Wendland KulturellE landpartie 2015

Gümser See

Kulturelle Landpartie

The time that was suggested for me to visit the Wendland was during the Kulturelle Landpartie (klp). It is a 12-day event (beginning with Christi Himmelfahrt - the Ascension - and ending with the Pentecost.

Cultural Outing 

Its roots are in political opposition to the nuclear waste storage facility but it has morphed into a large cultural event with over 90 participating villages.

klp sites

The over 100 exhibitions feature 500+ artists exhibiting paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and jewelry using a wide range of media including ceramic, glass, wood, fabric, felt, leather, and metal.

There also is an extensive cultural program of over 600 performances of music, theater, ecology, cabaret, sound art and dance, readings, tours, and lectures.

Dienstag, 12 Mai

I finally land in Frankfurt and I must make my way to the connecting gate for my flight to Hamburg. Because I am going from an international arrival to a domestic connection, I have to leave the terminal and pass back through security. Annoying, but I have given myself plenty of time between connections for just such a possibility. When I arrive in Hamburg, Olaf is here to meet me because the train operators are striking and it is not an option for me to take a train into Uelzen. On the way back to Dannenberg, we stop in Lüneburg for some lunch before continuing.

Lunch in Lüneburg

After lunch, we complete the journey to Dannenberg and I settle into my home for the next weeks. I am staying with Olaf and his family (wife Karen and 5 year old son Johannes) in a guest studio apartment.

...in Dannenberg
Quite comfortable

As it is with every Tuesday, Olaf joins a “therapy session” at one of the local establishments (Lina's). And by therapy session, he means a collection of friends with which to swap stories and have a few drinks. The evening ends with the walk back home and soon to sleep. I am tired.

Mittwoch, 13 Mai

Not quite the same as my horse Owen...

Wednesday has me relearning to ride a bike as we are all going to run errands in town and the bike is the optimal way to make one’s way around. I haven't ridden a bike in...oh...it has to be about 25 years(!). The biggest learning curve was shifting the gears - apparently no one uses the old levers that I remember from my youth.

At last...the sun!

At 5 o’clock, we all head out to pick up Johannes from kindergarten. We stop for ice cream and a walk around the lake. We grab some Döner (similar to a Gyro) on the way back to the house for dinner. Delicious- but do not order the hot sauce!

Schokolade Eis (chocolate ice cream)
House on the hill

After dinner we watch a round of Dino-Zug (dinosaur train) - an animated show about some young dinosaurs that travel through the different epochs on a time traveling train. I wish I could say I understood it all - unfortunately I only am able to follow about 40% of what they are saying. Maybe it is because they are speaking too quickly... yeah... that’s the reason. I am not entirely convinced that the writers are not on something...

Once the small one is in bed, Olaf and I are going to meet up with Jens at his house in Mützingen. There, I meet Uli and Kirsten- two women who are staying in an RV in Jens’ backyard. They have come for the Mützingenta (something like an arts and crafts fair but with music and performances) where handmade, environmentally-friendly products are on display (and for sale). One makes quilts; the other has hand-worked leather bags. Also, there was one of Jens’ Hamburg friends that I had met last November. A short drive home and it is time for bed.

Some drinks - much laughter. A great time!

Donnerstag, 14 Mai

Another early morning for me. The sun shines brightly and I have hope that the day will be slightly warmer. These hopes are soon dashed by the appearance of the angry clouds that will prevail for the remainder of the day. No kindergarten for Johannes today - we are going to the “Schützenfest” (marksman festival) at Breese in der Marsch.


At a Schützenfest, contestants compete based on their shooting abilities, for example, by shooting at a wooden representation of an eagle. The winner of the competition becomes the Schützenkönig “king of marksmen” until the next year's competition. A parade is also a big feature of the Schützenfest.

There is a small carnival here at Breese in der Marsch with a carousel and a flyer for the rides and a target booth and a “knock the cans” booth among the games. Johannes rides the carousel a few times and Olaf wonders if he will be brave enough to ride the flyer. I mention that I have never ridden that ride - I was always afraid the chains would snap (insert a slightly scathing but wholly disdaining look from Olaf here). Johannes does want to ride - so Olaf takes him on it. At the conclusion, I am “taunted” until I agree to ride the kiddie ride. The only open seat is one that faces backwards and, despite my inexperience with this ride, I do know that backwards is not the way to go. Now is my chance to get revenge for Olaf’s taunting as he offers to ride in the backward facing seat. I readily agree. He soon discovers why I did not want to ride backwards.

My first ride on a flyer...
The search for Jens


After dinner, Olaf and I are in search of Jens. He is not at his house, but he may be at the Mützengenta (so he says) so we walk to the festival to find him (ok, not such an easy task...). As we pass through the the parking area, we happen upon this beautifully restored Buick.

The Buick

All of the craft booths are closed for the evening so all that was left was food, drink, and music. We meander through what food offerings remain and settle on some pasta. I enjoy the band - Irish - they play a wide range of songs...many of which I know.

“Shamrock” - an Irish folk band.
Still no sign of Jens

The band ends before we wish to return home so we are now on the hunt for other active klp destinations. We move to Neu Tramm and find a band playing. They are good - somewhat folky - but good. Alas, after about 30 minutes they, too, end their evening and we are once again in search of some music.

Band at Neu Tramm

The last stop for the evening is Lübeln where (after scoring a primo parking spot) we find a band playing...I am not quite able to describe the type of music...maybe a mix of punk and grunge brought into the now. The music was loud and those that were dancing were enjoying themselves. But luck is not on our side this evening - the concert ends shortly after we arrive. Time to go home and to bed!

Freitag, 15 Mai

I wake early - around 5:30. Despite the days being mostly cloudy, the mornings are bright and sunny and wake me shortly after sunrise. Olaf and I are going to do some shopping, so around 10:00 we walk into town. On the way, the day’s plans are discussed. Carlos the magician (the scheduled afternoon plan) is not high on my list of exciting activities so it was suggested that I strike out on my own to Seedorf on my two-wheeled transportation to hear some music by “Trio Schmarowotsnik” - an accordion, a violin, and an oboe.

On the way to Seedorf...

The day is beautiful with sun and mild temperatures. In addition to the music, Seedorf features an artist that paints haunting pictures. I am joined by my host family to hear one of their friends performing at 17:00. Dinner is at Seedorf - a delicious plate of antipasto (although they neglected to give me the mozzarella that was promised).

The klp at Seedorf

This way for fun
Bicycle parking here please!
The audience is listening...
Queen sized chess set
This way to...
Very lifelike even with minimal features
The stork pair that call Seedorf home.

In the evening, Olaf and I head to Neu Tramm to listen to some music. While we wait for the band to set up (they are not on schedule), we peruse the art and craft offerings at this location. Olaf purchases a notebook in which the notebook covers are covers from old books that have been removed and spiral bound with new pages. The charm is that some of the books’ inner covers have been scribbled on by children. What a wonderful way to recycle old, potentially unwanted books.

