“My parents had a Type 500 car, and I remember it was always difficult to breathe in the back,” says Wolfgang Worf, whose family made regular trips from Weimar to East Germany or Liberec in what was then Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and 1980s. (Also read: This little India in Malaysia deserves a special mention)
Sometimes they even traveled three times a year. The car was extremely small and had no windows in the back that could be opened. After upgrading to the popular 601 model of the ubiquitous East German Trabant — affectionately known as the Trabbi — the long journeys to the neighboring country have become a little more bearable, he told DW.
Wolfgang Worf’s parents came from the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, today’s Czech Republic. After the Second World War, they were among the approximately three million Germans who were expelled. But they took every opportunity to visit their home region and old school friends.
Worf remembers that GDR citizens were not allowed to exchange many GDR stamps for Czech crowns, which at the time made accommodation with acquaintances and friends absolutely necessary. “In return, we brought them something from East Germany, which was always a nice, friendly gesture.”
The right to vacation was enshrined in the constitution of the communist GDR. In 1961 everyone who was employed was entitled to 12 days’ holiday, with the number of days gradually increasing over the years.
However, East Germans couldn’t just pack up and go wherever they wanted. The goals were limited and the limitations were huge.
For a trip to Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, an exit permit was required along with other documents. People usually traveled to the Soviet Union as part of a tour group, rarely alone.
Exotic destinations like Cuba required the approval of the party secretary, the union official and the employer. Applicants had to be highly respectable GDR citizens, which made such travel virtually impossible for ordinary citizens.
A visit to a country that did not belong to the group of so-called brother countries was out of the question, especially after the construction of the Berlin Wall.
Why some borders were more open than others
In 1972 the Berlin Wall had already stood for 11 years. East Germans, almost universally excluded from the West, had not met their relatives in person for over a decade. Resentment spread, people raised tentative demands for freedom to travel – a topic that would later lead to the end of the GDR state.
The East German leadership sensed people’s displeasure and gave in. At the beginning of 1972, agreements came into force which, on paper at least, eased travel restrictions between the GDR, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
“You were still on the border for a long time, whether before or after 1972. It didn’t really matter,” Worf said.
According to GDR records from 1977, the citizens of the GDR traveled almost 50 million times to the two neighboring countries in the first five years.
Popular destinations in Czechoslovakia were Prague and Karlovy Vary. People wanted to get to know the culture and landscape, but they also met relatives from West Germany there, whom the GDR only allowed its citizens to visit under certain conditions and after a thorough examination. “It was always very nice,” Worf said.
“Boundaries of Friendship”
Poland was popular for weekend breaks as overnight stays were possible without a registration procedure.
Many East Germans enjoyed the more informal atmosphere of a country where they could buy West German publications like the news magazine Der Spiegel and catch the latest Hollywood blockbusters in the cinemas.
Polish citizens did not travel to the GDR so much for vacation or relaxation, but in the hope of finding scarce goods that were not available in their own country or only available at significantly higher prices.
Axel Drieschner, curator of the exhibition “Boundaries of Friendship: Tourism between GDR, CSSR and Poland” in the Museum of Utopia and Everyday Life in Eisenhüttenstadt, told DW a joke about the situation.
“Two dogs meet at the border and one asks: Why are you going to the GDR? The other says to feed me. The first dog asks: Why are you going to Poland? To bark louder?”
In Poland one could express dissatisfaction at that time and speak more openly about certain problems that one did not want to address publicly in the GDR, said Drieschner.
The Utopia and Everyday Museum has a collection of various memorabilia from trips to Poland and Czechoslovakia, several hundred exhibits ranging from postcards and travel catalogs to objects and souvenirs, memories of East Germans vacationing in Poland and Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and 1980s.
Most of the exhibits are on loan and end up on the museum’s doorstep after a public call. Many people have responded, Drieschner said, sending emails with anecdotes and stories, as well as souvenirs, some of which are on display.
The East German leadership soon regretted the move
It wasn’t long before the governing SED party regretted the easing of the borders. They hadn’t factored in shopping tourism and the consequences for their own planned economy.
