I told you so before and will do so once more: The Corona restrictions can have positive effects too. In the last few weeks, i.e., it brought me closer to my Lower Saxony home. Have you ever heard of the Stonehenge of Lower Saxony so far or the former Cistercian monastery of Mariental-Dorf? Maybe you like to visit a near-natural open-air swimming-pool or to have a look at a wall that has been listed as a world heritage site? If so, I recommend this city to you: Helmstedt.
It is my second visit-to-the-past to Helmstedt. Three highlights are on my list today: The Waldbad Birkerteich, the monastery of Mariental and the megalithic tomb “Lübbensteine”. At the beginning I cannot guess that a strenous effort with interesting encounters lays before me.
Please do not pee
Starting at the train station I head towards the historical ramparts direction of Walbecker Straße. Just at the corner of “Langer Wall and Magdeburger Straße”, close to the tavern “La Vida Loca” (the crazy life) I am faced with two “do-not-pee-here”-signs, much to my surprise. I honour the fact that the owner at least kept his humour alive. I can imagine that proprietors are time and again up against this: night owls are relieving themselves on their estate! However, I have to admit that the statement on the two signs makes me smile this morning: “Please do not pee here” and “this wall is a world heritage site.” Is this an inventive or desperate measure, I wonder.
Further down the rampart, close to the historical city walls, I come across a park I have not seen before. I make a detour and walk along the Walpurgisstraße. In enjoy myself strolling along the frame houses and their sandstone emblems.
From there I go straight to my first goal: The Waldbad Birkerteich. The pretty open-air swimming-pool dates back to the Helmstedter Badeverein of 1973 and is situated in an appealing, near-natural surrounding. Optically nothing much has changed here. I remember that as a child I was quite afraid of the five-metres high diving plattform. Curageous world’s men might have used this “tower” to impress their adored ones. You may wonder whether marriages have been contracted by this? Who know?
From the village to the monastery
From the swimming-pool I pass by the camping ground Waldwinkel. Just opposite to it I encounter a bike- and hiking-map. How lucky I am. I realize that I can reach my next stage, the former cloister Mariental, easily by using forest tracks. At the Waldwinkel I turn left, cross the country road once and turn right into the forest. From there I take the Lappwald trail no. 9 (Drillingskiefer-tour).
On my way I ask a local for directions to the monastery at Mariental. At first I am not quite sure whether the guy is one over the eight or just needs some time to figure out the right way. Fortunately, the man is familiar with the place. I just have to go left and turn right at the next crossing, thus I am on the right track to the cloister. After 1,5 hours later I reach Mariental-Dorf. I did not expect this. I am not sure whether I have been here before. But now I am caught by surprise. I make a tour over the compound and visit also the places which are publicly available, such as the Lapidarium, the church and the graffiti room. Unfortunately, time is short and I still want to pay a visit to the Stonehenge of Helmstdt.
Working at the car wash!
I ask a friendly resident couple whether there is a bus connection to Helmstedt. The man tells me that there is only a school bus going. “Oh, well” I say, “I try my luck.” The two give me a desperate sight. In the end it turns out all right. At the federal highway I encounter a bike trail to Helmstedt. The distance is only six kilometres – just a stone’s throw away to me!
I enjoy the nice weather and I am of good courage walking towards the city. Just having reached the outskirts of Helmstedt I instantly spot busy women and men enjoying Germany’s favourite pastime. Exactly, I pass by a car wash. What else can give you as much joy as this occupation on a sunny saturday afternoon? I ask for directions to the Lübbensteine. Just walk down the road, than turn right into the Schwalbenbreite, pass by the Real-Kauf, pass by the allotment garden and you are there, they tell me.
Meeting Dr. Goldzahn
As the lady I talked to was not quite sure of the way I decide to crosscheck the description by obtaining another opinion. I stop a biker driving by. The driver, visibly pleased by the unexpected encounter, looks over me and shows his gold tooth. “Ah”, he utters astonishingly, “you want to go there righ now and by foot?” He acknowledges the directions given earlier and boldly asks: “Where are you from?” Well, I answer: “I don’t tell you.”
Passing by the Real-Kauf old memories come alive. Believe it or not, the opening of Real-Kauf at Helmstedt was a major event at that time. It was cumpolsory to have a cup of coffee following your purchase on a friday afternoon – it was all about seeing and being seen. Well, long time ago. I allow myself a little bit of nostalgia before I head to the legendary megalithic tomb “Lübbensteine” located at the city limits of Helmstedt.
What’s the best way to go there, I wonder? Once again, a couple helps me out. Two bikers (on E-bikes of course) are crossing my way. I ask for the Lübbensteine. The guy starts to explain at length the way leading alongside the street and through the allotment garden. Suddenly he is rudely interrupted by his wife saying: “You should not explain the route this way – women do not understand such complicated explanations.” What? Did I get this right? Did the lady really say that women are mentally deficient? I just grin. Than it is her turn to provide me with directions. Well, I decide to follow HIS directions and find my way instantly.
Having reached the place I am caught by another surprise. This site is popular. No matter if you use this place for a family trip or to hook up some chicks, the Lübbensteine are quite something. And well, I have to admit that the “stones” are worth a visit.
This is no ordinary love
Slowly but surely this sunny afternoon is coming to an end. Actually I was looking forward to a calm and reflective stop at the “stones” but, well, it was not meant to be. It is time to return to the train station. Lucky enough, I know my quickest way back. Via Pastorenweg and Conringstraße I head towards the “Alter Friedhof”, “my” park. The Johannesstraße, passing by the Bohnen-Klinik, leads me back to the train station.
I can hardly believe that I am writing this down now, but it was once again a nice day in good old Helmstedt!