The old German border guard station now turned into a museum and snack bar

Sunday, 22nd February 2016

It has been drizzling all day so all we could do was drive endlessly, lamenting our inability to stop at villages in the Rhine-Palatinate where we suddenly found ourselves.

“What a wasted Sunday, I thought. ” And just when we were exiting the German border that I noticed the red, round-shaped building with the sign “Zoll Pavillion, museum and restaurant”.

“Quick, let’s go back!  That looks like the old border guardhouse!”  I exclaimed to H.   He made a complete U turn and immediately found a space at a car park just next to the building in question.

My heart was beating fast!  I just love insolite places like this.   But it’s quite small, how can it fit a museum and an eatery,  I wondered.IMG_8519b


I reckon that these two glass  windows are original!  I could imagine the guard peeking out from one of them.


This enlarged photo of the old days is the first visual of the museum.  Every passing motorist could see it even from a hundred meters distance away..


This station is now a restaurant and a snack bar specializing in “tarte flambée”,  a popular dish in the region.


Inside is a bar and several tables that could fit fifty people.  At the far end is the museum, about 2.5 square meters in dimension.    After our coffee and slice of cake, we ventured inside the museum which displays a lot of blue (the colour of the EU) panels giving photos and  information about the guardhouse from the time it was built up to its closure in 1991.




In one of the blue panels, I read this funny  story about two friends.  One day, friend A was helping friend B moved out of his German home to relocate in France.  They were packing all the household affairs into A’s car in a hurry including the rubbish bag which they thought they could throw into a German rubbish bin.  Arriving in France, they emptied the car but forgot one thing,  the rubbish.   Later, A returned to Germany to  continue his business, border checks done, all clear,  but when he attempted to cross the border back to France, the French border police saw the bag , stopped A and ordered him to back out.

“No! France will not accept the rubbish of Germany so go back, throw it there, and then you can cross!”

So that is the anecdote of the rubbish bag that found its place into the Zoll Museum.



The French-German border by the river Lauter

After a quick coffee and cake at the “old German border guard station now turned into a museum and snack bar“, we decided to take a walk at a nearby park bordering a French stadium.  It was  then that  we realized we  just crossed the border that quick!  If we did this before 1991, we would be required to present our passports including Charlie’s!


The stadium at Lauterbourg, France.


But instead of doing a quick circuit of the stadium, the adventurous H wanted to make a turn towards an open field on the left which is  German territory.  I am as adventurous as him so I got excited but the problem is, getting there needs some degree of fitness!  We have  to hurdle what looks like a 1.5 meter deep trench so we had to innovate an easier way to cross by using Charlie’s lead.

With H holding one end of the lead while standing on the French side, I held the other end as I slowly climbed backwards down, and voila,  I did it!

The climb up to the German side was quick and easy!


Strolling along the field, I noticed several of these old concrete posts arranged in a curving fashion.  What were they for, I wondered.  At home, while looking at the photos on my screen, I discovered the engraved “D”, the first letter of the country, Deutschland, i.e., Germany.  So they were the border posts that separated Germany from France.


And this one, with the letter “F” for France.  As to “1826”, I wish I know….


Now the walk in the forest, which is becoming our passion.IMG_8536b

Isn’t this fascinating?  Trees shed their bark, I wonder how long again before they could grow a complete one.



Snowdrops growing by the river.   IMG_8541b

…..and more!

IMG_8546bThis is the Lauter river which separates Germany from France.  The French side is the town of Lauterbourg and the German side is called Neulauterburg.


On our way back to the van, we saw this panel by the roadside.  It  describes the Lauter river in both languages, French and German..  The total length of the river is 63 km, starting from the Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany, wounding its way down to the French town of Lauterbourg until it empties into the Rhine where it will continue to serve as border separating the two countries.

Oberotterbach, Germany

Oberotterbach is quite a delightful German town which we stumbled upon last Sunday.  We were  driving towards Wissembourg in France and it was drizzling continuously making it unpleasant to get out of the car to even attempt to go for a quick walk, hence we kept driving blindly until we saw the German border sign suddenly appearing, then disappearing.  We are in Germany, hurray!

Well,  being in The Fatherland is nothing to exalt about as we are there almost every weekend.  But it’s different this time  because we crossed the border not through the Rhine river as what we usually do, but through the edge of a French town in the north (as opposed to the east).


Red arrows on the top signify the border crossing to Germany via Wissembourg.
Green arrows on the bottom right refer to the border crossing via the Rhine river.


Wissembourg is renowned for its romantic old town but the road we took was far from that.  We were driving along the periphery  where factories and supermarkets make a pretty boring sight so we followed the map that was to take us  through the German border. . .


. . . and in no time, we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of vineyards, rolling hills and charming  German villages.  Voila, we have arrived in the Rhineland – Palatinate and the route we are taking is the famous (and the oldest) German wine route called Südliche Weinstraße.

So from a boring scenery a minute ago, we were instantly transported into a jawdropping panorama, hurray!  Well, Germany always excites us, it must be the novelty of it and the fact that, well, let’s be honest, they seem to be experts in keeping their towns and villages as charming as they can be, that even if they’ve been heavily bombed in the war, they try to replicate them like what they did in Cologne.



It was very quiet when we arrived, being Sunday lunchtime, so we had the entire town to ourselves.  Driving in search for a good parking space, I saw this pretty sight of the town with the Palatinate forest in the background.  After googling it later that night, I discovered that it is in this forest where a large number of war remnants e.g. bunkers, pillboxes, trenches, etc can be found.  We will have to go back, that’s a promise to myself!


The Protestant church in the middle.  This town of nearly 1,200 inhabitants are largely Evangelical in faith,  a quarter are Catholic.


The church up close, all made up of bricks


The “Rathaus” or Town Hall (left)


Half-timbered houses are a common sight in this region.



This one on the main street has Royal  connections.


Half timbered food truck, cool!


We passed by a garden shop and look what they are selling!   The Germans seem to have a deep fascination with weird objects to decorate their gardens.


These are two metal balls on a stick.  Are they there as decoration or something to scare the cat?  Because if it’s the latter, I would like to buy one myself as cats are a pain in my garden!


Someone’s garden folly.  The owner of the house knew that passing paparazzi will be taking photos of his garden anyway.


The owner seems to be creating a garden museum here.



One thing I love about Germany is their metallic signs!

Above are the shop signs of wine houses.

displayIf not metallic signs, there are also the wine displays with prices indicated.


We followed the sign to the cemetery.  Even the dead gets a good vantage point of the vineyards.


Never have I seen a single gate with such number of dog-signs.  A dog lover to the max!


Homeowner gone fishing.

IMG_8495bOrchards of apples seen at the edge of the town.


Charlie had a great time sniffing along the vineyards.


Back to town, you can tell that this is genuinely a wine-producing community.

Next time, I shall be posting about the “abandoned” bunkers of Oberotterbach.  Watch for them!