I made it to Hamburg. And Tanja was waiting on the platform for me! Sunny weather, a smiling face, and no more trains! Yay!
Tanja took me home, then after a quick snack it was time to hit up some sights. Tanja and Burkhardt are such gracious hosts, that not only do they have a spare bed ready, they also have a spare key, and a spare bike! And a lovely appartment to boot.
We head off for the waterfront first. Hamburg is a port city, an old Hanseatic League town, and the river is still a huge part of the city scene. However, like almost all old ports in the container age, it has recently been rediscovered and is rapidly undergoing gentrification. Still, there's some lovely old buildings, mixed in with some quite well done new buildings in the area, and cruising around on bikes with two knowledgeable guides was certainly a great way to see it.
The following day, another bike tour, more parts of town. A climb up to the top of the St Michy church, with a fabulous view of the Hamburg skyline, visited the downtown area, admired the extensive lineup of socks on display at the shops, I simply revelled in the giant department store life again. I hate it when I have it, but it's like soul food sometimes.
Blankanese, the neighbourhood without roads was another day. Steps, alleyways, more steps, more catwalks. A whole neighbourhood accessible on foot only, and mostly full of older people. Quite an interesting little village along the river a bit.
Between all of this pleasant sightseeing by day, was sleeping in, (14 hours the first day!) fine dining, and fine wining. And not just out and about in the sea of cafes and restaurants. Tanja and Burkhardt know how to eat well. And they know how to host too :)
But more interesting than the "we went there, then there, there we ate X from Y" is the anecodtes. The stories. The goss. The secret sordid underbelly. What exactly _IS_ down the fenced off "men only" alley up the street past all the wonderful professional girls in their pastel puffy jackets, boots and money belts. How is it that Germans are singularly unaware of their global reputation for kinky sex? How many clubs and bars can you visit in a few week day nights and not visit the same one twice?
What do the colours of the German flag mean?
What the hell is wrong with credit cards? Why don't germans and turks mix? Even if beers only coast 1/4 of what they do now, would it actually substantially change your drinking habits? What about four times the price?
Who really owns the walnuts from the trees on the streete? How many paragraphs of sentences can one write, alluding to snippets of stories without ever revealing any details? Does it matter, or is the greatest use of a string of questions to serve as reminders for later storytelling?
And for a final parting query, how many people feel that they would ever go to a club called "The Golden Pudel" if they knew nothing more about it?
No, one last one. No matter how many questions, no matter how much dry prose, no matter how much you ponder, stall or ignore, is it really possible to do justice to a wonderfully relaxing 5 days of holiday with good friends with just a few short passages and some questions?