Raum 2

Once we are done, the band is still not ready so we head to the lower stage area to get a drink. A discussion with the bartender yields some answers - the band is now playing. Back up to the venue we go...Raum 2. The band was very good - Russian. I did not understand anything he was singing but the six piece band was energetic and lively. Definitely a hit!

Neu Tramm: LaMinor (St. Petersburg) singing forbidden gangster style music from the old Soviet era

After the concert, it is back home; the night is pleasant so I sit in the back garden and listen to the nightingales...time to sleep but what a great night!

Oh! It is getting late...1:30!


Today is cold, windy, and rainy. The morning started with a short walk into the town for some shopping and an espresso. I am on my own for the remainder of the day but the weather is not conducive to me venturing out on my bike. I try to sit in the garden but soon abandon that notion for the warmth of the apartment. Olaf and I end the evening with a few drinks and some people watching at a cute, albeit smokey, Irish pub in Dannenberg.

Sonntag, 17 Mai

This afternoon we head to the the main site...the Mützengenta. It is close to Jens’ house and - low and behold - the elusive Jens has finally resurfaced. Olaf and I head to the Mützengenta to wander among the stalls - he is looking for leather trousers for his son and a new tobacco pouch. The weather is cloudy punctuated by short showers - but still fun. The afternoon is finished with a coffee and a wild pig sausage (a feature of the area).

“I don't like the wild pig sausage - actually, I don't like any wild animal to eat” - Jens
Crafts and a human powered pig-go-round

Olaf returns to pick up his son and a few other children for a barbecue and I am left with Jens. We take a tour of the Wendland - he explains about the nuclear waste site and the protests that have made this region famous (or infamous).


We stop at the grüne werkstatt in Kukate, a design camp for those so inclined to learn and practice their craft (from weaving to metal working).

Design Camp
A nuclear waste board game

The next stop is Gartow to see Jens’ sailboat.

Jens says that his boat is a red boat...but doesn't think it is that red one. He actually cannot locate his boat.
“...but it [the boat] is called kartoffeln” - Jens

...kartoffeln means potato. After the tour we head back to Jens’ house until it is time for him to take me back to my home base. There are many people stopping by now that the booths are closed due to Jens’ close proximity to the Mützengenta.

Jens’ porch is in a state of repair (or disrepair as I see it).

The evening finishes with some conversation and listening to the nightingales back home. 23:00...bed time!

Gute Nacht!


Today I wake before the sun - 4:00! I try to go back to sleep but a strange dream about bats in my hair ends that silly idea. It is still not sunny although I can see that it not likely to rain a great deal today. I get up, make some coffee, and grab something to eat while I contemplate the workings of the day.


I manage to get a little work done before I am invited up for a coffee and the arrival of the new WLAN. Very exciting - who does not love a new router?! No - seriously! Think of all that wifi speed!

“The” FRITZ!Box

Once the unpacking and trial run of the router has been accomplished, it is time to bring Johannes to school.

Off to kindergarten

Through Dannenberg
The kindergarten sits by this lake and, appropriately enough, is built in the shape of a boat.
These cheerful harbingers of spring are all over the area

Back home for some lunch and more work. Mid-afternoon I head to Lina’s for some coffee and people watching. I sit outside as the weather is mild compared to previous days.

My first cappuccino...ever. Sehr lecker! (Delicious)

I am joined by Olaf and Johannes on their way back from kindergarten and I am informed that dinner tonight will be at a klp location that closes at 18:00 so we must get moving. Dinner is at Weitsche - about 20 minutes by car. I have a currywurst mit kartoffeln which is a pork sausage with a mildly spiced tomato based sauce. The potatoes are like home fries and the meat et al. all come from the local farm.


The interesting juxtaposition of old buildings with ultra modern additions is common in this area. It is a source of pride to “get off the grid” and solar panels and biofuel plants abound. This location also is home to the “colos-silo” - a rough amphitheater made from an old concrete silo. Ingenious.

Images from Weitsche

After the after-dinner-before-bed Dino-Zug watching, I head back to my apartment to wait for a ride to Jens’ house. He had firefighters’ training today so he was not able to pick me up as he wanted at 17:00. At least I am able to catch up on a few emails before Olaf and I go Jens’ house after Johannes is asleep. There, we are joined by Uli and Kirsten as they return from their booth at the Mützingenta. Great conversation, alcohol, and friends. Oh, and cheese. There was much cheese. A late night for everyone!

Fun and games!

Dienstag, 19 Mai

This morning I sleep in...7:00!

I am a little slow this morning but soon the rehydration and caffeine start to work and I am able to begin my day. After a little work in the morning, Johannes leaves for kindergarten but before he does so, he asks if I would like to pick him up from school. “Ja” I reply. The rest of the day is now set. I have a cup of coffee with Karen and some vanilla pudding with rhubarb (very interesting taste). When Olaf returns from his fatherly task, we eat lunch (muesli for me). After lunch, as the day is mild, it is suggested we go for a motorcycle ride before it is time to escort the boy from kindergarten to music school.

Das Motorrad

We start out - the roads are perfect for motorcycling - meandering through the small towns and lush green forests with short straight stretches for a little speed. We wind our way through the beauty of the Wendland to reach Mützingen where we stop for a coffee before we head back to switch the motorcycle for a bicycle.

“No atomic waste” - a slogan at the core of the Wendland

After delivering Johannes to music school, Olaf and I leave the bikes there and walk to Lina’s for a coffee while we wait for music school to finish.

From Lina's
Dinner tonight is at a klp in Bülitz.


...is in close proximity to several wind turbines. We stop at the first turbine that was installed in the region (a popular day-trip attraction I am told).

There is no need to wonder why this area was selected for these turbines...
I feel a “Lion King” quote coming on...I will resist though...
Self explanatory...
These things are massive!

An old fire truck guards the entrance to the Bülitz klp. The area is beautiful - the lilacs are blooming over the entire region (I miss the lilacs from Pullman). We wander through the artists’ stalls - from painters, to textiles, to metal workers, to sculptors - before stopping for some coffee. Johannes also had some “cake” which I did not like. Turns out it was vegan...that explains a lot! But the coffee and cocoa was good. Dinner was a fresh bratwurst and, while I am waiting for it to be cooked, I peruse some wine. I pick up a bottle of Merlot that - I am told - will be very tasty.

The old fire truck
On guard
This is actually a lamp
Awful vegan “cake”
My merlot
Some of the many sculpture

Back home for some Dino Zug and bedtime for Johannes. The bedtime story is a chapter from a book “Die Kleine Hexe” (the little witch). In one of the chapters, the little witch is learning English. She learns to say “I am a little witch.” Johannes’ attempt to learn the words was admirable but he was missing one small (but important) word...

