Another day more or less in transit. This is an unusual trip for us as we are spending the first few days focusing on covering ground to get to where we want to start really looking for adventures. Ton saw we were passing by Stuttgart and told me there was a major US Army Garrison there and she wanted to use big American washing machines. So our first priority today was laundry, with some shopping for American stuff in the military stores on the base. These long trips have a different rhythm than one or two week vacations.
When we arrived at the Army base I was startled to see a bunch of Marines running around. When I was a Marine we had very little presence in Europe, but that was a long time ago. Today there is a headquarters for US Marine Forces Europe and Africa right next door to where we were washing our clothes. Somehow seeing the young men and women from the service I served in gave me a good feeling and brought back very pleasant memories.
It took a few hours to take care of everything, and we headed for a parking area in a small town near the base. We got the next to last spot in the Stellplatz so we have electricity for François tonight. Our neighbor is a friendly Brit who told us he loved traveling around the western US, particularly Montana and Wyoming.
After we got settled in we decided to head into town to look for some German staples that we liked from our previous trip. The town is cute and has some nice half timbered houses, but overall was pretty sleepy. We found the Lidl Grocery and now our refrigerator is truly stuffed with a mix of French, German, and American favorites to tide us over for a couple of weeks.
Well unfortunately the weather forecast was correct, it is really raining out. We lay around the room quite a while in the morning trying to figure out what to do for the day indoors.
We finally settled on the Munich Residence as the trip advisor said that it was the best place to spend a rainy day as it was only 100 yard walk from the subway to the entrance so you do not even need to open your umbrella.
The Munich Residence is the former palace of the Bavarian royal family the Wittlesbachs. Construction was begun around 1380 and continued in spurts until the mid 1800’s. When finally completed it has 130 rooms and 10 courtyards. It has a full sized concert hall that is still used today. It was very heavily damaged during WWII and not fully reconstructed until the 1980’s. It has been converted into a museum both to highlight the architecture, but to show period furniture, art, and religious relics.
We spent most of the afternoon winding thru many of the 130 rooms of the residence. It was a nice dry way to spend the afternoon. When we were finished with the residence we decided we needed to visit the actual Augustiner Beer Hall. A short tram ride later we arrived at a giant beer hall with a huge outside sitting area. It was pouring but we were able to get a good seat in the beer hall.
We both enjoyed our meals the night before so we decided to order the exact same dishes tonight. They cost a little less, and we both thought the meals last night were a little better, still we did not leave any food on the table. The Augustiner Beer is much better in our opinion than the Hofbrau House.
Just as we were thinking of leaving a Bavarian Band started up, so we had one more round and enjoyed the band. When we finished up it was raining quite hard, and it looks like the forecast of up to an inch of rain was accurate. Just hope the forecast of 1 to 2 more inches of rain overnight is not accurate.
Last night we discussed our next step. The weather once again is intervening in our plans. The weather over the next three days is forecasted to rain 2 to 3 inches, with periods of high wind and high temperatures in the 50’s. Munich was one of my bucket list items so after a lot of discussion about how to best do it we decided to use some of our hotel points to get a hotel in Munich for two nights. We arranged to park François on the Army base here so he is well secured. Our new friend Scott even offered us a lift into Munich in his rental car.
We arrived in Munich about noon and headed over to our hotel to check in. We had arranged to meet Scott for dinner at Augustiner Brewery later in the day. After we had checked in we began to get our feet wet with the Munich mass transit system. During the trip we ended up using Trains, Subways, Busses, and Trams. We made multiple trips without any major incidents, and whenever we looked particularly confused locals often offered us help to understand what direction or platform to get on.
Our first stop was the Marienplatz which is the center of Munich. It is a long and wide pedestrian zone full of restaurants, churches, shopping and museums. The rain that was supposed to already be starting was delayed so the afternoon was sunny and warm. We were enjoying our stroll up Marienplatz when we got a text from Scott asking which Augustiner Brewery as the front desk at his hotel said there were many. We picked one based on our location, and asked him where we should meet. It turns out we were only about 50 yards apart while we were texting each other, and when I looked up I saw him. Having worked out the logistics of meeting each other we decided that since we were also right in front of the Hofbrau House we should have a beer there.
The Hofbrau House is probably the most famous beer hall in Munich. Nearly every American who passes thru Munich has to have a beer there including us.
After the Hofbrau house we headed over to one of the Augustiner Breweries. The Augustiner Breweries were founded in 1328, and there really are a bunch of them. The weather was still really good so we found a seat outside.
Ton wanted to try the white asparagus (spargle in German)that Northern France and Germany are famous for, it is regular asparagus but the farmers cover it with dirt so it does not undergo photosynthesis to turn green. This asparagus is a real delicacy in Germany. It has a very short season being available only from late April to early June. It has no fat and 0 calories (before you coat it with Hollandaise sauce), and lots of vitamins.
My choice was a much less healthy schweinshaxe (pork shoulder). It is roasted so that the skin is crispy almost like a pork rind, with the meat under it tender and juicy. Both of our meals were really good.
As we were eating and drinking Ton asked me something and I answered her in Thai, the table next to us had three Asian people and as soon as I spoke Thai they perked up and said hello in Thai. It turns out that Ken, Pup, and Ploy were from a solar panel company in Northeast Thailand. They were in Munich for a trade show, but being good Thai they gave us an in depth rundown of the restaurant scene in Munich. After our meal was done they asked us if we wanted to join them for another round of beers, so Scott, Ton and I were off to another restaurant for some more Schweinshaxn, (according to Pup the second best in Munich) and beer.
It turned into a really nice day where we made a new American and three new Thai friends. By the time we finished with the last restaurant the clear skies were gone and it was raining buckets so we dashed for the subway and back to the hotel.
Cologne was our last stop in Germany. Every country we visit comes with a rush at the end as we always run out of time. Cologne is famous for its cathedral which is the most visited place in Germany. It is indeed impressive. Cologne did not leave a great impression on us as we experienced the worst service we received so far anywhere in Europe in two different Kolsch bars, neither place seemed to want us there.
Today we departed Germany after 34 days. Germany was an easy place to travel, we enjoyed the country. It is a well organized and well run country. Ton enjoyed a lot of cities particularly Bamberg, Mainau, Lubeck, and the northern romantic road cities of Dinkelsbuhl, Rothenburg, and Wurzburg. I tended to lean a little more to the old East German cities of Lubeck, Schwerin, and Leipzig. We drank a lot of beer and while we had many good ones, we also had a lot of mediocre beer which was disappointing. The food is hearty and filling but not particularly interesting though we did gain an appreciation of sauerkraut.
Today we needed a work day, so we took advantage of the lower gas and grocery prices in Germany to fill up François before we departed. After arriving at our campground we got a load of laundry done.
When we were done we only had time for a quick walk thru the town outside of the campground. As this was our only day in the Netherlands we did what all good tourists do, we explored a grocery store to compare the inventory and prices with the other countries we have visited. The little suburb outside our campground was really well tended and clean which really is the stereotype of the Netherlands.
Another long drive today as we decided it was time to move on from Germany. Just like with Spain we thought we had enough time to see most of Germany and it turns out we have missed most of the central part of the country. We wanted to make one more stop on our way out of the country in Cologne.
Cologne is one of the largest tourist destinations in Germany and has the most visited place in Germany in its Gothic Cathedral. Since it was on the way towards The Netherlands we decided to spend the night here. Again we were both up pretty early and got an early start so our drive to Cologne was nice and easy if a bit long.
