Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 306

12 | 13 || 2014 : Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec ||   Page : Previous | Next

Martinshof Story - Happiness - Awareness - Black Forest walks - Camino - Dolmen Tour - Travel

Most Recent - Next - Previous - Page 1 - Photos - Maps & Articles - MP3s - Jazclass

Monday 1 - Wednesday 3 September, 2014 (diary)

In Exloo Sunday afternoon Antien and I arrived in Emmen and settled into Hotel Boerland, where a few hours later our friends Jaap and Kitty also arrived.
The following morning (Monday), after having collected our rental electric bikes, Carel and Maria also joined us and we were on our way.

The province of Drenthe has the best bicycle tracks network in the Netherlands, and therefore most likely in the whole world.
Most of the tracks are sealed, either by smooth tar or by concrete. A few have brick or solid earth surfaces. The roads lead one through a patch work of wonderful forests and pastures, sometimes leading to a village, sometimes leading around one. In short a cyclist's paradise.
So all we needed was good weather, and fortunately we did have that too. Augmented by two lovely hotels in Exloo and especially in Anloo where we dined and stayed overnight, and the conditions were set for a great trip.

Two years ago I walked short sections of the Camino Frances (between Astorga and Santiago), which for me (being an atheist) was an experience of historical, rather than religious, nature. (I deliberately did not enter the Santiago cathedral at the end, in order to maintain this notion).

Our 3-day bicycle tour along the hunebedden (dolmens) in the Dutch province of Drenthe, was, much to my own surprise, an experience of equal, if not greater, significance and interest than my Camino trip.
I will try to explain.

Jaap, Maria, Antien, Carel, Kitty and I Unlike continents such as Africa and Australia, where vast areas of the most ancient rocks on our planet (Archean age, 3.6 billion years old) are exposed at the surface, the exposed rocks in Europe are predominantly of much younger age.
However at a few locations the combined effect of uplifting tectonic forces and surface erosion, have brought small pockets of these oldest rocks to the surface. These are so-called geological "windows" into our planet's past.

We can see a very comparable situation in the European culture.
Europe is a strictly confined cultural time bubble covering the past 2.5 thousand years, a showcase of Western civilization's culture in all its magnificent aspects.
Hunebed D25, north of Borger But here and there small culture "windows" provide a view and access to a much older culture.
This is what the hunebedden in Drenthe in fact are : isolated unique windows into the Neolithic culture of some 5,000 years ago.

As a group we cycled to and visited a number of these "window" locations, containing just one, or sometimes two or even three ancient Neolithic graves.
These graves were constructed using huge boulders transported there by the gletchers from the past Ice age.
Michael at D31 Some of the hunebedden are located in a clearing of the woods, others are surrounded by pastures, usually with a few trees and grass immediately around them.

As we progressed on our journey every single one of us became increasingly enthralled by these contained hunebed windows.
I personally felt at these locations transported to and suspended halfway between the present and the Neolithic past : a timeless world of tranquility and peace, inviting contemplation and introspection.

I have absolutely no touristic inclination to visit ancient temples, castles, cathedrals, monuments and the like. But I do appreciate the great skills, knowledge and innovative building techniques that went into them.
Hunebed D20, near Drouwen
A significant aspect of the hunebedden is that they are amongst the very first attempts within the Western world to create larger building structures of a permanent nature. They therefore represent the very starting point of Western civil engineering.

Hunebed D49, DE Papenloze Kerk I always find that trees only reveal their true identity and nature when they have lost their leaves.
This is especially dramatic in inland Australia where the hard wood trees are subject to severe conditions : drought, extreme heat, lack of water, bush fires.
Their branches (once leafless) are shown to twist and turn in all directions finally in desperation reaching up to the sky.

Likewise the hunebedden too only reveal some of the ingenuity and creativity of their builders after the overlying earth has been removed. Although time has played its part in the shape and condition we see these hunebedden now, some sense of the creativity of their builders still appears to prevail.

As I have mentioned already above, it has been an unforgettable experience for us all. In due course I will update the Dolmen pages with the exact route and hunebedden we visited (18 in total).

