Category Archives: Travels

Amazing Quedlinburg

The town Quedlinburg is something very different from the normal places we have visited thus far. You might remember how fascinated I was by the historic Old Town of Prague but Quedlinburg is on another level. Not that this city is bigger than Prague or more Grand (rather the opposite with only 24.000 inhabitants) but Quedlinburg has its own charm which makes it appear like a town from a fairytale. In 1994 the castle, church and old town were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

View from our apartment

In the beginning of the 90’s I was once in Quedlinburg with my family. I do not remember too much except that I was amazed by all the old buildings and also sad that so many were falling apart. You see after WWII Quedlinburg (nearly nothing was damaged during the war) belonged to East Germany and there were little to no efforts to restore the old buildings. There were even plans to destroy the entire old town and build there the wonderful East German apartment blocks instead. Thankfully there was not enough money so barely anything was torn down during those decades.

#Nathancuty with his new rainboots

After the Reunification the city was slowly restored and by now there are barely any buildings left in poor condition. The city has over 1300 half-timbered houses with the oldest was being built around 1300 A.D. and towering over it all is the Burgberg (Castle Mountain). On the Burgberg you can find the Abbesses’ Palace and the St. Servatius church. The construction of the church started back in 1070 and was finished in 1129. It is said that Henry the Fowler was offered the German Crown in Quedlingburg in 919 and he is also buried there. His widow Matilda founded the Quedlinburg Abbey and the city was basically ruled by women after that for 800 years till the French invasion under Napoleon who also disbanded the abbey.

Münzenberger Klause, can only recommend this restaurant

We stayed in a holiday apartment right in the Old Town. Of course that building was also one of the many historical buildings in the town. Walking around the town gives you a very strange feeling as everything around you is from another time. Wherever you look you see historical buildings and I really had to hold back with my camera there. We had bad luck on our visit as it was raining but it didn’t stop us going around the entire day to discover as much as possible. Nathan was so amazed, especially by the Burgberg as it really looks like a medieval castle. For lunch we went to the Münzenberger Klause, a wonderful traditional German restaurant which just fits perfectly the historical surroundings. Sadly we had no chance to try the famous Quedlinburger Cheesecake as we had lunch a bit too late and by the time we had some room in our stomachs all the bakeries were closed already.

More wonderful buildings

Besides the bad weather during our stay we had also the (bad) luck of having the guild festival starting on our visit. Usually I have nothing against some events like that but too many places were just covered by music stages and food stalls. Interesting is that there are barely any tourists from outside Europe. Somehow Quedlinburg is still something like a hidden gem and despite the guild fest it was nowhere crowded unlike Prague. I must say that we planned way too less time in Quedlinburg by staying there only one night and leaving early morning to our next destination. At least two or three nights are really needed to see as much as possible in the city and of course in the surroundings. Perhaps next year we might go there again as two dear friends are getting married next summer in Weimar which is not “that far” from Quedlinburg and more or less even on the way.

Do you know some “hidden gems” when it comes to places to visit?

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Gettorf Zoo

Another week another trip. This week we did not go to Lübeck as planned but to Gettorf Zoo. The zoo is just 30 min away by car and truth to be told I have never been there before. I tried to remember whether I have visited that zoo before but it really seems that it is the only one in the whole area I have never been in. The zoo started as a private animal collection and was later opened in 1968. Ever since then the zoo has gotten bigger but still remains as a family business. They have a big focus on monkeys and on tropical birds. Especially the section with the tropical birds is very interesting as you can enter many of the bird aviaries.

King Julien is bored

Right after you enter the Zoo you can see how family friendly it is as there is already at the entrance a small playground. There are several playground spread all over the zoo area with one even having a section of a wooden castle for kids to climb on going inside a skunk cage! No the kids can not go directly into the skunk cage but the castle “paths” are just a meter above the enclosure. There are signs stating that the skunks spray their nice smelling odor very rarely but it could happen at any time and that they can spray over a distance of 3m. Thankfully nothing happened while Nathan was playing there but I didn’t take any chances and stayed far away from the skunks.

Does this parrot look like a toy?

