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On the Road: Through a bit of Germany 2014 – Pt. 2: KZ Ravensbrück

Lies auf Deutsch

With the anniversary of the beginning of WW2 today and regional elections, where brown-ish parties have a far too high chance of joining the state parliament, approaching, I decided that it was about time that I posted this second part 2 of my Journey through a bit of Germany 2014. If you remember from part 1 did I try to do something different and selected destinations for the end of the day and stopped wherever I felt like it on my way there. Unlike the first part is this just about one stop, as it deserves its own post.

Day 1/2 – Stop 7: KZ Ravensbrück

The exhibition hall and official entrance
The exhibition hall and official entrance

As part of my Journey Through a bit of Germany 2014 I made a stop at the Memorial for the Woman’s Concentration Camp (KonzentrationslagerKZ) Ravensbrück near Fürstenberg/Havel.
Like I told you with my last post, did I want to explore a bit on my own and Ravensbrück became my first major destination for that and I had made arrangements for accommodation there. After I arrived during the evening, I got my keys and had a brief look inside my room before I set off to Himmelpfort (see last post). When I returned it was still early, but already too late to properly have a look around the exhibitions, so I just strolled a bit through the grounds instead.

Simple yet horrifying

All around the area they have small and large markers telling you what a part used to be. One of the first that caught my attention was for a small way between two buildings. It doesn’t look like anything special, just a plain, small way, broud enough to stand in, that for me became one of the places I felt tears welling up inside me: This simple way was used for executing hundreds of women (“Erschießungsgang” in German). I took a photograph to show you the contradiction of this, but I deleted it, as it didn’t seem appropriate to keep.

Just beside the way is a building that didn’t look like anything special either that housed the crematorium. Three iron – I guess – ovens standing in line, silently telling of their former use. I am honestly one of those people that couldn’t care less about other people’s – at least those I never knew – miseries, but I was barely able to step inside that room. I only had one foot inside and I retracted it as soon as I had seen everything from the door. My deepest respect for those who were able to get inside to put paper crane chains, flowers and other things on the fence that cut off the room for the audience. I couldn’t bear it to get any closer.

A little behind the crematorium is a prison complex. Again I only took a few steps inside to see that it was part of an exhibition and decided to look at it the next day. Just with this short look I already had a feeling of dread and the need to get out again, before disturbing the place any further.

A view towards Fürstenberg. A statue is standing on a cobbled ground before the lake.
The look towards Fürstenberg

Right beside the complex and across from the crematorium starts a long wall with iron lettered names of several different countries. In front of it is a field filled with small gray pebbles and signs claiming:

“This was the place where the gas chamber stood that took the lives of thousands of women and children from more than twenty different countries”

Four memorial plates are put onto what now became a grave field. The first two telling what I wrote above, the third remembering the Sinti and Roma and the fourth remembering the Jewish victims. The field stretches as long as the wall with the country names that beside Germany include: France, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Great Britain, Spain, Romania, Hungary, Poland and more.

Behind the field is a wall that closes off an actual graveyard, but I only had a look at it from afar.

If you think the contradiction of the way was bad then I probably shouldn’t mention that the first picture on the side is right across from the grave field. A beautiful lake side with Fürstenberg in the background. It is partly morbid, partly fascinating how something like that can be at a place so horrible.

Not really a walk in the park…

When I had looked at the prison complex I had seen a field behind it and on my way back I went off to look at a few more buildings and found the entrance to it. Across a vast field that took about twenty minutes (This is about the time that past from when I last talked about the time with a woman from the staff until I checked it later; it makes more sense that only so little had past, but it felt way longer) to cross, lay the ruins and dug out remnants of the other complexes: Working offices, canteen, prison blocks, roll call area and right at the end a dressmaking shop, one of the few buildings that are still standing. Unlike my initial intention to only have a look at a couple of signs I walked all the way to the last building, trying to not let the bizarreness of the situation and the weird feeling I had, get to me. The field is covered with different kinds of pebbles: Small dark ones marking a pathway, grayish larger ones everything else. Where ever there used to be a building there is now a depression in the ground and there are many (about twenty in total if I remember the sign correctly).

A look at the lake from the entrance
A look at the lake from the entrance building

When I reached the dressmaking shop I had a look at my watch, as I knew the exhibitions would close around six. As I still had about half an hour left until then I went inside and was greeted by creepy statues, created by an artist to symbolize the different inmates. With an even stranger feeling I crossed the whole hallway as well and only had a peek into the adjacent rooms, not daring to get inside. With a feeling as if someone would lock me in any minute I went back to the entrance as soon as possible.

As I didn’t want to return the way I came I left the path and walked behind the building towards were this walk had initially started. Shortly towards the end even came grass again where I could walk beside ruins of other buildings, like a laundry.

When I had left the field I passed a sign that told me that what was around me – the garages – were used by Soviet soldiers after they had freed the camp until 1977 and I remembered my dad telling me that when he was here during his army-time they had to pass these soldiers.

Life beside the camp

Other buildings used by the Soviets were the so-called “Führerhäuser” (Führer houses) that stand on small hills overlooking the camp. Initially the male officers – and I think their families – in charge of the camp lived in them, now one of them  holds an exhibition about the houses‘ history. The inside of the house was far from what it had originally been like, as the Soviets refurbished and remodelled the rooms to house, I think, up to a dozen men. You could still see the original style – that was frankly quite beautiful with lots of wooden ornaments, but not everywhere.

Between them, the barracks and the field is also a large house with a changing exhibition. I can’t remember what it was about when I was there, I kind of only skimmed through it. The building used to be an office I believe – and it’s still partly used as such.

A bit outside of the ground stand the housings for the Guard women, one of them now holds an exhibition about their way of living, their work and their crimes and the others are part of the Youth Hostel, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

All of these buildings are part of the camp, but yet parted from it through distance, walls and gates, showing how different the life must have been for inmates and guards.

Personal impression

If I haven’t overlooked anything then the whole area holds six permanent and one changing exhibition, but during the night I decided to only look through the one in the entrance building and after that the three exhibitions mentioned above.

Walking the ground, with nearly no one else to see was strange and unlike my intention to just explore this on my own, I really would have liked to have someone with me. Though I doubt that even then I would have dared to look at the exhibition that would provide me with faces for the victims, I don’t think I could bear that knowledge.

One of the Guard Houses
One of the Guard Houses

While I wrote the draft for this I sat on my bed in the Youth Hostel (Jugendherberge) I stayed at for the night, in a house that used to house the female personnel of the camp, a Guard House. It was not until I woke up and realized that it was half past Midnight – directly within the ghost hour – and my inability to find sleep again that I decided to type this down right away. Even while my Laptop was making its usual noises I could still hear the unusual ones from outside: Wind or frogs/toads that sounded like broken screams, a dogs bark that reminded me of shouted commands and well the general quietness of the place. It already felt strange from the moment I settled into my room, but during the night it became worse and even though it was nearly half past two I was wide awake and unwilling to return to sleep until I gave in around four.

I’m glad that I cut out Sachsenhausen as second major destination. If I already want someone with me here I doubt going there would have been any different.

Important Heritage

In a lot of German schools it is mandatory to visit at least one Concentration Camp – not mine, at least not my class. While I was there, there were at least two school groups, though one of them was probably a bit too young to understand everything (sixth grade maybe?). They ran around playing hide and seek between the Guard Houses, laughed and were generally quite noisy and that just felt wrong for a place like this.

Students have to get an understanding for history and memorials like this, that keep it alive, are an essential part of this. With all the stuff happening in the world, especially the rising influence of brown-ish parties, it’s more and more important that people learn about our past and most of all learn from it to not let anything like it happen again.

