Advantages of being older

Hello All

One of the most famous things about this city is the Grimm’s fairy tale of the Bremen Musicians: a donkey, a dog, a cat and a cockerel.

Don’t you love that the donkey’s nose has been rubbed shiney? I digress, back to the fairytale the gist of which is that these fellows were in danger of being starved, shot, put out on the streets or put in a soup because they were old!!!! Brutal. But by joining forces and using their combined wisdom in their quest to become Bremen musicians they had the last laugh. Not only did they become a crime fighting quadruple (?) but they also found their forever home. Aaaah I love a happy ending. I am sure there is a lesson in there. Ideas in comments please.

I think there is another story waiting to be told about the lions guarding one of the entrances to Bremen’s cathedral.

Doesn’t it look like they are having a chat? Perhaps they have just eaten the last occupants of the two empty chairs.

‘What you having for pudding Leo?’

‘Same old same old, Lowis. Sugar dusted cardinal. You?’

‘Not quite sure but you know me I’ll eat anything dipped in mead.’

Inside St. Peter’s still boasts wonderfully painted stonework and vaulted ceilings.

For the first time I was in one of these amazing devotional buildings when there was a short service. I belong to no denomination but I was pleased to see the cathedral used for it’s primary purpose and it was something special to be part of. Amazing how the Lord’s Prayer never quite leaves you. I recognised it even in German.

Bremen has to be the most beautiful city I have visited on my interrail tour of Germany. If you ever come here be sure to visit the Schnoor area. I will let the sign do the talking:

The oldest part of Bremen and the cutest! It was like walking around a film set:

Infact that is doing Schnoor an injustice. It is Lilliputian medieval heaven. Of course I stayed for lunch.

The food – like all the meals I have had in Germany – was anything but small. It was also delicious.

But not everything I find bonny hails from the Middle Ages. Böttcherstraße was designed in the 1920’s.

Ok, ok that is not stupendously new and it was designed using the original foundations but for me this is progress. In any event it is very distinguished.

Now my friends I am going to have to love you and leave you. Tomorrow I travel to Cologne and hope to meet my cousin R’i. After that I am on the ferry where as you may recall getting a signal was nigh impossible.

Normal service will be resumed when I get home.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

P.S. Mr T will have to be torn away from the mini-bar …. again!

P.P.S. I leave you with something suitably woolly, the Schnoor sheep.

Mx

Let’s Talk Wool

Hello All

A quick update on progress of the shawl-scarf-thingy. I thought I might hit a problem in Prenzlau and the Thingy end at Berlin Senf. But I need not have worried K-D came to the rescue with an armful of gifted wools. Which to pick?

Just to be awkward I decided to pull back the part knitted jumper and go with the black and white combo. However it remains to be crocheted in as I was too busy galavanting and then chatting to people on the trains. Never fear Thingy WILL be finished and I have continued to buy a ball of wool in each place I stop.

After the Prenzlau black and white came Lubeck orange.

Today in Bremen I found this crafty emporium Idee.

All sorts of craft goodies filled this basement store. Paper crafts, fabrics and of course wool. I loved the knitting wall paper and the sample squares. Dotted around were tables to sit and knit or crochet which was very handy for me to gather all my goodies together.

So what is the Bremen wool? Bremen the purple-mix is yours.

As to the Thingy…let’s just say it has a way to go.

But that ferry journey is V-E-R-Y long. That’s the woolly roundup.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Evening stroll or should that be another evening stroll …

Hello All

Having arrived in the pretty town of Bremen an evening stroll seemed in order. I left the hotel turned right and whoa! walked straight into a medieval market.

A magical surprise. Gluhwein, wurst, gingerbread, stall holders in medieval costume. Everything you dream of in a German market. All that and a fun fair. Not bad for a Wednesday night!

It was very picturesque and I happily strolled about the stalls selling food and nik-naks. So many gorgeous things. Sadly limited by a rucksack I had to stick to ‘window shopping’. Sorry folks back home.

I took myself off to one of the many Cafes with street seating for a bustle free supper. Satisfying food and a peaceful evening ready for a busy day of sightseeing tomorrow.

A quiet spot but with enough passers-by to engage in that favourite hobby, people watching.

Early night ready for much walking tomorrow.

Gute Nacht.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

What can follow that?

Hello All

Double dose tonight. It is impossible to follow the wonderfulness that was visiting Prenzlau and my father’s village. So apologies to Lubeck – where I now sit – as I arrived yesterday in a huff. I was hungry (long train journey), tired (long train journey) and really wished I was still in Prenzlau (long train journey away). But some food and a good sleep put me right and today I was determined to use public transport and get a bus into the old town.

Glad to say mission accomplished. I even helped out a young German couple with the bus timetable. Together we all found ourselves in the medieval heart of Lubeck. I think it is … you know …. a World Heritage Site…. and deservedly so it is a hub of architectural eye-candy. Get those peepers ready, here goes:

Even getting in is superbly marked by several humongous ‘gates’ this is the Burgtor.

