Escape to Hannover

19 Jan

Well, after more than three weeks of much solitude in the havens of Wettenbostel… it was time.  Time to get out into the big world.  The opportunity was… Hannover.

It all started with an email from a friend… sharing innocently that New Orleans musician Theresa Andersson was going to be in Hannover on January 17 for a concert.  Hmmm… perhaps I could go!  This was exciting to me on a a number of levels.  I really appreciate Theresa as a musician and performer.  Plus I was ready for a little taste of New Orleans home.  Also, it was a chance to get out for a bit… do something different… so I explored the possibility that I might go.

Ever the budget traveler, I set out to get a ticket for free.  Not an impossible task in New Orleans.  The Big Easy is not so big, with an intimate network with maybe one or two degrees of separation.  With the good fortune of a friend’s connection, I was put on the guest list for the concert.  Hannover here I come.

Hannover is about an hour and a half away from Wettenbostel by train.  With an evening concert, I figured it made sense to go and spend the night there.  The best bet, I thought, was Couch Surfing.  Perhaps you have heard of it?  a somewhat notorious network of  travelers and generous hosts willing to offer a couch or bed for the evening.  It’s mission?  not just a free place to stay… but a network, an infrastructure for connecting to humanity… all over the world! I am a member, but had not yet successfully couch surfed while traveling.  I sent out a few requests through the website to some folks not too far from the concert and happily got a friendly and welcoming invite for a place to stay for the night.

The train to Hannover went quite smoothly.  I arrived in the main station, called in Germany the Hauptbahnhof, then found my way to the local trains to easily navigate my way towards my hosts home.  With just a short journey and a quick phone call to her, we soon connected and I found myself safe and sound for the night in Hannover.  The concert started at 8:00pm and I learned that Theresa was not the sole act, but the opening performer for a musician named Tommy Emmanuel, an Australian guitar player with apparently quite a following in Germany.  The show was at the Theater am Aegi.  I was not sure what sort of space to expect, coming from the experiences in New Orleans of often smokey rooms, open floors for dancing, and intimate settings.  What I found in the Theater am Aegi was a traditional theater complete with velvet seats and a balcony.  So we wouldn’t be jumpin up and gettin’ down I imagined.  I found my assigned seat and the concert began.

Theresa has created a unique style of performance for herself.  Armed with a gifted voice, talent on the fiddle and other instruments, and a sense of adventure Theresa trained herself to use pedals to record and then loop back as she sings and creates new sounds and rhythms.  Here is a sample of her performing the song Birds Fly Away recorded in her kitchen in New Orleans.  I just love it.  It gives me chills.  Theresa’s performance that night was short… just a half an hour… but still enough time to feel a little joy and lift my spirit.  My neighbors at the concert, a German couple there to see Tommy, had never heard of Theresa Andersson.  But they enjoyed her performance.  When I asked them what they thought they smiled and said, “she’s crazy!”… that’s funny, I thought.  She seems pretty normal to me.  Perhaps it is all that time I spent in New Orleans….

And next was… the main attraction.  The reason why hundreds of Germans came out on a cold Tuesday night… Tommy Emmanuel.  What I learned about Tommy through his performance was not only is he Australian, but an accomplished guitarist.  As he began playing an ease just came over me as he grooved on his guitar.  And the concert continued, original songs, cover songs… and one duet with Theresa Andersson.  Just beautiful. He shared a little about his adventure of meeting his idol, Chet Atkins, and the remarkable story of how, as an aspiring musician, he was invited to Nashville to visit him… and ultimately ended up cutting an album with him that I believe had him nominated for a Grammy. It was a great story! By the end of the night I felt a pleasant connection to Tommy Emmanual and while, not converted to a die-hard fan… I was glad I was there. After the concert, an easy and cold ride back to my couch surfing destination in what felt like the very safe city of Hannover.

The next morning, I was packed and ready to go for 9am as I departed back into the city with my host, Andrea.  She had a morning appointment, but she directed me into the center of town and we agreed to meet a little later for a coffee.  I began the morning with grabbing a little coffee and some warmth, then headed out for a bit to enjoy the cool sunny day.  Mostly just walking the streets, exploring a few stores and shops, I felt like a little kid.  It was fun to be out.  And fun to be on my own.  Seeing new places and enjoying the  fresh syncopation of a European city.  People on bicycles, old buildings.  Charm.  Good bus systems and public transportation.  Delighted, I met back up with Andrea and we traveled by bus to a near-bye neighborhood and enjoyed a breakfast together.

A mom who has raised her kids and now on her own, Andrea was a great couch surfing host and fresh for new experiences.  She recently traveled to India.  She looks forward to visiting her daughter in Africa and walking the Way of St. James, a spiritual pilgrimage in Spain.  She does yoga and she is exploring Archery!  Her enthusiastic spirit was really a breath of fresh air nicely partnered with her grounded stability.  After lunch, we parted ways on different busses… her to another appointment and me to see a little more of the city.  I was grateful for a wonderful time and nice balance of exploring someplace new on my own and having a friendly connection while there.

Eventually… I returned to Wettenbostel.  During my escape, I was glad to see that my aptitude and ease for negotiating the trains and trains stations had increased dramatically.  I connected later that evening with my Wettenbostel hosts in Lüneburg, a town not far from Wettenbostel.  I felt like a well-cared for child, finding warmth and refuge from the cold and the wind in the back seat of their station wagon.

This morning I woke up and deeply breathed in the fresh winter air of Wettenbostel.  Ah, feels good!  And wow, how nice it was for a little adventure in Hannover but also how nice it was now to be in the peace, solitude, space and natural surroundings of Wettenbostel.

Today, it was an afternoon of painting — the ceiling of the Big Dojo that is, one of the houses here at the Seminar Haus.  Slowly and easily.  Enjoying some tunes as it goes.  This weekend I head to Hamburg for the healing seminar lead by my friend Olaf.  A little excitement in my quiet winter life in Wettenbostel.

4 Responses to “Escape to Hannover”

  1. Jane 01/20/2012 at 03:42 #

    Hello Nancie, I really enjoyed the narrative on your trip to Hannover. Well done. I envy your ability to navigate your way through Germany. I’ve read all of your blog postings and liked every one. I also watched the video on Theresa Anderson, as terrific as you stated. You are experiencing situations everyone wants to do but doesn’t have the motivation or the intestinal fortitude. You give us all hope. Keep it up.

    • nancieteresa 01/20/2012 at 09:45 #

      Hi Jane! How nice to hear from you! Thanks so much for the kind and encouraging words! It is always nice to get positive feedback and words on an adventure such as this! Thanks for writing!

  2. Hamilton Simons-Jones 01/20/2012 at 11:20 #

    Sounds great! Glad to see you had you first couchsurfing experience!

    • nancieteresa 01/20/2012 at 12:00 #

      Yes it was good! And I imagine future couchsurfing to come!

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