On a completely different note: A couple of KZs were also in the news recently as they ordered that you should not be able to catch Pokémon on their grounds. Hunting Koffings or Weezings (Gas-Based Pokémon) or the Gastly-line (Ghost Pokémon) there, is pretty morbid and inappropriate, but also a bit ironic and fitting. It could encourage people to go there, but most would probably ignore the learning aspect of the trip and simply concentrate on the catching.

Well, this concludes this part of the Journey.
Have you ever visited a KZ? What were your experiences?
Do you think it’s a good idea to keep such places as a memorial?
What you can expect from the upcoming posts:

  • Day 2: Fürstenberg -> Radis
  • Day 3: Radis -> Halle (Saale)
  • (The rest of the Journey: Halle, Koblenz, Kassel)

Stay tuned. I hope it wont take me that long to get the other parts up.
Read in English

Mit dem heutigen Jahrestag des Beginns des 2. Weltkrieges  und den Landtagswahlen, bei denen bräunliche Parteien eine viel zu hohe Chance haben, dem Landtag beizutreten, fand ich, dass es an der Zeit ist, diesen zweiten Teil 2 meiner Reise durch Deutschland 2014 zu veröffentlichen. Wenn ihr euch an Teil 1 erinnert, habe ich versucht, etwas anderes zu tun und ausgewählte Ziele für das Ende eines Tages auszuwählen und habe auf dem Weg dorthin, da angehalten, wo mir gefiel. Im Gegensatz zum ersten Teil ist dies nur ein einziger Stopp, da er seinen eigenen Beitrag verdient.

Tag 1/2 – Stop 7: KZ Ravensbrück

Das Ausstellungsgebäude und offizieller Eingang. Auf einem Containerähnlichen Gebäude stehen die Worte "Ravensbrück Gedenkstätte Memorial" Eine Treppe führt zu ihm hinauf.
Die Ausstellungshalle und der offizielle Eingang

Im Rahmen meiner Reise durch Deutschland 2014 machte ich einen Zwischenstopp an der Gedenkstätte für das Konzentrationslager (KZ) Ravensbrück bei Fürstenberg/Havel.
Wie ich schon in meinem letzten Beitrag gesagt habe, wollte ich ein wenig auf eigene Faust erkunden und Ravensbrück wurde mein erstes großes Reiseziel dafür und ich hatte mir eine Unterkunft in der Nähe besorgt. Nachdem ich abends angekommen war, holte ich meine Schlüssel und schaute kurz in mein Zimmer, bevor ich mich auf den Weg nach Himmelpfort machte (siehe letzter Beitrag). Als ich zurückkam, war es noch früh, aber schon zu spät, um mich in den Ausstellungen richtig umzusehen, sodass ich stattdessen nur ein wenig über das Gelände schlenderte.

Einfach und doch erschreckend

Überall auf dem Gelände haben sie kleine und große Markierungen aufgestellt, die einem sagen, was ein Teil früher war. Einer der ersten, der meine Aufmerksamkeit erregte, war ein kleiner Gang zwischen zwei Gebäuden. Es sieht nicht nach irgendetwas Besonderem aus, nur ein schlichter, kleiner Weg, der  breit genug, um darin zu stehen, der für mich zu einem der Orte wurde, an denen mir die Tränen aufstiegen: Dieser einfache Gang wurden Hunderte von Frauen hingerichtet („Erschießungsgang“). Ich habe ein Foto gemacht, um den Widerspruch zu zeigen, aber ich habe es gelöscht, da es mir nicht angemessen erschien, es zu behalten.

Gleich daneben befindet sich ein Gebäude, das ebenso wie nichts Besonderes aussah und in dem sich das Krematorium befand. Drei Eisenöfen – glaub ich – stehen in einer Reihe und erzählen leise von ihrer früheren Verwendung. Ich gehöre ehrlich gesagt zu jenen Menschen, denen das Elend anderer Menschen egal ist – zumindest jenen, die ich nie kannte -, aber ich war kaum in der Lage diesen Raum zu betreten. Ich hatte nur einen Fuß drin und zog ihn wieder raus, sobald ich alles von der Tür aus gesehen hatte. Mein tiefster Respekt für diejenigen, die es geschafft haben, hineinzugehen, um Papierkranich-Ketten, Blumen und andere Dinge auf den Zaun zu legen, der den Raum für das Publikum abschneidet. Ich konnte es nicht ertragen, näher heranzugehen.

Etwas hinter dem Krematorium befindet sich ein Gefängniskomplex. Auch hier machte ich nur ein paar Schritte hinein, um zu sehen, dass es Teil einer Ausstellung war, und beschloss, sie am nächsten Tag anzuschauen. Gerade bei diesem kurzen Blick hatte ich schon ein Gefühl von Angst und dem Bedürfnis, wieder rauszugehen, bevor ich den Ort weiter störte.

Der Blick nach Fürstenberg. Eine Statue steht auf einem gepflasterten Platz vor dem See.
Der Ausblick Richtung Fürstenberg

Direkt neben dem Komplex und gegenüber dem Krematorium beginnt eine lange Mauer mit eisernen Namen verschiedener Länder. Davor befindet sich ein Feld, gefüllt mit kleinen grauen Kieselsteinen und Schildern, die sagen:

„Hier stand die Gaskammer, die tausenden Frauen und Kindern aus mehr als zwanzig verschiedenen Ländern das Leben nahm.“

Vier Gedenktafeln werden auf das heutige Grabfeld gelegt. Die ersten beiden erzählen, was ich oben geschrieben habe, die dritte erinnert an die Sinti und Roma und die vierte an die jüdischen Opfer. Das Feld erstreckt sich so lange, wie die Mauer mit den Ländernamen, die neben Deutschland auch Frankreich, Niederlande, Dänemark, Norwegen, Großbritannien, Spanien, Rumänien, Ungarn, Polen und andere Länder trägt.
Hinter dem Feld ist eine Mauer, die einen echten Friedhof abschließt, aber ich habe ihn mir nur von Weitem angesehen.

Wenn ihr denkt, dass der Widerspruch des Weges schlimm war, dann sollte ich wohl nicht erwähnen, dass das erste Bild auf der Seite genau gegenüber des Grabfelds ist. Eine wunderschöner Seeblick mit Fürstenberg im Hintergrund. Es ist teils morbid, teils faszinierend, wie so etwas an einem so schrecklichen Ort sein kann.

Nicht wirklich ein Spaziergang im Park …

Als ich mir den Gefängniskomplex angesehen hatte, hatte ich ein Feld dahinter gesehen und auf dem Rückweg ging ich los, um mir ein paar weitere Gebäude anzusehen und fand den Eingang dazu. Über ein riesiges Feld verteilt, dessen Überquerung ungefähr zwanzig Minuten dauerte (Das ist ungefähr die Zeit, die vergangen ist, von dem Zeitpunkt an als ich das letzte Mal mit einer Frau vom Personal über die Zeit sprach, bis ich sie später überprüfte; es macht mehr Sinn, dass nur so wenig vergangen war, aber es fühlte sich viel länger an), lagen die Ruinen und ausgegrabene Reste von anderen Komplexen: Arbeiterbüros, Kantine, Gefängnisblocks, Appellplatz und gleich am Ende eine Schneiderei, eines der wenigen Gebäude, die noch stehen. Im Gegensatz zu meiner ursprünglichen Absicht, nur einen Blick auf ein paar Markierungen zu werfen, ging ich den ganzen Weg bis zum letzten Gebäude und versuchte, die Bizarrheit der Situation und das seltsame Gefühl, das ich hatte, nicht an mich heran zu lassen. Das Feld ist mit verschiedenen Arten von Kieselsteinen bedeckt: Kleine dunkle, die einen Weg markieren, graue, größere, alles andere. Wo immer es früher ein Gebäude gab, gibt es jetzt eine Vertiefung im Boden und es gibt viele (insgesamt etwa zwanzig, wenn ich mich richtig erinnere).

