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Two Towers (At Point Alpha)

Buttlar to Fladungen

Written 30.6.2010

Having been denied a visit to Point Alpha the day before, I was eager to get to the museum right away this morning. I was feeling good, and the 4k to Geisa went fast. Point Alpha lies about 2k west of Geisa, and this distance is an uphill climb with a 10% grade for those coming from the village. This was very tiring, but I was rewarded by a spectacular museum visit at the top. Maybe it was because I was expecting it, having studied this article, but I was immediately struck by the proximity of the two watchtowers, standing stoically in a field to my right, just down the Kolonnenweg. I was pulled toward them automatically, walking my bike through the former death strip.

The DDR tower was small, just 2×2 meters, and it looked old and weather-beaten, but still menacing, casting an imposing shadow in the morning light. Separated by a distance of perhaps 500 meters (?), vehicle barriers, fences, and control strips, the American watchtower was bigger, with two decks for observation. When I approached the base, I was thrilled to find that I could climb it, “at my own risk.” Well worth it, I thought, scaling two sets of stairs to the very top, where I took in the view: Geisa in the valley on the left, fences and barriers below, and the DDR post slightly to the right, definitely close enough to make eye contact with someone in the other tower. I felt a shudder of excitement, fully appreciating that that’s exactly what happened here, what Ken had done, what Americans had done, for the better part of the Cold War. And the GDR border police had held their gaze.

I descended from the tower and explored the rest of the museum, leaving around 11. From there, it was a fairly easy ride to the spa town of Tann, where I had a break for a snack, which I ordered entirely in German, to my pleasure, and surprise. After getting lost briefly and consulting the city map, I headed for Fladungen. En route, I was frustrated by a steady climb, which would not be inaccurate to term an unexpected mountain, through a forest, and for nearly 3k, I was forced to push and walk my way up, climbing more than 200 meters. When I finally reached Frankenheim, I zoomed quickly down the other side, and arrived in Fladungen around 4.

I knew I’d have to be done for the day, and on the fourth try, found a bed in a small pension, run by a delightful old woman, Frau Bauer. We were limited in our communication as she speaks almost no English, but we took a liking to each other right away. I again, had the problem of finding restaurants mysteriously closed and settled for a slightly un-nutritious dinner in the only place that seemed to be open at 6:00, a bar. Alas. I returned to my room, and have been “serenaded” by a group of men in a nearby park, who are very excited about something. I’ve been drinking water like nobody’s business, gearing up for a long two days to Neustadt.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Hi Kate, your journey is amazing. I hope those biting flies leave you alone. Your fine photos and excellent journal descriptions of daily experiences, the landscape (geez, those hills), the history of the region, the landmarks, bridges and other sights, sprinkled with the interesting people you have met on the way – what an exciting trip this is! Thanks so much for sharing, I am having a wonderful time. All best wishes for the rest of your trip, too.

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