Everything may have come to a stop because of Coronavirus, but it does seem like a good time to reminisce! So let’s look back at a trip we took in 2018. When we drove to the biggest off-road camper exhibition in the World, The Abenteuer and Allrad Show.
The Abenteuer and Allrad Show began in 2015 in Bad Kissingen, Germany. This spa town in Bavaria is host to thousand’s of 4×4 and off-road campervan’s, when they descend upon the area in May or June. A separate location, a little further out of town is where the actual exhibition takes place. Here, you can buy anything from off-road maps to the biggest 4×4 camper truck’s. It’s certainly an event like no other as well as an exceptional sight to see.
This is a campervan show like no other and we couldn’t wait to see what was in store. Leaving the UK on a hot Sunday during the last week of May, little did we know it would be one of the hottest Summer’s ever. Our route took us on the ferry from Dover, enjoying access to the Premium Lounge for the bargain price of £12 each!
We spent our time eating nibbles from a buffet, washed down with a sip of Prosecco! Then we were ready to disembark at Dunkirk. Just over an hour later we’d arrived at Brugge, a familiar favourite and perfect for our first overnight stop. There’s a really good motorhome Aire a few minutes walk from the centre, making it even more ideal.
The drive from Brugge to Germany is any easy one. As the Rhine came into view, we soon found ourselves at the historic town of Koblenz. The great thing about Germany, like many European countries, they have an excellent system for motorhome’s to stop the night or Stellplatz. We found a perfect one outside a campground, looking out across the water where the River Rhine and Mosel meet.
We paid our €18 which included electric and access to the campsite dump area and settled on the large parking bay. No sooner had we sat out for lunch, than our friendly German neighbours came over with some local cooked meat as a welcome gesture!
The afternoon saw us heading off by ferry boat across the river to the centre of Koblenz. I’d last been here on a school trip, as a teenager and was amazed by just how nice it was. The historic old town was bustling and lead us to beautiful gardens, ornate buildings and the glorious river.
A cable car took tourists across the water to a high Fortress on a hill, it all looked intriguing.
An early start beckoned from Koblenz, taking us to Echzell an hour and a half drive away and home to La Strada. The weather was intensely hot again as we pulled into the forecourt of the factory, where our Regent S was made a few year’s earlier.
We’d come to collect a replacement control panel and received a warm welcome from the manager, Mario. It was a good opportunity to take a look around the showroom, before leaving for Bad Kissingen and the Abenteuer and Allrad Show itself.
A further hour and 30 minutes from the La Strada factory and we arrived at Bad Kissingen. It was now Wednesday, the day before the Abenteuer and Allrad show officially opened it’s doors.
It was midday as we pulled up to join the queue of mega trucks arriving. The organisers had specifically stated that here should be no arrivals before Wednesday. We wondered how many had ignored this request, as we caught sight of fields full of 4×4 camper vehicles of every description.
We’d heard from a few fellow British enthusiast’s that the camping fields were already full. As usual with these things, this turned out to be nothing more than either scaremongering or mis-informed judgement, either way there was plenty of space.
It soon became apparent from the team on the gate, that people had just turned up early. These were now pitched up amongst the fields nearest to the town. This was where we’d come to, the first set of fields alongside the town centre and a handy supermarket.
Finding an ideal spot to camp was a little more difficult than we first thought. Despite there being loads of nooks and crannies, many were already full or fenced off.
Plastic tape had been put across some areas, saved for friends of those already on site. Large groups took up other sections, many had set up camp some time before we’d arrived! We felt like we may have missed the boat!
After driving round the whole of camp 1 a couple of times, we finally settled on a grassy place to park up. Some areas had already turned to mud, despite the hot weather. Other places were dry and dusty, what we didn’t want was to be covered in a cloud of dirt every time something drove by.
It wasn’t long before the empty spaces filled up. Huge overland trucks of every type towered above us as they passed. There seemed to be something for everyone here.
As we took shelter from the sun under our sun umbrella, the ongoing arrivals provided our entertainment. Our Sprinter 4×4 seemed tiny compared to those big boy trucks now surrounding us. Although plenty of smaller off-road camper’s soon slotted into the left-over smaller spaces.
The following morning we were up with the larks to head off to the actual show ground itself. Shuttle buses from the entrance of our camping field ferried people back and forth. The queue for the bus was huge, we must have waited 30 minutes before finally reaching the front and boarding a bus.
