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Passing through Luxembourg and on to Germany

April 2nd, 2024

This will be a rather long post; our visit to Luxembourg was rather short and it made sense to combine it with Germany.

We left the campground in Albert, France around 10am after exercising, showering, dishes, tea and dumping and filling.  We stopped in a few kilometres to see the Canadian Courcelette (Battle of the Somme) Memorial in the rain.

We have noticed that this part of France has more red brick buildings rather than stone or plaster.

We had about 300 km / 200 mi to do to get to the small city of Wiltz in Luxembourg.  We were in Luxembourg last year and weren’t sure we’d come back but we felt we’d like to see something of the country other than just  the capital city.  We learned that the “Battle of the Bulge” in WWII took place in this area too and felt it was worth a visit to this area.

Diesel this year:  €1.55 per litre (about $6.32 a gallon) this is up from €1.37 last year!

We had to drive 192 km / 120 mi through Belgium from France to reach the Luxembourg border.  Belgium has great roads and no tolls for regular motorists so that was awesome!  We did not stop at any cities or sites.   This monument was a the border.

A few clicks into Luxembourg we stopped at Schumannseck – this is the area where the Americans beat the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge.  There is a memorial here with plenty of signage – and actually in English (as well as French and German)

Then it was on to Wiltz where Fran learned that there was a small free Aire on the edge of town.  We pulled in and got the last of only three spaces!  How lucky.  Even luckier, was that the rain had stopped as it had rained most of the 300 km to get here! The sun came out partly but the wind is cold and the temps are mid-teens C/ around 60F but the winds are biting cold!  We wish we’d not left our down jackets at Joshua’s at Christmas.

We went for a walk after parking to see the town.

National Monument da le Gréve:

After the introduction of compulsory military service in August 1942, a general strike against the occupiers broke out in Wiltz. The strike movement quickly spread throughout the country, to which the occupiers responded with violence. 21 Luxembourgers were executed. On the street side, a red sandstone relief represents the fight of David against Goliath and symbolizes the courageous resistance of Luxembourgers against the all-powerful Third Reich. On the back, we see Luxembourg strikers arrested and shot in the Hintzert concentration camp.

The monument is a memorial to the free world that takes a daily stand against violence, oppression and the lack of respect for human rights. Every year on August 31, a memorial ceremony is held in honor of the courageous victims.

The International Scouting One Penny Monument

This sculpture was erected on May 28, 1982, in honor of Robert Baden-Powell , founder of the scouting movement. The sculpture measures 3.5 meters in height and weighs approximately 11,000 kilograms. It was financed through an early form of crowdfunding. Every scout who visited Wiltz donated the equivalent of “One Penny” (1 British cent). This gave the statue its name “One Penny Monument” .

We saw the Notre Dame Church:

The Hotel de Ville (city hall):

Then the monument to Eisenhower:

The US 28th Infantry monument and the story of how they brought St. Nicholas to Wiltz:

And the Wiltz Castle:

We walked back to Minou and the sun was still shining; still quite cool but not wet – we’ll take it.  It was nice to get out of Minou and walk in the fresh, dry air; the day before it had been colder and wetter.

We were up around 8 and hit the road shortly after – it was cold and wet!  Yuck!   We topped up our petrol tank before leaving the country.


No tunnels today and we drove a whopping 36 km / 22 mi in Luxembourg this time.

As we said above, we weren’t sure we’d come back to Luxembourg but since we have, we are republishing the fun facts blurb below from last year.

All our photos of Luxembourg are here.

Fun facts about Luxembourg:

  1. Luxembourg has more than 100 castles/chateaux’s.
  2. Luxembourg has the highest minimum wage in the EU.
  3. Luxembourg is one of the safest countries in the world.
  4. Nearly half of Luxembourg’s workforce commutes to work in Luxembourg from another country.
  5. 17km of underground tunnels are cut out of the solid rock beneath Luxembourg City.
  6. The Motto of Luxembourg is “mir wëllebleiwewatmirsinn,” which means ‘we want to remain what we are.’
  7. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal in Luxembourg.
  8. Luxembourg has the highest rate of car ownership in the world with 647 cars per 1,000 population.
  9. Forests cover more than a third of the country.
  10. Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel was the first European Union leader to marry someone of the same sex.
  11. Restaurant Chiggeri, Luxembourg city, holds a world-record for the longest wine list in the world.
  12. Public transport is free in Luxembourg.

