After a long ship journey our MOMO finally arrives at the end of April. Unfortunately not in Bremerhaven as planned, but in Seebrugge in Belgium. Because of Corona there was not enough freight left to justify the trip to Bremerhaven and so MOMO was unloaded in Seebrugge and the problem was uploaded at our place. As Corona Lock Down is still Europe-wide at this time, we have to overcome some challenges to pick up the vehicle. In the end we take a train that takes us to Seebrugge in 10 hours with several changes. The only remaining problem is to find a hotel. Almost all of them are closed and only accept guests with an exceptional reason. In Seebrugge only the Ibis Hotel is open for dockworkers and after a detailed written statement to the hotel management about the purpose of the stay we actually get a room. The next morning the harbour agent picked us up and after almost 2 hours of paperwork we could pick up MOMO unharmed. After all, the freight was on the road for almost 2 months, circumnavigated all of Africa and made several stops in different African ports. So we are very happy to have the car back in our hands without a scratch. Over mostly empty motorways we drive via Luxembourg to Germany and stay with our friend Reinhard in Saarlouis with whom we spent 2 months curving through UAE and Oman. His car is still waiting to be picked up in India. Shortly afterwards we are back in Istein and continue our corona quarantine.
It is the middle of May and the corona restrictions are slowly being released. We want to go on tour again and on 17 May we leave our home for a while and move back into the car.
We drive along above Lake Constance and spend our first night on a hiking parking lot at a small pond. Then we continue across the Allgäu with a short detour to the castle Neuschwanstein which looks a bit strange without tourists. Meanwhile we are in Bavaria and the search for a night place turns out to be difficult because all camping sites are still closed and the camper parking sites are blocked with barrier tape. Inevitably we place ourselves at the Illersbergsee on a parking lot with the nice sign "only for cars, no campers" and try to hide as well as possible behind a barn. That actually worked out and we spend a quiet night without disturbance.
We visit friends at the Ammersee, in Penzberg and in Bad Tölz before we arrive a few days later in our hometown Grafing near Munich. There we stay for two weeks and meet our children and friends.
At the beginning of June we start a tour thru Germany with an undefined destination. Our first stop is Regensburg, with 150,000 inhabitants the fourth largest city in Bavaria, whose first traces of settlement date back to 5000 BC. The historic city centre is well preserved and has over 1500 listed buildings which were largely unscathed by the air raids during the Second World War. In 2006, the old town was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In walking distance to the city center there is a large parking lot also for mobile homes. With beautiful summer weather and relaxed Corona restrictions we enjoy strolling through the city. The first beer gardens and street cafés have opened and the city centres which were dead during the Corona Lock Down are slowly filling up with life again.
The next day it is rainy and we visit the Museum of Bavarian History, which opened in 2019. Here we learn all about Bavaria and how Bavaria became a free state and what makes it so special. A very recommendable visit not only for Bavarians. The Thurn & Taxis Museum is still closed and so we unfortunately can only see the buildings from the outside.
Near Nuremberg we visit Agnes & Harold with whom we had a great time on the Baja California a few years ago. After a very nice evening we continue the next morning to the Franconian Switzerland where we visit the devil's cave near the city of Pottenstein. The stalactite cave was formed in the last 2.5 million years and in 1931 1500 meters, which extend over several floors, were opened to visitors. During the 45-minute tour a good 400 steps have to be climbed at a constant temperature of 9 degrees Celsius.
Our next stop is Bayreuth. The city is world-famous for the annual Richard Wagner Festival. We go for an extended stroll and the next day we visit Kathrin and Hans who live near Hof. With both of them we spent a nice last evening in South Africa in mid-March before Corona forced us to go home.
The next morning we leave Bavaria and arrive in Thuringia. With this we also cross the former border to East Germany and make a stop in the small village Mödlareuth with 40 inhabitants. Here the small Tannbach has marked the purely administrative border between Bavaria and Thuringia for centuries. The inhabitants didn't care much about it. They went to church in Bavaria and to school and to the Pub in Thuringia. That changed seriously after the end of the Second World War. With the founding of the two German states in 1949, the eastern part of Mödlareuth now belonged to the territory of the GDR, the western part to that of the Federal Republic. Thus both parts of Mödlareuth were not only part of two different states, but also of different political, military, economic and social systems. In the beginning it was still possible to cross the Tannbach with a pass and a "small border pass". This changed abruptly on 26 May 1952 with the decision of the Council of Ministers of the GDR on the "Regulation on Measures on the Demarcation Line between the GDR and the Western Occupation Zones of Germany". This finally sealed the division of Germany. Along the demarcation line, a 10-metre wide control strip was laid out, on entering which the firearm could be used. The GDR had the hinterland near the border divided into a 500 m wide protective strip and a 5 km deep prohibited zone. Measures such as a night-time curfew or a ban on gatherings severely impaired social life. The first border barriers were erected by the GDR, which in the following almost four decades were continuously expanded, perfected and thus became more impermeable. For over 37 years it was legally impossible to cross the border to get from one district to another. Here there was a restricted area on one side and a crowd of visitors on the other. Here it was forbidden to wave or greet from east to west. The village of Mödlareuth, which the Americans called Little Berlin, is still a "curiosity" today - one half Bavarian, the other Thuringian. The Tannbach forms the border between the two free states of Bavaria and Thuringia. Different vehicle registration numbers, postcodes and telephone area codes are the external signs of this administrative border. Two mayors take care of the welfare of the 50 inhabitants, whose affiliation can be recognized by the greeting: "Grüß Gott" on the one hand, "Guten Tag" on the other. But today, the daily life is again organized together and the festivities are celebrated together.
