Why not Germany?

Do you ever wish that you lived in the England of perhaps a generation ago?
When food tasted “proper”, public transport worked, town centres were safe & authority was respected?

Well I do and it’s called Germany.

Germany – an emotive word still for many in the UK but why? – is it still the war, or football, and why do so few English tourists visit? True, it may seem a little expensive now the pound is so low but it is still excellent value for money. No dearer than many European destinations and with much to offer. Butter-smooth autobahns, low traffic density, and spotlessly clean B&Bs for around €40 pppn in some great holiday destinations.

I served with the RAF in Germany during the 1970s, and I returned here in 2006. I live now in Berlin, part of the Northern flatlands of what is a large, relatively thinly-populated and diverse country that stretches from the Bavarian Alps to the Baltic coast. It enjoys “proper” seasons – short vibrant springs, warm summers and real winters; during that of 2009/2010 there was snow on the ground for over 60 days and a low of -20c is not uncommon. My Rohan Winter Bags are essential!

I make photographs, and one of my favourite locations is the Baltic Sea island of Hiddensee. It’s about 3 hours’ drive from Berlin to the ferry at Schaprode, or a little longer if one stops off at Stralsund for hot chocolate & cakes at Gumpfen’s.

There are no private cars allowed on the island, so your time there is spent walking or cycling; enjoying the clean air and the peace & quiet. Watching the waves & the seagulls. For me, it is a better place in the winter than the summer and if you’re lucky, the ferry journey is by ice-breaker.

You can read the full account of my first visit to Hiddensee at:

http://www.photograhame.com/pages/hiddenseetext.html

In the warmer months, the Sandstone Cliffs in Saxony are quite remarkable. There are holiday villages clinging to the foothills along the Elbe valley, and there are good paths & handrails to the tops. For me, it is a fairly stiff climb but the views are spectacular. It is worth an early start to see the sun rise slowly, bathing the rocks in a golden glow. As the mist burns off, you can understand why early man worshipped the sun.

In the autumn, it’s back to the Baltic coast where the European cranes fatten-up for their journey south. Perhaps 20,000 birds gather along the coast, eating all day at special feeding sites and spending their nights in shallow water, safe from predators. To see & hear so many of these beautiful birds is a spectacular experience, even for a non-photographer.

If my photographs tempt you into visiting Germany then I’m glad and certain, too, that you will enjoy the experience.

I’m happy to help, should you need any advice in planning a visit.

Grahame Soden, ARPS

http://www.photograhame.com/index.html

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