Tuesday, July 11, 2017

MENU's Scandinavian Odyssey 8. Germany. Kiel and Lübeck, then south to Arnhem, Schipol and home

We had just three nights left in Europe when we arrived at our AirBnB house in Kiel. The time had not flown too quickly, as it sometime does when you are travelling for a long time. We were loving our independent way of travel, meeting experiences head on as we arrived in each different place and learning more about it and, important for us, soaking up its atmosphere. We certainly were becoming more expert at finding good accommodation on AirBnB by using the filter facility. We don't mind paying a little more for places on our own, not colliding with the owners, their families, pets and their lives and feeling just a little "de trop" or out of place in their world. Who wants to ask politely "May we use the kitchen and sit somewhere?" We are not young anymore and cannot, no, do not want to 'drop our suitcases anywhere' and sleep on the original air mattress idea that started off this successful company. And they are attracting better and better accommodation
We went directly to Kiel and to this yacht harbour where we saw these lovely Barn swallows flying inbetween the boats and the dock and occasionally settling on the boat rails; something we did not expect to see
The yacht basin at Heikendorf
This looks a bit like a Dutch Botter or sailing canal boat. Lynne has been on a couple. It is an older boat and looks lovely under full sail
The reason we were there was to find the U Boat museum and it took a while to find. SatNav sent us to the wrong place first. Local knowledge got us to the right area which is in Laboe but, oh, the one way systems and the lack of parking nearly drove us scatty. We have never driven around in circles and up the wrong streets for so long without giving up. And it was so worth it

It was our lucky day. We arrived on the one day in the year when there is free entry to the museum. It was something like Navy Day in South Africa. There were lots of navy people about and we just missed an awards ceremony
U-995 is a Type VIIC/41 U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine. She was laid down on 25th November 1942 by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, Germany, and commissioned on 16 September 1943. On 8th May 1945 she was surrendered to the British and transferred to Norwegian ownership in October 1948. In December 1952, U995 became the Norwegian submarine Kaura and in 1965 she was retired by the Royal Norwegian Navy. She was then offered to the German government for the ceremonial price of one Deutsche Mark. The offer was turned down, but the Boat was saved by the German Navy League, DMB, and she became a museum ship at Laboe Naval Memorial in October 1971
The internal plan
Its history
Electric motors for underwater propulsion
 and diesel engines for use on the surface
More detail about the diesel engines
We boarded her and walked from one end to the other. This is the impossibly small galley for all the crew. Lynne fitted quite well, anyone taller has to stoop
Crew quarters. They didn't have their own bunks, just took the nearest free one when their shift was over! The tables on one side are the eating quarters, sitting on the bunks. Lynne is in the background, just about to climb into the forward section through the round hatchway
The periscope and lots of dials and wheels in the command centre
The captain's luxurious single cabin
and crew bunks shared space with torpedoes
On the outside, sleek sides ...
... and the conning tower, heavily armed to shoot at ships and attacking aircraft
This is the Laboe Naval Memorial, in the shape of a rudder
On the beach, another photographer at work; she specialises in animal photos
We arrive at our next AirBnB accommodation. It is quite a way out of Kiel in the countryside between Flensburg and Kiel. Oh, how we wish we had found it on the way up after our one bad experience in nearby Flensburg. The owners were at work and had sent us instructions of how to get the keys out of the coded box in the vestibule. It took a while and was a bit counter-intuitive! You pull the whole box towards you after dialling in the code, revealing the keys. John nearly took his Leatherman to it
We were royally welcomed by their friendly ginger. So long since we'd had any cat affection
This place did not show well on the AirBnB site as it looked rather too spacious and cold. It was a lovely surprise to find it so much nicer in reality. In fact, it wowed us. It was a huge apartment that the owners, who live upstairs, had just finished renovating. And the finishes are great; they have not skimped and have done it properly. The large lounge. The black strips at the bottom of each window are black out blinds that pull upwards
With doors to the bedroom and the hallway and then to the kitchen
This was our bedroom
The one problem for us was the step down into the next room. You have to remember it is there or you can go flying. Perhaps a ramp is needed?
The large kitchen, with all the equipment you might need and a large dining table
They left us some chocs and sweeties. How kind. We didn't eat them all
Nice touches, nice details
Next morning we travelled to Lübeck, famous for its marzipan. We found parking on the side of the Trave river
and right behind us was, behold, a marzipan factory and shop called Speicher. Lübeck regards itself as the home of marzipan. It has been protected by an EU Council Directive as a “Protected Geographical Indication” since 1996
So we ventured in. Lynne has to admit that, while she hated marzipan as a child, she now loves it. And we found some presents to take home
The Holsten Gate ("Holstentor") reproduced in marzipan

