Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Germany 5 - Bad Oeynhausen, Westfalia, Memories ......

Another lie in after a late night post U2!  At noon we walked to the Haupt  Bahnhof, a short distance from our hotel and got the train to Bad Oeynhausen.  This is the town where my mother was born and lived until she met my English father, married and moved to England.  Last time I was there was a very sad time for me, it was shortly after my mother died in 2002 and I went there to scatter her ashes in her favourite place in the Kurpark.  I had to be very surreptitious whilst doing it as I was told it was illegal to scatter ashes in Germany, but I knew that she would have wanted to go back to the place she loved more than any other, even after 50 years in the UK.  Seeing Hannover was close to Bad Oeynhausen I felt I wanted to visit to remember the good times there years ago.  Debbi and Julie wanted to come with me which I really appreciated.

As the train approached the town I began to see place names I knew, Buckeburg, Minden, Porta Westfalica.  Then I saw the Wiehengebirge, a forest-clad low mountain range, with the Kaiser Wilhelm Denkmal,  a large stone monument, two thirds up the slopes.  I've many memories of that place, the main one running down through the forest with my mum getting soaked during the mother of all storms .  Not the most sensible thing to do LOL!

We passed over the River Weser, where my grandfather used to fish and the family had picnics, I have loads of photos taken on the river's banks, luckily my family were avid photographers who catalogued life in Bad Oeynhausen and the surrounding area from the late 1800's. 

We pulled in the south railway station, and I quickly got my bearings and we went along Bahnhofstrasse towards the pig fountain.  That probably sounds odd to non-Germans, but pigs are a symbol of good luck in Germany.  The fountain represents the pig farmer who first discovered the healing waters of this spa town in the mid 1800's.  I couldn't resist posing for a photo pulling one of the pigs' tails!  LOL.  The centre of Bad Oeynhausen was much as I remembered it which was good to see in this fast changing world.

Portastrasse, where my mother grew up led off from the pig fountain.  The large Victorian house is now gone, sold in the 1970's to make way for a bank's car park.  But the street otherwise was the same, large Victorian houses, tree lined, with a fan-shaped cobbles in the road.  My grandfather was a dentist who held his clinics in the house and even today I noticed that there were still medical practices there. 

We then walked to the nearby Kurpark, a beautiful park with the old bathing houses where people used to go for their "cures".  Bad Oeynhausen still has many clinics where people come to get all kinds of medical teatment. 

It was a beautiful day (as they say ) and it was pleasant walking through the park.  We nearly got caught by fountains that weren't obvious coming out of the paving - a few seconds more and we would have been soaked!  The Jordans sprudel, world's highest carbonated, thermal saltwater fountain is in the Kurpark, but unfortunately was not on when we were there, I can well remember being fascinated it when I was a little girl though, it can reach 40 metres high.

We sat on a seat close to the fountains just relaxing in the sun.  I had scattered my mum's ashes in this park, and I felt close to her there, something I have not felt  anywhere else,  it wasn't a sad feeling it was a good feeling.

We then went back into the town centre for something to eat and found a nice place (the name of which I can't remember) and sat outside.  We had a lovely meal, the cake Julie and I had was absolutely delicious and it went down very well.  We took our time, just watching the quiet life of the town pass by, very relaxing.

I'm really glad I went to Bad Oeynhausen.  My last visit in 2002 was overshadowed by a cloud of grief, now I've moved on emotionally, and like Bono so eloquently put it a few years after his father's death, the pain doesn't go away, but the temperature goes down.  That's very, very true and I was able to enjoy this visit, relive fond memories and feel close to my mother.  I have no relatives in the town now, and I don't know if I'll ever go back, if that's the case I'm pleased my last memory of the place will be a good one.

This evening was our last night together, Debbi and Julie were going home the next day and I was going to visit friends in Wolfenbuettel.  We went out for a meal in Hannover at a steakhouse called Maredo opposite the gorgeous opera house.  We had a lovely steak meal and delicious wine, it was a lovely way end our holiday together.

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