We then set off on our rather slapdash search for John’s ancestors. We had set aside this day to drive around the
A bit frustrated but not yet without hope, we continued on to the village of Langenholzhausen (“long wooden houses”), where John had traced another relative through online records. We found another old stone church there; this one was also locked up and had no date on it, but looked even older than the one in Bergkirchen. There were very few headstones left standing in the graveyard and the inscriptions were all virtually illegible. We looked around a bit but couldn’t find the new cemetery.
Next, on a whim, we looked up Westerwalder Hof in our
Our final shot of the day was the second Bergkirchen, which was also not far from where we were. It also had an old stone church but there wasn’t a single headstone left in the empty churchyard. We looked through the new cemetery nearby but didn’t find any familiar names. We had exhausted all of our leads and were no closer to finding John's ancestors than we had been this morning. I did take lots of pictures everywhere just in case we ever find more information to link the family to one of these locations. We didn’t feel like our time had been wasted – it was a lovely day and we had enjoyed our meanderings through the rolling countryside. John wondered what painful circumstances had convinced his ancestors to pick up and leave this beautiful place for the great unknown of
It was a two-hour drive to the great Hanseatic city of
A doorman showed us to our room on the sixth floor and gave us a quick runthrough of the bewildering amenities. The SIDE is a “design hotel” true to its word – everything was stark white and sleek dark wood and very chic, almost to the point of being more about style than functionality. Hidden switches controlled innumerable lights and window blinds, a flat-screen TV rose from a square console at the foot of the bed, and the bathroom was a wonder of opaque green glass. The toilet was square. We quickly changed into more stylish clothes (everyone in the lobby seemed to be wearing crisp black suits) and headed out.
The city seemed strangely quiet for 8 p.m. on a Friday night. One of the restaurants the woman at the desk had recommended, a sushi place called Soho on one of the canals, was totally abandoned, and we couldn’t find the Italian place she had referred to along the Binnenalster (one of two large lakes in the middle of Hamburg), so we wandered down a promising-looking street and ended up in a cramped Fischstube populated by a mostly older crowd. It was cozy and quaint, with a menu of traditional seafood fare. John had Zanderfillet with a creamy sauce and spinach and I had a huge steaming pot of mussels in white wine sauce. Unfortunately the service wasn’t great – the waitstaff kept ignoring us while serving the German guests seated around us – so we left without getting dessert and headed back to the hotel.