The jetlag we were not feeling on our first full day reared its ugly head today, and we both were lying awake for various portions of the early morning. Since the birds wake up around 4 am here, it might take a while before we fully adjust–we ended up sleeping until about 9:20! Then we had a lovely breakfast, and all of us walked to the botanical gardens, one of our favorite places within walking distance. Kai was being a classic teenager, listening to music on his iphone and walking off on his own, but he also sat down to sketch a gnarly tree and admired the little bonsai azalea exhibit that we came across. We were gone until about noon, and then had a lovely light lunch–cream of asparagus soup and cucumber/tomato salad, with a bit of ice cream and Imke’s rhubarb meringue cake for dessert.
After a bit of a rest, Imke, Mark and I took off by car to go to the Piesberg hiking area, which I wanted to make sure Mark got to see. It’s one of the three slightly higher elevations around Osnabrueck, all three somewhat bombastically called “berg” = mountain, but the highest spot on the Piesberg was 200 meters above sea level (that would be about 600 feet). What’s fun about the area is that is is a partially still active rock quarry and coal mining area, so you can look down into the stripmined area and see the geology of the area really well. In recent years, the high elevation has meant that there are now several very large wind turbines on top, the largest ones standing 450 feet tall. There is a platform near one of them where you can see all of the region–on a clear, sunny day like today, we could actually see about 30 miles into the distance! The surrounding hiking area also has an old arboretum from the 19th century, which has a rather famous rarity–a 150-year-old giant sequoia (German term: Mammutbaum = mammoth tree), one of the very small handful one finds in Germany’s botanical gardens. While we were looking at it,there were two tour groups with guides that came to look at it! We had no idea that they would grow in Germany, given that they only grow in a rather small area of the US and are pretty finicky about the climate, soil, and light exposure they need!
We walked around in the Piesberg area for about 2 hours, and then came home; I finally got around to booking further legs of our trips and the hotels we need for a few nights that we are not spending with friends, and found some good bargains. But the process tried my patience a bit, and I was glad I got a break for dinner–we had pasta with mediterranean vegetables and some very fancy dark chocolate Imke had received as a gift. After dinner, I tried to wrap up being a travel agent, but there are still a few trips that I need to return to in the morning. This was a full but very fun day, and the weather couldn’t have been better–temperatures in the upper 70s, and mostly sunny. Mark won’t believe me that we should really be expecting mostly rain from Germany this time of year!