Log of Michael Furstner - Page 306
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Dolmen Tour -
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Monday 1 - Wednesday 3 September,
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
Carel and Maria also joined us and we were on our
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
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.
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
We can see a very comparable situation in the
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
But here and there small culture "windows" provide a
view and access to a much older
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
These graves were constructed
using huge boulders
transported there by the gletchers from the past
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
As we progressed on our journey
every single one of us became increasingly
enthralled by these contained hunebed windows.
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
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.
I always find that trees only reveal their true
identity and nature when they have lost their
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
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
the creativity of
their builders still appears to
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
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Thursday 4 - Wednesday 10 September,
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
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.
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.
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.
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Thursday 11 - Monday 15 September,
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.
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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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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).
© 2014 Michael