"One day, we shall travel to Hannover together and I will show you where I grew up."
My Grandma's words squeezed my hand and led me out of the train station.
After months - years - of uncompromised cravings, my first taste of the city was... Well, I stopped dead in my tracks.
I was suddenly overwhelmed by the unprecedented feeling that I was returning to the open arms of an old friend; an old comfort.
It was exactly as my Grandma had described. Suddenly, the Hannover that I had learned of throughout my childhood materialised in-front of my eyes.
My Grandma Barbara, who I so often write about with great fondness, was a strong, resilient, unapologetically sharp and quick-witted lady. I have referred to her wicked humour and remarkable creativity on many occasions. There are so many elements of both my life and my personality that I have her to thank for. She was an exemplary example of a woman, nothing short of incredible, and my biggest inspiration.
^ My gorgeous Grandma!
I have infinite memories of my Grandma, and I visit them almost daily. I could write about her for hours.
Grandma was born in Germany, and relished in passing many of her traditions down to us.
Christmas was always a lavish affair at Grandma Barbara's house. She flourished in her hosting skills, over-feeding us all in true German fashion until we could scarcely move.
When riled, Grandma would switch back to her native language, and could be often be heard proclaiming, "ACH NEIN!" at my Grandad, mid-argument!
A sneeze was always met by the exclamation, "Gesundheit!" and if we got under her feet while she was cooking up a storm, we'd be heartily chased from the kitchen by the repeated word, "RAUS! RAUS! RAUS!"
Although she spoke perfect English, there were certain words and phrases that were laced with a thick German accent, which always made us laugh. For example, 'Liddle' was pronounced 'Leeeee-dull."
Every week, Grandma would phone her sisters, and they'd have heated discussions in German. My Grandma's splendid, booming roars of laughter would lift the roof off the house.
Grandma's family remained in Germany, and she went over to see them several times a year. She was always so excited by the prospect that one day, I would go with her. Educating me about her childhood in Hannover was her passion. I recall many afternoons sat at her feet at the bottom of her chair, my back to the radiator, listening to her tales as droplets of rain speckled the windows.
The sad reality of time is that it runs out, no matter how much we try to preserve it. Those grains of sand continue their steady decline through the hourglass, whether we chose to address their warnings of urgency or not.
I shared in Grandma's dreams of a joint jaunt to Germany, adhering to the fragile 'next year' phrase, until there were no years left, and the opportunity was suddenly no longer a possibility.
With this in mind, while travelling solo across Europe in 2015, it was almost inevitable that I would find myself in Hannover sooner or later.
After adventuring in uber-cool Berlin, I caught the train to my destination, and so began my wild-eyed adoration of Hannover.
The city was keen to show itself off to me from the offset. I was instantly star struck.
Straight away, I picked up on the stark difference between the old and the new - a combination of architecture that not all cities can pull off.
Hannover was just as traditional as Grandma had described, yet the sweeps of modern influences really set my intrigue racing.
I'm a sucker for an olde-worlde set up in a city, and cobbled streets are my weakness.
A quintessential fairytale, Hannover handed these out in abundance.
The Old Town's main streets were gloriously shielded by buildings of that unrivalled, traditional German architecture - the kind that leaves one feeling as though they have been freed between the pages of the folk tales of their childhood, blissfully skipping through never-ending nostalgia and inner-warmth.
^ Striking architecture in Hannover's Old Town
My eyes eagerly counted the turrets of the many churches and steeples that scattered the skyline. The Altes Rathhaus (The Old Town Hall) exuded all of the regal charm Grandma had told me about. The Markirche (Market Church) stretched high up into the overcast morning, yawning its commandeering strikes out across the city.
All of this was broken up by the contemporary likes of the Sprengel Museum, the Nord LB Building, and of course, the quirky Nanas.
The Nanas? I hear you repeat in confusion. Let me introduce you... These gals are seriously chic! A product of French artist Niki de Saint Phalle , these colourful female-bodied sculptors pop up in the centre of Hannover, and they have quite a cheeky story to tell! Nanas is a French term, referring to an erotic and empowered woman oozing self confidence!
There are also jaw-dropping examples of street-art dotted around the city, which will appeal to those seeking a more alternative experience.
Hannover's shockingly fresh blend of old and new surprised me greatly, and I was amazed at how coyly the city pulled it off.
^ The impressive stature of the Market Church
Hannover was adorned by rows and rows of Christmas markets. The combined smell of the delicacies on offer was sublime.
For me, there had been no question as to when the best time to visit Germany was. Of course, it had to be December! Come on - where else in the world does Christmas markets better than Germany?!
I was staggering tentatively through my anorexia recovery towards the back end of 2015, hanging by a very unrelenting thread, swinging dangerously across the lava pit of a relapse.
As penned in many of my articles, my travelling helped to cull the fire of destruction, and Germany was no exception to the rule.
I vowed to eat whatever I wanted while in Germany, and if that meant that I had a bratwurst from every single market stall in Hannover, then so be it!
In fact, it was actually in Hannover that I experienced the most sensational white chocolate crepe! Purchased from a stall below the Market Church, one bite of this sweet delight and I genuinely believed that I had died and gone to heaven.
^ Hannover train station
I've visited many cities, islands and locations that have made my heart skip a beat.
I have felt at home in numerous places, and even made a foreign country my temporary home a few years ago.
I have been warmly welcommed and looked after by many different people in a sweep of various nationalities.
For me, Hannover was a different kind of feeling.
I don't know; it's hard to describe. I didn't come away from Germany with that burning pang to return as soon as time permitted. I didn't tread the country convincing myself that I could quite happily live there for the rest of my life. I didn't experience out of the ordinary warmth from the locals I met. didn't embark upon any overly wild adventures that could have made my affiliation stronger.
I just know that being in Hannover felt totally natural to me. I almost felt like a native, returning home on a fleeting visit having lived elsewhere on the continent for years.
Hannover felt familiar.
As I explored a sprinkling of Germany's cities in depth during my travels, I didn't feel like a tourist. I felt the presence of my Grandma by my side every step of the way. This presence was never stronger than it felt in Hannover. My Grandma strode purposely along beside me, opening my eyes to the finer details, enhancing my experience. Her voice and the inner guidance her memory supplied gave me the gift to make the city my own and take from it what I so desired.
Cara Jasmine Bradley