We got a nice spot in the aire facing the Rhine River so we have spent part of the day watching the river barges going past. After settling down we headed towards the city center to join the crowds at the cathedral. Our route was along the Rhine, and for the last mile the path was a sprawling flea market. Between the flea market, the holiday and the five river cruise boats docked along the river the river walk was jammed with people.
We finally reached the cathedral, and had a quick walk around the exterior before going in. Much to our surprise the entrance was free. This cathedral is still Catholic unlike many of the churches we have been visiting lately which started out as Catholic, and were converted to Lutheran after the reformation. The exterior is massive and the spires are the main attraction. Construction was started in 1248 and suspended in 1473, it was finally completed in 1880 after over 400 years of suspension.
The interior is attractive, and the stain glass is pretty though we presume it is all post WWII. The Cologne cathedral would probably make our top 10 list of cathedrals if we were keeping one, but closer to number 10 than number 1.
Cologne is also famous as the originator of Kolsch Beer, so that was the next attraction we headed for. The first place we went was Peters Beerhouse where the first waiter asked if we were there to eat or to drink, we replied drink and he immediately showed us to a standup bar in a corner next to a bar, and the place where waiters return the used beer glasses. This was in a huge place that could easily seat several hundred and it was 90% empty. The tradition in Cologne is to serve beers in small glasses so that the beer remains cold, the server is supposed to come by frequently so you can get refills. In this case after the first round the waiter came by and said his shift was over so we needed to pay up. So we were out of there.
Hoping that was an aberration we headed over to another famous Kolsch place which again was largely empty, this time we got to pick out table and sit, but the service was not particularly friendly so we decided to cut our losses and head on back to François thru the slightly less crowded flea market. Ton cooked a great German meal of pork cutlets, spatzle, sauerkraut and kraut salad so the day ended on a positive note as we enjoyed our meal while looking out on the river traffic on the Rhine.
Bremen is the smallest state in Germany consisting of only two cities. It is a remnant of the Hanseatic League which were merchant cities of the middle ages. Bremen is famous as the friendliest town in Germany which is what attracted us to it.
We learned yesterday afternoon that Monday is a holiday in Germany which explains the big crowds both in Bremen and at the stellplatz. When we got back to the stellplatz last night there was a sign in the entrance saying that there was no room in the parking lot. Because we liked Bremen and were worried about finding a similar sign in our next destination we decided to spend another day.
The World Heritage Site the old town hall that we saw yesterday had a tour today at noon and we decided to make that our highlight for the day. We slept in and then spent the morning cleaning François and watching the morning exodus of motorhomes from the stellplatz before walking down to the city for our tour.
The tour of the interior was helped by an extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide who did a good job of explaining how Bremen developed as an independent merchant city under the Holy Roman Empire. When Charlemagne first tried to incorporate Bremen into his empire he did so in the normal way by sending a bishop to the city. The citizens of Bremen resisted this because they wanted the city government to be separate from the church. Charlemagne’s son Roland agreed to this and Bremen claims to be the first government where the separation of church and state was formally proclaimed.
Unlike in other cities in Europe the town hall was as prominent as the Cathedral, and do to luck the building survived all of the wars that occurred over the 600 years it has been in existence. In addition to the normal fantastic wood carvings and paintings the town hall also has a giant wine cellar that holds over 650 different examples of German wine.
Part of the wine cellar is now a restaurant so we decided to treat ourselves to lunch down in the cellar. When we arrived we were offered a private room for about 6 people built into the side of the cellar. It was a cool place even though we were planning on a light lunch.
After lunch we strolled thru town for a while taking in the sites, and people watching. Bremen has a cute town symbol the four musicians of Bremen. It is based on a fairy tale by the brothers Grimm about 4 animals who are abandoned by their owners when they are too old to be useful. The 4 of them decide to move to Bremen to be musicians and even though in the fairy tale they do not make it to Bremen the town has adopted them as the symbol. There is a statue of the four musicians next to the town hall and the legend is that if you make a wish and touch both forelegs your wish will come true. It is important to touch both legs because as they say in Bremen if you only touch one it is just two asses shaking hands with each other.
