/ Europe2017

Ich bin ein Berliner

Well we've made it to Germany's capital. Another 190 miles drive makes it a long day. One of our correspondents suggested that such journeys were commonplace but like Robert Frost, we hope taking the road less travelled will make all the difference. So rather than 3 hours or so banging along the autobahn we took a leisurely 5 hours along the B roads, through the little villages, past the vast fields of sweet corn and wheat stubble,  the plantations of cabbages and asparagus, and patches of pick your own gladioli. Past the soaring kites, the hovering kestrels and the unidentified hawks in the corn stubble. Over the Elbe and the Havel, criss-crossing the MitteLand Kanal. Through forests of pine and beech...

And as a complete contrast to all that nature stuff, through Wolfsburg. Wolfsburg, the home of VW, the home of the VW Type 2, THE campervan. The grand-daddy of all campervans. Driving through mile upon mile of gleaming modern car manufacturing buildings it's hard to image Wolfsburg in 1945. Its car plant bombed and damaged severely, a British army major put in place to watch over it, with the vision to provide work for the displaced locals and wartime slave labour. A Dutch entrepreneur with an idea for a rear engined panel van, so desperately needed to aid the logistics of a war torn Europe, and a single minded German CEO with personal drive to ensure that VW became the premier marquee in Europe. Without those 3 the would be no Type 2. Without the Type 2 the concept of campervan may have remained alien to the automotive industry, so no Romahome, so we wouldn't have been passing through Wolfsburg this afternoon and I wouldn't be writing this blog now.

Some random observations on German life. We took a 30 minute break in the small town of Stendal. Just 30 minutes because it is Saturday afternoon and this is Europe. All the shops are shut. Well not quite all, the bigger shops are open, but most are closed. And tomorrow all but the biggest supermarkets will be shut. Even Lidl, just a mile from the campsite here closes its doors at 9 tonight and waits until Monday morn to reopen. Wonder why Britain decided that 7 day shopping was so essential. It's a viscious circle, so much so that at home even some charity shops feel the need to open Sundays! Personally I'd settle for the day with the family rather than day in the shops, especially if I were a shop worker.

Another thing, we popped into the aforementioned Lidl to pick up some urgent and desperate supplies - beer. Here in Germany, with the exception of milk and baby products all plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans are subject to a deposit. So our €0.69 cans of beer come with €0.25 deposit surcharge. In every supermarket there is an electronic machine that accepts bottle and cans (from anywhere in Germany, not just ones previously supplied by that store) and will print out a receipt to enable you to get your "Pfand" deposit back. Result 98.5% bottle recycling and almost zero bottle and cans as litter or household refuge. Compare and contrast with Britain's litter strewn pavements, verges and hedgerows. Got to be a good idea.

Anyway here's today's map: