Moin meine Lieben!
What a busy time it’s been since I last checked in with you! Last week was a short one work-wise, but all over the place travel-wise. In my last post I talked about my visit from Charlotte Horne and the nightmare we had with her flight.
Well, dear Reader, it happened again.
I was sitting in the launderette on Wednesday, minding my own business, when I got a call from my Mum, who I was supposed to be picking up from the airport in a few hours. I was really surprised when she told me that her flight had been cancelled because of heavy fog in London, but I realise now that I was only surprised because I hadn’t had my daily dose of the Daily Mail (yes, I’m one of those), which had ‘FOG NIGHTMARE CAUSES TRAVEL CHAOS’ (or words to that effect) splashed across its website.
But the sun was starting to come through and she was booked onto the next flight, so no panic, she said, she’d be with me soon. Well, to cut a long story short, she was ready to board the next plane when it turned out that the plane had no crew. Slight issue. So cue a second cancelled flight and some tears from me over here.
The thing is, it was only going to be a short visit anyway (Wednesday til Friday), and we had booked tickets to see The Lion King auf Deutsch at the theatre on Hamburg’s harbour on the Wednesday evening. But, despite being stuck in incredibly frustrating circumstances at Heathrow, my Mum told me she wanted me to go and see the show, and she suggested I ask Ed. And so I did!
Thankfully he was free at late notice, and so we sat through quite a spectacular show, having caught the special Lion King shuttle boats, which take you across the river to the theatre. Ed was a little taken aback at the beginning of the show when he didn’t spot the huge elephant coming down the stairs past us, and let out an exclamation which Disney would probably not approve of (it rhymes with ‘knit the shed’). Our subsequent giggling caused a little boy in the row in front of us to watch us for entertainment, rather than the spectacular puppet-animals filtering on stage.
Photo credit goes to Mr Ed Crymble!
There was also a little girl a few rows behind us, who was giving running commentary throughout the show, such as (Lion King spoiler alert):
When Mufasa dies, she announced, ‘He’s not alive anymore.’
When Simba tries to revive/help Mufasa, ‘Well, that’s not going to be any use at all.’
When Simba and Nala realise their love for each other, ‘What’s this all about?’
It was a very impressive show overall, and I look forward to being able to go again in the new year, booking the tickets for at least 24 hours after my Mum’s arrival next time!
In the end she got a very early flight on Thursday morning; she’s currently on crutches due to an injury, but was quite the trooper when roaming around Hamburg. I took her round the Christmas Markets and through some of the more festive areas of the city, and she had just the one crutch with her on this occasion.
Now, dear Reader, you may be aware that Hamburg has quite a high number of homeless people on the streets. Being quite an affluent city in general, it seems like there’s a big divide between rich and poor, and when you visit the city, you will note that there’s a recurring look when it comes to some of the beggars, this being one crutch in one hand and a paper cup in the other. Honestly, take a look around!
So luckily my Mum managed to see the funny side in this very slight resemblance, and on occasion actually seemed quite keen to be have a paper cup just to complete the look. And there I was thinking my Dad was the flamboyant one!
On Thursday evening we then went to a concert at the Laeiszhalle, close to Gaensemarkt in the city. My school has ties to the Laeiszhalle (a classical concert venue) and so some of my students were showing their work in the entrance hall, and were talking to the audience members about their projects. It was brilliant to see them there and to see the work they’d put into everything, and I was glad that my Mum also got a chance to meet some of the people I’ve told her about!
The concert was by Ensemble Resonanz, and it was beautiful. They are a string-ensemble with no conductor, and although classical music isn’t necessarily my go-to genre, it was really a great concert. The highlight for me was probably their beautiful rendition of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Look it up, you’ll probably recognise it! All I know is that I now have an urge to watch Peter and the Wolf again soon!
On Friday we went back into the city for another look around, and at one point during my Mum’s visit, I spotted someone you may recall if you’ve been reading my blog for a while. The Tale of the Mouse and the Mint described a lady I saw on the train who had just bought a new mouse and let it lick a mint before putting it in her mouth. Grim, I know.
