Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe


Going west on the Mittellandkanal

Monday 21 August 2023 8:33 PM

After the excitement of the soccer world cup our heartbeat has settled down to the slow pace of canal boating again, and at 10km per hour, we are moving slowly back along the Mittellandkanal.

Meanwhile, we had a lovely couple of days with Thomas, Vera and Pablo! We indulged in delicious German plum cake, baked by my brother, and visited the city of Paderborn together. Paderborn got its name from the river Pader which originates from six underground limestone springs, bubbling up at various points in town. Vera expertly guided us along the river to the Romanesque cathedral and the “Three Hare Window”  sculpted into red sandstone in its cloister. The saying about these hares, which originates from the 16th century, goes something like that: Three hares that share three ears - yet each has two, it appears! Hares were not an uncommon symbol in those times, as their speed and alertness were revered, and of course, their fertility.

The large crypt which harbours the bones of the Patron Saint Liborius of Le Manse, also contains an odd modern sculpture of the saint. A peacock is said, to have followed his relics from Le Manse to the current resting place in Paderborn, yet what the tennis ball-sized black orbs on his bible signified, puzzled us. Discussing the same, a local put us out of our misery: "They symbolise kidney stones”, he explained. "Liborius is the go-to saint if one suffers from kidney stones or any other below-the-waist troubles.

The size of those kidney stones still bothered us, especially when my brother explained Middle Age treatment procedures to crush them. Luckily we had something else to get our heads around. Our tourist guide, Vera, took us to the "Nixdorf Museum”. It was right up Austin’s alley!!! Siemens-Nixdorf was a computer company in Paderborn and became one of the biggest in Europe. The tour took us through the history of languages and calculations, from the first cuniform writing in ancient Mesopotamia and hieroglyphs in Egypt to modern-day calculators and computers. Austin even found his first Apple home computer and Gameboy again. Everything, right up to robotic technology was on display. Now you have done it, Thomas and Vera! Austin wants to come back!!! 

We got another great surprise when Thomas handed us a parcel from our good friend Mareike. There were two expertly knitted pairs of socks, a blue one for Austin and a pink one for me, “ for the cool evenings ahead”! So sweet! Thank you, Mareike!

After a quiet green mooring, we booked in at Hannover Yachthafen. The friendly harbour master waited until late for our arrival, which was delayed due to work on a lock chamber. The necessity of tying up well with a strong spring became soon clear, as barge after barge passed within two to three metres from our mooring. All good! We hardly rocked!

This being our second time in Hannover, we wanted to visit the Wilhelm Busch Museum and the Herrenhäuser Gärten. These Royal Gardens, a heritage of the Kings of Hannover, are an extensive area of parkland. The jewel in the crown is the "Great Garden” adjoining the recently re-erected palace. The design features beautiful baroque ornaments, statues, fountains, secret gardens, a maze and a statue of the Electress Sophie, the mother of King Georg I who later succeeded to the throne of Great Britain. She died in the garden during one of her daily strolls at the age of 83, quite a high age in 1714.

Just below the new palace is a grotto. Artist Niki de Saint Phalle, whose buxom plastic women are spread around town, has clad the walls with

 coloured glass mosaic and her brightly coloured sculptures.

In the so-called "Georgen Palais” in the English garden-like parkland, is the Wilhelm Busch Museum. The story of naughty “Max and Moritz” is probably the 

best-known of his illustrated poetry. I always liked his humorous verses and drawings, but there was little on display at the time. We saw however his lesser-known serious paintings of his hometown in lower Saxony and portraits, even a self-portrait in Dutch clothing.

The current exhibition featured instead the work of Volker Kriegel, a jazz musician, author and illustrator. His wonderful caricatures and illustrations featured in many magazines and books, with "Olaf the Elk” being one I remember.

"Ach was muß man oft von bösen

Kindern hören oder lesen!

Wie zum Beispiel hier von diesen

Welche Max und Moritz hießen.” 

W. Busch

Shortly we are leaving the Mittellandkanal and are heading north on the river Weser. Tonight we are having one of those obligatory “Safe arrival” drinks, after a long day cruising from Hannover to Minden.

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