Motorhome Travel in Europe Part 5

When we left the city of Wrocław, the feeling inside the motorhome was very different from the one we felt when we had left Alcalá de Henares behind, a month and a half ago. We felt at home, we were not embarking on a new adventure. We were just changing the outside garden. Motorhome Europe was no longer a mere adventure but was part of our reality.

Getting used to a motorhome and feeling it as a home is a wonderful feeling. The trip no longer revolves around going out, traveling, knowing, discovering … now coming back home is also part of the trip. Returning to the motorhome after a long day is one of the most beautiful sensations. Taking off your shoes, sitting in your living room, or preparing dinner for the night. A home routine that becomes increasingly delicious.

In this fifth stage of our journey, we began the return trip. But since we were not going to do it by undoing the routes we had already traveled, it was a continuity rather than a return. Around 1300 kilometers were in front of us in order to reach Amsterdam, the last city of this fifth stage. Are you ready? Let´s go!

If you want, you can refresh your memory by reading part 4 of our trip by clicking HERE.

 

MOTORHOME EUROPE

Czech Republic in a motorhome – Part Two


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We could have shortened our trip to the Netherlands instead of going down again to the Czech Republic. We could have crossed Germany practically in a straight line. But we would not have done justice to one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. In addition, we still had to discover its magical capital: Prague.

Stage 1: Wroclaw to Prague – 335 kilometers

The roads in October in that region of Europe are a visual delight. Sometimes we did not even want to leave them and continue driving for miles among red, orange, yellow, and brown autumnal forests … We entered the Czech Republic again and arrived at its masterful capital, one of those European cities stopped in time, that will make you fall in love with her, that will make you want to return again and again. Prague is, without doubt, one of the most romantic and wonderful places on the continent, and it is one of the 20 most visited cities in the world.

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Since 1992, walking through the historic center of Prague is walking through a World Heritage Site. Its architecture takes us on a journey through centuries and influences: from the Gothic of the fourteenth century with the building of the Archbishopric and the Cathedral of San Vito as great standards to the modernist era with the strange and at the same time beautiful Dancing House, going through the baroque and the French classicism. Prague is a palette of styles but they make a set that “looks good” and catches the eye.

There are four districts that make up its historic center: Hradčany, Malá Strana, Staré Město and Nové Město.

  • Hradčany: This is how the famous castle district, the founding pillar of the city of Prague, is known. It was there, in the ninth century when Prince Bořivoj Přemyslovec gave orders to build the Castle that is still the largest castle in the world. You could say that Prague was born from it. Hradčany was the city that began to be built in the fourteenth century on the outside of the castle wall. The castle is a huge conjunction of historical buildings such as the Cathedral of San Vito whose construction began in 1344 but its doors just opened to the public in 1929 (took a bit to build it, right?), or the Golden Alley that with its beautiful color houses that were homes of goldsmiths (and Franz Kafka, the most famous literary author of the Czech Republic). A curiosity about the castle: Did you know that before 1989 Prague Castle had no outdoor lighting? It was in that year when the Rolling Stones gave a concert in the city of Prague and fell in love with this wonderful medieval construction. The impact was such that they decided to donate what at that moment would be equivalent to 30,000 euros for the installation of the exterior lighting system that today allows us to enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the city.

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  • Malá Strana: located next to the district of the castle, this part of the city is characterized by lodging great amount of palaces, churches, and squares. Undoubtedly its main symbol and one of the most characteristic and photographed symbols of the city is the Charles Bridge, ordered to be built in the year 1357 by Charles IV to replace the Judit Bridge destroyed by a flood. 30 statues rise along its 500 meters in length and 10 meters wide. Its cobbled floor can hardly be seen during peak hours as the photos that you can see of that beautiful bridge are taken early in the morning when the horde of tourists has not yet arrived and the bridge can be enjoyed at its best. A curiosity of the bridge: John of Nepomuk was the confessor of Sofia of Bavaria, the consort queen of Bohemia. He did not want to break the secret vote of confession so he was thrown from the bridge by orders of the then king Wenceslao IV of Bohemia. From the place where he was thrown, a statue stands today that is said to fulfill the wish of whoever put his hand on it.

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  • Staré Město: around the Town Hall Square, the medieval center of the city, with the oldest buildings in Prague such as the Old Town Hall and its famous Astronomical Clock of 1410, the most famous astronomical clock in the world -still operative-, is developed. From up there you get the best views of the city. The Church of Our Lady of Týn from the 14th century stands out in the Square, characterized by its twin towers of late Gothic style and more than 80 meters high. The Old-New Synagogue of 1270 is another of the high points of this neighborhood, and is, next to the Old Synagogue of Krakow, unique in its kind. A curiosity of the Astronomical Clock: it was built by the master watchmaker Hanus who, according to legend, his eyes were taken out so he could not repeat such a beautiful creation.

