We got back onto the E30 and headed east towards Paul's stopping along the way to eat, rest and buy a new gaz stove - the one we brought with us burst into flames, luckily outside the van, at the camping site. We had to leave it hissing gas under a tree after sloshing a bowl of water over it.
From Eindhoven the road took us through Duisburg, Essen, on to Hannover. The remains of the E-W German border post at Helmstedt, now in the hands of investors and speculators, had changed into a thriving business park. At one point, the rain which had been very heavy turned into ice and several accidents ensued.
At about 20.30 we finally arrived at the junction of the Berliner Ring road near Potsdam. We had to take this in the direction of Hamburg and turn off at the top and head NNE to Oranienburg and Gransee and lastly to Menz, a small village in the forests where Paul lived.{old MAP of N East Germany 100Kb}
The roads were tree-lined narrow roads, straightish and in the small towns the surface was non-existent forcing you to slow down.

Paul lived in a property he and Katrin had bought 3 years ago with the purpose of converting
to a 'peace palace', a meditation academy. It was really coming on. The building was a former
council office set in the middle of the forest. There are wild boars and buzzards about.
The previous year I had visited and helped with some of the re-construction of the outbuildings.
It was approaching 11 o'clock and hoped everyone was still up. I hated arriving late like this.
Paul came out in his pyjamas!
"I'd gone to bed!" His broad West Midlands accent reminding me of our long friendship over 30 years, both us in similar family businesses that had disappeared in the 80's when heavy industry declined. He had learned German -
Katrin was German - and now was in the heart of prime tourist land in North Germany establishing the Peace Palace much to the
disgruntlement of locals loyal to the Catholic doctrines. They both taught meditation, but Paul, because he was English couldn't teach outside England.
"Sorry, sorry sorry!" I felt bad getting them up.
We stayed in the van overnight to avoid causing more lateness by trying to install ourselves in the house at that time of night.

The idea now was to go to Gdansk in North East Poland and I had a 'schedule' in my head to arrive in LT on Monday at the latest. We took it easy at Paul's for a couple of days, driving around looking at possibilities of buying a property out here, taking in the local attractions - Stechlinsee and the other lakes, playing music - Paul on sitar, Nathalie tabla, and myself twanging at an acoustic guitar.There is also a cycle path nearby that runs all the way from Berlin to Stralsund on the North Coast.

One apartment, which had been converted from part of the outbuildings had been finished and felt warm. The central heating system burned 'chipped' wood - plenty of that around - supplied on a regulated conveyor to the burner.

The decision was to leave on Sunday morning, Easter Sunday! No later. I was banking on the fact there would be very little traffic and we could get a move on along the single lane roads.
The autobahn from Berlin to Stettin still has old stretches of 'concrete slab' surface from Hitler's time. Very bumpy! I had to drive no faster than 30mph over these sections.

The customs came up and we went through with no problem at all. In 3 weeks time all that will be gone as they officially join the EU.
Sczeczin(Stettin),(PIK) the largest city in North West Poland lies on the estuary of the Oder running into the Baltic Sea and is the first city just over the border.
Just as I predicted the roads were empty and we kept up a good rate along the straight tree-lined roads taking care to watch out for the police radar, often given lots of warning from oncoming motorists.
The sky was blue with just little white fluffy clouds that seemed to hang motionless and we pulled over at lunch time on a hill overlooking the vast fields and forests.

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