Well, we were walking/half-crutching through one of the stations when I saw a lady in a wheelchair. She caught my eye because she had both a dog and a ferret in her lap. It was her, dear Reader! It was mouse lady! She’s reached celebrity status in my books now.
Anyway, my wonderful Mum and I parted ways on Friday afternoon after a short but very sweet visit, but not before something unfortunate happened to me, sort of.
I was trying to phone a taxi to order one for my Mum to take her to the airport. There’s one taxi company called 66 66 66 here, so I rang that number. I was quite surprised to hear an automated message come on at the beginning to tell me my call would cost 1.99 per minute, but I stayed on the line nonetheless. It was a few moments later, however, that it became apparent that I wasn’t actually talking to a taxi line, but in fact an erotic chatline. As it turns out, 66 66 66 is Deutschlands geilste Telefonnummer (Germany’s horniest phone number). Oops.
Fortunately her departure to the airport and my trip down to Bonn went far more smoothly and no more erotic hotlines were called.
I was headed to meet my Dad, who works in Bonn, and stay there for the weekend as his sister Jane, her husband Joseph and my Granny were all coming over the following morning for a Christmas market visit!
I was staying at a ‘design’ hotel, and I think I have now figured out what this term means. It means, my dearest Reader, that you can’t find any bloody plugs because they’re not aesthetically pleasing enough. In this ‘design’ hotel, they were hidden behind curtains of chiffon. Odd.
The next morning my Dad (who still has something of a Movember hangover going on- think Eddie Izzard minus the painted nails) and I drove to Duesseldorf airport to pick up the other three travellers. You may know that I am quite the snow globe enthusiast, and so when we arrived there I couldn’t help but gravitate towards the nearest souvenir shop, which was where I found this Duesseldorf snow globe.
Now, most snow globes show a city’s postcard image; its poster-boy of landmarks, if you will. But unless, in the words of my Dad, the height of Duesseldorf’s architectural beauty resembles the city in post-apocalyptic ruin, or indeed mimics a Warsaw ghetto, then the city’s snow globe designers need to go back to the drawing board.
Anyway, the next day and a bit were lovely; we had a quick-ish wander round the tourist-packed Koeln Christmas market, where the Gluehwein is definitely better than up here in Hamburg, although it pains me to say so. Here are a few photos of the gorgeous city:
Koeln’s most famous landmark is undoubtedly its gothic cathedral, which is always worth a quick step inside.
Here are Jane, Granny and my Movembered Dad in Koeln!
That evening we ended up having dinner in my Dad’s local pizza takeaway place (he assures me he’s practically a celebrity in some of Bonn’s eateries) as everywhere was packed, it being two Saturdays before Christmas. A notable event of the evening was my Dad using the phrase ‘epic fail’ when Jane couldn’t finish her pizza. It’s odd what constitutes a ‘fail’ in certain families!!
Sunday was wonderful- we had a quick drive down to Ahrweiler, which is close to where we lived when I was little, and I hadn’t been back there for over 12 years. It had a gorgeous little market in a very traditional German setting.
Sadly we didn’t have too much time as I had to catch my train back to Hamburg, but it was wonderful to be back in that area after so long away! I’m hoping to do a more comprehensive tour in the new year.
My journey back was long and should you still stand by the idea that every single German citizen is efficient, then I urge you to take a journey with Deutsche Bahn. You will soon change your mind.
On the long way back I did make a few observations however:
1. Germans are not good at walking on moving trains. Quite a few people took a tumble on the journey.
2. German men with long hair do not keep it well-conditioned. No luscious locks in sight.
3. Germans also tut at train delays the same way we Brits do. We are not so different after all!
So that’s it from me this time, my dear Reader. Next time we’ll be in touch again I should be back in England for Christmas! That is, unless something unfortunate happens to me in the mean time. So we’ll probably speak sooner than intended!