Published Categorised as Germany, Travel No Comments on Helmstedt

Helmstedt used to be the last town in West Germany before you hit Checkpoint Alpha, the only place where you could drive between the two Germanies. (There’s a great museum there about the former border). Now it’s kind of the middle of nowhere. The coal mines have all closed, and a lot of people there work for Volkswagen in Wolfsburg about 20 miles away. It’s the kind of place German people are surprised and confused that I’ve visited. It has a weird feeling of being some regional market town in England, but in a parallel universe where lots of the details are slightly off (including having a “Woolworth”).

I was staying one night in this old coaching inn on the town square. The cheap rooms were in the old stables.

And here is my fairly spartan and bleak room (thankfully only for one night). I know for travel blogs you are supposed to pretend you live a charmed existence flitting from 5 star resort to boutique hotel, while being very photogenic, but my truth is that I frequently sleep in budget hotels in provincial towns.

The town hall. Or Rathaus. Like many in Germany, there is a pub in the basement.

This was a proper old man pub, inhabited by a grumpy old man with a moustache who asked me what I was taking a picture of. He was pleased I liked the style of the outside.

Toto, we’re not in Berlin anymore

Woolworths is still going in provincial Germany as a depressing Poundland type place, often with a weird selection of stock. Most of their stuff is total shit, but it’s very handy for cheap art materials and school play props for the kids at work.

Unsure if actual old building with refaced bricks, or a ham-fisted attempt to make a new building fit in with all the half-timbered stuff in the old town.

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