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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