A trip to France with Anne and Eriba Puck

Guest blog from Roland Willaert.
Is it to do with getting older? Is it a reaction to what a good friend said to me recently, that I should get on with it. 'Come on you don't have so long!' Is it the beginning of working through my bucket list, all those things that one wants to or should do in life? Whatever. Four months ago I bought an Eriba Puck and Anne, my wife and best friend,  was immediately sceptical. It wasn't hard to tell what she was thinking. 'A last roll of the dice, now that he's on his last legs. Let him get on with it.' And before I forget an Eriba Puck is a mini caravan. From Berlin, through Belgium into the regions of France and back. Over four weeks and not using motorways. Although it didn't quite work out like that.  We sometimes used the motorway a little in France a bit because of the absence of roadworks. Four and a half thousand kilometers in twenty days of travel, roughly 225 km per day. Doable without stress. We saw lots, we met lots of people, proportionally a high number of Dutch people. That prejudice that the Dutch live in mobile homes and caravans turns out to be true. We also met a lot of Germans, and a proportionally high number of pensioners. Although technically speaking I'm a pensioner myself I don't count myself in this category.
My first memorable meeting in the Eifel region was with Fritz from Dresden. We had just arrived and were sitting in front of the caravan, watching the sunset and enjoying a gin and tonic. The caravan park pitches were arranged on terraces. Fritz, maybe 75 years old, arrived with his ridiculously big car and its corresponding ridiculously big caravan. Out of respect for his age I asked Fritz if I could help. And in his strong saxonian accent, he answered in a rather superior way. Don't worry, I have a mover. Up to this point I had never heard of a mover. On my smart phone I discovered what a mover was: A precise electric parking motor with remote control for caravans. We drank a second gin and tonic and waited for the demonstration of the man from Saxonia of the remote control mover of his 2 1/2 ton caravan on the bumpy terrace. And yes, as Fritz pressed on his remote control the caravan moved However, then came the little misfortune. The caravan shot out of control down three terraces and ended up stuck in a fence. Fritz stared at his remote control. Everyone else jumped up to their feet. 12 people not including Fritz and his mover heaved the caravan back to where it should have been. Fritz says, without pausing to thank us, 'he's never done that before'. We drank another gin and tonic. 

In Collioure in the south of France, there is a camping site directly on the cliffs above the Mediterranean. It looks like a postcard. We came back from visiting the old city and drank a Banyuls as aperitif in the shadow of a cypress tree in front of our caravan. New neighbors from Tauberbischofsheim. He climbed, sweating, out from his car, in his white vest, his wife in her brand name jogging suit. Needless to say, they had an enormous german caravan and a huge german car. They began to set up. It made me think somehow of the military. Everything carefully planned, everything worked through according to the instructions. Makita electric screwdriver, huge box of equipment. The jogging brand woman disappears into the caravan. He sets up the huge canopy in front of the tent. We lean back, watch, sipping on our drinks. The white vest man fetches a long screw from his box and drills the screw with his battery screw driver into the stony ground. He notices we are watching and calls over to us, 
„That is the best there is, a stainless steel A4 6 sided wood screw driver 12 300. It goes through everything. Doesn't matter what the ground is like. Much better than the standard pegs.‘
 From the caravan comes a loud peep. The white vest man looks at us apologetically and says it is half five and that's when she watches „Between Us“ the soap opera on the telly. 
„Without „Between Us“ every day there would be no holiday.“ She comes outside and adjusts the satellite dish. „Yes, we have just come from Tarragona. A wonderful camping site. German owners of course. Everything worked perfectly. Here in Collioure I reserved a place directly at the cliff side but with the French way of thinking things just don't work. What a cheek! Mind you, I buy almost nothing here in France. We packed the car full of food from Aldi before we left, that means we know what we've got.“ 
We quickly drink down all Banyuls and flee to the restaurant.
The next morning I fetch our daily baguette from the little camping shop. But there is the woman from Tauberbischofsheim complaining bitterly in German about the foreigners on this terrible site, and how they didn't get the pitch they wanteven though she had booked here three months ago. I take off for breakfast. After our visit to Dali's egg in Cadaques the Tauberbischofsheimer have gone. It is still warm and I want to swim in the private bay of the camping site. To do that I go down an old iron stair way but still can't go for a swim because a strong wind is whipping up big waves in the sea. I go back and see that the white vest man is now sitting on the first row and is having an argument with his wife because she's now getting all of the wind, and the strong sun, directly in her face. 
Prejudices about Germans are sadly sometimes true. Arrogant, know it alls, only speaking German, overweight, with no idea what is good to eat, and wearing crappy white vest underwear.
This year we are traveling through Poland to the Baltic states. We shall see who we meet there.


From now on till June 26th Roland and Anna will be traveling from Großenbrode /Germany along the Baltic-coastline till Helsinki. Follow Roland‘s dailly Blog on  https://www.photoprojects.de/blog/

Sent from my iPhone

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