Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Flensburg Germany Bus Trip

On November 4, the students from the folk school were going on another bus trip, this time south a ways to Flensburg Germany. The kids had done so well when we went on the first bus trip of the Jutland area, that we decided to go along on this one as well. The folk school kids had some meetings scheduled at a high school in Flensburg, so we would have a few hours to just walk around and see things that interested us while they were in those meetings.

It was about an hour on the bus to get there, and we immediately started on a walking (maybe running!) tour of the harbour and the city. I had looked at the weather beforehand, but didn't take into account that it always feels colder by the water than the actual temperature is, and hadn't brought along warm enough clothes for any of us. We'd walked from the bus to the sidewalk by the fjord, and already Anders was shivering and I was cold, and Svea was crying. Whew, I thought, this was going to be an incredibly long day! We weren't scheduled to get back on the bus again for about 5 hours! We started walking, though, and as we got into town it didn't feel quite as cold, plus, we were moving quickly through the streets so that helped warm us up.

Our first stop was the large Danish library, and we all went inside -most to use the bathroom. Outside the library the streets were narrow and crowded, and there were shoes hanging from the wires overhead. The story goes, apparently long ago the shoes were hung on the old cable car lines to indicate that these were the locations of stores for questionable substances that the people coming in off the boats could find. It looks fun, though, seeing all the wires of running shoes crossing over the streets above you.

We walked through the walking street fairly quickly -it seems Mads as a tour guide is always walking at a near-run - but saw several places that we wanted to remember so we could come back later when the students were in their meetings.

This picture doesn't quite do the hill justice, but we went up to that building on top of the hill. It was about half stairs and half ramps, so Svea got a few chariot rides as Jeff and one of the other teachers carried her in the stroller up the steps. She thought it was pretty great! The view of the harbour was neat from up there, and would have been better later in the afternoon after the fog had lifted. I'd forgotten how foggy harbours are during the morning!

Up behind that building is a large cemetery with very old stones, several hundred years old, and also this giant statue that's pretty significant in Denmark's history from when this part of the country belonged to them.

By 10:45 we'd all made it up to the high school, and stopped to eat our lunches in the dining room area there. It was early, but everyone was hungry so we all ate. Then it was our free time while the students had their meetings. We left the school, thinking we were taking the way back down the hill to the walking street where the shops were -afterall, if you're on top of a hill, and the streets are heading down, you're going in the right direction. We saw quite a bit of graffiti on the walls of the streets as we walked, and not many people around. It just didn't feel quite right. I did see an amazing little house stuck in a corner with a tiny little courtyard out front with a metal bistro table. It was picturesque like what you'd see in a fairytale, or a romantic comedy. I really wanted to take a picture of it, but there was a man -a neighbor I think- outside and he was walking very close behind us. I kept waiting for him to go inside one of the houses, but he didn't. And then we were too far past the house to get a photo. I will have to try to remember it instead. Even if we returned to Flensburg again -as I suspect we might for the Christmas market- I don't think I'd find it again!

We were a bit turned around by the time we reached the bottom of the hill, and it took a while to get oriented again. We were about four blocks farther down the city than we thought we were, but quickly made our way back to the walking streets we intended to go to. The kids didn't quite understand that we were going there just to walk. They kept asking if we were there yet, and where we were going. We saw a "Everything for 1 Euro" store, and decided to go inside. If nothing else, we could warm up for a bit -though for the most part we weren't feeling too cold anymore. It was a fairly large store, and had more things than I'd expected to see there. We ended up buying some skeins of yarn -they were cheaper than at the recycle shop!-, two hot wheels, some chocolate coins the boys had been asking for since they'd seen them weeks ago, and a calendar of postcards of Germany. Ten Euro. It wasn't such a bad deal.

