The word 'fen' comes from the Dutch 'fehn', and several places along the route still retain the word 'fehn' as part of their name. It is associated with a particular method of cultivation used in the 16th and 17th centuries that involved digging canals to drain areas of marshland. The local saying 'to be able to see in the morning who'll be coming to tea in the afternoon' is a comical nod to the flatness of this beautiful countryside. The magnificent views stretching all the way to the horizon awaken feelings of space, freedom and grandeur. 'Moin, Moin' is a typical greeting that you will hear over and over again as you explore the expanses of East Friesland's fen country, and the route is lined with a profusion of monuments to the East Frisian way of life: imposing windmills, working locks, typically white bascule bridges, ancient brick-built churches and charming traditional farmhouses. The fenland itself has a character of its own too, forged by its many dikes, meadows, moorland conservation areas and watercourses. Small, interesting museums showcase the arresting history of the moor settlers and sailors, and describe East Frisian traditions and customs. Seafaring and ship building remain important industries in the region – as demonstrated in the charming ports of Leer and Papenburg, which offer a lively contrast to the idyllic calm of the fens. Situated as it is near to the German-Dutch border, the German Fen Route has a name reflecting this fusion of cultures. And modern visitors can also mix things up a bit with pleasant cycle rides through the green flatlands or romantic boat trips along the region's many canals.
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