Blick auf den See vom Eingang aus. Viel grün.
Ein Blick auf den See vom Eingangsgebäude aus

Als ich in der Schneiderei ankam, schaute ich auf die Uhr, denn ich wusste, dass die Ausstellungen um sechs schließen würden. Da mir bis dahin noch etwa eine halbe Stunde Zeit blieb, ging ich hinein und wurde von gruseligen Statuen begrüßt, die von einem Künstler geschaffen wurden, um die verschiedenen Insassen zu symbolisieren. Mit einem noch merkwürdigeren Gefühl überquerte ich auch den ganzen Flur und warf nur einen Blick in die angrenzenden Räume und wagte es nicht, hineingehen. Mit dem Gefühl, als ob mich jemand jede Minute einsperren würde, ging ich so schnell wie möglich zum Eingang zurück.

Da ich den Weg, den ich gekommen war wieder zurückgehen wollte, verließ ich den Weg und ging hinter dem Gebäude in Richtung des Ortes, an dem dieser Spaziergang ursprünglich begonnen hatte. Kurz gegen Ende kam sogar wieder Gras, wo ich neben Ruinen anderer Gebäude, wie einer Wäscherei, gehen konnte.

Als ich das Feld verlassen hatte, ging ich an einem Schild vorbei, das mir sagte, dass das, was um mich herum war – die Garagen – von sowjetischen Soldaten bis 1977 benutzt wurden, nachdem sie das Lager befreit hatten, und ich erinnerte mich das mein Vater mir erzählt hatte, dass sie, als er während seiner Armeezeit hier war, diese Soldaten passieren mussten.

Leben neben dem Lager

Andere Gebäude, die von den Sowjets genutzt wurden, waren die sogenannten „Führerhäuser„, die auf kleinen Hügeln über das Lager hinwegsehen. Ursprünglich bewohnt von männlichen Offizieren – und ich glaube, ihrer Familien -, die für das Lager zuständig waren, ist jetzt in einem von ihnen eine Ausstellung über die Geschichte der Häuser. Das Innere des Hauses war weit entfernt von dem, was es ursprünglich war, da die Sowjets die Räume renovierten und umgestalteten, um, glaube ich, bis zu einem Dutzend Männer unterzubringen. Man konnte noch den ursprünglichen Stil sehen – das war offen gesagt recht hübsch mit vielen Holzornamenten, aber nicht überall.

Zwischen ihnen, der Kaserne und dem Feld befindet sich auch ein großes Haus mit einer wechselnden Ausstellung. Ich kann mich nicht mehr daran erinnern, worum es ging, als ich dort war, ich habe es irgendwie nur überflogen. Das Gebäude war früher ein Büro, glaube ich – und es wird auch heute noch teilweise als solches genutzt.

Etwas außerhalb des Geländes stehen die Unterkünfte für die Wärterinnen, eine von ihnen zeigt jetzt eine Ausstellung über deren Lebensweise, ihre Arbeit und ihre Verbrechen und die anderen sind Teil der Jugendherberge, aber dazu komme ich gleich.

All diese Gebäude sind Teil des Lagers, aber dennoch durch Distanz, Mauern und Tore von einander getrennt und zeigen, wie unterschiedlich das Leben für Häftlinge und Wärter gewesen sein muss.

Persönlicher Eindruck

Wenn ich nichts übersehen habe, dann beherbergt das ganze Areal sechs Dauer- und eine Wechselausstellung, aber in der Nacht entschied ich mich, nur die im Eingangsgebäude und danach die drei oben genannten Ausstellungen anzusehen.

Es war seltsam, über das Gelände zu gehen als fast niemandem sonst zu sehen war und im Gegensatz zu meiner Absicht, dies alleine zu erforschen, hätte ich wirklich gerne jemanden bei mir gehabt. Obwohl ich bezweifle, dass ich es selbst dann gewagt hätte, mir die Ausstellung anzusehen, die mir Gesichter für die Opfer gegeben hätte, glaube ich nicht, dass ich dieses Wissen ertragen könnte.

Eines der Wärterinnenhäuser. In der Mitte sind hölzerne Balkone, die sich über drei Fenster verteilen. Links und rechts davon jeweils ein Fenster mit Holzklappen.
Eines der Wärterinnenhäuser

Während ich den Entwurf hierzu schrieb, saß ich auf meinem Bett in der Jugendherberge, in der ich übernachtete, in einem Haus, in dem früher das weibliche Personal des Lagers untergebracht war, einem Wärterinnnenhaus. Erst als ich aufwachte und merkte, dass es halb nach Mitternacht war – direkt in der Geisterstunde – und meine Unfähigkeit, wieder Schlaf zu finden, entschied ich mich, dies sofort zu tippen. Noch obwohl mein Laptop seine üblichen Geräusche machte, konnte ich die ungewöhnlichen von draußen hören: Wind oder Frösche/Kröten, die wie gebrochene Schreie klangen,  Hundegebell, das mich an gebrüllte Befehle erinnerte und die allgemeine Ruhe des Ortes. Es fühlte sich schon von dem Moment an seltsam an, als ich in mein Zimmer kam, aber in der Nacht wurde es schlimmer und obwohl es fast halb zwei war, war ich hellwach und nicht bereit, wieder einzuschlafen, bis ich gegen vier Uhr nachgab.

Ich bin froh, dass ich Sachsenhausen als zweites großes Ziel gestrichen habe. Wenn ich hier schon jemanden bei mir  haben wollte, dann bezweifle ich, dass es dort anders gewesen wäre.

Wichtiges Erbe

In vielen deutschen Schulen ist es Pflicht, mindestens ein Konzentrationslager zu besuchen – nicht meiner, zumindest nicht meine Klasse. Während ich dort war, gab es mindestens zwei Schulgruppen, obwohl eine von ihnen wahrscheinlich etwas zu jung war, um alles zu verstehen (sechste Klasse vielleicht?). Sie liefen herum und spielten Verstecken zwischen den Wärterinnenhäusern, lachten und waren im Allgemeinen ziemlich laut und das fühlte sich für einen Ort wie diesen einfach falsch an.

Schüler müssen ein Verständnis für Geschichte entwickeln und solche Denkmäler, die sie am Leben erhalten, sind ein wesentlicher Bestandteil davon. Mit all den Dingen, die in der Welt geschehen, insbesondere dem zunehmenden Einfluss von bräunlichen Parteien, wird es immer wichtiger, dass die Menschen etwas über unsere Vergangenheit lernen und vor allem daraus lernen, damit sich soetwas nicht wiederholen kann.

Etwas ganz anderes: Ein paar KZs waren kürzlich auch in den Nachrichten, als sie forderten, dass man Pokémon auf ihrem Gelände nicht fangen darf. Die Jagd auf Smogon oder Smogmog (auf Gas basierende Pokémon) oder der Nebulak-Linie (Geister Pokémon) dort ist ziemlich morbid und unangemessen, aber auch ein wenig ironisch und passend. Es könnte die Leute ermutigen, dorthin zu gehen, aber die meisten würden wahrscheinlich den Lernaspekt des Ausflugs ignorieren und sich einfach auf das Fangen konzentrieren.

Nun, damit ist dieser Teil der Reise beendet.
Hast du schon einmal ein KZ besucht? Was waren deine Erfahrungen?
Hältst du es für eine gute Idee, solche Orte als Gedenkstätte zu behalten?
Was ihr von den kommenden Beiträgen erwarten können:

  • Tag 2: Fürstenberg -> Radis
  • Tag 3: Radis -> Halle (Saale)
  • (Den Rest der Reise: Halle, Koblenz, Kassel)

Bleibt dran. Ich hoffe, dass es nicht so lange dauert, bis ich die anderen Teile fertig habe.


On the Road: Through a bit of Germany 2014 – Pt. 1

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.

