Visit from Decatur September 13 to 19, 2023
After six years, we have finally been able to welcome our friends again from our American Sister City Decatur/Illinois, in Seevetal. An earlier visit was rendered impossible by the covid pandemic: This made us all the more happy for our yearned after chance to meet again. Accommodating our guests in our families happpened seamlessly and, thanks to the many active members, a really interesting, exciting visitors’ program was organized.
Since all of our guests were arriving a day earlier than expected on Tuesday 12 September and spending the night in Hamburg, the planned ‘jetlag day’ was dropped, with the first afternoon being turned into a gemütlich, cosy get-together at Seevetal Library in Meckelfeld – the new ‘Culture Barn’ – to meet new faces, refresh already existing friendships and share common memories. This was the perfect start for the upcoming eventful days.
‘Seevetal Day’ on 14 September was reserved for its cultural highlight, Kiekeberg open-air museum. A thorough competent explanation was provided by the museum’s director Dr Zimmermann for the English-speaking group: in German by the project manager Frau Durda for the German-speakers. Of special interest was the recently opened ‘Königsberger Strasse’ with typical migrants houses built just after WWII, historic high-street shops and a nostalgic gas station.
The visit had an intermezzo for a really good lunch at the historic inn ‘Stoof Mudders Kroog’.
That evening, the traditional Opening Reception for our guests was held at Seevetal Town Hall, with introductory speeches by our mayor Emily Weede, our association chair Tim Sebbage, the Decatur Sister Cities Committee chair Sarah Mixell and Pat McDaniel, representing Decatur Council.
On 15 September, Hamburg was admired at its best during a city bus tour, with English commentary, and an opportunity for some relaxation during the mid-day organ concert at St. Michael’s Church.
This was followed by a port tour including a really tasty lunch on board a river launch.
There was a turbulent end to the day with the well-known ‘Tampentrekker – Linesmen’ singing at the top of their voices in Fleester Hoff. This was very fitting for our guests, since sea shanties really are sung in English, creating a welcome opportunity to sing and swing along.
For everyone, our visit to ‘Behrs Gemüsegarten – Vegetable Garden’ in Ohlendorf on 16 September was an impressive experience. The owner of the biggest vegetable growing business in Europe Rudolf Behr, and his daughter Ulrike Behr, had organized everything very generously, taking care of our culinary needs, providing explanations and answering some quite critical questions.
Sunday was family day with the hosts and guests doing their own thing.
Monday 18 September, the last day of this visit, was really booked out. The first stop was in Jork, Europe’s biggest concentrated fruit-growing area, to Matthies’ fruit farm. With a small-scale ‘train’ we were driven through the apple, pear and plum orchards, learning many interesting details regarding the care of cultures, types of fruit, harvesting and storage.
After a light lunch we moved on to the enormous adjacent Airbus plant in Finkenwerder. We were greeted by a ‘Beluga’ just taking off for its sister plant in Toulouse. The following tour of the production facilities was an absolute highlight, and not just for the technically-minded.
In the evening our hosts at Karoxbostel Watermill, Emily and Karsten Weede gave a great welcome to all guests in a super atmosphere Farewell Party, where we also said ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ to our guests. To the sound of a crackling open-hearth fire, we even had the opportunity of a privately, surprisingly arranged musical intermezzo by actress Sandra Keck, singing for us in both German and English. For all of those participating, this was the perfect end to a highly successful Sister Cities exchange visit, that enthralled both the hosts and the guests in equal measure.
We are looking forward to meeting again in two-years’ time – once again in Decatur, Illinois.
There we shall celebrate the 50th anniversary of our successful Sister Cities partnership in real style.
Read also: Club history in English