Northern Germany, Netherlands & Belgium

We leave the new federal states of Germany and come to Schleswig-Holstein. There we visit the old Hanseatic city of Lübeck which was founded in 1143. 

It is regarded as the "Queen" and "Mother of the Hanseatic League", a trade association which from the 12th century until modern times has ensured great prosperity in Lübeck and other member cities through free trade and peaceful cooperation. We stroll through the picturesque old town, which with over a thousand preserved cultural monuments has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1987.  Worth seeing is also the Hanseatic Museum where you can learn a lot about 400 years of Hanseatic history. 

 

It storms and rains and we make a short stop at the Timmendorfer beach which you must have seen once. In view of the many parking lots we don't want to imagine how it is here in nice weather. A bit further on at the Sehlendorf beach it looks similar, but in rainy weather we find at least a parking space for the night.

Near Kiel we visit Kathrin & Rüdiger with whom we spent some time in Mexico in 2016. The joy of reunion is great and we spend a very nice and nice evening. . 

 

Near Glückstadt we take the Elbe ferry, which has been operating since 1919, to Lower Saxony and continue on to Bremerhaven. In 1876 Kaiserhafen I was put into operation and North German Lloyd subsequently became Bremen's largest shipping company and from 1881 the largest in the world.

Enviously we look at the weather radar which announces temperatures of 30 degrees in the south, whereas the thermometer in the north hardly reaches 18 degrees. A cold wind and a lot of rain join this. Not good conditions for an extended city stroll in Bremerhaven. But fortunately there is the Emigrant Museum where you can spend a lot of time. Between 1830 and 1974 Bremerhaven was the largest emigrant port in continental Europe and over 7 million people left Germany by ship to start a new life in South and North America and Australia. Also 300 years of immigration history to Germany are thematized.  The exhibition rooms have been faithfully reconstructed in detail and real family histories allow visitors to immerse themselves in exciting stories. In any case a very worthwhile visit. 

We spend the night at the harbour and visit the Klimahaus the next day. The exhibition offers the possibility of a virtual journey around the earth in a north-south direction at approximately the geographical longitude of the starting point, 8°34′30″ east of Greenwich, and in the extension over the South Pole in a northward direction along the 171st to 172nd west longitude. The world of knowledge and experience, covering around 18,800 m², takes up the theme of climate and climate change in three exhibition areas. Nine travel stations in eight countries on five different continents present the different climatic zones of the earth. 

 

We cross the Weser and come to Fedderwardersiel where the traditional cutters go out to the North Sea to catch crabs. In 2013 we have already spent a few nights here and waited for our ship to South America. We like this small place very much, especially the fish shop is very nice. There is no fresher catch and so we have daily crabs and fish until we drop and as a digestive we undertake an extended walk in the National Park Wadden Sea. 

Near Norddeich we visit Bernd and Karola. Both are eager readers of our travel reports and we spend a nice evening together. The next day they invite us for a sightseeing tour in the surroundings. So we get to know the village Greetsiel with its picturesque houses, the harbour and the twin mills, as well as Strandkorb Flair at the Wadden Sea in Norddeich. Thank you very much for the invitation. It was nice to meet you.

The route continues to the vicinity of Papenburg. There we visit Christa and Peter who we met in Colombia and with whom we had already arranged to meet last year in Morocco. Together we make a long bike tour to the Meyer shipyard, one of the biggest and most modern shipyards worldwide. Here cruise ships are built that can take more than 5000 passengers. Unfortunately factory tours are not possible because of Corona, but at least we can have a look at the middle part of a cruise ship under construction which is in the outer dock. Bow and stern will be assembled later. The AIDAnova with a length of 337 meters, a width of 42 meters and 20 decks was completed last. Afterwards we take a stroll in the nice little town of Papenburg. Was as always super nice with you. Hopefully we will see you soon again. 

We say goodbye and shortly afterwards we cross the border to Holland, the most densely populated country in the European Union. Since a quarter of the country is below sea level, the Dutch are probably something like world champions in dike and bridge building.

We visit the small towns of Harlingen, Endhuizen and Edam which all have one thing in common, picturesque old merchants' houses, historic warehouses, countless canals, many bridges and pretty harbours. And of course Edam is home to the cheese that has found its way from here to the remotest corners of the world for centuries.

In Edam we are only a few kilometres from Amsterdam. We already know the city from previous visits, but because we are so close we decided to do a sightseeing tour. We can easily park the car and with the free ferry we land directly at the central station, so we are right in the middle of the action. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and because of the muddy ground it is built on millions of wooden piles. Each house stands on an average of ten piles and the central station even on 9000. Amsterdam is also the city of bicycles of which there are more than 800.000 inhabitants. Accordingly, there are many cycle paths, which add up to a total length of over 400 kilometres. Hardly any other city is so multicultural. People from 178 nations live here permanently. We take a canal trip and then stroll through the city centre for a few hours. Towards evening we drive back to our car. Amsterdam is always worth a visit. 

The windmills belong to Holland like the cheese and the clogs. To draw water from the lowlands to higher areas, people built windmills 250 years ago. There are no fewer than 19 windmills in Kinderdijk, in a picturesque setting around Dordrecht. They have stood here since 1740 and are part of an extensive water management system to prevent flooding. You can make a nice round trip along the canals by bicycle. 

Over many bridges, dams and a 7 kilometre long tunnel, which goes under the Westerscheide, we go to the North Sea and there to a campground at the Veersemeer. There we have a few days holiday and enjoy the nice beach bars nearby. A nice bike tour leads us over the dam to Veer and from there with the ferry back to the other side. 

We leave Holland and enter Belgium. Here the circle closes because in April we picked up our MOMO in the port of Seebrugge and since then we made a round trip of 4200 km. Now we also have the opportunity to visit Brugge. In April this was not possible because of Corona Lockdown and all roads were deserted at that time. Today it looks a bit different. But the city is really a first class jewel. Seldom has a medieval town pleased us so much. 

The visit to Belgium is short and the next day we are already in France. Here we now want to explore Normandy and Brittany. What we experience you will find out in the next blog. Until then enjoy reading and looking at the pictures. 

Our Route 2020 - Germany, Netherlands & Belgium - 4200 km

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