 April 3rd, 2024

GERMANY – 2nd time

Since we were in Germany last year, we won’t repeat the intro blurb just update the diesel price.

Diesel this year:  €1.78 per litre (about $7.26 a gallon) this is up from €1.70 last year!

We crossed the border into Germany this morning and it was still kinda miserable out.  We made our way to Heidelberg and hoped for the best.

The sky got brighter but it never completely cleared up or stopped sprinkling.  Fran found an aire outside downtown and we took an Uber into the old town.  The place charges €20 a night including power, Wi-Fi, water, dumping and there’s free access to the nextdoor sports centre for bathrooms and showers.

We had the Uber drop us near the Heidelberg bridge and went in search of  lunch then visited the bridge and it was still raining.

We opted not to visit the castle but were able to see it up above the city.

We strolled through the cobbled streets  and squares seeing fountains and churches:

Ending up at the Studentkarzer – a student prison – a unique visit for us.   While much of the artwork is in German, the quantity of the artwork is quite something; there’s hardly a bare patch of wall left in the rooms or stairwells.

A “karzer“ was a designated lock-up or detention room to incarcerate students as a punishment, within the jurisdiction of some institutions of learning in Germany and German-language universities abroad. The American writer Mark Twain wrote about the karzer in Heidelberg in his book, “A Tramp Abroad” (1880). Karzers existed both at universities and at grammar schools in Germany until the beginning of the 20th century.  The student prison at Heidelberg University was established in the 1780s and was in operation until 1914. Today it is one of the most popular sights of Heidelberg.

From 1823 to 1914 students were incarcerated for such transgressions as night-time carousing or other offences against the public order. The university enjoyed autonomous jurisdiction over students for its first five hundred years. Beginning in 1886, however, this right to render judgments against students was curtailed. Since then, the university’s jurisdiction has been limited to internal disciplinary matters.

The most common infractions that could land a fellow in the college clink: carousing and rabble-rousing, dueling, and freeing the pigs of the town farmers, apparently a hilariously popular past time. Then, as now, such antics were often fueled by alcohol. The penalties were most often a few days in the Studentenkarzer, though a few weeks or up to a month could be handed down for more serious offenses.

The conditions weren’t bad, and apparently there was an almost universal party feel to the place. Students often broke the rules on purpose just to get a few days “inside” with their chums. Seemingly, serving at least one stint in the student jail at Heidelberg University was something of a badge of honor.

There are no cells here, just a warren of rooms high up under the eaves. Iron beds, wooden desks, a few chairs. But the rooms are far from dull or barren. That’s because spending time in the student jail seemed to bring out the inner graffiti artist in these collegiate inmates. The walls are completely covered with graffiti—cartoonish drawings, fraternity badges, family crests, poems, names and clever epithets. Everywhere are silhouettes of the frat boys themselves, each topped with the colored cap that was a standard part of the university uniform in the 19th century.

The famous paintings were applied by students using improvised techniques. Preserving them today is a major challenge. Despite the ongoing restorations, the staircase and hallway with a view into some cells will be open to the public.

We caught an Uber back to the aire and stayed indoors as it was STILL raining!  The sun tried to come out in the early evening (it’s not getting dark till after 8pm now) but it didn’t last.  We awoke Thursday to continued sprinkles that came and went and sometime got harder.

To see more photos of our day in Heidelberg click here.

Today we passed through two animal crossing tunnels.

We awoke Thursday and it was definitely warmer as we didn’t feel we needed to turn on our heater – a move in the right direction.  But when we left the aire and it was raining which always makes you feel cool and damp.

We hit a grocery store to stock up – we are watching how much we buy these days so we don’t have a lot in the rig for selling next month.  The Rewe grocery store had all we needed and we were done in less than a half hour.

We drove east today and made it to Rothenburg ob del Tauber by lunch time – we had rain most of the way and hit some slow traffic due to road construction.  The highways in Germany are as you expect, very good, fast and with no tolls.  There are plenty of fields with solar panels and lots and lots of wind power turbines.

