Those who read about our cruise to Morocco ('Sun and Soukhs') in January 2009, which led us through one of the great storms of history in the Bay of Biscay, and ending in Antwerp in bitterly cold weather, may wonder if our holiday excursions are doomed to find horrendous weather. We wonder this ourselves. Along the road today, we saw a forest where the storm had toppled a third of the trees, and huge greenhouses smashed to the ground, all in the last 24 hours or so, I should think. That was in Holland.
The rain has barely ceased in Germany today, with terrifying spray cast up on the motorways forming a near-impenetrable mist or fog. The lorries of Europe pound along at high speed, and their drivers are up above this nuage... us mere mortals in cars can only pray we will survive the next mile or so. We were aiming for Hamelin (however it is spelled), but have only reached Munster. I know now, when you see 'medieval city', this means 'ring road'. Still the place is noticeably circular, has a fine reconstructed Dom (cathedral) in the middle, several other old churches, and a university. We are in the Ibis hotel tonight, as it has a secure underground carpark. The entrance to this carpark is in a lift straight down from the pavement, very smart.
We wandered around, in the rain, with macs, umbrella, waxed hat, etc. and did some shopping, and have just eaten in a sort of pub-cafe local, again a place I would recommend if you come here. Delicious freshly cooked food, great atmosphere, lots of local people eating, cheerful service, and not an ounce of chic anywhere. It's called Restaurant Kopi-Stuben, Bergstrasse 73, 48143 Munster. I can't do umlauts on this machine, so you will have to excuse me that.
I was cross with my chauffeur for not letting me stop and photograph houses in our last bit of Belgium, which I thought was the deal, but maybe I can do that on the way home. Houses in Holland are also quite interesting but much less whacky... in my experience the Dutch have no problems knowing who they are, so they don't need to make any kind of statement in their domestic architecture. This confidence is even more marked as you move into Germany. But we did see some marvellous buildings in Belgium around Venlo, with their extraordinary front gardens.... (think Tesco landscaping but done with utmost loving care). We passed several tree nurseries with all this shrubbery being raised in straight lines. Gardens in Holland and Germany are also ok, and very different from English gardens, but again not as whacky as the Belgian ones.
We picknicked in Germany by a little river, (the Nier). We bought a map of Denmark at a decent scale, but had to wait till the motorway to find a readable roadmapbook of Germany. The AA map of Europe is a disgrace... it is expensive and useless. being at such an unreadable scale it gives you a migraine, anxiety and anger all at the same time. NEVER buy it.
Today's missive is probably a bit bland, as I am tired and fed up. This was meant to be a camping holiday and so far the weather has been unrelentingly cold, dark, windy and very very wet. (I know this is nothing compared to Pakistan's experience but it IS August and the temperataure has barely risen above 17 degrees). What's more we are having to use hotels which are eating into our budget.
One compensation has been to buy some stuff for my cousins' children, little presents and stuff which I hope they will like. Tomorrow, we head east and north, to Hamelin and then perhaps up into Schleswig-Holstein. Being off the motorways is much more interesting of course, but takes a long time and we have a fair distance to cover. The map of Denmark is very temting.