A hop accross (or perhaps under) the water… 7/5/2023

After just four nights at the farm we headed South and caught the Eurotunnel with Fawks to get over to France and despite torrential rain cascading off of the roof into the Passport office, they still let us leave the country and welcomed Fawks back onto the continent for the first time with us.

Heading towards Belgium to have a few pieces of work done, we stopped at our normal overnighter in Hondeschoot where we know we can do a supermarket shop to re-stock on fresh veg, fruit and dairy products as well as some of that all important French wine!

The following morning we set off again, arriving at Werchter where VEE Motorhomes is to get the works done on Fawks and also do a bit more exploring of the area – this time heading into Leuven on the bikes.

We had planned to visit Leuven the last couple of times we were in the area but for one reason or another it just didn’t happen. Leuven is a beautiful university town with lots of lovely architecture, some great grafitti and unsurprisingly, some fantastic looking eateries. As we had a come with lunch prepared this time, we settled for a Coffee and DIY Hot Chocolate – literally hot milk with a bar of chocolate in it – both served with delicious home made brownie and biscuits.

Apparently they have an excellent Christmas market which we missed the opportunity to see last year but I am sure we will get to see at some point in the future.

Despite only intending to stay in Werchter for a couple of nights, one thing led to another – as always – and we ended up staying through to Monday. This enabled us to get some nice walking in, catchup on the washing (as always) and enjoy the 70 year anniversary party for the local Heroes (Similar to Scouts) group which we were kindly invited to. It is fair to say that pretty much everything in Werchter involves music and beer!

We moved on from Werchter on Monday to take advantage of the long holiday weekend to travel past Frankfurt whilst the roads were a little quieter. So a long hop, skip and a jump – for us at least – and we got to our destination for the night in Alzenau, Germany where the Aire was 12 euros a night.

The Aire is next to a lake and bar/restaurant but both were closed when we stayed but looked like they were getting prepared for a late May opening so I am sure it would be more lively over the summer. The town has an abundance of supermarkets, appears quiet industrial, but there wasn’t much else to write home about. However, as I ventured out along the cycle path by the side of the river for my morning run I got a taster of the next town along and the countryside beyond which had more of a Bavarian feel and looked like it was worth exploring further if we are stopping on the way through again in the future.

With Fawks booked back into the Phoenix Service Centre, we stopped over for one night at the Concorde Aire in Aschbach, then at Phoenix, Schlusselfield for a night ahead of a 7am start.

Steering wheel replaced, access to the emergency release for the jacks and cutlery drawer in hand – amongst a couple of other minor bits – and we set off to Sommerach to find some more of that lovely Bavarian wine that we were introduced to last year by the region!

We spoke too early though, realising on the way to Sommerach that the steering wheel we had been given was lacking a couple of buttons – adaptive cruise control. A quick email over to the service center though and the following morning we recieved a very apologetic call at 7:15am asking if we were able to come back as they had the correct steering wheel in stock and could switch them over for us.

Needing to stretch our legs after an early start and hanging around the service center most of the day, we headed out to have a little walk and thought it would be rude not to pop into our local Vineyard Weingut Strobel’ for a quick tasting – just to refresh our memories obviously – before buying a few bottles of white wine… Schuerebe, Blanc de Noir and Silvaner Old Vine……lovely as always.

The following morning we arrived back at the Phoenix service center by 10am and were on our way back to Sommerach with a new steering wheel and a bottle of Phoenix Hazlenut Schnapps in hand by 11.30….. all good.

With the sun shining, after lunch we set off into the Vineyards for a lovely circular walk towards Nordheim am Main and Volkach. Although we did a similar route through the vineyards back in September, it was a very different this time as in September the vineyards were full of people and tractors as they were harvesting the grapes. This time however it was very peaceful, with just a few farmers out with their tractors tending to the vine. We even found a Monk Jack Deer having a little munch on the vine blossom – needless to say he bounced off quite quickly as we got close.

As we rounded the corner and headed back towards Sommerach the weather quickly changed and the dark grey clouds were looming in the distance. They didn’t ‘loom’ for long, instead they just let loose and gave us a good drenching. Thankfully we had our waterproof jackets, it was warm and we weren’t too far from the town, so after a couple of ‘Pit Stops’ en route to do some tastings and a little bit of sun – once it made a re-appearance – we were a little drier….. or perhaps just didn’t care!!

We hadn’t planned to do three more Vineyards, but stopped at Weingut Otmar Zang just to get out of the rain and their wine was actually pretty nice, so ended up tasting and buying a couple of bottles. We then moved on to Norbert Dreshers – which was a planned stop, although we thought it may be closed. They are the only BIO vineyard in Sommerach and unfortunately as much as we tried – and we did pretty much try them all – their wine just didn’t quite hit the mark. We bought a bottle to be polite but their selection just didn’t quite meet our taste as much as some of the others.

Still slightly damp and en route back to Fawks, I wanted to have a look at a curious looking place that I had noticed last time we were in Sommerach but it was closed, it was however open this time….Weinbau Jakob. We were greeted by an 8 month old enormous pyraneen mountain dog and it’s lady owner and after been welcomed into the ‘cave’, we were drowned in their over-generous samplings of wine of all varieties. A lovely little place, full of easy drinking, every day wine… we came out with a full rucksack – another to come back to in the future, although I dread to think how large that dog will be next year… it was already the size of a pony!

Saturday morning as we set off we realised that there was a problem with the Left Hand 360 Camera system – my fault for not having mentioned the dark shadow I noticed when driving on the Friday. Email sent but nothing we can do about it until after the weekend though – it’ll just depend on whether or not they have time to fit us back in before we move too far away, thankfully we aren’t going far at the moment.

We moved all of 20km down the road which took us to a Hamberger Weiner – a Vineyard located in the middle of several beautiful little walled Bavarian towns – Iphofen, Rodelsee, Mainbernheim and Kitzingen. As well as selling their wine, they also have 15 places for motorhomes up to 10m looking out onto the vines for 10euros a night…. along with an honesty wine fridge….

All of the towns in the area are linked by cycle routes, but as nothing is too far and we needed to stretch our legs after a couple of days of doing very little exercise, we headed out on a walk into Mainbernheim which was about 2km away and then decided to loop round, passing Iphofen before heading back to the Vineyard to find Fawks.

The objective had been to get back to pop into the Tasting room but alas, we arrived to find that it shut at 4pm so we had to surfice with one of the wines from Sommerach to accompany dinner!

We hadn’t planned to come to this area but were looking at places to possibly enjoy some regional culinary delights and 99er Kulinarium popped up on the Michelin Bib Gourmand… and we are so glad we took a little detour as not only was the food excellent, the area is stunningly beautiful too.

Although Mainbernheim is pretty, it is a little rustic and to be fair in a bit of a ‘renovation’ phase as there are road and building works throughout…..Iphofen is however, the refined, beautifully finished version. The town has a double wall and a moat – obviously showing wealth going back along time – and now has a lovely path and park area that you can follow all the way around it. Inside the wall is chocolate box like, with all the buildings maintained to perfection. We were incredibly lucky as everything always looks better when the sun shines.

We aren’t quite sure where the last two weeks have gone but hopefully the next five won’t go as quickly as we’ll be home before we know it. The route so far is as follows, where to next is another question…. lets see what tomorrow brings.

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