The bustle of the walking streets was kind of fun. There were a lot of people, but it didn't feel overly crowded. And the shops were small and close together -it seemed one building ran into the next, with very few side streets to break them up. It was nice that we didn't really have to look out for cars, though, except for the occasional delivery truck.
 When we first arrived on the walking street, we could hear music. Then we saw this woman sitting on a stool playing an accordion. Reminded me of the street musicians we heard all the time in Chicago -though those were almost always guitars or buckets, rather than accordions. But still, it was fun.
 In the afternoon, after the students were done with their meetings, we got back on the bus and drove about a half an hour to Schleiswig to see the ruins of the wall that was used back in the war. It used to be 5m tall and 2m thick, and they had cleared all the trees and brush for several kilometers, so they could easily see the enemy coming.
 This picture is the "after" of the one that follows it. Imagine, though, that instead of two boys standing on the edges of that wet stump, there are three children standing there -the smallest one trying to be just like her big brothers.
Just as I was saying "be careful, that is very slippery when it's wet!" Svea disappeared inside the hole in the stump. If you look closely in this bottom one, where just Anders is standing, you can see her hand and forearm reaching out from the center of it. She didn't get hurt, but she was rather irritated about it. Jeff took the picture as I was walking to pick her up. The hole wasn't that deep, but she's still small. That was the end of climbing on stumps for today.

 Torben felt on top of the world, climbing to the tops of these hills. You really could see for miles!

 Here, me and all three kids discus how it's fun to be on top of the hills, but they need to be careful of the edges because the grass is slippery and wet and it's sort of a long way down. The one we're standing on had wooden stairs built into one side so visitors could climb to the top.
 Our kids, as well as several of the students, were really interested in testing their skills of climbing without the aid of steps, though.
 It was about 4:00 in the afternoon when we were here, so the sun was beginning to set. I love this picture of Torben looking out into the world.
 Well, my picture order got a little messed up here! But it was all the same day and it's difficult to move them around, so I'll just go with it. Here is Svea's chariot ride up the steps to that large museum. Jeff and Jakob picked up the stroller and carried her. She thought that was fantastic!
 The high school we visited was a Danish one, even though it's in Germany. Apparently this dining hall area is strictly a Danish invention -there are no such communal places in a typical German school. I thought it was interesting that there were a few random book cases attached to the walls. I'm not sure if they were there so kids could just pick up something to read if they were sitting there, or if it was some sort of exchange "take a book, leave a book" sort of thing, or what. There were only about three shelves, and this was the only one that was full. The cushions on the bench seats against the walls were interesting -there were poles bolted to the bricks, and the poles were threaded through pockets in the cushions, thus keeping them in place. Quite ingenious, really. It was a nice place to stop and eat for a little while.
 This was sort of an interesting fountain we encountered while we were trying to meander our way back to the walking street. The boys asked if it was a fish hatchery, and, really, it looks a lot like the salmon runs I remember from elementary school. Maybe that's where they got the idea. There were no fish it in now.
 I just loved the stone archways in this building. At the far end, just outside of the picture, was a little shop selling backpacks and bags. But on this end, it looks like it could be a tunnel to anywhere.
 We passed this church just at noon, and the bells rang loud and clear. There were also signs for a performance of Dvorak's Requiem coming soon.
 This sign made us laugh, to remember the conversation my mom had on the phone with some of the women from Mexico, when she mentioned over and over "Grande Fiesta!" We decided that "Bergfest" must be somewhat the same.
 Shortly before we left, we decided to walk into the mall rather than along the streets -the kids needed a bathroom before getting back on the bus- and came across the T.K. Maxx store. In Europe, apparently, it's TK rather than TJ -supposedly because there is another store with TJ as the beginning of the name and it would be too confusing- and it took most of my willpower to not go in. I did look through the windows, though. It looks just exactly the same as they do back home -even the stuff inside was the same. That made it a little easier, since I know my suitcases can't carry things from there, and I can most likely find the same things once I get home.

Anders really liked this waterwheel outside the mall.
This scarf was the only thing -other than our purchases at the "Everything for 1 Euro" store and a few postcards- we bought on our trip. I thought it was very pretty, and it was relatively inexpensive also. 
 And here we end the blog post about our trip with Torben climbing the hills once again. He's always been a climber!

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