Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca
Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts

Friday, 7 December 2018

Berlin Images (2)


There’s lots of graffiti in Berlin, not generally up to the high standard set by Valparaiso, but some of it is quite artistic and much of it is on the bits of wall that have been left as a monument. Many messages are conveyed through the different artists responsible for the graffiti. However, the picture above, painted on a new (post wall) building just behind the posts that mark the position of the wall – they are in the foreground – is a most evocative portrayal of the manner in which the wall cut through the meat of Berlin between 1961 and 1989.

The graffiti below simply brightens up a dull concrete block of flats.


Thursday, 6 December 2018

Berlin Images (1)


It was only yesterday that we gathered outside a nice café for this group picture with Lauren. It seems longer ago than that!

I’ve spent the day doing ‘house admin’, including taking Sue’s car for its final service by the main dealer before its first MOT. “Do you want a valuation?” is their script. “No thanks, valeting inside and out will be fine” is my standard response.

I’ve still got to sort out the Berlin photos, but our walk/cycle up the road from the hotel to the bike shop/pub (we went up and down a few times) passed the water tower shown below. Ulrich thought it was the home of the very first ‘Concentration Camp’, but the extract from Wikipedia that I’ve inserted after the picture seems to indicate that the camp was in an adjoining building.


The Wasserturm Prenzlauer Berg is Berlin's oldest water tower, completed in 1877 and in use as a water tower until 1952. The structure was designed by Henry Gill and built by the English Waterworks Company. It is situated between Knaackstraße and Belforter Straße in Kollwitzkiez, in the Prenzlauer Berg locality of Berlin (part of Pankow district) and worked on the principle of using piped water to supply the rapidly growing population of workers.

Below the storage tank were the homes of the machinery operators who worked in the tower; these apartments - a landmark of Prenzlauer Berg - are still inhabited and in much demand.

An adjacent machine hall was the first concentration camp in Nazi Germany in the first half of 1933. That building was demolished in 1935.

Meanwhile thanks go to AlanR for solving my ‘image size with mobile blogging’ problem. ‘Send reduced’ is indeed the answer, though it took a Utube video to show me how it works, and I think all the pictures will have to be selected at the same time, or they finish up in different postings. There may not be any mobile postings for a couple of months, so I hope I can remember how to do it when the time comes! It’s a shame that Samsung have taken a backward step on this front.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Another Bike Ride Around Berlin

Today's 16 km ride was in the company of Lauren, a South African lady who has lived here for the last five years. She takes time off from writing a book about Germany (see, to guide tourists on bicycles around some of the city's sights, concentrating on 20th century history and The Wall.

It was a lovely clear morning, if only a shade above freezing. The four of us were joined by three other guests for this informative tour, courtesy of

Curious then that I have chosen an indoor shot for today's photo - the Neue Wache War Memorial that has been the
central memorial of the Federal Republic since 1993. The place is full of very recent history.

Added interest was provided by Ulrich, who was a student here shortly after the wall came down.

The guided tour lasted about four hours, after which Sue and I waved off Anne and Ulrich, collected our things from the hotel, wandered around a Christmas market, enjoyed afternoon tea and cake, and made our way back to the airport.

An enjoyable little trip in good company. More photos when I get time to post them.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

A Bike Ride in East Germany

Well, it was a bike ride in what used to be East Germany. We started, on our 'sit up and beg' hired, solid and very heavy bikes, with a 7 km bike ride to a railway station where we caught a train to Oranienburg. Coffee and cake were then required as it had reached 11am. 

En route I'd noticed from the train that all private residencies were securely fenced, so a road like ours at home, where anyone can walk up to any front door without even having to open a gate, would have fences and gates at the boundary of each house. "For privacy" explained Ulrich. I expect there's a historical element that has generated a need for privacy. Whilst '1984' may not have occurred in the UK, perhaps it did here.

A short ride then led to Sachsenhausen. There's a large site of free to enter museums here. The place was a large Concentration Camp and apparently the site of 'Head Office' of the Concentration Camp regime that dates back to 1933. There were lots of visiting groups. We had a quick look round, but you could spend a whole day here. Horrific treatment of human beings occurred here.

