Bad Segeberg

aerial view from ACSI

Kluthseecamp Seeblick    August 2008

This site is well-placed for visiting Hamburg, Lubeck and the Baltic Coast. It's a large, well-run site, mostly level and grassy. There are a lot of semi-permanent caravans but plenty of room for tourers. A few pitches are marked out with hedges but most of the site consists of a large field, so you can park anywhere, facing in any direction - rather nice not to be regimented!

The 2 toilet blocks are excellent. Entrance is by 'sep' key and the showers are free. The children's washing facilities are brilliant - little basins with Mickey Mouse taps, and a toddlers' bath in the shape of a red car!

There is a shop, where you can order rolls for breakfast, and a 'gaststube' for snacks and drinks. There is entertainment in high season. The swimming pool is half-open, half-covered, which is useful as the weather is pretty similar to the UK. There is also a small spa area with massage, saunas etc. At the far end of the site is a small lake with a bathing beach. There is a large privately-owned restaurant by the lake.

The nearby town of Bad Segeburg is modern and pleasant with plenty of shops. It's famous for its spectacular Wild West show which takes place every year from June to September. Another attraction which would appeal to children is Noctalis, a sort of zoo/museum entirely devoted to bats! There is also another, larger, lake, the Grosse Segeburger See, with walking and cycling paths.

However, for us the attraction was the convenient position near to many historic towns. We took the train from Bad Segeburg to Hamburg, which is an interesting city though perhaps not as picturesque as some, having been badly damaged in the war. An open-topped bus tour is a good way to get a taste of the city. Another fascinating town is Lubeck, 30 km from the campsite. It was a member of the Hanseatic League and is full of wonderful medieval buildings of red brick and churches with tall, narrow spires, very different in style from the Baroque churches of Bavaria. It's also worth exploring the Baltic coast, which has several seaside resorts with white sand and warm, shallow water, and several historic towns like Wismar and Rostock. It's hard to believe these lovely places are in the former East Germany, although the outskirts are usually marred by ranks of grim, barrack-like blocks of flats. All in all a fascinating area, highly recommended.

Bielefeld

CampingPark Meyer zu Bentrup    August 2008

This is a useful overnight stop if you have used the Hull-Rotterdam ferry and are on the way to the Hamburg area. It's a large site but is about 90% permanent caravans. There is a small, grassy area for tourers, not divided into separate pitches. There's a beer garden, and bread can be ordered for breakfast.

The toilet block is new and very smart, complete with piped music! There is a small charge for the showers, using a 'sep' key.
The town of Bielefeld has a castle and some interesting old buildings but most of the centre is new as it was bombed in the war. There are walks in the nearby Teutoberg Forest, which will be interesting to classicists as the place where Varus lost the legions in the time of Augustus

Grav Insel

Erholungszentrum    May 2016

This site is situated on the lower Rhine, not far from the border with the Netherlands, and the countryside looks very Dutch, with flat grasslands, waterways and dykes. It's bordered on one side by the river and on the other by a lake, and there is plenty of provision for swimming, boating and fishing. It's the biggest site we've ever stayed on - the size of a small town! There are 500 touring pitches but many more permanent caravans, not to mention bungalows, ready-erected tents and even smart new touring caravans complete with awnings for rent.

There is one massive central building which houses most of the facilities. These include a huge restaurant, bar, snack-bar and takeaway, and below them is a huge atrium dotted with classical statues and several amusement arcade machines, with piped music. Off this atrium are the toilets and showers, which are large in every sense - lots of cubicles, and the cubicles are really big. You could get 4 people in one of the showers! In addition there are mother-and-child and father-and-child cubicles which are even bigger, and low down wash basins for children. It's all very smart and clean, with soap and air blade hand dryers. OH reported that each of the urinals was painted the name of an alcoholic drink - beer, wine, schnapps etc, and a short sentence, presumably a joke - unfortunately our German was too limited to work out what it said!

Round the side of the central building is a big washing-up room and commercial-size launderette, and round the back is a big supermarket.

There is a large children's playground and even a petting zoo. In high season there are lots of activities and entertainments laid on. And there are bikes to rent as the area is ideal for cycling. In fact the site is so big a bike would be useful for getting around it!

The touring area is large, level and grassy. There didn't seem to be any marked pitches, but I imagine that in summer when it gets very busy this would be more organised. The staff were a little off-hand but were busy getting things ready for the season.

It's the sort of site where you would never need to go outside the gates - everything was provided, including an ATM. Although not the type of site we prefer, it was fine for a short stop on our way home, but for families with children to keep entertained it looked ideal.

Clausthal-Zellerfield

Campingplatz Prahljust    July 2012

This is a large site on a lake in the Harz Mountains area. There are a lot of permanent pitches and the site is open all year round. The touring pitches vary a lot in size and position, but are all grassy, fairly level, and most have a small gravelled hardstanding area in the centre of the pitch. They are numbered but not otherwise marked or divided.

We were there during a long period of wet weather and it was all very muddy, and the grass was very long as the rain had made it impossible to mow. June/July 2011 was a particularly bad summer all over northern Europe so I think we probably saw the site at its worst – when the sun shone it was much more attractive!

There are three large sanitary blocks of a good standard. Showers are push-button and there is plenty of hot water. Because the site stays open for winter sports enthusiasts the facilities are all well- enclosed. Washing machines and dryers are 3 euros each.

The site is surrounded by hills and forest and popular with walkers. There are good facilities for tent campers – a large room with a cooker and microwave, and tables and chairs. It’s also good for dog-owners, as you can take up to five dogs, and they have their own shower! The lake can be used for swimming, boating and fishing. There is also a small indoor swimming pool and a sauna. We didn’t use the bar and restaurant, but they looked pleasant.

