One of the merits of the German social system are “Kuren” . When a chronic medical problem endangers your ability to work, you can get a three-week treatment at a rehabilitation center.
I have spent the last two weeks in such a rehab in Nordrhein-Westfahlen, in an area called the Teutoburger Wald. It is a bit hilly here and there are forests with lovely walking paths. Besides doing lots of sport and getting treatments I have also had plenty of time to take long walks in nature. Unfortunately the weather has been a bit foggy and wet, and I have not been able to make any good pictures, but yesterday afternoon we had sunshine and I went on a bus tour to the Externsteine nearby. They are a rock formation that appear unexpectedly in an otherwise rockfree environment.
The biggest rocks are said to have been a sanctuary of the old Teutons, later they belonged to a cloister. Many myths are surrounding those rocks and they are a very popular tourist attraction. Our bus only stopped for about 30 minutes, so there was no time to climb the rock. I will do that next year, since I have decided that this is a place I want to have a closer look at together with S.
After a cold rainy Saturday this Sunday surprised us with bright sunshine and mild temperatures and we decided to take a car trip to Hochdonn.
Hochdonn itself is just a small village with nothing special to see, but it is situated directly at the Nord-Ostseekanal, We like to go there to look at ships and admire the railway bridge, that crosses the canal. at connects the Baltic Sea with the North Sea.
The foundation stone of the Kiel canal was laid by Kaiser Wilhelm I on the 3rd of June 1887 and 8 years later, on the 21rst of June 1895 it was opened. The canal is 98,26 km long and connects the North Sea at Brunsbüttel with the Baltic at Kiel. Ships save on average 250 miles by using the canal. It is the most heavily used artificial seaway in the world. Last year there were about 34.690 vessels sailing through the canal not counting pleasure boats and small yachts.
Today we were very lucky and could see more than 10 ships sailing past.
There are alltogether of 10 bridges crossing the canal, and the 42 m high bridge at Hochdonn is only for trains. Cars and pedestrians use the ferry, which is considered part of the road and therefore doesn’t cost anything. My friend was impressed to notice that the ferry had a ground made of cement.
On both sides of the canal there are paths which are perfect for cycling or walking. You can go about 5, 5 km and then cross by using another ferry to make your way back on the other side of the canal.
On nice days like today many people stop at the ferry place to sit in the sun, watch the ships and have an ice cream There is a kiosk selling sweets, snacks and drinks. As you can see on the photo, they also carry a wide selection of Schnaps, sold in small bottles to hide in your pockets. That’s because it also serves as the only pub for locals.