Sunday, 23 October 2016

T4rdis2 Tour 2 Day 110 - 115 Germany

Day 110
Tuesday 18th October 2016 - Rainy in the morning then low cloud  later.

This morning we left Rurberg and headed for Cologne -  a city originally founded by the Romans, and one that is the 3rd biggest in Germany, but having said that, our passage into it was very easy.  The road just followed the Rhine all the way to a very busy Stellplatze that allowed us to park with a front row seat overlooking the river Rhine.  However, the only down side to that was the fact that our electricity cable wasn't long enough for us to plug in, so this was to be our 3rd night without electric!  But that didn't really matter because T4rdis2 is very self sufficient and can manage for long periods with her own batteries and solar panel, and the only thing I couldn't charge and use was my chrome book!

Anyway, once we'd got settled and had lunch the weather had improved slightly, so we set off on the 3 km walk into the city, mostly to see the Cathedral - although there are 12 other Romanesque churches we could have visited (but that might have been 12 to many)!

And we weren't disappointed - the Cathedral was stunning, but we didn't particularly think that could be said about the stretch of water front that we'd walked along to get there especially when we compared to other cities that we had visited recently.  It all seemed a bit scruffy, and sadly, it was littered with beggars - a theme that continued throughout all the parts of Cologne that we saw.

However, back to the Dom, whose 2 towering spires are visible for many miles, but the nearer we got the more impressive they became with their complex filigree like construction, and when you stood at the bottom and looked up, they seemed to go on for ever.  While we were there we learnt that the foundation stones were laid on 15th August 1248, but the building wasn't consecrated until 1324, and from then building work slowly continued until 1520, but then it was stopped leaving the church incomplete.

However, this was remedied in the 19th century and the work was finally finished between 1842 and 1880, and since then it has mostly survived unscathed despite numerous other buildings all around being flattened in World War II.

Once we had circumnavigated and admired the outside of the building we went in and found even more works of art.   These included towering support columns, beautiful stained glass windows, Gothic carved choir stalls, intricate floor mosaics and numerous carved shrines  - along with hundreds of people exploring this architectural miracle!  The skill and craftsmanship that allowed it to be built is beyond imagination so it's not surprising that it has the accolade of being one of the most visited monuments in Germany.

Following our tour we wondered out into the city streets that we found to be lined with numerous familiar shops, and we weren't surprised to see one of my old favourites, C & A amongst them, but we couldn't quite work out why there were so many people and mean looking police thronging the streets.  Hundreds of them were milling around in one of the squares, and many were carrying six packs or had pints in there hands - but then I noticed SPURS FC on the back of someone's jacket and it all became clear.  It turned out they were playing Bayer Leverkusen in a European champions league game that evening, but we later learnt that it had been a 0-0 draw, and it must have been a mud bath cos the rain pounded down from about 6pm onwards.

As well as the churches we'd also read that there are loads of excellent museums to see in Cologne, but I hadn't realised that the Linnett chocolate one was there.  When I spotted it John had to hold me back to prevent me from charging across the road and rushing in (chocoholic that I am!)  However, after he'd reasoned  with me for a minute or two I did see sense  because I am trying to be good at the mo. And then he presented an alternative - he said we could visit  the 'Mustard Museum' instead, so with the lack of anything else to do I grumpily agreed!

However, it turned out to be quite a good alternative and a tasty treat for out taste buds!  As we entered we were greeted by a German lady who spoke excellent English, who invited us to taste their range of organic mustard's  which were attractively displayed and made from top secret recipes using some of the oldest mustard mills in Europe that dated back to the 18th century.

The story goes that Wolfgang Steffens - a registered mustard maker craftsman - brought the dilapidated 'monuments' in 1997 and then lovingly restored them to put them back into production on April 1st 1999. Since then he has used a basic recipe form the 15th century with slight adjustments to complete the 'range' that is available in the shop today.  These included such flavors as garlic, cayenne, honey and Riesling, but we opted to buy Cologne Mostert - a general all rounder that is said to go with everything - and when we tried it with our steak we weren't disappointed.

And we were also interested to read about the health benefits that 5 grams of the product per day is  said to provide!  These included regulation of blood pressure and cholesterol, inhibition of bacterial growth, anti-inflammatory properties for the respiratory organs and that's to name but a few - but we took all that with a pinch of salt!

Once we (I) had tasted all we could we started on our way back to T4rdis2 but on the way we did stop off once more to part-take of coffee and cake by the river (our own of course), and  we also took the time to visit Cologne's botanical gardens which were quite lovely dressed all their autumn colours, and after the hussel and bustle of the cities busy streets, they provided a peaceful retreat .

Day 111, 112 and 113
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 19th, 20th and 21st October 2016.  Lots of rain but with occasional windows of brightness!

Partly because of the miserable weather and partly because we're itching to see the sea we decided to put these days to use for our long trek north - about 500 miles in total.  So really, other than long drives along very busy motorways and roads, and poor John having to cope with heavy rain which resulted in loads of spray, I haven't got much to tell you about.  However, we did count ourselves fairly lucky,  because for many miles on all three days traffic in the opposite direction was just about at a standstill - the lorry queues were horrendous and looked like 'operation stack!'

Our first hop (Wednesday) was to Mohnesee Reservoir - a place we'd visited before and one that had provided lovely views over it's tranquil waters and had excellent facilities for T4rdis2 to enjoy.  When we arrived we had planned to go for a walk, but that went out the window when the rain poured down and the wind howled around sending the falling leaves swirling in all directions, so instead we put our feet up to read and watch a film or two.

