Everywhere in the Harz mountains regions there is a great feast in the night from 30th April to 1st May called 'Walpurgis'
Witches and devils are having a great party and get burned at midnight. Then the virgin queen of May is arriving.
This feast symbolizes the end of winter time to welcome the spring.
Travelling east from Bad Lauterburg, Wernigerode is another city well worth a visit. The Harzquerbahn sets out from Wernigerode on it's journey to the Brocken and you can board here or at Drei Ahne Honen. As in Quedlinburg and Goslar the architecture in the centre is stunning, with wooden beamed, highly ornate buildingson all sides. This city has a slightly different atmosphere though, much more Eastern European.
Once you have gotten over the excitement of reaching the top of the Brocken you must then find ways to amuse yourself until it's time to catch the train back to Wernigerode. If the museum doesn't appeal then I suggest taking a hike downhill along one of the wellmarked trails. This is great fun but don't be overenthusiastic - climbing back up is a little more taxing. The trails are well signposted and if you consult the maps then you won't get lost.
The Panoramic Apartment Complex organises entertainment most evenings in the summer. Much of this was the usual mix of local accordion bands featuring boys with lederhosen and girls with colourful traditional dresses. Some of the entertainment was startlingly original though. The evening we arrived for instance, children were being lowered from the 12th floor by ropes. Even more bizarre was the 'hoisting-small-children-on-milk crates' evening as illustrated in the photo. I think top marks for unusual entertainment must definitely be awarded here.
Reaching the top of the Brocken is initially thrilling but for us anyway, soon lapsed into anticlimax as it failed to live up to our romantic expectations. It is covered with a mass of satelite dishes, and a jumble of half-completed, weirdly-shaped buildings. There is a museum with details of the Flora and Fauna of the area but I think when you have just spent 90 minutes on a train the idea of going straight into a museum is not very appealing. Sadly, there was not a witch in sight but the panoramic views helped soften the blow. After you have explored, there is a cafe where you can get drinks and snacks
In the central market square in Goslar a crowd gathers as noon approaches. The bells on the municipal treasury building begin to chime and to our delight, a small drama unfolds. The first of three doors opens oh-so-slowly and large figures emerge and weave their way in and out of three seperate entrances.A five minute puppet show follows and the history of mining in the Rammelsberg is portrayed with remarkable panache. There is a hush and the chimes continue to tinkle even after the last door closes. We watch this from our spot on the fountain, hands trailing in cool water spouting from the gilded eagle above us.Sharing our perch is a class of art students sketching earnestly with many sighs and exclamations. Sometimes it's great to be just a lazy tourist
Bad Lauterburg is a ski resort and the ski lift continues to operate in summer. Going up is no problem but for anybody with a tendency towards vertigo, coming down is just a little bit scary. The chair only slows down briefly so you have to leap in and before you catch your breath you are soaring off into the great blue yonder. Definitely a thrill though and seeing the town laid out below us was amazing. Children would really get a buzz from this.
Our base for exploring the Harz is Bad Lauterburg, a busy Spa town and resort where people from all over Germany come to take various water cures. Surrounded on all sides by the rolling Harz, the town is a pretty pastiche of red tiled roofsand deepest green conifers. Many of the houses are timbered and overflowing windowboxes make rainbows off colour up and down the main street. Vitamar, the town's swimming and leisure centre is a great place to spend a day chilling out. There are huge indoor and outdoor pools and large green areas outside for sunbathing. We found the air in Bad Lauterburg exceptionally fresh and invigorating. There is no pollution whatsoever and the water was the softest I had ever came across. Obviously it deserves its reputation as a healthy place to visit. All in all a very pretty lively town with some wonderfully attractive houses.
Quedlinburg on a Saturday afternoon is deserted.The 80 hectares of historical buildings in this UNESCO World Heritage site are all there as declared in the guide books but approaching the old town there is not a person in sight. In the main square some cafes are open and there is a sprinkling of tourists. An ice-cream seller reveals the reson for rhe near-deserted streets- most shops in Germany close on Saturday afternoons- and sure enough we could not buy even a postcard. This was pretty upsetting because we had forgotten the camera but I carry the pictures in my head and they are still vivid. Sitting on the steps of the Rathaus it's hard to choose which building to look at. Painted in pretty pastel colours between black wooden beams, many have decorative mosaics repeated on every floor up to roof level.The roofs are the most magical of all:acres of higgledy-piggledy turrets and gables and rows of miniscule windows. The fairytale atmosphere is so pronounced I fully expect one of the windows to open with Rapunzel letting her hair down. This doesn't happen but for me it feels like the whole town is under a spell. A really magical place I would recommend wholeheartedly.
Goslar at the extreme northern edge of the Harz is a UNESCO world heritage site and fairly hums with life and activity . It is famous for its Imperial Palace from where German Emperors once ruled and for the Rammelsberg silver mines which contributed greatly to the city's prosperity. For us the whole city was a delight with a combination of architectural styles and buildings so quintessentially German.
Travel to the top of the Brocken by Harzquerbahn and enjoy a ride on one of the oldest steam trains still in operation. The train runs from the town of Vernigerode via Drei Ahnen Hohne and Schierke to the 1,142 metre high summit. The journey takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. The photo shows the little railway station of Drei Ahnen Hone as the train is ariving and the second photo shows a passenger at one of the viewing platforms located at the back of each carriage. Here you can experience every inch and lurch of the journey as the train ploughs deeper and deeper into the forest. The upward climb is dramatic with gaps in the trees revealing steep cliffs and boulderstrewn waterfalls.
It is recommended to visit the Brockenhaus building, which operates as a National Park. Visitor Centre and is open daily
The numerous interesting presentations here provide information about the Harz National Parks, their flora, fauna, and geology as well as the climate and the changing history of the Brocken.