A Family Day out In Lübeck

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A and S in front of the Holstentor.

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We were a party of twelve all told, out for a wander around Lübeck.

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The Cathedral is huge, but has buildings all around it, so it’s hard to get a good view.

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The Rathaus is impressive too. The next few photos show various views of it.

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This…

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…is one of the buildings in the town associated with Thomas Mann. Günter Grass is another former resident.

Whilst these literary claims to fame are impressive, the first thing that springs to mind for me when I think of Lübeck is marzipan and the company Niederegger which has several shops around the town…

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That’s the principal one on the right. There’s a shop on the ground floor, a restaurant above that and a marzipan museum on the top floor.

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In Lübeck it seems that almost anything can be modelled from marzipan.

This ship was one of the displays in the museum…

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As were these almost life-size figures…

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I’ve been to Lübeck a few times. It’s a charming place with fascinating architecture.

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Although I’ve been a few times before, I didn’t know about the quiet little alleyways which abound. This time we had the advantage of a local guide, my cousin S who was born in Lübeck.

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The alleys seem like they might be private, but apparently there is a right of access, although some are only open to the public at certain times of the day.

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Little S was clearly wanting to venture down this watery avenue, but was hesitating…

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Until cousin S chivvied him along.

A Family Day out In Lübeck

Lauenburg Lakes

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Look a map! Let’s get oriented: the big lake south of Lübeck is the Ratzeburger-see and the blotchy red bit across the bottom of that lake is Ratzeburg, where we were staying. Actually there’s the Ratzeburger-see, the Dom-see (Cathedral Lake), the Küchensee and the Kleiner Küchensee, but they’re all linked so who’s quibbling? Ratzeburg straddles both banks of the lake(s) and also an island in the lake which is connected to both banks by causeways. Another glance at the map will reveal that the area is riddled with lakes of various sizes.

My aunt and uncle have lived in Ratzeburg for as long as I can remember and my cousins grew up there. Swimming in the lakes has always been a prominent feature of our visits over the years. This trip was no exception.

Here’s Little S in the Pipersee..

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My brother and his family had driven up from Switzerland in their campervan, en route to a holiday in Denmark, and were camped by this lake.

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Actually, that day we were a big family party, with three of my cousins and their families and a couple of sets of aunts and uncles with us too. A gaggle of us, of various ages, swam well out into the lake.

This…

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…is from an evening visit to Garrensee.

And this is the kids walking through the woods for an early visit to the same venue…

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It was our favourite swimming spot. Perhaps you can see why.

Through the summer months my uncle, now in his eighties, cycles here for a swim most mornings. We were never early enough to catch him, but he did join us, along with my aunt, for a later swim one day.

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My first visit here was during the hot summer of  1976, when I was a bit younger than Little S is now. We spent a day here. I remember a snake swimming on the water; unsuccessful attempts to build a raft of sticks and my cousin K, whose house we were borrowing this summer, briefly going missing, until we realised that she had swum across the lake (I think she would have been around 5 at the time). TBH saw a snake here this summer – it was when she was running around the lake, whilst the rest of the family were swimming.

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I’m pleased to say that the kids loved Garrensee, but the Ratzeburger-see had its own attractions…

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This was an evening swim, when the sky turned a bit threatening as the sun set…

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We also swam one more time in the Küchensee, in a spot with which I am very familiar. It’s close to where my aunt and uncle live and, when we visited, I used to love getting up early with my uncle to walk down the hill, past the hospital where he worked, for an early morning dip.

During one of our visits to the Garrensee I got chatting to another swimmer. After he had, rather inevitably, asked about Brexit, he told me that he lives in Hamburg and that all of his Hamburg friends would head to the Baltic coast if the they had a day off and the sun was shining, but he comes here instead.

“My friends from Hamburg don’t know about this place, how did you find it?”

Apparently there are 40 lakes in total in the Lauenburg Lakes Nature Park, maybe someday I’ll come back and swim in them all.

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A Week in Ratzeburg

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After the party, we were able to spend a week in Ratzeburg thanks to the generosity of my cousin K and her family, who lent us their house for the week whilst they were away in their campervan. This is a different cousin K than the one mentioned a couple of posts ago – they are sisters, the oldest and youngest of four.

K’s partner J is a stone mason and sculptor and their house and garden are decorated with examples of his work…

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The buddleia at the front of the house was also prolifically decorated with butterflies. Mostly, but not exclusively Painted Ladies…

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Small White, I think.

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I haven’t been able to identify this day flying moth. It’s quite striking though, even without a name.

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We were extremely comfortable in our home from home and very grateful to our hosts. We had a couple of very wet days and it was great to discover that they love board games possibly even more than we do. Here are A and B taking defeat graciously after a game of Settlers of Catan…

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A Week in Ratzeburg

The Party by the Küchensee

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Since my last post finished with an old, old photo of Little S and his cousin L, here they are again, this time from this summer, swimming in the Küchensee.

And this…

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…is a wider view of the lake and, this time, B in the rubber ring.

The party was terrific. First and foremost it was great to catch up with my relatives. The food was out of this world. And, once we’d eaten, we got to swim in the Küchensee. (My rusty German suggests that translates as ‘Cakes Lake’, but that can’t be right surely?)

