Week 5 – A 3500kg limit is 501kg to light!!

26th June – 2nd July 2017

Moving day – well it was till we awoke to the sound of rain pounding on the roof, the sun roof was still up so that would have to be packed wet. Lets go back to sleep and not bother.

We only stayed in bed an extra half hour but by the time we got up the rain had stopped and the sky if not clearing at least lightening. We checked the forecast and it seems today is the best day to travel with the rain clearing through the day. Oh well it doesn’t take that long to clear everything away and get on the road. We were held up a little as we tried to leave the site, a German caravan had come unhitched from it’s tow car and been unceremoniously dropped on the road – every caravaners worst nightmare. Fortunately for this unfortunate couple the damage amounted only to the breakaway cable and the car/caravan electric plug and of course time in getting them fixed.

The sun was just breaking through the clouds as we arrived at our next site, Natur- und Abenteuer Camping ****, the lady in reception unfortunately spoke no English but we are getting used to sign language and pretty soon we were booked in and, armed with a map showing all vacant pitches big enough to accommodate our caravan, wandering round the site looking for a pitch we liked. We found a ginormous pitch in a remote location – perfect. Until we discovered our nearest neighbour (they were out when we arrived) has two small children, the eldest a bundle of quiet joy, the youngest a noisy brat who whenever he wants something screamed loudly until one or other of his parents give way. Sadly every time he bullies his parents into giving way he almost immediately wants something else – nightmare for them as well as everyone around them. Me thinks we may not stay here beyond tomorrow.

Oh what a start to the day – the brat screaming. I walk to the facilities for a bit of quiet time and what happens? The brat and his family bring their breakfast washing up to the sinks outside the loos and they wash up while the brat practices his screaming and whining. I have had enough, after breakfast we will move either to a pitch far enough away to not be bothered or to another site.

Oh deep joy!! While we were eating our breakfast the brats family – while he sat on the motorhome steps and practiced his tantrum screams – packed everything away and by the time we had drunk our breakfast tea they had gone, their pitch was vacant – HURRAHHHHHHH!!!

Any vehicle or combination of vehicles weighing more than 3500kg travelling on Poland’s toll roads cannot use pay booths. They are required to have a “viaToll” box, an electronic gismo that automatically charges an amount dependant upon your engine emissions as you pass through the barriers. Our car/caravan combination weighs in at a hefty 4000kg so with the caravan pitched so close to the Polish border (Czechia or what we call Czech Republic is even nearer) we decided to nip into Poland and get a viaToll box. One member of a forum I subscribe to was fined the equivalent of £700 for travelling the Polish toll roads without one, so we figured it would be easier to “faff” around with the car solo. What a good decision.

You need to take a deep breath before continuing.

We had found lots of details on the viaToll website, they seemed so clear and easy, so knew, in theory, where to go. When we got to where we thought we should be, nothing. We went into a fuel station with dozens of trucks filling up. Nothing. No-one we spoke to could speak either English or google translated Polish but one lorry driver who guessed what we wanted held up two fingers and pointing up the road said, something to the effect of “viaToll 2km”. We went 3km in every direction. Nothing.

We went back to Germany. There is a town Gorlitz that straddles the border and while driving through that we came upon a German TUV centre (MOT centre) we popped in and asked the English speaking member of staff if he could advise, “I don’t know anything about it” he said “speak to the ADAC they should know.” We tried ringing. Nothing. We headed into the town centre and found the tourist information centre and asked the chap in there, he said we should speak to the ADAC and added that they have an office not far away and gave us a map.

We wandered round to the ADAC office acutely aware it was lunch time but found them open and a lady who spoke a little English said she could help then rattled away on her computer for awhile and wrote down the address we needed to go to to get a box. It looked suspiciously like the address we had when we started out this morning and indeed it was the address we had when we started out this morning but we now also had a map and knowledge as to what each part of the address constituted. Back at the car we were now able to put the address in the navigator. Off we go again back to where we started. As we got to within 3.3km of the destination we saw a faded billboard that said something about Toll 5km – mmmmm?? 3.3km later we found – nothing. we carried on for another 1.7km and came upon a large service area (no we were not on a motorway or toll road) with the same something about tolls written on a billboard. In we went, after several enquiries we discovered the box could be obtained in the BP garage.

Now we had got this far you would think the rest would be easy, particularly as the girl dealing with the boxes spoke English. All went well until she had to input the Euro Emissions Number (EEN). UK doesn’t use the EEN, if you look at your V5C you will see an emission figure but no EEN and without one you cannot get a viaToll box as it is the EEN that your motorway charges are apparently based on, fortunately a week or so ago we got an “umweltplakette” or environmental badge. The Germans simply look at the emissions figure printed on your V5C cross reference it on a table and – voila – a European Emission Number 4. Fortunately after a bit of persuasion the garage accepted the German EEN and not much more than an hour later we had our very own viaToll box.

We woke to a bright sunny day, not a cloud in the sky so decided to put the laundry in the camp machine and while it was taking its two hours to work its magic go for a walk part way around the vast reservoir at the back of the site. The walk was not as long as anticipated so toddled off to the local supermarket for some supplies. Not fancying much we bought the necessaries for a BBQ, lovely veggies we planned to roast on the BBQ then a pork rib eye chop each, piece of steak each, kidney, etc etc.

Back from the shopping we (Sue) pegged out the washing while I scrubbed the BBQ as I had forgotten to do it when last used, filled it up with charcoal and was just about to light it when the heavens opened. What a deluge, we have endured some rain storms in our years travelling but this was by far and away the worst. We had considered rain when setting up the BBQ and because rain was possible set it up under the sun canopy, the wind was such that the rain was travelling almost parallel to the ground standing anywhere under the canopy was akin to standing under a cold power shower. Fortunately the wind although very strong was constant rather than gusting and although we could see the storm pegs (0.3m long aluminium T bar) slowly pulling out of the ground a gusty wind would have jerked them out and set about shredding the canvas. About 30 minutes after the start all was again peace even the sun was back out, the only sounds being hammering as virtually everyone on the site reset their pegs. The dinner was cooked indoors on the cooker

Rain, rain rain and then more rain.

Yesterday was one of the wettest days I can remember. At about 7pm last night a group of more than half a dozen caravans turned up. All the vans were large around half were twin axle jobs, they came into our section of the camp. None of them had motor movers and some of the pitches didn’t afford a twin axle towed by a large Mercedes Vito van enough swing room to reverse into position so there was a lot of group pushing and shoving to get them into position and all in the pouring rain. It must have been a miserable experience. Imagine our surprise when this morning they all packed up and left. I hope where they were going was worth it.

Today we went for a drive following a journey laid out in our guide book, into the area known “Saxon Switzerland” (Sachsische Schweiz).

We stopped at just two places, the first, Stolpen, was fascinating, Stolpen Castle built on a volcano raised mount of basalt rock it had been turned into a museum and although little was in English it was reasonably easy to understand the diagrams and so on (presumably designed for school children). Unfortunately we were forced to leave this place earlier than we wanted to as we had overstayed our ticket in the car park at the other end of town.

Our second stopping place was the spa town of Bad Schandau where we parked in the centre of town and walked out to a tramway, the Kirnitzschtalbahn, that takes visitors up the hill to a waterfall, the Lichtenhainer Wasserfall. The tram ride was uncomfortable and the waterfall disappointing, very disappointing, particularly after all the recent rain.


It was going to be a pleasant day not doing very much, gentle walk, a bit of shopping for a good dinner. Sue has had trouble charging her computer, the charging lead has over the years broken down and needed replacing. We went to the nearest Apple shop in Dresden, the cost of a new charge lead was unbelievable. We came out with a new iPad – yes I know they are a lot more than the cost of a charge lead but Sue needed a new tablet anyway (hers is on its very last legs) and with that she can do any thing she does on her computer so, we hope, this was the cheaper option in the long run. We will try to get a charge cable from fleabay or CEX when we get back to UK.

© S W Ghost 2017