“They had calculated years in advance how much, say, razor blades or pins would be needed in the next few years,” says Drieschner, adding that people from other countries suddenly appeared with very specific needs that had not been taken into account.
Another aspect could also wreak havoc, namely the potential to arouse resentment in the East German population, said Drieschner.
“The leadership didn’t want to stir up unrest in the population, which could easily happen when Polish citizens drove to East German Görlitz and bought more or less off-the-shelf goods in department stores,” he explained. “The larger cities near the border were very badly affected by shopping tourism, and sometimes new resentments arose against the nationalities who might be buying much-needed consumer goods.”
Wolfgang Worf, on the other hand, remembers special goods that he brought back from Czechoslovakia.
“We brought home loads of dumpling flour, which didn’t exist in the GDR back then, and my favorite dish was always roast beef with dumplings. I also liked shopping in the stationery store – the Czechs had certain pens that were rarely found in East Germany.”
Shopping tourism displeased the East German leadership, as did the emergence of the anti-Soviet solidarity movement in the 1980s.
The subsequent imposition of martial law in Poland again led to stricter controls at the borders and travel was made more difficult.
That era is long gone, and today the borders are open in almost all of Europe. The exhibition “Boundaries of Friendship”, which can be seen in the Museum for Utopia and Everyday Life until April 30, 2023, shows visitors what traveling was like for East Germans in the 1970s and 1980s.
This article was originally written in German.
In the coming three holidays, this route of Rishikesh may remain jammed, you can also choose this route.
Route 1: New Delhi – Meerut – Muzaffarnagar – Roorkee – Haridwar – Rishikesh via NH 334
For those who choose Route 1, it takes about 6 hours to reach Rishikesh via NH 334. Rishikesh is 235 km away from New Delhi. On this route, the road will take you through some important places like Meerut and Muzaffarnagar. The roads are in very good condition, it is easy to walk a short distance from here. In the coming 3 days holiday this place between Rishikesh and Nainital will be better, which place would you like to visit?
(Image credit: TOI.com)
Route 2: New Delhi – Hapur – Chandpur – Najibabad – Haridwar – Rishikesh Via NH 9
If you choose route 2, it will take you around 7 hours to reach Rishikesh via the NH 9 and the total distance from New Delhi to Rishikesh is around 288 km. You can plan to visit here on the weekend, leave on Saturday morning and then rest in the evening and start your trip the next day. Then you can come to Delhi at night on Monday ie 15th August. These 6 countries will fulfill the dream of living abroad, lakhs of rupees will be given to the citizens upon their settlement
(Image credit: Economic Times)
Short stop in Meerut and Haridwar –
Coming from Route 1 you will see many Punjabi dhabas in Meerut. Here you can stop to have some breakfast water. This stopover is perfect from where you can eat delicious parathas. Once you reach Haridwar you can have your lunch by stopping here and also visit some ghats and famous temples here. This place is one of the holiest places in the country and large numbers of pilgrims come here to wash away their sins and seek blessings. Rishikesh is 25 km from here which you can reach in 45 to 60 minutes. Now that you have seen the place to visit, book a government guest house for less than Rs 1800
(Image credit: indiatimes.com)
How to reach – How to reach
Apart from the road, if you are thinking of traveling by train and plane, you can go this way.
By plane: Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest airport at a distance of 21 km. This airport is connected to many places across the country.
By train: Rishikesh railway station is well connected to the rail network and trains run from all over the country. I have seen many hill stations near Manali, Mussoorie, now see these magnificent hill stations near Dehradun
Places to visit in Rishikesh – Places in Rishikesh
There are many places to see in Rishikesh but there are some places you can visit in a 1 to 2 days trip such as Beasi, Kaudiyala, Mun ki Reti, Bharat Mandir, Rishikund, Terah Manzil Temple.