There was a pretty violent thunderstorm last night that lasted a couple of hours. I think as a result we both woke up early and decided to get out of Hamburg before the traffic got bad, so we were on the road before 7am.
Ton had Bremen on her list of must see places because she had read that Germans vote the people from Bremen as the friendliest in Germany. That was enough for her to make it a must stop site for us. We decided to take a walking tour put on by the tourist information office. The guide was a local lady who told us she was afraid to speak English 10 years ago, but she decided in her 40’s to study and now gives tours about her home town in English.
Bremen as a port town and aircraft manufacturing city was heavily bombed during WWII but the town hall, and a section of town called the Schnoor (string in English) survived intact. The town hall is a UNESCO site and has a typical renaissance facade which is incredibly intricate and ornate. The Schnoor was a working class neighborhood for the history of the city and as a result there are a lot of older homes from the 15th thru the 19th centuries that have mostly been turned into tourist shops and restaurants.
Bremen has a well developed tourist infrastructure, and even early in the season was quite busy. We enjoyed the tour and then just walking around town.
We decided to treat ourselves out to dinner, and were looking at historical German restaurants when Ton said exactly what I was thinking, “lets get something beside German”, so we ended up with an excellent (and large) Greek dinner before heading back to François for the night.
We usually avoid big cities but we could not pass on Hamburg. Even though we only spent one day there we were pleased with how easy it was to navigate François into town, and it is a place that we would have probably spent more time if we were not on a time crunch.
When we moved from Schwerin to Lubeck we crossed from the former DDR (East Germany) to the GDR (West Germany). We knew because the pedestrian lights changed.
he wait and go lights in East Germany are referred to as Ampelmanchen, and are one of the few things that have been retained. Much cuter than in W. Germany, Ton loves the hat and the portlier body.
Hamburg is the second biggest city in Germany with a population of nearly 1.8 million. It is a bigger city than we normally take François into so we were a little nervous. The drive in turned out to be pretty easy with only one detour caused by construction. I had accidentally loaded in the coordinates for a different RV parking than we planned, but by the time we figured it our we were settled in.
We only budgeted one day for Hamburg so we decided to take a “Free Tour” of the city center to try to take in as much as we could in a short time. The tour as always was informative and gave us a quick view of the city and it’s history.
At the end of the tour we were by the new Elbphilharmonie Hall. This concert hall was recently completed in 2017 for over €800 million, and besides the concert hall there are apartments and a hotel in the building.
The concert hall reportedly has the best acoustics in the world, and is designed so that no one watching a concert is more than 100 feet from the stage. Today they were celebrating their 10 millionth visitor to the Hall so they had free concerts and apple strudels.
The interior is beautiful, the exterior attempts to be modern and striking and we think misses on the striking part. The observation deck has a panoramic view of the very busy Hamburg harbor.
Our last stop was a brewery in St. Pauli which is the former (current?) red light district for Hamburg. It turns out the brewery was across the street from the RV parking I had meant to use, so it was a missed opportunity to save on some walking. We stood out from the crowd, not because we were American, but because we were not young, hip, and tattooed. The beer was good, and the people watching fun so we indulged in two rounds instead of our normal one.
We have found a city in Germany that we really have a good feeling about. As we have traveled around Europe we find cities or towns that we kind of instantly like. Examples are San Sebastian, Seville, and Malaga in Spain, Dijon, Gardes, and Flavigny in France. It is hard to describe why, but it just happens. So far on this trip we have not had that experience with any German cities. We have discussed this several times over the trip, we have not had a bad experience here, but overall we are lacking the connection we have felt in Spain and France.
Before we headed out of Schwerin we headed to the town to take a look around. It has one of the nicest castles we have seen, and it avoided major damage during the war and was part of East Germany so it’s old town has not been modernized like most cities in Germany. Our tour of the city was quick but we enjoyed it.