We arrived at the parking lot that allows motorhomes overnight by lunch and ate first in the hopes that the rain would stop – nope, but out we went anyway, it didn’t rain hard and at times it was pretty light but it continued well into the afternoon.

This is a medieval German town that is super charming.  It has the typical city walls and towers but the buildings inside are colourful, the streets are cobbled and the signs above the businesses are lovely.  This town is known for its Christmas markets and there is even a Christmas museum with a huge shop – we only visited the latter and it is really big with lots and lots of Christmassy stuff.  Here we looked for our German souvenir and it took a while but we did find something that met our needs.

We saw a few of the city gates:

The main square:

The Plönlein:

Many people think that the term Plönlein refers to a yellow half-timbered house in front of the entrance to the hospital district. The crooked, crooked house is actually in the center of the Plönlein. Translated, the term Plönlein means “Small Square at the Fountain”, and the Plönlein ensemble also includes the fountain in front of the half-timbered solitaire and the two towers of the old city wall that rise up to the left and right of it – on the left the Siebersturm, which leads into the hospital district , on the right the tower of the Kobolzeller Gate from 1360, which shows the way to the Taubertal.– a pretty house with one of the towers behind it.

(better shot at the top of the post)


The city walls and towers: (you can walk on the walls undercover)

The colourful and interesting buildings and shops with their signs:

We really liked this little town and it’s very walkable from where we parked.

We returned to Minou, re-parked in the lot to a more suitable space (we hate to take up two spaces and we saw a spot where we could overhang at the back which is less intrusive to others.

The sun tried hard to come out later in the afternoon ….but it didn’t last.  It was another cold evening.

The gallery of photos of Rathenburg ob del Tauber is  here.

We left Rathenburg ob del Tauber around 8:30 in the morning and drove east to Nuremburg.  There were two things we wanted to visit there but one was undergoing renovations so we only saw it partially on a drive by:

The Documentation Centre & Nazi Party Rally Grounds museum:

The Documentation Center Nazi Party Rallying Grounds is a museum. It is in the north wing of the remains of the Congress Hall of the former Nazi party rallies. Its permanent exhibition “Fascination and Terror” is concerned with the causes, connections, and consequences of Nazi Germany. The Nazi party rally grounds covered about 11 square kilometres (1,100 ha) in the southeast of Nuremberg, Germany. Six Nazi party rallies were held there between 1933 and 1938.

But we did visit the Palace of Justice where the Nuremburg trials were held.  We parked in a nearby grocery store parking lot and walked over.  After paying your €7.50 entry fee, you are given an audio guide and you climb up to the second floor to the actual courtroom.  The Courtroom 600 is not always open to the public, but we lucked out and today it was.  It was renovated and made larger for the trials at the time including an upper gallery but in the 60’s it was returned to its original form

The Nuremberg Palace of Justice was constructed from 1909 to 1916 and houses the appellate court, the regional court, the local court and the public prosecutor’s office. The Nuremberg Trials Memorial is located on the top floor of the courthouse. 

The building was chosen as the location of the Nuremburg Trials (1945–1949) for the main surviving German war criminals of  WWII because it was almost undamaged, was large enough, and included a large prison complex. The choice of the city of Nuremberg was symbolic as the Nazi Party had held its large rallies in the city.

The trials took place in courtroom number 600, situated in the east wing of the palace of Justice. The courtroom was used until 1 March 2020, especially for murder trials. At the end of the Nuremberg Trials the courtroom was refurbished, and is now smaller. A wall that had been removed during the trials in order to create more space was re-erected. In addition, the judges’ bench was turned 90 degrees and is no longer situated in front of the window, but stands where the witness box was placed during the trials.

The courtroom today:

The courtroom as it looked during the trials:

The third floor is an exhibit with lots and lots of information on every aspect of the trial.  We couldn’t and didn’t hear them all – it was too much information.   But it was well done and obviously super informative.  We learned about the building, the allied judges, the process, the evidence, the witnesses, the decision and the sentencing as well as what occurred later with the prisoners.

We returned to get Minou and drove north to the small city of Bamberg to spend the night and to visit the cenre of the city to see its famous town hall.