The open-air museum presents this chapter of German history in an impressive way and is absolutely worth seeing.
We reach Dresden and park in a very centrally located motorhome parking lot on the river opposite the old town. With over 500,000 inhabitants, the city is the second largest in Saxony after Leipzig and the twelfth largest in Germany. Dresden is internationally known as a city of culture with numerous important buildings such as the baroque Zwinger, the Semper Opera House, the Frauenkirche, the Residence Palace and outstanding museums. After the almost complete destruction by the air raids at the end of the Second World War, Dresden's old town was reconstructed in large parts. We stay in the city for three days, take long walks and visit the Zwinger, the Semper Opera House, the Frauenkirche and the Residence Palace with its green vault. If you want to see a baroque treasure chamber, the Green Vault is the place to be. The former treasury of August the Strong is considered one of the most valuable in the world. Here, gold and diamonds sparkle in a race.
After three days, it's enough with big city and we move on to the countryside to the tranquil Saxon Switzerland, Germany's only rock national park and an El Dorado for hikers and walkers. Unfortunately we were a bit out of place with our MOMO (Monster Mobil). All parking lots were hopelessly overcrowded and after some futile attempts on narrow access roads with head-shaking residents at the roadside we gave up and alternatively headed for Schloss Moritzburg. In 1723 Elector August the Strong had the Renaissance castle built by Duke Moritz of Saxony in 1542 rebuilt into a baroque hunting and pleasure palace.
After the end of the opencast lignite mining in Lusatia, huge holes remained which have been flooded and converted into lakes since the beginning of 2000. We are heading for the Gräbendorfer See in the Lower Lausitz, which was created in 2007. Here we spend a few days on holiday and explore the area by bike.
At the small Mecklenburg Lake District we meet our friends Rosita and Manfred in Kleinzerlang. We rent a motorboat for one day and spend a wonderful summer day on the canals and lakes of the area. Together we celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of the two before we part ways again.
Via Neustrelitz the tour continues into the Müritz National Park. We make a nice bike tour to the village Waren and stroll through the town. Slowly we feel that we are approaching the main season. The town is well visited and we already see the first coaches which have probably occasionally resumed operations. We spend the night at the Kummerower See.
We drive to the island of Rügen and set up a camping site right after the bridge in Altefähr. From there a regular ferry goes to Stralsund and so we can have a relaxed look at the city. In 1234 Stralsund already received its town charter and became prosperous through international trade as a founding member of the Hanseatic League, a medieval merchant and city federation. The historic old town is a world cultural heritage and a stroll through the picturesque alleys is highly recommended.
Of course we also have to see the attraction in Rügen, the chalk cliffs in the Jasmund National Park. Conveniently there is a nice camper site right at the beginning of the trail where we spend the night. We want to see the rocks in the best photo light and start shortly after sunrise at 5 am. After a 4 kilometer hike through a beautiful beech forest we are at the spot. From a few viewpoints along the high shore path we have a nice view for a few good photos before we start our way back.
In the north of Rügen we visit Cape Arkona and the tourist village Vitt. Nearby is also a huge camping site directly on a beautiful sandy beach. Here we have a two-day break and enjoy the sun and beach feeling. Then we leave Rügen and drive along the Baltic Sea coast in western direction to the National Park Vorpommerische Boddenlandschaft. Meanwhile we arrived in the main season and everywhere the endless sandy beaches are well visited.
For one day we visit Rostock. Today the city has more than 200,00 inhabitants and was under the Nazi regime a focal point of the arms industry. This made it a target of the Allied air raids during World War II and whole districts were completely destroyed. Nevertheless, some monuments in the city centre have been preserved or rebuilt. After a stroll through the city we spend the night opposite the harbour with a view of the panorama of the city harbour.
From there we continue to Heiligendamm where the memorable G8 summit took place in 2007. At that time 1100 soldiers and 17000 policemen were activated to ensure the safety of the heads of state who had come to Heiligendamm. Nearby there is a nice camper site where we stay for a few days and from there we do some bike tours. The tourist attraction is the historic steam locomotive "Molli".
Wismar is the second largest trading and port city in Mecklenburg and the historic old town is one of the best preserved in Germany. We place ourselves on a camper site at the port and can reach all sights from there easily on foot. Around the largest market place in Northern Germany, the centre and the symbol of the city, is the town hall and the Water Art, a dodecagonal Renaissance pavilion that supplied the city with water until 1897. The gothic brick house "Alter Schwede" (Old Swede) reminds of the Swedish occupation from 1648 to 1903. It is fun to stroll through the alleys with the many old half-timbered houses and afterwards to eat a delicious fish dish at the old harbour.
We make a small detour to the south and visit Schwerin. Landmark and visitor attraction is the former residence castle, also called Neuschwanstein of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. This magnificent building, picturesquely situated on an island, is a real feast for the eyes. Unfortunately it is cold and rainy and so we have a quick look at the old town before we find a place for the night.
Now we leave Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and come to Schleswig-Holstein. We continue via Lübeck and Kiel to the North Sea, hoping for better weather. As always, you will find out what we experience in the next blog. Until then enjoy reading and looking at the pictures.