Saturday, July 23, 2011

Landlocked Wulkow

Apologies for the lack of posts over the past few days - not only are we in a location with a poor data signal, but also we have been so laid back that blogging somehow got forgotten.

On Thursday morning we packed a few clothes (mostly washing), arranged with the marina to leave the boat for a few days, and set off for Warnemünde station.

We weren't at all sure how much the train fare to Hangelsberg would cost. A quick investigation on the ticket machine had shocked us with a quote of over €300 return, for three of us. The Deutsche Bahn website indicated that the standard single fare was €41.50 each, ie a total of €250 or so. In the end we bought cheap tickets to Rostock and found a helpful lady in the Hauptbahnhof ticket office. She sold us two special family tickets, €56 each way for (I think) up to five people, to anywhere in Germany, a rather more manageable total of €112. Not bad for a journey of more than 200km.

Rostock to Berlin took just under three hours, and about halfway along it started raining, so the views of the German lake district were a bit limited. Berlin Hauptbahnhof is very huge and magnificent, on three levels with trains running on the bottom and top levels, and people and shops in the middle. It opened in 2006 and I had never been there before, so was suitably impressed. Our ticket required us to go to Fürstenwalde, then take a train back to Hangelsberg, rather than get the direct train which would have got us there three minutes later.

It was bucketing with rain the whole time, but fortunately we were met at Hangelsberg station and whisked off to Wulkow by Herr Pacholke, the father of Heike Pacholke who normally looks after the house. By a vast irony we arrived an hour before Heike set off to spend a few days in the UK with various members of Camilla's family, but we were able to see her briefly before she left.

Wulkow was built as a hunting lodge with an interesting tower at one end. The house had a hard time during the DDR period but was reclaimed by the family in the early nineties, and restored to modern standards. We use the tower and a little bit of the long house, and Heike lives in the rest. It's surrounded by trees, which are surrounded by forest, close to the river Spree. It's very peaceful and spacious, and for the first few hours in the house we had to keep checking on each others' whereabouts - we're not used to being so far apart.

It rained non-stop until Friday evening, with lots of wind, and we were extraordinarily grateful to be under a solid roof, on solid ground, and enjoying the sound of wind in the trees instead of wind howling through masts and rigging.

We have the use of a car here, a mature Skoda estate, and on our supermarket run on Friday morning we made the mistake of opening the offside rear electric window. There was a loud clunk and the glass refused to rise again, leaving us with a large opening not ideal for weatherproofing or security. Sam spent part of the afternoon at the Audi garage where they investigated, reported that it needed a new motor, but as a short-term fix they were able to wedge it shut with a hand-crafted block of wood. Vorsprung durch technik and all that.

Today the rain has stopped and the sun has even shone occasionally, although it's still quite windy. We've been to a nice little spa town called Buckow, which has nice lakes with walks around them, and a number of hills. We can't remember the last time we saw a hill, but it's been a while.

Must end here as I must have another bath before we go out for dinner...

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