Stories

 

Germany


From the 5th to the 11th of June 2013

Shortly after we arrived in Geneva, we recovered Zorro and prepared him for the next trip. The carburetor was replaced by the one we brought back from Mexico. During Aless stay in Italy, I restored Zorro's roof whose painting was aging. Despite their absence, Martine and Jean-Jacques allowed me to make the work in their garage while their neighbors Clara Hervé offered me an electric connection for the grinding. In the evening, they invited me over for dinner, offered me to stay overnight in their guest room and it was very naturally that they gave me the keys to the house so that I could put me at ease, even in their absence. It was so nice to meet such generous people, offering everything to someone they did not previously know.

On the 3rd of June 2013, we left for Scandinavia ! Along the way, we stopped two days in the canton of Vaud with our friends Six en Route. (Click HERE to get their new book). Before leaving Switzerland, we made a last detour to the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen. It is the largest waterfall in Europe. At his side a castle overlooks the two big rocks standing in the middle of the strong water flow. Different view points allowed us to admire the beautiful scenery.

    

After we crossed the German border, we continued our journey through the Black Forest. The landscape was very green and as you might guess, there was miles and miles of forest. Shortly before nightfall, we left the main road and found a quiet spot near a stream. In the morning, a note and an empty dog poop bag was placed by the windscreen. The little German we learned at School helped us to understand that "Wild camping is prohibited. Pictures were taken." Plus a story about some waste which we did not understand the context. A little confused, we continued towards Triberg, a village near the highest waterfall in Germany. It's always a shame to have to pay to see a natural element. The site really made me think about Giessbachfälle near Lake Brienz in Switzerland. Triberg is also famous for its cuckoo clocks. This little stop was a good opportunity to enjoy a tasty slice of black forest cake. We were not disappointed.

On the road, a Romanian car had a break down. Out of fuel, they told us they couldn't withdraw money because their card was blocked. Ready to exchange their 18K Gold jewelry for cash, we helped them with twenty Euros. Was it staged ? Who knows ... It was not the first time we helped people out of fuel and probably not the last.

Like in Aless's dreams, the VW aircooled workshop appeared as an oasis on the horizon. In front of the building, dozens of shiny bugs were exposed. Although we did not have any particular problem, Thomas, the boss, generously devoted half an hour of his time to answer our many questions and checked the different engine settings. Emotionally touched to be back to his roots, Zorro left the garage making a great engine sound.

    

We reached Berlin, installed Zorro on a campsite located south of the capital and went to the center by train. The vague memories Aless had of the city dated back to 22 years earlier. We (re) discovered a city where old, modern, artistic or alternative neighborhoods and buildings mixed perfectly. On a sunny weekend, people were enjoying some tango classes or Brazilian music on sandy landscaped parks. This was not Buenos Aires nor Copacabana, but the city center of Berlin. A few meters away, artists painted a section of the wall called the East Side Gallery. It was difficult to imagine in which circumstances the lives of the people changed from one day to another when the western part of the city was suddenly surrounded by the 160 kilometers long wall.

    

At the camping entrance, about a hundred mailbox showed the number of year round occupants. At first, it reminded us a camping in the U.S., whose residents were victims of the financial crisis. Sympathizing with Berg Andy and his wife Christiana living on this campground for the last 6 years, we understood that apart from a few exceptions, the residents made the choice to leave the concrete city and moved here in the suburbs, only twenty minute away from the center. The campsite was like a small friendly village, close to the nature and unlike most of us, they know their neighbors.

Being in Berlin was also a nice opportunity to see Laura, a friend Aless met in Mexico a few years earlier.

Thirty kilometers north of the city, we stopped in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. More than 200,000 people were interned in Sachsenhausen between 1936 and 1945. If it was initially mostly political opponents of the regime, then the camp welcomed more people considered racially or biologically inferior. Tens of thousands of prisoners succumbed to hunger, disease, forced labor, abuse, or were victims of systematic extermination actions organized by the SS. Various exhibitions in historic huts and a film demonstrated the history of the camp. Unfortunately, on Mondays some exhibitions were closed and we were not able to enter the different barracks. Walking on this huge site and discover the places of abuse and the crematoria where thousands of prisoners were killed was quite strange.

We then reached Rügen Island connected to the mainland by a bridge. In Jasmund National Park, a beautiful 6 km walk through the woods gave access to the Stubbenkammer cliff plunging into the ocean. The Königsstuhl tourist center charged EUR 3.50 per person to enjoy the view while a few minutes walk to the Victoria Sicht (free) offered the same panorama. In June, less than 1000 km Switzerland, the sunset was already long and the horizon remained colored overnight.

    

Crossing the country, we observed an impressive number of houses and fields covered of solar panels. According to the Federation of the solar industry, in 2012, 1.3 million solar installations covered the needs of 8 million households, or 7630 MW. The sun covered 5% of the electricity needs of the country. Germany is today the biggest solar power producer in the world and the third largest wind power producer with 31'307 MW in late 2012.

We left Germany in Rostock were we caught a ferry for Gedser, on Falster island in Denmark.

Click here to read the following story in Denmark.

See the album "Germany - June 2013"