- Total Nights – 21
- Total Miles – 904
- Average Miles per day – 43.05
- Route – see map
- No. of Nights at Campsites – 2
- No. of Nights at Paid Aires – 2
- No. of Nights at Free Aires – 17
From mountains and lakes to sandy beaches, Western Germany certainly had a lot to offer – here are our highlights!
Eiffel National Park – Vogelsang:
Crossing the border into Germany we headed to a place we had ear marked prior to starting this adventure, the Eiffel National Park. Not only a National Park full of walks and wildlife but also home to a former Nazi Leadership Training Camp which provided us with a chance to take in some history and learn something new. The training camp was constructed in 1934 and used to train up the future leaders of the Nazi regime. The camp was taken on by the British in 1946 and used as a military training area until 1950 and thereafter Belgium military took on the site until 2005. As an added bonus you can park up for the night on site for just 6-euros.
This place was an epic (accidental) find. Arriving at 11.30 at night we drove up some tight roads thinking “where the hell are we going” and suddenly pulled up to this 36m (118ft) tall robot which was being illuminated in a ray of changing colours (unfortunately we forgot to take a picture at night so google it, it’s pretty cool). The next morning, we found out that the robot was in fact a viewing platform with several viewing platforms at different heights, so off we went and started to climb. We got to the first viewing platform at 9m and that was enough for me, so we headed back down and played in the in huge play park much to the delight of the kids. Richard headed straight back up to the top of the robot and on his return persuaded me to give it another go. On the second attempt we all made it to the top, and the views were breath-taking! The main view from the top was a huge open quarry with at least 5 of the biggest excavators we’d ever seen. This place was one of the best stops we’ve had.
This was more of a touristy spot so our free motorhome parking was a little further out, but we were still in easy walking distance of the lake itself. We spent two nights here as there was quite a bit to explore. The first afternoon we all took a walk and treated the kids (and us) to an ice-cream, and on the second day we split up for some one-on-one time with the kids. Richard cycled to the lake with Piper and they sneakily had a cheeseburger each for lunch, which she teased me about for the rest of the day. Whilst me and Jack stayed behind making a banner for Father’s Day which was the following day. We re-grouped in the afternoon and headed to the wild-park down the road to see some goats, chickens and deer.
Another entirely free attraction, this animal park in Bielefeld made for an excellent day out. I had been there before when I was a kid, so that made it even more special. Jack was a little timid when it came to getting up close with the goats, but other than that, they enjoyed seeing all the animals, from the goats to the wildcats and even the bears. We finished the day by making a souvenir coin (which Piper is collecting) and all enjoyed an ice-cream.
The Heidegarten or Heather Garden is set on the edge of the Luneburger Heide National Park, a lovely place to explore and another attraction which didn’t cost us a penny. It had a small viewing tower as well as an arboretum, so Richard was in his element! Interestingly, it is also home to the largest sundial in Germany and whilst Piper and I were checking it out, Richard shouted over to us for some babywipes… Turned out, Jack had picked up a dog poop! Not exactly the smartest thing for the boy to do! Moving on and turning a few more corners we came across a half built den consisting of a tree with loads of long sticks/logs leant up against it, this provided us all with a bit of fun and gave Piper and Jack time to let their imaginations free, apparently this was where they were going to live together in the future, how cute.
We didn’t know what to think of going to Bergen-Belson Concentration Camp with 2 young kids, but we’re glad we didn’t let that put us off. The site is now demolished with the only building being the modern visitor centre and contains mass graves of 56,000 innocent bodies including that of Anne Frank. Just like our visit to Tyne Cot Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium, you can’t help but fill with emotion when walking around the place. Not knowing much about Anne Frank except that she was a young girl who had a diary, we decided to buy the book ‘Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl’ which we are both now reading.
Kiel Canal, Burg
We actually planned to stop at another aire 10km down the canal from Burg but that was fully taken, so we found this place and had the best time parked up alongside the canal watching all the different boats pass along, from small sailing boats to massive container ships and even a cruise liner which I happened to spot at 3am in the morning! Jack and Piper were thrilled every time they spotted a boat pass us, which happened every 5-10 minutes. I think we could have all spent another day or week watching all the boats pass by. And to top this stop off was the car ferry we had to use to get to it, and it was free.
Friedrichstadt (Little Amsterdam)
We planned a night here as there was a cheap campsite with laundry facilities. What we didn’t know was that the place is nicknamed ‘Little Amsterdam’. The streets were lined with people eating al fresco and taking boat rides in the canal through the centre. All we need to do now is visit the real Amsterdam so we can compare the two!
Sankt Peter-Ording and Westerhever Lighthouse
We had a lovely time exploring this part of the German coastline. Sankt Peter-Ording is the first touristy place we have been, with shops selling the tourist essentials such as fridge magnets and postcards. Even so, it was very quaint. We also headed to Westerhever lighthouse which made for a good outing too, although the one-way walk to reach it was a lengthy 2 miles. Despite a few moans from Piper, she did a fab job and made it all the way round!