Germany - touring around North Germany, first stop Cologne
Updated: Dec 11, 2021
It is been a while since we really had visited Germany. OK, we drive to the ashram of our spiritual master Paramahamsa Vishwananda which is in the Taunus region near Wiesbaden very often, from time to time we go to Stuttgart for family visit, but Markus really has not seen a lot around Germany. Well, and this is my (Nina's) home country. So we got a big chance this year in September. Our spiritual master went on a Darshan Tour (a tour on which he blessed people) through Northern Germany. 6 Darshans were on the plan in different cities - an amazing gift for Germany and a huge blessing for us as we could join the whole tour.
The first stop was Cologne. For us it was a 7 hour trip by car from Lake Thun straight up north. I have been to Cologne many times before as I have studied in Aachen, a beautiful town at the dutch border about 40 minutes away from Cologne. It was a first time for Markus. We stayed in a small and typical hotel close to the exhibition area. It was convenient, close to the city as well as close to the hall where the darshan took place. We did not have much time. After arriving, we quickly dressed up and got ready for the Darshan that took place the same evening. When we arrived at the hall, it was already quite busy. And then the big surprise. I was asked beforehand to bring my film camera. But it was just in case some problems arise (there was another person filming). But when I arrived, I was asked to film that night which is always a great honour for me to serve our spiritual master. I simply love it. So quickly I installed myself on the stage and minutes later he already arrived. Wow, it was such a surprise for me to film. My body was in Cologne, but my mind was still on the road. Therefore, I was really nervous, so that I could hardly breath when our spiritual master walked in. A divine surprise. The darshan was really beautiful. I guess, about 700 - 800 people came and it lastet till midnight. Every single person received a personal blessing. And it was also so nice to see all the friends from around the world again who came to Cologne. Even some malaysian devotees we met last year in Malaysia were there!
Next morning, we slept in a bit late and took it slowly. Around the corner of the hotel we found a café offering vegan breakfast - the place to go for us. St. Louis indeed had yummy food with lots of vegetarian and vegan options, nice atmosphere and a much needed excellent coffee. Afterwards we went off to visit downtown Cologne. Funny enough we first stumbled upon an amazing shop full of spiritual things, furniture, statues..... Afterwards we went to all parts of the old town: Heumarkt, Severinsbrücke with a view over the river, we walked along the riverside and, of course, finally visited the famous Dom which is really amazing.
Then, we had another task to fulfill. That one was a real hassle. In Germany, to enter most of the cities by car, one has to have a green sticker on the car showing that the car is ecologically proofed. Our information was that we do not need this as foreigners. But the city police of Cologne had a different point of view. No way to argue with them. Oh, how we hate these things. OK, we googled what to do. It said that we could by this sticker at a gas station. Problem number 1: gas stations had no idea of what we were talking. They sent us to the traffic control department. We waited there till it was our turn and they told us that they are not responsible for it and we must go to the next district of Cologne. They gave us another address and off we went to the next government department. After waiting there for 1 hour it was finally our turn and we received the green sticker that allows us from now on to enter all cities in Germany with our car. The sticker only costed us 5 Euros, but we lost 2 full hours. And our poor friend Claudi in Leverkusen who had invited us for tea was waiting for us for 2 hours! It was such a shame and we felt so very sorry. But finally we arrived at her house and had a short but amazing time together. Hope to see you soon again!!!
In the evening we went for a late vegan lunch. And at night it was time to work a little bit. The price of having your own company. We may have some time for travelling, but work is always coming with us.
Next morning, after another lazy breakfast at St. Louis we met with 2 friends and together drover about 2 hours further north to Hamm. Here, in the evening, the second Darshan was about to take place. As all hotels were booked in the region (or they were really expensive) we had decided to camp. So first stop was the campground to built up the tend. It definitely was the most bizarre campground we had every been on. Everything was clean, we had enough space - that was ok. But it was right across the small river Lippe of a nuclear power center and also right next to the highway. The showers looked like the ones of a former concentration camp - hell, this was spooky. We left our empty tent there and went to the town for lunch. Nothing special in this small town - beside a little vegan restaurant which we loved. After lunch it was time to quickly get dressed for Darshan. The Darshan took place in a small hall next to the Sri Kamadchi Ampal Temple. This is a Hindu temple dedicated to Kamadchi - in fact, it is the only Kamadchi Temple outside of India and it is the second biggest Hinud temple in Europe after London. And indeed, the temple was huge, beautiful and had a powerful energy inside. As th darshan hall was very small, we (the devotees) were asked not to come in for darshan in the beginning. All the new people and locals had priority. Therefore, we could join a wonderful puja in the temple before going to Darshan. That night, as space was really limited in the hall, I could not film. It was a very nice Darshan and we were just happy and so very grateful to have the opportunity to travel around with our master.
During Darshan it had started to rain - or better, it was pouring down. And it was freezing cold and stormy as well. Not a great night for camping. As we had planned to camp also the following 2 nights, we were really fed up with the weather. Everything was muddy, wet. Our tent that night stayed dry, but moving on in the morning to the next place meant: putting down the tent. Well, and when you put down a tent and build it up somewhere else and it is still raining, then everything is wet for sure. So the next morning all we were interested in was to find a coffee shop with WIFI to book a hotel room for the following 2 nights. 2 more nights of camping was no option. Our next destination was Stemwede, on the way north (close to Osnabrück). No chance to find a room there. But we finally found a nice, cheap place in Bielefeld which is only 1 hour drive away of Stemwede. That was a decent option. And we can tell you, we were really looking forward to a nice, dry bed far away from a nuclear power station!