We woke up early in the morning, a young guy pulled up in his car and began unlocking the gates and workshop, looking over at our van in curiosity! As it was so early we thought we’d give it a while before crashing in with our limited German vocabulary! After the other mechanics had arrived and a couple of customers had dropped off their cars, Tris decided to make for the reception and see if he could make any sense to them…
Although greeted with friendly smiles, it turned out that none of them seemed to speak a word of English! (Not that we expected it! It was Germany after all!) Google Translator to the rescue! After managing to explain to who we think was probably the boss man that we suspected an issue with our water pump he said he’d send a mechanic out to take a look. A few moments later an older chap came walking across the yard, straight to the back of the van and whipping of the engine lid, being an older German mechanic, he’d probably “cut his teeth” with these vans, possibly even on the old air cooled models! Can’t get better than that! Now like we said, our German vocab is limited, but we both understood him crystal clear when he came out with “wasserpump kaput!”
Our suspicions had been confirmed! Our new water pump that had been fitted less than a year ago and covered a mere 10,000 miles was dead.
Back to the reception desk, Google Translator at the ready, to ask for a quote. After a quick ring round his parts suppliers the boss man came back with a figure of €300 including parts, not that we had much choice other than to accept (we didn’t dare drive it any further as the bearing in our last water pump had collapsed resulting in a steamy cloud back in Attleborough, Norfolk!) but we thought it was pretty reasonable, let’s face it, he was kinda in the driving seat and could have pulled our pants down! So fair play to him there!
After translating to him that we were a little frustrated at the part failing so soon we accepted the quote but he then however explained that due to it being a bank holiday Monday he wasn’t going to be able to fit us in until the Wednesday, not the end of the world as we had enough food and water on board to survive but it did mean however that we would be stranded on this industrial estate a few miles out of town for the next 4 or 5 days… hey ho! He was kind enough to let us camp out on his forecourt, unfortunately there wasn’t a drop of beer in the van meaning that Tris’s birthday was gonna be a sober one!
We parked up and that was that, or so we thought…
An hour or so past and the boss man came walking up to the van, offering his phone to Tris as if there was someone who wanted to speak with him… it turned out it was a friend of the boss who spoke English and was translating on his behalf, the message he wanted to get across was that the boss wanted to offer us a courtesy car for the weekend, free of charge!!! All he asked was back at the garage by Tuesday morning and that we replaced what fuel we used (which in our book would have been a given anyway!) I think it goes without saying that we snapped up this kind offer!
Now, this is where the breakdown story has taken a turn, until now it was a complete inconvenience, however it had now become an advantage, LEZs or Low Emission Zones affect a fair few places/cities across Europe, in the U.K. I believe there is only one, in London. Whereas Germany is home to the most LEZs out of all the EU countries , which is great, unless you drive a 1984 VW T25 or even an early model of T5 we were later told?! We had planned to visit Stuttgart, to visit the Porsche museum, it was going to be a bit of an ordeal as Stuttgart was one of the many LEZs within Germany meaning that we’d need to sort out secure parking for the van outside of the city and organise which public transport we would need to use to get us there… But this was no longer an issue, we now possessed a modern, LEZ compliant, car to get there with! Result!
We obviously ok’d it with the boss man first as Stuttgart was a good 200km round trip (hardly a trip to the shop!) but he was more than happy for us to go wherever we pleased! We spent the rest of the day cruising round the Black Forest and got up early the following day to set off for Stuttgart!
The museum was amazing! So many beautiful and interesting cars including the first car to ever bear the name Porsche, the first ever 911 turbo and of course many of their competition cars! The entry fee was far from extortionate at €8 p/p and even the prices in the cafe were fair (we didn’t have a van with us to cook in!) I think it’s another one of those “we’ll let the photos do the talking” moments! Definitely worth a visit if you get the chance though!
Not that we were going to top Sunday’s outing in a hurry! But we thought we better make use of the car as we had it for another day, and went for another drive, this time to a place called Heidelberg, we’re glad we did as it was a really nice city and due to it being another LEZ we probably wouldn’t have bothered making the effort to visit if we’d been in the van!
On the way back to “base camp” we made sure that the car was full of petrol along with beer as this would be our last opportunity to pick up birthday beverages for the next day and of course a crate of beers for the guys at the mechanics!
The next day we were up early to hand over the car keys and as Zo was so annoyed that I was without birthday cake (not sure who was missing birthday cake more) we took a walk over to a furniture shop we had spotted on the industrial estate which advertised a cafe; they offered a variety of very tasty cakes that Zo and I enjoyed very much!
It was one of the stranger birthdays I’ve had, after a few beers in the van on the garage forecourt we returned to the cafe to sample their lunch menu, a decent portion of schnitzel and chips served with beer before returning back to the van for an afternoon and evening of more beer!
The next day was Wednesday, the big day! We were up early again and this time we handed the keys over to the mechanics so they could “work their magic” before once again taking a walk to the cafe, this time to see what their breakfast menu had to offer… (thankfully the cafe staff seemed to be on a shift/rota system which meant that we weren’t served by the same person every time, otherwise we might’ve seemed a bit, odd) we killed some time on their wifi before heading back to the garage who’d sorted Charlie!
He said that there were no other problems and it must’ve been a faulty so after returning us the old pump and presenting us with the bill, which to our delight was LESS than he had quoted! (As if he hadn’t done enough for us, free camping pitch and transport!) we gladly sorted him out with a crate of beers (and some money!) before making our way, Charlie Brown Van was back on the road!
And if you are ever in the area of Baden-Baden and in need of any sort of mechanical assistance than we would strongly recommend these guys at Weststadt Auto-Services for a helpful and friendly service! Cheers again guys!