Soon we were on the road for the 4 mile trip to the show. The route took us passed fields of overland trucks and 4×4 campervan’s, all camping at more of the show’s camping fields, surrounding the town. It soon became apparent why this is the World’s biggest overland camper show!
The heat was intense, so humid by the time we got to the show ground. We’d bought our ticket online in advance, so we were straight in to the exhibition where we soon realised just how many vehicles were on sale.
Every kind of overland campervan was here on display. If you were starting from scratch, goodness know’s what you’d look at first!
We spent the day wondering round, taking in the amazing world of overland travel. It wasn’t all about the outfit either, the accessories were well worth a look. The only problem was the heat, we love hot weather, but this had us searching for shade and queuing for water, but so was everyone else!
By late afternoon, we were exhausted so retreated back to the van for some rest. The bus ride was about 15 minutes from the campground, too far for us to walk in the heat.
During the evening, the smell of campfire’s and BBQ’s filled the warm air. The camping ground became a hub of activity for people sharing information and admiring each-other’s van.
Being sat out on a main thorough-fare provided us with an ideal location to engage in conversation. It was great to hear people’s stories, some who’d come from all over the world to the show.
One couple stopped to talk, who’d flown in especially from South America, where they’d left their own overland campervan. They were fascinating, having been on the road for years, crossing into various countries in the process.
Other’s were just starting on their overland journey, taking the first steps into buying a truck. Then there were those who dreamed of getting on the road, but just couldn’t spare the time. Too many commitments but an ambition to one day be able to travel in one of these amazing vehicles.
After making use of the €2 hot shower’s at the temporary shower block on the camping field, we headed off for day 2. The campgrounds were now full to bursting, every field filled as far as the eye could see with every conceivable 4×4 campervan.
Getting water to the van would have been tricky from where we’d parked up, so every bit we could save seemed wise.
Strangely enough, there were no queues for the bus, so getting to the show was quick and easy. This time, we concentrated on accessories first. We needed an outdoor table and soon found a lightweight one that would do the job.
We couldn’t resist another look at the huge range of 4×4 campervan options, wondering if people were buying or just dreaming!
The prices ran into hundred’s of thousands of Euro’s, nothing here was cheap and everything was big on quality.
Nigel was in Landrover heaven here. He’s always wanted an overland camper that’s a Landrover, but I’ve been reluctant. As the Landrover’s kept rolling on in, he was more than entertained.
The good thing about the Abenteuer and Allrad is that you don’t have to go into the show itself to enjoy the experience. Just wondering around the camping fields provides enough enjoyment. Checking out the various layouts, designs and quirky ideas, it’s just a joy to be a part of it all.
Then there’s the big beast trucks, these in some ways are the real attraction for many. I suppose it’s not every day that you get to be up close to these spectacular homes on wheels. There’s something exciiting about the thought of riding off across the dessert in one of these huge trucks.
To be honest, as we weren’t buying a vehicle, by the time we got to day 3 we’d seen everything we needed to. As the weather was so perfect, we decided to have a lazy day at the van to start planning for our next destination as we headed towards Italy.
It was still fascinating watching the colossal and unusual come and go. The fields were still full, as one van left another filled its place. The grassy roads had become either a mud bath, despite having no rain, or else just clouds of dust from the dead grass.
Apparently the previous year had rained cats and dogs, the place was a mud bath and we could see how if it was so bad in some parts now.
It got so dusty, that we began to wish it would rain, to dampen the clouds filling up the air. Oh well, I suppose it would get us all into the realistic life of overland travel!
With everything available on site, this show is really well planned out. We were lucky with our camping field, being within walking distance to the town, it was easy to pop out for the odd bit of food at the supermarket.
Plenty of fast food stalls, coffee outlets and bars meant we could easily grab a quick drink or a hot dog! Most people seemed to mingle within groups, so we felt a bit left out being here on our own!
Portable loos were placed around the fields, but you’d have to be quite brave to use them! Overall we thought it was really well organised with everything we needed for a few days pitched up.
As the overland market grows and the 4×4 campervan trend increases, the Abenteuer and Allrad can only go from strength to strength.
Finger’s crossed next year will be virus-free and we can once again return to the biggest overland camper show in the World!