North Sea Oysters And Glamping

Pseudo-Review of the T6 California Edition VW Bulli

Well. There you have it, dear worst-reader. I finally did it. Although it’s not a notch on (my) bucket list (on account I don’t have the privilege and inner-banality of a bucket list), I finally took the plunge and cruised around in a (modern) hippie van souped-up as a modern day Glamper. And what a Glamper it is. With that in worst-mind, let’s have a quick review of the VW Bulli T6.

First. My better-half and I spent three weeks driving around the German, Polish and Danish baltic coast starting with a short stint in Berlin and then to upper Usedom. From there we went to Rügen, Rømø and ended it all in Sylt where I ate some of the best oysters ever. Our camp grounds of choice were either on the Baltic Sea or any of the various and vast lakes in north eastern Germany. Accompanied by our trusty e-bikes, we would setup camp with the van and sight-see on two wheels, including, by-the-buy, Beckett the killer pug in a basket. The thing is, dear worst-reader, this VW wunder-van is one cool piece of kit–and Beckett the killer pug, at fourteen, didn’t seem to mind hanging out with us. The worst-thing, though, I’m sure, is that we didn’t get to use half of what the VW Bulli is capable of. Reason for that requires a bit of nit-picking.

The Bad

It took us three to four nights to figure out the Bullies tech. For example. This vehicle/camper comes with an onboard diesel heater. It has a burner/heater underneath the cabin that siphons diesel from the vehicles tank. After the third night, when it got cold, we screwed something up with the onboard computer that controls the heater. We spent a night in six degrees celsius without heat. Thank goodness for German down covers and a lot of body heat, including whatever Beckett the killer pug could spare. The next morning customer service from the van rental company talked me through an onboard computer reset that required pulling a fuse underneath the driver’s seat. The reset worked. Which is a good thing cause we needed it as we received no favour from the weather for the rest of the trip.

The other issue was the propane tank and the twin stove burners that are part of the onboard kitchen that is included with this model of camping Bulli. There was a serious leak in the gas line which meant our gas bottle was empty after the first three nights–and I assure, dear worst-reader, we smelled it the whole time. Although it was easy replacing the propane bottle, there was nothing customer service could do for us regarding the leak–other than recommending we buy a separate camping burner so that would could cook our tea in the morning. After a bit of convincing (my better-half who was afraid of the obscene smell of propane) I resorted to opening and closing the propane bottle as we used the stove. An inconvenience but we got used to it–and nothing exploded.

Although the van is only two years old and has about twenty-thousand kilometres on it, it has probably gotten quite a bit of use. Camping–or as I’ve learned: Glamping–has surged during the pandemic for Germans. Considering the trickery of this vehicle, I’m wondering how many others have had issues with it and have dealt with those issues without respecting the extremely limited tolerances of how this thing is put together.

Another problem was the pop-up roof, which is where we slept the whole time on account it was just too cool to resist. As mentioned, we didn’t have a lot of luck with the North German weather. At times both wind and rain was brutal. This may or may not have caused the pop-up roof to not lock in place and the surrounding (roof) tent would sag. We had to lower and then raise the roof a few times so that it would re-lock. When not locked (or sagging) the lights in the cabin wouldn’t work, the board computer kept giving us weird warnings, all of which was especially problematic at night as the sides and front of the roof would flap around like a loose tent thereby scaring Dorothy in her quest for the Wizard of (my) Oz.

The last nit-pick I’ll mention has more to do with worst-moi than the vehicle. Although we rented a porti-potti I was hellbent on NOT pissing in a bucket, don’t you know. Since I grew up in poor suburban-hell #Americant I’ve had about enough of pissing in buckets. But that’s neither here nor there, eh, dear worst-reader. The most important thing about Glamping in an imaginary hippie vehicle is whether or not you can do it without an onboard toilet. Since we only stayed in camping parks, toilet access was no problem when climbing around the rooftop bed or walking in the middle of a cold night to the camping facilities.