“I a little witch” - Johannes

After bedtime, it is off to the weekly Tuesday “therapy session” at Lina’s. We are supposed to be joined by Jens tonight but he is AWOL. I send him an SMS but there is no response. The same group from last week’s therapy session was here tonight with the addition of Martin (who I met at Kukate with Jens). The discussion ranged (as it usually does in all places) from politics to football (soccer). The evening ends shortly after midnight.

Martin checking his phone, Olaf talking to The Volkswagen Beetle obsessed Wolfgang (not visible).

Mittwoch, 20 Mai

Today is another cloudy day and it is a bit cooler than yesterday. Jens contacts me this morning. He said he was not well after the previous evening’s festivities but he would like to pick me up this evening for some klp.

“Sorry, I fell asleep on my sofa...you killed me the night before” - Jens

After lunch, I walk with Olaf into town to run some errands and a coffee at Lina’s. On the way, there is a clothing store with mannequins in the window. They are all clustered together with a brown blanket around them. “There is a story behind this - with the brown covering,” Olaf says. Now I must know the reason for this oddness.

The story goes...

...that when the mannequins were new and were in the window waiting to be dressed, a policeman entered the shop and stated that the mannequins must be covered. “Why?!” responds the shopkeeper. “Because there has been a complaint,” he replies. Well, as it turns out, there was a gentleman who found the unclothed mannequins to be...well...let’s just say...stimulating. Now, even 15 years later, the mannequins are ensconced in brown cloth while the windows are dressed.

“A fingerprint of our town” - Olaf

- meaning that despite the seeming cosmopolitan and modern appearance, there lies an underpinning of old-fashionedness.

The afternoon was quiet but soon Johannes returned from school. He asked if I would join him in the garden.

“The strawberry plant incident”

In the garden, I am informed they have a new gasoline lawnmower (the old one is electric). Olaf is showing Johannes how to operate the mower.

“He must learn some time.”
Father and son

After several false starts with a stalling lawnmower, Johannes finally gets the hang of it. Olaf sets up the mower again and Johannes is off!

It begins...

But I see a potential problem...he has a direct line to Karen’s prized garden. He has plenty of room so I am concerned, but not overly worried. However, it soon becomes apparent that my concern will surely become a reality as Johannes’ relentless march brings him closer and closer to the row of lovingly tended strawberry plants.

Closer and closer...

I still hold out hope that he will let go of the clutch on the mower as he had done several other times. But he does not. As he moved closer and closer, Olaf is telling him to let go...but he will not...yup! You guessed it. Before he could stop the mower, one of the strawberry plants was mowed down in the prime of its life.

Ok, maybe not the entire plant...
Johannes prefers the old mower...now!

Just as Karen returns home to discover her mutilated strawberry plant, Jens arrives to pick me up for this evening's klp - perfect timing. But he needs to get gas, wash his car, and pick up a few ingredients (with which to bake a cake). After the required stops we drive to Mützingen. A short stop at his house and we walk to the Mützengenta.

It is raining and I am glad I brought my raincoat despite some pooh-poohing of the idea by those who shall remain nameless (Olaf).
As we pass through the parking area, Jens asks me what the device is called that keeps people from stealing cars - I said it was an anti-theft device. He says this car is so ugly...
“...it is a visual anti-theft device all its own!” - Jens

At the Mützengenta, Jens and I see Uli and Kirsten closing up their booth and tell them to join us when they are done. We move to the food and drink area. We score some seats under a tent (very difficult to come by with the rain) and Jens runs to grab a beer and a wine for me. I am starving, so when he returns I go to order a pizza since the wild pig bratwurst booth is not open. I order a salami pizza and I am told it will take about 20 minutes so I return to sit with Jens and sip my merlot. Finally, I think my pizza might be almost ready so I join the crowd gathered by the pizza station.

And I wait...and wait...and wait...

I am wondering if I missed my pizza but I am 10 minutes early so I am thinking that is not the reason my pizza is not forthcoming. Plus, I lack the ability to ask if my pizza was still “en route.”

The pizzas are made in a real wood-fired oven
Seriously, where is my pizza?!

Success! My pizza is ready! I am not quite sure it is as it was listed on the menu - perhaps a loose interpretation of the menu - but it is hot and delicious!

But look out! The olives still have their pits...

At last, the band starts - “Heart of Gold” - yes, it is as you suspect...a Neil Young tribute band. Although to be fair, they played some J.J. Cole, Muddy Waters, and Depeche Mode (okay...only one). The music is free but it is listed as der hut geht um - “the hat will go.” And so, the hat is passed; it is common to toss in the coins from your pocket although here the coin also contains 1 and 2 € pieces.

Heart of Gold: Jörg Bobrik und Helmut Heine 

The band is finished around 18:30...well, not quite done but we are all cold. Jens, Uli, Kirsten, and I walk back to Jens’ house where, finally, the ability to reach the outside world is restored (the Mützengenta has very little to no cell service). Once there, we settle in for a nice evening - drinks, some snacks, and a warming fire. Olaf indicates he will also join us in our evening.

Toasting marshmallows by candlelight

Jens brings out marshmallows - a new experience for Uli as she has never toasted one. Although there is a roaring fire, the marshmallows are toasted over a candle...it works! Who am I to judge?

Uli inspecting her toasting skills
The look on her face says it all - pure enjoyment.

At 23:00 Olaf says it is time to go (he is my transport home) so we leave and are home by 23:30. Another great evening with fun and friends.

Tschüß bis Morgen

Donnerstag, 21 Mai

The sun is shining this morning (yay!) but I see by the forecast it will be partly sunny so I am expecting some clouds to roll in

Sure enough, the clouds have started their procession across the sky. Despite the weather, I want to sit in the garden - it is still a little chilly as the sun has not yet had a chance to warm this part of the earth. After a couple of hours, I move back to the apartment - my hands are cold. Olaf and Johannes emerge from the house on the way to kindergarten. Olaf suggests I head to town and he will meet me at Lina's but Johannes wants me to go with them. “Bitte Papa!” I am now shuttled off to kindergarten too.

Johannes changing his shoes

At noon, Johannes’ class starts and we drive to town for a few errands.

Dannenberg’s farmer’s market

Olaf explains that every Thursday there is a “farmer’s market” of sorts where (mostly) locally made foodstuffs can be purchased. Our first stop is a chocolate shop. It is Oma’s (grandma) 95th birthday and he needs to pick out a gift. While the shopkeeper assists him, I peruse the offerings.

Not quite sure why someone would want a chocolate cockroach...
But these are cute...
And who does not need a chocolate bottle of beer?!

After he has what he needs, we go to the bratwurst truck where we can get a “normal sausage.” Apparently after all of the organic, hippie, vegan, and odd food at all the klp stations, “regular, plain, everyday” food is a welcomed sight. So we order our sausages and walk around the market.

