June 2, 2024 Munster GE

We planned on going into Munster today, but when we woke up it was cold and grey. We lay around in François the morning and at noon we decided that if we were going into town we had better get moving.

The Market Street in Munster.

We had forgotten how completely Germany shuts down on Sundays. The French have a reputation for taking it easy on Sundays but the Germans have them beat. All of the stores are closed and most of the restaurants are closed until 5pm. Even the breweries are shutdown.

Walking in we saw this sculpture commemorating the reunification of Germany in 1990.

When we got to the center of town the streets were empty, and the only thing open was the church. We were inside the church when I heard some sirens and a lot of engines on the main street. I stuck my head out and saw two motorcycle cops leading a couple of hundred motorcycles down the market street.

Part of the parade of motorcycles celebrating the finale of Motorcycle Week in Munster.

I asked one of the motorcycle cops what was going on and he told me that the parade of motorcycles was the finale to Munster Motorcycle Week. It was a good day as they had the downtown pretty much to themselves. We spent a little bit of time looking for an ATM, Germany does not charge a transaction fee to buy Euros, only the exchange rate. We were going to buy some for our next trip, but it looks like our debit card is suspended. Our bank has ended their 24 hour help line and directs you to their website which is manned by AI which does not understand, my debit card does not work in an ATM. So we finally gave up and went back to the church.

This pot was hanging from one of the columns of the church, we think it is for incense.

While we were in the church I checked the Sunday schedule for the bus and it said the last bus was in 12 minutes, so we cut our visit short and hustled to the bus stop. The time came and went but there was no bus 22, the board showed a bus 11. Ton and I were trying to figure what to do when a young German lady came up and asked us about bus 22. She was also confused that it had not showed up. We were planning alternative ways to get home, and she called her mother to look for a ride, when about 10 minutes late good old bus 22 pulled up and we happily jumped on board. The Germans have something to learn from the Poles about how to run a transit system.

A cool clock in Munster.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the campground.

June 1, 2024 Munster GE

Woke up early to see Fred and Denise off, and since we were up we decided to get an early start also. As we were saying good by to Fred and Denise we made preliminary plans to meet them somewhere in Europe next year.

We picked Munster as our next stop as it was most of the way to the Netherlands, and Denise gave it good reviews. The drive was relatively busy, and there were a couple of big construction sites, but we still arrived around 1:30. When we pulled in to the campground it was teeming. There were signs welcoming us to the summer fest, so I had already begun mentally thinking about alternative stops. But when I found someone he quickly assigned us a spot and told us to join the festival at 2:30.

We joined this table of Germans, but it turns out one of them was a Scot in disguise.

We headed over about 5pm and got a couple of beers and asked if we could join some Germans at their table. After we had been sitting for a few minutes one of them asked if we were from the UK. When we replied US she said she was a Scot. It turns out she had moved to Germany many years ago and was happily married to a nice German guy. We enjoyed chatting with them but Tons allergies are really bothering her so we had to decline their kind offer to join them for dinner and head back to François for the night.

May 31, 2024 Lubeck GE

Lubeck had let us down the day before. On our last visit we left loving this city. But our experience the day before made us wonder if this was a case where you should not go back to a place because it will not live up to your memories. After an easy morning where we washed the linen of the bed, (another sign that the trip is coming to an end), Denise and Fred wanted to go back into town to check a couple of sights.

The salt warehouses on the river. A collection of really cool building fronts.

Denise really wanted to check out St. Marys church because of the astronomical clock. We covered a lot of the same ground to get to the church. The interior of the church was very interesting though. Like many of the large churches in Germany it was originally built as a Catholic church, and then converted to Lutheran after the reformation. But the interior of St. Marys was interesting because the Catholic influence was more pronounced than in other churches that I remember visiting. It took me a few minutes to confirm that it had indeed been converted to a Lutheran church.

The astronomical clock, our main motivation for visiting the church.

The church was largely destroyed on good Friday in 1942 when the British fire bombed the city. This was the first instance where the British planned a bombing to try to cause a mass fire and they succeeded.

The church bells from 1942 were left as they were found when the Germans were removing the rubble to repair the church.

The other interesting thing was a large mural that alternated figures from the middle ages, with skeletons representing death. Death was a very big theme in this church, including skeletons in the stain glass which is another image we have never seen anywhere but here.

This very interesting mural is illustrating the poem that runs in a scroll below it. The mural was very large and contained multiple figures from kings to peasants all with a skeleton next to it.
The death theme is carried over to the stain glass windows in the church.

We really enjoyed the church and were glad that Denise convinced us to go in as we had not visited it before. Fred wanted to try lunch at a very nice restaurant that we had visited on our previous trip. So after leaving the church we headed that way.

The interior of our restaurant reflects the nautical theme you would expect from a meal in the old Sailors Guild Hall.

The restaurant has the great German name of Schiffergesellschaft and is located in the old Sailors Guild Hall which was built in the 1500’s. The interior is really impressive full of dark wood, interesting paintings on the wall, and models of different ships hanging from the ceiling. We had a charming waiter who had us smiling throughout the meal, and the food was elegantly served and delicious. When you throw in good company we had a wonderful time.

This statue represents the devil who was conned into helping to build one of the churches in Lubeck by the workers who told him they were building a wine bar.

After a disappointing day yesterday, Lubeck redeemed itself today by giving us interesting places to see, excellent food, and friendly and funny people. I was personally glad to have my positive view of the city restored.

Ton really likes the stories around these buildings on the market square. The dark one in the center has bricks that were produced locally, but then shipped to Italy to have a dark coating put on them, before being returned to construct the building. The upper wall on the left side with the three copper towers has two large circular holes built into it so that during the fierce gales here the wind can pass thru the walls and reduce the stress on the building.

We ended the day by sitting outside our motorhomes for happy hour and sharing stories from our travels for a couple of hours. To complete our very good day, we learned that our appeal of the fine we had received in France that we had spent 2 days preparing and 2 days driving to submit was successful.

May 30, 2024 Lubeck GE

Our good friends Fred and Denise Cook were in Lubeck so today we were up early and on the road to meet them. After a easy trip on the Autobahn from our place on the Polish border we arrived in Lubeck around one in the afternoon and parked up next to their Expedition Vehicle.

The gate to the old town in Lubeck.

It had rained a bit on the drive, but luckily when we arrived the rain had backed off for a while and we were able to head into the city for a walk around. Lubeck is one of my favorite cities in Germany, the first time we came here I really liked it.

The Trave River in Lubeck.

We walked thru the old town for a bit trying to decide whether to have dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow. Since it was nice today we decided to get our walking in, and save eating for tomorrow when it is supposed to rain.

Fred and Denise enjoying some Marzipan desserts.

We did pop in for some Marzipan which is a local specialty in Lubeck. Despite being very disappointed with the service we did enjoy the food and Fred and Denises company.

The main cathedral in Lubeck with an art display consisting of colored umbrellas suspended above the market.

After our lunch of Marzipan, we headed back to the campground where Denise and Fred treated us to a delicious dinner in their camper. We spent the rest of the evening telling stories of our travels. It was a great night of friendship that we really enjoyed.

April 15, 2024 Würzburg GE

Today we doubled back to a nice town in the Franconian wine country called Würzburg. We had visited here during our first trip to Germany and had fond memories of the town. While we had fond memories of Würzburg we probably would not have gone out of our way to visit if two of our best friends did not happen to be visiting today.

Looking at Würzburg from our spot in the stellplatz.

Dang and Jeap have known Ton since elementary school in Thailand. They have both visited us several times in the US, and every time we visit Thailand we spend time with them. They are like family to Ton, and to me now.

Flowers on the walk on river walk to town.

They are on a tour from Thailand and happened to be visiting Würzburg today so we told them we would meet them at their hotel and join them for dinner. We were off early from Bamberg, and rolled into the stellplatz in Würzburg around noon. We had originally planned on doing some shopping on our way into town, but the Lidl we planned to stop in was too urban and could not accommodate François’ bulk. So shopping is in the plans for tomorrow now.

We liked this building.

We took a quick scouting trip to see the hotel we would meet Dang and Jeap at, and found the restaurant they were scheduled to eat at. The recon work done we kind of meandered thru the shopping area. We have seen this kebab chain called Berliner Donner in a couple of towns and it has always been mobbed. Ton was peering in the window looking at the preparation of the kebabs, when one of the guys looked up and showed her the meat he was preparing and waved for her to come in. So we ended up splitting a Doner Kebab which was delicious.

Part of the main shopping street in Würzburg.

Dang had told us they were due to arrive at the hotel about 5:30, and as luck would have it we walked up to the front of the hotel just as their bus arrived. We helped them with their bags to the room and Ton, Dang, and Jeap spent the next hour catching up. Than we walked to the town center where we did the traditional glass of wine on the pedestrian bridge over the river.

Jeap, Ton, and Dang enjoying wine on the bridge over the Main River.

