Wednesday was the last day of school for the boys, and we decided to make the most of the time leading up to Christmas by taking a short break, and doing a driving tour to Köln (Cologne). We set off once we had the car packed (and Phil off his last T-con to the US for the year!). The roads were clear, and the weather fine, so it was a short, fast hop on the Autobahn to get to Hannover.
We planned to meet up with a friend of ours, Chris, who we have been in email contact with since he stayed with us for a while in Australia. Unfortunately, due to our late bookings, Chris had already flown South for Christmas. It was a shame not to catch up with him, but we enjoyed Hannover anyway!
The Youth hostel looks like something designed by a Star Trek fan.. but it was clean and comfortable and a great base for us. We found a local Italian restaurant for dinner, and enjoyed a nice walk in the evening.
The next day, we awoke to lovely clear weather and set off for a stroll around the centre of town. Sometimes it seems that Hannover gets a 'bad rap' as an industrial town (and, well, it is..), but we had the pleasure of walking along next to the Maschsee. Machsee is an artifical lake, one of the earliest Nazi-led projects. It is popular to swim in Summer, but not at the moment in 5 degree tempretures!
Then we followed the 'tourist route' (a red line drawn on the pavement that runs for 4.2 km), before heading back to the youth hostel to collect the car.
I wonder how much beer this person consumed before driving the red line paint truck?
The Altstadt (old town) of Hannover was nice - we saw
The Rathaus, (townhall), complete in 1913.
The Aegidienkirche Memorial. The church was bombed in 1943.
This church holds the "Peace Bell". This bell was donated by Hiroshima. Every 6th August at 8.15am, Japansese and German officials meet here to ring the bell. This is the exact time and date that the atomic bomb detonated in Hiroshima.
In 1943 most of the city was destroyed by Allied bombing and has been rebuilt over time.
The Hannover Opera House, with lots of school groups heading off to watch Hansel and Gretel. This is a really popular opera for kids in Germany, and is often played around Christmas. We suggested to the kids that we could slip them into a school group, they could enjoy the show, and we could catch up with them after. Alexander and Cameron were not so impressed with this idea!
A Christmas market (the first of MANY on this trip!),
This great "whirlpool", where you cranked the handle around and caused a cyclone effect.
Lego Christmas Display in a department store! The Santa is made from Lego!
Some wandering Berlin Bears who seem to have lost their direction!
The Marktkirche Gothis Church, built from red bricks, and had these amazing sculptures above the doorframe. Complete in 1359.
The Nanas Sculptures, by French arist Niki de Saint Phalle. These sculptures were installed along the River Leine in 1974. Over 20,000 letters of complaint were filed in the local government at the time. Now they are the most well known landmarks of Hannover.
I hope I get this right in the correct names for the sculptures. If anyone reading this sees that I have them mixed up, please leave a commet!
This one is Caroline
We had lunch at a roadhouse on the way, and set off for another couple of hours drive to Köln. There was lots of roadworks around Köln (a friend tells us they have been ongoing for nearly 15 years, as they have gone from 2 lanes to 3, then 3 lanes to 4.... ).
We found the youth hostel easily enough (BOB, out trusty sat nav, was in a favourable mood and decided we should get to where we wanted to go....), and checked in.
We had a great dinner with Andrea, Baden, Daniel and Ryan, our Aussie friends who head back to Victoria on the 3rd January. Hopefully we will catch up with them in the Summer!