Cycling this month
October was better than September but still nothing to write home about in terms of distance!
The weather was a bit better on a few occasions so I had a chance for a couple of longer rides.
One Sunday morning I went for a ride with Klaus and we planned to meet Ralf (who was cycling home from Goch to the north). We agreed to meet at Café zum Schafstall near Twisteden as they do very good cakes.
Klaus had done a 200km ride the day before (I was at the all-day practice for my choir) but his legs were still good. Mine were surprisingly good too so we made very fast time and ended up extending our route before arriving at the Café as we would have been 45 minutes early. We ended up passing Ralf on his way there so slowed down to ride with him – and as he was on a heavy upright bike with panniers it was slowing down by about 12km/h. This will all change now as he has just collected his new DFXL Velomobile (more on that later).
We rode with Ralf to the café and had a nice piece of cake. Ralf had brought along his Garmin Oregon 700 which he doesn’t use any more. I was thinking about upgrading (because you can upload tracks via bluetooth and don’t need to plug into a computer) so he is letting me borrow it for a few weeks to see how I like it.
We were having a nice chinwag and it seemed rude not to have a second round of cakes so we did so. This triggered our rule that you have to ride 50km per slice of cake so Klaus and I knew we would have to detour on the way home again to make the 100km, but this was pretty easy. We rode back with Ralf at what was for us a very leisurely pace (20 km/h) but which was a real workout for him with his heavy bike. He will be leaving us for dust within a few weeks of course…
Two days later I took myself out for an afternoon ride and headed to Xanten, not following my pre-prepared track but just seeeing what looked interesting on the Garmin. I chose to ride along the Römerstraße which is an old Roman Road which I thought would be straight (mostly) and flat (sadly not). It was enough of an incline that I could test my Schlumpf Mountain Drive repair from Klaus (brand new buttons) and hurrah, it seems to have done the trick!
Here is the view along that road.
I stopped for cake in Xanten but felt a bit odd sitting on my own at a café. It’s much more fun with my usual riding partner!
Poor Jochen had a bit of misfortune this month. On Friday 13th his wife warned him to be careful on his ride to work (bad luck etc) so he used more cycle paths than normal and was exceptionally unlucky to be hit by a cyclist Geisterfahrer (someone riding on the wrong side of the road). There were cycle paths both sides of the road and she was on the wrong one and when she suddenly saw Jochen she swerved the wrong way and crashed into him!
He almost immediately popped the crashed bit out again and then gaffer taped it to hold it together.
It is now at Velomobiel.nl being repaired and Jochen is having all the fun of insurance surveyors for bikes that no surveyor really knows about! We hope Endeavour will have her nose remodelled soon so he can get back on the road.
Open day in Dronten
There was an Open Day at Intercitybike in Dronten where the DF Velomobile is built. Klaus and I went with Hartmut; our friend Ralf was also there with Jochen (to deliver Endeavour for her nose job). Ralf had the opportunity to inspect his new DF a week before he actually picked it up.
Hartmut also took the opportunity to try out some other Velomobiles as he’s still trying to decide what is best for his retirement. Intercitybike were opening their new Velomobile Museum which includes a Sinclair C5 (smaller and more plasticky than you would think), a Leitra, an Alleweder A4, a Versatile (Penelope’s green sibling) and a Quest, as well as other bits and pieces to look at. Interesting stuff. Especially interesting that my velomobile appears to be a museum piece!
Life in Germany
Now the new kitchen is complete Klaus and I have been doing much more cooking at home, including experimenting with new recipes. He is a very good cook and comes up with ideas for sauces and seasonings just from his head – and they have so far all been successful. I tend to follow recipes and my creations lean more towards the sweet/cake end of the spectrum.
Here is Klaus’s Zwiebelkuchen (a kind of quiche containing onions and with a bread rather than pastry crust):
I made a pineapple upside-down cake
I tried my hand at bread rolls with seeds – they were pretty good!
And also cookies – very crunchy!
However, we also had some hassles with the kitchen. After two weeks we discovered the floor was a bit wet and traced the leak to under the new sink. I asked Möbel Dahlmann to come and have a look the next day and they sent a chap who told me the problem was with the Eckventil (the bit that comes out of the wall with the pipes) and he wasn’t allowed to do anything with it. The problem was with our water installation, not what the kitchen fitters had done. This seemed remarkably unlikely to me, but he insisted I had to ask my landlord to have a look and went home again. Frank said on the phone he would sort it and in the meantime we wrapped towels round it and I was relieved to see that not too much water was coming out.