The Town of Bamberg was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993 due to its medieval layout and its well preserved historic buildings.

We tried to get into one aire but it was full – at noon on a Friday!  There are two others in the city (they obviously want RVer’s) and at the second one we found a spot – it was just over half full.  For €15 for 24 hours you can park in a large site, have access to dumping, pay €1 a KWH for power and €1for 100 l (26 gallons) of water.

We were further from town but decided to walk anyway.  The sun had come out by the time we arrived in Nuremburg earlier this morning and it was still out and a comfortable spring temperature.

It was 3.4 km / 2.2 mi into the centre of town.  Doug is still not 100 % but felt he was up to the walk and we’d not been getting all our steps lately due to the weather, so we walked.

We saw the cute streets and finally arrived at the island in the river where the town hall is located.  It’s pretty impressive.

According to legend the bishop of Bamberg did not grant the citizens any land for the construction of a town hall. This prompted the townsfolk to ram stakes into the river Regnitz to create an artificial island, on which they built the town hall they so badly wanted.

The Old Town Hall’s frescoes never fail to impress as they lend the facades a three-dimensional quality achieved with trompe d’oeil architecture. Today the Old Town Hall accommodates the prestigious rococo hall and the Ludwig Collection.

We turned around to walk back and Doug was feeling a bit beat so we took it slow.  About half way there he stopped for a rest and Fran carried on at his insistence.  His oomph is just not all the way back although he’s breathing is normal again and he’s not congested or coughing any longer.  Also his sense of smell seems to be returning.

By late afternoon it clouded over and did sprinkle some but not enough to be cold and annoying which was nice for a change.

Saturday brought us a sunny day with hardly any clouds and temps back in temps back in the mid-20’s C / high 70’s – about perfect!  Doug is feeling much better but put off his run to Sunday in the hopes he would have more “oomph”.

We’ve noticed that in the past week or so there are more and more RV’s on the road.  The weather is getting nicer and spring has sprung so really no big surprise but it means no dawdling to get a place to spend the night or it will be full like yesterday.

The place we’re at right now was full by dark (even had an extra van parked not in an official spot) and about a half hour before we left we saw ELEVEN motorhomes try and get it; there’s a large car parking lot next door and they just all pulled in there near the edge, just waiting for someone to leave.  We were the third one to leave and they nabbed the empty spots quite quickly.  We weren’t sure but as they all pulled in more or less one right after the other, we thought maybe it was a convoy?

Anyway we left around 9:30 and continued northward.  In about two hours we reached Schloss Belevedere near Weimar.

The Baroque palace Schloss Belvedere is a pleasure-house built for house-parties, built in 1724–1732 for the Duke of Saxe-Weimer at that time. Today it houses part of the art collections of Weimar, with porcelains and faience, furniture and paintings of the eighteenth century. As the summer residence, its gardens, laid out in the French style in 1728–1748, were an essential amenity. A wing of the gardens in the Schlosspark contains a collection of historical carriages.

After 1811, much of the outer gardens were altered to conform to the English landscape garden style, for Grand Duke Carl Friederich, who died at Belvedere in 1853. Because of its testimony to the cultural influence of Weimar during the height of Weimar Calissicism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Schloss Belvedere was inscribed on the UNESCO List in 1998.

While the grounds were large and well landscaped, the castle was small and we’re not sure why this ended up on our “to see” list.  There is a café there and a beer garden on weekends in nice weather but it was barely noon and there was really not much of a view from it so we left after a short walk around the grounds.

We had planned to stay in the town here (Weimar) but since we weren’t hanging here and it was still barely midday, we opted to have breakfast while parked in the lot and then we continued north to shorten our drive tomorrow to Berlin.  We find here in Germany with its very good roads, we are driving faster .  As there are NO toll roads here, that means very few roundabouts, traffic lights and small country roads.  We also notice that there are a lot more rest areas (with bathrooms)  along these highways.

We went about 90 km / 55 mi to the small city of Weissenfels where there is a motorhome business that has six RV parking spots for €5 a night with free dumping and paid water and power.  The sun continued to shine and it was super nice to sit outside and enjoy it.

Today was a seven tunnel day and one of them was 8 km / 5 mi long.

