Home » world » Travel through Germany in a camper – with the eyes of a British man

Travel through Germany in a camper – with the eyes of a British man

Er is considered to be the inventor of the modern travel guide: John Murray (1808–1892). Travel guides appeared between 1836 and 1901 (handbooks for travellers) of the British, which one because of their red binding Red Books called. At that time they were considered a kind of “Bible” for travelers.

In 1836 the first volume of the series, the “Handbuch für Norddeutschland” (Handbook for Northern Germany) appeared. Two years later that for southern Germany. For decades they shaped the image of many visitors to Germany.

By chance Christian Eisert, a Berlin TV writer and satirist, got his hands on the books and wondered what it would be like to “go on a trip abroad in Germany with the foreign gaze of the British”. In short: to follow Murray’s footsteps. Eisert describes his journey through time in a recently published book.

WORLD: Did you get lost often on your tour of Germany?

Christian Eisert: Not me, but my GPS. Occasionally my camper and I drove on freshly paved roads, but according to the navigation system, over smooth green. Incidentally, the fact that I used a GPS is not an anachronism. Murray explicitly recommends entrusting yourself to a knowledgeable travel guide in unfamiliar areas. Sometimes, however, my electronic travel guide irritated me with announcements like: “Go straight on at the roundabout.”

WORLD: But surely you were faster than Murray in the carriage?

Owned: Yes, although I rarely covered more than 200 kilometers a day, leisurely traveling sharpens the view. There are some things you don’t want to discover at all – I’m just saying Lübeck!

WORLD: So? What about Lübeck?

Owned: A fantastic city. The hotel beds, however! At least in mine, according to the mattress protector, other guests had a special preference for … – let’s say latte macchiato. No wonder it was Murray’s duty to point out to British travelers “the full extent of the misery they would be exposed to if they slept in German beds.”

WORLD: Murray seems to have been a real blasphemer, what else bothered him about Germany?

Owned: Well, his handbooks contain some warnings, such as that Bavarians have lousy roads and don’t know how to cook meat; that Regensburg was very gloomy and that once magnificent Nuremberg had become a boring provincial town.

Or that you could get malaria if you went to Stuttgart because the surrounding hills prevented free air circulation. These are of course very subjective impressions, I gained completely different ones. Often times even better. However, I can’t say anything about Stuttgart, I drove around the city to be on the safe side. On country roads, of course.

also read

WORLD: Why country roads?

Owned: I saw myself as a time traveler and 200 years ago there were no highways. That’s why I drove on about 6000 kilometers of country roads through Germany. That’s almost a thousand roundabouts! Most of the time I found a campsite.

WORLD: So only campsites in the future?

Owned: There are two ways of camping. The stationary one, where you stay in one place the whole time and turn grilled sausages every now and then or look after the plot boundary hedge. And the mobile. When you are out and about almost every day. Some want to explore the world in the iconic VW bus and others in the elephant-sized luxury camper in Baden-Württemberg.

In terms of motorhome technology, I was in between because I was traveling in a crossover utility vehicle. In German: converted delivery van. It rattled like an old carriage.

Christian Eisert drove through Germany in a converted delivery van

Towards the sunset: Christian Eisert drove through Germany in a converted delivery van

Source: Christian Eisert

WORLD: Which brings us back to Murray. Did you actually check all of Murray’s criticisms during your tour?

Owned: I didn’t want to check all of them, he was already quite a bitch.

WORLD: So bad?

Owned: I quote from the chapter “Bavarian Hotels”: “In the rooms, the type of washing facility, which is usually limited to a flat casserole dish, a carafe or a water cup and a handkerchief instead of a towel, reveals the habit of Germans in this regard and shows the simple way in which your washing request is satisfied. “

also read

Typical in England: wash basins with separate taps

WORLD: Such honesty is missing today in modern travel guides. There are warnings of dangers, but as a rule there are no damning judgments about cities, even if the places are ugly. You, on the other hand, do not have to hold back, so please give an honest answer: What can you save yourself in Germany?

Owned: Even the ugly can be interesting. But if you don’t want to waste time, you should avoid Koblenz, because it is a cable drawer that has become the city with elevated streets, underpasses and bridges next to, above and above all in a mess. Koblenz became more beautiful when I managed to come out again.

And I found Dresden to be a completely disneyed baroque adventure park. In Murray’s time, the structure was still original. He was convinced that in Dresden “the German language was spoken with tolerable purity”. Oh well…

As for Hamburg, I have to agree with Murray. He wrote: “The clothing that you see on the streets of Hamburg is not in the least distinguishable”. When I strolled through HafenCity, the residents not only wore Burberry quilting, their vests were even color-coordinated with those of their dogs.

WORLD: Does a different perception play a role, because you were born in dreary East Berlin?

Owned: If so, then only because growing up in the GDR sharpened the eye for nuances. But that doesn’t mean that I viewed eastern Germany more benevolently. A friend who accompanied me from time to time and whose mother tongue is not German said that some cities in Brandenburg are “dead places”. You can not express it any better.

WORLD: Everything is well renovated and nice to look at.

Owned: That’s true and that’s why anyone who wants to make a film about the last few years of the GDR has to shoot in Upper Franconia. In the former zone border area it looks very much like late real socialism today. Quite attractive.

also read

Popular camping: There were over 500 government sites in the GDR, but an

WORLD: Back to Murray, what has happened in culinary terms in Germany over the past 200 years?

Owned: Murray thought German cuisine was terrible. He’d be happier now. There is more culinary choice. Germany has literally become a melting pot. For example, in Herzberg, Brandenburg, I ate very good Italian with Albanians from Macedonia. A recommendation that didn’t come from Murray. He suggested other inns.

WORLD: Are there still many of them?

Owned: A surprising number, but the names often changed because of new owners or because the traditional names no longer match the spirit of the times. The hotel “Drei Mohren” in Augsburg, for example, has been called since summer 2020 after the street on which it is written “Maximilian’s”. Amnesty’s Augsburg youth group had filed a petition against the old name. Others have not changed by name, and hardly outwardly either. In the course of the trip I developed a weakness for old inns.

WORLD: Can you recommend any?

Owned: Everyone who is called “Krone” or “Post” or has something with “golden” in their name. And if it doesn’t taste good there, the meal isn’t unsuccessful, it’s murray-esque.

Christian Eisert from Berlin is an author and satirist

Christian Eisert from Berlin is an author and satirist

Source: Ralf Rühmeier

WORLD: If you want to follow your route but only have two weeks to go – where should you drive your camper first?

Owned: Every corner of Germany has beautiful, important and curious things. If you love relaxed sightseeing in historic city centers, it is best to do it in the morning between six and nine o’clock. Parking spaces are free and you can have breakfast in the local bakeries.

also read

Lonely on an alpine pasture: “The most beautiful linden tree we've all seen

WORLD: And what remains of Murray’s findings?

Owned: For the first time, Murray relied on the principle of what is worth seeing in his travel guides and introduced a star rating for historic city centers, palaces, castles, churches and monasteries. These are the same sights that we still visit today.

We just love the old. That is why nobody makes a trip to the prefabricated buildings in Marzahn and Hellersdorf when visiting Berlin. In 200 years it might look different.

Christian Eisert’s book “It is preferable to travel with your own duvet” is on December 1, 2021 Polyglott Verlag published, it has 272 pages and costs 16.99 euros.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.