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27/7 - 31/7 2004  DIARY  3


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From Diary 2  I now return my nose - with a few stops along the way.
30. Being awakened by the blinds that noisily roles up it self, at seven. Breakfast in the basement, and then towards Heidelberg Botanical Garden. An hour after, I desperately try to find a parking space. Ends in a parking garage, but entrance is free.

A large central house, and some smaller ones around. Two are even open to visitors. Finds Agapetes serpens and Maclenia, which I did not know, in the Nepal House. There are almost no caudiciforms in the desert house, but I can see some in a secluded side house. Ask some of the young staff if I have to look inside. Sure no! Then an older gentleman with an apron appears. We conclude a bit about plants, the Copenhagen Botanical Garden, then I walk down to the secretariat, where I get a permit for access In the houses I want. Here is a large Madagascar house, a large outdoor caudiciform collection, and several In other houses. Finds even a few species, I didn't know. Walks around for a couple of hours, and then thank them for looking.

Being early on it, as I had expected to see Palmgarden first today. Also find out that there are almost 100 kilometres more to Uhlig Kakteen, than I had expected. Drive a little slower, enjoying the last huge hills and summer weather. Sipping a cup of coffee and removing half a kilo of dead insects from the windshield. It would actually be nice to land at the hotel before it expected 23.30.

A good distance south lies Uhlig Kakteen. Large hills covered with vineyards and forests. Cuts a very complicated intersection and has to drive ten kilometres to make a U-turn. That's not the worst, it's the queue on the other side of the middle, where I have to drive / hold for a while. Then I finally reach Uhlig, which is a pretty big place, mainly with cacti. I have a chat with the head gardener, and then look around. Get some photos, including a "new" species I have been looking for. I also finds two species of cacti from other peoples wish lists. Prices are pretty high in general, but so are nice plants.

I turn my nose north, and pass Heidelberg after half an hour. Steep, south-facing vineyards and corn in the lowlands. Tunnels and huge bridges make way. The sun bakes down, and it is hotter in the car, than in the greenhouses. I start to nod at five and spend my last two euros on a cup of coffee. Seemed I was constantly raising 200 euros, but my wallet is empty !?

I turn off the main road and follow a narrow road. It pass through the colossal hills, passing through every village. It's not fast, but very nice. Most houses are over 100 years old, many close to collapse. They are three stories high and huge. They are built in local sandstone blocks or redstone / plastered timbers.

Every small town has its church and local square. I stop at one of them and find an ATM and a pizzeria. 35 kroner for a Hawaii, and then I'm stuffed. After 75 kilometres and 25 villages, the brand new and big road starts. Again huge bridges over the valleys, and long tunnels. The longest is 7885 meters. The sun has literally gone down as I come out. It is half past ten, when I land in Erfurt. Find the youth hostel and book in. The lady does not ask for membership proof, and I forget that too - mainly because I don't have it. 150 for a small room, but then there are also masses of screaming kids outside the window, and I have to put my own bedding on. The towel is brought from home. Does actually have one, but a pillowcase doesn't get sour in the suitcase. Today's harvest became a cactus with tuber and 228 photos. I'll spend the time on them, for the rest of the evening.

31. Kakteen Haage, Europe's oldest cactus horticulture, is just around the corner. I have been allowed to arrive early, so I can reach Hamburg's botanical garden on the way home. The young Mr Haage (must be 2-3 generation) locks me in, showing me where cacti, succulents and caudiciforms stand. Then he goes home for breakfast. Finds a few new genera and some I've been looking for for photography. Nice place, but also pretty expensive. After an hour, I'm ready for the 355 kilometres to Hamburg. The first third is of narrow country roads, through villages like yesterday. No wind and high summer, the smell of freshly cut hay and harvest. When the highway - and the queues. At one o'clock, I grab a cup of coffee, and "drøner" before I head on.

According to their website, the greenhouse closes at 16.45. There is an old and a new garden, with ten kilometres between. Have written an email to them asking who I find the greenhouse. They have not been able to answer such a complicated question. The "stau" dissolve, just to be replaced by a rain-storm. In the stretches with space, I give gas. In fact get a waffle on the heel of my gas foot!

The Germans are miserable in building roads; there is road work everywhere. Their driving culture is better; when picking up a Porsche, Mercedes or Audi, they pull into the second track, when you can read the model number. Still, I first arrival at the Hamburg new garden at 14.15. It's just not where the greenhouse is. Across the bustling city, ten kilometres in 30 minutes. Races in, and is told they first close at six. It doesn't matter much, I've seen what I should, and more in 20 minutes. Gas the car, and trembles north.

Stop a little at seven to eat a couple of sausage with bacon. For some inexplicable reason, I have to wait in the empty cafeteria for 15 minutes, before I get the sausages and potatoes, that have been in the counter all the time. Spends the last handful of pocket changes on a soda, and then comes to mind about the ferry. The last 60 kilometres take two hours. Feels like we are stopped more than we are driving. Here, like so many other places, we suddenly drive again, the road ahead is empty and you can see no obstacle?

The queue is long at the ferry, but it can take five and a half minutes to pay 50 euros. How do they want you to reserve? Making accounts while I wait to get on board. Had calculated with 5000, it was 5222 kroner: Ferry 700, gasoline 2100, hotel 1000, food and drink 600, plants 700 and miscellaneous 100.

Get with the ferry at 21.45, and is in Denmark at 22.30. Swing right past Alex with his plants, and hit Roskilde at one, after 2950 kilometres. Result: 23 plants and about 100 good photos plus those of the gardens and the three botanical gardens. Excellent trip, but a little pricey.


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