As my plans for a visit to London are thickening and I’ve already talked a bit about travelling this year (Most ridiculous experiences, Worst experience), is it high time that I catch up with my travel logs, so here is the first part from my Journey through a bit of Germany 2014.
A different experience
That year I thought I’d try something different by travelling a part of my Journey by myself. I wanted to experience what it was like to not be confined to anyone not willing/able to participate or waiting for me to pick them up/drop them off.
So, what did I do?
For the first three days of my vacation I selected destinations for the end of the day (2 youth hostels and my aunt’s place in this case) and just stopped everywhere I felt like stopping along the way.
Through this I wanted to explore all those things that I had noticed while driving by but never had the chance to actually look at. And it felt like I stopped a lot of times.
Destination: Youth Hostel Ravensbrück, Fürstenberg/Havel
Stop 1: Prillwitz
When you drive down the B96 (B = Bundesstraße/Federal Highway) you see quite a bunch of brown signs beside the road; each one advertising a local cultural place. The first one I saw was for the Jagdschloss (Hunting Lodge) Prillwitz and the Schloss (Manor) Hohenzieritz, so I made a detour.
Before I go into more details about this stop I’d like to add a few thoughts on the translation:
In German we often use the word Schloss to describe different larger buildings that were mainly inhabited by nobles and the actual translation would be castle. However, most people associate castles with high towers and maybe even draw bridges and stuff, but most of the German castles aren’t like that. So in case of the Jagdschloss I chose the term Hunting Lodge, while the other one feels more like a Manor. If you know a better term to describe those two, let me know!
Arriving in Prillwitz I first looked for a place to park my car, which I found beside the old church. It is a simple and quite shabby looking church, but with the coat of arms on the benches, grave plates and the carved mural (?) behind the altar it was still quite charming.
Still, my actual goal was to take a look at the Jagdschloss, but unfortunately it was closed and I could only take a glimpse at it through the trees and hedges. It didn’t look as fancy as I would have expected and I didn’t like that it was closed.
Realising that, I went a bit alongside the area of the Lodge and found a lake behind it. Just in the middle of it was an artificial island that was buzzing with birds that I do believe were either seagulls or cormorants.
After that I turned back to the road and went on to
Stop 2: Hohenzieritz
The Manor in Hohenzieritz used to be the residence of the (grand) duke Karl (Charles) II. of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and his family, but he himself wasn’t really what made this place important. It was his daughter Luise (Louise) whose name is still deeply interwoven with it.
Luise was not just a duchess, she married beyond her rank and became the wife of King Friedrich Wilhelm I. of Preußen (King Frederick William I. of Prussia). She was a well loved ruler and her death at 34 was devastating to her family. Therefore her father created a memorial in her death room in the Manor.
You can still visit the memorial and some other rooms of the Manor for a small entrance fee , but most of it is used by an office of the Müritz National Park. In an adjacent building you could also see the remains of the exhibition from the anniversary of the memorial in 2013. I looked at both things and at some point I felt a bit ridiculed by the repetitive description. I understood after the first time that there was the memorial of Queen Louise of Prussia in Hohenzieritz, I didn’t need to be told that it was for several more times …
Behind the Manor there is a huge park. It is quite beautiful and tranquil and I would have liked to explore it more, but as the sun was burning down on me and the distances seemed rather far I only looked at a few places. While walking through it I thought about taking my parents – especially my Mum – there, as I am certain they would (have) enjoy(ed) it. For a moment I rested in one of the rose hedge constructions and made notes for this post, while enjoying the quietness of the place – except the buzzing of bees and bumblebees.
Stop 3: Weisdin
After that I returned to the main road and continued down and made couple of minor stops. In Weisdin I wanted to look at the church – I really like looking at churches -, but it was closed and instead I went a bit down a side road and found a small Manor at the end of a pebble road. That one still seems to be in private usage, as I saw sun loungers in the backyard that also had direct access to a lake.
Also beside a lake was one of the many private accommodations you have in the area. Whenever I drove by I saw the sign advertising it and wondered who would actually stay in a place that close to the road and honestly a bit creepy looking. Curious as I am, I stopped and asked what exactly they were offering. Confused at first the owner was quite nice and showed me the small bungalows that looked directly onto the lake behind the house. The bungalows reminded me of the way most Lauben (small houses in gardens, but not as big as the translation summer house might suggest) I know are build. For 5 to 15 Euro you could rent them and even get a rowing boat as well. If anyone is interesting in such a thing: Just let me know. 😉
Stop 4: Neustrelitz
Another town that is deeply associated with Louise and her family is Neustrelitz which not just has the Neustrelitz Manor (Schloss Neustrelitz), with the Manor Park (Schlosspark), but also several other places I did not visit.
What I did take a look at – or at least tried – was the cemetery church, but too many people were lingering around and I only admired the architecture from the outside. Interestingly the cemetery itself seems to have quite a number of mausoleums or buildings similar to that.
