Another grey morning here in Der Farderland, but it hadn't been raining, so that was something. I wasn't sure what the protocol was here for going over to the shower block and so I slipped on a pair of trousers and a shirt rather than my usual dressing gown. I needn't have worried there were a few dressing gowns over there.
A shower is not included in the campsite fee of €26.40 per night, so I had to buy some tokens out of a vending machine just inside the door. I got enough for both me and The Chef for today and tomorrow.
Scrubbed up and fed I walked over to the Reception office to inform them we were staying a second night. I needed to rest and enjoy proper facilities before going back on the road again. That of course was another €26.40. Still that is only about €3 a night more than the last ghastly campsite we stayed at, so I suppose it's reasonable given we are nearly in to their peak season.
The Chef got the electric oven out of the rear garage locker and baked another pack of two part-baked baguettes which we had for lunch, and were lovely and crusty.
After our lie-in we spent what was left of the morning online checking for any emails, getting a weather forecast, and depressing ourselves with the UK news.
This afternoon we set out to visit the Bridge at Remagen and its museum www.bruecke-remagen.de which is almost next door to the campsite, very handy. I was also hoping to cross the Rhine on a small ferry boat which crosses the river about half a mile away and take a look at the remains of the bridge tower on the other side as well.
The museum, housed within the remains of the bridge tower on its southern bank was interesting, though because I hadn't researched it before coming here I can honestly say that if it wasn't for the fact that we were passing this way, I'd have been disappointed, because I hadn't realised there was so little of it left.
So here's the story:
The Bridge at Remagen was planned in 1912, and built during World War 1 from 1916-1918 in order to shorten the supply route to the Western Front. When finished, Kaiser William 11 named it after General Erich Ludendorff. German soldiers returning home from World War 1, were among the first to cross the bridge.
In 1944/45 Remagen, as a railway junction, was the target of numerous allied air attacks. However, German leaders attributed no importance to the Bridge at Remagen until the spring of 1945. There were hardly any troops stationed in the Middle Rhine area. On 6th March 1945, in the face of a quick allied advance, the bridge was hastily made ready for blowing up. But all attempts to destroy it failed. Hitler suspected treason and dispatched a kangaroo court to sentence five officers involved to death, four were shot immediately on 9th March.
When an advance detachment of the US 9th Armoured Division reached the Rhine at Remagen on 7th March 1945 the Americans found the Ludendorff Bridge intact, and were able to take it completely unexpectedly. "Cross the Rhine with dry feet..." was what they proudly wrote on the Bridge in large letters.
After the 9th Armoured Division took the bridge, the German Wehrmacht intensified its efforts to destroy it. On 17th March, the bridge suddenly collapsed, plunging 30 American soldiers to their deaths, it had been heavily damaged as a result of numerous attempts to destroy it by artillery shells, bombs and rockets. A V2 missile was even fired at the bridge. The only time the V2 was used on a German target.
After leaving the museum we wandered along the side of the Rhine before turning in to the town for a look round. I wasn't that bothered about crossing the river as the small ferry was crossing infrequently and I was concerned the round trip would take too long.
We stopped off at a cafe for a very nice coffee and a very sickly cake, all for just over €8 which we thought quite reasonable. On the way back to the campsite we came across what must be a small military cemetery commemorating those soldiers lost in both World Wars. It didn't have that immaculate look which we get with our Military Cemeteries across the world thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Further down the road we popped in to the local 'Norma' supermarket for a couple of bits. I have to say we were impressed with the prices.
On our return The Chef sat out to enjoy a bit of sunshine which finally appeared, whilst I took a walk to the large rubbish bins near Reception and threw my 2016 German campsites book in, along with a few other bits. We don't intend needing it again.
We just haven't felt comfortable here in Germany. The folk seem too serious, studious, they're not unfriendly, but neither are they friendly. We don't take it personally in the least, they are the way they are, but it's just not for us, and we can't wait to get out of the country tomorrow.
As a Lancaster flies we're about 350 miles from home, and we're looking forward to being back there.
When we set off tomorrow we are going to make for Ghent in Belgium, which by now is about 'Plan D'. The Chef has heard it's nice, though I'm still trying to forgive her for dragging me here to Der Farderland. There's a campsite in Ghent, which, if we can get on to it, will give us the opportunity to have a look at the town before heading to Ypres, a town we love, and we hope the one small campsite there can accommodate us for a few nights before we sail back next Sunday.