I really wish I had brought my digital pencil. Please excuse my finger-scrawl but you get the gist. However I was distracted by (Hark! Choirs of angels):

A celebration of the humble spud. Stuff of dreams.

Of course someone let it go to his head! Enough of this frivolity there are important buildings to admire.

This jolly duo to listen to.

And a lion named Heinrich.

Well that is what this numpty thought. Turns out Heinrich the Lion was a twelfth Century Prince who founded both Munich and Lubeck, married the daughter of our very own Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and ruled a whole chunk of Germany. In a spare moment he also laid the foundation stone of Lubeck Cathedral in 1173.

Oh look there is Heinrich again,

A truly beautiful city but a fleeting visit. However I do not leave empty handed, Lubeck orange is ready to join in the creation of the Thingy.

.

More about the Prenzlau wool later ….

Time to say Auf Wiedersehen Lubeck thank you for putting up with huffy me.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Heimat

Hello All

Back in the room after a fabulous few days getting acquainted with a family I had never before met. I would like to whole-heartedly thank all my German cousins (1st and 2nd!) for their help in making my stay in my father’s homeland truly special. BIG thanks to cousin K-D who made it possible to find key places in my father’s life which I would never have found alone, for making me feel at home and also for the mercy dash to pick up my connecting train when the first was delayed. Phew! And none of this would have happened without the Cologne and Bavarian cousins doing a lot of emailing and phoning. Well done C and R. You are all stars.

I still need to digest my emotions but to give you a flavour of what I found here are some highlights.

The building in Prenzlau where my father was born was once a Dominican Monastery and is now a museum. I found this very satisfying as not only do I love museums (you may have noticed) but it also means that should No1 Son and No1 Daughter ever follow in my footsteps it will still be here. What a lovely museum, we spent a little while pootling around (think I may have brought the English concept of a pootle with me) looking at the history of Prenzlau. Especially pleasing was the model of Prenzlau in 1935, this would have been just how my father would have known it.

Prenzlau is in a beautiful location on the shores of the Uckersee. Coming from the English Lake District this felt like familiar territory.

After a lunch in the Autumn sunshine enjoying this wonderful view we travelled the few miles to the village where my father learnt his trade as a blacksmith and his family lived.

Sadly the forge is derelict now, like so many old buildings in what was the DDR left empty to fall in to disrepair.

But there are beautiful houses and lovely homes in the village and K-D had arranged for me to meet some family from my Oma’s side who still live in Klein Sperrenwalde along with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Sharing coffee and cake with them was very special (oh to have proper cheesecake…delicious). Despite having no common language – Russian was the second language taught in schools until re-unification – we had a good laugh.

An early evening stroll round the village was magical. The stories about the buildings and people being thankfully translated by RW K-Ds son who had joined us. A gem!

What a thoroughly lovely bunch. I have a lot of tales and photos to share with my children when I get to my Heimat.

I will take away with me two powerful things: the kindness and thoughtfulness of my father’s family; and the staggering beauty of this landscape. I couldn’t capture the breadth of the horizons. This is a poor attempt.

It is a huge land where trees abound, herds if deer graze the fringes of that woodland and flocks of cranes fly from the fields as trains pass. It’s people and it’s countryside are amazing. Leaving was difficult.

Now before I come over all emotional I will leave you with this crazy character from the cloisters at the monastery to make you smile.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Winding Up

Hello All

Feeling a little touristed out I promised myself a woolly time today. Afterall I needed my Berlin ball of wool for the scarf-shawl-thingy didn’t I? The thingy is growing and the Leipzig mixed twist is rather splendid:

(Good grief hope Mr T isn’t ordering room service….) but I think it is ready for a calming influence. Where to go? A shufty on the Internet produced several candidates but from the pictures and website Wollen Berlin called to me. I was right to follow my instincts as near Ostkreuz S-Bahn at Gartnerstrasse 32, 10245 Berlin I found a haven of wooliness set in a lovely part of the city.

The assistant (who on checking the shop website was Caro) could not have been more helpful. She guided me to some German wool by ‘Hey Mama Wolf’. Looking at the Leipzig mixed twist we were both drawn to the same colour, not the most striking hue but spot on to stop the thingy being overwhelmed by a craziness of mixed yarns … the less is more.

Now while Hey Mama Wolf may call this Meadowsweet I have it in my mind as Berlin Senf (ignore my misspelling on the label, I couldn’t spell check while drinking tea at Hackescher Markt) as it reminds me of the colour of delicious German mustard.

Berlin Senf is created from German Merino sheep – not as soft as the Australian Merino but wonderful in it’s own Germanic way – and hand dyed. Like the Amsterdam yellow it is a bit finer than double knit so I asked if the 100g skein could be wound into two 50g balls so I could double up the strands. This was no problem and Caro was soon putting the yarn on the winder ready to make two neat balls of wool. While she set up I got busy snapping photos of the drool-worthy shelves of yarns. Note all the knitted and crocheted examples for customers to see how the worked wools look.

Skeins can be like life sometimes they get in a bit of a tangle and are then trickier to unravel. While I had been taking photos my skein had begun to misbehave.

