The second installment of Northern Germany

Trip Start Aug 23, 2005
Trip End Aug 2006

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

My apologies yet again for the delay in this entry. My Internet is rather tempermental these days. It is finally up and running again, so I will try to finish writing about this trip now.

Anyway, I think I left off somewhere up in Brunsbuettel. The small town was so peaceful - after this somewhat hectic week, I would love to be up there again right now, riding along the coast with the wind at my back...

Although the Germans who live in the northern part of the country are generally thought to be cold and unfriendly, yet again I did not find that to hold true. Whenever I said "Moin, moin" (the standard far north German greeting, particularly along the coast) I would get at least a "Moin" back, if not two.

On my last day in Brunsbuettel, I went to the canal and I arrived just in time to witness the fishers' shift change. It wasn't as amusing to see as to hear because when the men shuffled past each other, they muttered in monotone voices "Moin" and so if you closed your eyes and just listened, you heard a collection of mostly unenthusiastic "Moins". Although I am not trying to insult them, I couldn't help but compare the sound they made as a group to the group of ducks which waddled out of my way as I passed them on the bike path along the Elbe.

The next stop was Hannover where I met up with a Canadian-born woman whom I had met in Bremerhaven during my first week in Germany. She had seen the Canadian flag on my backpack in the museum there and and before I knew it, I had an invitation to visit Patricia in Hannover. She was incredibly kind and generous as she took the time to show the highlights of the city, including a cool Danish chocolate cafe - delicious cakes and the best hot chocolate I have ever had.

We visited the new Rathaus (government building) and took a ride to the top in a funky elevator. As you neared the top, you not only saw the elevator curve, but you felt it, too. We had good views of the Fussball (soccer) stadium in which teams will play during the World Cup series this coming summer, the Aegidienkirche memorial (the remainder of a bombed out church from the Second World War) and the Maschsee (an artificial lake built by the unemployed in one of the earliest Nazi-led public work projects).

We toured Hannover again the following day as it was determined that in order to arrive in Kassel in good time, we really couldn't afford to go to Hamelin, tempting though it was. Hopefully we can visit the town which is famed for its connection to the Pied Piper another time. Patricia and her husband have extended another invitation to visit, so I am sure we will take them up on it.

After a quick dinner at Wolfram and Fatima's in Kassel on Friday night, we headed to a hockey game to watch the Kassel Huskies play a team from Mannheim. Although they eventually lost, it was the atmosphere in the arena which made it all worthwhile. I have been to plenty of hockey games in my life, but nothing compared to this. The fans were all decked out in scarves and jerseys. They cheered almost non-stop. Usually you can hear the music during a stop in play while they face-off, but not in Kassel. All you could hear was the pounding drums, the upbeat chants and the stomping feet. I don't know how the players could concentrate - I could barely here myself when the fans really let loose (which was about every three minutes, give or take). They tended to make a lot of noise when they were about to score, when they had just taken a shot and missed (which was disappointingly often), when their goalie (a Canadian) had just made a save, or when one of the other players was bodychecking one of their team members (that too, was quite often). I have been told that the atmosphere is similar here in Freiburg - I'll probably get to a game in the next few weeks.

We spent the afternoon of the next day in a village called Fritzlar. Considering its relatively small size now, it is hard to believe that it had such a big role in the development of the country in terms of initial trading routes. Much of its history was also centered around its role in the struggles between the Catholics and the Protestants. Fortunately, it was not bombed during the Second World War (unlike Hannover which was devastated - nearly 90 per cent of the city was destroyed in 1943) so pretty much everything we saw was genuinely old. We had a guided tour of the church there (it dated back to about 1100) and afterwards, a tour of Fritzlar which was given by an anthropologist who had been helping with the excavations of the town. As you will hopefully see from my pictures, the town was quite charming with its half-timbered houses and its narrow, cobble-stoned streets. It was definitely a gem - hopefully I will get back there some day.

I got back to Freiburg on Sunday (16) and since then I have been reminscing about my great trip to northern Germany. I have also been trying to get ready for school which finally begins this Monday (24). I took a trip to Loerrach as well, but that will have to be another entry.

Bis spaeter,
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