It’s Sunday morning and the sun is shining!  We both exercised (Doug got in a short slow run) and then left our little overnight spot around 8:30.  Fran had found a cool Neolithic site:

The Goseck Circle.  Its construction is dated to approximately 4900 B.C., and appears to have remained in use until about 4700 B.C. Thus, it may be the oldest and best known of the circular enclosures associated with the Central European Neolithic. Currently, the site is presented officially by the state archaeologists and the local association that looks after it as a ritual or cult structure.

The circle consists of a concentric ditch 75 metres (246 feet) across and two palisade rings containing entrances in places aligned with sunrise and sunset on the winter solstice days and smaller entrances aligned with the summer solstice. Marketing materials have described the site as one of the oldest “Solar observations”  in the world, but sunrise and sunset during winter and summer solstices are the only evident astronomical alignments emphasized in the remains of the structure.

The existence of the site was made public in August 2003. It was opened for visitors in December 2005.

It was only 17 km from our overnight spot and we went there before heading into Berlin.  Here’s an aerial shot from Google:

We understand that Germany has a very high rate of recycling and using the recycle “waste”.  However, although we have no trouble finding glass recycling bins, sometimes paper and of course, regular garbage bins, we have yet to see a plastic or metal collection points.

Click here to see photos of all three of the towns.

Our son, Joshua, went to Berlin last year for work, so we asked him for suggestions and between that, our guide book and Google, we decided Berlin was one of those cities perhaps best seen on a walking tour to get more than just sites out of our visit.  Fran booked a tour at 12 on Sunday.

Berlin sits up at 52º north – similar to “Winterpeg” but spring has sprung and things are turning green.

We had a spot in mind, a park and ride lot, where we hoped to be able to park AND spend the  night.  Well that didn’t turn out – it was completely full as were the surrounding streets.  After about tw0 minutes, we gave up hoping to make the walking tour and WhatsApp’d them that we couldn’t make it.  We finally found a street parking spot and it was about 500 m  from a tram station so we made our way over.  Fran bought us day passes for the transit system online and away we went.

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany, both by area and by population. Its more than 3.85 million inhabitants make it the  EU’s most populous city, as measured by population within city limits.   

Berlin was built along the banks of the Spree river, which flows into the Havel in the western borough of Spandau. First documented in the 13th century and at the crossing of two important historic trade routes, Berlin was designated the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1417–1701), Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918), German Empire (1871–1918), Weimar Republic (1919–1933), and Nazi Germany (1933–1945). Berlin has served as a scientific, artistic, and philosophical hub during the Age of Enlightenment, Neoclassicism, and the German revolutions of 1848–1849. In the 1920s Berlin was the third-largest city in the world by population.

After World War II and following Berlin’s occupation, the city was split into West Berlin and East Berlin, divided by the Berlin Wall. East Berlin was declared the capital of East Germany, while Bonn became the West German capital. Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of all of Germany.

So since we missed the walking tour, we just took the train to the central area of Berlin at Potsdam Platz and walked around to what we wanted to see.  The 24 hr train ticket cost us €9.90 each and allowed access to all trains, buses and trams.

At Potsdam Platz we saw a display of sections of the Berlin Wall:

Then we walked a little ways to get to a park to find the Soviet War Memorial and that’s when we realized there was a race going on – seems the Berliner Half Marathon was being held today and we couldn’t get across the boulevard to the memorial.  So we took picks through the temporary fence that blocked our access and some of our view. This commemorates its war dead, particularly the 80,000 soldiers of the Soviet Armed Forces who died during the Battle of Berlin in April and May 1945.

Next was the nearby Brandenburg Gate which the racers were running right through so although we could see more of this, access was again from behind temporary fencing:

The Brandenburg Gate is an 18th-century neoclassical monument. One of the best-known landmarks of Germany, it was erected on the site of a former city gate that marked the start of the road from Berlin to Brandenburg an der Havel, the former capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg. The current structure was built from 1788 to 1791 by orders of King Frederick William II of Prussia.

Throughout its existence, the Brandenburg Gate was often a site for major historical events. After World War II, during the Cold War and until its fall in 1989, the gateway was obstructed by the Berlin Wall, and was for almost three decades a marker of the city’s division. Since German reunification in 1990, it has been considered not only a symbol of the tumultuous histories of Germany and Europe, but also of European unity and peace.