The Good

It was a fight, don’t you know, dear worst-reader. My better-half wanted to go Glamping and I wanted room service with a short layover in Bangkok. Well. We know who won. The only concession I earned from the vacation fight was that we wouldn’t rent one of those uncool (spiesig) mobile home truck/camper/things–onboard toilet be damned! For worst-moi it was the VW camper–and dreams of hippies–or nothing. But get this, dear worst-reader. My better-half is so impressed with this vehicle after three weeks of first-world Glamping struggle, she asked a number of times if we should buy one. WTF? To make things worse, I didn’t immediately discard the question. The thing is, dear worst-reader, we are at the point in our lives where we don’t need a car. That is to worst-say, we need a car sometimes–like for extreme weather shopping and errands–but otherwise why not replace the car with a modern hippie van where we could take off every other weekend, getting more use out of four wheels, and if we need to do some shopping or run some errands we can easily do it with this van. That’s the trick with this vehicle, dear worst-reader. You can either camp in it or if you want to see parts of the inner city of a small town (or go shopping) in God knows where Europe you can park this thing anywhere a car can park. Which we did a number of times.

We drove for three weeks well over two thousand kilometres. The VW bus cruises on the Autobahn and back roads with ease and comfort–including DDR backroads. It has plenty of storage space, two beds, swivel driver and passenger seats and a heater that heats the cabin with ease–even when sleeping in the pop-up bed at some pretty low temperatures. Once we figured out how to use the leaky propane stove–which I’m sure can be easily fixed–we were able to cook several meals (zoodles with homemade Bolognese sauce and plenty of fresh eighteen month old parmesan or a cheese and mushroom omelette) in the cabin, subverting bad weather and allowing us to watch a movie on the iPad. Making fresh tea and coffee is a breeze. The fridge holds enough wine and cheese to help us watch a second iPad movie during another day of bad weather. Did I mention how well the friggin’ heater in this thing works (once we got it working)? Did I mention how bad the weather can be in Northern Germany in early June on the Baltic Sea? When connected to electricity there is plenty of USB ports for iPhones and iPads and normal juice for charging e-bike batteries. Oh. This thing comes with Apple Car Play–which I’m now convinced I would never buy a vehicle without. And while I’m on the subject of Apple. I even brought along one of our HomePod Minis to see if I could use it on-the-go. It works like a charm and there were a few nights jazz filled the camping halls of Valhalla and/or confused other pöbel campers with their convenient albeit ugly (uncool) campers–even though they do have built-in toilets. Heck. For going on sixty and having some pee-pee problems, I think I did pretty good finding my way to a toilet in the middle of a North German camping night.

The Oysters

As noted, we ended out trip on the island of Sylt. This was my second attempt to visit Sylt. The fist attempt was a disaster. Last October we had booked ten days in a cute little bungalow but because of the weather we skipped out on the last three days. I have never seen so much rain and wet in my life outside of tropical regions. Keep in mind, dear worst-reader, Sylt is a very special place for Das Volk. It is, as best as worst-writer can describe it, the ultimate German vacation spot–with the worst fcuking weather ever! What the heck draws so many Germans to this place is a mystery (to worst-moi). For. Don’t you know. The only way to reach this island is either by train or by fairy. This time we entered Sylt from Denmark and fairy. Otherwise you have to get to the island via a train you drive you car on and it carries you across the North Sea backwards for a few miles and you get all confused and it doesn’t matter because, well, at least there’s plenty of good wine, food and oysters once you get there. Wait. The weather on Sylt sucks.

Der Porsche Pöbel Insel Überhaupt

Yea. Sylt is the place where old Germans (the only ones, btw, who can afford them) take their Porsches to feel young again driving up and down the lone Sylt highway considering whether or not they’ll get Königsberg back or maybe, just maybe, they’ll get a chance to buy Greenland from Denmark before the #Trump-ist of my beloved & missed #Americant do. Or maybe not.

Putting all worst-writer nonsense aside, there is one redeeming factor to visit the German über-island of Sylt. Due to some sea barring goddess of Viking lore Sylt managed to import Irish oysters and now they’re everywhere in the muddy North Sea German waters. And if that ain’t bad enough, they’re f’n delicious. Keep in mind, dear worst-reader, worst-writer was born and reared around the Chesapeake Bay. There was a time when Chesapeake oysters ruled the world. Reason? The brackish waters of the bay produced über oysters. That is. They were everything Botticelli dreamed of when he was dreaming of The Birth of Venus. Sweat. Tender. The smell of the ocean when the sun shines upon her. The texture of human tongue languishing in the feminine of life that is seventy percent of her earth–that only a real man can reap. Or. The oysters from Sylt are so good I’ll go back when I can just to eat them (her).

And by-the-buy. The VW Bulli camper rocks. I’ll keep you posted if we get one.

Rant on.

-T