On Thursday we moved on to the town of Steinhuder in the state of Lower Saxony,  where we found another lovely Stellplatze on the edge of yet another lake, and this one had cheap washing machines for me to take advantage off!   However, before my chores we did manage a walk out to see the lake - apparently one of the largest in North Germany and one that hosted the Flying Dutchman boating event earlier this year.  The waterfront was extremely well kept and had numerous little bridges, shops and cafes along it's way, and the Wanderweg - the 25 kms route that circumnavigated the entire lake was well signposted, but with grey clouds looming we didn't risk going to far before returning home via Lidl where we picked up essential supplies to see us though over the weekend.

Then, on Friday morning we set off on the last and longest leg of this part of our journey, however, we hadn't gone far when we met with a significant delay - not traffic this time, but trains.  We'd just left the village when we were stopped by a red light at a level crossing, but the stoppage wasn't for one or even two trains - there were 6 - I thought only busses came all at once!

Anyway, we eventually got going again, but even without any further major delays,  our journey took us most of the day, and when we reached our target we knew we would still be quite a few miles form the seaside. We were aiming for the village of Robell in the state of Schleswig Holstein - the northernmost German state which is situated between the Baltic and the North Sea.  But by stopping short of the coast we gave ourselves the opportunity take a few days to explore Holsteinische Schweiz  - an area of low hills and over 140 lakes that are surrounded by trails, and is said to be a nature lovers heaven.

We finally got to the  Stellplatz, we were aiming for at about 5pm.  It's in a marina and right on the water's edge, but even though our book said the Harbour Master's office would be open till 6 there wasn't a sole about to pay for our plot, so we just plugged in and shut the rain out and settled down for a lovely evening meal cooked by my own fair hands.

Day 114
Saturday 22nd October 2016 - It's still raining

Oh dear - we've been  couped up in T4rdis2 and on the road for the best part of 3 days, so this morning we were chomping at the bit to get out and about, but with the rain still hammering on the roof our chances looked a bit remote.   However,  being optimistic we looked at the weather forecast to see if things were going to improve - but BBC said NO - rain all day - maybe we were just going to have to have a duvet day! But then the Accu-weather forecast popped up on my phone and that said 'FINE' in the afternoon, so being fairly desperate we choose to believe that one!  And they sort of got it right, it rained for most of the morning, but then at lunch time it stopped, so we quickly ate our sarnies, then donned coats and walking shoes.  Then, like little 'moles' we popped out of our 'hole' and set off on an exploration of the area that turned out to be  a hike of about 7 ish miles.

Daughter Sarah and Grandson Thomas
enjoying all the fun of the fair!
But I'm not sure who that is behind them!

 I think the fine weather lasted for about half an hour and then a shower  deluge recommenced - and that pretty much lasted for the rest of the day, but having said that it was nice to get out and stretch our legs properly!

Also I think maybe we've been a bit spoiled on this tour, because in the main we've had fantastic weather, but as John pointed out, we're on about the same latitude as our home town of Ripley and they often don't get good weather at this time of year - especially when the fair is there!

Having said all that, we did enjoy our walk through the village and out along the lake side, although we did note some funny creatures lurking by the waters edge!

And although we didn't go into this church, the scaffolding seemed such a work of art it deserved a photo!  The town itself was also quite picturesque with lots of pastel coloured half timbered houses, quaint shops, cobbled streets and even an old windmill.

Day 115
Sunday 23rd October 2016 - At last, a fine  but chilly day!  Not really any sunshine, but no rain either

As the weather was fine we were going to take full advantage of it and spend most of it out on our bikes riding  beside lake Muritz - at 117 square kms it's the biggest of the 140 lakes in this area.  And we did consider riding all the way round but that would have been about 70 kms - and from the map we had deduced that the cycle track strayed along way from the water's edge once you got about half way around.  Therefore, we settled for riding from our 'home' at Robel to the town of Waren - a distance of 27 kms x 2 (there and back).

I did wonder if I could spice dinner up with these!
And it really was quite a good ride, because despite the cold the terrain was very varied taking us through forest, villages and open countryside, and we also had frequent spells right beside the lapping waters of the lake. At one point we spotted these contraptions - apparently they're barges that you can load your motorhome onto and go sailing on the water - we thought maybe we should pass on that because T4rdis2 might make it a bit top heavy and hasn't had her James Bond conversion yet!

There were also lots of interesting information boards (with English translation) and from them we learnt that the Mecklenburg Lake District (which we were in) was sculptured during the last ice age by 'run off' from 60 to 70 metre high glaciers that reached this area from Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea when the ocean flooded this part of Germany many millions of years ago.

Along the way we also found  Schloss Klink - not a prison but a beautiful hotel - I think you would have to have lots of money to stay there.

Eventually, we got to the town of Waren where we paused for lunch, and it was here that a small seagull adopted us.  As soon as we sat down he landed in front of us squawking loudly and begging for crumbs, but when his pals tried to approach he aggressively saw them off - there was no way he was sharing - and in the end we did give him a few bits as a reward for the entertainment he provided.

Unfortunately however, we couldn't linger long over lunch cos it was just too cold.  It was ok while we were generating a bit of heat by peddling, but shivering while munching on sarnies just didn't do it.  So once our food was eaten (shared 3 ways) we donned as many clothes as we could and set off back - I think John thought he was a Vulcan in his new winter mitts! ( or a lobster ).
1 year old Evelyn
and 35 year old Uncle Adam
(but not till Tuesday)

In the end it took us a couple of hours to ride back, but as we'd left the central heating on in T4rdis2 it was toasty when we got in, and while we drank our cuppa and nibbled on biscuits we had the pleasure of looking at loads of pics from our Grand-daughter Evelyn's first birthday which she shares with her Uncle Adam.

Anyway, that's about all from us for now so take care till next time xxx