On the 27th June after many roadwork hold ups and some heavy rain we arrived in Schwetzingen near Heidelberg to Maurice’s cousin Margarete and her husband Philipp for a few days. They had moved into their new house ten days before but it was already pretty well organised. We had a nice few days with them and two of their children and their spouses and babies.
Schwetzingen is a very orderly and pretty town with a famous Summer Palace in it’s centre. We didn’t expect the vast and beautifully manicured gardens at the rear of the castle. It was a rainy couple of days but we were lucky to have some sunshine in between the showers and we were able to take a long walk around the palace gardens.
We had an appointment on the 1st July at “Frankana” in Marktbreit to fit our flyscreen door on the van. This was a continuing saga….We bought the flyscreen over the internet and had it shipped to England to be fitted when we returned there last year. When we got there they had sent the wrong one – for a left hand drive vehicle contrary to all the information we had sent them. We paid for this to be sent back to Holland and they then sent the correct one (or so we thought) to Italy where we had someone lined up in Roccamandolfi to fit it. Unfortunately they had sent the wrong manual with the door (for a mercedes not a Fiat) so after many emails a correct manual was emailed to us. The carpenter could still not fit the screen as he said that it was not the correct one. We therefore carted the screen in a box in the back of the van through Italy to Germany where it was then be fitted in Frankana’s workshop at Marktbreit. When we arrived the technicians there told us that it was not correct for our model van but that they would try and make some modifications to make it fit. They had success after a few modifications with German efficiency and know how! We could then continue on our travels up to Lubeck in the north of Germany.

It took us 8 hours to get to Lubeck with many traffic hold ups due to roadworks, a couple of accidents and rain. We had at least sunlight until nearly 10pm so we did not have to drive in the dark. We met up with our friends on the Saturday morning for a sumptious breakfast in Ruth’s lovely appartment in an old Lubeck house with very high ceilings and ornate door frames and furniture.
It rained most of the day and after lunch we had to stop in at the University eye clinic to check out the bleed in Maurice’s eye which was eye strain and he was advised not to drive for a couple of days which was fine as we were with friends for a few days. We had dinner at a nice little Vietnamese restaurant. There was no traffic on the roads with the final of the European soccer between Germany and Italy so most were glued to the TV’s. Germany won so there were many German flags flying from cars in the town.

On the Sunday a group of us went to the “Marane” fish restaurant in the for DDR for lunch and then had a drive around the countryside where we found a group of Rheas (the Germans call them Nandus) which looked at first like small emus however they have a pointy beak and different feathers. The feral community in northern Germany were bred for meat but some escaped. They originally came from South America.

We had an afternoon tea in the garden of an old farmhouse after we saved a small dog on the road which came running towards us in the middle of the road. The poor thing was hyper ventilating and exhausted and she jumped into the car straight away and didn’t want to move so we drove her to the next village where no one knew her but two nice men said they would take care of her until they could notify her owners. Luckily she had a little capsule around her neck with their name and
number. They must have been out looking for her as there was no answer when we tried to contact them. We later found out that the owners had put garden furniture away and a clap of thunder had scared the dog and she took off and we had found her on the road about 5kms away. Our friend later contacted the owners and they were so grateful that we had picked her up. A few kilometres later we saw a tiny kitten in the middle of the road but it luckily took off before it could be run over. It
was an eventful day.

We were collected by our friend Katrin who took us to see the Ploener castle and some huge land holdings with enormous houses. The weather had not improved much but we could at least sit outside and enjoy lunch over the Ploener lake at “Seeprinz” before driving through the former DDR at Meklenburg where we had coffee and cake (a German institution) at a lovely outdoor cafe. We stayed the night in her appartment in Eutin and and it was a humid evening but overcast.
We followed the Baltic sea to the Timmendorfer beach area where we shopped a bit, ate Chinese run by Vietnamese and after a heavy downpour Katrin drove us to Travemunde where we caught the train back to Lubeck.

Our first stop on Tuesday was the Niederecker marzipan factory shop after we had left the camping ground and we drove back to Travemunde to see another friend Baerbel where we had another delicious fish lunch before driving to Lohne near Bremen on the 6th July.

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