Lufthansa Highlights Hanover: "What a town!"
I often find my thoughts wandering to Hanover - which is natural enough since that is where I spent my childhood and teenage years. It’s where I was born - and everything I experienced up to my 18th birthday is closely linked with Hanover; all those new, exciting, bright and promising things.
But I know that some people who are not from the city have difficulty seeing things the way I do. Yet there are so many good things about Hanover. For one thing, my parents - wonderful people, and not just in my opinion - and all kinds of places of interest, too. This would be a great opportunity to recommend the copy shop my father and I often drove to on a Saturday in his Citroën to make xerox copies for his office. I was perhaps five years old and one day the long-haired man at the checkout leaned over the counter and handed me an orange T-shirt with the words “Kiss me!” printed over two stylized black lips on the front of it. To me, that is Hanover!
There’s a certain alternative air about the place. Sadly, the copy shop no longer exists and the orange T-shirt was relegated to the dress-up box. But right close by, if you follow the subway tracks a little further, you’ll come to the most gorgeous baroque park, I would say, anywhere in Europe: It’s called Herrenhausen Gardens. The place is full of fountains, mazes, peaceful arbors entwined with roses, alabaster statues and artistically clipped trees.
There’s also an open-air theater there, plus the Grotto, a magical place transformed by pop artist Niki de Saint Phalle. Striding proudly along the paths, I used to picture myself in a tightly corseted crinoline gown, my sister beside me in a white-powdered wig and with a fashionable beauty spot on her cheek. And so, at nine and eleven, we would walk in semi-expectation of some historical figure
from roughly that era - Mozart, Napoleon or at the very least Kaspar Hauser - leaping suddenly out from behind the next hedge.
Not so very far away, about 30 minutes on foot in the opposite direction, there’s the stately new Town Hall, which more than one stranger has taken for a cathedral. I particularly enjoy the quick ride up in the elevator on the inside of the green-tarnished copper dome. At the top, on the outdoor observation platform, you can survey the surrounding countryside and even see as far as Lower Saxony’s famous Deister, our local chain of hills. Now that’s one place where I’ve experienced quite a few things: like one school outing while I was still in elementary school, when my classmate Susanne kept on saying: “My father knows everything. He’s like an encyclopedia.”
The new Town Hall is located in the extensive grounds of Maschpark, where there are also a number of ponds and a lake, Lake Masch, which has a swimming area with a beach and lawn on one side, a small jetty and historical changing cubicles that date from the 1930s.
This is also where you will find my favorite restaurant in town, Die Insel. Last summer I took a bunch of photos of the glorious, red sky at sunset there with my cell phone. From the terrace, you can see the promenade two and a half kilometers further down that’s lined with stately palm trees.
Beyond Alexander Calder’s big, red steel sculpture, you come to the Sprengel Museum, which houses a re-creation of Kurt Schwitters’ Merz Building. Don’t miss that! I have felt drawn to his collages and graphic artworks since my earliest youth. Schwitters was the “black sheep” of the city of Hanover. And as far as I’m concerned, he and I have very similar ways of thinking.
The bell’ Arte restaurant (which overlooks the lake) is, by the way, where my husband and I kissed for the first time.
Beyond Alexander Calder’s big, red steel sculpture, you come to the Sprengel Museum, which houses a re-creation of Kurt Schwitters’ Merz Building. Don’t miss that! I have felt drawn to his collages and graphic artworks since my earliest youth. Schwitters was the “black sheep” of the city of Hanover. And as far as I’m concerned, he and I have very similar ways of thinking. The bell’ Arte restaurant (which overlooks the lake) is, by the way, where my husband and I kissed for the first time.
Oh yes, and while we’re on the subject of art: Back in the old town, on the banks of the Leine river, there’s a flea market every Saturday next to and around the three voluptuous Nanas, those sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle. If you cross the river and head for the old town of Hanover, you automatically follow the “Red Thread” that was painted onto the cobblestones in 1971 and for which the German multitalent Harry Rowohlt wrote an accompanying book.
The good thing about Hanover is that everything is within easy walking distance – and here I picture myself young again and thirsty for life, sauntering down the streets in summer to the lusty song of the blackbirds. I could spend days walking through our endless city woods. This is where I used to laze around on the grass in threadbare jeans, velvet slippers, and bold black eyeliner, rolling cigarettes and reviving the hippy era.
And anyway: Hanover is the City of Rock. That’s something anyone from Hanover will tell you.