Walking around town

Then we move to the tobacco shop to pick up some magazines. After which we return home - just in time too...a passing raincloud unleashes a deluge.

I am on my own this afternoon - the family has a birthday celebration for Oma with a possible visit in the garden if the weather holds. I am not too sure about that part as I have been enjoying the garden the past few hours and the weather oscillates between sweet sun and stormy temper tantrums. It is a nice place to do some work and I was able to catch up on some email and finish a presentation.

The field next to the garden

After some time, I move back to the apartment - the rain has triumphed over the sun and my hands and feet are cold. But soon the sun re-emerges to grace the land with its countenance and I move outside in front to sit in the last vestiges of the day.

The sun low on the horizon sharing its last bit of warmth

The family returns from the birthday celebration and Johannes asks if I will watch Dino-Zug with him. So up I go for some TV watching.

Hallo Leute

When Olaf returns from dropping his Oma off, he mentions that we could visit some klp sites tonight if I am interested. I agree and, after Johannes is in bed, we head out. He has two places in mind for us tonight. The first is in Zeetzer Mühle where we will enjoy music from a harp.

Songs from the harp

The venue is in an old barn - in the attic. So we wind our way up the stairs to reach the room filled with a hodgepodge arrangement of chairs. We select our vantage point and settle in for the show. Before it starts, Olaf retreats downstairs to get some red wine. The room is not clean - there are cobwebs still draping from the windows and the ceiling is exposing its underbelly. But there is something slightly magical in its carefree, unapologetic attitude. There is a well lighted makeshift stage in the center of the room upon which stands two lovingly cared for harps.


Tonight’s performance is only attended by a few people - maybe eight including two children - so it is quite intimate. The entrance is 10€ or a bundle of firewood (apparently still a valid form of currency). The performer soon arrives and the show begins. It is a bit like interpretative dance - except no dance.

Elke Martens

Just music and some storytelling. It is, of course, in German so I can only understand about 20% - “it’s ok” Olaf says, “you can only understand about 50% of an interpretive performance anyway.” So I guess am doing ok.

The long march...
Elke’s entrance mask

After Zeetze Mühle, we travel to Neu Tramm for some more music - this one of a very different sound in a familiar venue...Raum 2.


We were worried that the band had ended for the evening, but as we found a parking spot and walked in, we could hear the sound of music...fast paced and loud. Indeed, the band is still playing but they are almost finished for the night. However, we stay for what time remains.

Six piece band

The 6-piece band is from Mexico and their music is described at Mexican ska with hard rock and punk riffs. It is good and somewhat frantic but it added some energy to the evening. At the end of the set, we have a coffee before heading back home.

“What completely opposite cultural experiences we had tonight!” - Olaf

It is late - 1:30 - a short time at the computer and I am soon asleep.

Freitag, 22 Mai

Guten Morgen!

I wake early this morning (even after the late night) but I do not rise right away. I see that the sun is shining but there seems to be high clouds (maybe because the wind has momentarily ceased). Finally, I decide I need to get moving. I grab some water and a cup of not-so-good coffee.

I have not figured out how much coffee or water to put in the French press coffee maker I have been supplied. And, since I have run out of milk, I cannot attempt a fix post hoc

I need to wash my hair - Raum 2 was smokey and now my hair is too. But first I need to warm up the bathroom...it is still a little chilly in the mornings - especially for showering. After my shower, I eat my breakfast which might have been muesli had I not run out of milk. So, looking in the fridge I see I have two choices. A sausage and some mozzarella. I select the mozzarella - the sausage can wait for lunch. It looks like I will need to do more shopping very soon.

“What do you think about a bike ride?”

The day seems to be warming up so I go to sit in the garden. I bring my computer to do some work as Olaf said he would be running errands and later they will be going to Gorleben in the early afternoon for “Muui Op.” He had suggested I reach out to Jens for possible evening plans. Jens says he will come to get me after work - I tell him that is ok because I can do some work too. I move my workstation out to the garden where I think it will be nice. Nope...I was wrong. It has not had the benefit of the sun’s rays and, therefore, it is still cold. And the wifi is misbehaving - like a petulant child.

The front of the house

So I move to the front of the house outside my apartment where it is quite warm. I am settling down to work and Johannes leaves for kindergarten with his mother. Soon, Olaf emerges and asks if I would like to go for another motorbike ride. I am most definitely up for another ride.

“getting ready to ride!”

And so we start our tour - Olaf says we will go to the Elbe and see some sights there but we only have until 15:30. Our first stop is Hitzacker.


Last year Jens took me to Hitzacker - it was just as scenic then...with the beautiful fall colors as the trees give a last bit of brilliance before winter sets in...just much greener now.

Hitzacker last November

The tower

The tower is a great way to see the Elbe and across to the old East Germany. The panoramic view from this vantage point is breathtaking.

Olaf explains that if you look across the river there is a small road that used to be the “iron curtain” where the wall stood and that the area had been riddled with land mines. It is difficult to imagine now, but it was not so many years ago.

Once back at the bike, we try to figure out where to head next. Olaf says the east is a nice ride as it travels along the Elbe but that west is fun for traveling by motorcycle but not as good for viewing the countryside. I suggest we flip a coin - heads we go east and tails we go west. It is heads so east we go. We start up our tour again, riding along the Elbe but it is not visible because of the dyke built in an attempt to contain the floodwaters that occur every few years.


We pull over at a view point near Damnatz so I can have another view of the countryside. He explains that these oak trees that line the river are under controversy because they hinder the flow of the water during the floods and there are some that would like them removed. But they are over 200 years old so there are those that do not want them removed .

Olaf points to a small area off in the distance...“see the taller lighter grass area?” I do. He says there is a secret entrance to that area and that is a very private area for swimming in the river. I am thinking he could be referring to FKK (“freiköperkulture” or free body culture) the practice of social nudity - especially when swimming.

“See the area with the tall grass?”

We continue our journey - slowly. As we move through the small towns, I get impressions of the life here. A deer grazes in a field...an orange tabby cat gives us an admonishing look as we pass...a man rides his Hanovarian in a small grassy enclosure...a man mows his lawn. We cross the Elbe to officially enter the old East Germany.

Dömitz - the iron curtain

We stop for coffee at an old corn storage facility turned into a hotel and restaurant. The top floor has a wonderful panoramic view of the area so we head up. The restaurant is not open but we can go outside on the balcony.

We go back downstairs to find a table and order our coffee. He tells me that is is a great place when it is very hot because of the pool to cool off and with the sand it is a nice area for the children. “But” he says, “do you see that funny colored tower over there?” He points to a colorful structure on the other side of the river. Another reminder of this regions’ past - it is an old guard tower that was manned so that no one could pass through.

