In June Phil and I set off in our latest van (RIP the Bus-with-a-woodstove!) For our first-ever trip abroad. We’ve spent years exploring all the corners of the British Isles but this was the first time we’d taken the van on the ferry to Europe. As we now live in Hull, we had only a short drive down the Clive Sullivan way to the ferry. It was exciting to have a cabin of our own, and entertainment laid on for the night. (Yeah, I know: little things please little minds, etc.) We stood on the top deck as we sailed out of the Humber, while Phil helped me plot a future novel, which would involve this very estuary. There was a rainbow to cheer us on our way.
I can’t say I slept that well – I don’t like total darkness and so I had to keep putting the light on. No worries for Phil though, it takes a lot to wake him up! The next morning, we obtained a free breakfast because the card machine wasn’t working. Then we drove off the ferry and into Holland. We also passed through a corner of Belgium before entering Germany.
We were headed for Stuttgart and planned to arrive there the following afternoon. (The extra special purpose of the trip was to attend my youngest son’s wedding!) Phil drove and drove and after a while I kept falling asleep and waking up with a snort. It was hot, too. I was pleased when we stopped for the night in the beautiful Mosel Valley, surrounded by vineyards.
Fortunately, a wine-tasting session was just about to begin as we arrived. We bought six bottles. Later we went for an evening walk.
I had no idea Holland, Belgium and Germany were covered in so much forest. No wonder there are so many European fairy tales set in the deepest, darkest woods. I was blown away by the Baden Württemberg landscape. I fell in love with Germany.
Forests, forests as far as the eye can see. this is the view from the road and it goes on and on. After another long day of Phil driving, and me falling asleep and waking up to make tea and serve lunch in some of the beautifully-landscaped and well-provisioned laybys (no height barriers or ‘No Overnight Camping’ signs such as we’re accustomed to in the UK, here) We arrived at the final, busy stretch of road into Stuttgart. My son and his wife are both world foot-travellers. They met in Iceland, and I was privileged to be present at the time so I’m so happy he’s married Jacky. They’re planning to live and work in Stuttgart for a few years and they’ve just moved into an apartment. This is the view from their balcony: (as you can see, it’s only a short walk into the forest.)
Phil and I slept in a parking lot by a running track, a short walk from their apartment. The next morning, Jacky took us to the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart, a library that looks as though it ought to feature in a Sci-Fi film. We climbed up to the roof for an amazing view of Stuttgart. It was humbling to hear of the city being flattened during the Second World War.
Phil and I went on into Stuttgart for lunch and a look around.
That evening, Phil and I met the rest of the family at Jacky’s parents’ house. We were treated to an amazing meal and lots, and lots of wine. The following morning we put on our glad rags and set off from the hotel with some of our new relatives-to-be for the train into Ditzingen where the wedding was to take place at the Rathaus (town hall). There was time to take tea in the market square beforehand.
I can’t even describe the joy of what followed…
Leaving the Rathaus, Jacky’s colleagues at the market stall presented the couple with balloons and a vegetable-bouquet. Caat, the dog Zak and Jacky rescued in Catalonia, was present throughout the whole day. Jacky wore a traditional dress that had belonged to her great-grandmother. Luckily, Zak’s outfit matched perfectly.
The three men at the feast are Zak’s father, stepfather and father-in-law 🙂
Photographs in the park between wedding cake and dinner… (Zak’s dad on the right and stepdad on the left)
An outdoor living-room…
Ulrika, one of Jacky’s grandmas, made the couple a personalised quilt as a wedding present.
I’ll finish up with some photos from the second week of Phil’s and my journey…