We used cycle paths to get to Bernau via Liebenwalde. There was a 'shoe tree' and an ornate totem pole, as well as a short section of scary main road, otherwise it was a pleasant ride through flat farmland interspersed with pine forest and small villages. Today's picture was taken here.

We passed several buzzards, one of which was standing on a mole hill in a field full of mole hills, presumably waiting for its dinner to appear.

Luckily we finished the 57 km loop on cycle paths. Just as well, as darkness fell.

From Bernau, after grabbing coffees and chips from a café, we took a couple of trains to get us close to the Transit Loft. Total distance cycled for the day was 66 km, compared with about 35 km yesterday.

Ulrich and Anne then cycled off again to rendezvous with another of Ulrich's old mates. Sue and I chose to stay away from our saddles and stroll down to San Marco's for beers and pizzas.

Monday, 3 December 2018


Hired bikes facilitated a tour of the city, culminating with a visit to the DDR museum, where the exhibits are usefully labelled in English whilst rather unhelpfully being hidden in cupboards.

It started rainy, then the sun came out. We had a coffee and cake break in a supermarket, despite there being a nice looking café nearby!

The others went up a West German tower. I stayed down and was entertained by a van driver who managed to hook her vehicle onto the tow bar of the vehicle ahead. The top of the tower is today's picture.

Later, we went to another traditional East German pub, where we enjoyed a good meal with a couple of Ulrich's old mates. He used to live here.

I've been unable to work out how to reduce the sizes of images attached to emails, hence yesterday's problems, so currently I'm stuck with one image per posting. It was simple with the S5 but I've no idea as to how to reduce an attached image to 10% of its original size using the S9.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Taxi, plane, bus, two trains and a walk later

Here's the original text of a failed message. I'm struggling with mobile blogging using this new phone.
It was a wet day in Timperley. We chose to move to a different country. Door to door to the Transit Loft (not 'Lounge') took nearly eight hours, so no daylight pictures were available here.
We have followed in the wake of Anne and Ulrich, who arrived yesterday and were watching Katie Archibald win an Omnium race (UCI Track World Cup) whilst Sue and I were puzzling over platforms. 
A magnificent steam engine roared through one of the stations, giving me no chance to grab a camera. The modern express pictured today seemed to be travelling comparatively slowly. 
Dinner at a traditional hostelry rounded off the day.

The Transit Lounge

Here we are tonight. This is a test posting.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 30 - Heidelberg to Montreuil-sur-Mer

Tuesday 31 July 2018

The first full day's drive of this trip saw us travelling the 417 miles to Montreuil-sur-Mer between 9am and 5pm. We took a 'toll free' route through Germany,  Luxembourg and Belgium (perhaps passing Mick and Gayle en route), finishing with some French country roads.

An easy journey on a sunny day, and we have a nice but cheap room in the Best Western Hermitage hotel in the centre of town. Thankfully the temperature here in Montreuil is closer to 25°C than the 30+ temperatures that we 'enjoyed' yesterday.

Thanks to the magnificent spread presented to us this morning, we haven't needed to eat all day - until a tasty picnic meal was sourced this evening at the local supermarket. It was great that Thomas was able to delay his journey to work, with Andrea taking the day off, so we could enjoy a leisurely breakfast with them and linger over our farewells, during which a large TV that they brought over from Timperley was loaded up for a return to Timperley. Apparently it won't work in Germany without some extra gubbins. Anyone need a TV?

Anyway, your hospitality is very much appreciated, T and A, and it has been great to catch up, and enjoy your company in both Heidelberg and Matrei.

An after dinner stroll around the ramparts concluded the day's activities. There's an equally good walk around the base of the ramparts, but the evening light is better appreciated on top. The walks are both about 3 km in length.

