This is my third visit to Itzehoe. The last time I went was in 2010, when I visited with college. The time before that was in 2008 when I stayed in the old Jugendherberge with a group from school.
The time I was going as an independent traveller; booking my own flights and transport to Heathrow. The reason for this visit was the town annual Weinfest (winefestival); an event I had picked to broadcast live from for Corinium Radio.
On Friday, after my arrival at Hamburg Airport, I was met by Renate and her husband Uwe, and the other guests from Cirencester. Together we went in to Hamburg Airport and did a tour of the city on the top deck of an open-top bus.
Joining Hamburg’s Friday afternoon rush hour traffic, we returned to Itzehoe via the A23 Autobahn and on arrival there I was introduced to Barbara and Albrecht, my hosts for the weekend.
Barabara and Albrecht Kruck, two ‘retired’ teachers (I put that in inverted commas, because they are still very active in the schools and other local organisations), live on the outskirts of Itzehoe in a house set back from the road with the woods behind. They were excellent hosts.
As we got to know each other we spoke English at first, before deciding we’d switch to German. It took me a while to get tuned in, but aside from when we debated the European Union or had everyone else round to dinner on Sunday night, we did not switch back to English – partly because Albrecht does not speak English.
This helped my German massively. More so than my recent visits to Munich, Berlin and Freiburg. I take it as a good sign that I seem to be getting the genders and the cases right most of the time (more out of luck than anything else), and I have been told that I’m using some of the more complicated constructions – eg. relative clauses, all this strange German word order, using different tenses etc. – really rather well. So my German isn’t completely gone! There is still hope!
On Friday we all – the English, the French, the Germans from Malchin and the Germans from Itzehoe – ate dinner together at the Klosterbrunnen restaurant. I ended up sitting next to the grandson of the man from Itzehoe who initially set up the twinning association with Cirencester.
Saturday was the big day: I had to do several recordings prior to broadcasting live from Itzehoe to Cirencester in the evening. I recorded some segments of a guided tour with town guide Eberhard Schmidt. I left early to go and record a short interview with the Stadtmanagement. Then, I was driven to the home of two Afghan migrants to interview them about how they were adjusting to life in Germany.
In the afternoon was the main event; Itzehoe’s annual wine festival (photos here courtesy of the Norddeutscher Rundschau). On the main stage prior to the official opening, I recorded a little bit of the Shantychor Itzehoer Störschipper who kicked off an evening of live music. Traditional German maritime music!
At 16:30, the two Mayors of Itzehoe – Andreas Koeppen (Bürgermeister) and Heinz Köhnke (Bürgervorsteher) officially opened not only the annual Weinfest, but also the wider Itzehoer Woche (Itzehoe Week).
In addition to the wine festival, other events throughout the week include the Flohmarkt which took place on Wednesday; Late-Night Shopping on Thursday; and the Kindertag which takes place on Sunday.
Later, I headed to the VIP area of the festival where I had an interesting chat and interviewed the two Itzehoe Mayors.
From there, I headed to the Rathaus to set up my pop-up studio (pictured right). Having transported a mixing desk, two laptops and a lot of cables from Cirencester, I had high expectations of myself as to how the show would sound.
Editing all my audio in the space of an hour and with all my music chosen, at 6pm (5pm UK) I took to the airwaves. For the first time in its history, Corinium Radio was broadcasting live not just from outside Cirencester, but from outside the United Kingdom!
It did feel a bit weird presenting a radio show in English, having been speaking German for most of the day, with council staff coming in to ask “Alles in ordnung?” on a regular basis!
I’ll post the audio recording of the live show later in the week.
An hour later, buzzing after my live show, I returned to the Weinfest where I enjoyed some, but not all, of the music on the Hauptbühne (main stage). Later, I became conscious of the fact that it was now getting towards 21:00 and I hadn’t discussed with Barbara and Albrecht as to what time I would meet them. But not to worry – they were working the last 2 hour shift on the twinning association’s stand at the wine festival.
