Hanover & Lüneburg, Germany
On the way to Hanover we stopped at a mechanic to see if they could fix our van. The answer was a straight out "no". I think we are destined to live with a malfunctioning campervan.
We headed directly to a caravan park, the closest being 11 kilometres out of the city. This seemed a long way out for a city that wasn't that big. The area it was located in wasn't even considered to be a part of Hanover. Driving up to the entrance it looked like the king of caravan parks, a little bit too fancy for us and probably out of our price range. We decided to skip it and instead drove towards the city, where we found a free car park about one kilometre out. It was also right near the U-Bahn, which would have been great if we weren't already so close to town.
We took a stroll around our area and the only place open at 4:30 p.m. was a Chinese restaurant, run by a Vietnamese woman. Apparently everything closed between 3 and 6 p.m. here. With nothing else to do we stopped at the restaurant for a drink and spring rolls. The Vietnamese woman spoke great English (she had schooled a little in Australia) and chatted to us for ages. It was nice to interact with someone else for a while.
It was homemade pizza for dinner, with pesto and chilli, which was excellent. Danny also managed to create an appetiser out of the leftover pizza dough: he covered it in various toppings, rolled it into a wheel and pan-fried it. Overload on the carbs but totally worth it.
Our days are getting longer and longer - now it isn't getting dark until after 10 p.m., which confuses our body clocks every night.
It was fantastic to be able to walk into a city in the morning and not have to worry about public transport. Hanover was not like other German cities at all; it was sort of like an Australian city, with a distinctive lack of centuries-old buildings and lots of drab grey. It did have a fair amount of artwork and sculptures scattered around to brighten it up though. The middle of the main street had been hollowed out to form two storeys, with a shopping strip below the street level, which was pretty cool. The pedestrianised centre, usually a great place to hang out, was full of construction work, and this did not help us to formulate a positive image of the place.
After walking aimlessly for a while I left Danny at a cafe and caught the U-Bahn up to the Herrenhausen Gardens. The price was €5 just to enter the gardens, and this did not allow access to the Palace. I thought it was ridiculous to pay to only enter the Palace grounds, but they were some of the best gardens I had ever visited. Fountains were met at every turn, including the tallest fountain in Europe (they claimed), although it was just a jet like the one in Geneva and I didn't see how it was any bigger. There were dozens of secluded gardens, hidden behind hedges and all of them unique. At the moment I decided to leave all of the fountains suddenly turned off. They didn't come back on within the 10 minutes it took me walk out the exit, so I must have arrived at the right time. I headed over the road to look at another garden (included in the entry price) but it started raining so I didn't stay long. It appeared to be more about flowers than anything else.
I caught the train back to the city and walked to the Rathaus, the only decent building to look at in the city. It was situated on a large lake covered with water lilies, with peaceful gardens surrounding it. As it was still raining, I quickly took the obligatory photos then made my way back to the van to meet Danny.
From Hanover we drove to Lüneburg, nicknamed the "crooked" town because there had been so many excavations in the area that many of the buildings were supposedly on a slight angle. We think if we hadn't been told about this, we wouldn't have noticed. We spotted a couple of structures out by a few degrees, as well as some bulging and cracked walls on our travels, but only with the help of our guidebook. It was a beautiful town, full of buildings that looked like gingerbread houses, but not really worth the trip. Danny found the Munster cheese he was after and, using gesture, managed to buy a small piece. We had to scoff it down because the odour coming off the cheese was terrible and we didn't want the stench spreading through the van. Thankfully it tasted better than it smelled.