Ascension Day is traditionally a day for outings, including the infamous Father’s Day tours where groups of young men, most of whom are not fathers, set out with handcarts and/or bicycles to wander around the countryside and get very very drunk. I talk a bit more about this tradition in this 2013 post.
In addition to being a public holiday, yesterday also had some very sunny and pleasant weather and as a result, the streets were full of people of all ages and genders enjoying themselves on bicycles, motorbikes or on foot.
Because of the nice weather and the fact that it was a public holiday, we also decided to go on a trip to East Frisia. Our first destination was the city of Leer, a lovely little town located on a sidearm of the river Ems. Afterwards, we followed the river Ems and visited the Ems flood barrier at Gandersum.
Of course, I also took photos. We’ll start with the town of Leer and I’ll post the photos of the Ems flood barrier tomorrow.
Leer is quite an interesting town. It only became a city in 1823, but the settlement is more than a thousand years old, located in an area that has been inhabited since the stone age. Leer is not particularly big, it only has about 35000 inhabitants, but roughly twenty percent of the German merchant fleet have Leer as its port of registration.
More information about the townhall of Leer may be found here.
For obvious historical reasons, most German protestants are Lutherans, but we also have approximately 188000 members of reformed churches. Most of these are found in Northwest Germany. The reformed churches have been traditionally strong in Frisia, both in Dutch West Frisia and German East Frisia. The congregration in Leer is one of the biggest reformed churches in Germany.
Leer also happens to be the tea capital of Germany and is home to the Bünting group, one of Germany’s biggest tea importers (they also own a few supermarket chains). For while most Germans prefer coffee, East Frisia is all about tea and has its own special tea blends, called Ostfriesentee, its own tea ceremony (described here and here) and even the tea china and cutlery (which is actually made in Bremen) to go with it.
Here is the website of Tatort Taraxacum BTW, which seems to be a pretty awesome place. The building also houses the Leda-Verlag, a small press specialising in regional crime fiction as well as historical fiction set in East Frisia and the German coast in general. In general, I spotted quite a few independent bookstores in Leer, especially considering that the city isn’t all that big.
We also had lunch in Leer. And since we were in East Frisia, we of course had fish. So here is my lunch: