Germany – East to WestPosted: May 5, 2011
The countryside changes almost immediately on crossing the Czech/German border. (Once again, a completely understated affair. ……. are we there yet???). The terrain becomes a little hilly and forested, the towns, more alive, cared for and prosperous looking, the houses, bigger and somehow more friendly.
We have a new plan. Antonio’s daughter Elizabeth is kindly and generously going to take time out from her teaching holidays to visit us in Holland. A rendezvous time and place has been set and we have a comfortable deadline to work to. Direction Amsterdam!
We follow the recommended path of Arturo and Birgit and stop at Pirna, a very sweet little city, not far from Dresdon. It is a small and well resourced town with evidence of human settlement found in the area from Stoneage times, as early as 12,000 BC!! From Stoneage to modern technology, the availability of at least four IT/phone shops is always the mark of a good town for us, especially when they are set amongst period streets and buildings of Saxony German. It’s a relaxed, thriving, pretty town and we free camp on the river Elbe with ½ dozen other campervans.
Dresdon, also sitting on the Elbe river, was once a European center of art, classical music, culture and science and is just a 45 minute train trip away. Heavy bombing in WW2 destroyed eleven square kilometers of the city. Still, Dresdon has retained or rebuilt much of its classic architecture, and is a new, spacious and well planned – a proud example of a German city, strong and grand.
Packing up camp at Pirna, we programmed Tom Tom Ezmeralda for “scenic route, motorways forbidden” and moved on across the Germanic countryside. In my past life as Sales Manager at Accent Tapware, (www.accenttapware.com.au), Geoff and Debbie Davidson twice bought me with them to the International Bathroom Products Fair in Frankfurt. I had taken some short trips to both Heidelberg and Berlin but had not spent any other time in Germany. Coming from a continent as vast and sparse as Australia, and knowing that Europe generally is more heavily populated and smaller in size, I expected a continuous mass of urban sprawl of varied density. This is NOT the case. We are surrounded by fields and paddocks as far as the eye can see. A patchwork of brown, green and beige, arable, productive, fertile ground. Not helping the homesickness as it reminds us a lot of the Victorian countryside, other than a few key differences that is!
Like, the odd castle on the skyline, hunters “hides” or “blinds” dotting the edges of small wooded areas, netted fields of hops and the cute rendered pitched roofed houses that cluster together in story book hamlets. Germany has also spread its industry around it seems, and sprinkled here and there, the marks of commerce, concrete factories, smoke stacks. I wonder how much contributes to the haze in the countryside, or it is just the result of melting Spring frosts? Certainly the industry keeps the small villages alive, and seems to be balanced with the increasing presence of environmental energy production, windfarms and “solar panel farms!!” – yes, paddocks filled with solar panels!
Enroute with Arturo and Birgits recommendations, we find the town of Weimar and decide to keep a short day driving and nestle in for the night. Weimar is home of Goethe. Famous for his poem FAUST, Wikipedia tells me he was a great German writer, drawer and polymath! (A person, like Leonardo, whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas!) We take coffee in the square and whilst many attractions are closed today, Good Friday, we take in the atmosphere of the cafes and horse drawn wagons taking tourist rides around the city.
The camp ground is a 10 minute drive from the city center and being tucked away we miss it on our first attempt. We persisted and were so glad we did. Sitting on a small river, we feel like visitors in Sigrid’s back yard. Weimar-tiefurt camping, (www.camping-weimar-tiefurt.de) is a great find. Sigrid is immediately like an old friend and other campers, lounging on deckchairs welcome us with smiles and “where are you froms?” Along the river there are kilometers of the Ilm Valley Cycle Route, a bicycle track through well-tended Tiefurter Park, parkland that stretches from one village to the next. I could spend days here exploring by bicycle and Antonio and I do a 30 km ride before reluctantly packing up and moving on. I want to stay a little longer, perhaps Goethe has a message for me I think! I will probably have to get it next time!!!
Arrive Easter Saturday! After a fair stretch of driving, twilight approached and we took a left turn off the road to find a place to camp. Always on the look out, my neck craned as we past a ménage with someone training a horse there. Seeing others sitting watching, we decided, why not! And drove up their drive to meet them!!! Its called the “Cheeky Australian Approach” I think!
Fredericka, one of the three daughters, had spent time in Australia working in northern Queensland. That, and a mutual love of horses secured our welcome to the home of one of the most successful Show Jumping Horse Breeders in Germany – the Albersmeier Family. (www.gut-dalheim.de). Chairs were set out for us and we sat and talked for over an hour. We were recommended a camp 500 meters further, beside the river, and invited to the traditional Easter fire, “Osterfeue” held in Dalheim, the village of 95 residents, every Easter Saturday. It’s a little like the “Folo” in Maniago earlier this year and also marks the end of the winter and the beginning of Spring. Spring comes later as we are heading north, in fact, I am informed by a guest at the Fire, that it travels at 40 kms a day!
We are shown around the horse stud, in this family since the 1960’s, the home was built in 1698. It’s a wonderful property and I just miss seeing a foal being born, but capture him before he takes his first wobbly steps! At the Easter fire we have hours of conversation with fellow horse lovers (showjumpers!!), travelers and brilliant English speaking locals.
Another hop, skip and a jump and we settle for the night in Oeding, the German side of the Netherlands border, a good sleep required before entering our 7th country, Holland, the next day.