Calais to Bad Oldesloe

We’ve made good progress in our first four days overseas, without doing excessive amounts of driving (a total of 630 miles since Calais):

Mark was very impressed by the comfy seating provided by P&O, a vast improvement on the old rust-bucket we crossed the Channel in last time:

We spent our first night (Thursday) on a Carrefour car part at Bray Dunes just East of Dunkerque, then Friday night on a free stopover at Bemmel, near Eindhoven, which was basically the local dogwalkers’ carpark but quite pretty nevertheless.

By Saturday night we’d made it to Lemwerder near Bremen, where we had to splash out the princely sum of €3 for our overnight stay. Mark decided that it was absolutely imperative that he head to the shop on his bike for salad and tomatoes. This was the first test for his new shopping basket, so he bought bread as well; I’m told it’s proper to have a baguette sticking out of one’s shopping basket…..

We had a short-ish drive on Sunday morning across to Soltau, where the local town museum was on my list of places to visit. I’d read that it had some exhibits on the WW1 PoW camp – I take Mark to all the best places 😉

Soltau was the biggest WW1 PoW camp in Germany and the place where my GG Uncle George ended up having been taken prisoner in August 1914. There’s nothing left of the camp itself but the information in the museum was interesting and I now have details of a long out of print book to look out for (no copies currently available online)…

Soltau itself was a nice-looking and busy little place. Here’s Mark on our wander back to Kampington through the park:

After a night at Soltau (more free parking), Mark decided that today we’d better visit Bergen-Belsen as I’d mentioned that it was nearby. This was Mark’s first visit to one of the WW2 camps; I’ve previously been to Dachau and Auschwitz.

Bergen-Belsen was a PoW camp and from 1943, part of it became a concentration camp. The information and films in the museum part were suitably grim. Almost 20,000 died in the PoW camp and over 52,000 in the concentration camp, from typhoid, dysentry, or anything else that could easily finish you off when you were down to being a bag of bones. The video interviews with survivors and local residents (which seem mainly to have been filmed around the year 2000) we’re very good. One rather hefty-looking woman explained that when the camp was liberated by the Brits in 1945, she weighed just 29kg…..

We’re now parked up for the night at a place called Bad Oldesloe between Hamburg and Lübeck. We’ve had gloriously hot and sunny weather every day so far, and tonight is shaping up to be another fabulous evening. Must stop there for the moment as the Bratwurst aren’t going to cook themselves…..