Today: 3.5 km walk around Montreuil's ramparts. We often stay here and enjoy this walk, so I won't reiterate previous reports. We are nearly home, but it feels as if we are still very much on holiday.
Today's pictures were all taken in Montreuil-sur-Mer:
The Mairie (Town Hall)
The church, with our hotel in the background to the left
The ramparts
Evening in the main square

'Summer in the Alps' Day 29 - Schloss Schwetzingen Gardens

Monday 30 July 2018

Andrea and Thomas kindly loaned us their bikes on another hot day. They went to work early, leaving us to gorge on the contents of their fridge - a fine selection of meats and cheeses.

By 9.30 we were zooming off down the hill to the River Neckar, the reverse of which came rather slow, some hours later.

Cycle paths make Heidelberg very 'bike friendly' though you have to get used to a series of traffic lights specifically for cyclists. Everyone seems compliant.

Through the other side of town, we tried to follow the Schwetzingen signs as best we could, passing fields of sunflowers and wealthy looking suburbs. We managed to lose our way a few times and by the time we reached Schwetzingen we'd clocked up 25 km for the 21 km route.

The gardens were wonderful. We spent the best part of three hours exploring them - shady avenues, flower gardens, lakes and grottos, a bath house with an enormous walk-in bath, a mosque, lots of topiary, Temples of Apollo, Mercury and Minerva, numerous fountains, etc, etc. Great!

Cycling back home in conditions likened to being under a hot hair dryer was a little taxing, especially the final 170 metre steep hill up Wilhelmsfelder Strasse. Luckily we had lots of water and came across some shady benches on which Sue could take a nap.

After the 21.5 km ride, we were back by 4.30. Plenty of time to eat ice cream, shower and catch the number 34 bus to meet Andrea and Thomas at 6pm in Bismarckplatz. Then a stroll to Kulturhausbrauerei restaurant to enjoy an evening of good food, great company, and excellent beer that is brewed on site.

The evening wouldn't have been complete without a run for the bus and (in a separate incident) my tripping over a kerb - thus relegating me to light duties, if any, and an easy chair with some ice.

Today: 4.5 km walk around the gardens, plus 46.5 km bike ride with 300 metres ascent
Today's pictures:
Heidelberg - across the Neckar
Schwetzingen Gardens - entrance
Schwetzingen Gardens - one of very many views
Sue returns across the bridge

Monday, 30 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 28 - Dornbirn  to Heidelberg

Sunday 29 July 2018

Dinner on Friday was at Fetz, and very good it was too. We dined outside under a canopy. Just as well, as it rained. The cool air was very pleasant. The restaurant commands great mountain views, even in the rain - see top picture, and sunset from the same spot features in an earlier posting.

We got a good night's sleep in Markus's flat in Dornbirn, despite the heat. Lemon cake, bread rolls and strong coffee set us up for the easy 212 mile drive to Heidelberg, where Thomas and Andrea welcomed us with refreshing tea, plum cake and custard tarts.

We are now out of the Alps, which vanished remarkably quickly in our rear view mirror as we left Dornbirn and moved into Germany without noticing the border.

The four of us spent the afternoon strolling through the shady woods to Heidelberg's centre from T and A's home on Wilhelmsfelder Strasse, which is about 200 metres above the city. We gained occasional views of the 13th century castle that was sacked in the 1600s during the thirty year war. In the 19th century proposals to restore the entire structure were rejected on the grounds that it would provide a false representation of history. A compromise was reached whereby only a small part was restored. Maintaining the rest of the ruins is proving costly... it's unusual to find as little scaffolding as there was today.

Having enjoyed the walk, culminating in a steep descent past breathless Japanese tourists, we took the number 34 bus back to base, and a most pleasant evening with salads and BBQ in the warmth of Thomas and Andrea's garden.


Today: 8.5 km, 50 metres ascent
Today's pictures:
The view from Fetz restaurant in the rain
Andrea's plum cake
Lunch in Heidelberg
Sue collects dinner
Heidelberg, from above the Philosophenweg

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 3 - to Füssen

Wednesday 4 July

My apologies. Yesterday was not Monday, and June doesn't have 39 days! The pressure of blogging on the hoof must be getting to me. But perhaps nobody noticed these and other faux pas ...

