Busy, busy holidays

If this year is continuing to be like the last months it will certainly be very busy – especially on holidays!

In order to get to Germany, we visited Cambridge on the way and tried to visit Burghley House, Park and Gardens – it was still closed though and is only opening from about Easter onwards for summer. Even the toilets were closed – so we headed to Stamford to find some, the beautiful little village beside Burghley House, which because of the conservative attitude of the major landowner has no petrol station and no out-of-town shopping centre.  So the town is kept very historic and traditional; it looks very beautiful with its little streets and everything. Apparently, it has become a conservation area in 1967 and has half of the listed buildings in Lincolnshire, says Wikipedia.

On Tuesday we crossed the Channel and visited Brussels city centre. I really like Brussels as it is very open-minded and a very diverse place with lots of languages being spoken. It’s also a World Heritage Site, and I liked the Grand Place with the distinctive and impressive buildings like the City Hall. We had a big expensive meal at Butchers Lane near the Queen’s Gallery, having “Mussels in Brussels”. I first didn’t want to go in the tourist centred restaurant, but my partner insisted and also the waiter was very nice and very cleverly persuaded us in. But it was a good (and expensive) meal to remember. I had gratinated mussels and my hubby the mussels in white wine; we had some cherry beer with it. Due to confusion as to where to bed down, we just ended up driving till we got tired and then crashed out in one of the cheap motels on the way.

The next day we drove and visited Koblenz, another city with a world heritage status, if so mainly because as a part of the lower Rhine region. We had an extremely nice breakfast in the cafe next to a bakery and walked around the city. The whole area in front of the “palace” has been dug up though we first thought the building site would become an underground car park it is planned to be the site of the main German flower and gardening show this year. There were again very nice houses and extraordinary buildings but in contrast to Brussels quite a few of them. The most impressive building site was a little courtyard in the back where it seemed the historical buildings from the middle ages were dug out and restored.

Later on we tried to visit Wuerzburg, another little charming town with a world heritage site, though we arrived to late to actually visit it this time. We had a stroll around the city centre though and enjoyed the sunshine a little bit.

The weekend we drove together to the Bavarian Forest to do some skiing, the first time for my partner to try. He was first a bit fearful and shuffling along but his skills improved greatly and on the Sunday and the Monday he was able to do a full round of Nordic cross country, 4km of it. Sunday it took about 2 hours to complete the track and on Monday 45 minutes. On the way back we visited a delightful chocolate factory and got some presents for friends, colleagues and family.
The day after we had a very amusing meal in a  mad fish restaurant. The landlady seemed to be getting slightly drunk during the service and made more and more jokes with heightened levels of obscenity. My mum started to get a bit upset when the landlady started flirting with my Dad.   The decoration of the restaurant was significantly stuck in the 80ies with DIY mural paintings of what were supposed to be Italian villages and food specialities; the furnishing was quite outdated, too. The food was quite nice though I am always a bit suspicious if we eat seafood in a region where there is absolutely no sea. My hubby loved the “Genovese Fishpot a la mamma” and luckily didn’t understand any German whereas me and my Dad found it all quite funny but my sister and my mum enjoyed moaning and complaining about the weird experience afterwards.

The next day we were heading off back to Britain. We did not get far before we were getting stopped by the police. Typical! I was driving along with about 70 miles an hour – the usual British speed limit whereas there isn’t any speed limit on the motorway in Germany so I was suspiciously slow apparently. The police car made an indication it wanted to overtake us, then its LED light flashed up with a “Follow me” message on it. They checked my car papers and driving license and stated they were concerned about the car being overloaded and overweight. So they demanded that we should drive with them to a sandpit to get weight. Can only happen in conservative Bavaria I have to add. We made 1480 kg. However, they still refused to let us go and waited for the Peugeot garage to call them back with the allowed weight specification, as it wasn’t in the car paper. We found some in the Operations Manual and would have met all of them, but the police were not certain which type of car it was and therefore did not let us go either, but insisted I should empty out the car with all the luggage and boxes of books to find a metal plate with additional information of Type and weight specification. After me refusing for about half an hour to empty out the boot, we finally dug up the metal plate and look and see: it was exactly the same as on the Operation Manual with 1590kg. The police were excusing itself and leaving but I was still pissed and the day wasn’t improving as we got into a traffic jam for an hour and had a mad horrible experience trying to drive in Brussels with Google Maps indicating the wrong address to our overnight stay. There were loads of one-way streets and aggressive drivers in the rush hour, as well as a lack of signs, too, and there were a lot of smaller roads meeting in star-like junctions where it seemed the most confident horn-blowing driver had priority. However, we had a very nice host although we had to empty our luggage with the three boxes of books out again and carry them into the flat because of fear of getting the car broken into.
The next day we visited Brugge, a charming city, but with the added problem that no toilet opens before 10 am. Brugge is also a world heritage site and a lovely beautiful town with nice buildings.
We crossed the Channel back around midday and had a quick break in Canterbury before driving to Nottingham where we wanted to visit some relatives and stay for the night. Unfortunately, though I had misplanned the extend of the holidays and was expected back at work the very next day, which consequently lead to an intensive night drive up to Scotland.

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