Syke is a small town of approximately 26,000 inhabitants situated south of Bremen in northern Germany. Probably the most important thing to know about Syke is the pronunciation of its name: 'Seeka' (soft 's')1.
Syke is about 20km to the south of Bremen and is located directly on federal road (Bundesstrasse) B6, which is a direct link between Bremen and Hanover. If you want or have to go to Syke by car, either leave Autobahn A1 in Bremen at exit Brinkum or leave the A2 in Hanover at exit Herrenhausen, and drive along the B6 until you're there. For the non-motorist, there's the option of getting there by train or by bus from either Bremen or Hanover.
Some Uninteresting Facts
The oldest traces of the town date from the 8th Century, and the first official recordings mentioning Syke stem from 1250. Syke has been district town of the former Landkreis Grafschaft Hoya ('County District Hoya') from medieval times until 1977, when Lower Saxony's districts were reorganised. It now belongs to the Landkreis Diepholz, but major parts of the district administration are still in Syke.
The PR slogan that appears on every official document is Lebendige Stadt im Grünen ('Lively Town in the Green'). Unlike other PR slogans, it is actually true - at least the 'green' part - as Syke is surrounded by fairly extensive forests, has several green areas (not to say parks) in the centre, and the whole area is mostly rural without much industry.
Syke consists not only of the town of Syke, but also of several surrounding villages; in fact, the majority of its inhabitants live in one of the villages around Syke, not in Syke itself. Similarly, most of the workforce do not work in Syke but commute, partly due to its proximity to Bremen, but mainly because there are only about 5000 jobs within Syke.
Shopping - Along the Hauptstrasse (Main Street) are lots of shops offering everything one might need, mostly moderately priced. To relax after shopping, visiting the Italian ice-cream parlour2 is highly recommended - they serve probably the best home-made ice-cream in the whole district.
Restaurants - There are restaurants serving international cuisine, namely Italian, Greek, Turkish and Chinese, as well as German restaurants and the mandatory fast-food parlours.
Pubs - The Hansa-Haus, Filou and other pubs serve a variety of German beers and some snacks. All of them are recommended.
Nightlife - Sorry, apart from a cinema there's no nightlife, but remember, you could still go to a pub after the cinema, since pubs do not have to close at 11pm in Germany (unlike the UK where they do).
Sports - You could go biking, skating or running on your own. If you prefer team sports, the local sports club offers football, handball and everything else. There's also a tennis club and a golf club; horseback riding is also offered by private riding schools and riding clubs.
Culture - The Kreisheimatmuseum (District Heritage Museum) is well worth a visit, showing the history of the area and depicting rural 19th Century life. Concerts and theatre performances (by both professional and amateur companies) are offered on a regular basis; just check Syke's website to see what's on at the moment.
Day Trips - Visit Bremen; you could go there by car within 40 minutes, or, even better, by train which leaves every 30 minutes. You could also consider a day trip to the North Sea, which you can reach within a two-hour drive. Also recommended are Cuxhaven or Wilhelmshaven.
Two middle-rated (and middle-priced) hotels are available, as well as private bed and breakfast-like accommodations and Ferien auf dem Bauernhof (holiday on a farm). See Syke's Official Website for further information.
A Final Warning
If you speak to someone and do not understand a single word, it may well be that this person speaks Plattdeutsch (Lower German), which is common in many rural areas of northern Germany3. It's a local idiom, and the situation described is equivalent to a German Researcher trying to understand Gaelic in a pub in Letterkenny. Just ask politely if he could repeat it in Hochdeutsch (Higher German).