Saturday, 29 June 2013

Eastern Germany (Former DDR)

I have to say I was very curious prior to entering former East Germany (DDR) as to what lay ahead for us. The fact we've never been before or understood what it would have been like to have lived the other side of the patrolled border made us a little cautious, odd that...
After a week of being here we can honestly say that its a great area next to the River Elbe east of Hannover

The cycle routes are just simply brilliant, running alongside huge swathes of open fields and marshland

Its 2 weeks or so now since major flooding in this and other areas along the Elbe and the land and people have suffered
Its easy to think all the water around you is natural lakes but look again...most is low lying farmland and forestry now flooded and unable to release the water
Purpose built flood dykes have been deliberately breached in places to try to re flood the river now its subsided a little

We saw mile after mile of these and were told the Army did a cracking job in preparation for the floods

Only real drawback is the complete lack of visitors now who mistakingly are staying away.
Mosquitos are a real drag for us too at the moment as the water subsides, the birds fill their bellies and we get served up as main course in the evenings!

Next to the van for a couple of nights were our village neighbourhood watch Storks
We counted 4 nests in the village and even though the Soviets don't watch nowadays we felt "observed" by these living CCTV cameras

This was a cracking night, a very old village hall and an invite to a Flamenco evening
Anna, the organiser, is an English teacher and also runs a quaint cafe on the bank of the Elbe
BTW. This is not Anna but a very talented German girl who, with her two friends, kept us well entertained..

One cycle trip took us back over the old demarcation line to an excellent BRD/DDR museum set up in old West Germany
This helped us grasp what life would have been like just 23 years ago just before Re unification
We are looking forward now to visiting the numerous museums in Berlin relating to the carving up of Germany from WW2 to present day...

We are currently holed up in Havelberg being eaten alive by Mozzies

An indication of how far the water rose, we were told that the water level peaked at 25ft above normal in places and still has a long way to go to return to its usual level

All this cycling is doing my buns good...

I stared at this view from our van for ages
A certain drill yard, a few friends, and the Top Gun theme echoing in the background...Happy days!!


There comes a time when I have to sort out the numerous photos we pick up along the way and log them in one category 
This one is simple...Beer
We can't deny we love the stuff here, its abundant, reasonably priced, very tasty, and downright compulsory at some of the tables we've sat at
Each main town usually has a Getranktmark next to the bigger supermarket where you can bring back your empties and hey presto... fill the van with fresh supplies..
The beers vary from pale to chocolate brown, Weissbeer (my favourite which is unfiltered) to Dunkel (brown) and Pilsener to Schwarzbeer, also now a firm favourite

I know this looks bad but here are a few of the "samples" set up high on our bucket list so far...

Yes we are exercising more and yes we know its a struggle to keep this up but somebody has to do it!
Beer blog 2 to follow.....

Friday, 28 June 2013

Autostadt (Wolfsburg)

After Schloss Marienburg we found a real treat in a quiet Stellplatz next to Salzhemmendorf Therme Bad
Germany is full of these places where you can spend the day being pampered or simply lounging around in pools of various salt concentrations both inside and out.

Temps range from 26-34 Degs with salt levels at a max of 10 per cent
We had lunch and dinner there too with a few beers bought by new deutche friends made that day too!

Bit girly really but our skin is still really soft and shiny a week on!
Nina is hooked now and we will certainly visit more on our travels here in Germany

On to Wolfsburg and Autostadt, a man's heaven!
Not content with building a huge VW production plant the Germans built a small town next door....
These 'twin towers' contain the handover cars going out each day from the plant
Daily handovers total approx 400-500

Its compulsory!

This was the reception building, hopelessly over engineered as usual with a river cruise outside front and centre should you find time after your visit

We spent a full day here but anoraks would need two at very least....

Ahh, the Porsche pavilion 
Huge and all steel...

There were three to paw over but I monopolised this one..

Relax its only a model

This was locked...

Skoda had a pavilion too
Few visitors though 

A sensory tunnel apparently which rotated as you walked through

Wing mirror wall, presumably for paranoids

Build on the power plant land but leave the plant as a backdrop

Kids heaven too..

The Zeitung building was awash with a history of cars
Nina was really good about this as there was little moaning, presumably to even the score when she tours Meadowhall

A proper use of ceiling mirrors...

How Clarkson could get in to one of these beats me
This is the 1004bhp version....
Was 1.4 million euros a few years ago