The next visit was a somber one – the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  Before WWII, Berlin was the city in Europe with the largest Jewish population.

Also known as the Holocaust Memorial which consists of a 19,000 sq m / 200,000 sq’ site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stele” of varying sizes, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The original plan was to place nearly 4,000 slabs, but after the recalculation, the number of slabs that could legally fit into the designated areas was 2,711. They are organized in rows, 54 of them going north–south, and 87 heading east–west at right angles but set slightly askew. An attached underground “Place of Information” holds the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims, obtained from the Israeli museum Yad Vashem. Building began on 1 April 2003, and was finished on 15 December 2004. It was inaugurated on 10 May 2005, sixty years after the end of WWII in Europe, and opened to the public two days later. The cost of construction was approximately €25 million.

After making our through the “slabs” we found the free museum and spent a bit of time in there.

Around the corner from this site is the street where the bunker that Hilter and his wife killed themselves used to be located.  It was blown up by the Soviets and today there is just a sign board out front and there are apartment buildings built on the site.

Berlin is a huge city with lots of green spaces and wide boulevards – remember most of it was rebuilt after the war and more space became available when the wall came down.  Many of the buildings are newish but we did see one quite impressive large building that now houses the Museum of Communication:

We were walking towards “Checkpoint Charlie” and stopped at an Italian restaurant for lunch.  At the “Checkpoint Charlie” site there are plenty of sign boards of information, a small and a large museum and plenty of places to eat.

After the collapse of the Third Reich in 1945 Germany had four zones of occupation which were spread over German territory, including its capital Berlin which soon grouped themselves into two antagonistic blocs: the East under Soviet occupation while the West under British, French and American. The different “checkpoints” established between the western and eastern zones were given the code names :

  • Alpha (checkpoint A);
  • Bravo (checkpoint B); and
  • Charlie .

Checkpoint Charlie was then reserved for the passage of foreigners, diplomatic personnel and prisoner exchanges, being the obligatory crossing point for Western vehicles, pedestrians could also transit through Berlin train station. .

This checkpoint was established at the boundary of the districts of Mitte (Soviet sector) and Kreuzberg (American sector), that is to say at the intersection with Zimmerstraße , the wall of which then followed the route in this area. Less than a third of the width of this street remained open to traffic in the western sector. In the eastern sector, on the contrary, it gave way to a no  man’s land (prohibited zone) up to a few dozen meters wide and therefore leading to the destruction of neighboring buildings.

If, on the West Berlin side, they refused to build permanent buildings, contenting themselves with a simple gatehouse placed on a median in the middle of the road, the situation was completely different on the East Berlin side. The infrastructure on the opposite side was in fact expanded over the years, to include not only the wall, but also watchtowers and a vast hangar blocking the axis of the main streets comprising several lines waiting for checks of cars and their occupants.

It remained one of the points of tension between the two “superpowers” ​​throughout the Cold War, particularly during the construction of the Berlin Wall. On October 27, 1961, tanks and soldiers from both camps faced each other for 16 hours, following a dispute over the free movement of nationals of allied countries in the two halves of the city: the Soviets having demanded to control an American plenipotentiary who wanted enter East Berlin through this border crossing. This was contrary to the agreements then in force which authorized the free movement there of diplomats and allied soldiers who were stationed in Berlin.  The “checkpoints” were maintained during the Cold War until the fall of the Wall in 1989 and the reunification of Germany that took place in 1990.

In front of the checkpoint is a pole with two photographs on it; one of an American soldier and one of a soviet soldier.  The American soldier is:

Jeffrey Harper, now 52, came to West Berlin in 1989 as a tuba player in the 298th Army Band. He experienced world history with the fall of the Berlin Wall and even  joined in breaking it down – and became a part of it himself when his oversized portrait was erected at Checkpoint Charlie. Harper later studied, among other things, computer science and economics, dropped out of a doctorate and retired. He now lives with his family in the Midwest of the USA and is passionate about motorcycling.

There is no information about the Russian soldier.  

Our final spot of interest was the East Side Gallery along the Spree River – there is a large section of the wall still standing that has been left for artists to paint.