Today we reached the Alps. The last hour or more of our afternoon journey revealed an ever closer arc of high mountains. These are the mountains on the German/Austrian border that leer over the flatlands of Germany. We enjoyed those views a view years ago on the E5 walk from Verona to Lake Constance. The mountains include Zugspitze, 2962 metres, the highest mountain in Germany.

Before all this, we eschewed the lavish and expensive hotel breakfast in favour of coffee and croissants at a nearby salon de té, which trebles as a bakery and post office.

Then we enjoyed an 11km stroll in the woods, on marked paths from the village. A 400 year old oak tree, Gros Chene, with a 6 metre girth and surrounded by foxgloves, was encountered before we rose slowly up winding trails to a sandstone pillar, Rocher de la Guerite.

A little higher, and the Chateau de Hunebourg was encountered. This deserved more than foxgloves... it was surrounded by Mullein. A very private place from where we ambled back to Neuwiller via a hamlet with a barking dog, and a rather interesting spring.

We saw three cyclists and two walkers during the course of this delightful meander along the ● route to the chateau, then the X route back to the start.

We elected for a toll free journey to Füssen, taking a while over the 243 mile journey. But German motorways are toll free, unlike the French ones. So perhaps we shouldn't begrudge having to spend 70 cents to have a wee in Germany whereas in France that facility is free in most places.

Mommenheim provided an excellent purveyor of lunch, in the form of an emporium that doubled as a chocolatier and a salon de té. When we left it was raining. The first rain that Sue and I had seen for several weeks.

The skies soon cleared, and we ate our evening meal outside for the third day running, at the Olivenbauer restaurant; a good salmon pizza and a seafood salad.

We are staying at the Maurushaus, a 300 year old building owned by the same family until 2001, after when it was allowed to rot until Marieta and her husband bought it in 2012. They have made a fine job of restoring the building. Our 'small double' is a lovely large room.

Today's pictures:
1 Hotel du Herrenstein - spot the storks
2 Footpath sign in the Vosges
3 A view from a clearing during our woodland walk
4 Maurushaus - our room is to the left of the ancient front door
5 Proof from the centre of Füssen that we have reached the Alps

Friday, 27 October 2017

A Green Tractor


This rather smart Fendt Farmer 2 supports AlanR’s colour coding observations detailed in his comment on the previous ‘tractor’ posting.

Thanks for the excellent picture, Nick.

AlanR has commented as follows:

The Fendt Farmer 2 is a nice machine. Not cheap. Made in the early ‘60s. I have never managed to see one close up but I did know it from brochures. A 3 cylinder engine producing about 45 hip. The tractor never had a cab as standard, it was an add on accessory. You can tell by looking at it that the cab just doesn’t look right. They weren’t into operator comfort then. That front screen must have cost a fortune to produce and it was also hinged so that it would push outwards. Why they wanted this I’m not sure, it seems over elaborate. Thanks for sharing the picture.
This one is registered in Erlangen-Hochstadt in beautiful Bavaria. (I had to look that up).

Thanks Alan, I thought this extra information was worthy of inclusion in the main text.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

From Our European Tractor Correspondent…

I couldn’t make my mind up. Is he a Tractor Correspondent, or a European Correspondent? Both, I concluded…

Nick’s comment regarding the beauty below is:

‘It‘s been a while since I‘ve been able to photo a tractor - and this one is not all visible - nevertheless I guess not too difficult to identify.’

Judging by the logo, I would guess that AlanR will come back with something like ‘made in Middlesbrough on a Tuesday afternoon in 1965, painted in the colour of the last trolley bus to pass Ayresome Park before the overhead lines were removed, and exported to Holland shortly before the Teesside Docks closed’.

So how come it finished up in Germany?


A few days later, Nick was getting into his stride:

‘This time from Austria - the Wachau region on the Danube is known for its wine, but unvisited by us until now. This rather new tractor is used on one of the local vineyards, where we walked yesterday, then drank more than enough local Grüner Veltliner wine!’


