Discovering Germany: Hamelin

Here is the last part of our little weekend-trip through Lower Saxony. Our last place is a little town known for one of the darkest Grimm fairy tales. There’s also a poem written by Robert Browning (1812-1889) that tells the unfortunate story of a certain piper, a plague of rats and a large group of children.

Hamelin

“Hamelin Town’s in Brunswick, By famous Hanover city; The river Weser, deep and wide, Washes its wall on the southern side; A pleasanter spot you never spied; But, when begins my ditty, Almost five hundred years ago, To see the townsfolk suffer so From vermin, was a pity.”

The fourth day was gray, windy and rainy. Nothing unusual for Germany, but nothing we were hoping for during our short vacation. Nevertheless, we jumped into the train and traveled in spite of the rain.

Putting rhymes aside; nowadays, Hamelin is a city inhabited by almost 60 thousand people, and it is located on both sides of the Weser river. We needed to walk 15 minutes to get to the Old Town. I guess sometimes towns just grow.

The Old Town’s main street is full of old buildings, pretty houses and rats, lots and lots of rats. Although, not exactly made of flesh and bones.

“Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,  Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,  Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,  Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,  Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,  Families by tens and dozens,  Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives —  Followed the Piper for their lives.”

“From street to street he piped advancing,  And step for step they followed dancing,  Until they came to the river Weser  Wherein all plunged and perished!”

The Pied Piper can be seen virtually everywhere and in all sorts of presentations. There’s a statue, a fountain, a few signs and a lot of souvenirs. Interesting situation, considering what he did to the children of Hamelin after the mayor decided not to pay him for his services.

For those who don’t know, when the mayor refused to pay his debt, the piper played a different melody and enchanted the children. 130 children followed him dancing and singing, and he led them into a cave, and no one saw them ever again.

At the end of the day, we went for a coffee in one of the few open places. As some of you may know, Germany takes its festive days too seriously, so only a couple of restaurants, cafés, a book store and a toy store were open.

All in all, Hamelin is a nice little town, full of music, stories, food, and rats. At the end of the day, I think the things I enjoyed the most were the rats and the ways they are sold.

And so ends our little trip through Lower Saxony.