The East Side Gallery is a permanent open-air gallery on the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall (1,316 m / 4,318’ long. In the spring of 1990, after the opening of the Berlin Wall, this section was painted by 118 artists from 21 countries. The artists commented on the political changes of 1989/90 in a good hundred paintings on the side of the Wall that was formerly facing East Berlin. Due to urban development measures, it is no longer completely preserved, and instead of the originals from then, only the replicas from 2009 exist today.

The gallery has official status as a heritage-protected landmark. According to the association of the artists involved in the project, “The East Side Gallery is understood as a monument to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the peaceful negotiation of borders and conventions between societies and people”, and has more than three million visitors per year.

The first part of this was a bit underwhelming but as we walked nearly a click to the train station we could see the size of it.

We caught the train (with a transfer) back to where we left Minou and then drove about 40 km / 25 mi to a wild camp between Berlin and Potsdam for the night.  It was a dirt parking lot at a forest with many trails.  Upon arriving at 4 there were few cars and no services.  By morning the lot was completely full – we figure some people come here to run on the trails, walk their dogs or use it as a free lot for commuting via train into the city.

All our Berlin pics are  here.

It sprinkled a bit overnight and was overcast in the morning.  After tea time, we made our way to nearby Potsdam to check out the Sanssouci Palace.

Built by Prussian King Frederick the Great as his summer palace, it is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it, too, is notable for the numerous temples, buildings and gardens in the surrounding park.. The palace was built between 1745 and 1747 to meet Frederick’s need for a private residence where he could escape the pomp and ceremony of the royal court. The palace’s name is a French phrase (sans souci) meaning “without worries” or “carefree”, emphasising that the palace was meant as a place of relaxation rather than a seat of power.

Sanssouci is little more than a large, single-storey villa —more like a chateau than Versailles. Containing just ten principal rooms, it was built on the brow of a terraced hill at the centre of the park. The influence of King Frederick’s personal taste in the design and decoration of the palace was so great that its style is characterised as “Frederician Rococo”, and his feelings for the palace were so strong that he conceived it as “a place that would die with him”. 

After WWII, the palace became a tourist attraction in the then East Germany. Following reunification in 1990, Frederick’s body was returned to the palace and buried in a new tomb overlooking the gardens he had created. Sanssouci and its extensive gardens became a UNESCO site in 1990.

While the palace is closed on Mondays, this did not bother us as we did not want to go inside the buildings but rather just see and experience them from outside.  The park surrounding the many buildings is open dawn to dusk every day and having the place closed meant we had it nearly to ourselves; just a few joggers, cyclists and dog walkers crossed our paths. The place is so big we pretty much got our 10K steps in during the 1.5 hours we were there!

Garden behind Charolottenhof:

The tall orange flower in this photo is called the Kaiser’s Crown:

Rose Garden behind Charlottetonhof:

The New Palace

The Orangie:

The historic windmill:

The complete album of photos from our visit to Sanssouci Palace is  here.

We left Potsdam around 10 and began the journey west back across Germany – we don’ t have much else we want to see before entering The Netherlands but do want to make a stop at an overlanding friend’s place south of Cologne (Fran has also been to Cologne before and the big attraction there is the cathedral of which Doug feels he’s seen enough of).

We stopped in Magdeburg to try and get laundry done but that was a bust; the 24/7 outdoor laundry had been vandalized and was not functioning.  We did get some cheap fuel and then carried on to an aire near Helmstedt just off the main A2 highway.  Being Monday the trucks are back on the roads and traffic is heavy with spots of construction.  Sometimes it reminds us of Brazil – truck after truck after truck – but at least here there are two if not three lanes in one direction – unlike Brazil in many places.

We have noticed that here in Germany when there is a large stretch of road construction underway, at the beginning of the project there is a sign of a red sad face emoji.  (missed the photo op there)

As  you pass the halfway mark the face is somewhat neutral yellow face emoji:

And near the end you get a green smiley face emoji!

