Words by Pauline Porter (Vicarious Media customer), edited by Vicarious Media
During the Christmas period, I planned my motorhome holiday and decided to visit Germany as I wanted to cycle the Romantic Road (die Romantische Strasse) using my campervan for accommodation. I went onto the Vicarious Media shop site and ordered Reise Mobil Bord Atlas with some trepidation, as knew the Stellplatze guide was in German and I am hopeless at all languages. Bord Atlas was delivered in a couple of days and I was pleased to find it came with a smaller book which listed a limited number of stopovers and Aires throughout Europe, which made my purchase better value.
I spent a little time studying Bord Atlas and with the help of photographs with each Stellplatz, GPS coordinates, and pictograms with an English key, I felt confident to use the Stellplatz guidebook. I travel alone, so I had just bought a Tom Tom satnav, which accepts the Long and Lat coordinates printed in Bord Atlas; so I knew that I would be able to find the German Stellplatze. I crossed the Channel by ferry and looked for my first stopover, which was in France. I had chosen it from the smaller Bord Atlas guidebook, set my sat nav, and studied the internal map in Reise Mobil as I didn't as yet have 100% confidence in my newly acquired toy - the satnav. The Tom Tom navigated me and my campervan to the stopover without any trouble, and the big bonus was the Aire was free.
I plotted my route through Germany following the Romantic road on the comprehensive maps in the front of Bord Atlas. Because I wanted to cycle along the Romantic Strasse, I usually chose a Stellplatz that was located between two towns. This allowed me to cycle back to the town I had driven past the previous day, then return to my motorhome to eat and sleep. Then the next day I could travel in the other direction before returning again to eat and sleep. I found by choosing to stopover at Stellplatze away from big German towns, I ended up staying at farms, vineyards and sometimes restaurants - all listed in Bord Atlas. I was amazed at the choice I had, as there are well over 3,000 Stellplatze in Bord Atlas, and how cheap my Germany cycling campervan tour proved to be. Most of the German Stellplatze I stopped over at provided electric and quite often the use of toilets and showers, which was excellent as I only have a small campervan. The most I ever paid at a stopover was €10, but quite often they were free. Bear in mind that the restaurant stopovers would like you to buy a drink or a meal and likewise the vineyards would appreciate it if you purchased a bottle of their wine - especially if overnight parking is provided for free. I was able to stay for unlimited periods, which I did at some Stellplatze when they were located in places that I wanted to explore for more than a day or two.
After cycling the scenic Romantic Road, I drove my motorhome towards the Mosel and Rhine rivers and stayed at a Bord Atlas stopover in the Eifel National Park. It was just magic as I had the place to myself in the evenings and the dawn chorus was out of this world. The Aire is in the car park of the small national park office. There is no electric, but during opening hours you can use the superb toilet facilities and for €1 you can enjoy a luxury shower. The park is home to the largest population of wild cats in Germany, but I didn't encounter any despite many cycle rides. There are lots of signposted routes for both walkers and cyclists in Eifel National Park, so this is an excellent place to stopover when you are touring Germany by motorhome.
I spent 36 nights campervanning in Germany and the average cost came to €3.25 per night; so the outlay of £22.50 to buy Bord Atlas was a sound investment and the cost was retrieved within the first week of travelling in Germany. I stopped at two German vineyards and paid €2 at one, and €4 at the other - both included electric and samples of the wine. In both cases I had a lovely evening - the vintners were so passionate about their wine! Don't be put off because Bord Atlas is mostly in German - just chose a Stellplatz on your route, punch in the coordinates and follow your satnav. It didn't let me down once, so the Atlas is very accurate. I returned from my trip with quite a lot of unspent money, so I will certainly be returning to Germany and using both Bord Atlas and the German Stellplatze much more.