Moin moin meine Lieben!
The last few days have been jam-packed as I had a visitor! Sarah, who came to visit Hamburg back in November, suggested we use the long weekend we had to do a little bit of travel around a fraction of Germany’s 16 states.
So I met Sarah (who’s also an assistant but based in Niedersachsen) in Hannover on Friday morning. My trip took me through Uelzen, which has the most artistic train station I think I’ve ever seen.
When we met at Hannover we started off by trying to find the tourist information office, spotted a sign and followed it, which took us to…McDonalds. As it turns out they neglected to write that the office was actually in the direction of McDonalds but outside the station, so I’m sure we weren’t the first people to do that!
We picked up some maps and got the underground (which actually turned out to be a tram…even though it goes inside. Do trams usually do that?) to the Herrenhaeuser Gardens, which Ed had told me were beautiful, and indeed they were! Everything was snow-covered and it was a gorgeous, sunny day.
The gardens are huge and split into different areas, one of which being a tropical greenhouse area, which had a huge orchid display, some of it arranged in stilettoes!
Sarah had done some research into this thing called the ‘red thread’, which is an actual red line painted on the pavements throughout the city and takes you around the most important sights; there’s even an app for it.
The only thing we hadn’t quite figured was that, you know, the line was on the ground and, you know, there was also snow on the ground. The combination of the two wasn’t exactly ideal, so we spent a fair amount of time staring intently at the snow trying to guess whereabouts the line was headed.
Despite these navigational difficulties we did get to see a lot of Hannover, which is beautiful! It’s a big mix of old and new, as most post-war German cities are, with a few reminders of the past preserved:
We left Hannover in the early evening and came straight into the city centre here in Hamburg when we arrived and had dinner at Blockhouse, which is a brilliant steakhouse here and around other parts of the country.
Saturday was an early start again, but we headed to Schweinske first for a big breakfast, which is right next to my flat. Any time I have guests I always take them to Schweinske, so much so that when I walk in, the waitress only has to ask, ‘same as always?’ and she knows what I order…I’m not sure whether to be proud or embarrassed about that!
One of the best things to do is head up the tower of the Petrikirche, which is one of Luebeck’s numerous cathedrals, and have a look across the gorgeous surroundings, which are even more beautiful in the snow!
We then headed back to the station with the plan of catching a train up to Kiel, which is the capital city of the state of Schleswig-Holstein. When we eventually got there we looked around for a tourist information office somewhere around the station. Nothing. Help desk? Nope. Leaflet on transport or anything? Come on now, of course not.
We were already pretty tetchy at this point, especially since it was raining and freezing, and so decided the best thing to do would be to head towards the Rathaus (town hall) by bus, as that’s usually where most of the sights are in the cities.
Aside from an opera house there was a standard statue of Bismarck and a little lake. We were somewhat tetchier now and so Googled some places to go, none of which turned out to be that easy at that time by public transport.
S0 we started to wander back to the station to find something to eat and then something wonderful happened. I got a message from my Mum with this photo attached:
IT’S ONLY THE MICHAEL FASSBENDER UK ISSUE OF GQ WHICH I MENTIONED I WAS TRYING TO BUY HERE. AHHH. Quite fond of Michael. Quite.
My Mum asked my Dad to see if he could find it and he did! Really looking forward to reading it/drooling sometime in the not too distant future.
This brightened our dreary visit to Kiel, which I think is a city that you really need to get a local to show you around. (Apologies to Lukas if you read this- I know this is where you lived!)
That evening was Claudia‘s 21st in Hamburg and so we headed over to Eimsbuettel to celebrate with everyone. You might remember Sarah’s bathroom anecdote at her 21st and Ed’s proclamation of love at his, and Claudia didn’t disappoint when she thanked her German friends ‘for wearing skimpy clothes [in the event description the phrase ‘tarting up’ was used, so this isn’t some kind of insult!] and to my English friends who always wear skimpy clothes!’ Probably fair.
It was lovely to catch up with everyone while we were there, but Sarah and I ducked out a little early to prepare for another day of travel on Sunday!
After another almost wordless order for breakfast at Schweinske we headed west to Bremen! Along with Berlin and Hamburg, Bremen is the only other city in Germany to be its own state (Bundesland).
I loved Bremen from the moment we set foot on the platform because it actually had a tourist office. Bremen 1: Kiel -10. The lovely lady at the desk gave us a map and some directions and off we went. The city didn’t disappoint! It was so beautiful, especially the old part of it.
The lady also recommended heading to the Schnoorviertel (the Schnoor quarter) which is a really charming little corner of the city with boutiques, cafes and colourful buildings.
We then had a wander down by the river before coming back up through the town and heading to Starbucks. Supporting the ‘local’ economy and all that.
I always think you should trust your gut on things and I had such a good feeling about Bremen; if I weren’t in Hamburg then I would definitely hope to be there. The whole place has got real personality and I can’t wait to go back there again, hopefully soon! I can imagine it would be beautiful at Christmas.
Also it’s got a street called Martinistrasse. What’s not to love?!
So that’s a few more Bundeslaender ticked off the list and more beautiful corners of Germany discovered!