Today we found a city that we have connected with in Lubeck. It is a relatively small port city on the Baltic Sea with a long and interesting history as a trading city. But almost as soon as we arrived we liked the feel of the town. Our parking spot is right across the canal from the old town, they do not gouge you for the spot. After several weeks of hearty German food we opted for seafood and found an old slightly upscale restaurant with a great atmosphere. The waiter not only served us efficiently but took time to have a nice conversation about travel, and the way different cultures take care of the elderly. It was an unexpected personal connection.
Lubeck is also famous for Marzipan which is a confection of almonds and sugar. We decided we needed to sample some Marzipan so we went to the most famous bakery in town. The pastry was quite good, and not as overly sweet to Ton as American pastries.
We ended the day at one of the best breweries we have been to in Germany called Brauberger. Their specialty is a Zwickel beer which is a cellared Lager. It was quite good, and we split a pitcher and had a good time people watching.
I know this sounds like many of our days, but this one was our best so far in Germany. As we were walking back we discussed staying another day here even though we are feeling some time pressure, and are quite a long way from Belgium.
This part of the former East Germany is a bit off of the tourist path and is why we enjoyed touring this part of Germany. The towns are a little scruffier but that adds to the charm for us. It was interesting to see the difference in the development between the two parts of Germany.
Once again we feel like we are running out of time for the trip. We spent last night setting out priorities because we came to the conclusion that we did not have time to see everything we wanted to see. The first thing we struck from the list is Berlin. Ton has been there a couple of times already, and the parking for François did not look very appealing. We were thinking of a trip following the Rhine but that is gone, or will be reduced to one or two cities. Having a feel for what we did want to see we made the decision to take a big drive on the autobahn to get up to the Baltic Sea coast of Germany.
Our drive today was 420 kilometers which is one of the biggest in our European trips. We chose to use the autobahn thinking that we would cover that distance in about 5 hours. The autobahns are very similar to our interstates and you can usually count on a pretty steady speed, but not today. There was a tremendous amount of construction going on along our route so we spent a lot of time in long lines of trucks with frustrated BMW’s and Mercedes darting amongst the slow traffic trying to get to open highway. At one point the road came to a complete halt and we sat in place for 30 minutes, when we got back up to speed we had no idea why we had stopped as there was no sign of an accident or construction.
We arrived in Schwerin about an hour later than we planned, and found a nice marina/Wöhnmobilplatz (another word for aire in German). Schwerin is a lake front town and looks nice from the marina so we decided to head that way, Just as we were leaving to head into town we noticed what looked like a thunderstorm building in the distance. We decided to head back to François and wait out the storms. So really there is nothing much to report today besides our long drive.
When I was 11 or 12 my friend John and I were totally fascinated with the story of Colditz Castle and the allied prisoners of war who were held there during the war. The Germans designed the POW camp at Colditz to hold the most difficult prisoners, people who had attempted multiple escapes or were just a large scale pain to the Germans. John and I read the book by one of the prisoners called Escape from Colditz and spent a large part of the summer pretending to be prisoners trying to escape from Colditz. Today I got to visit the real thing.
It was not on the plan, but when we were traveling from Dresden to Leipzig the other day I saw the exit on the Autobahn for Colditz and told Ton the story and she insisted that we visit it. It was a short drive down from Leipzig with the only adventure being Greta insisting there was a road to follow when there was not one, after 10 minutes or so of circling Greta’s imaginary road we followed our noses and eventually found our way to Colditz.
The castle has been in existence since the middle ages, and was for a short while the home of Augustus I of Saxony. After a while it fell out of favor as a royal residence and became at different times a hospital, prison, and mental hospital. When the Nazi’s came to power it was used as a concentration camp, before being converted to a prisoner of war camp in 1939. During the war it held prisoners from many different countries including Poland, Holland, Belgium, the US, and Britain, with the British making up the bulk of the prisoners.