Most Recent - Next - Previous - Page 1 - Photos - Maps & Articles - MP3s - Jazclass

Thursday 4 - Wednesday 10 September, 2014 (diary)

Restaurant La Casserole After our bike trip in Drenthe I traveled after an overnight in Arnhem on Thursday morning by train to Baden-Baden, an elegant city in Southern Germany I never fail to visit for a few days when in Europe.
Baden-Baden has wonderful spas to soak in and shops with high quality goods (clothes, shoes, art deco, watches, jewelry). The locals are always dressed up in the latest fashion, which is a pleasure to see.
Displays in the shop windows are also most creative. I saw one-off silk ladies designer scarves for sale at €780 ($1,100) each. It makes you realize how much we lack quality shops in Australia.

Like previous times I stayed again 3 nights at Hotel am Markt right in the center of town and apart from the spa, you usually find me on the terrace either of Wallstreet im Hamilton or Amadeus watching the world go by while having a drink or a meal.
This time I also tried a small French restaurant La Casserole attracted by its Menu which included Pate de Fois Gras (goose liver pate from the Alsace) and Grenouilles (froglegs), which I both had, delicious.

Black Forest

Thursday morning I was off to Freiburg where my sister Wivica picked me up at the railway station.
I am now nicely settled in at the Feldberblick (in Sankt Peter) on the farm of Georg and Lydia, spending time with my sister and let my poor left leg recover which I hurt during our bicycle ride in Drenthe.
I fell off that bloody e-bike three times, once landing in the middle of a bush of nettles. The leg is blue-red-yellow, but now after a whole week recovering well. So by next week I might do some walks again here.

Most Recent - Next - Previous - Page 1 - Photos - Maps & Articles - MP3s - Jazclass

Thursday 11 - Monday 15 September, 2014 (diary)

With Agnes, the new waitress at the Waldcafe Rainy, overcast and rather cold weather kept me inside for a couple of days which I used to update the route maps of our Dolmen bicycle trip and add a few other items to my website. It also gave my leg the chance to fully recover. So I am back to 100% fit again.

Sunday Wivica took me for a drive to the Schluchsee, my favourite lake in the Black Forest around which I often walk on my visits here.
Driving past the Waldcafe chef-owner Christa stopped us on the road and excitedly told us that the Ferrari Club had just lunched at her restaurant, including a famous cooking personality from TV. A whole bunch of Ferraris were just driving away as we got there.

Königsberger Klopse mit Bratkartoffeln Christa is indeed a great chef. This week she already made specially for us Königsberger Klopse, a dish my mother used to make. Minced meat balls with onions and capers in a mustard sauce also with capers.

(Restaurants in Germany are not allowed to keep prepared minced meat overnight in the fridge. Consequently you rarely see Königsberger Klopse on the menu.
At the Waldcafe we always order it a few days beforehand, so that Christa can prepare exactly the right amount of mince. This time she herself and the entire restaurant staff had the dish too.)

Königsberger Klopse is usually served with rice, but I always have it with Bratkartoffeln (pan fried potatoes) which they make better in Germany than in any other country I have ever been to.
Gaby formerly at the Waldcafe has married, got a baby and left. Agnes has now taken over, doing a good job, always with a happy smile.

Cruising on lake Schluchsee, Black Forest After a pleasant drive through the country we arrived at Aha, a small village at the NW corner of the Schluchsee. Here we got on board of the M S Schluchsee for a 70 minutes cruise right around this beautiful lake.
The captain/owner used to operate the St.Nicolaus, a much smaller craft, on which I cruised 4 years ago. But he sold it (so the captain told me) to a company in Berlin where it is in use now.
This new vessel is much larger (it easily takes 150 passengers) and has a well stocked bar and kitchen, from which I ordered the famous Wienerle mit Kartoffelsalat (a dish I will photograph next time).

Comments - Most Recent - Next Page - Previous - Top - Page 1 - Photos - Maps & Articles - Jazclass

© 2014 Michael Furstner