I left Hannover in the middle of the day on Monday, so I had a little bit of time to walk around and to take my old Ubahn into the city. It was sad and strange and happy and a million things. It’s such a strange thing to take a quick leap into the past. Can you imagine sleeping in your old college dorm room and walking around the campus and visiting classes? I guess it was my own mini-Homecoming or something…
I decided to capture my old route into the city and all the old spots that really mean something to me. There are so many random places in Hannover that I am attached to, even though to most people they are just a bikestand or just a path or just a coffee shop. For me, that year was one of immense growth and new experiences—and mistakes and learning and all those other important things that happen in the first year out of college.
Leaving the house to the UBahn stop! I love the charming brick streets—and it means something in terms of driving, but I can’t remember what! (sorry)
On my way through the neighborhoods. It was here I learned how safe Germany is. One of my first nights out I came back to a gregarious group of people loudly celebrating a local soccer game or hockey game or something. I was nervous, as any well-trained American girl would be, but I quickly learned that Germany is one of the safest countries in the world and the people are incredibly honest (overall). If you drop something, they will pick it up and leave it on the closest, cleanest spot. One of my friends found a mitten she dropped that way!
This route is how I would walk to the closest Ubahn stop, but I would bike along a parallel street into the city. On the parallel street, I almost slid out on ice on my bike—very strange feeling. I had to explain myself to a police officer when I was the absolute last person evacuating our area after they found a bomb from WWII in a nearby field. (“Ich bin Au Pair.”) That was definitely a moment where having more grasp of the German language would have been useful! It was also where I decided to apply for a spot in the masters program in Heidelberg. I was biking in the sunshine, enjoying being outside, passing a local restaurant and just thought, “I love it here. I’m going for it.”
Hannover is noted in license plates when the letter H. Heidelberg is HD. Maybe if I marry someone with the last name H, I can move to Hamburg, which is HH.
My turn around the corner. I used to love this house! I wanted my own little circular staircase.
The local autumn market! I was there 5 years ago! This market is especially small and local, but Hannover had a lot of its own festivals, which were really fun. When people know you’ve been to Germany, they always ask if you’ve been to Oktoberfest. Though I have, I got a lot more pleasure out of smaller, local festivals where you can learn more about local traditions…and not just about getting wasted with a bunch of other American tourists.
I used to run around this track when I was training for the Hamburg marathon!
Awww…. the Edeka where I used to go shopping. Imagine shopping in a country where you don’t speak the language. I thought I was pretty bright when I asked for a piece of paper to order some hamburger meat—but I almost accidentally got 3 kilos instead of 0.3 kilos… in Germany, they use commas instead of periods to indicate decimals. I always used to feel so pressured when I was shopping because the pace of checking out is so different. In the US, the cashier leisurely scans your items, you both leisurely pack them, and out you go. Here, she scans quickly, you try to pack as quickly, and she’s already scanning someone else before you’re done!
I used to park my bike here. My most vivid memory is of biking home during the cold, cold winter. It was the one time I missed having a car! The temp read –13. Brrr…. imagine getting out of a semi-warm UBahn and having to put your hands on a metal bike that has been sitting out for hours in that kind of weather. I could barely get the lock off!
My old stop! The Line 7 used to come here but for some unknown reason they changed it to the 9… Grrr….
There is a screen that counts down the arrival of the tram, so we all can time our commutes precisely.
Got my one-way ticket into the city!
Uh oh. The train is late! When I first moved to Germany, I used to laugh at how angry people would get when the train was 30 seconds late. By the end of my first year, I was one of those people. You’ve got to time your commute! I was teaching at the university, and I would hop on the train here and change in the center, and sometimes you only have a few minutes to dart from one spot to the next. (Overall of course, the trains are very reliable and prompt, but Germans have high expectations.)
Here she comes! The sign indicates the other important stops the tram crosses and the word below is the end station.
Yes! I got one of the cute little green trains!
Push the button and the door opens and stairs descend. (Or, if you’re me, spend too much time taking a picture of pushing the button and almost get shut in the doors. I decided to put my camera away for awhile.)
The ride was great. I didn’t take pictures, but it was fun listening to all the old stops. I used some of the stops for speech-training when I was living there. One stop has the word Kirche (church) in it, and I used to repeat that word at least three times afterward to practice my ch sound.
It was fun to go through my favorite three stops and remember how my friend Tara and I used to repeat them. Spannhagengarten! Pelikanstrasse—Achtung tuerren offnen links! Vier Grenzen! I watched the city go by before the train turned from a Strassenbahn (above ground) to a U-Bahn (below ground). I excited at Kroepcke, in the center city.
They have really improved a lot of the shopping area since I used to live there, and they added a Back Factory. I think I mention that I love this place because you can pick out your own bread and just pay at the end. This way, if you’re German is not-so-great, you don’t accidentally end up with three of something you wanted one of (not that I know anyone that happened to). However, I guess this place is tricky for people who are used to ordering with a bakery worker. I had to help a little old lady in Hamburg who had never been to Backfactory before—you need to get a piece of paper and a tray and put your tray away. She was a little flummoxed but so sweetly grateful.
This BackFactory had a sign outside with a play on words that I understood. Can you understand? Angebot=sale or special, brot=bread. A cute little joke. (Speaking of jokes…remember that time I confused witz and wiks in a conversation. FUN. Look it up…)
The Kroepcke clock is a big meeting spot in Hannover. I used to meet my friends there. The other spot is “under the horse’s tail” by the statue in front of the Hauptbahnhof.
When I come back to visit Germany, there are so many special German things that I really cherish, but when you are living abroad, it is natural to miss home. Therefore, I was so grateful when I realized that the local upscale shopping center had a grocery store with an international aisle… and they had American stuff!
Then, I went to the grocery aisle and saw the American stuff. Oh my.
Can’t live without my cheese whiz… errr zip.