Day 1:

Start: Neubrandenburg
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)

Oben Parkplatzschild für "Hillly & Billy Town" Besucher. Darunter ein Schild: "Leinenzwang für Hunde und schlecht gelaunte Gäste.
On leash/lead area for dogs and grumpy guests.

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

Die Kirche in Fürstenberg vom Platz davor aus. Mehrere flache Türmen erhöhen sich stufenweise zu einem Spitzen.
Isn’t it stunning?

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)

Stay tuned.


On the Road: Giving a Lift

I’ve been meaning to write this post since 2012, but as I think it would fit the Blogparade „Travelling Glitches around the World“ (Reisepannen rund um den Globus) by Gecko Footsteps I decided to finally finish it – even though it happened in good ol‘ Germany. 😉
For quite some time now I’ve been taking passengers along for the longer distances between the parts of my Journeys and one encounter does definitely count as a Travelling Glitch in my book.
But before I get to that, let’s have a look at

How I get my passengers:

There are different platforms (everyone who ever looked for stuff like that knows which ones I mean, so I’m not going to advertise them) out there that give drivers the possibility to put up their route ad and offer a ride/lift for everyone that wants to travel the same direction in exchange for a little money.
Those interested can then contact the driver and arrange everything, like where to pick them up/drop them off; how to find each other, etc..
Usually this is easily done and most of the time the people I end up with are nice and interesting, but there are a few exceptions to that and one of which is what I want to talk about today.

A ridiculous idea

For some reason did I decide it would be a good idea to travel from Berlin to Hamburg and back to Greifswald/Neubrandenburg on the same day. Little did I know that this would turn out to be one of my worst decisions.
But why did I do that?
Well, as far as I remember was the whole ordeal on a Sunday.
The Saturday before that I was at a Powerwolf concert in Berlin and on Sunday we had a meeting from the Eventteam – the student group I was the head of at the time – in Hamburg that could not be postponed due to scheduling issues.
So basically: I didn’t have much choice, as I already had the tickets and the other thing couldn’t be changed either.
To at least get something out of this I then decided to pick up passengers from Berlin to Hamburg and from Hamburg to Greifswald on my way back.
So far so good, but then stuff happened.

Where are you now?

When I arrived in Hamburg I soon noticed that the original meeting point (Dammtor) was under construction, so I had no chance to park, let alone pick someone up there and decided to look for a different place.
After quite some time I found a parking deck a bit further away and told my would-be passengers that I parked in THAT parking deck (giving them the exact name that I can’t recall any more) and that they should try to get there instead (as new meeting point). I got a message from one of them saying that they found the train station nearby and I believe I forwarded that as well.
With the thought that everything was settled I then went to the meeting.
Unfortunately it dragged on a bit longer than I expected so even though I hurried I got to the meeting point later than I had said, but when I arrived no one was there. So I went to pick up the first person at the train station she had mentioned earlier.
At the same time I got a call from one of the others that wanted to know where I was and I told her that I was picking up the other passenger and that they should wait at the park-house.
As it turned out they thought I was in the parking deck near Dammtor (a parking deck near the original meeting point by a totally different name).
I told her that I didn’t park there and that I was on my way to pick them up, anyway.
If I remember correctly I got at least five more calls until I finally made it there and somehow found my way to them through the construction stuff.
This whole driving around (me missing a few turns along the way due to rising anxiety of what might happen when I arrive included) made us actually start an hour after the original plan.
The mood in the car was accordingly sour and down.

Are we there yet?

Time and again I tried to initiate a conversation, but I felt too… bad (for a lack of a better word) for making them wait so long(, even though it was only partly my fault) that I stopped trying at some point and just silently drove.
As it had been a long day and I usually made a stop there I took a break at a Fast Food restaurant along the way. Too anxious to say more I simply stopped and asked if anyone wanted to get something, because I was hungry and needed something to eat.
No one wanted anything, everyone stayed in the car and I had to fast eat my burger sitting behind the wheel and continue driving as soon as I was finished, abiding to the dark mood in the car.
A little while earlier – before the stop – one of the waiters asked me when we would arrive and I told her a certain time, which I later realized was a complete miscalculation on my part as the sat nav was set on my home and I didn’t include the dinner-stop.
Needless to say we arrived way later than I told them.
When we finally made it to Greifswald they all got out and I told them that they still owed me the 10(?) Euro for the ride, to which one of the waiters subsequently replied that due to the delayed start and the misinformation I gave them, she’d only give me five Euro and the others followed suit, intimidated by her.
At that point I was far too tired and exhausted to complain or tell them that most of it was their own fault, so I simply accepted it and just drove home – I didn’t feel like driving to Neubrandenburg, so I made a stop there and ranted at my Mum in the middle of the night about it.
With some distance to the whole thing I later pondered if it would be a good idea to create a dictionary Me-German/German-Me as I really did not understand how they could have misread my initial notification SMS…

The Morale of the Story

It’s been nearly four years and I still remember the dread and anxiety I felt during that ride and afterwards. It simply was the worst ride I had so far.
There was another one that turned ugly afterwards, when I got a bad rating by the girlfriend of a passenger for changing the destination after a discussion with BOTH passengers about what would suit them best and driving carefully (~100km/h on the motorway at times) after a Festival-weekend, but it wasn’t as bad as this one. At least the ride itself was great thanks to the other passenger that I’m still in contact with.
Long story short: You can have a lot of luck with the passengers you’re taking with you and it also can turn out badly (last minute drop out, language barriers, tense atmosphere,… ).
I certainly will keep posting my route ads if I drive alone, but after this and some other incidences I decided for myself that each of my route ads will include the following information:

  • The time is only an approximate value and can change due to different circumstances. In case of serious changes you’ll be notified.
  • If your English is better than your German: Please use it!

Better save than sorry, I guess?

On the Road: Through a bit of Germany 2013

Unlike 2012, where I wanted to visit a few people, last years journey through Germany was highly influenced by the festivals I attended.
It was long since decided that DarkFairy and I would be attending Wacken again and when Black Kat and Schnitzel proposed the idea of attending the M’era Luna as well I had to consider this carefully. As I mentioned before, Wacken always takes place in the first week of August, whereas the M’era is sometimes during the same weekend, other times during the one before or after that. This year it was the weekend after Wacken. Attending both festivals would mean I had to drive to the other side of Germany twice in a short amount of time. To avoid that I thought up a couple of possibilities to make it only one trip. Fortunately I again found people who could offer me a place to stay for a night or two and I could participate in both festivals.

Japan in Berlin and a surprise concert

The journey again started in Berlin (B) on the 26th of July where I would stay at Liathano’s place again. On my way to her I  picked up a member of the Black Pack (the group Kat, Schnitzel & Co belong to) that also wanted to get to Berlin and we spent the morning in my overheated car – it’s air conditioner is kind of non-existent. With delay, as I miscalculated the time – again – we made it to Germany’s capital without melting and I set her off at her intended destination before reaching mine.
For the evening Liathano had decided to take me to a shop called „Neo Tokyo„, where you could buy tons of Manga, Anime and gimmicks surrounding these things. I was a little bit disappointed at the offerings and Liathano seconded me on that, but said that it was probably just business running slow. It is after all a quite specialized shop and being in the middle of Berlin might not even help with that. After I had decided to only take a few volumes of different series‘ I’m reading we went on to find some food. Not far from the shop is the cáfe  „Mamecha“ where you could buy and eat a variety of Japanese food, alongside a vast amount of different drinks. Surely I didn’t miss out on that opportunity and Liathano had a lot of fun watching me try it.

Yummy and interesting food...

