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Published: September 7th 2013
Near the Black Forest
The train from Freiburg to Hamburg sped on through a predominantly flat landscape, very green and cultivated for k after k. It was a direct route for us and we rolled into Hamburg Hauptbanhof, after five hours, at 5.50pm, to a grey, drizzly evening and hordes of after-workers heading in and out of the vast station. The big city stations are works of art. Think, Gare de Lyon, Gare de Nord, Cologne, Hamburg, Victoria and so on. I find them magnificent structures and always end up with more pictures of them than I need. Anyway, to our hotel, the SIDE Hotel. A sharp-edged, modernist place with snappy design but not always with a practical eye for use, e.g. The handbasin, the "long drop" loo. But it was pretty cool and very comfortable. Another Hotwire online booking.
Lyn was in Hamburg last year at this time with cousin Gill and so she took me to the same place they had had dinner at on the bank overlooking the inner Alster. And it was very nice too but I don't think I created the same level of giggles as Gill would have with Lyn.
And so, we were slumbering in our
St Peters Church, Hamburg
Two tallest candles are for Lois.
designer bed when my phone beeped at 1.30 in the morning and the news we had half expected came from New Zealand, that Lyn's Mum, Lois, had passed away. She had been ailing even when we left six weeks ago and Lyn had told her on her last visit, the day we left, that she wouldn't be coming home for a funeral if that was to be. So it was something Lyn had thought deeply about. Nevertheless, reality hits hard and it was a tearful few hours after the that before we we each took a pill and slept.
There was a numbness about the next day. Our children Skyped and that was great. Many siblings and friends sent messages. We felt a long way from home. We went to a big church in the middle of the city and sat and contemplated, lit candles, considered our private memories of Lois. The decision about leaving and going home, I could tell, was not yet final.
Lyn, of all things, had a seminar to present to at 5.00pm, the last thing she felt like doing. But she did and got through her bit before joining me and going to
dinner. It was just what we needed. An old style German brau house with low ceilings, dim light, good food, a friendly staff. We relaxed, enjoyed the meal and thought and talked of home.
Next day we were being picked up by Christina and Jojo who lived about 2 hours out of Hamburg on a dairy farm. Jojo had been a student at HVHS last year and had loved the experience. She was very keen to meet Lyn again and show off Hamburg to us with her Mum. Surprisingly it was just what we needed. They were great guides and showed us around the city with new and unusual stories about landmarks. A highlight was a visit to an "elderly" Auntie who as well as living in a "museum", is a professional photographer, a five star cook, a piano teacher, runs a B & B, and is a bit of a dag to boot. She was good fun. It all cheered us up no end.
Hamburg is an attractive place. It's known as one of the greenest cities in Germany, as in vegetation. Along with the canals and the inner and outer Alster's, it's a great place to
Dim pub for dinner
bike or walk around. It's reputed to be the wealthiest city in Germany due to the major shipping and transport industries and as a major import/expert hub for Germany and Europe. Not as big as Rotterdam but pretty damn big. Also a major target for Allied bombing in WWII so much of the city has been rebuilt since then.
Once Christina and Jojo had said their farewells it was a brief rest before we got on a train to Sagehorn, a small town out of Bremen where Simon Boedecker lived with his parents Ralf and Martina and his sister, Neela. Simon had also been a student at HVHS and had got to know Lyn well. His parents and sister had visited us in NZ and had dinner with us at our place. So, it was a chance for them to return the favour. Lyn and Gill had also met them here last year.
And what a great night. They treated us like royalty. Rather not like us really but much appreciated. Ralf fired up the BBQ, literally. I looked around while quietly quaffing the cocktail we'd been handed, to see the BBQ gas pipe on fire. Screams, panic,
Lyn and Jojo
heroism - the nut hadn't been tightened sufficiently and gas was escaping and had caught alight. Phew! Close to a cylinder explosion I thought. But we were all OK so sit back and enjoy the evening. Great food, good company, the works. And again, just what Lyn needed to restore some cheeriness into her and stop her thinking about her Mum for a while.
The next day we were heading for Cologne where we would spend five days. So a chance to catch our breath and get our thoughts and emotions together.
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