Monday was simply and arrival day and getting my head around being in, what was for me, a new country. Sonja showed me a little of Oldenburg, the city that, due to her University studies, she’s called home for the last few years. She showed me the “Easter Market” – a giant travelling fairground that even had a 150-foot (50 metre) high Ferris Wheel and beer stands that looked like real pubs but all of it could be broken down in a matter of hours and rebuilt elsewhere when needed.
On Tuesday, we visited Osnabruck, where Sonja will be starting the last 2 years of her Teacher Training in a Grammer School there, teaching English and Religious Education. After a meeting about her new flat, we went walkabout around the city centre. We met up with a friend of Sonja’s for lunch (at Osnabruck University), after which we continued going walkabout around Osnabruck. We then drove out to where Sonja’s new flat is located and then to the school where she’ll be working – 400meters away from her flat!!! That evening, along with Sonja’s friend Dorit (who was supposed to accompany Sonja to Scotland when she came over for my birthday in December 2005 but had to pull out due to illness) we visited a Greek restaurant around the corner from Sonja’s flat. My first visit to a Greek restaurant and very nice it was, too!
Wednesday saw us spend the day in and around Oldenburg. After a few bits and pieces that needed to be done (shopping and such like), we left the car at Sonja’s flat and walked no more than 300meters to the University for lunch. No wonder Sonja took this flat – she could fall out of bed and end up in Uni in moments! After lunch, a short bus ride took us to the town centre for a look around some shops – and me spending some money at H&M. That evening, dinner and a brief a trip to the Easter Market with a couple of Sonja’s friends was followed by a trip to a place called Richter’s – a poolroom (click here for the site in English). How much of a happy bunny was I? Sonja was good enough to ask the bar staff if they’d open the Pro Shop for a few minutes for me (it took a ton of self-control to not go completely mental in there and end up buying a cue or something expensive like that).
Thursday and we went through to Bremen for the day. Our initial aim was to go to the Science Museum there, where we ended up spending some 4½ hours walking round! The time just flew in for us! When we arrived back in the city centre, there were loads of people walking around in red and white tops and after a little asking about, I managed to find out that they were fans of the AZ Alkmaar football team from Holland who were there to play Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup Quarter Final second leg match. As we continued walking around, we came across the main square of the city and found it to be a sea or red and white – filled with AZ Alkmaar fans! It made for an amazing site and what a great atmosphere in the place. The police were there, but were able to stand back and allow everyone to enjoy themselves, which they did. We got back to Oldenburg and went to a nearby bar for dinner – an all you can eat pasta buffet for €2. They happened to be showing the Bremen game and giving away free shots every time they scored. We arrived with the score at 1-1 and left at full time with Bremen winning the match 4-1.
Friday, and it was off to Hamburg (via Bremen) for the weekend to attend the 25th Anniversary Convention of Magische Nordlichter (click here for this site in English), which translates at Magical Northern Lights, which is one of 2 magic clubs in Hamburg. Sonja constantly told me not to expect too much from the Convention, but it turned out to be a great weekend with one of the best Gala Shows I’ve seen in a long time. I went to lectures by Christoph Borer & Lou (Switzerland) and Alan Shaxon (England). Although the first lecture was in German, I was still able to understand parts of it. Luckily, I also had Sonja by my side for those parts that I didn’t understand! The Shaxon lecture was presented in English with a simultaneous German translation by Henning Köhlert which I did not find intrusive. I’ve seen Shaxon lecture a few times and always find it fascinating – great magic, to-the-point effects and brilliant methods.
The Convention itself was being held in a suburb of Hamburg called Wilhelmsburg, so I took some time out from the Convention to go and see parts of Hamburg. On the Friday night, I was taken to the world-famous Reeperbahn, which is a huge street in Hamburg with every form of entertainment that you can imagine – and a fair bunch that you really shouldn’t! On one side, a bunch of theatres with shows such as “Mamma Mia”, clubs and bars. On the other, more bars, more clubs and… well, dozens of sex shops and shows! And I mean dozens! There must have been one ever other door! We did not go into any of the sex shops or shows. We did, however, go to a few of the bars and clubs on and around the Reeperbahn. Sadly, I cannot remember any of the names of them, but my favourites included one that looked and felt like a student dorm with a main room where the bar and DJ were located and a corridor with bunch of smaller rooms leading off of it. These rooms had everything from accoustic gigs to big discussions to a table football tournament going on.
On the Saturday, I went walkabout around Hamburg City Centre myself looking around a bunch of shops and generally enjoying the sights. On what was the warmest day of the year so far (well into the 80s!) I saw a totally different side to Hamburg to what I had seen the night before.
Sunday was the final day of the Convention and a boat cruise had been arranged along the River Elbe – the river that runs through Hamburg. With 100 or so magicians on board, it wasn’t long before little magic shows were happening here, there and everywhere on board ship and I got involved doing a few shows now and then. It was great fun and, as always, Sonja was there in case I needed her translation skills (she speaks German like a native!). Luckily for me, everyone seemed to enjoy watching what I was doing so I must have been doing something right. Before I knew where we were, 3 hours had passed and we were arriving back at the Hamburg docks and it was time for a spot of lunch then the journey out to the airport for my flights home.
I had a great time. It was great to visit Germany for the first time. It was great to go to another Convention. Most of all, however, it was great just to see Sonja for a few days. I will definately be back!
The Cardman 🙂