Yummy and interesting food…

If your interested I started with a Miso Soup that reminded me of, well, Sauerkraut. I also got a Bento box that included rice, extremely sweet omelette that had been roasted with horseradish (interesting how in German it is called „Meerrettich“ (Sea-radish) and in English it is horseradish XD), weirdly sweet spinach with sesame, Umeboshi (red, salty and sour cucumber-things) and Hijiki algae with carrot bits. And yes I eyed a couple of things in suspicion before I ate them…
We also discovered that you should be careful of mixing the (vanilla) ice and the soda of a Melon Crème Soda, it creates evil foam, but is still refreshing and tasty. (Kat and I also discovered a similar effect with a drink of Cider, Pils and currant liquor when we were in the pub for my birthday last month, but Kat was less lucky than me and her drink spilled quite a bit before it stopped.)
For the evening I met up wit Lil‘ Kat and a couple of her friends as we had planned to go to the „Wikingerbar“ (Viking bar) to catch up. But as it was full we decided to go to the „Pech & Schwefel“ (Pitch and Brimstone) around the corner instead. Which turned out to be a good decision. With a tankard of (in my case Beltane) Mead (sweet woodruff and meadowsweet)  and beer for the others we shared our stories and enjoyed the Hungarian Laterns, the live band that played that night. It was a nice surprise, but kept us from talking much more and as I was to depart early the next day I couldn’t stay that long either. Catching my (last) bus I returned to Liathano’s place.

Pen & Paper

Early in the morning I bid my goodbye to her and went on to meet up with my passengers for the route to Kassel (C). As I had a lot of stuff in my trunk for the festivals it wasn’t that easy to include other peoples luggage, luckily I am rather talented at real life Tetris. 😀 When we arrived in Kassel I managed to drop them off one of them right in time for her to catch a train to her place.
After both of them were gone I made my way to Nazgul, who was already eagerly awaiting me. Beforehand he had asked his DSA (Das Schwarze AugeThe Dark Eye) group if I could join them for their adventure that evening and they agreed. That time they however played a round for Earthdawn, so I couldn’t use the character I had created back in 2009 when I played with Fairy and her friends on our first meeting. In preparation of this I had to consider what I wanted to play and Nazgul provided me with several files of information the different races and professions.

My doodle of V'ashtay

My doodle of V’ashtay

In the end I decided to play a female Nethermancer T’Skrang (magically apt reptile person) by the name of V’ashtay (Those who noticed my several Doctor Who posts might discover the inspiration of this name in these two: Vastra & Vashta Nerada). As Nazgul and his Dungeon Master (the one telling and supervising the story, if you are unfamiliar with the term) didn’t talk about it they both prepared character sheets for me, the DM thankfully filled them with the basic stuff.
The story we played was also quite interesting:

The group of heroes was investigating the appearance of several thick magic treats that could not be destroyed that easily, but could cause high damage if ingested with powerful magic. They had already put a lot of effort in their research and had a new lead that they wanted to follow. Just as they were about to get closer to a new lead their quarters were searched by an unknown party and all their notes were stolen, even from the vaults. Luckily the most important object, an old magic book that might include the spell that used the treats, was still in the possession of the groups Nethermancer. Provided with shelter and food my his fellow sorcerer he made it his task to fully translate the book, while the others investigated the break in. (Rough version of what happened)

As you can see above I also took my time while the other’s worked on their characters to doodle mine. Oh, and I exchanged the uncomfortable kitchen chair for one of the camping chairs I remembered having in my car…after several hours of sitting in the other I must add…
Apart from the playing we also had the traditional pizza and sweets appropriate for such an event.
We played until the early morning hours and when we left the air was filled with sheet lightning from a thunderstorm in the distance. It was quite a sight.
The people were quite nice and I even got a compliment from the DM for the way I played. I told him it was due to my writing and the role playing I had done for Warlords and other stories, but it was a nice thing to say. 🙂

Of Monsters and Grimms

On our way to the place we played at I saw an advertisement for an exhibit in the Ottoneum and that was where we spontaneously had planned to go. Even more spontaneous was, when we discovered that the „Expedition Grimm“ took place in a hall on the way to the museum.
It was quite interesting as it not just covered the life of the Brothers Grimm, but also their different work, including the first German dictionary and of course the Fairy Tales. They had several interaction-thingies and a stamp for each station of the exhibit. It was quite interesting and as it turned out I even won something from a card we handed in after we went through it (A book about the history of Christopher Columbus).
Afterwards we went to the other exhibition that was about „Monsters“ like Nessie, Big Foot and others, in short Cryptozoology. It was quite fun and we also got the chance to see an Axolotl. 🙂


An Axolotl meets Nessie in the Ottoneum Kassel

Our way back lead us along the Fulda that provided some different sights to the city itself. Apart from the river we passed a strange sculpture side full of stone towers called „petrified conversion of sight“ (versteinerte Sichtverwandlung). No proper description what it was for though…

Preparations, preparations…

On Monday morning I then continued my way to DarkFairy close to Euskirchen (D, F), where we would make preparations for our trip to Wacken (E) on Wednesday. Her parents had allowed/offered us to take their car for the trip and with this we would not need to sleep in a tent and even be able to sleep on a mattress. For which we were quite grateful, considering the mud from the year before
But to manage to do that we had to prepare the car. We cut out cardboards that would fit into the car windows.
Well, at least that was the plan…
The pieces we ended up with were far from fitting at all and we decided that day that we should stick with writing and not dabble into crafting…
We are just not good at it… (read more about it here)
With shopping and other preparations the days were over far too soon and we didn’t even manage to do anything for our book Warlords.

DF-PP Entertainment

From the 31st of July until the 4th of August we were in Wacken, but that will be covered separately. When we returned on Sunday we were pretty exhausted and barely able to tell our tales to Fairy’s family. And we had a lot to tell, as we had talked a lot of rubbish over those few days (including Ponies with Horn, Spaghetti-fishs and random Pokémon battles). Until I departed we managed to set up a Forum that gives us the chance to properly continue to write our story the way we used to (More information here) and we also posted a couple of posts already. But on the 7th it was time for me to continue on my way.

How to befriend a cat and infect someone with Doctor Who

The next stop was at the outskirts of Köln (G) at IceWolf’s place. We went to spent the evening at the Rhine, to just relax and talk, watching the river flow – and the ducks watching us. It was quite a way from the parking lot to the riverside, but it was worth it, as it was quite a nice side to have a spontaneous picnic-thing. Except the ducks that crept me out, but I have a certain history with birds and am by now quite paranoid when I see several of them in close proximity to me…(I plan on covering that one day as well)

A fountain close to the Rhine-side

A fountain close to the Rhine-side

The Rhine-side

The Rhine-side

Returning from the river we stopped at a Domino’s to get dinner and I have to say their Cinnamon Bread and American Style Cookies are quite tasty…
While we ate our food I persuaded Ice’s cat with snacks I had brought with me to win over his favour, knowing I would share the sleeping room with him. And it indeed worked…he even came to examine me, a thing he usually doesn’t do with strangers…
When Ice and I tried to play a round of Munchkin he wasn’t too fond of the things occupying the ground and we soon switched to something different.And it was this evening that I (or rather Christopher Eccleston) turned Ice into a Whovian as our alternative was to watch „Rose„. 😀 (You’re welcome 😉 )

Relaxing Entertainment

For my next stop I had contacted two of my cousins that live in Düsseldorf (H). One of them could let me stay at her place, but we agreed to meet up at my aunt’s/her mother’s place first. During my stay there I didn’t actually do much, I rather took the time to take a breather for the upcoming festival. We had lunch with my aunt and uncle, teatime with her and my other aunt also living there and saw the family of my cousin’s son take off to their holidays.
It had been a while since I last saw either of them and they were quite surprised I visited in the first place, but it was nice to stop by and talk a bit.
When we returned to my cousin’s place at one time one of her neighbours had noticed something strange in the apartment next door. And as it turned out someone had broken in. Again. While the family was on vacation. So my cousin had to deal with the police and the neighbour on the phone, while I entertained her dog. I couldn’t really do much else anyway…
Regardless of just coming from a place with a cat (two actually including Fairy’s place) the dog kind of liked me right away. Showing her appreciation by peeing on floor in front of the chair I had chosen to sit at…XD…uhm…with the police and everything my cousin hadn’t managed to take her out on time. Other than that was she rather cuddly and wanted to play a lot…

