The International Dollard Route with Stena Line & Visit Germany
This post is the second installment of my road trip with Stena Line. After the ship arrived in Holland, we got on a train to Rotterdam and picked up a car for our three hour drive to Leer, Germany. The tourist board had packed in the activities so even though we weren’t there for that long, we still got to see loads, crossing between Germany and Holland all the day, experiencing as much as we could!
I drank tea the East Fresian way
Our first activity of the trip was visiting the Bünting tea museum for an authentic East Fresian tea ceremony. Tea is important to the people of ostfriesland because the land itself is very marshy which leaves their drinking water tasting a bit odd, their solution is to drink it as tea (that or brew it into beer.) They are very particular about how the drink it using only very small cups to ensure the correct proportions. They also won't stir their tea so it settles into 3 layers - the cream on top then the tea and the very sweet tea from the sugar at the bottom.
We arrived in Leer and checked into the brand new Hotel Hafenspeicher, yep, none of us could pronounce it either! It’s only been open for six months and you could really tell because everything was still in perfect condition. The carpet were plump and full, the walls, spotless and the whole bathroom was sparkling new! My bed was freshly made both days, although that never lasted long as I usually got straight in - it was super comfortable and a lovely room to relax in after a very busy day exploring. I loved to open the curtains wide to let lots of light in as the whole back wall was a window
Breakfast was buffet style and as usual, I always went for the cheese with some fruit and smoked salmon while the girls opted for pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. We also had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant opting for fish both nights, sushi, white fish, tuna steaks, we had it all and every dish was delicious accompanied by a glass of prosecco of course!
Visited Kiekkaaste (a viewing platform)
You might recognise this funny looking structure from my Instagram. My whole experience of this place was pretty surreal, we walked for 15 minutes along a wooden path that twisted and turned through the reeds it was built above. It felt like something out of I'm a celebrity mixed up with Alice in Wonderland because all you could see and hear were the never ending reeds blowing around in the wind.
Then, when you do finally get to the end, you are confronted by this very odd looking thing on the edge of nowhere. It’s a viewing platform but it doubles as a bird house and I thought it was pretty cool, it was surrounded with wildlife with lots of tweeting as little birds swooped past and up to their nests.
Ate Dutch delicacies
When we stopped for lunch one afternoon, our guide for the trip, Uli, suggested we try kipsate. None of us has heard of it before but he told us it’s a very popular dish in the Netherlands and simply described it is chicken with peanut sauce (sate then made sense - basically satay chicken) so with that as a description we all ordered it and it was delicious.
We were also surprised to hear that spare ribs were a big thing there as well so on our last day, we stopped off at an American style river ranch and ate sticky ribs and baked potatoes outside in
Drank my first glass of wine
Everyone was very shocked to hear that I had never drunk a glass of wine before so I guess trying the top voted Netherlands wine of 2015 wasn't a bad one to start with. We had one white, one rose and two reds with a board of cheese and some chorizo. I actually really enjoyed the white but both the reds were far too tart for me. After our tasting, we were shown around the vineyards and where the wine is fermented, aged and bottled.
We crossed the narrowest bridge in Germany
On our last day we went out for a little drive. To get to this bridge, we first had to get the car across a river on what they call Pünte, the oldest and last hand operated ferry in Europe. I’m not sure you could really call it a ferry though, it looked more like a raft to me and used to be used to transport cattle across the river. We drove on to it and watched in amazement as the muscly guy pulled the raft across the river on a rope.
After that excitement, we were just five minutes away from Germany’s narrowest car bridge which was just 1.65 metres wide. Julie was pretty freaked out but we manged to get across it with both wing mirrors in tact!