Frank had a good look on his day off two days later and discovered immediately that the problem was not with our bit of pipework but the divider pipework thingy that Dahlmann had fitted for the dishwasher/sink water supply. There were two washers in there rather than one – a real newbie mistake.
Unfortunately the water had left a stain as it hadn’t been visible under the special metal cupboard base and the base of the cupboard was swollen and bumpy.
Klaus and I went to Dahlmann in person to complain about this. Firstly that they hadn’t fitted it correctly and secondly that the chap who came out to look washed his hands of all responsibility within about five minutes and left me with a dripping water installation.
They offered to put a layer of fresh wood over the base of the unit and to give us a 200 Euro voucher for their shop. After consultation with Jochen (who works for a kitchen firm) we said that was not an acceptable option as there may well be problems with mould in the future as the cupboard carcass has had water ingress. No, we want an entirely new cupboard. This will clearly be quite a lot of work but I was very unhappy to think that after two weeks my kitchen was damaged through their bad fitting and I had pretty much worthless compensation (we weren’t planning on buying any more furniture).
Anyway, not sure when it is being fitted but at the moment everything has dried out OK and we are continuing to really enjoy the kitchen!
A short road trip holiday to Berlin and beyond
Klaus and I decided to take a couple of days off for a trip to Berlin as we both love it so much. We booked the time off work and then I realised that the following Tuesday and Wednesday were bank holidays (to celebrate 500 years since the Reformation) so we just needed to take Monday off to have a week’s holiday. so we did.
The place we had booked in Potsdam for Thursday to Sunday didn’t have availability for Monday onwards so we decided to do something different – and travel on to Usedom. We planned to stay one night there and then make our way slowly back west to Kempen, staying at Wismar and Mölln near Lübeck on the way back. We would also be collecting Poppy from Berlin on Sunday morning as she would be staying with Lars, having been delivered there by Gudula and Frank who had a short trip to Berlin just before us.
To Potsdam via Hannover
We set off after I finished work on Wednesday afternoon. I had lunch at home, sorted out a few things and then drove to Klaus’s office in Mülheim an der Ruhr where I transferred the items from my car boot to his. The items were my suitcase and various things for Lara who has recently moved to Berlin and had just moved into her own flat. Naturally it’s expensive kitting out a flat so we and her parents gathered up various bits and bobs such as plates, glasses, mugs, blankets, a small bin and – most importantly – a corkscrew, and we would deliver them to her on Saturday afternoon.
Her parents had visited the weekend before and brought large items of furniture, we were just supplementing with the small things she had forgotten.
Our plan was also not to drive all the way to Berlin (a minimum of 6 hours, often up to 10) but to go halfway, to Hannover, and stay there for the night. So we left Mülheim at 15:30 and headed east on the Autobahn, ending up stuck in a traffic jam for an hour and a half where the Autobahn was closed. That was fun.
We arrived in Hannover at 20:00 so were very relieved we had not planned to drive all the way to Berlin, we were staying in a hotel where Klaus’s company always stay during the Hannover Messe so he knew it well.
After a relaxing evening meal (with a pumpkin theme) it was nice to retire to our room and rest a bit before the journey to Berlin the next day.
After a very lavish breakfast we set off at 10:00 towards Berlin (well, Potsdam actually, we that was where our Guest House was). But we had decided to stop on the way at Tangermünde which we had visited on our Velomobile tour in June. We found the Kaffeerösterei there which was lovely and Klaus wanted to replenish his stock of coffee!
On the way we passed the town of Gifhorn which seemed to have an awful lot of windmills – we counted six when waiting at these traffic lights!
We also then passed an amazing building, the Glockenpalast, which would be worth a visit some other time!
We approached Tangermünde from the opposite direction than our bike tour and got to see more of the town – which was really lovely!
I saw this sign which made me think of chum Hartmut!
A UK cycling chum had stayed in Tangermünde before and told me that there was a shop selling items from the former East. It was still there.
We had a good wander around and then it was time for the coffee shop!
Klaus had the nougat cake and I the Himbeer. We enjoyed our cakes very much and then Klaus bought another pack of coffee beans which should tide him over for another month or so. The company do deliveries too so he will order in the future.
After our cake we went to visit the Elbe river and have a look. We sat on a bench with our back to the river and you can see how high they built the town – necessary because of periodic river floods. There was a high water mark at well over 1 metre 50 in the gatehouse.