Thanks Nick – you might have made AlanR happy enough to treat us to a coffee tomorrow!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Wednesday 2 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 6 - Heidelberg to Scuol

We said goodbye to Thomas last night as he had to leave early for work, and the unenviable task of a three hour telephone conference between Germans and Japanese, conducted in (pidgeon?) English. 

By the time we'd dragged ourselves from holiday slumber, Andrea had laid out the traditional table of buns, cheeses, cold meat, yoghurt, fruit, jams, etc, with her home made jam and cheese stealing the show.

Leaving at 9.30, we avoided the rush hour traffic as we started our 330 mile journey to the Swiss village of Scuol. The A6/A7 route to Ulm worked fine as we left the sunshine of Heidelberg and ventured into gradually more overcast surroundings, eventually turning hillier, but by then the sight of any hills was obliterated by persistent rain. 

Lunch in Lindau brought back memories of a wintry visit to Dornbirn and Markus and Wolfgang's 'Ritzy Shack'. It was warmer today. But wet. Memories of E5 returned as we wound our way around the waterways that flow into Bodensee. 

From Lindau we took a scenic route via Buchs and Klosters to reach the excellent campsite at Scuol by 6.30. More memories for me as we passed over the 2300 metre Fluellapass, pictured top, that Markus and I cruised over on our TransAlp bike ride a few years ago. Given that this same Markus arrived at Scuol's posh campsite at the same time as we did, the reminiscing carried on long into the evening. We had passed through here on the bike ride, shortly after accidentally appearing to lead a mountain bike endurance race.

Tents went up under a seriously leaky sky. Then after a quick brew we adjourned to admire the Hotel Traube's lavish menu. We couldn't resist. The top of a mountain had appeared as if by magic between two buildings in Scuol, and Traube's chef turned out to be on good form. The pictures should speak for themselves. 

I'll mention Swiss prices just as an aside, being as we are paying a brief visit. The campsite costs slightly more than twice as much as its French equivalent. Other prices are subject to a similar formula. Be warned and consider staying away if you are on a tight budget. 

We emerged from the restaurant to a cool, clear evening, today's weather having ranged from a sunny 20C to a snowstorm at the pass. We are now set for a frosty night. Brrr.

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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Tuesday 1 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 5 - Heidelberg

A lovely day with Andrea and Thomas, walking into and around Heidelberg.

Sue found a website with '97 attractions in Heidelberg' and we visited quite a few of them as well as gathering candidates for another three attractions. 97 seems to us rather a pathetic failure to reach 100. So 'wild fruit' can be added to the list, with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries - yes, on 1 July - all being sampled today.

After a substantial 'Full German' breakfast on a lovely sunny day, we set off around 11 o'clock and rose through woods to a communication tower near a convenient café. There are a myriad of signposted routes in this area, especially for mountain bikes. We followed a red route through woodland that emerged at the ruins of Klosterruinne St Michael - a religious centre dating from before 400BC.

The ruined abbey was an interesting place, as was the amphitheatre like structure nearby. The latter, pictured top, is Thingstätte, built by the Nazis in the 1930s with a huge capacity. Hitler never came here, but the place was used for the shameful glorification of Naziism. Nowadays it occasionally hosts concerts.

Below the amphitheatre was another of several towers encountered today, Stephansklosters Tower. We climbed to the top to admire views of Heidelberg. Nearby was a 56 metre deep hole in the ground - Heidenloch - which appeared to be someone's persistent but futile attempt to dig a well. An impressive hole, especially when I found the light switch that illuminated it. 

Lower down, we passed Bismarcksäule, another tower that we climbed (maybe that's the answer to the 'why do I feel so tired?' question as I try to avoid nodding off whilst writing this).

Views of the town slowly got closer as we made our way down to the Philosophersweg - another of Heidelberg's attractions. I'd been here before, on a summer holiday in 1981. Only two other readers will remember this trip, and neither is listening at present, but the wonders of text messaging will see to that. It doesn't seem to have changed much in those 33 years. The middle picture was taken from the Philosophersweg whilst watching a red squirrel devour the fruit of an almond tree. 