The guard tower hiding among some trees

He mentions that it is much less expensive to live here but that no one wants to. Some clouds are now rolling across what what was a beautiful day and we wonder from whence they came. I snap pictures as we drive through the town to our last stop.

Our last stop is a keep just outside of town then we go back to Dannenberg - easily making the deadline of 15:30 and happy that we used the sunny part of the day for something good because the entire sky is now obscured by clouds.

The old keep

Once home, Olaf and Karen leave to pick up Johannes from kindergarten and travel to Gorleben.

Images from Gorleben (Thank you Olaf)

I settle back to check some email. I am tired - I woke up at 6:30 so I think a short nap is in order. Thirty minutes later I wake and Jens asks me if I am back in Dannenberg and am I ready for him to pick me up. “Jepp!” I wait for his arrival.

Back to the Mützengenta

Jens is not as keen to go to Gorleben - he suggests we go to the Mützengenta. At least there we can get some food (a pizza) and some drinks but there is no other entertainment here - or anywhere - except at Gorleben. As we walk to the Mützengenta, I spot this old Beetle And I think of Wolfgang - Jens says it is the ugliest color it could possible be painted but I do not agree. For my dinner, this time I order the Margherita pizza.

There is much conversation around me but I am only catching snippets here and there as my understanding of the language lags. We are joined by this fellow who strikes me as somewhat odd...ok...maybe a little more than somewhat.

That is only a Fritz Cola in his hand

After he leaves, Jens tells me that the man makes the pizzas. I think I have found the reason for the interpretative pizza I had yesterday. As I watch the children play, I remember also playing in such a way in my youth. Having fun with what was available - a stage, a tree, places to hide and make a fort. I am thinking that if this were the U.S., all of these children would have a smartphone and would be playing a game on it instead of the play they are experiencing.

Children playing

I mention to Jens that it is Damon’s birthday and we take a selfie to send to him with birthday greetings. As chance would have it, Jens is wearing a souvenir from his trip to Ohio a couple of years ago.

At 22:00, we leave as it is last call; all the booths are closed and only a few people linger to talk the politics of the region.

Jens drops me off at home for an early night - 23:30.

Samstag, 23 Mai

I wake early again - 6:30 and I note that it is cloudy...another Saturday with suboptimal weather. As I lie in bed thinking about whether I should get up so early I see it...

What the...?!

Is that what I think it is?!

Yes...yes it is!

Nope...nope...nope...nope...where did that thing come from and what was it doing during the night?! Seriously?! And where was this thing when I had the Amityville-horror number of flies in here last week?

Up! Out of bed! Now!

I get up and make some not-so-good coffee and have a little breakfast after which I clean up a little in the apartment and give it a 5 minute airing. Around 11:00, Olaf knocks and says he is headed into town to go shopping as the stores will be closed tomorrow and Monday (Monday is the Pentecost - a holiday). Before we leave, he rescues me from the gigantic - surely the size of a tarantula - spider above my bed. But not before giving me a disdaining look. I walk with him to pick up some essentials - especially the much needed milk to repair my failed attempts at coffee making. He tells me that today we will go to Seedorf again and then to the Mützengenta. After lunch we all pile in the car and we are off to Seedorf.


At this klp site, we have come to see Duo Fado Instrumental - a duet of Portuguese music. Before they start, I walk through the artists’ exhibitions.

Flower “lights”
A painting
Flower “lights”
A figurine
Resident stork
The band
Advertising for another klp
The band

After Seedorf, we are on our way to the Mützengenta to see the Chaos Variete - a performance with three people featuring juggling and pantomime among their repertoire. While we wait, we wander among the artisans’ stalls.

I found a California plate!
The Mützengenta

The performance that we have come to see is starting. We all gather around on the grass and he has everyone sit - including the adults. The show was a combination of pantomime and circus acts...at least they were not dressed as traditional clowns. It was a good show, I did enjoy it even if usually these types of performances are not my cup of tea.

Impressions of the Mützengenta

It is late - especially for Johannes- and we head home. I admit, I do need a little break to recharge. Once home, I bid goodnight to Johannes and I get something to eat and some water. I am not sure what, if any, the evening plans are - I do know that as the klp winds down, there is a large concert at the Mützengenta. I know that Jens will likely be there but I am unsure if Olaf is interested. Around 21:30, Olaf asks if I would like to go to Neu Tramm. This venue has had some good, interesting bands previously so, yes, why not. He is soon downstairs to pick me up and we head out.

Clearly, it's a dragon, not a scorpion!

Neu Tramm is active tonight so we have to park a little ways out and walk in. Once there, we pay our cover at Raum 2 and then go back out for some wine and to wait. We watch a performance artist while sipping our drinks...it is getting cold. I point out this great piece on the wall and say what a great dragon it is. Olaf says it is a scorpion because of the tail. I say “How can a scorpion have a skull?”

Clearly a dragon!

Soon it is time to find a good spot in Raum 2 before it gets too crowded. As we walk by the vendors, he mentions that he would like to get a hoodie so we stop. He selects a dark grey hoodie with a screen print of bicycle gears on the back. Once purchased, we continue to Raum 2.

La Cafeteria Roja

We get some great seats directly opposite the band which, for the moment, is visible but I can see that as the dance floor fills up, this will no longer be true. However, the best part of a band is the sound so I am not concerned as at least this is a comfortable seat. The band said they were a combination of trip-hop and hip-hop from Barcelona. I enjoyed them but Olaf said he thought they were fair. They had a slightly mellower tone than the prior bands we have seen at Raum 2 so maybe that is the reason.

We arrive home very late - 3:00! We are both quite tired...after a quick goodnight, I am soon sound asleep...

Sonntag, 24 Mai

I wake quite rested this morning at 7:00. As usual, the morning starts bright and sunny first thing in the morning then, as the morning progresses, the clouds emerge. It is if they, too, have just arisen from a night’s slumber. I get up and make some coffee (at least now I have milk) and a bowl of muesli. At 10:00, Olaf asks if I would like to join him and Johannes as they go to Seedorf then to Kussebode later this afternoon.


We arrive early in Seedorf and get some coffee while Johannes looks for the girl that he had become smitten with the previous day. The concert for this morning is Vox - a choir. This is a very popular performance as soon the chairs begin to fill.

Johannes sees her but he is now shy
The lake by Seedorf

Once the concert is over, we are on our way to Sipnitz where we get some coffee and a piece of cake. There are also many artists’ works showcased here and we walk through the the galleries. Sipnitz also seems to be the epicenter of the dandelions for the entire county.


I use the term galleries loosely because during this time, people open their old barns and houses for the artists but, to be fair, these barns are no longer being used for the purpose for which they were built. At least, for the 12 days of the klp, the beauty of the old craftsmanship can be admired.

