We had a leisurely start to the day in Kronach, as we were not due at Hellgeth Engineering for our Unimog tour until 1pm in Wurzbach only 30mins away. Lizzy, Lola and I went off for a run up the hills (14%!) behind us and into the woods beyond. It was my first time “canicrossing” with both dogs and they went beautifully together. Though they are used to a terrier coupling lead so they walk together usually. There were nice views back over Kronach sadly obscured by a large pylon for the best picture. It was a misty cool start but perfect for a run.
Next we set the GPS for Hellgeth Engineering and headed off the main roads through the heavily wooded Bavaria. The roads were a fair bit narrower and we had huge timber lorries coming at us apparently without pause. We were later told these 22t lorries have been caught pulling 40t, so we were pleased to arrive unscathed at the modern Hellgeth Engineering centre in the woods. It is however at the top of a range of hills which run for many kilometres along the border of what was Eastern Germany, which they are just inside. We were consequently surrounded in mist from a soon as we ascended the very long hill to the top.
We were met by the very friendly and enthusiastic Jorg, the sales manager and spent the afternoon looking in more detail than was possible at the Abentruer Allrad show, also getting to do a test drive. Hellgeth sell a overlanding Unimog build which is a chassis prepared by them and a accommodation unit built by Krug, based in the Ukraine. Definitely the best on the market and the ultimate go anywhere vehicle. The modern automatic U4023 Unimog is a very different vehicle to the ex-military models which we drove at the Unimog museum and drive much more like a Mercedes Sprinter, a cruising speed of 110kph. It has a bit of a bouncier ride quality, but then it retains all of the Unimog off roading capability with coil spring suspension, crawler gears and high ground clearance. It is something we are considering for our longer term travels and so took the great opportunity to visit the top place whilst we were nearby.
Jorg recommended another Stellplatz in nearby Bad Lobenstein for the night, only 9km away, so we headed off there next. As we drove we immediately saw quite a difference in the architecture as moved further into the old Eastern Germany, from large wooden houses, to much smaller houses covered in black slate tiles, the roads through the towns seemed smaller and even all these years later it did not have quite the same air of affluence of the rest of Germany we had seen. Although undoubtedly there has been quite significant investment. One such example being the Spa, which were were literally parked on the grounds of for the night. Another of several geothermal spas which Germany has. I grabbed my swimsuit and went for a dip as soon as we had parked up, relieved to find that swimsuits were not optional at this one. It was large pool with various massaging water shoots and jacuzzi with an outdoor heated area with a really cool fast moving whirlpool section where you could jump into the current and be zoomed around the circular pool.
Later we went for a quick walk round the town as dusk was descending over the battlements over looking the town above. We grabbed a quick bite to eat, before an early night, ahead of our big day tomorrow.