Back in Black

On Friday it was then time for my last stop: Hildesheim (I), where the M’era Luna would take place. On my way there I had a passenger with little knowledge of the German language. This gave me the change to actually practise a little spoken English and earned me another compliment. According to him I sounded like I had spent some time in Britain and not just knew the stuff from school/studying and movies/series. I used those – in my opinion underdeveloped – skills to converse about all kind of stuff including music, festivals and the possibility if a speed camera had caught me or the guy in front of me (As I haven’t gotten a ticket, yet, I suppose it was the other one). When I dropped him off in Hannover I took a short break before I headed off to join the people from the Black Pack, that would attend the festival, at a motorway service area.
But that is a story for a different post.
This journey ended with us returning to Neubrandenburg (A, J) and me continuing the next day to spend my last vacation day with my parents. It’s always nice to get home after a journey…
Thank you to everyone that offered me a place to stay, it’s been fun again. 🙂
I’m not sure if I manage to journey like this in 2014, but most of the planning isn’t even done yet.
We’ll see what I come up with…
Follow the whole route here:
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On the Road: Taking the Bus

As I am currently not driving that often with my car – except this week I in fact was, but only for familial visits – I thought I might as well write about my other means of transportation: The Bus; or more precisely: The City Bus.
One of several possibilities of public transport that probably shows a similar attitude towards its passengers in all kind of cities in all regions of the world. It is somewhat like trams and underground railways, just with a different atmosphere due to its seat layout. Well, and the attitude people have towards it is probably pretty similar everywhere as well.
Anyway, I’d like to talk a bit about my experiences with these things.

Helpful but untimely

I have to say if you do not have a car – or a proper place to park your car or the money to pay the gasoline bill that comes from too often using said car – public transportation can be pretty helpful.
That is, if their timing is right…
Using public transportation means, you are bound to take them at a certain time and not whenever you feel like it. They have a fixed schedule and nothing will change said schedule.
Not even standing right before closed doors of the vehicle and asking for entrance and the driver SEES that you do so and refuses to let you in, but never mind.
They’re a good thing for reducing costs for gasoline and the traffic in general, but there are quite a bunch of problems accompanying them. The City Buses in the German cities where I have actually used them look pretty similar: They’re either Articulated Buses or a normal version of those. The inside depends on how young/old the bus is. If it is a young one you have a huge area for baby buggies and wheel chairs. (Basically meaning: The younger a bus, the more spacious is this area and the less seats you have.)
Still, depending on when you use the bus, this area and the whole bus is pretty much cramped.

Annoying changes

But this is a thing that the bus company in my city kind of just re-invented…
When I returned from studying in the end of last year they had made some pretty annoying and ridiculous changes.
First of all: All people – except those that would use the area(s) mentioned above – had to enter through the first door. This caused people to either just stand around in the front of the bus, so you had to squeeze your way through them or actually walk to the back of the bus as the company had „planned“.
The second thing was: You have to show the driver your ticket, every freaking time you enter the bus.
This however was not as publicly noted as the entrance change had been.
While the first had posters on the bus itself, the second had a hand out for about a week or so – of course a week where I was NOT taking the bus.
So I just entered like always without taking out my ticket and the driver just grabbed my arm and rudely told be to take out the ticket.
As I complained that it was at the bottom of my bag pack, he stayed stubborn. Furthermore, a woman that stood just behind his booth chimed in and told me that everyone had to do this. When I told them that this never stood anywhere she told me that there had been a hand out before. I just grumbled that I hadn’t been there to get that information.
This of course all took place while I rummaged through my bag pack for the annual ticket that by now costs more then one month of my rent.
It is not surprising that my mood that morning was even worse than before as I am not that much of a morning person. A fellow student of mine had to suffer through my tirade back then, but sometimes you just have to let out the bad emotions to come to peace.
Well, or at least stay calm for the next things to follow.
Oh, and they did all these changes for our safety no less! And of course every now and then there are still the patrols to check if all the tickets, that have been shown to the driver – or not if he was not busy cashing other people while you walked in – are correct/existing…
Everything for our safety…suuure…stumbling through the cramped bus, long time-consuming lines at the entrance where everyone squeezes in at the same time and hurried bus drivers that don’t care if the (older) people already found their seats or that there is a speed limit…but I digress…

The Crowd

Taking the bus in the morning however leaves me with three choices, where my sleepiness more or less decides which evil I pick:
– Mainly noisy, annoying school-kids, some sleepy adults, annoying teenagers
– less school-kids, more awake and talkative adults and teenagers or
– quite a bunch of loud, crying, screaming, annoying babies and children and still the adults and some teenagers
If you do not have your music player with you, the ride can be pretty nerve-wrecking. Especially if there are other people that also listen to music but way louder than you or the driver tries to find a fitting radio station and so forth.
Well, I was once the person with the far too loud music, but I wasn’t used to listening via my mobile phone and another passenger had to inform me about the drivers complains. Though I am sure he didn’t really notice WHAT I was listening, as that would have been even more awkward (*cough* it was Edguy’s Sex, Fire, Religion *cough*). Though thinking about this, I never really saw a bus driver ask for quieter music again, even if there were some pretty loud ones, might have been the late hour…
Anyway, a bus ride can be fun too (except all those things above). You can meet interesting people or coincidentally meet pals and/or colleagues.
There are also people that simply greet me because we saw each other time and time again in the bus. There even was a woman for a short time, whose toes I nearly stepped on every time I stood up… >_<
Beside that there are two stories that are somewhat funny regarding this.
The first is about a member of the „group“ I am more or less a part of: I saw her every now and then at the bus, before I met her through the group. I thought the whole time that she looked familiar, that I have seen her somewhere before, but I just couldn’t remember where. When I saw her again at the bus after one of the groups celebrations I actually recognized her and realized that it was the bus where I had seen her before. 😀 By now I saw three people of the group in the bus and depending on the mood and how talkative we felt, we even conversed.
The second story is about a girl that I saw reading in the bus. I always thought about talking to her as she mostly read Fantasy stories, but I never really had the guts to do so. Well, one day I just seated myself beside her and she started a conversation, telling me that she had seen me reading as well…
By now we had one or the other weird bus ride, with me being grumpy and only half-awake and her being far too lively and loud  for my sleepy mind, but it is still fun and a better way to wake up then screaming kids…

But not everything is bad about buses

As I said it can be fun with people you know, but it also gives you time to wake up some more before work. You can close your eyes again and doze off for a short time. Or as I occasionally do: You can scribble down a story/idea that has been on your mind throughout the morning/night/day. I’ve gotten quite used to writing while the bus is bumping through the streets. Though this does not mean I always am able to decipher what I wrote…
Additionally it gives you time to think. You also have that time in the car, but you do have to pay a little more attention while driving, just a tiny bit more. 😉
Think about said ideas, think about what you would need to do that day and so forth….or just listening to the music that is currently playing and let your mind wander…
See there is good to taking the bus. 😉
I don’t really know much about City Buses in other cities – only those I went with – but I guess the perception of other people is not that much different from my own. Everyone is happy to get out of the bus again, unless you have something to write or talk about and would like to continue that.
But what I know a little about are the Intercity Buses in my region: They only drive very rarely (once a day being often) and take long. Would I take such a bus for driving home it’d take twice the time as if I’d take my car, not to get started on the prices….
In bigger cities you also have trams and underground railways. I always get confused about which ticket would be the best for me to buy or which way to take, having people around to show you the way is a pretty helpful thing here 😉
And speaking of underground railway: I’ve read (and saw) in Clive Barkers story from the Books of Blood about some pretty interesting inhabitants of the New Yorker underground railway in the Midnight Meat Train that I do like to mention whenever I take such a means of transport. 😀 (This story even has an interesting watch-tale that I might write about it at a later point.) Am I right to believe that  no one has actual prove of that? 😉
And on a completely different note: This Blog now has a FaceBook Page as well: RandomPoison on FaceBook and if you don’t want to follow this Blog via WordPress, you can keep up to date through that side as well.

