Day 10 – 13 Germany

I’ve been in Germany the past 4 days, here’s what happened. The sim card I bought the first day was more than 10 times as expensive as in Poland and I’ve barely had any decent reception, so this update comes on the first night of decent WiFi!

I crossed the border from Poland into Germany pretty quickly after leaving Maciej’s place.

Immediately it became obvious things are a bit different in Germany. All the streets are nicely maintained and paved, I saw the Polizei pulling over a Polish driver speeding only 1km over the border, etc. You also see superfluous signs for the smallest things; damage to roads, maximum weights on roads, limitations on speeds during rainy days, anything you can think of.

My halfway stop for the day was Raketenbasis Peenemunde, an army research station from World War 2 days that also had a coal power plant. This place is special in that it is the birthplace of rocket technology. The Nazi V1 and V2 rockets where developed and tested here. After the war the victorious nations witnessed test firings here to learn as much as they could. The power station continued on until after the German reunification even and was then shut down. The whole museum is very well done, even though there are not a whole lot of show pieces.

After Peenemunde I rode the rest of the day towards Rugen, an island further west, which is a fancy beach destination nowadays. A few very fancy old towns there, such as Puttbus.

The main reason I wanted to go to Rugen, was Prora. Prora is the stretch of land between Binz and Sassnitz on Rugen, where in the late 30’s the Nazi’s started on a socialist paradise beach resort intended to house 20.000 people. This planned resort was a Kraft Durch Freude (Strength Through Joy) project, an organization that promoted National Socialism through tourism. The building project was halted at the onset of the war and never completed.

The 4.5km long building complex has been partly used ever since, about 2 km of it has been demolished. Some of it is now apartments, a museum and a youth hostel, but at least half of it still stands empty and unused.

I met my brother here, who had come on his motorcycle to join me on the way back. We had planned to stay in the hostel, but that turned out to be really expensive, so we just opted to put up the tent on the campground instead.

The roads we did that next day were mostly straight and not always that exciting.

The state of Mecklenburg Vorpommern seemed to be mostly just towns and farmland. Every town mostly had one street called “Dorfstrasse” (“Town Street”), so we often ended up going from Dorfstrasse to Dorfstrasse.

There aren’t many exciting unpaved roads, so photo above is about as much gravel adventure I had in MeckPom.

We ended up staying at an AirBnB near Salzwedel. It was a really interesting place, an alternative eco-community in a big old farmstead.

They also had a seminar centrum in the old cow stables, with lots of beds in two of which we slept. The host, Andreas, treated us excellent and invited us in for breakfast with him the next morning. I really liked hearing a bit more about the way their community worked.

The next day we went by Hanover and while going into the city was not the most fun, we wanted to visit a ‘Louis Gigastore’ (a chain of German motorcycle gear retail stores) and I wanted to see some places I have some good memories from back when I lived in Hanover for half a year about 6 years ago.

After Hanover the scenery got much more interesting, we started to see hills and the roads even had some interesting curves.

The area was a real motorcyclist hotspot, and when it got late and we came past a hotel called ‘Bikerhaus’, we just decided to stay there. at 59 euro for both of us a bit higher budget than usual, but as it started to rain it seemed like a good choice.

The next morning it was foggy and cold, it felt like we were really “in the mountains”.

The roads were excellent again for most of the day.

We even did some unpaved roads, which we haven’t done much at all due to a lack thereof but also since my brother has a road bike with road tires, unlike Timmy. Unfortunately also, Germany is full of signs claiming all these fun roads “Verboten” und “Privat”, so we are kind of supposed to stay out of them, a big contrast with Eastern Europe where mostly nobody cares.

The villages in the Saxony and Hesse were also much more interesting to pass through than Mecklenburg. Not as many of them seemed to have a Dorfstrasse either.

We had some lunch among the fields on a random bench we passed by. We’ve been lucky with rain mostly, just some small drops here and there, just as we were sitting there a bit of rain passed by.

As we approached Schotten, we found out some roads there were used as a street racing circuit until the 50’s (only ended by the 1955 Le Mans disaster), so we decided to go around then loop and then find a campsite for the night.

It wasn’t easy to find a campsite but we managed to find something hidden. Wild camping is not officially allowed in Germany, so we intended to keep a low profile and not make any fire. Until my gas bottle ran out in the middle of cooking, and we had to make a fire to finish our half cooked noodles. Luckily we were hidden enough that nobody noticed, as I’d heard stories about Germans calling the Polizei for gross crimes like this…

The riding that day was not as good as before, but still better than the first days. Our goal was to only ride half a day to Sinsheim.

Sinsheim houses the Auto- und Technikmuseum Sinsheim, which hosts a dazzling array of machinery. They definitely have their planes on display in some of the coolest as most eye-catching ways.

The museum is enormous and has about 5 or 6 halls full of vehicles ranging from cars to planes, tractors, tanks and motorcycles. It’s really staggering what they have there. We read you needed 3-4 hours for it, but I think it’s easily 5-6 if you want to see it all properly. We probably spent too much time in the older, first building of the museum that contains American cars, war machinery and tanks, tractors and some planes.

The displays all felt a bit dated in the first half, they put these strange, ugly mannequins in between the vehicles all the time that just looked silly. It often also felt really crammed, and they had a bunch of “interactive” objects that required you to throw in a euro to see something move or hear something (hearing consisted mostly of old organs playing German Houmpa music). Compared to most good museums I have visited, this all felt pretty lame and in contrast with how awesome the object were they had. But maybe the money they make off those coin-ops enables them to buy all these objects?

One thing I thought ws interesting and funny is how they kept displaying and reassuring us they were following all the rules regarding ex-military armored vehicles. This required them to cut out armor around the driver position and in other key areas, I guess so the tank can not ever be reused for illicit means. Must be a German thing to focus on these rules so much.

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The most interesting displays I thought were the museums prize Concorde and Tupolev 144. Comparing the cockpits and histories on both planes is pretty interesting. The Tupolev was not very successful and an early accident and a lot of design failures almost doomed it from the start. The Concorde fared better but was ultimately taken out of use due to another accident and high costs among others.

All in all a pretty good museum worth driving across Gemrany for and spending a full day. It does have some potential for modernization though.

Now we’re in Sinsheim, heading for Luxembourg and then finally Belgium tomorrow, hoping to be home by Sunday evening.

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