The 'Old Bridge', which is actually a new bridge because the Nazis destroyed the old one in an attempt to halt the Allied advance in WW2, delivered us to the tourist zone, and a welcome beer. Beer o'clock is indeed alive and well, Humphrey. 

Duly refreshed, we stumbled up to the castle, which covers a substantial plot overlooking the town. The castle deserves an entry of its own; all I have time to report now is that it is a miscellany of different architectural styles, partly ruined and partly fairly new, with a rich and colourful history.  The bottom picture was taken from here. 

By the time we got back down to the Old Bridge we'd walked a good 18km on a hot day and were pleased to be able to hop on a bus to return to Wilhelmsfelder Strasse and the delights of an evening with Andrea and Thomas. Their cooking philosophy is very like ours, as is their taste in wine, so we've really had a great day and a great evening. Thanks A and T - for your companionship and wonderful hospitality. We miss you in Timperley. 

Thanks also to HMP3 for your recent comment on this rather mundane trip on which my diary entries are principally for the purpose of keeping in touch with friends like you, and family whilst we are away. Believe it or not there really were zebras and camels outside yesterday's supermarket, beer o'clock is alive and well, and my daughter has finally got round to reading about my 'Pyrenean  Adventure', perhaps at some cost to her children. My son may find a copy in his chalet room next week.

Goodnight, sleep tight. We will!

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Monday, 30 June 2014

Monday 30 June 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 4 - Verdun to Heidelberg

The campsite restaurant echoed to groans from a subdued Dutch contingent in front of an unseen TV. "Mex1" muttered a distressed man in orange as he passed our patio table.

Meal finished, we made our way to a window outside the crammed TV room. There were five minutes to go. Things looked bad for the Europeans to whom we had earlier sworn allegiance. Those five minutes proved very entertaining. We left our Dutch friends to celebrate and headed off down cycle track number 13  for a couple of kilometres,  returning in light rain from a seemingly clear sky.

The birds here at Verdun are as vociferous as those at Montreuil. One of the many delights of camping in such places.

After another fine sleep (we both sleep better in a tent than virtually anywhere else) sunshine greeted us, as did tea in bed and croissants from the campsite's local bakery. Excellent. 

Another leisurely departure saw us drive into Verdun for a quick look around. It's a pleasant town with a river and a citadel. We wished we had time to explore. Verdun would be a good spot to stay at for a few days - there's lots of walking and cycling and other stuff to hand, and the campsite is excellent, with good facilities including a pool.

Today's pictures were both taken near the centre of Verdun. 

A trip to a 'Cora' (think of Tesco Metro x 3) sorted out lunch, and we left the excitement of the retail park, complete with its zebras and camels, to continue our journey along an assortment of French byroads through small communities who farm in the pretty countryside. A massive field of sunflowers stands out in the memory. 

These small villages failed to reveal a coffee shop until nearly lunchtime, when a snack bar in Longeville-les-Saint Avold drew us through its doors. Our two coffees came black, with a bottle of milk. The milk was off. Our genial host disappeared for a while, returning with an abject apology. "My wife was making yoghurt out of that milk" he pronounced "This bottle will be better." So the coffees were replaced and everyone was happy. Here you can still get a cup of coffee (two on this occasion) for a euro.

Once in Germany we took to the motorway for the final part of our 190 mile drive to Heidelberg. 

The Satnav was very handy for locating Andrea and Thomas's apartment on Wilhelmsfelder Strasse, where tea and delicious apricot chocolate cake awaited us. A and T used to live a few doors away from us in Timperley, and kindly looked after our house and plants when we were away. Having abandoned the UK, in the process abandoning much of their large collection of plant pots in our garden, we have been forced to lure a homeless couple into our house as full time replacements for A and T (thanks Pam and Paul), and it's a pleasure to visit our old neighbours in their new home, where our European allegiance has now switched from Holland to Germany. 

Meanwhile, we enjoyed a 4km stroll down to the abbey at Neuburg, for an excellent meal and a bus ride back home.

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