Thursday, 26 August 2010

Germany 6 - Friends, Lights on the River and the Home of Jagermeister

August 14th

Time to go our separate ways, Julie left at crack of dawn so we said our goodbyes the previous night.  Debbi and I walked to the station and said our goodbyes there, she was heading for the airport, I was going to Braunschweig to spend my last few days with friends Chris and Andy. 

A teenage girl with a huge Rottweiler dog (that was bigger than her) sat beside me.  I love dogs, but am a little wary of those kind of breeds, but this young dog was amazing.  He was so well trained and obeyed every command the girl gave him immediately. It was fascinating to watch.

The train pulled into Braunschweig station.  I looked around for Chris and Andy but couldn't see them so headed for the exit, then I heard a familiar voice calling my name, it was Chris with Andy close behind.  It was so good to see them again.  I'd seen Chris briefly when U2 played at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin last year, but hadn't seen Andy for a few years, so it was really good to be able to spend a couple of days with them.

We drove to Wolfenbuettel where they live.  Their home is spacious, yet homely and full of interesting items from their travels.   It is decorated with an artistic flair, including wonderful photos they had taken themselves and fascinating U2 memorabilia.

That afternoon we went back to Braunschweig to visit Chris's parents to celebrate her mother's birthday.  Their home was large and a very unusual, modern design.  Chris's parents were lovely and made me very welcome, her mother was looking after everyone.  We spent a few hours there chatting and having a delicious meal.  Chris's mother paid me a really great complement (for me anyway) saying my German pronunciation was very good, I was well chuffed, though really, I didn't speak that much as everyone spoke good English.

That night at 9pm we all went down to see the Lichtparcours 2010, which consists of a series of art installations along, on and nea the River Oker in Braunschweig.  After a chaotic time getting on board the boat we eventually got sat down and set off into the dark.  There was a guide, who I listened to for a while, but it was quite tiring to try to follow the language so in the end I just let the installations speak for themselves, after all that's what art is all about anyway.

The first one I really liked was called Braunschweiger gipfel.  On the photo to the right it doesn't look that exciting, but it was much more interesting in real life because as well as the blue lights there were also various strange electronic sounds, almost like it was talking to us and quite hypnotic.

The next one we saw was my favourite, it was situated in a pool close to, but separate from, the River Oker (we had got off the boat for a while). It was called 8,33% (which I guessed was the amount of an iceberg that is visible above the surface of water).  It was a very beautiful iceberg-like creation.  It slowly turned in the water the light bouncing off it's mirrors and reflecting the water and making it's own art as it sparkled in leaves of surrounding trees.  The iceberg itself was also perfectly reflected in the still water.  You could walk all around the pool it was in, and it looked so different as the angle of view changed.  I thought it was stunning, there was no noise, it was very peaceful and very beautiful.

The next installation nearby was called Appearing Rooms.  This consisted of fountains that had "rooms" that people could enter as the fountains moved.  It seemed was a lot of fun, there was a lot of laughing as people tried to avoid getting soaked, it was art that people could really interact with.  I was struck by the difference between Appearing Rooms and 8,33%.  One was fun, full of laughter and noise, the other was serene and peaceful, yet both were fascinating.

We headed back to the boat and continued along the Oker past some of the most expensive, and exquisite houses in Braunschweig.  We passed more exhibits in the Lichtparcours, but my favourites were those I have already mentioned, but it was still interesting and pleasant quietly floating along the river.

Eventually we came back to the boarding point, half an hour late as the river was flowing faster than usual and it took longer than normal to get back to t was really where we started out.  I really enjoyed the trip it was something really unusual and different.

(All photos in the above post are taken from the Lichtparcours website here)

August 15th

The weather wasn't too good today, the first bad weather day since I'd been in Germany.  But we went out to look around the historical area of Wolfenbuettel.  As it was Sunday it was quiet, Germany still has a day of rest on Sundays only bars and eating places are open.

The old town area of Wolfenbuettel was picture-book pretty, gorgeous timbered buildings, a baroque-style palace, even a house where Casanova stayed for a while!  And everywhere was so clean, we really could learn a lot from the Germans regarding things like that.

We stopped off and had a lovely crepe and drink in a cafe before heading back home.  Chris and I spent a while watching the amazing film she has made of their recent trip to India, she really is very talented and has put together a very professional film that captures the sights and sounds of that country. 

That evening we went back into the town centre where we saw the Jagermeister shop, Apparently Jagermeister (a liqueur) was invented in Wolfenbuettel and its headquarters are still there.  I remember my mother who hardly ever drank alcohol used to love an occasional Jagermeister.

We went on to a Thai restaurant, Yiet Thai, for our meal.  The window we sat out looked out at the large house where the Mast family, who created Jagermeister lived.  The meal was very nice, but we had to wait ages for our main course.  Both Andy and I were getting impatient, (I hate waiting for my food in a restaurant) but Chris as ever was her usual calm, patient self, not allowing hersef to get wound up by waiting.  The meal was worth the wait though, it was delicious.

Back at home we spent our last evening together chatting and drinking wine, it's so good to spend time with good friends and try to to put the world to rights!  Chris and Andy had made me so welcome in their home and spoiled me, thanks guys!

So, that was it the end of a hectic tour of Germany.  It's been a ball, with lots of fantastic experiences.  And as I sat in the plane on the way home I realised that Debbi, Julie, Chris and Andy were all people I first got to know through a mutual love of U2.  We are proper friends now, beyond U2, but without that initial love in common we would never have had the chance to get to know each other.  That's pretty special isn't it?


1 comment:

  1. That's a very comprehensive account. How on earth do you manage to remember all those details? I'm glad that you enjoyed your stay with us! We're really "chuffed" about what you wrote. :-)

    Good luck for your trip to Canada!

    Chris & Andy