Flo and I mainly commuted around Hamburg by bus or on trains during our stay there. So when we had to make our way to the area where his Mum, Ute, lives, we had to catch one of those fast trains that went out of the main city area.
This picture below reminds me a lot of Paris’ Gare du Nord. It’s a hustle and bustle of people heading to or coming from somewhere.
Due to a slight miscommunication, Ute wasn’t around when we arrived. So Flo and I went to the nearby town bakery to grab a Mettbrötchen. This is probably Flo’s favourite breakfast since he often raves about it and never fails to have one whenever he goes back to Germany.
It was my first time trying raw minced pork with chopped raw onions. I found it slightly on the salty side and while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t find myself desiring to have more. That being said, it was interesting to finally try one of Flo’s favourite foods.
We met Ute not long after and she brought us to her apartment for a quick cup of coffee before we set off to Flo’s grandparents’ home an hour and a half away. It was a nice drive through the countryside, so nice that I ended up nodding off half the journey.
We arrived after his grandparents’ usual lunch time so Herr Rennekamp was rather on the hungry side. He was really cute though, asking repeatedly when lunch would be served. It wasn’t too long before the beautiful aroma of home-cooked food began to waft through the rooms.
Frau Rennekamp had cooked some of the Weißer Spargel (White Asparagus) that Ute had bought over, Spätzle and Hungarian Beef Goulash.
It was a simple meal but so wholesome and sumptuous! It was my virgin experience eating spätzle and I enjoyed it very much, especially with the comforting, tender beef with tangy sauerkraut in the goulash. Flo said the goulash wasn’t the best but I loved it and am serious about making some at home once Flo returns from Zurich. I even bought home some spätzle!
Also, I’d never eaten white asparagus before and while it was simply boiled in salt water, it was incredibly sweet and tender. No seasoning was needed. We had some ham along with it and it’s amazing how there isn’t always a need for fancy cooking for food to taste delicious. Fresh ingredients certainly speak for themselves.
Herr Rennekamp heartily dug into lunch and once we were filled up, he excitedly asked for dessert. He reminded me so much of Grandpa who we all know has quite a sweet-tooth. My grandpa, even at 85, can be quite cheeky too and is known to behave himself a couple of days before the doctor checks his blood sugar, only to return home after the test to indulge in Honey Nut Crunch drowned in tea (he says he doesn’t take sugar with his tea anymore but it looks like this is his alternative) as well as toast slathered in marmalade.
It took all of two minutes for Herr Rennekamp to dish ice-cream for all of us, to be eaten with berries compote. And not long after, he made sure to have a second round.
We spent quite a bit of time chit-chatting. Back in the day, Herr and Frau Rennekamp used to travel a lot but age has slowed them down. Frau Rennekamp used to visit the US quite often so she was able to speak some English although after years of little practice, she claims to have forgotten quite a lot. Still, I thought that she spoke really well!
We went for a short walk after lunch, like a really really short walk. Like 50m off from their home where we stood around looking at neighbouring houses before we returned. Then Flo’s grandfather showed us around his garden – Flo helped him build the garden 15, 16 years ago when they had just built the house. It’s a gorgeous garden with a little camping ‘hut’ where you can BBQ in, and even sleep in, in winter.
And just as Asian families love to feed their loved ones, Flo’s grandma had prepared cakes in anticipation for tea time. Or coffee for them.
These were huge (to me) slices of cakes and each person had one for themselves.
I went for one that was akin to a Blackforest but not typical of the usual one. It had a marble butter cake base studded with sour cherries, was topped with fresh cream and then covered by a thin layer of dark chocolate. I loved the cherries but I just couldn’t stomach any more than half the cake.
Right after tea time, Flo and I had to bid farewell to Herr and Frau Rennekamp. It amazed me how quickly time flew spending the afternoon with them and Ute. I could see how sad they were that we couldn’t stay longer and Frau Rennekamp asked for us to spend more time with them next visit. Alternatively, she might come over to Singapore or meet us somewhere in between.
Ute dropped us at one of the train stations on the way home so Flo and I managed to hop on over to Hauptbahnhof station where he managed to buy some new ear phones from a nearby electronic store, and also for us to get some dinner.
Flo was adamant that I try one of Germany’s favourite street grub, especially after a late night out – the Doner. According to Google, Batman served a mean doner. And it wasn’t too far from where we were either.
They made fresh wraps on site and I swear, it took 30 seconds to make a doner from start to finish. They were that fast! See video below for evidence:
Unfortunately, they were out of veal which was Flo’s preference, so we had to settle for chicken. And let me tell you, their doners were like the size and weight of a baby!
Fresh chunks of chicken, fresh, crisp salad, onions, yoghurt sauce, chilli flakes.
I wasn’t blown away. I guess I haven’t had enough doner kebabs in my life to know whether this was a good one, bad one, or great one. It did the job of filling me up though although Flo and I agreed that the bread was a bit too thick and chewy for our liking.
After we left Batman, Flo felt a tinge of regret at not having decided to go to a different doner shop to get one with veal. Also, he claims that his usual spot still makes it better. It’s ok. It was fun just having a go and crossing something else off our ‘To-Eat’ list.
So I’ve just shared with you about meeting part of Flo’s family. On Thursday, it was time to meet his friends. After being with Flo a while now, I know how important his friends are to him and it was important to me too that I made a good impression on them.
His friends and him go back years and years, and I know that they’ve stuck by him through thick and thin, just as Flo has done for them. I was also excited in finally seeing in person the people Flo has shared stories with me about, from their school days to travelling together.
Thursday was a perfect day for a BBQ with the warm sun smiling upon us. We went to Chris’s home – Chris actually just visited and stayed with us a couple months back so it was great seeing him again! He has a huge back garden, the kind that’d be lovely for kids to get up to no good in.
Anyway, the BBQ was set such that every person/couple brought just enough food for themselves, and would cook their own food as well so that everyone would be able to socialise. Flo and I had put our meats into the fridge but somehow, in our frenzy to go over to Chris’ home (which is about a 45-60min drive away), only Jens and Leslie’s food got packed. We did however, have our two red bell peppers make the trip.
Flo’s friends were sweet enough to offer us some of their grub and we ended up having more than enough food that evening. So much so that we could only stomach one bell pepper while the other ended up being kept by Chris I believe because it certainly didn’t make it home with us.
We managed to get a picture of all of us with Flo’s drone.
After sunset, it started to get a little chilly so we moved into Chris’ living room. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Flo’s friends – Geezy, Felix and Thomas especially, all of whom I was meeting for the first time. They all spoke great English although as a group, they sometimes lapsed into German unconsciously which is natural.
It was a tiring day but so fulfilling. I told Flo later that after getting to know his friends and his family, I felt closer to him. Closer to him in the sense that I was able to see him mingle with his nearest and dearest, and see how he treated them, cared for them, loved them. And it warmed my heart to know that his friends and family too, care for and love him the same way back.