|A live Pied Piper|
|Piper outside the post office|
It's interesting to speculate where the story came from and how it has developed over the centuries. In 21st century Hameln, they make the most of it. Statues of pipers and rats are everywhere to be seen, even before you leave the station; whole sections of the bookshops are dedicated to it, dozens of Pied Piper postcards can be bought and a real live Pied Piper gives guided tours of the old town, pipe in hand, compelling the tourists to follow him.
|A model Pied Piper|
It struck me that the next time I travel abroad I ought to bring a recording device along to take sound shots as well as pictures: the birdsong as we hiked on the Bromberg above Bad Pyrmont that morning, the bells of the Hameln Hochzeithaus ringing in the afternoon, the dressed-up tour guide's jokes, the trains pulling in and out of the stations.
In Hameln's Hochzeithaus we also saw a great little exhibition about Leonardo da Vinci's engineering inventions, with models we could manipulate. We walked past rows of 16th century houses, not standing up straight, and saw the banks of the River Weser where the rats came from, and the high water marks from historic floods.