In the end I went on and decided to get some lunch in the restaurant „Am Glammi“ (At the Glammi; with Glammi being a shortened nickname for the Glambecker See/Lake) overlooking the Glambecker Lake. Unusual for me I even decided to sit on the porch and order a fish dish. I can’t say I regret that decision. 😉
Stop 4 1/2: Godendorf (Ortsteil/district: Scheidemühle)
The next stop wasn’t really a stop but more of a not-wanting-to-get-lost-and-finding-something-funny-instead kind of thing. I actually wanted to reach the Müritz National Park, but the entrance didn’t want to appear before me, though through this I came across the Hilly & Billy Town ranch.
At first I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the entrance sign to a ranch in the middle of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern that was something I did not expect to encounter.
So I had to stop.
I parked in the ranches parking lot and went on to take a look around. Soon I was greeted not just by funny signs (see picture), but also a quite nice and large dog (I think some kind of Dogge/Mastiff?).
Soon my looking around was discovered as I got closer to the inn on the grounds and – I think it was the owner – chatted me up, asking if they could help me.
She told me that you could rent bungalows on the ground, participate in riding lessons or ride a pony or bring your own horse for tours. Pretty convenient for a holiday for a rider. Though not for me then. 😀
Stop 5: Fürstenberg/Havel
For quite some time now the church in Fürstenberg had caught my attention while passing by it on our way to Berlin. From the outside it looks stunning, as it thrones above the market place and now I finally had the chance to see it for myself.
As I needed to drive a bit further to reach the hostel I parked my car in a parking lot near the turn and walked towards the church. In that short distance I could personally experience why the inhabitants of Fürstenberg want the highway (B96) out of their town. It’s no fun walking beside the road on a small walkway while trucks pass by directly beside you… For twenty years the initiative „B96 raus!“ tries to get rid of the highway with little to no success and for their sakes, I really hope they will succeed one day.
After a short walk in the sun I finally made it to the church. I enjoyed the view from the outside for a moment, circling around it before I entered through the main gate.
Well, I was quite disappointed.
On the inside the church tries to be semi-modern. It has a few abstract paintings and murals, modern chandeliers and a simple wooden organ.
Not at all what I was expecting. 🙁
To overcome this I got myself some (self-made) ice cream and went to the harbour, sat down on a bench and ranted at my Mum over the phone …
After that little break I drove to the Hostel and checked in before I went to my last stop.
Stop 6: Himmelpfort
Remember when I told you about writing to Santa when I was a kid? Well, Himmelpfort is the place I wrote to.
But long before Santa settled here there were monks that not just founded the local monastery, but also gave the village its name.
As two monks stood on a nearby hill they looked up to where Himmelpfort now lies and were awestruck by the light falling down before them and declared that this certainly was the gate to heaven (Himmelpfort or Himmelspforte means Heavens‘ Gate or in Latin: coeli porta). And thus they founded their monastery and from it and around it the town was build.
By now there is only the ruin of the monastery left. Beside it now stands a church, a bell and even a small labyrinth. Within the church you can find the Coat of Arms of the family von Trott (Trottsche Wappen) and according to the flyer from the church its origin is similar to the legend of the Merseburger Raven that I mentioned in one of my stories over at DF.PP Entertainment, but with a nicer twist as the people who were accused of stealing the family jewellery were not killed, like the ones from the other legend. Still, both families decided to include the thievish animal into their Coat of Arms.
Nearby is also a lake that has some more stories to it regarding a greedy fisherman, but I wont go into more detail here.
All in all a quite a beautiful side this whole area.
But let’s get to the interesting stuff: The Santa Clause Post Office.
The Post Office consist of a letterbox outside of the main house which includes offices for the helpers, a restaurant and I believe some rooms for travellers. In the yard behind it there is Santa’s House and I really couldn’t resist taking a look around.
The house is stuffed with Christmas trinkets, memorabilia and all thinks Chrismas-y. To see this in the summer was a bit weird, but well, I chose to go there that time of the year. 😉
In the winter months there are all kinds of events and a Santa will be around for visitors, but of course not during the summer.
So after I got some refreshment I followed a couple of elderly people into a herb garden nearby and saw one of the largest Insect Hotels I ever came across – needless to say I got my dad a small one for Christmas that year.
Stop 7: Ravensbrück
After exploring Himmelpfort I went back to the Hostel and already did some first exploring on the side of the KZ (concentration camp), but I’ll talk about this experience in a separate post.
This concludes day one of this part of the Journey. I hope it wont take me that long to get the other parts up. I decided to split it here as the log was already quite long and the other days would have made it even longer.
What you can expect from the upcoming posts:
- The KZ Ravensbrück
- Day 2: Fürstenberg -> Radis
- Day 3: Radis -> Halle (Saale)
- (The rest of the Journey: Halle, Koblenz, Kassel)