11th September 2016. Goslar, Germany.

I decided to change all the contents of the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen before we left the parkplatz (so much for getting to our pitch earlier in the day, that decision didn’t last long did it!).  It’s a job I’ve been meaning to do for a few months! I had loads of tinned food in a cupboard that I couldn’t reach and rarely looked in and we had fruit and vegetables in various cupboards which meant every so often we’d forget we had something and then find it just as it was starting to go mouldy.  Now I can see everything easily.

We drove to Harz National Park Visitors Centre. I’ve been harping on during the whole of this journey wondering where everyone is, well I can answer that question now, they’re ALL at the Harz National Park Visitors Centre!  It was HEAVING with people.

We were rather late arriving (how unusual!) so Darren decided we should go into Tourist Information before they closed then go and have coffee and cake, perfect!  I had to take a photograph of one of the HUGE display bottles that was in the car park, we’ve no idea what it was but it was 35% so probably wasn’t a bottle of beer as we’d originally guessed.

The girls on the Information desk were busy with a customer choosing wooden spinning tops when we arrived so we wandered around looking for leaflets in English and when the customer left we went over to ask about walking trails in the area.   She told us she’d run out of print offs in English so Darren said we were happy to have a German one, that completely confused her and with a puzzled look on her face she said “Where do you come from?”, when we said England she was thrilled and told us that although the leaflets in English had all gone the people using them were English speaking (Dutch and Danish, although we did hear some Americans chatting as we walked around the town) she was very excited that we were from the UK.

She printed off 1 walk which turned out to be 5 hour walk to the top of the mountain and back, unlikely to be doing that at 3.30 in the afternoon so she printed off another which she said she always suggested to families with small children.  She started to explain where we would find some literature and eventually decided that it was so well hidden that she’d take us upstairs to show us.  I’m glad she did, we walked through two rooms, past a load of leaflets written in German and round the corner into a little alcove where all the English leaflets were hidden.  I’m not sure we would have thought to look in there if she hadn’t shown us.

We took the leaflets and squeezed through the throng (Sunday is bike meet day at the top of the mountain) and found a seat outside the restaurant overlooking a ski lift.  The restaurant was advertising a cake on their board out the front and when Darren saw two delivered to the table opposite us he decided to have one.  I nearly got sucked in because they did look great until I realised it was version of Black Forest gateau.  I was punished enough with that all through the 70’s, nasty, sneaky, cake pretending it was gorgeous, creamy, chocolate cake but hiding REVOLTING black cherries in the middle, they taste like medicine! I had apple strudel, much tastier.

While we were eating a German couple came and sat down at the adjoining table and said “Guten abend”.   A while later the waitress came over and asked us something which we took to mean would we like the bill, so we nodded and said “Ja bitte” she disappeared and about 20 minutes later as she was wandering through Darren did his Dad’s universal sign for the bill doing handwriting squiggle gesture in the air.  She acknowledged that and as she went off we decided that we needed to know the word for bill and Darren in his wisdom decided to ask the lady (who didn’t speak any English!) when she came back.

There ensued complete confusion, the waitress obviously thought we had a problem with the bill but we were unable to explain that we actually only wanted to know what the word for ‘bill’ was.  Luckily for us the nice couple next to us came to our rescue and explained to her what we were trying to ask, you could see the look of relief on her face.  We paid the bill and then sat chatting to the people next to us.  They had just done the five hour walk up the mountain but they told us there is a steam train that takes you to the top and you can walk down, that sounds much better.

They told us they were going to visit their son in Munich next week because he wants to take them to Oktoberfest.  We told them we’ve decided we’re not going there it’s too much of a rush to get down there and it will be heaving with people.  They also mentioned a town on the other side of the mountain that they thought we’d enjoy visiting so we’ll drive there at some point.  As British as ever, I found it impossible not to bring up the subject of the weather and they told us that this amazing heatwave is most unusual, apparently it’s usually a bit wet, he laughed and said it comes over from the UK!  Cheeky!

We have decided to make the most of the nice weather and explore this region.

We moved on to Goslar and started off down the mountain road, very steep and nice and windy and as we got near the bottom we saw a speed camera with a sign saying that lorries over 7.5 t had to stick to 20 km per hour but as we got to it it flashed us!  The weird thing was we were so close to it that the light flashed me right in the face, they must get lots of photos of motorhome passengers with “Aaaaargh!” looks on their faces, perhaps it’s a perverse form of entertainment for the people checking the camera.

We parked in the free stëllplatz which was a five minute walk from town.  We were pleased to find some spaces still available and it made us very happy when a couple more vans arrived much later than us.

We made an error of judgement and walked into the town for a little look.  We had no idea that the town was so big, we are going to return on our bikes tomorrow for a better look round.  They were just packing up stalls, it appears there had been a festival there during the weekend, as we’d walked into the town there were lots groups of people walking out and we wondered whether the town was closing for the evening, apparently not.

We wandered aimlessly through the town looking at all the beautiful buildings, the pretty streets carried on into the distance so we really do need our bikes to explore it properly.  We turned down one street to see a lady sitting on her walking frame intently watching a young lad and two policemen across the street.  It looked as though the boy had parked in a no parking area although for some reason he knelt down on the path and started peering at something underneath the car as we went past.  Maybe his exhaust pipe was falling off and he’d been pulled over for making a racket?  When we walked past the other end of the lane on our way back to the van later the lady was carrying on her way so I assume her entertainment must have come to an end.

When we returned to the van we sat and listened to an Inspector Rebus story, our friend Andy used to listen to audio books a lot so we took a leaf out of his book and bought a couple.  It’s been nice sitting in the fading light looking out at the world around us whilst we listened to a story, very relaxing.

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