I was 14:30 when we set off and as we didn’t need to get to Potsdam in a major hurry we drove cross country rather than the Autobahn which was much nicer. Many of the roads were ones we had taken on our tour, including passing the large monastery at Jerichow and the Concentration Camp Memorial near Genthin.
We arrived at Guesthouse Villa Fritz in Potsdam and checked into our apartment which was on two levels with a spiral staircase down to the kitchen and bathroom. After a short rest we walked down the road to Lidl to buy some breakfast (cereal, milk, yoghurt) for the next day as there was no breakfast included with our Guest House. We also ate a bit of apple cake which I had brought with me; it had been given to me by Jerzy, a chap from Poland who is working with us at the moment in my company to do Quality Assurance on products for my customer. Jerzy has been corrupted into our cake-eating ways so brought me something from a Polish bakery. It was a very well-travelled cake as it went from Poland to Kempen to Potsdam…
That evening we walked to an Italian restaurant about 1.5 kilometres away which was very pleasant. On the way back we walked through the Dutch Quarter.
The next morning we decided to visit Schloss Sanssouci and the Neues Palais which are major landmarks in Potsdam.
We both needed haircuts and spotted a hairdresser that could fit us in so popped in there. I had this large doggie lying by my feet whilst my hair was being cut!
We walked on to Schloss Sanssouci. It was a bit of a grey day with spots of rain, and my photography is very poor here, but the castle was very impressive because of its terraced gardens.
We walked up the steps and discovered the castle is single storey!
After sitting down for a while watching the world go by, and marvelling that tourists still use Selfie Sticks, we walked on to the Neues Palais.
This was actually a pretty long way and our feet were hurting so we jumped on a bus back to Potsdam centre and stopped for a lunch of soup and cake.
This was my cake (not really a pie):
And Klaus went for his usual favourite, a Käse-Sahne Torte.
We walked along the pedestrian area and ended up looking in a few shops. Klaus bought a great winter coat and a hat, I got a couple of t-shirts so it was pretty successful.
Our feet were very tired by the time we got home so we rested for a bit with a cup of tea before heading out to an Indian restaurant for dinner. Indian restaurants seem rather thin on the ground near Kempen but there were several in Potsdam so we decided to give one a go.
It was a definite success!
All this plus puppodums and chutneys and drinks and Onion Bhaji came to less than 40 Euros so was excellent value. I very much recommend Indian Garden in Potsdam!
we ended up walking 12.9km for the day so that was rather unusual for us. Cycling long distances yes, walking no…
A day in Berlin
The following day we had two planned events – meeting cycling acquaintances Clare and Duncan in Berlin near Alexanderplatz and seeing Lara’s new flat and taking her to dinner.
We left Potsdam about about 11 after a relaxing morning. It is interesting to drive through Berlin as the route took us along some of the roads we had cycled in June.
We parked at Alexanderplatz and went in search of a loo and some lunch. We then headed to Clare and Duncan’s hotel, passing a long line of Trabants and Wartburgs waiting in Karl-Marx-Allee.
We met Clare and Duncan and walked with them to the Nikolaiviertel, Klaus giving them a bit of info about Berlin and things we saw. At a cafe overlooking the Spree river we had some cake.
I saw this sign and was amused by the spelling of ‘mulled’, it gives rather a more negative connotation!
After a good chinwag we headed back to our car and set off to visit Lara in her new flat near Frankfurter Tor. We had various bits and bobs from home for her which she unpacked and Klaus had a look at her new washing machine to see if it could be plumbed in (no, she needed a longer set of hoses and would have to order them). After a cup of tea we set off to Potsdamer Platz for a dinner to celebrate Lara achieving her degree. We settled on an Australian restaurant which had kangaroo and crocodile on the menu but we chose more normal fare.
I was surprised by the beer mat though!
Here is Lara with her chum Gereon who was also visiting from Kempen with the lights of Potsdamer Platz behind.
Klaus ordered the steak pie and it was a real triumph!
We headed home in the car with Lara and Gereon making their way back east by train.
The next morning we would reunite ourselves with Poppy the dog!
From Berlin to Usedom – with an extra passenger
We duly checked out the next morning and drove to Charlottenburg (just half an hour away) where Lars lives. We were a bit early so he was still in bed when we arrived but his partner Lukas made us a cuppa and we had a good chat whilst Lars got dressed. Lars had been trying to persuade us to let him have Poppy for a bit longer but there wasn’t another convenient opportunity to collect her so we said no. She did seem pleased to see us, despite how much she loves Lars!
It was pouring with rain outside and super windy (storm Herwart) but we took Poppy for a short stroll for her to use the loo.