Dinner was a continuation of catching up on events and life. When dinner was over we were the last from the group to leave as no one wanted to end the evening. When we went outside it was pelting rain, and the wind was howling. We hadn’t gone 50 feet when a gust of wind swept Dangs hat off her head and down the street. A gallant young German gentleman took off after it and after about 50 yards ran it down, and returned it to Dang with a smile, and the congratulations of his 3 mates. We survived the walk back to the hotel bent over against the wind and the rain, though the conversation between the three of them never stopped.

The vineyards on the hills above the Main River that produce the wine Würzburg is famous for.

It was a great evening, and hopefully we will be able to hook up with them for coffee in the morning before they head back to Thailand.

April 14, 2024 Bamberg GE

Today we did a short pub crawl in Bamberg. We headed into town about 11am and our first stop was the visitors center. Last time we were here we purchased a self-guided brewery tour that included a free beer in up to 4 breweries. We enjoyed it last time so we decided to do the same thing again. Ton called today Good Beer Hunting.

Bamberg is famous for a smoked beer called Rauschbier. This brewery is one of the two original producers of Rauschbier going back to 1642.

Bamberg is famous for Rauschbier which is a beer with a strong smoky flavor produced when the malt is dried using a wood fire. Apparently almost all beers were produced this way until the middle of the 1800’s. In the mid-1800’s breweries were able to eliminate the wood smoke from the taste of beer by using other methods to dry the malt. This non-smoky beer gained popularity and wood smoke flavors in beer fell out of favor. Two breweries in Bamberg continued on with using wood smoke and they are now considered to be the two original breweries to produce Rauschbier. Today we visited them both, as well as two other breweries that produce modern versions of Rauschbier.

The brewery on the right is the other original Rauschbier producer. It is called Schlenkeria. We also had a nice hearty Franconian Pork meal there.

Ton loves Rauschbier so she was in heaven. I like it, but by the end of the day I was beginning to go towards more traditional German beers. We enjoy the German tradition of having communal tables to eat and drink at. Today we were paired with a German couple in one brewery, and a German/Macedonian couple at another. We enjoyed chatting with them and were able to overcome language barriers to have a good time.

It was a lot of work but we managed to finish off most of our large pork portions.

Bamberg is a nice sized town that is easy to walk in, and has an interesting river front. The town hall (Rathouse in German), is built in the river, because the merchants of the town would not donate land for it. The mayor not to be denied a prominent spot in the center of the town, built it in the river.

A view of the Rathouse for Bamberg.

Well, we enjoyed our pub crawl, but we are not as young as we used to be, we visited 4 breweries, but could not make it to a fifth despite our original intentions. We just don’t have the stamina that we used to have.

Looking down on Bamberg from our first stop for the day.

If we could do it again we would by one free brewery tour and only one entree at the restaurant. 2 beers and one giant piece of pork is more than enough for the two of us these days.

This is the part of town the tour groups visit. The rest of the town was pretty quiet.

April 13, 2024 Bamberg GE

We are parked up at a beautiful campground next to a small river near one of our favorite towns in Germany. We are going to meet two of Tons best friends from Thailand on Tuesday in a town near here. When I told Ton that the town was near Bamberg she said that it was one of her favorite towns and we should go back there. Bamberg has over 200 breweries near it, and also good food. Bamberg also has the campground that has the best showers we have found in Europe. So our plans for the next couple of days are settled, some beer, some good German food, and long showers.

I said yesterday that our plan for today was to visit a military commissary in Weisbaden to stock up on some American goodies. After going to one military base near our campground and only finding a small 7-11 type store, we discovered that the main shopping was on another base about 20 minutes away. As a retiree from the military we have commissary and exchange privileges as part of the retirement package. But, some countries have put restrictions on access to these facilities as part of the basing agreement, on the theory that people using them should use local groceries. We ran into that in Spain as they have restricted usage to them to active duty military. We expected no problem today because we have shopped in the commissary in Germany twice before, and the exchange several times. So we had filled a small shopping cart with American goodies, when we went to pay at the self-checkout aisle, I showed the clerk my military ID and was getting ready to scan our first item when he asked “where is your pink card”. I told him I didn’t have a pink card and didn’t know what it was. He said that without a pink card we were forbidden to use the base facilities and we could not purchase anything or the German customs would fine the Army. This was news to us as we had freely used both the commissary and exchanges several times when passing thru Germany. I didn’t doubt him, but I did not like his officiousness, he seemed to enjoy blocking us from using the facility a little too much for my liking. It turns out there is a provision in the basing agreement with the Germans that prohibits people who are not based in Germany or permanent residents of Germany from using military stores. However, the pink card is very rarely checked as so few of the customers are like us, that’s why we have never been checked before. Unfortunately, this time we ran into a guy who enjoyed being a pink card cop.

