When Andrew and I moved to Germany about 6 months ago, he always had this dream to go camping along a lake, with the swiss alps in the background. And when talking to people here they all said "Oh yeah! there are plenty of camping sites like that! Go to Bodensee" (or what Americans would call Lake Constance). And so in the beginning of the summer season, we quickly bought a tent and planned out the perfect weekend to cross this off of our bucket list.
First, I must admit... preparing for a camping trip in Germany is 10x harder than in the US.
Problem #1: finding a cooler. These seem to be a rarity here, and when we did finally the biggest one possible, it was definitely what Americans would consider the "small size", oh well.. we'll make it work.
Problem #2: finding s'mores supplies. Fact: Germany does not have Graham Crackers. We went with 'waffle cone cookies', close enough and very tasty! (luckily Germany has fantastic chocolate so at least that made up for it)
Problem #3: Trying to 'make ice' to keep your meats cold in the cooler when your freezer is the size of one water bottle.
Problem #4: Finding a camp site that allows you to have camp fires! Every campground we called... did not allow it. So if anyone know's of one in Germany or Austria that allows personal camp fires, let me know!
So we left work a little early on Friday, packed up the VW Golf and we were on the road! Lake Constance is about a 3 hour drive, so we thought "perfect amount of timing to drive and pitch the tent". Well... add in extra timing to pick up more food, and then a down pouring of rain which leads to a LOT of traffic, and we're pulling up to the campground front desk at 9:35pm.
We finally get to our campsite after getting lost a bit (you'll see why later), and start pitching the tent at around 9:50pm, perfect timing if you want to pitch a tent in the dark. (thank you iphone flash light). You see that picture of Andrew setting up the tent? He was NOT happy about me taking that picture (because i should have been helping)... but, now we will always have this funny memory in that image! :)
After about 25 minutes, the tent was up! And we could do what we were craving the entire drive down... GRILL dinner!
The next morning we woke up bright and early to make some breakfast. We loved the idea of using our mini grill as much as possible. So we boiled some water to make coffee in our french press, made some bacon on our cast iron skillet, and then fried some eggs (in the tasty bacon fat) .
Oh! and for some reason... this camp site did not have picnic tables like I've had in the US... so we ate on the floor!
We then took a walk around this HUGE campground.
And now i'll explain why the title says "camping"... from what I've experienced in America... camping is: A tent, food you've brought from home and a fire. (and a grill if you're lucky, but when in doubt.. use the fire).
Well here in Germany.. camping is thousands of 'campers' (big van vehicles) where they come in the beginning of the summer and stay for weeks or months. And these campers have everything... kitchens, living rooms, beds, additional outdoor tents for their 'dining room', satellite dishes for their TV's.. everything.
And then this is our site. That's our little car and if you look closely you can see our grill, and then there is our little tent. I swear people kept walking by staring at us as we were grilling outside and they were thinking "pshh.. WHAT are they doing? small little tent and grill.."
Let me tell you a little bit more about this campground, Campingplatz Gohren. It has EVERYTHING. Now I understood why people stayed the entire summer.
This is the map of the camp ground. It has: A supermarket, a restaurant, a bicycle hire, a petting zoo, a climbing wall, a sauna, and it goes on and on. Check out the supermarket!! We saw this and thought "WHY did we go food shopping before this?? We could have gotten everything here!" They also had different areas: HUGE shower stalls, a bathroom area, and a separate area to wash your dishes. Which they also had a 'dishwasher' that you could pay for... that's what the last picture is... some guys at 9:30 in the morning 'doing the dishes' with some beers in their hands.
Oh! and one more thing... If you don't want to bring down your "Camper Van", and you're not in the mood to pitch your own tent... you can rent one of these!! They are Safari Tents!! And they all have different themes (the one i peeked into was a zebra theme). They put our tent to shame...
Enough about this campground! Saturday was a bit rainy/cloudy, so we decided to explore the area. If the weather had been nicer, we would have been swimming in the lake with the gorgeous alps in the background.
We took a little drive through the towns... there are apple orchards EVERYWHERE! But unfortunately no apple picking (they don't really understand why we do that in the US). We found this cute little park, and we decided to walk through and have a little lunch picnic there. After that, we stopped at a little farmstand on the side of the street and picked up some fresh raspberries!
For dinner we made some veggie skewers...which we put together on a make shift table (aka a box) in the trunk of our car. And then some delicious marinated steak. It was sooo good!
And last... what we've been waiting for the entire trip. The s'mores!! Although we didn't have graham crackers, these waffle cone cookies were DELICIOUS!!! I will admit, I had 5 and Andrew had about 8, and the only reason we didn't have more is because we ran out of those cookies. (which didn't stop him from making some purely of marshmallow and chocolate). BTW... German marshmallows are different than ours.. its hard to explain.. but the way they roast over the fire, its different? But i was just happy that we FOUND marshmallows at the store.
We finished the night off with a few sparklers, and then headed to bed.
All in all, it was quite an experience! I always look back at time's like this where we just walk around and think "This is NOT how its like back in the US" and I LOVE that.. because that's why we're living abroad, to experience things we never expected.