2022: International meeting in Fintel
Sunday 28th August
95 participants from 3 countries (12 from Spain, 12 from France and 71 from Germany) were welcomed to Fintel by the organisers, Irmi & Alfred Corbet from the association of Darmstadt (Germany), in 3 languages. The 6-day meeting at Eurostrand in Fintel then commenced with a buffet dinner.Everyone received a button with their name and their country of origin together with a present consisting of 3 typical products from the area. The foreign participants received information material in Spanish and French regarding the the excursions.
The foreign participants received information material in Spanish and French regarding the the excursions. Further important information was also provided for everyone. Afterwards, Michaela, our chairwoman of Eurojumelages Germany, speaking in German, also welcomed all the guests. Her welcome speech was translated into French and Spanish by us. Michaela earned applause for her following words:
“At a time when peace and freedom are at stake for the whole of Europe, the cohesion of the European people is all the more important. The most important goal of Eurojumelages is European understanding between peoples.One becomes very aware of this, especially in these times. Because a common Europe is not made by political treaties, but arises exclusively from the hearts of the people”.
Peter, president of Eurojumelages, also sent greetings and expressed his regret that due to a busy schedule, he was unable to attend the meeting in Fintel.
Participants were accommodated in houses and studios situated near a lake. Apart from the half-day excursions and the full-day excursion, a daily morning and afternoon programme was offered by Eurostrand on site. The leisure facilities and the wellness area of Eurostrand were also used extensively. After dinner, Eurostrand also provided an entertainment programme; however most of the twinners preferred to meet and exchange views in different groups on the terrace or in the outdoor area.
Monday 29th August
On this day persons who had pre-registered could take part in an excursion to the largest bird park in the world (in terms of species) in Walsrode. There were 49 people in our group, all equipped with a packed lunch. After a 45-minute bus ride, we reached the bird park with its approx. 4000 birds from 650 species from all continents as well as all climatic zones in a park and forest landscape with exotic flowers and plants. We followed the well signposted circular route and passed a variety of indoor and open-air areas with pelicans, penguins, flamingos and other exotic birds. At 11:30 the major bird show began with free-flying eagles, falcons, condors, vultures, and some sort of fireworks display with flying parrots at the finale. After we had enjoyed the delicious lunch package, there were more attractions to discover. It was fascinating to walk through the tropical house where the birds flew and ran around freely. In the "Toowoomba" lorikeet aviary we had direct contact with hand-tame lorikeets. Before we boarded the bus again at 15:00, many of us stocked up on souvenirs or stuffed bird replicas for our grandchildren. For non-participants at the bird park, Eurostrand offered a one-hour covered wagon ride through the village of Fintel with alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments. Some participants organised their own activity to get to know the surrounding area, such as the heather garden in Schneverdingen.
Tuesday 30th August
After breakfast, we took a short walk through the village and met other twinners on foot or on bicycles..
NAfter lunch, 2 buses were waiting in the car park for a half-day excursion to Verden, a small town with about 30 000 inhabitants. Verden is famous for its horse breeding. We disembarked the buses at the banks of the river Aller. Participanta, either individually or in small groups, could then be visit the city from a northerly to southernly direction. We first arrived at St. John's Church with its medieval wall and ceiling paintings. Shortly afterwards, we passed the town hall with its distinctive tower. We continued through the pedestrian zone, past a bronze horse sculpture, to the cathedral: Verden's landmark. The three-nave Gothic church-hall surprises everyone with its enormous dimensions. Through the historic fisherman's quarter with its narrow streets, we reached the remarkable Ackerbürgerhaus, a stately half-timbered house with figurative and ornamental carvings. Some, but not all, noticed the brass horseshoes on some of the sidewalks in the horse's gaits with the names of famous riders.
Wednesday 31st August
Today a full-day excursion to Hamburg was offered by Eurostrand; this was very well attended. On the other hand, some persons who had been to Hamburg several times before preferred to use the 9 euro ticket (which was valid for the last time on this day) and travel to Bremen instead. The buses to Hamburg left Eurostrand on time at 10:00 and reached the bus parking lot at the Landungsbrücken (landing bridges) shortly before 11:00 without experiencing any traffic jams. One could also explore Hamburg alone; the majority, however, stayed with our group and we went on a one-hour boat tour of the port.
The tour commenced with a trip through the brick warehouse district, which can only be navigated when the water level is neither too high (high tide) nor too low (low tide). It was just about right for us! Then we could admire the Elbe Philharmonic Concert Hall from the water, passed the museum ship Rickmer Rickmers and continued into the port of Hamburg. We were overwhelmed by what we saw: Ocean liners, modern container facilities and huge container ships, locks, cruise and container terminals, Blohm & Voss docks, etc.
After the port tour and a short stay at the landing bridges, the bus took us to the next highlight of Hamburg: the new Elbe Philharmonic Concert Hall.We only had to queue for a short time at the ticket office to get free tickets for the Plaza. An approx. 80 m long escalator took us up to the viewing platform which stands at a height of 37 m. The viewing platform encircles the whole building. We had a panoramic view of Hamburg: westwards to the landing bridges, northwards to the urban area of Hamburg with its towers, eastwards towards the newly constructed Hafen-City and southwards to the large port area.
In the afternoon the third and last stop in Hamburg was at the Michel, Hamburg's landmark. During our short stay, we were able to see the white and gold interior with its sweeping galleries and its 3 organs, as well as the 20 m high marble altar.
Thursday 1st September
DThis was already the last full day for us at Eurostrand. For nature friends, in the afternoon an excursion was offered to the Pietzmoor near Schneverdingen. There, one can walk through the high moorland landscape on a circular path of about 5 km, most of which is over boardwalks. With some luck, at this time of year one can possibly encounter dragonflies, adders and lizards. Not all participants stayed on the path. Some preferred to take a carriage ride through the heath while others headed straight into the local café. It was evident that the heath had also suffered from this year’s long and hot dry period. The colour of the heather was paler than usual and also many waterholes in the Pietzmoor had dried up. We (Alfred and Irmi) could not take part in the excursion because a foreign participant had lost his wallet with his identity papers. He therefore needed a passport photo in order to be able to obtain a travel document from his consulate in Hamburg. So instead of going to Pietzmoor, we went to a photographer and then to the Heidegarten in Schneverdingen.
Friday 2nd September
Some participants had already said goodbye the evening before, but most of the twinners were still present at breakfast and left tafterwards. We have heard that, unfortunately, some participants fell ill with Corona after the event, but at least without having suffered any major complications.
Irmi & Alfred Corbet
Association of Darmstadt