As far as what to wear goes for such a journey I released my inner Chav and chose black, stretchy velveteen leggings (the diamante gems have not stayed the pace and fell off some time ago, but the fleur de lys pattern on the pocket still looks nice), black fleece hoodie and thick thermal bedsocks completed the ensemble. I figured that my comfort overcame the potential embarrassment of bumping into someone I knew on the ten minute walk from the flat to the bus station. However, I remained cold throughout the journey. Why, oh why do coach drivers always set the air con to 'Arctic Blast'? I could have done with my fleece over- blanket. It's the same cut as a hospital gown, gap at the back but no ties. (round the back, not as in ties to a hospital) It even has a pocket in the front for the remote control, and Mike's son's wife Lizzie, gave it to me one Christmas. It's affectionately known as Big Red in our household. The cheap pillow was a godsend, I ran out of water but had a double seat to myself.
When I arrived in Cologne, I was tired and every time I closed my eyes I could see Spider Solitaire cards imprinted on my inside lids, and was delighted to see Mike, who had acted as forward reconnaissance unit for my visit. We headed south of Bonn and parked at Bad Bodenburg. (All our stop overs are listed here )
"Frederick I, Barbarossa was elected King on March 4, 1152 in Frankfurt. Two days later he boarded a ship that took him downstream on the rivers Main and Rhine until he got off in Sinzig. Barbarossa spent the night at the palace, also referred to as Königspfalz, in Sinzig and continued via horse towards the city of Aachen where he was crowned on March 9, 1152. Barbarossa visited Sinzig four times: In 1152 on his way to the coronation ceremony and later as the Roman Emperor in 1158, 1174, and 1180."
What a history! Such a pretty little town with a palace to look at, St. Peter Parish Church (construction started in 1125). When we arrived at the remains of the medieval wall, built during the 1300's we had to remind ourselves that at 200 years younger than the palace and church it was a toddler in comparison and a mere infant to the AHR and King Pippin.
There was also a castle and statue of Barbarossa which were built by the Bunge family in the 1800's, because they believed that his visits gave the town more importance.
After two nights at Bad Bodenburg, we got fidgety and the weather became cool and overcast so we headed north to Waldbröl. We had the carpark to ourselves, and by now the sun had joined us, so we got our chairs out and enjoyed sundowners before heading out to paint the town red. Our first impressions on arrival had been good, but when we stepped out on our mission we soon discovered that many of the bars, restaurants and other small businesses had closed down. We wondered if perhaps a sizeable employer had gone bust. We ended up at a kebab/pizza/ fast food type restaurant and ordered our drinks. The pretty young waitress seemed surprised to see us,
"What are you doing here?" she asked. We explained, we were on holiday. "Here? But how did you get here?" Her tone of voice suggested an upgrade from curiosity, through shock to gobsmacked. Clearly we were well off the tourist path and as motorhomers the world over will agree, this holds great appeal.
Unfortunately, my mini-break was over too quickly and so after finding Mike a suitable stop over in Engelskirchen, complete with bar to watch the world cup final, he took me back to my bus stop.
The return trip held more exciting discoveries. As we waited to be told we could get out and enter the immigration hall in Calais, I watched through the window as officials frog marched an individual from the coach behind us. He had been spotted clinging to the underside, and I wondered what his fate would be and what kind of story had got him there. Once we were off the bus it was thoroughly searched inside, and out, but no-one had managed to stick to us.
Finally, we arrived at Dover as the sun was rising. I've never joined tourists as they take photos of our famous landmark, but 'why not?' I thought. I looked and felt rough enough, and with my outfit thought I could get away with it, and so I took the picture below. Little bit of reflection on the window pane, but it didn't occur to me to go outside.