Thursday, 26 February 2015

In Hannover, Germany...

I've never been one for early starts – and by early starts I don't mean the usual 0600hrs when I routinely get up on a Saturday and Sunday morning to meet Andy on the Green. No, I'm talking about getting up at, say, 0400hrs with a cab due at 0500hrs, a suitcase to pack and all the usual stuff: making a cup of tea, having a shower and so on.

Well, this year – and I appreciate that we're only in February – I've had two 'early starts' and both have involved catching an early flight. Avid readers might recall that last month I flew off to Marrakech; this required getting up around 0400hrs and then being picked up by a colleague at 0500hrs. And now, here I am moaning about my early start this morning and the scenario was very similar; in fact it was virtually the same – up at 0400hrs, a cab coming at 0500hrs and then an early flight, this time to Hannover.

Heathrow Terminal One – a dreary place to be...
Heathrow Terminal One, incidentally, is a very dreary place; there's some alterations going on and very little in the way of anything mildly inviting in the shape of catering outlets. There was a Giraffe restaurant that hadn't opened yet – someone had gone off with the key – a Harlequins 'pub' and a Pret a Manger, but that was it. Admittedly it was early. I'd cleared security pretty fast and was wandering the terminal looking for something to eat by around 0615hrs. The taxi ride from my place to Heathrow was pretty uneventful – a smooth ride that took exactly one hour with no traffic and no hassles.

And then I was airborne, sitting in seat 12a. A pleasant flight, all 90 minutes of it, during which time I consumed nothing but a cup tea having enjoyed my breakfast – granola, yoghurt and two slices of toast with German butter – back at Harlequin's on Terminal One (and very tasty it was too).

During the flight I skimmed the newspapers and attempted a couple of Sudoki puzzles, but failed dismally, in between looking out of the window at the clouds below. It was a little 'choppy' coming in to land at Hannover, but overall I had no complaints. I jumped aboard the train from the 'flughafen' (that's 'airport' in German) to Hannover Hbf, the central station, and from there jumped another train to somewhere called Braunschweig Hbf and then a shortish taxi ride to my appointment after enjoying a bowl of goulash soup and a slice of pizza from Leifert, a bakery and café – very nice even if it was a self-service cafeteria. Besides, I much prefer paying up front for my food and not having to sit there trying to attract the attention of an unattentive waiter or waitress.

After lunch I hauled my suitcase on wheels around the station before jumping into a cab to my aforementioned appointment after which another cab took me back to the railway station where I enjoyed a couple of cups of English Breakfast tea in a Starbucks on the platform before heading back to Hannover Hbf and then a smaller, local train to where I am now, Langenhagen, which is close to the airport, although I won't be flying back to the UK, I'll be taking the train from here to Brussels Midi and then from Brussels to London St Pancras International, reaching home around 2100hrs if I'm lucky.

It was dark when I reached Langenhagen and I relied upon my iphone's satnav to get me from the railway station to the hotel, the Best Western Nordic Hotel Ambiente, which was 10 minutes' walk, and from where I now write this blogpost. I'll review the hotel on Trip Advisor but it was one of the best Best Western hotels I've visited in a long time – it had a restaurant for a start (always a plus point) but that didn't stop me taking a stroll to investigate the local eateries. Not that I found anything. I was looking for an Italian restaurant that was supposedly on the same street as my hotel and should have been virtually next door, but I never found it. There was a Chinese, but I thought no, the last thing I want tomorrow is a dicky stomach (remember that seafood restaurant inAmsterdam?). Keep it simple, I thought, and eventually wandered in from the cold and opted for a meal in the hotel restaurant.

Room 210, Best Western Nordic Hotel Ambiente, Langenhagen
I ordered a Paulaner, a salmon starter followed by cod for mains and an ice cream dessert. Excellent food, excellent service and a good vibe. I sat and read an article in The Economist about Putin and his motives – very interesting – and then I retired to my room where I sit now writing this.

While I love this hotel, I'm looking forward to getting some shut-eye. Fortunately I don't have an early start tomorrow, although I need to be downstairs for breakfast; if it's anything like dinner, it'll be worth getting down there early.

View from room 704, Best Western Nordic Hotel Ambiente
At around 1230hrs tomorrow afternoon I take the train to Brussels via Cologne – plenty of time to catch up on my reading of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

I haven't seen any bike share scheme in either Langenhagen or Hannover and even if I had spotted some bikes, time will not be on my side in the morning.

The next day...
Well, perhaps time is a little on my side. I hit the breakfast room around 0830hrs – fresh fruit, cereal, yoghurt, a banana and a couple of small croissants, not forgetting tea. All very pleasant and followed by a walk around town.

The downtown area of Langenhagen is dominated by a shopping mall. Quite a nice shopping mall, very clean and there were plenty of interesting-looking cafés and, believe it or not, a Woolworth. Mind you, I think I've mentioned Woolworth before, possibly when I visited Hagen, also in Germany. It seems that the Germans have the secret to keeping shops like Woolworth open. The one here in Langenhagen is certainly alive and well and doing a roaring trade.

Yes, it's Woolworth, alive and well and living in Langenhagen, Germany
I need to get back to Hannover Hbf for a train to Cologne and, ultimately, Brussels, and it looks as if trams take around 17 minutes to get there, but there's still no time dawdle about. I've tried to engage in a bit of work this morning and might have to see if the hotel business centre can assist as my laptop seems to have problems whenever I'm abroad. It's working (otherwise, how would I be capable of typing these words?) but for some reason when I log on to my office email remotely it plays up). I know, this is boring so I'll stop right there.

Langenhagen's claims to fame...

As I wandered around I begin to wonder what, if anything, happened here. Well, quite a bit...

• Langenhagen is where Ulrike Meinhof, a German left wing militant (a terrorist basically) was arrested on the 18th June 1972. She was a co-founder of the Red Army Faction and is widely believed to have hanged herself in prison, although, had she not done so, she would have been handed down a life sentence plus 15 years. There are theories that she didn't hang herself. For more on Meinhoff, click here.

• Langenhagen was also where the first mass production of compact discs (CDs) took place.

1 comment:

  1. Boone, Iowa used to have a Woolworth's store. It was on my downtown newspaper route when I was a kid. It always smelled like mothballs. Love that smell.