We had delivered a parcel of paintings for Lukas from Gudula and were given a box of cutlery and a fleece to take home to her. It was useful we were arriving by car just a week after their visit to pass on the forgotten items to Lars, Lara and back to Kempen.
The storm meant that the wind buffeted the car and we knew it was forecasted to be stronger on Usedom but felt it was safe enough to drive further.
it’s mostly a motorway route to Usedom but with intermittent mega rain we had some slower speeds.
There were occasional signs of blue sky up ahead and the forecast suggested it would be dry in Usedom and indeed the windscreen wipers were off as we crossed the bridge onto the island. We had cycled this route in the opposite direction so it was interesting to travel it by car.
Rather than going directly to the hotel we stopped at Wasserschloss Mellenthin for a short break. Klaus had suggested stopping there on our bike tour but I had said no as it was too early in the day at that time, but it was very convenient now as we hadn’t had lunch and the time was now 3:15.We had made a brief stop on the motorway but the food was so ridiculously expensive (5 Euros for a bag of crisps!) I had just bought a bread roll.
Wasserschloss Mellenthin had cakes!
The second cake there is a Sanddorntorte which contains a fruit/berry from Usedom. Translating Sanddorn we get ‘sallow’ or ‘sea buckthorn’ which doesn’t help me much, but he said it was ‘lecker’. My cake was a Schlossherrentorte but eating it didn’t make me a chatelaine.
After a nice relaxing break, and a chance for Poppy to stretch her little legs after being in the car boot for the journey, we set off for the final half hour drive to our hotel in Zinnowitz.
We checked in and relaxed for half an hour. Poppy was very tired!
We arranged to meet friends Rebecca and Henry in Ahlbeck at 19:30 so drove there and enjoyed an Italian meal before walking a few doors down to the wine bar where we met Rebecca and Henry last time.
We had a lovely evening chatting to them, although Henry’s very strong Usedom accent makes it a bit harder for me to understand him. Klaus enjoyed some wine and grappa and Poppy enjoyed a sleep on the table…
It was really windy of course but there were still some people walking about although very few cars on the road. I drove back, enjoying Usedom without traffic jams as it really does have an issue with tourists and cars in the daytime!
I was a bit cheesed off to see that Facebook had activated its Safety Check feature for the storm in Germany. Come on, storms are regular occurrences and Germany is big…
From Usedom to Wismar
The next morning the wind was still strong but the skies were wonderfully clear. We took Poppy for a morning walk along the seafront with a quick trip to the beach although the blowing sand was a bit much for Poppy so we only stayed there for a minute or so.
The roar of the waves was impressive!
And there were a few more branches lying on the floor.
We arranged to see Klaus’s friend Tim in his hotel in Zinnowitz at 11 o’clock so checked out and gave Poppy a bit of a walk before sitting with Tim in the lounge and having a great chat whilst Poppy listened.
It was lovely for me to meet Tim and for Klaus to catch up with his old chum again.
Before heading off to Wismar we decided to take a walk in the beautiful woodland next to Tim’s hotel and Poppy enjoyed it too.
We set off at about 14:00 but rather than driving straight to Wismar we did a short detour so I could see Peenemünde where the V2 rockets were developed I WW2. It’s an impressive site with huge buildings.
There is also a Russian submarine at Peenemünde.
So this was a very interesting diversion for me!
We drove directly from Peenemünde to Wismar which was just over two hours’ driving with a small detour on the A20 motorway where some of the structure has collapsed. The road authorities have discovered the wrong size foundation stones were used so these kind of building bodge jobs can happen in Germany too!
We arrived at Wismar at 17:00 and checked into our room. I had a walk around with Poppy and discovered that Wismar is a lovely fishing town. It’s a Hanse Stadt and also is where the shop Karstadt came from. Tomorrow we will have a look around, plus visit a coffee shop that Klaus really likes.
We ate our evening meal in the restaurant and it was very good. Klaus had his first ever cup of Earl Grey tea and liked it! We have discovered that our food tastes are similar but our drink preferences very different!
With a final walk for Poppy it was time to sleep before our next day’s travel.
From Wismar to Schwerin to Mölln
After a hearty breakfast we packed up the car but left it in the hotel car park as we wanted to walk around Wismar. Which turns out to be a lovely town indeed.
Wismar is a Port where previously items such as peat were delivered. There seemed to be a fair amount of building work taking place. It was a public holiday in Germany so the shops were shut (except for restaurants etc) but still lots of people were out walking.