They are very good at merchandising and marketing
When we paid, we were given a voucher for a free coffee to be redeemed at their Café Speicher next door!
First a relax on the riverside, eating our packed lunch
with some delicious French cheese
We were close to the Holsten Gate ("Holstentor"). It is a city gate marking off the western boundary of the old center of the Hanseatic city of Lübeck. Built in 1464, the Brick Gothic construction is one of the relics of Lübeck's medieval city fortifications and one of two remaining city gates, the other being the Citadel Gate ("Burgtor"). Known for its two-round towers and arched entrance, it is regarded today as a symbol of the city, you even find marzipan made in its shape.  With thanks to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It is a beautiful old city, well restored with lots of rivers and canals surrounding the old city island, making the perfect moat
We were not sure if he actually is a chef, but more of a living monument to marzipan in another factory shop, the most famous one, Niederegger, where we tasted some plain and some toasted marzipan. Yes they do make marzipan ice cream. No, we didn't, both of us should avoid dairy
We decided to return to Speicher to redeem the voucher and buy another coffee and discovered they had a great offer. A cup of coffee and a slice of marzipan cake for €5.50. John already had his eye on the cake

Lynne is not a cake fan
We found that they have a lovely back courtyard where we could sit and drink our coffee, so we carried our tray there
The cake. We both still dream about it and wish we had ordered two pieces instead of sharing. It was how all cake should be. Light as air vanilla sponge. It has a thin base of crisp almond meringue with a light lick of strawberry jam, sponge, then whipped cream, a layer of marzipan, repeat twice and top off with a covering of - yes - marzipan, topped with a rosette of cream and a walnut half. So absolutely delicious and wicked. And the coffee was good too, we had it black and long
Then it was off on quite a long drive, bypassing Hamburg and Bremen to our night on the junction where the Autobahn 1 going south crosses the Autobahn 30 going west towards Holland. It is near Lotte just outside Osnabrück which, sadly, we did not have time to visit. The road going south was crowded and slow
It turned out to be a room in a flat in a rather unprepossessing estate deep in the countryside. We had the owner's first name and the flat address but not his surname or flat number; the number we were given was the building number. Yes, there were many of them. John went knocking and, eventually, we located him. Our flat was the top balcony on the right. It was a remarkably large apartment, with several rooms, a shy owner, modern furniture and equipment and two bathrooms. Lynne made a Spanish omelette for supper, we repacked our food boxes, leaving our host things we no longer needed, like oil and salad dressing, and went to bed on a large sofa bed in our bedroom
Up early next morning for the drive into Holland. It seemed as if every lorry in Europe was on the road. We do have to comment about the driving in Europe. It is so polite and disciplined, and moves along quickly, with drivers moving out to overtake and then returning to the inside lane. Everyone gives way as a matter of course. The only fly in the ointment is when a slow lorry decides to overtake a slightly slower lorry and holds up all the traffic on the two lane motorways. Luckily, there are long stretches where they have to keep in the inside lane and are not allowed to pass. They say "speed kills"; when we were on unrestricted autobahns in Germany, we were cruising at near 160 Km/h to keep up with the traffic. In the outside, passing, lane VW Passat estates, Kias etc. were cruising past at much higher speeds. We say that it is bad, selfish and aggressive driving that kills. In 3800 Km, driving through five countries from Schipol to Oslo and back, we did not see one crash!

We decided not to bypass Arnhem. It is a big part of our British history and Lynne's uncle was part of the abortive attempt by the British and Polish army and air forces to free the city, and take the Rhine crossing. He took part in the landings as a paratrooper and managed to escape being taken prisoner. The unsuccessful Operation Market Garden, led by Col John Frost, was an attempt by the Allies to secure the bridges over the Rhine at Arnhem and open the road to Berlin. Had they taken the bridge, the city would have been free. The suffering they endured until it was free would not have happened and the war might have been shortened 
On the side of the river next to the bridge is this winged statue - it took John a long time to try and find out the identity of the sculptor, without success. But the title we have for it was given to us by a young lad crossing the bridge with others. "There" he said in Dutch, "is the Flight of Hope". So poignant and so true
Next to the river is the memorial of the Airborne landings
So, of course, we visited it
They have good sound and vision exhibits and you do get a very good impression of the battle
The John Frost Bridge at Arnhem and a Canadian 25 pounder gun donated by the 3rd Parachute Battalion to the people of Arnhem "in recognition of their courage and unflinching support during the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944
Then the drive to Schipol; we filled the car with petrol and checked in at our airport hotel the Radisson Blu. They had a very special offer of £75 a night
We checked in to our flight on line, and then returned our hire car to Europcar at the airport and took the shuttle back to the hotel. We had done 3817  kilometres in 22 days.
But, first, we were on the hunt for something for supper. Schipol has lots of choice before you enter the station and bus areas. We still had some French cheese and German smoked black forest ham, but wanted to eat something very Dutch before we left, something we love, something very plebeian and ordinary but crisp and crunchy and full of gooey veal. Kroketten! and they came with chips (not great ones though). We also bought some croissants for breakfast. We didn't want to dawdle in public places, especially not in the airport, so..... we smuggled them back to our hotel room and polished them off with a bottle of Listel Rosé wine. We totally repacked our suitcases, weighed them; we were OK, although John with his Tux was just inside the permitted 23Kg. The room cleaner must have been very happy with what we left her
And early next morning, the shuttle bus to the airport
We boarded the 10 am KLM direct flight to Cape Town. What a trip, what variety, what fun, so many different cultures to absorb. Next trip will be to a less expensive, more Rand friendly area, and we will be able to eat out!
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