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Celle view of frame wood buildings and people sitting outdoors in chairs

European Adventure Part Deux Celle

Celle, French Garden und Winsen an der Aller

“Back on the train,” our next stop would be Demet’s old childhood neighborhood town of Celle. There we met Demet’s sister (Sine) and cousin (Zeynep) for the first time. They almost immediately showed up and greeted us upon our arrival from the train station. They picked us up in their car and drove us to the Town center. With my very limited German and their basic English we tried our best to communicate. All I remember were plenty of smiles, laughs and good times. In other words, the universal language of fun!

The first tourist stop here was the magnificent Cell Castle which is considered one of the largest and most beautiful German castles of the Royal House of Hanover. At one point it served as a summer residence for the kings of Hanover in the 19th century. It’s Baroque-style architecture and surrounding grounds are truly impressive! These days it also doubles as a theatre and it’s the oldest existing example of a Baroque theatre in Germany. It also houses a chapel and museum.

Next on Demet’s itinerary was a scenic stop at the French garden. These gorgeous palatial grounds lie not too far away from Cell Castle. It was originally founded as a baroque style courtyard and leisure garden by French gardeners. Through time, the look and feel changed to more of your typical English garden. Nowadays it serves as a public park and is officially listed as a protected historic garden.

Regardless of how you care to categorize them, the gardens provide an exquisite landscape area that doubles as a nice tranquil urban retreat. We took many stunning pictures here! My favorite being the group picture we took on the little friendship bridge.

After taking our time exploring the gardens, we headed towards the town center of Celle. The town center had an active yet quaint and laid back feel to it. Perhaps in part due to the many half-timbered houses that lined the streets. In fact, it houses over 400 of them making Celle one of the most recognized German cities along the Timber-Frame Road. This road serves as a tourist route that points to a collection of Timber-Framed houses leading all the way to the Elbe river.

Today most of these houses are home to a number of local businesses and shops. Bookstores, coffee shops, jewelry stores, movie theaters, you name it! It’s a great place to just get lost and wander all around. We took many more awesome pictures here!

One of the more memorable things I witnessed here was the chiming of the Glockenspiel, the old historic clock tower located right in the heart of town. The chime was followed by the ringing of bells and the playing of a catchy tune, complete with little figurines that would pop out and prance around until the tune was over. Each of these figurines represented actual historical figures that told the local story of Celle.

After enjoying this cute little show, we took a walk all around town exploring more of its artsy little side streets and artistically decorated alleyways. Two other things that stood out were the quaint old school movie theater that still serves as the main movie theater to this day and the talking lamp posts that are supposed to also tell you about the history of Celle. Sadly, not on this day as they weren’t working.

Demet reminisced about her childhood when she used to eat the local German treat called Flammkuchen and watch a movie at the theater. Flammkuchen is more commonly referred to by the locals as ‘hand pizza’. It’s basically the German version of a thin crust flatbread pizza. Its origins come from the southern parts of Germany, in particular, the areas bordering France. There’s a picture in my photo album of two girls enjoying this treat outside the theater just like Demet used to.

After roaming around for a while, we got a bit peckish and decided it was a perfect opportunity for Yesi to try her very first Döner Kebab. I opted for the Döner Teller or plate. She loved it! We took it to go as we were in a hurry to get to our next destination which would be a nice restaurant located in the sleepy town of Winsen An der Aller. The restaurant was called Ambiente and it’s also where Demet works. It was a little further away from the town center of Celle so we had to drive there.

Demet’s cousin was nice enough to volunteer and picked us up right in front of the Döner shop. It’s funny how she would always manage to show up right on time as some kind of personalized Uber service just for us. On the way over, we stopped by Demet’s family house where she grew up. It was a beautifully decorated home with pictures everywhere that told of her family origins and story. She also shared with us some experiences of what it was like growing up in the neighborhood.

After Zeynep drove us all the way to the restaurant, I realized I had forgotten my jacket and didn’t even notice I was no longer wearing it all this time. I ended up leaving it back at Demet’s house and her cousin had to drive me all the way back to the house and then back again. I felt really bad about this but at least we made the best of it listening to hip hop music, laughing and having fun all along the way.

I met up with my friends back at the restaurant. Demet was busy working her shift while Yesi was probably busy eating ☺. Actually, she was patiently waiting for me to get back. Both still full of our earlier Döner snack, we decide to take a stroll through the neighborhood. We walked all around and even through a pretty scenic cemetery and talked for a bit. After our long walk, we worked up quite an appetite and were ready for all the delicious offerings that Demet had in mind for us.

We both agreed that it felt a little weird to have your friend serve you dinner in a restaurant but we just had to go with it as this was the only way we were going to spend time with Demet during this portion of our trip. Demet was great as usual! Serving us as if we were real customers, helpful, taking her time to describe every dish, answering all our questions and just providing awesome all-around friendly service! It was really impressive how she was able to combine spending time with us while still working her shift.

We started by sharing an appetizer plate of Carpaccio. Yesi ordered the grilled veggie dish for her main course and I opted for the recommended fried squid. Our final dish would consist of a shared dessert order of soufflé. It was all simply delicious! And very well prepared. I even gave my compliments to a gentleman whom I thought was the head chef but later realized he was actually the owner. Now, where or who would I have gotten that idea from? Thanks, Yesi! Lol. We concluded this perfect meal and evening by doing another one of our famous shot toasts. Yamas!

After many group hugs, more pictures and waiting for Demet to close up, we make our way back to home base in Bremen. Demet decides to take the Autobahn as its the fastest route. So yep, I get to feel what it’s like to ride on the Autobahn for the first time ever! We end up listening and singing to tunes the whole way there almost like our very own carpool karaoke. We had so much fun! Singing karaoke on the German Autobahn at 150 miles an hour with friends? Who can say no to that?

We arrived back at home base late that night. Tired and having to wake up very early in the morning to catch our planes and trains respectively, we adjourn for the night. Yesi had to catch an early flight back to Panama and I had to catch a train to Amsterdam, my next stop on this new European adventure.

I had such a great time with these two! We shared so many memorable experiences together! Demet was a wonderful host! She had everything planned out for us. I really enjoyed not having to worry about much during this portion of my trip. Being able to be fully present and enjoy my time with friends was truly awesome!

There are great things to be said about solo travel and it has its perks too but sharing travel experiences with friends is also up there. We all hugged and said our goodbyes that night with a promise to visit each other again in the near future. I definitely knew I would miss their company for the remainder of my trip but I also knew there would always be a next time. Till next time, Prost! ☺

Onward to Amsterdam

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