Trip to the Harz

P1040469While I have been extremely busy at work, my partner has been busy all during spring and early summer to build us a camper van out of an old Citroen  delivery truck. He did a great job and we took our first tour last weekend. We went to the Harz, which is about 300 km south of our home.

There is much to tell about these North German low mountain range, situated between Northern-Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. It used to be a famous and important mining area with an interesting water system build for the mining industry, which is still intact. After the 2nd World War the Harz was split between East and West Germany, the border running across its highest Mountain, the Brocken. That one is over a 1000 m high and most tourists are either hiking up there or take the famous Harz Railway up to admire the view.

On this trip we took only smaller walks in the morning as it was very hot and instead went sightseing in Wernigerode, which used to be in East Germany. During the Middle Ages it was a stronghold of witch-hunting  and it is famous for its picturesque castle, which is definitely worth a visit.

The next day we visited Goslar, which between 1009 and 1253 Goslar was one of the seats of the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. For a while Goslar was member of the Hanse and  and became very affluent. Eventually it lost its economic and political importance, and turned into one of the many beautiful and historically interesting small towns in Germany. However, it also remained an important mining town with one of the biggest mines of the Harz being part of the town. At its market place there is a fascinating carillon with figures documenting the development of mining in the Harz.

I am fascinated with the craftsmenship that was necessary to build these old houses and in the Harz I especially like the many details decorating the houses. Here are some impressions of our trip, starting with Wernigerode and followed by Goslar:

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The place I live in:

Unless you’re into military history it is unlikely that you  have heard of the place I live in: Hohenlockstedt. It is situated between Hamburg and Kiel, not far from the rural town of Itzehoe.

Hohenlockstedt is not a farming village, but  started out as a military camp and training area. Growing  rapidly it became famous when the German Emperor visited the troops. Around World War 1  there were 100 000 soldiers stationed in the Lockstedter Lager, as Hohenlockstedt was then called.

In 1915 a group of Finnish soldiers were trained in the Lockstedter Lager. They came secretly to get support in their fight for independence against Russia. Ever since there has been a close friendship between Hohenlockstedt and the Finnish, with delegations and school classes visiting each other regularly.

Looking around Hohenlockstedt you will find many buildings and street names dating from the time of Hohenlockstedt being a military camp.

Hohenlockstedt's landmark: the watertower, built 1900 - 1901 provieded the soldiers with water
Hohenlockstedt’s landmark: the water tower, built 1900 – 1901 provieded the soldiers with water
A former casern, built around 1912, now housing the M1 Art Center
A former barrack, built around 1912, now housing the M1 Art Center

After World War 1  the training area was divided and turned into farm land. Most farmers grow potatoes and the community is represented by a  “Kartoffelkönigin” (Potato Queen).

Today, Hohenlockstedt is a small center for the farming villages nearby. There are four supermarkets, a boutique, a book store and a shop selling both fine foods and decorative things for your home. You will find two florists which sell beautiful flowers and plants and there are four restaurants, not to forget the best Italian ice-cream parlor in the whole of North Germany.

If you are interested in sports you will find a sports club offering fitness training, volleyball, athletics and much more and of course there is a football club. If you are into arts you will also find  many interesting things in my community:  a small historical museum  run by community members and  a quite well known Center for Modern Art (M1).   Not far away, near a former military airport, there is a small colony of artists and craftsmen and the former military area is used for outdoor concerts and events, such as a trucker meeting or Oldtimer ralleys. The small “Volkshochschule”, offers evening classes, for instance in cooking or playing guitar.

I appreciate all the things Hohenlockstedt has to offer. It is a good place to live in, but still I feel as an outsider.  Due to long work hours and commuting, I have little time during the week  to get involved in community activities.

I know and like my neighbours and we always have a chat when we meet, but no  close friendships have developed. When I walk our dog I meet many people and while our dogs are playing we talk about this and that. I know the names of their dogs, but I don’t know the names of their owners, where they live and what they do.

While I am outgoing at work where I communicate with all kind of people all day long,  I am a rather quiet and private person at home.  I like people but  I have few close friends. So living here without a network of good friends and acquaintances has more to do with my reserved ways than with the people in Hohenlockstedt.

One of my goals for the coming months is to get to know more places in Hohenlockstedt. I will visit the museum, the M1 Art center and  the artist colony and promise to tell you about it.