Today we were fortunate to be the only ones on our tour of the castle which was led by an Englishman named Alex who had married a local Saxon girl. He did a fabulous job of showing us around the castle explaining the living arrangements of both the prisoners and the guards. He talked about the various escape attempts. The most fascinating was the French tunnel which as you would expect was the work of the French prisoners held there. They dug this tunnel for over 9 months and covered over 500 feet going up and down around the stone that the castle rests on including cutting thru the original wooden supports that were adjacent to the chapel.
The German government has spent a lot of money fixing the castle in addition to the museum they have converted the old German guard quarters/Mental Hospital (under the East Germans) into a hostel. If you are in the area we recommend it. It was nice to see a place that had given me a great adventure one summer when I was a kid.
Spent the day touring around Leipzig which is a nice city. This is an up and coming city in Germany, which means it still has a little roughness around the edge which we liked. Dresden’s downtown felt like it had completed it’s makeover, in Leipzig it felt like it was well on its’ way but still in progress.
We went to St. Thomas Church which was the base of J.S. Bach for many years. As we entered the church a youth orchestra was beginning to practice for a concert. We sat and listened to them for a few minutes which seemed a fitting way to pay homage to Bach.
Leipzig embraces its’ role in the downfall of East Germany, and as you walk around town you see plaques telling stories about key events in 1989. It is humbling for me to walk the ground to see the role that common people played in bringing down a government with the repressive power of the old East German government.
Leipzig is also the site of one of the great battles of the Napoleonic era. At Leipzig Napoleon was defeated by the combined army of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden. This defeat led to his first exile. There is a huge monument to the battle on the edge of Leipzig. While the scale is massive, (it takes over 500 steps to reach the top) the aesthetics of the monument were not to our taste. We gave it a quick walk around without buying a ticket to go inside, and moved on to one of our favorite activities.
Our last stop was at a brewery in an old train station near downtown. Bayerischer Bahnhof Brewery is one of the originators of Gose style beer. We usually don’t much like sours but this one was good and Ton claimed it helped with her allergies so we had a second round. The brewery is located in one of the old train stations in town, the station was closed down around 2001, but the entrance hall was a historical site so it was saved and eventually converted to a brewery. It may be the nicest brewery we have ever visited and we have visited a few!
Today was a day of rest mostly. We woke up and decided to get some chores done, the biggest of which was laundry. Leipzig was next on our list and I found a campground with washing machines so we were off to Leipzig. After an uneventful 120km drive on the autobahn we arrived.
It was around 10:30 when we arrived, I went in to check in, and was asked if I had a reservation, when I replied negatively she gave me a lecture about planning, making reservations and added that check in time was 2pm, after she got that off her chest she checked me in and we were off to our spot. Having settled in we went to find the laundry room to scope out the equipment and the cost, but the laundry room was locked. Back to the office to find out that you needed to check out a key and buy tokens for 30 minutes of electricity. We were a little perplexed about the whole buying electricity thing but guessed we would figure it out. After getting our laundry sorted I headed back to get the key and tokens, the office was jammed with people checking in so I waited patiently, and was amused to see another person with poor planning skills get the same lecture I had gotten about the importance of reservations, this time in German. Then the next person in line bought a bunch of tokens and took a key, shucks! Hoping there was more than one key I continued to wait only to be told as I expected, that there was only one key. After 3 hours went back to check on the key, and the same lady a little shamefaced told me that the key was still not back, but gave me the space number of the person who had it, so off I went on my quest for the key. They turned out to be a nice couple who said they would be done in 8 minutes (how precisely German of them), sold us their 4 extra tokens, agreed to give us possession of the key, and explained the purchasing of electricity with the tokens.