Why You Should Travel To Rajasthan In August
Jaipur: The long weekend is just around the corner and if you haven’t planned a trip yet, add a visit to Rajasthan to your plans. With the onset of the monsoon season, the scorching heat of June and July is behind us and the weather is pleasant to visit the “Desert State of India”. In fact, the month of August is one of the best times to experience Rajasthan in all its verdant splendor that surrounds the state’s historic forts.Also read – Rajasthan: Woman fills in well with 4 children, all die; she survives
Why you should travel to Rajasthan in August
In August, Rajasthan enjoys light rains and comfortable temperatures of around 33 degrees Celsius due to the advent of monsoon rains. During this period the weather is just perfect – not too hot or not too cold. Also read – Explained: What is Lumpy Skin Disease That Killed Over 3,000 Cattle in Rajasthan, Gujarat?
Plus, the rain showers turn the state’s barren and arid land green, making up for the spectacular views. During this time, the view from the top of the forts and historical sites is one of lush greenery – a sight not to be missed. In addition, the rain and pleasant weather make the hard work to climb the summit worthwhile. Also read – Tina Dabi shares images showing Jaisalmer’s monsoon beauty after Rajasthan receives its heaviest rainfall in 66 years
Sightseeing in Rajasthan in August
Udaipur – the city of lakes – is a sight to behold in August. The city has seven lakes including Fateh Sagar Lake, Lake Pichola, Swaroop Sagar Lake, Rangsagar and Doodh Talai Lake which are recharged by the monsoon rains. Travelers can book a stay at the Taj Lake Palace right in the middle of Lake Pichola for breathtaking views of the city. Aside from these beautiful lakes, the city is home to some of the country’s grandest palaces, which are major tourist attractions.
Tucked away in Aravallis, Jalore is another great place to visit during the monsoons. During this period, the Aravalli forest is particularly spectacular after fresh rain showers. Jalore is also called the city of granite and majesty. Sundha Mountain, just outside the city limits, is a great place to visit and the views from the top are stunning. Make time for Jalore Fort and Swarn Giri Fort as well, they are some of the city’s top attractions.
A grand spectacle, Bundi is all about magnificent forts and ancient baoris (stepped reservoirs). During the monsoon these step reservoirs are filled with fresh water and make for a breathtaking view. Also, the hills around Bundi are revived with green vegetation and the rivers have swelled again after the rains.
The beautiful hill station in Rajasthan always enjoys pleasant weather and it’s even better during the monsoons. Mount Abu offers countless activities for tourists like trekking, hiking, zip lining to name a few. But if you want it to be a peaceful vacation, you can visit places like Guru Sikhar, Nakki Lake, Mount Abu Sanctuary, Toad Rock Viewpoint, Dilwara Jain Temple, among others.
The Pink City shines in all its glory in August. After the monsoon showers have washed away all the dust and dryness of summer, Jaipur’s fantastic architecture looks like it has had a fresh coat of paint. The colors of the red sandstone monuments emerge after rain and Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Mandir Palace, Laxmi Narayan Temple, City Palace, Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Rambagh Palace and other places look like they have get a new life.
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Top Things To Do In Jodhpur
Located on the edge of the Thar Desert in western Rajasthan, Jodhpur continues to be a global tourist magnet. Jodhpur has been given several epithets such as Blue City and Sun City. The Rajasthanis affectionately call it Jodhana. The former capital of the Marwar kingdom is home to Rajasthan’s largest fort and several grand palaces, temples, gardens and markets full of old world charm and offers an amazing travel experience. Here we present you the best things to do in Jodhpur. By Karan Kaushik
Things to do in Jodhpur
Walk through the pages of history at Mehrangarh Fort
Mehrangarh, often touted as the citadel of the sun, stands tall and proud as Rajasthan’s greatest fortress. It was built by Rao Jodha in 1459. Perched on a sheer bluff 400 feet above the city, this burnished red sandstone structure is backed by many stories. Its beauty has attracted many admirers such as Rudyard Kipling; he called it “the work of giants.” Today it is widely regarded as one of the best preserved forts in India. The main attraction of the fort is its Museum. Miniature paintings, palanquins, weapons and valuable mementos of the royal family are on display here. The main attractions of the fort are Sangar Chowki, Zenana Mahal and Phool Mahal.
