Alright, Germany. As I was concluding with the last post, we went to Berlin and before going on telling about the German capital, it is important to state that we only were there for one day and you cannot put the whole of Berlin in one day, obviously, but I can say from the very limited experience I've had with the city that, so far, it is not really my city. As far as we could tell, there is no definite structure to the city, no organisation and as we hadn't prepared at all for the city, didn't know what to look at (except for the well-known sights), we were struggling to make the most of it. There are cities which immediately make sense, if you know what I mean. They are structured in a way that even the most lost tourist will find the main streets and sights. Berlin, for me, is not one of these cities. Take Munich, for instance. It is a big city, too, but there is a clear structure to it. You have the main shopping street with all the other streets winding off the main road, where you can find anything your heart desires. London, a massive capital, has the square mile where you can find Oxford and Regent Street and the main sights any tourist wants to see. When we went to Prague, we could manoeuvre easily through the city and were navigated by the many market places. In Berlin, I couldn't make out such a structure, which made the whole day slightly frustrating. Other than that, I would say the city is quite rough. There are many people pierced everywhere and overly tatooed, as you picture Berlin. For Berlin I would definitely say I need to return one day to get to know the city better and give it a fair shot.
When we returned to the car, we knew we had to talk, as the initial plan we had made for our trip didn't seem to work anymore for us. We had planned a couple of weeks heading more to the north than the south and, rather late, had to admit this was a stupid plan, especially as it has been raining pretty much constantly since we set off. It was horrible not to have a place to retreat too, as the car was far too cold to do that when not being driven and we decided to needed to go more south, direction Netherlands and Belgium and look what's there (which I am sure is much). Also, we decided we needn't be on the road for such a long time and rather luxuriate a little more when it comes to food and accommodation. Happy with our decision we set off to Hamburg and were lucky to encounter heaven on the way. Of course, I am referring to the little town of Mölln in Schleswig Holstein, a northern German province. Generally, the area in Northern Germany is absolutely stunning. After dirty, grey Berlin, the landscape opened up and red brick houses started to dot the side of the road, making me all giddy with joy. I love looking at beautiful houses and going to little towns. As night was drawing in, we went through a place called Wittenburg where we first encountered these lovely red brick, high-roofed houses. We ended up spending the night at a parking space near a lake which was dreadful as it was pouring and the rain splattered onto out metal roof, making it impossible to sleep. This was the morning I decided I needed a hotel after all and, luckily, my man agreed. We set off, passing another hamlet of red brick houses when suddenly I spotted a sign saying "Mölln, old town" and directed my man to drive in there. You cannot imagine how picturesque and bucolic Mölln is. It is nestled between three (three!) lakes and consists mainly of old red brick houses, the occasional white painted Sweden style house in between. It was bliss for sore eyes!
We trundled up the main road, stopping and exploring the city a little. Mölln is one of these towns just right in size. It is big enough to have everything you need, but small enough to get local goodies and have shops owned by townspeople lined up next to the main road. It was also there that we encountered one of the most beautiful shops I have ever been in. It was a spices and decor shop and it is called Möllner Gewürz Kontor. Personally, I think the name is a little misleading because the stunning things in the shop have barely to do with the spices, but rather the decor the owner, a nice woman, provides. I could have stayed in there and browsed the shelves for hours, but eventually left with Christmas tree decoration and a lantern pocketed and advice from the woman where to find the best hotels in Mölln, as it was clear now that this was the place we wanted to explore for a day longer. We already loved it here and I caught myself once or twice picturing myself living in the place.
The hotel we were recommended was the Pension Seeschlösschen (Hotel Lake Castle) and it truly was the castle of our dreams. A beautiful dove blue, old building in a remote area facing the lake. The people running it were as lovely as anybody we had encountered in Mölln and when we were shown to our room (a spacious double-bed room with three windows facing the lake) I felt like whooping with joy, especially at the prospect of not having to sleep in the car in this wretched rain again. Let's face it here, I would love to be one of these people who can sleep anywhere, go wild-camping and don't worry about an angry farmer waking you, insulting you to the worst (I grew up with farmers, I know what I am talking about), but I am simply not. All night, I keep worrying if someone will wake me up and be mean to me, I hate camping (wild or any other kind) and could possibly described what we call in German as a "Luxusweibchen", which translates to "luxury girl". I like sleeping in nice hotels and going to restaurants, especially when it's supposed to be your holidays. Why would you then plan such a trip, you ask? Well, I constantly try to broaden the borders of my mind and make me face situation I can neither control nor will I like them to become stronger identified with myself (does this sound right?).
Anyway, enough of my wittering, on with the journey. Happily set up with our hotel, we decided to go to Lübeck, a city about forty minutes with car away from Mölln. Yet again, we couldn't believe how beautiful the city was. Far bigger than Mölln, it featured a large centre of medieval houses, innumerable churches and towers and fantastic shops to explore. For any fan of medieval cities and red brick, Lübeck is your city! It comprises a main street clustered with an abundance of shops and restaurants. There are shopping centres and individual shops likewise and my personal highlight was the bookshop Hugendubel, where you could browse through books for hours, which we also did, but let's not jump to the end.
We meandered through the city and went up the Petri tower, one of the many towers in the city, from where we had a stunning view over the city. Here I have to insert a little note I made in my mind and have to defend myself before I even say it. Stereotypes can be terrible, but very often they are kind of true, but I don't seek to stereotype or endorse stereotypes in any way, still I have to say I found that Germans, as diverse and different as they are as individuals, still are somewhat innately German in their way. I couldn't even say what I mean by "being innately German", but I guess it refers to the stereotypical neatness, love for formalities and orderly way of thinking. Let me give you an example: when I showed my student ID card to the lady at the tower, she frowned as the date is a little smudged. She didn't make a fuss and gave me a discount, but also a lengthy speech on how I could avoid that and that I could by a plastic foil to protect it and so on and so forth. Of course I write this in English, but picture this lady speaking in a Northern German accent and any Austrian will know what I mean. Another example: When we went to the lovely shop in Mölln, we got to talk with the owner who started to complain about the lack of good staff (which I believe her in an instant), but droned on how important it is to have a funded training before undertaking the task of opening a shop and what a shame it is that in Germany anyone can do that. I, personally, see it the other way. Having a paper stating you have some training doesn't necessarily make you a good shop owner, as it has everything to do with passion. Of course it doesn't hurt to do a course in accounting or such, but everyone should have the freedom to pursue their dreams...
But I am digressing, we also went down to the riverbank and visited the Holstentor, the old city gate which is also referred to as the "leaning tower of Lübeck" because it is slightly crooked. It's gates are so mighty and lethal, I couldn't linger under them, as I am a little superstitious with these kind of things...
After a perfect trip through the city, we ended up in aforementioned Hugendubel and I purchased the new Marian Keyes (the Break) and the new Kerstin Gier (a German author who writes fantastic fiction, Wolkenschloss). I look really forward to reading these and will share my opinion with you, of course.
As for now, I am sitting in our lovely hotel room, saddened we have to say goodbye, but we will drive on to Hamburg and explore the Hansestadt and, hopefully, find an accommodation as nice as this one. Fingers crossed...