This is going to be a primarily text post because I am not into taking pictures of myself in the mirror for everyone’s amusement, apologies ladies. I have had the good fortune to make a friend of a person who has inspired me to make a change in my own weekly routine (take that how you will). You see, normal for yours truly generally involves go home maybe do some light exercise and then shower and play games and/or read with dinner punctuating that. Weekends are filled with more games and possibly riding of the motorcycle all of which requires next to the square root of zip calories burnt… not good.
When summer finally rolls around, I, like everyone, like to head to the ocean. In Germany, ocean is scarce and one has to go to the very north of the country to get sandy beaches.
Instead of driving for 7 hours or so, we decided to head to a lake, about 37 minutes from home.
Wasen in Springtime
Internationally, we all know about Oktoberfest, especially because it’s now celebrated in countries all over the world.
In Stuttgart at least, we have it two times a year except that in spring it’s called Spring Fest and the one in September/October is the main event that everyone comes to Germany for. The place that it’s held here is called the Wasen, which is why many refer to it as such.
There are rides, games, food stalls with all of the classics (Currywurst, Bratwurst, sweets, Lebkuchenherzen – Gingerbread hearts with cutsie sayings) and of course, the beer tents.
This time around we went for a quick stroll over the entire grounds, having snacks and something to drink. The weather was not great, which was actually a blessing in disguise because it meant that it wasn’t overly full. I’ve experienced times where it was hard to walk or breathe because of the amount of people standing around.
That fest-feeling is not yet here because the weather has been so topsy-turvy in Germany lately, so I’m looking forward to September when the bigger Oktoberfest is on!
Come on, summer!
Ms Green Thumb
Now that the weather is looking up, it is time to make use of that wonderful balcony. An extended living room, if I may.
We have put two sofas on the balcony, set up a table and chairs and most importantly, added a bit of colour by planting flowers and herbs in flower boxes. I’ve always loved these…especially when you see windows with them hanging underneath, bursts of colour protruding from neat little boxes. My favourite was always red, but for the balcony we decided to have a mixture, after all, we have seven metres of balcony. For now, there are two 1-metre, terracotta-coloured boxes, each with four plants inside. Continue reading
Lüneburg and Surroundings
So we had a great short stay in Bonn and a lovely day trip to Cologne but all too soon we had to be on our way again and this time it was a long drive. It took us around 5 hours to our next stop: Lüneburg.
This was to be our base for the next 4 days and we definitely used our time well. It’s summer here so it was pretty hot with temperatures around 28 – 30C and over. Unfortunately we had chosen an apartment on the top floor of a house, right under the roof so we were kind of boiling at night. But as a small consolation we also had a modern, newly renovated apartment with our own kitchen and a small balcony…and a ceiling fan.
The walk into Lüneburg was comfortable if a little long, but we tried it once and then decided that it was still worth it if we just drove in and paid a little for parking. After all, it was still much cheaper than in Stuttgart. On one occasion we were so surprised at how low the fee was that we had to take a picture. The man beside us was very surprised and had to wonder what we found so exciting. His comment? He found it already too expensive in Lüneburg. A matter of perspective, I guess.
Lüneburg is located just under Hamburg and is a beautiful, quaint little town that was once prised for its salt. It has a charming ‘old town’ that lies above a salt dome that helped the town to prosper. However, this boom in economy has left its mark on the town, with many of its buildings sinking and facades tilting. The salt was mined to so an extent that many buildings had to be demolished, which is quite sad considering how beautiful many of the buildings are in the Lüneburg ‘Altstadt’. Mining ceased in 1980 because it was no longer profitable, and nowadays only small amounts are extracted for the nearby salt baths.
We went swimming at the SaLü, a large salt bath in the town and it was a relaxing experience. We drove there in the early morning (around 10am) and paid for 2 hours but were allowed to stay for four. We never made it to four hours but still, it was a great experience. There was water gymnastics in the outdoors pool with the elderly and of course, we joined in. There is a wave pool, a relax pool and spas as well as a pool for kids with an indoor water slide, all filled with salty water.
The Ostsee (Baltic Sea) was not too far from Lüneburg and for me, missing the ocean and the beach, it was a must-see. Stupidly, it was the start of the school holidays and we decided to drive on a Saturday. The 1.5 hour journey turned into a 3.5 hour drive but still, it was worth it. The only thing that I found astounding was that not only do you have to pay for a ‘beach chair’ (they look pretty comfy though, and are great if it’s very windy) if you want one, but everyone who goes to the beach has to pay for entry! Entry to sit on the sand? Next time I will wait til I go back to Australia and go to any beach and be able to sit anywhere without paying any fees.
On the way back, we also stopped by Lübeck for lunch and a quick visit to the city. It’s a nice little city with a whole lot of churches.
From Lüneburg it’s a short trip to Hamburg with the train. We left Lüneburg at around 8:30 in the morning and 35 minutes later we had arrived in Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany and the second largest port in Europe. Our main interest in going to Hamburg was to see the Miniatur Wunderland. If you’ve never heard of this, definitely google it and watch a short video about it. It really is a wonderland and we spent 3 hours there, but I’m sure you could spend a whole day checking out all that they’ve created. A large team work hard to rebuild landmarks and cities in miniature form with real traffic and simulated accidents on the roads. It really is amazing and sometimes quirky as they’ve tried to make it as realistic as possible. In the introduction video they mention it too, they have plenty of little people in the act of lovemaking and parts of the electric work is exposed and even there they’ve made little electricians to put around the wiring. They really have paid a lot of attention to detail and there’s also a new airport where airplanes take off and land. Worth the trip to Hamburg!
Other than that we walked around the city and saw a few of the sights, but I didn’t find Hamburg all that interesting. Still, I would go back any time to see the Miniatur Wunderland.
Our adventures in the countryside are coming up next! For now, it’s back to real life.
The Road to Northern Germany
We’ve begun our journey to Lüneburg and already seen some amazing places. I had previously never thought of Germany as a country with such differing and beautiful landscapes and yet here we are.
Yesterday we spent the day with our friends in Vallendar near the city of Koblenz and explored cities along the Rhein. This area is renowned for its many castles that dot the banks of the river as well as its wine and the hills abound with vineyards.
This was my first time visiting the area and the weather was also amazing. A little hot for my liking (yep, funny for an Australian perhaps) at about 32C but blue skies really complement such beautiful surroundings.
We met our friends in St Goar at Burg Rheinfels (an old fortress). St Goar is a lovely town in the Loreley region and legend has it that Loreley, a water spirit linked to a rock 120 meters above the water, used to sing and bewitch men, causing many accidents as sailors were distracted by her voice.
Zell on the river Mosel was a relatively simple town but we did drive up to the vineyards on one of the hills and now I can say, I saw the Mosel too. If you are planning a trip to the Rhein though, I would say that you can give Zell a miss and instead, head to Cochem.
Cochem was by far the most beautiful little town that we visited. It is unfortunately visited by a lot, and I mean, A LOT of tourists from all countries, but I must say that the asians really stood out as the biggest group there. I actually blended in a little and for once Michael was the foreigner in Germany. It’s a huge plus in such situations to be able to converse in both German and English.
Situated also on the Mosel river, Cochem is quite a small town with about 5,000 inhabitants. The town centre is made up of an ‘old town’ with fachwerk buildings and small stores. The Reichsburg (imperial castle) is situated upon a hill and watches over the town, giving the area a great dynamic.
We’re now in Bonn and spent the day in Cologne, so that will come later. We’re looking forward to being in Lüneburg and northern Germany so stay tuned!
* all photos taken naturally by Michael because I was too lazy to take my camera with me – it was so hot!