Niall Hampton

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WE HAVE JUST arrived at Europe’s biggest motorhome show with over 120 brands on display and a huge overnight ‘stellplatz’ accommodating over 2000 visiting owners.

Geoff Bass enjoying a ‘wurst’ at Caravan Salon Düsseldorf 2013, from www.practicalmotorhome.comWE HAVE JUST arrived at Europe’s biggest motorhome show with over 120 brands on display and a huge overnight ‘stellplatz’ accommodating over 2000 visiting owners. 


What will the show be like? Will it give us any insight into what motorhome we might buy next? Will three days be enough? And how will we find camping on site along with the many Germans, Belgians and Dutch who flock here? It’s all quite exciting, and we are about to find out.


Arrival last night was a cinch – we just entered “Messe Dusseldorf” into our Tom Tom and the signposting off the A44 took us directly to the Caravan Centre. This is the service hub of the show campsite on Parking ‘P1’ and we were efficiently directed to a pitch. It’s crucial to fill up and empty first though so don’t do as we did and follow a train of other vans without doing so!


General 2Parking is in double rows of motorhomes aside tree-lined access lanes – the ’vans forming long stripes of white and silver stitching when seen from the air. It costs €15 per day to stay here; electric pitches cost more but are often taken early by traders. Showers, toilets, an information bureau and a bread service are available at the Caravan Centre, and efficient attendants plug in their hose to fill you up at the multi-lane, drive-through service centre.


We barbecued and amused ourselves watching the planes taking off from nearby Düsseldorf airport – the Stellplatz is right beneath the flight path. The early morning wake-up call they provided at 6am was not quite so amusing but did ensure that we are good and ready for our first day at the show! Comfy shoes donned, we board one of the regular red bendy 897 buses that ferry visitors quickly and efficiently to the Exhibition Centre. For a discounted price on entrance tickets we’d registered free of charge with the Caravan Salon ‘Club’ – a membership card is sent to your home address.


We’re here for the experience and will be up for a bit of fun each day, seeking out the quirky and the interesting and sampling all that the show has to offer. However, after a quick recce of all on offer (it’s overwhelming!) we decide to set ourselves a theme for each day. Day One will be spent looking to replace our current Carthago Chic I47 with an equally comfy and well specified, but slightly more compact A-Class, for long-term touring.


We are certainly in the right place. The Germans buy the largest number of new motorhomes in all of Europe and all the main European brands are represented, many with their own vast ‘villages’ complete with crèches and cafés.


General 3Ignoring the glitzy, coach-sized behemoths that surely can only be useful to rock stars and Formula One drivers, we set about scouring the better German brands for something winterised and self-sufficient, with permanent bed and garage a must (our maximum length would be around 7m). Hymer, Carthago, Concorde, Frankia, Euromobil, Niesmann+Bischoff; we deem these to be superior quality brands and they form the bulk of our search.


We scour them all, marvelling all the while at new details and fresh styling. In all honesty we decide that with many manufacturers putting increased emphasis on bed’n’bathroom space it is hard to find a better package in a ’van shorter than our own.


General 4It is fun looking, though, and after stoking up on a cheeky ‘wurst’ with obligatory mustard at one of the stalls outside, we set off again in search of the novel.


Known for our motorhome ski tours, we chuckle at the chalet-style Euromobil complete with rustic wood- and slate-effect interior, lamps, mantelpiece and log burner! Our kids would find it amusing if we returned with an Alpine chalet on wheels. Moving swiftly on, we admire the ‘too cute’ Tonke vans, handbuilt Dutch barge-style campers available in dismountable, trailer or integrated form. Charming, quirky, almost ‘posh hippy’ in their vintage styling, these really are something different and they’d be quite a talking point on tour!

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