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…

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