Camping Cheques can be used all year round, which makes it good value. Electricity use above a certain amount is metered. We were there for 5 nights and paid only 3. 80 euros extra. Wifi is free throughout but the connection was not very good when we were there.

There are several supermarkets in the nearby town of Clausthal, and also a big farmers’ market every Thursday evening in summer. There are plenty of things to see in the vicinity: the picturesque old towns of Goslar and Wernegerode, and the narrow-gauge steam railway which goes to the summit of the Brocken, the highest point in the Harz.

There is a large children's playground, and given good weather this would make a good base for a family who enjoy outdoor activities.

Dresden

Camping Luxoase    August 2008  &  July 2012

This is an excellent site conveniently situated for visiting Dresden, the spectacular rocky scenery of 'Swiss Saxony', and many interesting castles and historic houses. The reception staff are very helpful and speak good English. Like many German sites, the gates are closed between 1 and 3 pm. The pitches are large and level, mostly grass but with a few hardstanding. The toilet facilities are among the best we have encountered, with very roomy showers, plentiful and controllable hot water, children's showers, and even a special cubicle in the ladies' for hairwashing, with a shower attachment on the tap. The dishwashing and laundry facilities are also very good. There is a small but well-stocked shop which stays open until 10pm, as does reception. There are also visiting tradesmen selling fruit and veg, and once a week a gingerbread van! The only drawback to the site is that it's quite a long drive to a large supermarket - we found a Rewe at Bishop Werdjerda.

There is cycle-hire and horse-riding, two children's playgrounds, and organised activities for children and adults, but all very low-key so there is no disturbance to those who don't want to join in. There is a small lake adjacent to the site with several small bathing beaches. The restaurant does delicious and very filling German-style food. The site runs a bus trip to Dresden once a week, and also one to Prague, which is not far away.

We were pleasantly surprised at how much there was to see in the surrounding area - Reception has details and maps. We particularly enjoyed Schloss Moritzburg, and the Bastei in Swiss Saxony. But the highlight of our stay was our day in Dresden, which is a remarkable city, almost totally destroyed by Allied bombers but painstakingly restored to its Baroque glory. This is a site and an area that we would recommend highly

Passau

Feriendorf Bayerwald  May 2016

This very pleasant site is set in pretty, rolling countryside about 20 km from Passau. It's very much aimed at families, with plenty of outdoor activities such as tennis, crazy golf, trampolines and a swimming pool, and a nearby lake, Rannasee, has beaches and boats for hire. We were there in low season and it was very peaceful and relaxing. The pitches are numbered but not otherwise marked out, and are a good size. There are also bungalows and ready-erected tents for hire, but everything is quite widely spread out so even in summer it wouldn't feel crowded.

The restaurant has a fairly limited menu but is good value - we had a very filling three-course set meal for 14 euros.

The toilet block is modern, clean and well equipped for children with low level washbasins and a big baby changing room. The showers are operated by a SEP card. There's a big laundry room with several washing machines and dryers, laundry sinks and even a spin dryer, also plenty of washing up sinks with draining racks.

The friendly reception staff speak good English, and offered us a cup of coffee when we arrived, which was a nice touch! There's a small shop in reception and lots of information about the surrounding area. The village of Gottsdorf is within walking distance, and a bit further afield the picturesque little towns of Griesbach and Obernzell. A visit to Passau is a must - it's where three rivers, the Danube, Inn and Ilz meet, and it's a staging post for the huge river cruise boats. Although Germany isn't normally one of our favourite destinations, we really enjoyed this area and this site

Potsdam

Campingpark Sanssouci Gaisberg    August 2008

The first thing we noticed on arrival was a shoe-rack outside reception with a collection of odd shoes, and a sign in German warning campers not to leave shoes outside as a fox was stealing them! Another amusing feature of the site was that all the toilet cubicles had different names on the doors - girls' names in the mens' toilets and boys' names in the ladies!

We were allocated a pitch and led there by a young woman on a bike. She asked us if we were with the Caravan Club, but I don't know if that meant we got a better or worse pitch! The pitches were not marked in any way and seemed a bit haphazard and on the small side, but of course being August it was pretty full. The ground was sandy and there were lots of trees, which meant we were unable to get a TV signal. As there were so many units crammed in together it was quite noisy. There didn't seem to be many non-Germans, but we met the odd Brit in the washing-up room and exchanged stories and tips - always one of the best ways to find out where to go and what to do!

The site has its own small beach on the lake with a roped-off area for swimming, which was popular with children, and is surrounded by forest criss-crossed by cycle paths.

We took advantage of the free minibus to the tram stop and set off for Berlin. It's a large and complex city with dozens of museums and galleries and it can be quite bewildering, so we took an open-top bus tour to get our bearings, then did some exploration on foot. We only saw a fraction of it so returned next day and visited some museums and art galleries. Unfortunately the queues for the Radio Tower and the Reichstag were enormous. You need to get there early in the morning! Top tip - plan in advance what you want to see, as in a couple of days you can only scratch the surface.

Potsdam itself is a very interesting town with a pleasant pedestrian centre with lots of pavement cafes. The main attraction is Sanssouci Park, a vast wooded park dotted with fountains, statues and ornate Baroque palaces. Entrance to the park is free but there is a fee to enter the various palaces and other buildings - there are at least a dozen, including a Chinese pagoda, a windmill and a Roman bath, and you can choose how many, or how few, to visit. Another top tip - take sandwiches and a drink, because we didn't see many places to get refreshments

Campingpark Sanssouci Gaisberg