Field of rapeseed
Kaffee and, I am sure, vegan cake
More paintings
Not quite sure what this is - but it was neat

A little before 15:00, we all climb into the car to return home to pick up Karen. We are moving on to the next klp site - Kussebode.


Here, we are to see a band - Wirsing Brothers - that plays mostly for the kids. There are many booths of “Handwerk” or crafts. Some quite good, but all very expensive (as you might expect). I am hungry so I queue up for a wild bratwurst. As I eat, I wander among the artists offerings.


Soon the band is finished. And there is much discussion about the next stop. It is decided that we will go to Meuchefitz where there is a circus for Johannes and pizza for dinner. Unfortunately, in Meuchefitz we discover the circus is not running. There is, however, a one-man-two-dog clown/performer that we will watch while waiting for the pizza. He is billed as “Old School Circus” playing straßentheater (street theater).


When we arrive, Olaf and I stand in line to order the pizza - it will be an hour until ready! The man taking orders seemed to be out of it - maybe he was tired (maybe...maybe it was that giant bud I saw changing hands) - because when he took Olaf’s name down, he wrote Roland. I was thinking to myself to how many other people has he done this? We move off to find the clown and Johannes and Karen. At 30 minutes, Olaf and I move back to the pizza making stall and wait to be called.

The performer
Balancing on a tightrope

The pizza booth is very busy - I can only describe it as slightly controlled chaos. There are people complaining that they have been waiting for over an hour and confusion sets in and they try to decipher in what stage their pizzas might be. I must, here, mention to you that this pizza ordering procedure is similar to ordering a Starbucks coffee in which the person taking the order writes your name on the cup. You see, it is at this point that the process can break down as the names are dependent on the listening, interpretation, and spelling capabilities of the one taking the order (hence Roland).

“The pizza conundrum”

As we wait for our pizzas (remember we are a good 30 minutes early) we watch the spectacle. For the most part it works smoothly but every once in awhile it breaks down...this is one such time. A pizza emerges (with corn on it so I can see why it was not claimed) and the finisher cuts the pizza, places it on a plate, and calls the name on the slip of paper. “Marjie!” he yells. There is no response and he tries again. “Marjie!” Still no one emerges to claim the pizza. About 30 seconds later, he tries another tactic - “Maya, Mary, Melanie, Maria!” Still there is no response. This sequence is repeated several more times. Olaf and I know exactly what happened.

The disco ball seems out of place here

Just as there is a change in the person calling the names for pizzas, ours emerge from the oven...along with a corn topped pizza. As we wait for our ours to be processed, the new man calls “Marjie!” At this time I cannot control my laughter and soon many of those in the pizza booth are laughing too. I have to wonder if it was a practical joke on the new guy. As we eat our pizzas, we continue to hear them call for this seemingly non-existent person. We finish our pizzas and very soon head home - it has been a long day for all!

It is late and everyone is tired, Olaf say he is not sure what is going on tonight but maybe we will stay in. I say that is ok - the band at Neu Tramm looks interesting and there is also a duet of Celtic harp music at Zeetze Mühle but I, too, am tired. He comes downstairs with some drinks and we sit outside and talk...the German prison system vs. the American system, favorite old cars, music, school...all sorts of topics. At midnight it is time for bed.


As beautiful and sunny as yesterday was, today is not. The wind has returned bringing the clouds as company. A sun shade has been placed over the area which my windows face and, as a result, my room is darker than normal - especially with the cloud cover. After a brief awakening at 6:00 and 7:00, I finally get up at 8:00. Last night Olaf mentioned that he will take Johannes to the Cirque Gones that was missed yesterday - a nice performance -and I am welcome to join them. I decide I will do that - even if circuses are not my “cup of tea.”

Before we head out to the circus, Olaf asks if I would like to take a bike ride as he has a couple of errands to run. I do - I am missing my exercise and the weather has not been good enough to bike to the klp sites the past few days. Along the way, we ride along the lake and he shows me the areas where the beavers had been and where the swans make their nests.

When we return, we all have lunch then drive to Meuchefitz. Karen says she might not want to attend the circus but I say that I will. We arrive early for the circus and we walk around looking at the site without the benefit of the crowd that had been present yesterday.

The “radical” epicenter

Meuchefitz is sort of the epicenter of the radical movement in the area - or what remains of the radical movement. It can be seen in the type of person at this klp site versus the other sites. Also in all the literature available as well as the types of performances (the circus excluded). Olaf explains that Lampedusa is the destination to which thousands of migrants are hoping to reach after crossing the Mediterranean Sea. It is very dangerous and there is a huge controversy surrounding this.

Various signs - some not so nice
Graffiti art
A macabre performance

The circus is about to begin so we cross the street to purchase our tickets and wait until 14:00. Karen says she will leave and return in an hour.


The show is called “Kitchenette” and it is about a married couple and a little scene of life in the kitchen as the are baking a cake. Of course there is a little bit of juggling and other similar performances to entertain the kids.

The stage

But to watch the actors, particularly the woman, was divine. Her expressions are spot on - especially when dealing with her “husband” - it was priceless. She has me laughing almost the entire time.

At the conclusion of the performance, the cake has finished baking and they serve it to all the children. I am very glad I went - this was very different from the circuses I am used to seeing. We are in search of some coffee and a bite to eat.

The kitchen is open so we look at their selection. I pick what looks to be a blueberry scone (or something) but I fear that they all are vegan and I am trying to pick the least of the tasteless. I pour some coffee and it is very dark...I add some sugar. As I take a bite of the “scone” I realize that I have chosen poorly....although I think that none of the sweets would be good. Karen says she likes it. I ask Olaf how his streusel is - he says it is not good...and the coffee. He almost spit it out. “Yes,” I said, “that is why I added sugar!” It is worse than my coffee if that is even possible. Yes. Yes it is.

Maybe we should order a pizza for Marjie...

Our next stop is Lübeln - where we were the first night of the klp. This is a historical museum demonstrating the original way the villiages were constructed...in a circle with only one way in and out called a rundlingsdorf. This museum is a preserved rundlingsdorf demonstrating the old German life. Johannes watches a marionette show while we wait.


Waiting for Johannes in the rain
A bedroom
A kitchen

We leave the museum - Olaf is very hungry (I am too...it is cold and rainy...I need more food). The restaurant is called “Die Kartoffeln” and they have a small buffet of traditional German food. I select some bratkartoffeln, a schnitzel, a little meat and potatoes, and some green beans. The food is paid on the number of servings of each you select but since I didn't select a serving size of anything (except the schnitzel) the cashier was having difficulty determining my cost. It was settled on 7€. The food was good - especially the bratkartoffeln. The schnitzel was fair. We start for home.

This is the last day and the official end of the Kulturelle Landpartie

Johannes asks me up for Dino-Zug. As the program is running, I reflect on my time at the klp. It has been a wonderful 12 days. So many new experiences...I can certainly see why people come from places afar to attend this...I may just have to return. Although I still have a week left in Germany, I am already missing the Wendland.

