In countries that have efficient household waste collection, the environmentally conscious traveller has a problem. Where do you take your ever increasing box full of recycling when public recycling points are nowhere to be seen?
Mentioning this annoying German efficiency to Kai just before saying our farewells on the main road out of Dessau, he said “I’ll take your recycling”. Being on the dark green side of green and not owning a car, we were going to have to unload our large recycling box, crushed item by crushed item into his backpack. “I’ll ride to work and recycle it there” he said. After I expressed guilt that we were basically dumping our rubbish on him as we watched him shoving old yoghurt pots and cans down beside his laptop he responded, “this is not rubbish, this is a valuable resource!”. If only more individuals and governments were like Kai.
So back on the road again and the Chinese water torture began. Whose idea was it to use large sagging rectangles of concrete with joins no better than an old Scalextric toy racetrack for a road? The repetition of the road joins was agony in a big old motorhome. Not the pleasing smooth “click-clack” you get in a train. More a “thump-thump, thump-thump” combined with cupboard creaks, plate clinks and a bounce of the seats every single bleeding time our 6 tyres rolled over a join conveniently placed at 30 metre intervals. We weren’t happy, Hans was in pain, but as usual Uller the dog was oblivious and blissfully asleep.
Crossing the old east/west border, sanity was restored as we glided over smooth-as-treacle asphalt. It felt like a different country! We all know west Germany poured bucket-loads of money into the east, post reunification, but perhaps some of the road crews ripping up hundreds of kilometres of autobahn in the west could spend a bit more time over east!
I had the finishing touches of a job to do, so we stopped in the beautiful little town of Rinteln for a couple of days. We were very impressed by the riverside motorhome parking provided by the town council, but less impressed by the lack of a single rubbish bin or the service point that only accepted the not often seen €2 coin.
Work completed, we decided on a foray into town to find a café with “vee-lan” (wifi to you and me) to send my file. Mmm, not looking good, despite it being a touristy town. Let’s see if the tourist office in this town is slightly helpful.
Despite huge enthusiasm and many phone calls, the lovely lass at the tourist office was unable to find us some wifi in town. Hungry, caffeine low, internetless and dejected we headed back to camp motorhome. On the way back we grabbed some cash from the ATM. Ouch, we forgot that the banks charge like wounded bulls here. Oh the woes of middle class westerners!
This isn’t working. Perhaps we should make a break for the Netherlands. The next frosty morning we were off. Germany seems so likeable on one hand, yet infuriating on the other. We’re not Germanists, some of our best friends are Germans, but for our type of low budget travel and work, Germany just isn’t for us. Auf wiedersehen, maybe next time.