Monthly Archives: August 2016

Solarpunkster on Tour #7 – Journey to the Past

And then we were on the road again, going East this time. It was a beautiful drive past the Thüringer Wald forest, past countless solar farms which have seeded themselves along Autobahns all across Germany, wind turbines on every hill, and also a nuclear power plant – conveniently located right next to a ‘Badesee’, a lake for swimming…my Mum is pretty sure that it is one of the ones that is already turned off because it had so many problems. We see it from several different angles from the Autobahn and seriously consider taking a detour to visit and take a few snapshots…
So from the A7, we get on the A73, then the A4 towards the East (so many Autobahns…uneven A’s go north/south, even ones west/east). 

We drive past Hof, a small town (“Kaff”) in Northern Bavaria that I am only aware of because my workfriend Matty grew up there. When Germany was still divided, Hof used to be a border town and one of the entry points into Eastern Germany. 

Last time I came past here in 1987 with my Granddad, Mum and a family friend. For hours they played with me and ‘My Little Pony’ to keep me occupied (lucky me had access to such toys in Western Germany!), as we had to wait for hours in long car queues to have our papers and luggage scrutinised. And this happened on the way in as well as on the way out…I drew a picture of the long queues and my memories are fond (if slightly bemused as to what the fuss is all about), certainly testimony to the good nature of my travel companions.

None of this these days, Germany does not even have signs showing when you have entered a new state.

Then we leave the Autobahn and get on the Bundesstrasse (State Route) and it gets interesting. The roads become narrower. We pull over to let others past so we can drive a bit slower and have a look around. It has a very old-timey, rural feel, like a different world, or a different time…like we have driven to the past. 

My parents are glad to see so many old houses renovated after the long years of neglect under the DDR (GDR/German Democratic Republic) “Gubernare-Menti”. It used to look rather bleak back in those days, there was no money for such extravagant things as keeping buildings intact, the grey in grey houses were falling apart everywhere. There are still some like that around, testimony to the old days, and also quite a few LPG’s (Landwirtschaftliche Produktionsgenossenschaften, say that three times as fast as possible!), huge grey, high-walled compounds where people worked in Government farming cooperatives. 

Today there are splashes of colour everywhere, the gorgeous old houses are done up and shine in fresh coats of paints, many roofs are topped with solar panels. A variety of sheep, cows, horses, ducks and chickens peck and graze in yards and on flowery meadows. Huge fields of corn, hay, wheat and other cereals as well as hops, which is grown on some seriously interesting wire contraptions, lie between the tiny towns, and gaggles of wind turbines rotate majestically on the hills. On the roadsides grow gnarly apple trees, oaks, chestnuts, beech and birch trees, vibrant in their different shades of green.

We drive along when a huge flock of birds, hundreds of them, take off from the field on the right, fly above the road and our car, through the trees and then along the field on the left, keeping pace with the car for a few hundred metres before some electric wires inspires them to fly around and up and change course and swarm around more. Definitely the highlight of today’s journey! Unfortunately no photos because we were all too busy looking!

We stop in Bernstein to check in with the well marking a longitude (or latitude?) crossing right through there. Then we miss a turn and get to drive an extra bit through the country side, my Mum all the while reminiscing, then remembering a cousin of her Mum’s that they used to visit somewhere around here, and they had to catch a bus and walk a really long way…along that road…or was it this one?

We are glad that we decided against our plan to visit Dresden for a few hours – it would have made our day too hectic. We arrive in Ostritz and the Abbey St Marienthal, first built in 1234, at 4pm and are again blown away by how much work has been done to make this place into the gem it once was, also in light of the terrible flooding this region experienced in 2010, when a dam wall broke…

While the Abbey amd church are beautiful, the oppression of dogma and civilisation in general is impossible to ignore, especially with the quarter hourly “bell terror” reminding us constantly that we are slaves to time…

I’m glad I brought ear plugs and am rather excited about my large, beautiful room, which I have all to myself, with a window looking out to the herb garden, high ceilings, gorgeous old wooden floors and a desk (which I am sitting at now) which beckons me to write, to reflect, to read and to inspire…even though I am fully aware that I most likely won’t have much time…

Solarpunkster on Tour # 6 – Sunday Evening Chill Out Time

The holiday is already 12 days old today! (And terrible internet mixed with a hint of laziness has prevented me from posting this earlier!)

Every day has held so much life, love, and presence. It feels so good, so right, to be centered nowadays (most of the time anyway), to cultivate and nurture this presence, to fully live, enjoy and appreciate every moment…

Apart from that, I have definitely hit a slight low point today. It is the day after the main night at the Sommerhausen wine fest where we drank and danced with a wild variety of people. So I am feeling a little worn out. We still made ourselves a gorgeous day, with a late breakfast and then a very chilled out mini road trip to some of the gorgeous small towns around the Frankenland and along the river Main in Northern Bavaria.

Then I had a few hours to myself – precious time to have a nap and a yoga sesh, write diary and take stock of me and the now. It took a while to slot back into “me-time” – I have spent so much time with other people in the last year, and then with my family since I flew into Hamburg last week, being alone I had trouble deciding what to do first. What little routine I had is completely out (that’s holidays!) – I have not been jogging since Monday, and since Thursday no yoga or proper meditation, no journalling, no blogging, shaky internet (oh how irritating to have unreliable internet!), no reading and on top of that a lot of food I do not normally eat…

However, I have sorted some paperwork which annoyingly could not get done before I left Australia, driven a bit of Autobahn on the 500km trip from North to South (my top speed: 145km/h), had endless great conversations with my parents (as usual), gone hiking, seen a lot of natural and human-made beauty and taken a lot of photos, talked to some interesting people and finished editing a friend’s short story (I started on the plane over).

All this means that I have tons of material for blogs, but rather little time to make them into real posts…! So I concluded that I should just post what is going on – open, honest, reflecting. Like a blog should be!

There is my sister and my little nephew who I met for the first time this week, and how they raise the bar when it comes to going nappy-free right from the start…

There is the BHW, a community of people who restore old buildings from the northern German region and hold cultural events, keeping history alive…

There is Thorsten, the soulful, interesting chef from Sommerhausen’s Ristorante No.12 who opened a restaurant catering for people with food allergies in 1990 (before it became a thing), and who ensured that we had the best wine fest food ever with vegan Flammkuchen, Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries with Avocado dip…

Then there is the pioneering nun from the Vogelburg who began to grow organic grapes for wine making 60 years ago, after she got really sick from using insecticides…

There are the ‘Radwanderer’ who explore Europe by bike, riding over 100km on a good day…

But for now, there is now, and the stories can wait, as today’s much-needed rain invites us to be still and just chill…