My visit to the Wendland 

Tomorrow is a workday for most everyone and Olaf indicates he will be staying in tonight so I am on my own. I understand and I am somewhat grateful for the early night although my time here is almost up.

Midnight! Gute Nacht klp


This morning I wake early - around 6:00. Lots of sleep! It is another cloudy day and I am a little chilly. Olaf contacts me just before 7:00 - on his way to work - and asks if I would like a cup of “good” coffee (if I am awake). “Of course!” I reply. Olaf also mentions that there might be a barbecue this evening and the weekly therapy session to which I am invited. He drops off the cup and I settle in with a nice cup of coffee and think about what I will do for the day. I know I will need to do some work but I am also thinking (if the weather improves) of going to Lina’s for a cappuccino in the afternoon. After my coffee and a small breakfast, I shower and wash my hair. I hear the stirrings of Karen and Johannes outside so I poke my head outside to say Guten Morgen and complain about the weather. Karen says they are on their way to do some shopping.

The weather is not cooperating - mostly cloudy with sporadic sun breaks. However, it is temperate so at 15:00, I hop on my bike and ride to Lina’s for a cappuccino.

I would like to sit outside but I am afraid the clouds will open up again
I take my coffee inside

I return to find Karen working outside. She asks if I would like to go with her to pick up Johannes. I do and we drive to get him. When we return home, I have to make a work phone call so I tell Karen and Johannes that I will join them in the garden. Unfortunately, Johannes has a melt down before I finish and I see them leave the garden. Instead of a barbecue, Johannes has requested käsespätzle...which is fine with me. I love käsespätzle.

The remains of the spätzle
My last Dino-Zug, bedtime story, and therapy session

After dinner is some Dino-Zug and a night time story and we are off to Lina’s for “therapy.”

The therapy session
Yes, you sent us Nena, but we sent you The Hoff!

After two drinks and a lot of conversation - especially about old singers and television shows - we walk home and it is time to sleep.


My mood matches this morning’s weather

I wake early again but I can already see the day will not be sunny. This my last full day here in the Wendland and I am sad to be leaving this enchanting place. I would love to get out today and maybe I will try (weather be damned) to ride my bike around. Certainly, some coffee this afternoon is in order - my last one at Lina’s. I do some preliminary packing - just to make it easier tomorrow morning. Around noon, I decide to ride around the lake as the angry, threatening clouds have given way to somewhat brighter clouds.

Thielenburger See

Even as I circumnavigate the lake in the gloomy day, the quiet serenity is wonderful but also will make me long for this when I am gone. I snap some selfies for all those who complain I never manage to take pictures of myself.

An iris I think

After my tour, I stop at the market for some chocolate and Lina’s for my last cappuccino in the Wendland.

I return to my apartment and settle in to do some more work. Around 4:30, Frida (their cat) spots me through the window and comes to investigate...

After some investigation, she decides that she wants nothing to do with me and takes off. In the front of the apartment the neighbor is attempting to fix Karen's vacuum (to no avail) and I step outside to say hi. The neighbor has a little girl named Bella and a puppy named Sir Henry and a cat named Garfield.

Garfield is unimpressed with Sir Henry

Karen and I leave to pick Johannes up from kindergarten and we also pick up a classmate and head home. There, the mother of the classmate meets us and we all head to the garden so the children can play. Olaf calls and says he is just leaving work and we will go to the Greek restaurant for dinner when he gets home.

Fare thee well Dannenberg

Once home, we walk to the restaurant. The food is good and the owner loves Johannes so he gets special treatment. On Wednesdays, the restaurant is inhabited by the older crowd and all of the seniors love Johannes too. It is difficult to get him to leave. The sun is just setting and the town is quiet. It is peaceful and the long light of dusk makes the town somber...or maybe because it is my last night here that it seems that way. Almost like it is bidding me farewell.


Back at home, I bid goodnight to Johannes and Karen. Olaf says we might try to do something for my last night here. I settle into the quiet of the apartment - broken only by the chirping of the songbirds - for some contemplation but soon even the birds are silent. Olaf comes down around 22:00. I think this is a good night to open my bottle of merlot and pair it with the chocolate I purchased earlier today. We sit outside with U2 and Supertramp for company - he with his beer and I with my wine - and reminisce about the experiences we had at the klp. 23:30...bedtime.

Schlaf schön

Donnerstag, 28 Mai

Today I leave the Wendland...

I wake at 6:00...it is another cloudy day. Olaf stops by as he leaves for work with a cup of good coffee. He wishes me a good rest of my trip in Germany. I return to the bed to sip my coffee. I do not want to get up...if I refuse, will the day progress without me? That, unfortunately, is not an option...I have other adventures awaiting me. I rise to eat breakfast and complete my packing. I decide to take one last ride around the lake.

The bike path
Images from Dannenberg

When I return from my ride, I am hoping to say farewell to KarIn and Johannes but they have left early for kindergarten.

Die erste Rose...

On my way to Wilsum, I stop in Papenburg (where they build the ocean liners) for a bite to eat.


I walk through the town center. There are old sailing ships which are now floating museums anchored in the river - a testament to the town’s history.

The Friederike
The Friederike
Another old ship

I select a restaurant for dinner - schnitzel and bratkartoffeln...delicious!

The restaurant

I continue my journey towards Wilsum.

Hugo picks me up and he takes me to his house where Christel (Hugo’s wife) is waiting for us. After settling into my room, we start the evening’s festivities. Namely some conversation and some drinking. And a game called “Looping Louie,” which is for children but also serves quite well as a drinking game.

Looping Louie

Good thing I did not lose...too often...

At 1:00, it is time for bed. Good night!

Freitag, 29 Mai


Surprise! It's cloudy this morning. I wake at 7:00 and decide it is too early so I return to bed. At 8:30, I get up for breakfast and some some much needed coffee. Today we are going to tour a historical village (museumdorf) in Cloppenburg.

Museumdorf in Cloppenburg

The architecture

This air museum, as it is called, has many buildings representing all the different buildings that would be needed in a town - a bakery, a weaver, a steel smith, and so on. The building are not original to the site but have been donated and moved to the site from different areas around the region. Also, they are from different times (1500 - 1800). Because of this, they have different architecture - it is interesting to see how the building styles change over the years. These buildings are also quite different from the ones I saw in the Wendland.

Almost all of the buildings are a single building combining a stable and house. Yes, that means everyone slept with the animals...horses, cows, and pigs. Many pigs. At the end of the barn was a large open area - a kitchen - which was basically an open fire with a pot suspended above it.

The “kitchen”

The sleeping areas were usually in rooms off the back of the kitchen. The rooms were small and the beds were actually in cupboards (with doors) - I am sure most slept two. It seems very sad but as I walk through all of the buildings, I realize how cold they all are. It was then I thought that, despite the austere appearance, it was a good thing because the small space allowed for better heating by the body - none of the rooms had heat.