Strange though this may be I like sorting out knots and tangles so I happily offered to hand wind my wool. What a pleasure to sit untangling the yarn and talk wool and sheep. Don’t you love woolly folk? It doesn’t take much to keep us happy. I managed to become happier still, not only did I finish my winding for the Thingy but I also got ….

Icelandic wool…I can barely contain myself ….. warm mittens…..ooooh yes…..you know you want some ….

With a halo that was now beyond wonky it was time for a church. Negotiating the S-Bahn (overground) I made may way to the biggest church available, Berlin Dom (Cathedral).

It’s interior was stunning

However I was distracted from my usual interest in the organ by the contents of the crypt. Berliner Dom crypt contains a macabre collection of sarcophagi containing the earthly remains of the Prussian royal family some dating back to the 1660s. I found it all a bit peculiar. Even though morbid curiosity overtook me – turns out my halo completely slipped – I couldn’t help but wonder if these aristocrats realised they were to become exhibits. It didn’t strike me as resting in peace. Bizarre.

Outside with a little sigh of relief I was on the island of museums. You can rest assured Berlin’s sizo-meter did not fail.

In my turn I made a sizeable decision. I would not visit them as I knew I would find it frustrating to rush around for a few hours and not completely enjoy the pleasure of taking time to view the artefacts. Oh well … I will just have to come back and spend a week in the Altes Museum alone!

Time to hop on a bus (love that German bus stops have digital updates of the arrival times of the buses and they are FREQUENT!!!!) and wend my way along my favourite route back to the hotel. Blimey they are breeding like ….

He was certainly not there last night.

Tomorrow I am off to Prenzlau. So for a while I must bid you adieu as I am having a little time out to meet family …. and I am likely to be without Wifi.

Auf Wiedersehen Berlin city of a big heart and mind blowing architecture.

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Underneath the arches

Hello All

I opted for a hop on hop off bus tour today. I really needed an overview of this enormous city. So I hopped on at Potsdamer Platz and away I went with a jolly commentary from our guide. The bus stopped perfectly with the front half in what was East Berlin and the rear in the West. The line of the old wall is marked by a double brick line which snakes along and across the present road system. Potsdamer Platz which is now regarded as a ‘boom town’ was then part of the no man’s land, the death run.

How easily we now pass remnants of the wall which split families – including mine – and friends. Checkpoint Charlie so symbolic of freedom now seems little more than a photo opportunity. My head didn’t really know what to make of it. I so clearly remember the Wall coming down, just before No 1 son was born, and seeing it as a significant sign of better times to come. Now it is in its proper place. A part of history.

After one circuit I felt brave enough to disembark and go solo … for all of five minutes as I decided if one tour why not two? And I boarded a boat for a river borne trip on the River Spree. Apparently the River Spree is a very relaxed sort of a river meandering happily on its way. It is known as the slowest thing in Berlin. No wonder I liked it, think I could beat it into a poor second. Refreshed by a mug of hot chocolate and plate of kartoffel salad (potato salad – it was the only veggie thing on the menu honest!) I wondered what today’s post would be about.

I wasn’t feeling that I had got up close and personal to anything but I was really enjoying being a step removed and floating under countless amazing bridges and suddenly went all arty and started taking pictures of these wonderful structures, This bridge really impressed me.

A thing of beauty? just me? Look at that curved brickwork.

This riverine reverie was not to last. Emboldened by having two tours under my belt I set off on foot and headed in the direction of the Brandenburg Gate. Now on a bus this seemed REALLY close to the river boat trips. In reality it was quite a walk and I was beginning to lose heart when Hallelujah! A tour bus stopped.

On I hopped …. then like a crazy frog off I hopped. It wasn’t returning to the Potsdamer Platz as it was the last run of the day. Lip trembling feet screaming I set off in the direction the guide had indicated. Thank goodness I did because I could get up close and personal (careful, I am British you know…well half of me is) to the stupendous Brandenburg Gate,

And be able to notice the way transport has evolved in an ironic full circle. From horse drawn,

To people pedalled.

Yes, one or the other or both were very tempting to my tootsies but I told them (the toes not the carriages) to get a grip and walked on.

Along the route I passed the Holocaust Memorial (The Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe) a silent and powerful monument to a genocide we must never forget.

A cloud passed through my thoughts. But that is one of the many good things about traveling solo and walking. Time to think and no way to dodge the thoughts you would rather avoid.

But soon I was on familiar ground. Whoopee, Potsdamer Platz I love you. Then home straight back through Marlene Dietrich Platz.

I am sure these fellows were not there last night! No time to wonder where they had come from I was speeded by the need to spend a penny (several by this stage) and positively zipped the last leg of my walk and was ever so glad to see the hotel and those bonkers chairs in the lobby.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

P.S. Here is a vision to make you chuckle. For my party piece today I was leaving the hotel via the twirley door but forgot to get out and had to humiliate myself my going round again. It would not have been so bad except for my fly trapped behind glass impression as I tried to get out just after the opening. Of course the foyer was full to maximise embarrassment. I tried to walk off with as much dignity as possible but was crying with laughter at what a twit I had been. Dignity was impossible. Mx