Hamlin of ratcatching fame from the Brothers Grimm fairy tales has to be one of Germany’s prettiest old towns – and there’s a lot of competition.
Hamlin – Hameln in German – is quietly understated, but beautifully preserved and proud of the 1284 story which history suggests was probably to do with local youngsters being tempted away by potentates looking for people to populate Eastern lands then being colonised.
There’s a Rattenfaengerhaus, the Ratcatcher’s house, where the eponymous hero/villain is said to have lived, with a long script telling the story along the side of its narrow side passage.
And there was as we cycled through – a rewarding 87km in one day as we pedalled on one-and-a-bit batteries from Luegde to Hanover (one N in English, two in German, as I now know, but switching randomly between both in this post) – the most impressive cake, and some beautiful medieval wood carvings on the main street’s housing facades.
We’ve indeed been in Hanover – wir sind jetzt in Hannover – for two days, zwei Tage, staying with old friends Fee and Michael, and one of their two adopted girls from Taiwan.
Fee and I worked closely together in the noughties to get the Dart Centre Europe agenda going in Germany for journalism and trauma – and I often tell the story in my own trainings of how rewarding it was to work with Germans, who if registered would all turn up to a planned workshop, arrive on time and stay till the end of each day.
How very different from the UK.
Hanover has also been a reminder of the miserable and so very-long-lasting impact and consequences of full-scale war, with this city second only to Dresden in the destruction wrought by aerial bombardment.
Again, on the May 9 anniversary of the end of Second World War as commemorated in Russia, Jutta and I have been thinking of Ukraine, and especially – looking at the model in the Town Hall here of what Hanover looked like in 1945, of the theatre in Mariupol, flattened by the Russians with the loss of hundreds of lives, so many of them дети/Deti, or Children.
In conclusion, as we prepare to pedal north tomorrow towards the Lueneburg Heath on our way to Hamburg, some pictures, as ever, noting that I’ve picked up a fabulous new compact Sony camera here which should offer better top-quality photos as we head up and over towards Gdansk.