A fierce thunderstorm overnight gave way to a lovely, hot sunny day. We opted for a paddle upstream on the river Unstrut.
Although the river looked quite fast flowing, it was fine – although we did elect to paddle upstream first, to ensure that we could conserve enough energy to get home! We attracted quite an audience as we launched – there was a lovely group of youngsters staying on the campsite, in the care of a long-haired-and-bearded Cool Sir.
We paddled up past the castle, following a kingfisher! Mark saw a turtle, or terrapin. He said it was about the size of a domestic tortoise. When we spoke to some locals later they told us that it was indeed a turtle. They used to be so common in the river that they could even remember their grandmother cooking turtle!
We floated effortlessly back downriver, surrounded by iridescent blue dragonflies and damsel flies. It was so quiet, relaxing and serene.
Saale-Unstrut National Park
“Halle (Saale) is a city in the southern part of the German state Saxony-Anhalt. The Saale-Unstrut region is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Central Germany” the blurb informed us. The area slogan “Experience nature – discovering history” does sum up the landscape of forest, terraced vineyards and orchards dotted with castles along the rivers Saale, Unstrut and Elster. The river valleys of Saale and Ustrut come together at Naumburg, which is home to a spectacular cathedral.
There is some interesting geology, in the area with rocks dating from the Triassic era. The 3,600-year-old artefact the Nebra Sky Disc ‘one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th Century’ was also discovered locally – and it contains gold from Cornwall! It is on show in the Museum of Prehistory in Halle and is thought to be the earliest known depiction of the universe, with the moon, sun and the pleiades – the star nursery of the Seven Sisters in the constellation of Taurus.
It is little wonder that the region is on its way to recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site!
Freyburg – Mumm’s the word in the “Tuscany of the North”
We’re not really ones for sightseeing, but we decided to visit the town of Freyburg, nicknamed ‘The Tuscany of the North’ because we needed a bank to get some cash.
Freyburg has the 11th-century Neuenburg castle, associations with the founder of modern gymnastics and is the headquarters of Rotkäppchen-Mumm, one of the world’s largest wine companies .
Neuenburg was built by Thuringian count Ludvig der Springer to secure his territories in the East, as sister castle Wartburg did in the West. Luther was imprisoned at Wartburg, which is described as ‘the most quintessential German castle” although when it was built, as castles went in Germany, Neuenburg was one of the biggest and best.
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, nationalist, patriot and the German “father of gymnastics” who founded the turnverein (gymnastics club) movement in Germany to promote physical and moral wellness – and the political will to free The Fatherland! Jahn invented the parallel bars, the rings, the balance beams, the horse and the horizontal bar; all now standard equipment in modern gymnastics. Liberal and outspoken, Jahn often came into conflict with the authorities; he was imprisoned, exiled and came to Freyburg because he was forbidden to live within 10 miles of Berlin.
Jahn founded a volunteer force in the Prussian army and was often employed in the secret service. The Prussians awarded him the Iron Cross for bravery in the wars against Napoleon and in 1848. Like former punk rebel Johnny Rotten (John Lydon) of the band ‘The Sex Pistols’ who did a TV commercial for Country Life butter, Jahn was eventually absorbed by The System. Not quite selling out and going on ‘I’m a Celebrity’ (although Lydon did quit in controversy!) – Jahn was elected by the district of Naumberg to the German National Parliament!
We enjoyed Freyburg. The castle was really worth a visit; a steep, shady walk up some steps and plenty to see once there. The town was sleepy but very pretty. Very little was open, however and we couldn’t find a bank. I went into the Tourist Information Office. “Sprechen sie English?” “Nein” “Français?” “Nein” “Italiano?” “Nein” I walked out, still unable to find a bank! I am really going to have to be a bit more diligent with ‘German in 3 Months.’
We did an evening paddle and asked the lovely family next door to take some photos. Their daughter Ella was terrified of our pack of Throat Tearing Hounds. She retreated to the top of a picnic table when I took little Lani over to meet her and refused to come down, despite her Mum’s assurances!
The SUP trip proved rather entertaining; Mark decided to throw the ball from the paddle board. Kai leapt after it, then Rosie ran between Mark’s legs just as Mark was trying to retrieve both the ball and Kai, so naturally, he fell in! Then both Rosie and Kai made a break for the shore and disappeared! It took some time and a bit of a Carry On to get them back aboard.
I think the school kids enjoyed the spectacle. With all the iPhones on the scene, there is every chance that Pups on SUPs are now a German internet sensation!
Join us next time for our very own Colditz Story!
How did we get here? Not how did humankind come to exist, but how did a caravan and four Cavapoos end up in East Germany? To catch up with the story so far, see Continental Cavapoos; Year 2 which will bring you up to date with our journey so far.
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