On the Road: Through a bit of Germany 2012

Some weeks ago, when my largest vacation this year drew near I thought about what to do in those two weeks.
A fellow student of mine suggested to have a look around Denmark, but that was unfortunately crossed out due to lack of money and time.
While contemplating the whole Denmark thing I also thought about travelling some places in good ol‘ Germany and asked people I knew, who would be available in the time of my journey. With this knowledge I created a route that took me through half of Germany from Sunday to Sunday. I kind of felt like a Traveling Salesman planning it…

Schawarma, a slice of Monster-Pizza and a Church in between

Anyway, my journey started on July 15th in Berlin (B).
Throughout the day Artok (I’ll be using nicknames for this) took me around Germany’s capital city. More or less through the not so wealthy parts of it. We went from Lichtenberg to Neukölln and further.
Along the way we passed a food store that sold Schawarma
What can I say?
Having watched The Avengers I simply had to try it…
I kind of wonder how many people had the exact same idea after leaving the cinema that was just across the store. XD
And I now can totally understand why the Avengers did not say a word when they ate it, as it just gets more and more while you eat.
I had a version with chicken meat, a lot of it, and some vegetables and sauce. It had a quite interesting taste, though it was rather dry…
Later I heard, that there are versions with potatoes, yet mine had none. 🙁

Moving on we passed a quite interesting church.
It had both old and new elements in its architecture – not as much as some other churches, but still interesting to look at:

The Church in Berlin

As well as an „funny“ inscription above its doorway coming from Luke 24:29:

„Stay with us, for it is nearly evening“.

That kind of foreshadows the end that is depicted in the bible (in this case) and other old stuff, like the Edda or the Maya calendar and stuff…
Okay, it also stands for the time Jesus returned to his followers and they wanted to make him stay, but I consider my interpretation a bit more funnier…

Anyway, we later went into the Görlitzer Park that was rather pretty seeing its surroundings.
It had large stones and stone blocks lined up to create some kind of stairway that ended into a pool of sand. (We entered from above and had a good view over the whole thing) According to Artok it even used to hold water that dripped down the stairs. It was nice to sit there and talk the time away.
By the way, they had a Café there and the hot chocolate they sold was really tasty.

The evening I spent at Liathano’s place. She would have accompanied us throughout the day, if she hadn’t had to learn for her final exams, which she by now managed to write and hopefully pass.
For dinner she made pizza and as she is a vegetarian it was a pizza void of any meat. It was tasty, yet she called it a „Monster-Pizza“, because she „ruined“ the mixture for the dough. It was like 5 cm thick, but it was tasty.
It was covered with read beans, white mushrooms, maize and (on 2/3rds of it) onions and of course tomato sauce and cheese.

While I stayed there I had the chance to read some short stories by Edgar Allan Poe. „The Tell-Tale Heart„, „The Mask of the Red death“  and „The Black Cat„. Very interesting stories, especially the „death“ one. I would really like to see a cinematic approach on that.
Just earlier this week I received a Mail advertising the comic version of the last two by Gris Grimly that is now available in German.

Don’t trust Google, go sightseeing instead

From Berlin I drove to Frankfurt (Main) (C) and I tell you, do not trust Google on how much time you need for that distance!
It told me it would take 5 1/2 hours, it took me about 6-7 (excluding breaks, a diverted road through Belitz and me driving towards Frankfurt (Oder) for 11 km…)…
Finally arriving there to drop of my passengers, I made the last kilometres towards „Unyx“‚ place, where I stayed till Thursday.

On Tuesday she took me to the Senckenberg museum in Frankfurt. It was her forth time there this year and I really hope she still had fun showing me around. They had like everything. From dinosaur skeletons, over a whole floor of mounted animals and birds, towards the remainder of the animal version of the „Body Worlds“ exhibition. It was really interesting. Though probably not for Unyx‘ dogs which had to stay in the car and as we had them with us to take out for a walk in the city…
We later drove a bit out of the town to let them run in the fields as an apology.

Now I nearly forgot to mention the „Hilton bug“ or rather the enormous Hilton Hotel at the Frankfurter plane station that looked like a gigantic bug with really funny legs, as they were constructed to look like those plane entrance tunnels. It kind of looked like a bug to me.
Besides that does the inner city of Frankfurt look rather modern. All kinds of round shapes and stuff. It looks really amazing more like a glimpse into the future than something made in our time.

In the evening she usually takes her dogs into the house, so she did this time as well. While she restraint the still rather bubbly youngsters (5 months old) their mother could run free. And she likes to pose as a lap dog. Being a fully grown Belgian Shepherd Dog this is not really comfortable if you are the one providing the lap…
She looked pretty huge when she came up to me, but she was nice to me at least and only licked my glasses and trampled on me. XD

The next day we went to participate in a guided tour through Mainz. We learned about the importance of the Rhein in its history and the reasons why Mainz has a town hall with lattice-windows and no sign saying what it is.
Our last station before we left the tour was the dome.
A quite nice dome with a funny history:
Right on the day it was supposed to be opened for public usage, well, it burnt down…

The dome was festively decorated and a lot of candles had been lit, as it was rather dark in it due to having only some small windows. The decorations hung low  into the room and it didn’t take the lit candles long to ignite them. As the architecture of the whole thing wasn’t too clever either the fire couldn’t pass up towards the high arched roof usually seen in old churches and extinguish, as this had a flat roof, that was made of wood. This in turn resulted in the rebuilt of the whole thing and probably some humiliation for the archbishop.

This kind of reminded me of Ken Follet’s „The Pillars of the Earth“ (Though I only know the movie version starring Matthew Macfadyen, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Hayley Atwell and the German actress Natalia Wörner), where the cathedral that is built throughout the story burns down as well, shortly before being finished.

What was created after the fire was still a rather dark inner room that later had additional windows and walls added to it. It is kind of a mixture between the different epochs. One guy who recreated one of the towers, who once was insulted by his co-architects for trying to use the original style of what he rebuilt rather than the style used at that time, is now greatly thanked by the restorers who are trying to do just that these days.

Afterwards we’ve been in a Medival Torture Museum in Rüdesheim.
The most interesting about this, was that the navigation system guided us through the Rhein, or rather on a route to a ferry above it. The second time this happened to me this year. XD
The museum itself was…hmm…nothing special and somewhat half-heartedly done in comparison to other museums of this kind, like the one in Penzlin just around the corner from my home. That one is a place where the tortures had actually happened and in combination with the „Burgfest“ („Castle feast“) or the feast for the „Walpurgisnacht“ and its music and the people in medieval clothes, the visit becomes rather memorable.

In the evening Unyx showed me Frankfurt by night. The later it got the harder it was for me to keep my eyes open until a succumbed into a nap on our way back … I know what it’s like to drive while your passenger(s) sleep(s), I’m terribly sorry…

The breathtaking Dome and the evil Comic Book Shop

Next stop was Köln (Cologne) (D) for the day. I visited the one, who inspired me to listen to Metal. I think I owe him quite a lot for that. =D
We visited the dome, which is even more breathtaking than the one in Mainz…heck that thing leaves you practically speechless…

Inside the Dome in Cologne

The Organ in the dome

Whereas I couldn’t decide what to take a picture of in Mainz (though in retrospective I know what I should have taken a picture of), I this time took some in Köln.
But pictures and words can’t really describe how amazing the architectural work here is…
If you ever have a chance to do so: Take a walk through those halls!