The monkey enclosures are a bit different from the ones in other zoos I have visited as the smaller ones (such as the squirrel monkeys) can even leave their cage through pipes leading for example onto trees on the other side of the path. There in the trees they can climb around but they can not get down as there is a metal disk around the tree half way down. Besides those pipes there is even one bird hall where White-faced Sakis can walk freely around. As mentioned before you can enter several of the bird aviaries with all kind of different species within. At first we didn’t notice that you can enter until we saw some kids hand-feeding budgies in one of the aviaries. The birds are rather used to people walking around (you are only allowed to walk on the paths to give the animals the possibility to get some rest in other parts of the aviaries) as you can hand-feed several of them and even touch them. One African Grey Parrot was so tame that MIL thought at first that it was a toy!

One of the many butterflies

In the Tropic Hall is a special program for the past few summers. This special is called “Butterly Magic” and is an enclosure you can walk through with hundreds of butterflies within. In fact there are so many that they even land on you when you stand still for a few minutes. My wife loved it until I told her that there must be also tons of caterpillars around…suddenly she wasn’t so fond of staying there any longer. MIL didn’t even care about the butterflies as she was more focused on making monkey sounds whenever we passed by a monkey enclosure.

This fellow was annoyed by MIL

Even though this Zoo has such a high variety of animals it is much smaller than the Zoo we have here in my hometown. It does not feel even small as all over the place are enclosures, playgrounds and other points of interest which makes the visit really interesting. Besides that the entrance fee is also pretty low at 10 Euros for an adult. We all enjoyed our visit at Gettorf Zoo and will definitely go back there again this summer with or without MIL. Especially Nathan loves the Zoo, not so much because of the animals but because of the many different playgrounds.

Have you visited a Zoo where you can entere certain animal enclosures?

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Plans for the rest of the Year

Over half of the year 2017 is over and much has already happened. Untill the birth of our daughter in May we were very busy trying to “stabilising” our little business. From January till the beginning of May we were investing so much time into our business that we had no time to do anything else. We did not travel anywhere, we didn’t visit any neighbouring towns, we did not even go shopping or eating in some nice restaurant (with the exception of birthdays and the weekend Family Gathering in March).

Basically all we did was work and spend the little free time with Nathan. Due to our work we do not even have any free weekends which can be sometimes very hard when the work seems to have no end. By the time our baby girl was born we had reduced the workload already in order for my wife to find some rest. However it was just reduced workload and thus just two days after Nathalie was born I started working again. Now two months after our family grew by one we started to wonder what we can do to enjoy life a bit more once again after those hard months.

Lübeck in 2015

No, we won’t have any big travels planned such as last year. However we have some smaller trips planned already within Germany. For one we want for Nathan to have some more fun by going to a little theme park in the next few weeks. That theme park is perfect for little kids like him as he can pretty much go into every amusement ride as there aren’t any “wild” ones and there is also a deer park! Besides the theme park we will go to a few cities this summer such as revisiting Lübeck and Flensburg for some day trips. In August we have then our “biggest” trip which will lead us to the dark East of Germany.

Lübeck will be lovely to revisit

That big trip developed only because I got an invitation for a Class reunion from my high school in Chemnitz (East Germany). As my wife had no interest in going there at all just for some reunion I had to come up with some plan. So now we will be driving first to Quedlingburg which is a very old town first mentioned in the records in 922 AD. The old town, the church and the castle are on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1994. I was there already once back in 1994 or 1995 with my parents and brother but I do not remember much of it anymore. There we will stay for one night right in the historic old town and then on the following day travel to Chemnitz. Except meeting with some friends and then having later on the reunion I have not planned anything yet. The problem for me with Chemnitz is just that I have no clue what to visit there even though I lived there for two years from 2005-2007.

My father on his way to his old home in 1991

In the late summer we will be trying to travel for a weekend to Poland to revisit my father’s birthplace Kołczewo on the Island Usedom. That trip will be especially important for my father as he had revisited that place only twice before, both between 1990 and 1991.He has not much memories from that place as he was very young when his family had to flee back in 1945 and become refugees till settling down in my hometown (they were living in camps for the first few years here). After that trip we will have only a few more day trips in mind. For us it is only important to get out of the daily routine from time to time. Next year shall be different again for us and I will write about it at some point towards the end of this year.

1990 My father carrying me in front of the old family house. The child standing there belongs to the “new” residents, let’s see if they are still there this year

What are your plans for the second half of 2017?

Be sure to follow me also on Facebook and on Twitter as I will post there occasionally pictures which do not find their way into my blog posts. Furthermore I also have a YouTube Channel in which some videos might pop up from time to time

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