Happy birthday Ben! Today was Ben’s 36th birthday!
Today we headed into Soltau from Munster which is around a 20 minute drive. Ben’s late mum was German and his Gran lives in Soltau in Germany. Since we have been together we have visited almost once per year. I think this is our sixth or seventh visit to Germany. Last time we visited was August 2017 so two years ago, which is the longest we’ve left it.
Ben’s Gran was living at her house last time we came, but since then she sadly had a fall and broke her arm so she moved into a care home temporarily whilst it healed. She loved it so much that she decided to stay. We have seen pictures, but this is the first time we visited Germany to see where she is living now.
It was good to wake up and have a proper shower today. I had one shower at the campsite in Amsterdam, but yesterday there was a queue so Bella and I decided to skip the shower and wait until we were at Uli’s. Then we were quite tired when we got back from the lake, so skipped the shower in the evening too! A proper shower this morning in a house was amazing!
That’s the only trouble with camping. I never feel like I can shower properly. The showers at the campsite were fine, but not the same as a shower head that is movable!
A day in Soltau, Germany
For the first day in Soltau we visited Ben’s Gran at the care home at 10am in the morning. It was around a 20 minute drive from Uli’s and we were ready to leave too early, or so we thought with over one hour to spare. But by the time we got the children in the car and ran back in the house to grab the twenty things we’d forgotten, one by one, it was almost time to be there! We also popped to the supermarket on the way to grab some water and a pot of flowers for Ben’s gran.
We did bring around 8 litres of water with us, but had ran out that morning. We drink distilled water at home, so we distilled as much as possible to take with us, but then bought mineral water. I think we’ll get another large 5 litre dispenser so we can take even more distilled water on our next week long adventure.
Visiting Oma at the care home in Soltau
It was great to see Ben’s gran at the care home. We sat in her room for a short while and then she showed us around the home and the grounds. They have a shop, café and even hairdressers on site. The grounds outside are beautiful with a large pond filled with beautiful lily pads, lotus flowers and lots of green frogs! There are fountains to sit peacefully and watch, as well as an aviary with all sorts of colourful birds. We sat to watch the birds for a while as the kids loved them and it gave Ben and his gran a chance to catch up.
We then showed Ben’s gran our Mazda Bongo pop-top campervan as she was intrigued to see what we had been camping in!
After around 1.5 hours it was time to say goodbye as it was nearly his gran’s lunchtime and so we ventured off for the day and arranged to pop back at the same time to visit the next day.
A day on a budget in Soltau
Before we came to Germany we did not know how long we would see Oma Oma for (this is what the kids call Ben’s gran as gran is ‘Oma’ in German and great gran is Uhr Oma, but when Bella was little it was easier to say Oma Oma!). Because we did not know how long we would visit her for we did not make a plan for the days we had in Soltau, so we decided to just mill around Soltau for the day and not spend much money as we were trying to do this holiday on a budget and were already getting close to £1200 in total.
I will share a breakdown of all the costs in another blog post. We had hoped to do 8 days road tripping in Europe for around £1000, but that was a bit adventurous! Mostly because we needed to get breakdown cover for a 24 year old camper, travel insurance, some camping bits and pieces and a car travel kit – this added an extra few hundred onto our road trip costs!
There are some things we can use on our next trips, but we had to buy them for this trip which bumped up our costs quite a lot. Our next trip to Europe within the next year should be much cheaper and if you already have these things then your trip could be much cheaper than ours!
Anyway, so we first decided to walk through the forests near Oma Oma’s house, but then decided it would be better to go into town and to the park as it was such a hot day and we also needed to be near to toilets.
Reuben got stung by a honey bee!
On our way back to the camper an unfortunate thing happened… Reuben got stung by what I think was a honey bee!
He was walking just next to me and stopped to shake something out of his hand. It was what looked like a wasp at first, but it had goo coming out of its backside and was stuck to the pavement with the goo unable to fly away. At first I thought Reuben had squished it in his hand or something, then Reuben started crying and freaking out, so at first I thought I’d scared him by saying he had a wasp in his hand, then I realised it might have stung him but the pain was delayed.
It took a moment to get him to come to us as his head must have hurt and he didn’t want us to touch it and he was crying his eyes out. I managed to see a slight red mark through his hair line and realised the wasp must have stung him and Reuben had grabbed it with his hand, throwing it on the pavement.
We managed to hold him and look and the stinger was still in his head! I pulled it out with a tissue and could see the stinger and a part of the insect still attached!
I had a Google and saw it must be a honey bee, not a wasp, as honey bees leave their stinger and part of their abdomen when they sting!
Poor Reuben! Luckily it didn’t swell, but just hurt for a while after. Apparently they can swell up and the stinging pain can last for hours! He was OK after about half hour or so which was lucky. It must have been quite a shock and hopefully he won’t be scared of bees and wasps next time they are around him. I fear he might be after what happened!
Soltau town and Bohme park
We drove into Soltau town where we had a wonder through the town and then stopped in some shade outside Alexanders bar and restaurant to have a drink. I asked Ben if he wanted to stop for a beer and sit in the shade for a while as it was his birthday so he should have a beer! The kids wanted to stop and have an apple juice, so we stopped here for a break.
Once refreshed we went to Bohme Familienpark which is a lovely well-maintained large park next to Soltau town centre which has several play areas for the children, lots of shady patches, public toilets (!), ponds, a river with stepping stones, water features and sculptures. It was the perfect place for the children to play and for us to sit on some grass in the shade as it was 35 degrees Celsius this day so everyone was sweltering in the sun!
Lots of vegan food in the E supermarket
We had originally planned to have a meal out for Ben’s birthday in Soltau at a restaurant we had found on Google that served a few vegan meals, but then we decided to check out the supermarket instead and see if we could find a vegan pizza!
Sadly they had no vegan pizza that we could find, but a pretty huge selection of organic and vegan food so we were happy J
We bought vegan schnitzel (when in Germany…), sweet potato fries and salad to make some schnitzel wraps! We also got some vegan chocolate and vegan Magnums as a special birthday meal treat for Ben.
We went back to Munster to Uli’s house and cooked up Ben’s naughty birthday meal!
Everyone was happy to be in the cool of Uli’s house as outside felt like an oven!!
At Uli’s house we have no phone signal or WiFi which is very strange! There’s only German TV and all his books and magazines are in German too, obviously, so we have no entertainment! It does make us feel quite lost not even being able to read the news or check emails.
I always still work on holiday as I run four websites and being self-employed I have no holiday pay, so I keep working whilst away. I usually check my emails on my phone in the day and pick up any work in the evenings, so it does make me a bit panicky that I may be missing out on important work.
I also wanted to research and book a tour for when we arrive in Bruges, but we may just have to search when we are there or whilst we are driving there.
It has meant some very early nights! Well, we went to bed after a game of Monopoly on Ben’s phone!!
Here’s all of of our 8 day European road trip blog posts: