Classical music: we can't get enough of it. Just like travelling in our Twin 640. One day, we realise that these two hobbies can be combined.
During several trips, we go in search of places that have been important in the lives of classical composers. We choose Ludwig van Beethoven, Anton Bruckner, Johannes Brahms and Joseph Haydn. Because we love their music and because the locations associated with them appeal to us.
If there is - or still is? - there is a musical capital in Europe, it would be Vienna. The four men who star in this story will certainly be found there. They are buried there, had a home there or there is a statue of them. But: we start in Bonn, the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven.
The composer of the famous Fifth Symphony (ta ta taaa), the Ninth Symphony with its impressive final chorus, the tear-jerking Mondscheinsonate, piano concertos and much more was born in Bonn on 16 or 17 December 1770. In the house that is now part of the Beethoven Haus museum.
We get the tip to park the Twin at the Ludwig-Erhard-Allee camper van site. It costs nothing but, we find, there is also nothing - except traffic noise. We choose a camp site: Genienau, 13 km cycling - along the Rhine - from Bonn. We start our exploration here at the old town hall on the Markt: a beautiful building from the first half of the 18th century where 'Ludwig van Beethoven himself' welcomes us. From 1949, Bonn was the seat of government of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). After German reunification (1990), the German government and Bundestag moved to Berlin in 1999.
At the time of Beethoven, Bonn had about 10,000 inhabitants. In his younger years, the composer travelled twice to Vienna: once to take lessons from Mozart - which never came to anything - and once to do so from Haydn: which was more successful.
The Münsterbasilika is one of the three places in Bonn where the young Beethoven showed his skills on the organ. This church is one of the most beautiful buildings in Germany along the Rhine in which the transition from the Romantic to the Gothic style of architecture is visible.
The Beethoven monument on Münsterplatz was unveiled in 1845, eighteen years after his death. Fellow composer Frans Liszt, an admirer of Beethoven, not only donated 10,000 francs for this purpose, but also gave concerts everywhere, the proceeds of which were used for the realisation of this magnificent statue. In 1845 the first Beethoven festival took place in Bonn, and it is still held annually in August/September.
The tour of Bonn ends, of course, in Beethoven House, where baby Ludwig was born in 1770. This building has been a museum since 1893. But it is - more than 100,000 visitors per year - also more: under this roof is the largest Beethoven archive - original manuscripts - in the world.
Almost right next to Beethoven House is Gasthaus im Stiefel, where we order 'Beethoven Laiberl'. This is a Rheinische potato soup with slices of sausage and bacon, served in a hollowed-out round loaf. So you eat the soup and the 'pan'! Beethoven's father in particular is said to have eaten this dish here when he was sober.
At the impressive Stift Sankt Florian near Linz in Austria, you can spend the night in the car park, according to the app Park4Night. We look for a quiet corner and have dinner in the restaurant at the Stift that has already been reserved in the Netherlands. Fifty metres away, there is a well-maintained, public toilet. The next day, we discover that the historic market square has a pleasant terrace. Anton Bruckner: that is why we are here. Bruckner (Ansfelden, 1824 - Vienna, 1896) was an Austrian composer and organist. He owes his fame mainly to eleven grand symphonies, three masses, a Te Deum, Psalm 150 and a string quintet.
"The Sunday morning service is accompanied by the small organ. But after the service, the organist often plays the large Bruckner organ for a while", says an employee. So we stay on after the service. The first sounds of the Chrismann organ give me goose bumps: this is such an incredibly beautiful sound! By the way, it is a church organ that is usually not named after its builder, but after 'its' organist. Bruckner was, entirely according to his last wish, buried in the crypt of the Stift Sankt Florian, directly under 'his' organ.
In Kronstorf, the Kronstorfer Brucknerzimmer is located in the centre of the village, next to the town hall on Brucknerplatz. In the years 1843-1845, the composer lived and worked here, as a school assistant. The Twin fits neatly into the car park next to the Brucknerzimmer. At the town hall, I collect the key with which I can visit the 'Small Museum' on my own. The former schoolhouse houses a collection of music and photos from this period, as well as a violin by Bruckner from his Kronstorf days.
The only Bruckner museum in the world has been located in Ansfelden, in Anton Bruckner's birthplace, only since 2014. It is only sparsely visited, especially after the two-year closure by corona. That is why it is only open for a few hours at the weekend. For us, an exception is made: on Fridays, Klara Szelesi opens the doors of the museum and enthusiastically tells something about the history of the house and Anton Bruckner. We find a parking space for the Twin.
Anton Bruckner lived and worked his last years in Vienna. Along the Danube, we drive towards the Austrian capital. We make a stopover at the small campsite in Marbach an der Donau: here, we can park the motorhome right next to the - not at all blue - river.
A not-to-be-missed stopover along the Danube is Melk, where an imposing Benedictine abbey was built in the 18th century for more than thirty years, with a length of no less than 320 metres. It and its surroundings are on the Unesco World Heritage List.
From the motorway you can drive to CP Vienna in a few minutes. All facilities are available here: electricity, water intake and discharge, sanitary facilities. From here you can quickly reach the fascinating city centre of Vienna by underground or bicycle. In the end, we prefer the underground: cheap, fast, safe and not tied to where the bike is.
In Vienna's city park, we come across Anton Bruckner as well as Schubert and Johann Strauss (yes, the one from 1 January). There is a Brahms room in the Viennese Haydn Haus. Brahms' house in Vienna was demolished and therefore it was decided to set up a room in the Haydn Haus with furniture and utensils from that house. Of course, we also visit St. Stephen's Cathedral, the church where Haydn and Mozart married. We will also visit Schubert's birthplace.
Schönbrunn Palace is a picture. A special 'composer' of buildings is the architect and painter Hundertwasser ('The straight line is godless'): we visit the Hundertwasserhaus, the shopping centre in that style opposite and the museum dedicated to him. Special.
Esterházy Castle (Hungarian: Esterházy-kastély) is the palace in Eisenstadt, the capital of the Austrian state of Burgenland. It was built at the end of the 13th century and came into the hands of the Hungarian Esterházy family in 1622. Joseph Haydn, who left behind an enormous oeuvre (over one hundred symphonies alone), worked here for three decades. A museum has been set up in his house. Once again, we take advantage of the Twin's modest exterior dimensions: in Joseph Haydn Gasse we can park almost opposite the museum
After this, we take it easy for two days. In Puchberg am Schneeberg, there is a campsite cum camper van: a field, a building with what used to be a bar and terrace of the tennis club, in which we find one shower and one toilet. And a form to register us. Electricity and water are also available on the field. We have the field all to ourselves for two days. The second day, the elderly camping boss ('first feed the deer') picks me up with his 4x4 to his house annex Gasthof, which doesn't seem to be in use anymore, but where the pin-machine still works. I pay almost 50 euros for two nights.
It is another hour's drive to Mürzzuschlag. There is a Brahms museum: the composer lived here for some time and it was here that, among other things, the great fourth symphony was written. Here too, the Twin fits next to the museum: for EUR 2.20 we may stay there for the rest of the afternoon. Ronald Fuchs of the museum lets us in and tells us that we can look at, listen to and photograph everything. That makes for a pleasant few hours.
An hour later, we drive our camper van onto the grounds of the Pfanderl family in Fishing. A campsite for '50+ without dogs'. With a cup of coffee and a pancake filled with ice cream, owner Bernd tells us more about it in the evening. "My parents started the campsite 25 years ago. Later, when I took over the campsite, I realised that specialising pays off. Because you have to be distinctive among the hundreds of other camping businesses." One of the possibilities was and is to focus not on families with children but on older people. "We have no swimming pool, no animation and no playground. The nuisance that dogs often caused led to the second 'specialisation': no more dogs on the site in future. "Colleagues who warned me that this would mean the end of the campsite have been proved wrong", Bernd Pfandl is pleased to say. The surroundings of the campsite are perfect for walking and cycling: "We have cycle paths here, just like in the Netherlands". The following day, he takes us to Seckau Abbey and the Red Bull circuit, where tens of thousands of Dutch people colour a grandstand orange during the Formula I race: the Max effect.
We end this trip in Slovenia. Of course, we drive by the Adria factory, for a 'selfie' of the Twin on its native soil. Then we drive to Camping Bled, located almost directly on the beautiful lake. In April it is pleasant here, in summer, we discovered earlier, we find it too crowded here. We take a lovely walk around the lake, pleasantly interrupted by a visit to a terrace.
The combination of music and travelling by camper van has been a great experience for us. In fact, new trips are already in the making. Bach, Mozart, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Grieg and, of course, Sweelinck in our own country. Our Twin - big enough to live in, small enough to get everywhere - still awaits many sonorous kilometres.
Text and photography: Willem Laros
As the first foreign journalist Willem Laros got a guided tour in the brand new Adria Mobil Van factory. You can read all about it in Inspirations Magazine.