Hello Again, It’s been a few days since since I have written – I have been spending time with my family in the evenings – going to bed late and getting up early. I am here in the place of my childhood adventures in Germany. A truly special place for me. My uncles and aunts live in a small country town called Quelkhorn, near Fischerhude. My mother for as long as I can remember took us, her four children, to Germany for the summer – to a part of the country surrounded by wheat, corn and sunflower fields. Scattered in the fields are pastures for cows and horses – and if you are lucky pigs, goats and sheep. I learned from my mother’s brother, that Fischerhude, less than 100 years ago was covered by water – and used as the main eel source for Bremen (the nearest major city). Yes eels – were rampant and caught, though small in size based on the photos I looked at- it was a major source of revenue for the town. It was decided around 1940 to drain the area as a living space, to build homes and farm. A few small canals or thick streams remain throughout the town and I already started to imagine the eels swimming along. Being here – brings me a kind of inner peace that it hard to describe. I am immediately brought back to my childhood days, running barefoot through the hay fields and climbing the large hay rolls – hoping the dried straw would not poke my feet too hard. Exploring the corn fields and sometimes sneaking corn right off the stalk to chew the sweet kernels – and biking to our favorite ice-cream shop and getting my (still to this day) favorite flavor, hazelnut. Using the money we had to buy chocolate Kinder eggs (with small toys inside) and sleeping in the barn attics with friends. In the surrounding area of our house, is the Moore – where, what we call peat moss was harvested. This is a protected area, given how special the peat moss is. This was harvested, buy cutting bricks of peat moss from the earth and drying them in pyramid type structures to sell for heating in homes, to get the bricks out of the Moore the farmers laed railway tracks and pushed carts out from the Moore to the road, then loaded to other transpiration methods. The peat moss retains heat well when it’s dried – so when walking through the Moore touching the ground you can feel the heat radiating and your feet are suddenly very warn. It’s pure beauty and while walking there with my uncle we spotted a fox, smelled the peat moss and evergreens and caught the sun draping the dried grass and moss.
I should rewind a bit though – I left you last still in Zürich – with plans to kayak out into the lake. Unfortunately for me, I texted the owner too late and there were no kayaks available. So, I shifted gears to my second (favorite to hiking) activity – biking:) I did some research to locate a bike rental in Zürich so that I could bike along the lake’s edge. The entire lake is 56 miles – totally doable in a day with a good bike and a few hours. I did not have too much time and more importantly, I did not have a good bike. After visiting one bike shop – only to discover it was non-existent (Google error)- I found another and rented a Holland type touring bike (the only type of bike they rented out). I sit upright on a wide saddle with flat pedals and a basket in the back. I started the ride with my backpack on – trying to learn forward as I do on my bike, The Beast, only to quickly realize this was not going to work. I needed to embrace how the Swiss people ride: upright, relaxed and actually use the basket. So, I pulled over, put my backpack in the basket and imagined myself on a bike ride – for the experience – not for the heavy push and ride I am used to and much more comfortable doing. It took some adjusting – and I even willed myself to relax my shoulders and smile – though quickly upon seeing the lake up close I was lost in its beauty. I had no set plan as to how far I would bike, or to where – I just biked along the road with the lake on my left. It was easy to not get lost, following one road along the edge, I went. At times I was biking alongside the cars which – I felt nervous about doing given I had no helmet – that was probably the most unfamiliar feeling of the ride. Like leaving your house without pants on – I felt out of place and extremely aware of my surroundings given if felt unsafe to bike with a naked head. Luckily the cars in Europe are much more aware, and patient with bikers and give a wide berth when passing – danke! Along the lake were multiple jump-in in points where people drops their bags and dipped in the water. I took a few moments to stop and look – but mainly I just rode. I had the wind on my bike heading from the city and then naturally upon my return rode into the wind. I will admit – at one point a biker passed me, riding a road bike – and I powered up the gear and set my mark to beat him. After about 1/2 a kilometer, into the wind I left him in the dust. Oy, what a joyful feeling – little did he know I was racing him. All in all I biked 30 miles – and was glad to have seen more of the rural areas along the lake. After returning the bike I walked to the Zürich Google office to meet Obi – change and head to the airport. We arrived in Hamburg ontime and met my aunt and uncle – who after a few attempts (many restaurants close on Monday in Germany and it was late) – found us a delicious restaurant to eat at. After a hearty pasta meal we drove an hour home.
On Tuesday Obi and I spent the morning with my other uncle who lives next door, a stones throw (literally) and enjoyed a typically German breakfast with fresh rolls, and many spreads and cheese to enjoy. I should add that in the morning, it was raining and I took my mini waterproof hip bag, and ran early in the morning to the bakery to pick up some fresh bread. Fresh rolls in the morning with local honey and butter is such a treat! A far cry from my daily oats – but the best way to start a vacation day in Germany. Obi and I then played a very thrilling dutch game called Sjoelbak (Dutch shuffleboard) during which you slide wooden discs along a two meter board into skinny slots with either 1,2 3, or 4 points. As hard as my uncle and I tried – Obi won by a few points against my score and my uncle in 3rd place. We’ve been joking a lot about a re-match – which is scheduled for Friday morning before we head back to Hamburg for a visit with my God-mother (another aunt) and then a weekend with a dear friend and her family, who I worked with in South Africa.
This evening Obi and I went for a long walk with my aunt and uncle – to Fischerhude and back for a local pizza dinner. Tomorrow my other uncle is making his famous cheese fondue – this will be Obi’s first time eating it. Obi will spend one more day working and I will venture out on a bike to some surrounding towns.
Franziska this all sounds beyond wonderful!! I can’t wait for the photos! You are so incredibly lucky to have had those summers in Germany.
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