As the evening got later the festival got busier. Itzehoe’s young people started gathering. The music got noisier. I found myself making friends with a young Syrian migrant who was assisting on the stall; having been in Itzehoe for less than a year, he was still learning German and spoke good English. I helped him transport the empty wine bottles over to the recycling bins on the other side of the festival ground (easier said than done when the festival venue was at capacity!)
The music finished at 23:30, and then midnight stuck and it was closing time. I helped the others pack up at the end, and load the cars. It was almost 2am by the time I made it to bed.
The weather was fantastic though: a Sunny evening and a clear night. Better than the weather I’ve had in my winter trips to Germany recently, and certainly a lot warmer than my last visit to Itzehoe.
No rest for the wicked though. I was up by 09:30 the following morning, for breakfast and then then a 10:00 pick up. We (the English, the French, Renate and Uwe) were going to Germany’s Baltic coast. Travemünde was our destination.
After lunch, we hopped on a boat across the river mouth to visit the Passat (the ship in the photo above). Built by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg in 1911, the Passat suvives today as a museum. Originally, she was a sailing ship – no engines on board this ship at all, even in the early 1900s.
The original plan had then been to go in to nearby Lübeck, but we ran out of time and instead returned to Itzehoe. It was late in the afternoon and a good 2 hour drive back. Just half an hour after returning to Itzehoe everyone was over at the house I was staying at, where a buffet dinner was enjoyed by all.
A long drive followed on Monday too. Leaving at 10am, we stopped off at the Nord-Ostsee-Kanal and then arrived at the Emil Nolde Museum in Seebüll. There are some fascinating paintings there (as well as some not-so-good ones).
Several hours later, we continued up to the Danish border and parked up in the sleepy village of Tønder.
With 10 minutes before it closed, we were able to go and visit ‘Det Gamele Apotek‘ – The Old Pharmacy: which is a Christmas shop. Open all year round (ironically except on Christmas Day itself), you can buy Christmas gifts, presents, wrapping paper and decorations in the middle of Summer. It didn’t quite feel right to see lots of Father Christmas themed gifts when outside temperatures were almost 27°c.
Although Tønder is just a couple of kilometres from Germany, it has a very different feel. The roads change colour as you cross the border. The road signs look different. The town itself feels different somehow. Its difficult to explain why, it just does feel different. Yet, all we did was cross what is an imaginary line which some politician drew on a map after the first world war.
On the way back we stopped at the mouth of the River Eide and looked out over the North Sea towards the UK – Probably somewhere in Yorkshire would be the first land on the other side – somewhere North of Hull I reckon.
Our next stop was Meldorf, where we had our final meal of the weekend. I opted for a Schweineschnitzel! Meldorf is a great little town, a lovely big church in the middle being the centre of the area.
Back in Itzehoe late that night, I sat in the garden and chatted with Barbara and Albrecht about what we had done that day. Then, it was time to squeeze everything back in to my suitcase.
On Monday, I rose early. Barbara and Albrecht had to leave early due to other commitments, to they dropped me at Renate’s house shortly after breakfast. There was then that rather awkward social situation of not wanting anything else to eat as I’d already had breakfast, while breakfast was being served in Renate’s house.
At 10am, picking up the French on the way, we went back to Meldorf. This time, we went to look at the church, then to the Dithmarscher Landesmuseum, and then for lunch. I took the opportunity to buy a road map of Schleswig-Holstein so I could see on a map where we had been the last few days.
At 13:30 we climbed on to the minibus for the final time and made our way to the A23 Autobahn heading South toward Hamburg and its Airport. Arriving at the Airport shortly before 15:00, I checked in for my flight and departed at 16:55. The others flew an hour later from the gate opposite, and not long after we were all reunited at Heathrow Central Bus Station awaiting the 444 coach back to Cirencester.
What a great weekend (and a great reason to return to Itzehoe)!
Sadly, the memory card in my camera was corrupt, and as such, my best photos have been lost. 🙁 But I know I will be back in Itzehoe again – I won’t leave it so long next time!
To all who I travelled with in Germany, and to my German hosts, thank-you… and keep an eye out for my live broadcast on MixCloud soon.