After our shopping disappointment we got onto the road to Bamberg and arrived mid-afternoon. We decided on a day of rest before heading into one of our favorite towns tomorrow.

September 26, 2022 Herenberg GE

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.

Herenberg was a pretty sleepy little town, but it did have a nice square. The church in the background had the onion dome roof that seems to be common in this area.

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.

Ton liked this list of services from the barber shop on the town square.

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.

May 20, 2019 Munich GE

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.

The Antiquarium is a room nearly 200 feet long.  It was built to display Roman and Middle-Age statues.  It also served for serving royal banquets.
An impressive ceiling from the Kings chambers.
Artwork from the 1800’s showing a Turkish influence.
The Ancestral Gallery lined with portraits of the Wittelsbach family.

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.

St. Augustine the inspiration for the beer.

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.

The interior of the Augustiner Beer Hall.

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.

The oompah band at Augustiner Beer Hall.

May 19, 2019 Munich GE

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.

The spectacular town hall of Munich.

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.

Street scene from the Marienplatz.

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.  

The interior of the Hofbrau House.  A tourist must see (and drink) in Munich.

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.  

The Augustiner we ended up picking for dinner, one of at least four we passed.

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.  

White Asparagus, a delicacy for Germans.

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.

Schweinshaxen, my favorite German dish so far.

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.

Westphalia

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.  

June 11, 2019 Cologne GE

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.

Even the statues drink beer in Germany.

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.

Our short walk thru the village was full of well tended homes like this one.  

June 10, 2019 Cologne GE

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.

One of the five river cruise boats docked along the waterfront.

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 exterior of the cathedral, it is hard to capture the scale of the building.
One of the gargoyles about 100 feet above ground.

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.

The interior houses a reliquary of the three kings, which was the original reason to build the cathedral.
The mosaics on the floor were extensive and intricate, they were the highlight of the cathedral for us.

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.  

The server on the right in this picture is carrying the traditional Kolsch Beer Caddy, so he can provide cold beer on the spot.
The modern plastic version.

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.

Some of the river traffic we have been enjoying this afternoon.

Bremen

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.

June 9, 2019 Bremen GE

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

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June 9, 2019 Bremen GE

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 market square in Bremen on a beautiful sunny day.  We had no regrets spending 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.

Part of the interior of the town hall with incredibly intricate wood carvings.

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.  

The town hall next to the cathedral, the council of the city sat with their backs to the cathedral in the town hall to prove they were not beholden to the Bishop.

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.

The interior of the wine cellar under the town hall, with over 650 different varieties of German wine.  We had beer!

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.

Roland the person who agreed to allowing Bremen to separate the government from religion.

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.

Ton making a wish with the four musicians of Bremen.
Another depiction of the four musicians on the corner of a building.

June 8, 2019 Bremen GE

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.  

The Glockenspeil in Bremen is made of Meissen Porcelain and celebrates great aviators and sailors.

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. 

The town hall is a UNESCO site and was intact at the end of the WWII so it is one of the best actual examples of buildings from that era in Germany.

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.  

The Schnoor an interesting part of Bremen with original examples of working class homes from the 15th thru the 19th centuries

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.

Hamburg

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.

June 7, 2019 Hamburg GE

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

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June 7, 2019 Hamburg GE

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.

The stop and go lights in Western Germany.
The stop and go lights in Eastern Germany.

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.  

The Speicherstadt is multiple blocks of warehouses with canals built in the late 1800’s when this area was duty free.  They lost their duty free status in the 1990’s and have now been converted to hip studios, restaurants, and galleries.

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 exterior of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburgs newest landmark.

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 has the stage in the middle.  They were setting up for a symphony concert.

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.

The view of the harbor from the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg is still a very busy port.

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.

The exterior of the very hip brewery in the St. Pauli district.

Mecklenburg

Another part of the former East Germany this region had one of our favorite cities in Germany.  It was near the coast and we enjoyed seeing the ocean again after several weeks in the mountains.

June 6, 2019 Lubeck GE

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.

Schwerin Castle survived the war intact.  My personal favorite castle in Germany.
Another view of Schwerin.  It was a really pretty city.

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.   

The interior of our restaurant, it used to be the sailors guild hall.

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.

A Marzipan pastry.  Niederbergers has been producing Marzipan since the 1800’s.

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.

A view across the canal into the old town from near our parking spot.
The sign on the city gate says Harmony within, Peace without.  

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 happy devil captured some of the spirit of Lubeck that we liked.  The story is that he was conned into helping build the church by the workers who told him it was going to be a wine bar.