This was an interesting church. It was damaged in the war and the main body of the church could not be repaired (the foundations are there to see) so just the tower remains. Lots of the buildings in Wismar are in red brick.
The fronts of these buildings are very typical.
We stopped at a cafe overlooking the central square for some cake.
We had planned to go to the Kaffeerösterei that Klaus had previously visited but he didn’t open until 2pm. Despite the fact he was open when we arrived at 11:45 – but this was just for the cleaning lady apparently. So we had to find somewhere else – not too difficult in a city like Wismar which has loads of cafes.
Although it was cold we decided to sit outside which is a bit easier for Poppy. Klaus was happy to have his new hat and coat!
I had this chocolate cake and Klaus a sanddorn cake.
After our cake and tea we returned to the car and set off.
Klaus suggested we visited Schwerin which wasn’t far down the road, so we headed there. It turned out to have a rather impressive castle which is actually the local government building (Landtag) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwerin_Palace. Rather amazingly we were able to park free about 100 meters from the castle!
It is on the list to become a UNESCO World Heritage site and you can see why!
It was a grey day when we visited with some drizzle but we could imagine how it would look with some golden autumn sunshine such as we had on Usedom.
I liked this golden cupola.
There was also a man-made cave area as we walked around the grounds. In winter it is a roost for bats, but I attempted a James Bond-style photo of Klaus. But failed.
The Poppy one was equality unsuccessful.
We walked the whole way around the castle on its island. It was lovely!
We then decided to walk into the Schwerin shopping area to get a spot of lunch. This was just 100 metres from the castle and we walked around doing a bit of window shopping until the rain was a bit heavier and we decided to find a cafe.
Klaus had a warm drink from Sanddorn and some Gulaschsuppe.
I had tea and a waffle.
We walked a little more after our food and then returned to the car for the final 60km to Mölln.
Mölln is sort-of in the middle of nowhere, south of Lübeck. On our drive today we were checking out the cycle paths and they are very good. We are making plans to drag chum Ralf on a week’s Velomobile holiday riding around this region as it is so lovely and there isn’t too much traffic.
We crossed the border from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to Schleswig-Holstein and noticed the sign on the border reminding us that Germany had been divided for so long.
A short time later we arrived in Mölln but the navi suggested we had to drive another 2km to our hotel. Which turned out to be in the middle of a wood on the side of a lake, and our ‘room’ was actually a suite with lounge, two bedrooms, kitchen and balconies. Here is the view from one of the balconies as dusk was approaching.
It was incredibly peaceful and quiet.
We had a very tasty meal in the restaurant, Wildragout mit Rotkohl und Spätzle
Poppy sat quietly under the table during our meal. She has been such a good doggie on this trip!
The drive home – from Mölln to Kempen
All good things must come to an end and this included our holiday.
We had a very relaxed breakfast and after checking out and putting our luggage in the car we took Poppy for a walk along the side of the lake. It was lovely!
We returned to the hotel to jump into the car. This is it – for 95 Euro for the night it was amazing value. The lady said they are already fully booked for Fridays and Saturdays in 2018 for weddings, which I can understand.
With Poppy installed in the boot we set off, heading towards Hamburg and the motorway.
There were the usual traffic jams around Hamburg which lost us a lot of time, as did a suggested detour at Bremen which seemed to take longer than the traffic jam on the motorway would have done (according to Google Maps anyway). But such is life travelling on the busy German Autobahnen.
After four hours it was time to stop for Poppy to have a pee, and we also felt like some lunchtime cake.
These were actually not bad, 2,99€ each and my hot water for tea was free. Klaus chose another Earl Grey tea, and I commented that I have returned from this holiday with a hat-wearing Earl Grey-drinking chap. Where has the old Klaus gone? The new Klaus is nice too though!
After a half hour break we were back on the road, heading to Mülheim to Klaus’s workplace to pick up my car. All was well with my Roomster and we drove home in convoy, arriving back st 6pm to an empty house. Everyone else was out, which rather disappointed Poppy.
It was nice to be home but we have had a brilliant holiday. And the good news is that in two weekends’ time we will be having another trip, this time a weekend in Dresden. I am already looking forward to it.
And another note, Poppy the dog is a great holiday companion. She is amazingly low maintenance and gets lots of pats and cuddles from people we meet on the way.
Cakes this month
Here is the montage of cakes this month that haven’t appeared in the images above. I think I have had less than half of these, lots of them were eaten by Klaus or other chums. Honest!!
I hope you have enjoyed this month’s report. As always, comments are welcome.