The kitchen and dining room

I can say, that the odor must have been tremendous. One of the houses had a fire that was lit as a demonstration and the entire place smelled of smoke (there were no chimneys) and that, combined with the smells from the barn, I am quite sure would make for a glorious(!) odor.

The Museumdorf

We head home after the museum for a short rest before we go for dinner at a restaurant. Then home for some wine and conversation. No Looping Louis tonight - it is late...bedtime!


Breakfast this morning is at 8:30. We have plans for the day that the weather threatens to ruin. The morning starts sunny but there are dark, angry clouds rolling in...including a passing thundercloud with hail. A break in the weather has us going to the tower for a panoramic vista of the region.

The second tower

This tower is 170.6 meters high and we climb up in the wind. Cristel stays behind because she is afraid of heights. The views are great and we can see the isolated rain storms.

Christel is in the car way down there

Our next stop is a market in the Netherlands...we are on our way to Emmen. When we arrive, the market is not there - it is only there on Fridays (I know...right?!). There are, however, several concerts occurring and we walk to hear them - they are students I think. My favorite is a drum band with a xylophone. Their rendition of “Hey Brother” by Avicii was great and I much prefer it to the orchestra that played the same song.

They had to play in the cold rain

I am informed that the best pomme frites are here. We stop at a shop to order them Hugo and Christel order their fries with a sauce - joppie - that is a an odd combination of curry and mustard and mayonnaise. I am not a fan; I order mine plain. Wunderbar!

Yummy fries!

We soon leave Emmen - it is very cold and wet, and since the market is not running, we are moving on to our next stop - Bad Bentheim. We will be visiting Burg Bentheim - my first castle in Germany. A quick trip down the autobahn (180 kph!) and we are there.

Burg Bentheim

The first mention of this castle was in 1050 and it has undergone several renovations over the years, not only because of damage but because of the practice of updating what would be considered an old style of building.

St Catherine's

The church was often situated in weakest part of the castle because attacking a spiritual center would be sacrilege in a time when the church was a large part of life.

Hamming it up before we start the tour
Crest in St Catherine’s
Two faced Madonna
One of the earliest representations of Christ in Central Europe.

At a time when other castles were undergoing major renovations - usually to an overly ornate Baroque palace - the county of Bentheim did not have the funds needed to take on such a project.Therefore, much of the castle is preserved in the midieval and early modern building style. Only a few interior rooms were updated.

Burg Bentheim 

After the castle tour, we head back home for dinner. Tonight we are eating in. Hugo and Christel had planned a barbecue but it is only warm for the few moments that the clouds are not obscuring the sun. So we go with a backup plan. Raclette. This is a form of grilling indoors but each person makes their own food with a combination of different ingredients. All of the food is in small amounts so it is definitely a thing to do with company. It will take hours to “cook” enough food to get full.

It is fun - but slow eating. It is all right though, we have all the time we want. After dinner, it is into the living room for some wine and conversation. Or, should I say, a torture the American guest with videos of old German music session. At midnight it is bedtime. We must be up early tomorrow....I head back to Hamburg.

Sonntag, 31 Mai

I wake very early, 5:00. I need to pack and we had agreed to wake at 6:00 for breakfast so I need to be ready. I am not quite sure how I got everything into my suitcase on the way out here...I even have fewer items then when I arrived.

Waiting for the train

I have a train problem and I miss my connection at Rheine. Ok, well, it is not a train problem so much as train rider problem. This brings a bit of panic - I now must figure out a new schedule. And I am at a small station with no attendant. Luckily, I have a good internet connection and the DB app on my iPhone. I am able to plan out a new route - but, I will miss my connection in Osnabrück. I send a message to Jens so that he can meet me.

My journey - even if somewhat delayed

Hamburg Hbf

Jens contacts me and says he is in the worst traffic jam ever. He will be late. He is late. Very late. But I just wait and watch the bustle of the Hamburg Hbf. When he arrives, he says that the original plan for the day - a trip to the shore - is out. The traffic is much too bad. So, as we stand in the parking lot planning our next move, I see all the people, cars, and hear the noise. He suggests a tour of Hamburg...or maybe we can visit a castle...I readily second the castle....I want to leave the city.

Our first stop is Nahrendorf - the site of a large battle in which Napolean was defeated. Jens explains that there is a reenactment at the site every 5 or 10 years. We walk in to see the grave marker.

It is a unassuming monument - just a pull out off of the road. I did not see any notice of an historical point so if you did not know it was here, you would have sped right by it. We continue our journey. Our next stop - after a much needed coffee and bathroom break at Jens’ house - is Ludwigslust. We are going to see Schloss Ludwigslust (a castle) located in east Germany.

Schloss Ludwigslust

I should note here that, as with many words, when you translate a word from English to German, you will get several words in return. It is difficult to know which one is correct. If you translate castle into German, you receive no less than 7 words. Including schloss and burg. “Okay,” I ask Jens, “what's the difference?” He explains that a schloss is a castle only for living whereas a burg is a castle that is also for defense.

An imposing entrance to Schloss Ludwigslust

The castle is imposing on the outside - a much different building than the one I visited the previous day.

A lamppost
A fountain by the entrance

But the inside of this castle is a sad, hollow reminder of its former glory. The rooms are mostly bare, bereft of furnishings and vibrancy. Much of the exhibition are paintings and a few pieces of decoration (clocks, statuettes, etc.). Despite the state of decay, I can see the opulence that this place must have demonstrated.

I am awestruck at the opulence of this room
Look at this chandelier!
Look at all the gold!

Jens and I leave Ludwigslust to go back to Dannenberg where he will drop me off for one last night in Olaf’s cozy studio. The family returns home from a visit with friends and I step outside to greet them. Johannes is especially happy to see me I think as I was not able to say goodbye last time I left. He immediately asks if I will join him for Dino-Zug. Of course I will! One last nighttime ritual...

...as I am sitting, half-watching the television, a sense of tranquility overtakes me...

Olaf and I retire to the balcony for a coffee while Karen works in the garden below. After the nighttime story, we move downstairs to the front of the house for a last drink and conversation (including an outrageously fanciful plot for a new movie - but it is top secret so I cannot mention it). An early goodnight - 22:00. I cannot sleep right away - probably the coffee - but it is ok. I have a few work related things to do. I finally fall asleep a little before midnight as I listen to the nightingales sing.

Montag, 1 Jun

I wake early - 5:00...I try to return to my slumber but I am not able. I rise to begin my day. Jens will come at 9:30 to take me to the airport and I will make my farewells to Karen and Johannes at that time but I make my farewell to you now. Here I will end my journey’s tale...

Auf Wiedersehen
Created By
Melinda Culver


Melinda Culver