Go ziplining over the Blue City
The Flying Fox Zipline Tour in Jodhpur is an exciting experience that will stay in your memory forever. Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described this zip line as Jodhpur’s best part. “The zip lines send you around the moats and pinnacles like Batman,” he had said. The zipline takes you over two desert lakes and the Rao Jodha Ecopark, offering stunning views of Mehrangarh and the Blue City.
Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park
Located near the famous Mehrangarh Fort, this 72-hectare ecologically restored desert came back to life in 2006 after careful reconstruction. Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, once an arid, decaying, barren land of vegetation, now boasts a local nursery, convenience store and cafe. Visitors can even hike trails amidst the 250 native plant species here and embark on a mission to spot several species of reptiles and over 200 birds along the way.
Revel in the Umaid Bhawan Palace
The magnificent Umaid Bhawan Palace has hosted prolific figures from around the world over the past few decades. The palace is a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architectural style and was named after and built by Maharaja Umaid Singh. It is also known as the Chittar Palace due to the use of Chittar sandstone in its construction. Interestingly, no mortar was used in the entire construction. Instead, hand-carved blocks of sandstone were interlocked. Today is part of the palace doubles as a hotel, while the others house model airplanes, guns, antique clocks, and priceless crockery for the public.
Admire the architecture of Rajasthan at Mandore Garden
Like Jodhpur itself, Mandore Garden has many names. Maddodara, Mandowar, and Mandavyapura-Durga are some of the oldest names all believed to have descended from Rishi Mandavya. Locals believe that the gardens were originally tended by Nagas, followed by Pratiharas, Chahamanas, Sultans of Delhi and finally Rathores. Today the garden is the site of many magnificent antiques temple, monuments and high rock terraces. The monoliths here date from the early fifth century. Indeed are two intricately carved monoliths depicting scenes from Krishna Leela were excavated in 1909-10. On the other side, the hilltop Mandore Palace and Fort date back to the sixth century. The highlight at Mandore Gardens, however, is the government-run museum, which houses artifacts and relics of historical importance.
Explore the twin lakes of Ranisar-Padamsar
These interconnected pristine waters are considered the twin lakes of Jodhpur and are located near Mehrangarh Fort. Both lakes date back to 1459 and were built with the intention of natural water conservation. Although it’s in a largely deserted area Condition, these lakes have a very unique quality – they rarely run out of water. Head here at the height of dawn to enjoy the water in all its glory and watch the towering fortress dance in the waves.
Take gram worthy photos in Jaswant Thada
Dating from 1899, Jaswant Thada is a famous cenotaph. While it now serves as the cremation ground for the Marwar Rajput royal family, it was originally built by Maharaja Sardar Singh of Jodhpur in memory of his father, Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. That cenotaph is built entirely of thin and intricately carved marble slabs. They have been polished to shine under the summer sun. The main cenotaph – that of Maharaja Jaswant Singh – is surrounded by portraits of rulers. In addition, the Jaswant Thada site features pavilions, a tiered garden, three other cenotaphs and a small lake.
Shop at the Clock Tower Market
No trip to Jodhpur is complete without going on a Shopping Spree. Enjoy hot Pjas Kachoris and Mirchi commander before you start splurging on everything Rajasthani. The Sardar Market in Girdikot is centered around the famous Ghantaghar or Clock Tower. The market sells everything from Jodhpuri mojaris to Lehariya Sarees, Dupattas, Safas, ethnic jewelry and more.
Plan a detour to Osian
Ossian or Osiyan is an oasis town in the Thar desert of Jodhpur district. Often referred to as the Khajuraho of Rajasthan, this historic city is famous for its Hindu and Jain temples. While here, visit the Jain Mahavira Temple which houses an idol of Mahavira made of cow’s milk, mud and a gold cloak. Then there is the Sachayee Mata Mandir, the most important Hindu temple in Osian. You may also fancy a camel safari or an ATV ride in the sandy terrain of Osian.
Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock; Hero photo credit: Makm Photography/Unsplash
- In the coming three holidays, this route of Rishikesh may remain jammed, you can also choose this route.
- Why You Should Travel To Rajasthan In August
- Top Things To Do In Jodhpur
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