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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Braunschweiger Weihnachtsmarkt


Christmas brings back many memories - memories of childhood days and how things were in that almost mythical place called "back home."

Well, thanks to the internet, "back home" is not all that far away anymore and after a bit of searching, I discovered several pictures and a YouTube clip of my old hometown Braunschweig in Germany which brought back plenty of memories.

The traditional "Weihnachtsmarkt" (Christmas Market) in the "Burgplatz" seems to have hardly changed at all, right down to the Gingerbread House which looks just like I remembered it from my childhood days. Even though I couldn't afford to buy any more than the occasional candied apple or fairy floss on a stick, I was there every day and often stayed until well after dark when all the coloured nights were turned on and the smell of "Bratwurst" and freshly roasted nuts wafted through the icy air.

Book Antiquariat on the 'Burgplatz'

Later, when I served my articles in the insurance office of the "Hamburg-Bremer Feuer- Versicherungsgesellschaft" just around the corner from the "Burgplatz" in the "Münzstraße", I would often visit a tiny 8 m² book antiquariat tucked away in a corner of the "Burgplatz." Imagine my surprise when I found on the internet a photograph of the very same bookshop still in business today - click here! It almost makes me want to go back and rummage through those old books again.

No Karl May for me in those days; I had already progressed to Heinrich Böll's "Wanderer, kommst Du nach Sparta..." ("Stranger, Bear Word to the Spartans We...") and Erich Maria Remarque's "Im Westen nichts Neues" ("All Quiet on the Western Front"). For some lighter reading, I read and re-read Heinz Helfgen's "Ich radle um die Welt", Heinrich Harrer's "Sieben Jahre in Tibet" ("Seven Years in Tibet"), and Thor Heyerdahl's "Kon-Tiki". Another one of my heroes was Dr Albert Schweitzer who did such beautiful humanitarian work at Lambaréné in Gabon. All our dreams have their beginning in our youth.


And there hasn't been much change in Braunschweig's "Münzstraße". Looking down the right-hand side of this photograph taken from the internet, I still see the very building I served my articles in: it has a white car parked alongside it and a yellow "Café" sign to its right. My office was on the top floor facing the street. The windows overlooked a large gap in the buildings on the other side of the street which has since been built out. The "Rathaus" (Town Hall) is just down the street.

Thanks to a very dear friend who took it onto herself to revisit those places several years ago, I also have this photo of Cyriaksring # 40 where my parents lived just before I left home to travel the world:

click on the photo to see our balcony marked in yellow;
however, none of the tenants owned a car in my days

It's just as I remember it! To see more photos, click here.