We made the short hop up the Elbe River to Dresden this morning. Had a bit of an adventure checking out of our aire in Meissen. As I said when we checked in it is quirky. The first thing is they hand you a key and insist you lock the gate every time you enter or exit. Each day there were 10 to 15 campers there and we each had a key to the gate and everyone did their duty to insure each others security. To get the key you have to leave a €20 deposit at the municipal swimming pool which looms over the aire. There is a nice clean bathroom on site but again the instructions are clear, lock the door every time you use it. One morning I was in doing my thing when one of the maintenance guys came by and locked the door while I was in there, fortunately I had my key. The parking is a free for all and there is only two electrical posts so everyone is running a 100 foot electrical cord from their vans to the power post. This became a problem when the maintenance crew showed up to mow the grass, but we all pitched in and shifted cords around to clear paths for the mowers. Finally, in the middle of the aire is an immense abandoned pool from the communist era that has trees and bushes growing from it, everyone seemed to need to hop the fence to get a closer look at it like an archeologist. All of the eccentricities made it kind of charming and a memorable place to stay. So as we were leaving I needed to return my key and retrieve my €20, when I walked in there were 50 people in line to check in for the pool, with 2 people at the desk to handle them all, so half an hour later I got rid of the key and we were on our way to Dresden.
The aire in Dresden lacks the quirks of Meissen and is quite packed, (apparently due to an American Football game that is being played tomorrow between two German professional teams) but it is an easy walk to the center of town. After settling in we headed to town. As we neared the city center we discovered that today was gay pride festival weekend in Dresden (actually it is a 4 day event)and we had found the staging ground for the parade. We hung around to see the beginning of the parade and it was quite entertaining. Dresden has a large and proud gay community.
Next we walked thru town to look at all of the sites. They are nearly all rebuilt following a controversial fire bombing of Dresden by the RAF during WWII which caused a fire storm in the city killing around 20,000 people and destroying the old town.
The buildings are impressive, particularly the old palace of the Elector of Saxony. The Cathedral was rebuilt but they had a hard time finding matching stones for the walls that collapsed so you can clearly see the old and new stones. Most of the buildings in Dresden are quite black, I am not sure this is by design, but am guessing it is a result of pollution, as a few of the buildings look like they have been recently cleaned and are not black.
We wandered around the old town for a few hours before crossing the bridge to the new town for a beer and curry wurst. After our beer as we were crossing back over the Elbe the gay pride parade came down the riverfront and since they seemed to be taking the same path we were taking to François we walked along with them for a while before stopping for one more beer as it was hot.
A very light day for us. After sleeping in we took our time getting going in the morning with Ton updating her friends on Line, and me catching up on what was going on with the Timbers.
Meissen is famous for being the first place in Europe to manufacture porcelain. Porcelain from China and Japan was all the rage in the late 1600’s and imports were really expensive so the local prince told some of his best minds to figure out how it was made. Eventually they successfully reverse engineered the process and in 1710 opened the first porcelain manufacturing site outside of Asia in Meissen. It has been in continuous business since then.
The demonstration of the manufacturing process is quite interesting as actual artisans from the company perform work as you watch them. The work is quite intricate and artistic, so it is fascinating to watch them actually perform the work as it is described to you.
We really enjoyed seeing the process. The work at Meissen is still largely done by hand unlike most porcelain manufacturers who have automated the process. As a result Meissen porcelain is highly valued and is expensive.
After the demonstration we walked thru the museum with over 3000 pieces from different eras on display. There was a lot of very interesting porcelains on display, and we spent quite a bit of time walking thru the exhibits.
We decided to head back to François a little early for the day after we picked up some things at the grocery. We relaxed for the afternoon, while I tried to have a conversation with our Dutch neighbor. He was quite a character, but also the first Dutchman I have come across who was not fluent in English. As a result I spent a lot of time nodding and smiling while maybe understanding 20% of what he was telling me. Still it was nice, and gave Ton and his wife some time to take care of business without us in their hair.