We have enjoyed the final days of this trip in a very relaxed way at the home of David’s friends Stefan and Birge along with their two beautiful daughters Maiko & Suzuna. David first met Stefan at university in Japan. He and his family live in the town of Barsinghausen in Lower Saxony, Germany. Stefan is convinced that because he lives in the geographic centre of the town, and this town is the focal point of Germany, therefore he lives in the centre of the world. Here is his location of his house on the map to prove it.
It really feels nice to be back in a part of the world where the streets are clean and the police officer is your friend again. It’s also great to be able to drink water from the tap again.
On our first day here, we spent the time sightseeing in Hanover. This is a fairly modern city, having been rebuilt after extensive bombing damage in WWII. Our trip into be city took about 35 minutes on a local train (which to our surprise even came equipped with a toilet). Of course, it ran on time. Our ticket enabled us to also connect with the city tramway system which runs undergound though the city centre.
In Hanover, we liked the open shopping mall and the range of nice looking shops. We had a unique experience in travelling to the top of the high Town Hall Dome in a lift that actually followed the curve of the dome as it ascended. The lift is due to be dismantled soon as parts are no longer available for it, so this made it all the more interesting for us.
We also went to the beautifully kept gardens in the grounds of what once was the Palace of Hanover. The palace was destroyed in the war, but the gardens are well maintained and are very beautiful. There are a lot of formally laid out garden beds with statues and fountains throughout them.
Stefan has a passion for beer, and knows every brewery in the area. In Hanover, he took us to a micro brewery and introduced us to a very tasty cloudy beer. We offered to buy some beer to top up Stefan’s supply, but none of the ones that we saw in the supermarket passed his quality control test. In the end, he took us to a store that advertised itself as selling 1000 different types of drink, but by then he had decided that it was his role as the host to keep the fridge full. Stefan ultimately succumbed to allowing us to contribute some wine to go with the BBQ on the second night of our stay.
One afternoon, we went on a tour of a coal mine that up until the 1950’s was the main industry in the town. We had a very interesting ride in a little train for 1 1/2 kilometres underground to the centre of the mine where we could see examples of the machines that we used to extract the coal from the seam. After being underground, we walked to the lookout on top of the waste dump to get a view over the village. We could see Stefan’s house from the top and in honour of all of Birge’s hospitality, we decided to name this hill ‘Mt Birge’.
Our main purpose in going to Barsinghausen was to attend the baptism of Suzuna and for David to become her Godfather. The service was held in the courtyard of a Lutheran monastory dating back to the 1200’s. It was a beautiful setting with over 300 people attending. Because it was summer holiday, this was a combined services for many churches in the district. I thought that it was a very nice service indeed. I could follow the structure of the Service and I knew one hymn, but I couldn’t understand the words. Having lunch afterwards with all of Stefan & Birge ‘s family was a superb ending to our trip.