cat & Chris who had made a fab job of converting a lorry into ‘FlorryTheLorry’. They had made the inside a real home from home with all the mod cons of a motorhome but in a lorry.

Florry inside was like a luxury garden room, complete with pot plants

We could have talked to these two for ages but they were heading north (Cat driving their car) no not a cat! They kindly gave us the remainder of the electric left on their hook up meter and we said our goodbyes. Now where’s that town we had to explore?

The more garish the colour the better apparently – and for the houses too!
Dinkelsbühl Zentrum (town centre)

With abundant forests the timber frame designs of Bavaria have worked well for the houses and the farm buildings of the predominantly agricultural communities spread across the fertile lands of lower Germany and as far south as Switzerland.

Our guide with a map

Dinkelsbühl was a good example of the multileveled constructions in this area that have that particular high gabled look. A look that prominently features in romantic images of Germany from tourists like us.

We saw lots of examples throughout Germany of window dressing for Advent

Walking around you could tell Christmas is coming as there were some great displays using colourful natural materials to celebrate Advent, something we see less of at home in the UK.

150 years after the artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of age of Romatisium came the New Romantics in the guise of Adam Ant, Boy George, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Soft Cell and Spandau Ballet. I wonder in the future if this will be remembered as an age of ………

So if I have understood correctly, through Enlightenment society introduced laws that reduced intolerance and bigotry, making society more civilised. And we no longer need people to wear shame masks, correct mmmm?

Toodle Pip

Dave & Lesley

Maybe it’s me but in what seems such a short time we seem to have forgotten the lessons of history. I need to re-read Jonathan Freedland’s loss of shame again.