Monday, 6 August 2007

The Eifel Tour

Yes, the Eifel Tour, not the Eiffel Tower.

We spent this weekend on a ‘minibreak’. Our lovely German neighbours had recommended a national park an hour and a half south west of Cologne, known as the Eifel, so that was where we sped off to on Friday evening. The Eifel - covers almost 11,000 hectares and is home to over 460 endangered species of flora and fauna.

Urftsee Lake from Cake VogelsangWithin the Eifel is a place called Camp Vogelsang. It was constructed as a Nazi training school. After the Second World War it was annexed by the US, then British and then Belgian forces. It was used as a NATO training camp from 1955 until 2006, when it was opened to the public and is now being developed as a site both for historical remembrance and for wildlife conservation. From the camp there are fantastic views of the Urftsee Lake which you can see in this panoramic photo (it's better if you click to enlarge, but I don't need to explain that to you).

deer and churnCertainly we were thrilled to catch glimpses of a lot of wildlife during the weekend.
Here is a deer with its natural prey – a churn of milk. See how it has just made a kill and is jealously guarding its prey.

It was exciting to stumble across this group woodland creatures enacting a scene from their natural environment. Normally they kill each other on sight, but here they are being nice to each other, for the sake of the tourist pound.
(I jest of course: actually all these animal delights were to be found within our hotel. They live there. Or at least lived.)

Our hotel was nice. Quite family friendly. At least the staff and guests pretended to be, as April screamed down the dining room when everyone was trying to have a nice meal the Friday night. In the end her father had to take her outside for a chat about her behaviour...which basically involved pushing her pram around until she fell asleep. Meanwhile her mother got started on the wine. Hic :-)

forest_by_hotelThe hotel was set within forest, by a babbling brook. It was originally built as a water mill in the mid 19th century - hence the requirement to be near moving water. On the Saturday I took a walk along a trail leading away from the hotel, following the stream towards the old mill ponds. I was struck by the beauty of these trees along the route. So amazingly tall and graceful.

cheese ash trayEach time we went into our hotel room were were taken aback by the existence of this 'decorative' ash tray. The only way I can describe its mottled attributes would be to say that if cheddar and stilton were to have an illicit liaison, this would be their love child.

Within the Eifel region is a picturesque town called Monschau, where we chose to spend the Sunday. It is a town of half-timbered buildings and narrow winding streets, set within a river valley. It is good for ambling.

spiders Here we visited a 'sculpture park' which turned out to be more like a shop window for a creative ironmonger. But pleasant all the same. These metre wide spider sculptures are an example of how pleasant the ironmonger's vision can sometimes get.

Near to the sculpture park was a man 'playing' a wind up musical organ. Very jolly. But later, when we spied him from behind, we saw him relaxing, standing chatting with a tourist. He wasn't turning the handle, but music was still coming out. We felt slightly conned having previously believed that his job always demanded physical input. All I can say is that he has to live with the burden of his lie every day... Here's a very poor movie showing Simon pushing April along a pathway towards the music man. Let the music be the theme tune to this blog entry.

The weekend was rounded off with some food at a cute pavement restaurant. Food always rounds things off for me.

1 comment:

JL said...

That should, in fact, be the theme music to all blog posts.

It looks like a lovely place to spend a mini-break. I bet you're missing Basildon so ...! ;-)