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  • Nové Město: It is the new city of Prague. The Dancing house of the architect Franz Gehry is the most famous building in the neighborhood. It was designed in 1992 and completed four years later. Its deconstructivist style fits perfectly with the Baroque, Gothic, and Art Nouveau buildings that surround it. Other great attractions that can be seen in this part of the city is the famous Powder Tower, gateway to the Old City. It is a Gothic tower dating from the fifteenth century and it is one of the most emblematic buildings of the city, and one of the original 13 doors of the old city. A curiosity of the dancing house: the building was originally known as Fred and Ginger, by the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – and the feeling evoked by the construction of a couple of dancers – but its architect did not want to import into Prague the Hollywood kitsch style, so that name was left out of consideration.

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Prague is a city that can be covered in two days but to do it justice it requires more time to walk it slowly, stop at its cafes, enjoy a show, visit its museums and palaces. We left the motorhome on the outskirts of the city, in a small but comfortable campsite with excellent communication by public transport to the city center (15 minutes by bus, 200 meters from the campsite). Here on the map:

 

Stage 2: Prague to Karlovy Vary – 127 kilometers

Founded in 1350 by the Emperor Charles IV, this beautiful thermal city at the confluence of the Ohře (Eger) and Teplá rivers, is famous for its thermal springs. What stroke us the most was that its inhabitants went down the street with a very special vessel that they filled with the almost boiling water that flowed from these sources and drank it while they walked. These waters have many healing properties and are a very high source of minerals.

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The walk along the river that runs through the historic center is very pleasant. The colorful houses with an architecture that refers to the belle époque, the terraced bars on the riverbank, the forests and mountains that surround it, the autumnal colors … all of this make this city a must. Beyond its world fame for the thermal springs and its famous international film festival, Karlovy Vary is still quiet and without the mass of tourists from Prague.

Here I leave some photos for you to enjoy the beauty of the place.

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The motorhome was left practically in the center in a huge parking lot that cost just 4 euros for 24 hours. The night was very quiet since we parked the motorhome in the back, totally away from the street and the rest of the cars. The train track that is next to the parking lot is old and trains do not pass by there anymore. Here on the map:

 

Germany in a motorhome – Part Two


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Stage 3: Karlovy Vary to Bamberg – 169 kilometers

Two hours separated us from this beautiful German city in the Bavarian region. Bamberg was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993 due to its architectural and historical richness. The Cathedral of 1237, the Old Residence of the sixteenth century, and the New one, the residence of the bishops from the seventeenth century on, are some of the points of interest to visit. The old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) of 1386 is perhaps the most repeated image of the city and with good reason. That building built in Baroque and Rococo styles seems to be floating on the waters of the Regnitz River. Its frescoes that adorn the walls and the view obtained from a nearby bridge make the simple fact of seeing this building a good enough reason for visiting the city.

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We left the motorhome in a service area just 15 minutes walk from the center. It had all the services included in the price of 15 euros for 24 hours and the overnight is allowed. The only thing to keep in mind is that the machine that charges the money only accepts German credit cards or coins. So you have to have 15 coins on hand or, as we did, ask a German to pay you and give him the cash in return. There is always a solution. Here on the map:

Stage 4: Bamberg to Wurzburg – 95 kilometers

As we said in our article The most romantic places in Europe (click there on the text to read it), this city in the Bavarian region and on the banks of the Main River gave us one of the most beautiful sunsets of the trip, on the Alte Mainbrücke, the bridge of stone arches of 185 meters long that crosses the waters. The Alte Mainbrücke was built between 1476 and 1488, damaged during the bombings of World War II, and rebuilt. Along the bridge, images of saints and kings adorn it, as if wanting to emulate Charles Bridge in Prague. With glasses of wine in hand and an aperitif, hundreds of locals and tourists gather in this corner of the city to enjoy the end of the day, with the sun falling behind the Marienberg Fortress, which is located there on top of a hill, dominating the city from the fifteenth century.

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The city of Würzburg overflows with energy and life. But during the Second World War, it was destroyed almost in its entirety and then reconstructed meticulously. Today there are few original buildings left standing, but it is still one of the most beautiful German cities in the region. Its natural environment with the walk along the river and the surrounding hills gives an enormous wealth to this city that is easily covered on foot or by bicycle. We decided on two wheels as we left the motorhome in a service area 10 minutes away from downtown. Here on the map:

Stage 5: Wurzburg to Frankfurt – 119 kilometers

Frankfurt, the fifth largest city in Germany, has a particularity that makes it very special. At its center you can find some of the tallest skyscrapers in Europe – hence its nickname Mainhattan – and one of the most beautiful historic centers in Germany, with the Römer and the Imperial Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew as insignia of a city whose 40% of its surface is covered in protected green areas, among them, the “green belt of Frankfurt” which includes a forest located on a land that since 1372 belongs to the city.