Enroute we passed the a section of the former border between East and West Germany:

We arrived at the aire in the early afternoon paid our €10 to park and additional €3 for power and settled in for the day/night. There was one other motorhome here with us and it left midafternoon.  In the parking fee behind what looks like a motorhome selling business is included dumping.  You can pay €1 for some water filling another €5 for access to bathrooms with showers but we thought the latter was unnecessary.  Right at the site we picked was a grate we could dump our grey water and we will empty the toilet cassette in the morning for free.

The sun was shining and we enjoyed some outdoor reading time here as well.  Temps reached 20C / 70F today – so welcome!

It was a quiet night with all our windows open – it’s not as cold at night and being in an aire we feel safer leaving windows open (not so much when we’re just in a parking lot).  Doug did his usual Tuesday morning run and feels he’s back!  We’re so happy he’s no longer sick.  After showering, dishes and tea, we drove out to the front of the warehouse building and used their dump and water filling (we had to pay 1€ for 40 L so we did that twice so we’re not full, but enough for a few days).

Our mission today was to get laundry done.  After yesterday’s failed attempt, Fran found an actual laundromat in the city ahead and we went there rather than trying another of these 24/7 outdoor ones like yesterday.  Doug went searching for a pharmacy to get a few things and Fran did the laundry.  As there were large “folding clothes” tables there, she brought along her laptop (could plug in too) and got some website stuff done.

Once the clothes were dry (amazingly, it took one dryer load of 36 mins and they were ALL dry!) we made breakfast right where we were parked on the street and then drove westward to the small town of Herford which not only has a pay aire but a free motorhome parking lot – this gave us two chances to find a place for the night and the free one panned out.  We got parked and stayed in as the rain had started about an hour ago and it was feeling damp and much cooler than yesterday’s sit in the sun.

After a quite cool damp night, we awoke to very overcast skies and a bit of on and off rain.  Today we were headed south of Cologne to visit a Hungarian Canadian friend we met in South America.  Barna and his partner, now live in a small city called Troisdorf.  We made arrangements to meet this afternoon at their place and then go out to dinner together.

Most of the drive was wet, we must have gone through four road constructions sites and we attempted to find an autobody shop that would do the repairs to Minou’s rear bumper.  We had found a parking lot near a sports field on park4night just over a click from his house where we could park free for three hours before six and then free till 9 am tomorrow.

We arrived at the parking lot at 3, got pretty much the last spot and only because someone left!  We walked over to Barna and Patricia’s where we chatted and enjoyed some cake and tea.

Around 5:30 the sun was out much more and we walked into the city centre to find a place to eat.  It was warm enough to sit outside while the sun shone and we enjoyed a good German meal, some wine and beer.

They walked back with us to our Minou and by this time, half the parking lot was empty so we moved to a different spot to not feel so cramped.  We had a pretty quiet night and left around 8:15.

Yesterday we went through two tunnels.

We crossed the border into The Netherlands after getting a few groceries to tide us over for a few days.  We are meeting a friend Fran used to work with in Amsterdam on Saturday and possibly some American friends that we met in Costa Rica early next week.

We quite enjoyed Germany – travel was smooth and easy, people mostly spoke English, the beer was good, the weather varied a lot but it is spring after all and we saw what we came to see.

We drove 1871 km / 1162 mi in Germany.

Fun facts about Germany:

  1. The largest train station in Europe is in Berlin.
  2. There are more than 20,000 castles in Germany.
  3. The city of Berlin is 9 times the size of Paris.
  4. There are more than 1,000 kinds of sausages in Germany.
  5. The first printed book was printed in Germany in Mainz, Germany, in the mid-1450s, by Johann Gutenberg and his partner Johann Fust on the Gutenberg Press. The book is known today as the Gutenberg Bible.
  6. The Erbauliche Monaths-Unterredungen, the first-ever published magazine, was started by Johann Rist who was a German poet.
  7. There are 7,000 different beers in Germany.
  8. 65% of the highways in Germany have no speed limit.
  9. Germany was the first to adopt the concept of daylight saving time.
  10. Germany has the biggest economy in the EU, followed by France and Italy.
  11. The tallest church building in the world is the Ulm Minster (161.5 m), the main Lutheran congregation in Ulm, Germany.
  12. Germany has the highest recycling rate in the world, recycling an impressive 66.1% of its waste.
  13. The MP3 audio format was developed by German engineer Karlheinz Brandenburg.