My brother and his family and some of my cousins and their families joined us for a dip. Some of the other guests too, I think.

I didn’t take any photos of the party itself: too busy eating and nattering.

Ten years ago, my aunt’s birthday party was in the same venue and I did take lots of photos, but chose not to share any of them on the blog. These days I worry less about ‘going off topic’ – I’m principally writing for myself after all. I’ve been looking back through those 2009 photos, which was a bittersweet experience: the party was great then too, and the food, and it was one part of a terrific holiday; it’s interesting to see how we’ve all changed, but sad to be reminded that some of the guests from 10 years ago are no longer with us.

As people started to leave, I chatted to some of those, like us, who were staying the night at the hotel. Some of my uncle’s cousin told stories about growing up in what became the DDR and how they eventually escaped. Fascinating stuff.

Oh – and Brexit. Wherever we went in Germany, people wanted to ask about that. In every case they initially wanted to enumerate their connections to and express their fondness for the United Kingdom (or, on reflection, to England for the most part), but then went on to explain that they were baffled by and concerned about our desire to leave the EU. Could I elucidate? Nope.

 

The Party by the Küchensee

Schlafwagen Auf Dem Erlebnisbahnhof Im Schmilau

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After our stay in Wormerveer we needed to get to Schleswig-Holstein for my Aunt’s birthday. Little S was keen for us to break the journey, which seemed entirely reasonable, so, on the basis that it was roughly halfway, I settled on Osnabrück for an overnight.

I can’t tell you much about the place – we had a picnic by a lake; we played crazy golf (I annoyed the rest of the family by gloating about winning)(Oops – there I go again!); we walked a long way looking for a Chinese restaurant for S’s birthday meal, only to find the restaurant closed for a holiday; we eventually ate at a very reasonable and friendly little place which did pizzas and kebabs and ad hoc vegan meals which looked delicious; we stayed in a brilliant flat, quirkily decorated with mannequins and graffiti art, which was mainly prints of paintings by El Bocho, a Spanish street-artist who works in Berlin.

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The following day, we drove to Schmilau which is close to where my Aunt and Uncle live and even closer to the hotel which was the venue for the next day’s party.

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We’d booked two sleeping compartments in a stationary train at the ‘Adventure Station’. They have other accommodation, including tree-houses, and this mocked-up engine…

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They also have a very wide variety of vehicles: handcars on the old railway line, pedaloes and canoes and water-bikes on the nearby lake, and a wealth of freaky bikes…

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The DBs were in their element!

This bike, labelled Falschfahrrad, was particularly tricky:

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I think B had to pedal backwards, and steering left made the bike turn right.

I think this was the same sort of thing…

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…but in tandem. They didn’t get very far!

We never did get around to trying out the other sorts of vehicles, but later that same day the DBs were once again in their element, haring around a field on a souped up quad bike at a garden party at my cousin K’s.

This is her decidedly charming home…

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…which we last visited 10 years ago, when the DBs were less hair-raising to observe at play.

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Actually, this is Little S with his cousin L in the same garden 10 years ago. Nobody burned their leg on an exhaust pipe that day.

 

Schlafwagen Auf Dem Erlebnisbahnhof Im Schmilau

A Visit to Moco

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Near to the Rijksmuseum, there’s a much smaller gallery called Moco.

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They had, and still have I think, a substantial exhibition dedicated to the work of Banksy. I found it immensely enjoyable. I think this Mickey Mouse swallowing constrictor was my favourite, but it was a close run thing.

There was another exhibition – which sadly looked more interesting on their web page than it did in reality.

They also had artworks from their permanent collection which I think had been selected as being precursors of Banksy or in some way relevant to his work. I seem to remember works by Warhol, Koons, and Lichtenstein amongst others.

I was more impressed by these paintings by Keith Haring…

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…and this…

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…by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Little S, meanwhile, not always a lover of art galleries, was very taken by this sculpture in the small garden outside…

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A Visit to Moco

Amsterdam

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One reason, possibly, why I’ve fallen so far behind with the blog, is that I’ve struggled to know what to say about Amsterdam. TBH and I have wanted to visit Amsterdam for a very long time, but when we got there is was extremely busy and much, much too hot. I didn’t want to go to the Anne Frank house, the kids weren’t really struck with the idea of the Rijksmuseum, and we couldn’t book a boat to tour the canals despite all of TBH’s efforts.

I took lots of photographs of massed bicycles, and impressive architecture and canals and such like, but looking at them now – they’re a bit rubbish to be honest. My heart can’t have been in it. So – just a couple of photos. The first, taken by a waitress, is from a little road side cafe where we had a superb lunch. Decent vegan food even! The boys had burgers, which became a bit of a theme for a while, although in Germany they discovered the delights of Schnitzel, which became their new favourite. I had a delicious salad and really enjoyed the cafe’s soundtrack of 70’s reggae and 80’s rap. I even managed to smile for a photo, which is virtually unheard of.

We did walk ‘through’ the Rijksmuseum – there’s an archway/tunnel which walkers and cyclists can use – and were all impressed by the giant spider sculptures in the gardens…

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These are the work of Louise Bourgeois apparently – you can find out more here.

We were on our way to another, much smaller gallery, of which more to follow…

Amsterdam