Germany – May/June 2011

We’d decided it might be fun to join Mike and Meg for some part of their long bike tour of Europe (but not on  bikes!!), and Norway seemed to be a good place to do some travelling together (also somewhere that wasn’t particularly easy to travel by bike.) So it made sense to go to Germany as well, and catch up with some of our dear relatives and friends that we hadn’t seen for quite a while.

Frankfurt was the obvious place to start, and we spent the  first few days with my lovely cousins Birgit and Uta and their partners, and had a quick catch-up with Emmy and her Mum. The hard part was deciding which route to take as we headed north towards Kiel where we would meet the kids. We stayed off the autobahns and enjoyed wending our way through the beautiful German countryside – fresh and green, with bright yellow fields of canola contrasting with dark forests and blue sky.  So many wind turbines and solar panels on roofs – very impressive. We took in some forests, villages, castles, medieval town centres, magnificent gardens in the city of Kassel and winding river valleys on the way north, camping as we went. In Kiel Emmy looked after us so well, and we spent a few days seeing the sights and getting organised.

Norway and Sweden will be a blog post on their own – watch this space! ……

Three and a half weeks after leaving Kiel, we came back from Norway and Sweden, exhilarated by the beauty of those countries and the rather bracing spring weather we’d encountered there. It was summer in Germany, the green fields were drying out (a bit, nothing like here!) and the weather was warm and the days long. After a couple more sunny days in Kiel, we headed off to Berlin. We spent a week there, superbly looked after by our dear friends Peter and Christel, seeing the sights and visiting Kathy’s aunt. Berlin is such an interesting city – there is always a lot happening and historic buildings everywhere you look, but it’s also pretty and green and full of parkland.The kids joined us there for a few days before we parted ways again.

Pete and I made a quick day trip from Berlin into Poland to visit the town where my Dad was born and grew up. It’s been Polish since 1945, and we weren’t quite sure what sort of a state it would be in. We were pleasantly surprised, in general. Some parts were run-down, but there has been quite a bit of restoration. We found Dad’s old school, the house where he lived and the town centre, and visited a wonderful restored castle just north of the town, before heading back to Germany.

We meandered across the old East Germany, checking out “Saxon Switzerland”, Colditz Castle, the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains), Jena and Weimar before visiting two more wonderfully hospitable cousins Jochen and Christjana and their partners, cleaning and giving back our trusty Renault Megane, aka “Asterix” and heading back to Oz, and a few days of jet lag.



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Our route (rather roughly drawn!) Frankfurt north to Kiel, then Kiel to Berlin, a short dash to Walbrzych in Poland, then back across to Frankfurt. The Drosselgasse in Ruedesheim -very touristy but we liked it anyway! Descending to the Rhine after a lovely walk through a forest. Love those old stonecastles! This one's at Marburg. Narrow street of wonky buildings, Marburg. Fields of bright yellow canola - gorgeous! Castle at Waldeck. View down the cascade at Schloss Wilhelmshoehe, Kassel. Exquisite garden at Insel Siebenbergen, Kassel And so to Kiel. A walk with the dogs by the canal. It was even warm enough for a picnic at the beach! Back in Kiel after the Scandinavian part of our adventure. The cyclists are getting their gear together. Poppies and ripe canola on the way to Berlin. Brezel, anyone? It's a long story, but we still haven't been up the dome of the Reichstag! The Brandenburg Gate from the east. Quirky roof decoration in the new Ber;in. This is where we came to cross over to East Berlin in 1975. They've put up a fake new Checkpoint Charlie - not quite the same atmosphere. Berlin Cathedral, on the Museumsinsel. Parking, European style! We did a trip from the Wannsee to Potsdam and back with our good friends Peter and Christel on their boat. Mansions all along the banks. And a lot of boat traffic! Just in case you want to get to the North Sea or the Baltic (Ostsee), from Berlin. It happens! Cecilienhof, built during WW1, and where the Potsdam Conference at the end of WW2 took place. The gardener's quarters?! The Alte Nationalgalerie on Museum Island. This painting reminded us of some of our friends! One of the murals on the East Side Gallery, a section of the Wall by the river. They all have a strong political or environmental message. Open air section of the Wall Museum in Bernauer Strasse, where the wall ran right down the middle of a suburban street. Rebuilt section of the Berlin Wall. It's over 20 years since it fell and some people need to be shown what it was really like. Streetscape near Ruedesheimerplatz - lovely! The "kids" ready to head off, all their gear on two bikes. I couldn't do it! Walbrzych in Poland, used to be known as Waldenburg. My Dad's old school. Looks well cared for. The photo I had to go by. It hasn't changed much since 1940! This is where my Dad used to live. A rather less well-preserved apartment block on the main road. Stilll, the town in general was better preserved than I'd expected.  Fuerstenstein Castle (Zamek Ksiaz)- just north of Walbryzch. Campground not far from Dresden. This area is called "Saechsische Schweiz" - Saxon Switzerland. Hmmm. Beautiful but they aren't exactly the Alps! We climbed Lilienstein, left centre of the photo. View from Lilienstein down to the Elbe River and farmland below. Such neat fields! Colditz Castle, scene of manydaring escapes during WW2. Colditz from the inside (there's a Youth Hostel in this bit now.) Mountainscape in the Erzgebirge, on the border with the Czech Republic. Lovely wildflowers and forest! Germany's two great poets, Goethe and Schiller, in Weimar Palmengarten, in Frankfurt am Main- very impressive Botanic Garden. Interesting Art Deco building in Darmstadt.

Posted on November 6th, 2011, tagged with travel

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