Phoenix LDC on tour – Trip to Handeloh/Hamburg, Germany
Monday 13th to Monday 20th August 2012
Day 1 – Monday – we set off from Larnaca Airport, South Cyprus at 13.15 hrs. (local time). Our flight was delayed by two hours due to a passenger on the inbound flight suffering from a heart attack and the aircraft had to be diverted to Belgrade! Subsequently we arrived at Hamburg International Airport where we immediately met up with Liz and Dave Richardson in the baggage reclaim, having just arrived from Luton Airport. We were met at the airport by René Schőn and taken to the airport train station for the first leg of our journey on three trains to the village of Handeloh – some 25 kms south of Hamburg. At the station in Handeloh we were greeted by Rita Hepp, René’s partner, and served champagne – a very thoughtful welcoming gesture. Also at the station to greet us were Corrie and Leo de Roo who had travelled up by car from their home in Holland. Our hotel (Hotel Fuchs) lay just around the corner, two minutes from the station. So now our party was complete with eight members of Phoenix Line Dance Club ready for action.
Day 2 – Tuesday – after a hearty breakfast, René collected us from the hotel and took us by bus to the nearby village of Undeloh. It was here that we embarked on a carriage drawn by two horses through the heathland of Lűneburg to enjoy the wonderful displays of wild heather – the area is famous for this and attracts many visitors. At the end of our carriage ride we met up with Rita at a very nice “hostelry” for cold drinks – beer for the guys of course! We also paid a visit to Rita’s daughter’s Country & Western Wear shop, which was very close to our hotel, and couldn’t resist buying a shirt and boots!
Dinner at the hotel was followed by our first line dance session with Heinz-Herman and the Beechwood Line Dancers at their lesson in a very nice restaurant in a neighbouring village. We soon got to grips with the dancing and made some new friends. After a very pleasant evening we all returned to our hotel for some “nightcaps” in our room – the usual place for ending an evening out!
Day 3 – Wednesday – this was the day that René and Rita took us on a guided tour of some Hamburg’s visitor attractions. The tour began at the Hamburg docks where we boarded a river boat/bus and travelled up and down the river Elbe – free of charge! The area is famous for its ship building industry and container berths. We took the opportunity to get off the river boat/bus for some refreshments – coffee and apple strudel although some of the guys preferred a cold beer!
After our boat trip, we walked to the Reeperbahn district, well known for its night life and other “entertainments”. From here we rode on the metro to the city centre to take in some of the sights around the Parliament building then back to Hamburg Central Station for the return journey to Handeloh.
Another sumptuous dinner in the hotel dining room was followed by the, now usual, night cap in our room.
Day 4 – Thursday – following our usual breakfast feast, Rita took the girls by train to the town of Buchholz for a bit of retail therapy. René on the other hand took the guys to a kind of Leisure Park that included, among other attractions, the “Snow Dome”. This is a large building that houses an indoor ski slope with “real snow” and even though the outside temperature was in the high twenties inside the ski area it must have been minus something! The Park area also included two outdoor Go-Kart tracks and one indoor track plus a very unusual building, an upside-down house – this just has to be seen to be believed.
After an early dinner it was time to set off to our second line dance session, this time with Conny and her friends from Longhorns Dance Group. The venue was the same as Tuesday and many of the dancers from Beechwood were there too. We were given the opportunity to stage a workshop and taught several dances, including Pick A Bale, Slapping Leather (by special request), Cherhumba, That 55 Ford, Thinking It Over and Oklahoma Boogie. We also staged a special performance of Chilly Pepper Hot! as a tribute to our friend, Oscar the Cowboy.
Weary after our day out, and evening dance session, it was back to the hotel for our “night cap”.
Day 5 – Friday – thinking that we would be having a restful day, René and Rita had other ideas and suggested a short walk around the village, about half an hour, to take in the local scenes which would include many horse stables. Half an hour turned into two hours so we ended up being just as tired as if we had line danced for two hours! Apart from that it was a restful day to prepare ourselves for the two Line Dance Festivals that were due to take place over the weekend. And of course, we must not forget that all important “night cap” to round off another very pleasant day.
Day 6 – Saturday – this was the day of our first experience at a Country Line Dance Festival. The festival was hosted by a group called Country Dancers in Billstedt, an area to the east of Hamburg. However, before reaching the festival we spent a little time in the city where we met up with Angela Schatte, an ex-neighbour of ours in Northern Cyprus. The festival was well attended and we made many new friends, exchanging club details etc. We were also given the opportunity to provide our own music and dance some our current favourites that included That 55 Ford, Oklahoma Boogie, Chilly Pepper Hot! and a few others. The organisers did ask if we could do a workshop but, sadly time ran out as we had to catch our train to head back to Handeloh – we actually missed our connection in Buchholz and ended up hailing a taxi!
The evening dinner was its usual enormous feast followed by drinks on the terrace before heading up to our room for – you’ve guessed it – our “night cap”.
Day 7 – Sunday – time for our second festival, this was the Műhler Fest (Mill Festival) outside the town of Sprengel. A great day in a lovely area, which included a fully restored mill, and with weather at thirty degrees plus (normal for us!) it was an experience not to be forgotten. The festival dancing was done mostly to music provided by a live band known as “Little Country Gentlemen” that strangely enough included a female bass player! During the bands break the dancers were able to provide their own music and dance their particular favourites. The festival area had many stalls selling a variety of goods and one stall selling Country & Western clothing – so a new shirt was the order of the day – yes, another one for the collection!
We returned to the hotel weary but happy for dinner and the usual!
Day 8 – Monday – all too soon our German experience was over and it was time to finish the packing the cases. René and Rita joined us for a final breakfast at the hotel before goodbyes were exchanged. Corrie and Leo set off in their car for their long drive back to Holland while Liz, Dave and ourselves waited for our taxi to take us to the airport – no way were we going back on three trains with our luggage! So with just the four of us now, we spent what time we had left at the airport enjoying an ice cream and reminiscing about all that we had done before saying our final goodbyes to Liz and Dave. Then it was time to make our way to the departure lounge for the flight back to Cyprus.
All in all, it was a most pleasant and successful venture for our very first trip to Germany. If all goes to plan, we hope to return in April 2013 for a three day festival at the invitation of Longhorn Dancers.
Steve & Denise Bisson