Aside from that – and I’m not really able to describe the dome any further, just go look at it yourself – quite close to the dome is a museum for Roman archaeological excavations. They had some quite interesting finds outside their exhibition rooms:

Typical Roman Shoes

Diverting from the dry topics of history we went to a Comic store, where I kind of bought a lot of stuff…
I now am certain that Comic stores are just as evil as Book stores: They never let you get out without having bought something.
Were Frankfurt was fascinating in its sense of architecture, Köln was intimidating due to its high buildings. Coming from a small city that is something completely different than what I’m used to. I kind of wonder how it will be if I ever manage to visit a huge city like New York…

Unknown host

For the night I drove to Bochum (E), where Feuerflügel had asked a friend of hers to provide a couch for me, but forgot to tell me what the guys name was.
So I stood in front of the house not knowing which bell I would have to ring …

When I finally got the note what his name is and brought my stuff upstairs we went to the Tavern „Zu den vier Winden„. It was a real nice evening seeing and talking to Feuerflügel and Mila again. Drinking some tasty mead (honeywine in the flavours: currant, strawberry and some other I forgot) and eating some delicious „Flammkuchen“ I wish I could have stayed longer, but Murphy was against us so I had to depart a day earlier to Kassel (F), as I originally had planned.

Poodles, Music and Art

But it wasn’t too bad. I’ve already been there two years ago for a whole week, where we explored like about every available interesting museum in and out of town. XD
Having some time left on us Nazgul and I went to the Comic Galerie, yes another Comic store and yes I bought something again…
I am now the proud owner of a quite funny „Nichtlustig„- Shirt. Nichtlustig („Notfunny“) has „Death“ among its characters and Death has a Poodle (remember my comments on poodles regarding Mephisto? 😉 ) and the Shirt simply shows Death holding the Poodle, saying:

„Nothing against the Poodle of Death“.

Ironically, I wore it some days ago when I accompanied my Mum to the hospital …
I mean even sick people have to understand a joke right? I hope so …

Anyway, later that evening we went with a friend of Nazguls to an alternative „disco“ called „Savoy„. What can I say? We nearly were their only guests that day.
So after the guys had some beer we went on to the „Musik Theater“ or „MT“.  There were some more people around and the music wasn’t too bad that day either – at least in the Dark Area
Again I had some tasty mead, this time hemp(?) aroma (called Thor’s Tears, having a rather odd green colour…) and old fashioned cherry mead or „Viking’s blood“.

The worst of that day was, that I had to leave my car behind because of my „Don’t drink and drive“-policy…
We had to walk back to Nazgul’s place for nearly an hour and my baby stood there all night by himself and nearly the whole next day … 🙁

When Nazgul finally got up on Saturday (I had finished nearly two comics by then) we went to see some of the free exhibits of the dOCUMENTA (13) in the Karlsaue.
They were mostly weird and I don’t think I got at least half of them …

I don’t really know what an artist wants to tell me if he or she hangs up tons of gourds and puppets in a tree above stuff that looks like a makeshift camp….or another hanging up boats and nets in a tree above a camper and a shack full of random garbage like newspapers or old bicycles…or someone putting a stone into a tree … though that one looked rather fascinating due to its location:

The Stone-Tree in the Karlsaue

Just as fascinating was the location of a Ferris wheel behind the Orangerie:

Ferris wheel in the Orangerie

That one left us contemplating whether it be possible to create a Ferris wheel that actually goes through a building. It would probably be more like a roller coaster than a Ferris wheel though …

Later that evening we met up with some more of Nazgul’s friends before we again went off to the MT.
This time for an event in the Dark Area called „Feuertanz“ (Firedance) where they played some medieval (German) metal like Schandmaul, In Extremo, Letzte Instanz and so forth, but also some other stuff in that direction. Its been again a quite funny evening, especially when one of his friend and me sang the refrain of Schandmauls „Das Tuch“ together; or the Dove-Lady that used to move her head when she danced in the way a pigeon moves its when it walks…we just had to look at her, look at each other and started laughing…
Nearly as funny as the Dark Noir parties in Neubrandenburg. 😉

Home Sweet Home

Last Sunday I (finally?) made my way home. Taking passengers from Kassel to Hamburg and from Hamburg to Greifswald even caused my refuel-bills for the trip to even out completely.

All in all it was an interesting, yet exhausting, experience that I would like to repeat some day. Hopefully with new destinations added to it, though there are still places to be explored in the „old“ ones.
Thanks goes to everyone who made this trip possible, the ones who provided me with a place to stay, entertainment and/or interesting conversations.
Its been a great time and a wonderful vacation.
Looking forward to see you guys again some day!

Follow the whole route here: Google Maps


On the Road: Roadkill

On a regular basis I have to drive from one place to another, having a lot of time to think about things. This will be the start of a series of posts regarding them. (They will be added randomly.)
Two weeks ago when I was on my way to my flat from my parents place I did the unthinkable.
I killed a bunny.
By accident.
With my car. With my father’s car…
I did not mean doing so…
As nowadays society works I had to post it to the social networks, of course with opposing results, an example:

A: Great….now I’ve killed a bunny…:(
I didn’t mean to! XD
Sa: NOOO! He certainly was on his way to the Weißhirschpark* 🙁
Ri: öy poor Hopalong 🙁
A: I think he thought himself to be a car…sat in the middle of the road, facing straight ahead and then he dodged in the direction of the wheel…
Sa: fail bunny^^
A: I think it’s not enough left for that…
Ro: it would have certainly still worked as ragout 🙂
A: Roadkill-Ragout? Doesn’t sound tasty…
Ro: but the term is good
K:  Don’t you only have to pick out the stonies and asphalt crumbs…?! 😀
A: Naaah, I think it would taste too much like gum…
K: Then it is, selling it as patent remedy to Haribo**!!! 😀
Ro: with a scattered shot you have to pick out every bullet as well
A: This is getting more and more tastier here XD
Scraped*** shot is something different then wheel shaped…-.-…
Se: Do you already have enough for a Roadkill-Quartett?
A: The half…bird and bunny…the rest hopefully doesn’t add too soon…and stays in this dimension…
* Weißhirschpark is the German name for „White Deer Park“, the place the animals from the old cartoon series The Animals of Farthing Wood wandered off to.
** Haribo is the most famous producer of gummy bears here in Germany.
*** In German the words for scrap (Schrott) and scattered gun shot (Schrotschuss) are pretty similar, only differing in the number of „T’s“

Morbid isn’t it?
But as said: I do not wish to repeat it.
Especially not with a deer, boar or any other car damaging animal.
The bureaucracy surrounding it is just to troublesome…
Have you ever heard of how this stuff is handled around here?
Let me tell you…
If you come into the bad situation that you have hit an animal, let’s say: deer, you have to do as follows:
After overcoming your initial shock you will have to stop your car, turning on your warning lights. The next thing you do is calling the police, somewhat like this:

„My names Jane/John Doe. I’m on the road to Nowhere and I just hit a deer. It’s probably dead.“
„Stay calm we will be sending someone as soon as possible.“

All you have to do now is set up a triangular warning sign 100m behind you and waiting for the police and an forest official to arrive – which could take from 10 minutes to some hours. Those two parties have to make a report regarding the accident. Taking in the condition of the car, removing the deer from the street, etc.. With this report you then can go to your car insurance and try to get the repair company to do their job and the money for paying them and so forth.
So let’s just hope to not be involved in an accident like that…
I could tell you more about starlings and engine hoods, sheep and trains or deer acrobatics, but that would get morbid again…
As negative as this might sound don’t get me wrong: I do like animals.
But their suicidal tendencies are most unwelcome.