Undoubtedly, its central square in the historic center is the most recognizable place of a beautiful city to travel without hurry, stop in its infinity of parks to enjoy a place that knows how to live the rhythm of a large city with the tranquility of nature. In that square we were lucky enough to arrive during a German-French celebration that gave us a unique light show:

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We left the motorhome in a parking lot that unfortunately does not exist anymore since it was under construction. But in the surroundings of Frankfurt, there are several options for campsites and service areas.

 

Stage 6: Frankfurt to Cologne – 190 kilometers

We are sure that before the Second World War, Cologne must have been a very beautiful medieval city. In fact, there was a time when it was the largest city of all German-speaking territories. But after the bombings, the city was totally destroyed and its reconstruction only respected the scheme and the denomination of the streets, and all of its buildings were built according to the style of the 50s. That is why it turned out to be a city that left us with very little. However, that Gothic cathedral of 157 meters high that began to be built in 1248 and ended six centuries later, in the year 1880, is enough excuse to visit Cologne. World Heritage Site since 1996, the tallest building in the world until 1884 (after the construction of the Washington Monument, in the city of the same name), and the most visited monument in Germany, the Cologne Cathedral survived the Allied bombings – despite the fact that one of its towers suffered great destruction – which gives it an even greater halo. Standing in front of the cathedral and seeing that black stone rising a block and a half up is quite shocking.

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But beyond the Cathedral, we felt that Cologne was a city that did not leave us much, so we would not return. It was perhaps the only place in Germany where we had that feeling.

 

Holland in a motorhome


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Stage 7: Cologne to Amsterdam – 267 kilometers

There are not many new things we can say about Amsterdam that have not been said in hundreds of other articles. I’m not going to talk about its canals, its beautiful seventeenth-century architecture typical of the Netherlands with its bricks in sight and its triangular roofs. I will not talk about the house where a little girl and her family hid from the Nazi siege and wrote a diary that would be one of the most important documents of the time. Nor it is necessary to talk about the red light district and how thousands of tourists pass by to see those women who show up in their windows as if they were merchandise. I do not want to talk about the constant smell of marijuana or coffee shops where everything is possible. Nor talk about the Rijksmuseum, or the Stedelijk Museum, or the Van Gogh Museum. It would be to repeat again and again what we read in so many blogs.

I prefer to talk about those sensations found in a wonderfully beautiful, extremely chaotic, delightfully open city. A city where you have to have the reflexes of a boxer to dodge bicycles that surpass the inhabitants by two. Where the modern social opening should be something normal in the world and not something unusual. Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and at the same time one of the most tiring. Its rhythm does not stop, except for a while when sitting at those tables on the banks of the canals, or in those huge parks that surround it. Amsterdam is a very particular lady. It makes you love her, and it exhausts you. You can spend a week discovering its museums, its corners. And you can be just for one day and want no more. Whatever it is, Amsterdam is made to be visited and enjoyed, trying to slow down the bike to live at your own pace, or get in the frantic row of wheels and adapt.

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For us, one day was more than enough, and that’s why we decided to enjoy our second day with one of the most beautiful city trips of the entire journey: a bike ride through two villages as beautiful as quiet, Broek in Waterland and Monnickedam. But as we did an entire article dedicated to this getaway, I invite you to read it so as not to repeat myself: A 1 Day Amsterdam City Break by bike.

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We left the motorhome in the best possible place to do it: a camping just 10 minutes away by bus from the center (or 20 minutes by bike) but far enough away to be surrounded by the quietest nature, the Vliegenbos campsite. Here on the map:

 

Stage 8: Amsterdam to Utrecht – 45 kilometers

As much as Amsterdam is the most visited city in the country, we got a very pleasant surprise with Utrecht and we chose it without a doubt over the Dutch capital. With an architectural style similar to that of Amsterdam, and with canals crossing the historic center, Utrecht could be considered an Amsterdam in slow motion, without the tumult, without the frenetic pace of the capital city. That’s why we dedicated an entire article to this beautiful place. I invite you to read it and discover its charms: Utrecht, what to do and why should I add it?

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This is where the fifth part of our motorhome trip through Europe ends. Now we have two more countries left before we reach the end of our journey: Belgium and France. Do not miss the sixth part of our adventure by clicking HERE.

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Written by Pie & Pata
Happy is he/she who enjoys family travel.