Sunday, September 13, 2015

EuroTrip 2015: Hamburg, Germany (Part 2 of 5)

We spent the month before we started grad school traveling in Southeast Asia (which I blogged day by day in case you're interested).  On half the trip we did an organized tour, which, besides ease and convenience, has the added benefit of meeting new people.

Two of those people were Stefan and Sascha:

Public airport beers!
Important side note before I proceed: Were you aware that drinking in public is completely legal in Germany?  Because it is!  The boys greeted us at the airport with frosty beers, and we stood right there in the arrivals hall drinking them.  Nobody even batted an eye.  It's incredible!

S&S are a couple who we have become good friends of ours since our time in Vietnam, despite our seeing them very infrequently.  When Germany was added to the EuropeTrip 2015 itinerary we knew that we'd be making a stop to see these two, wherever they might be.

That place wound up being Hamburg, in the north of Germany, and I had no idea before we got there what a fabulous destination it would be!

Hamburg is different than a lot of German cities in that it doesn't have one centralized town square.  What it does have is infinitely nicer, though, a big lake:

And what's even better than a lake?  Miles upon miles of canals perfect for water sports!

Word on the street is Hamburg has more canals than Venice.

For less than 40 Euro we rented a canoe for as long as we wanted, and got a couple of beers each.  Yes, even the canoe rental place sold beer.  There is seemingly no end to where one can buy beer in Germany.  It kicks ass!  So once we got tired of paddling we pulled off into the shade and enjoyed some frosty beers and watched the other canoes and SUPs (stand up paddleboards) go by.

We also rented bikes to rapidly transport ourselves through town and do a city tour of dry land.

I honestly don't remember the last time I rode a bike.  The last time was probably well before we first met S&S, which is a lot of years!

One of my absolute favorite things to do in a foreign country is go to a grocery store and just look around.  I could do this for hours upon hours, I swear, but I invariably get pulled away to do more "interesting" or "important" things.  Boo.

What is fascinating about German grocery stores is their seemingly infinite selection of jarred hot dogs in water.

What a heinously disgusting product!  And one, I'm told, not eaten by anyone.  So why is the selection so large then?!

That is a solid 6 feet of wieners in glass jars.  Fascinating, I say!  Though I must admit I never got around to eating a jarred wiener (something I do not regret).

No trip to Hamburg is complete without a trip to the Reeperbahn, which is the Red Light District.  As a port city, this is where sailors used to let loose during their shore leave.  Whatever your poison, you can find it at the Reeperbahn!

There are hookers to be had, both behind glass Amsterdam-style, and walking the streets.  There's  bars and clubs and plenty of (perfectly legal) drinking in the streets.  General filth that I am in no rush to return to!  However I would gladly go back for another one of these bad boys:

Much like Indian curry is the national dish of the United Kingdom, I consider a Turkish doner kebab to be about the most German dish there is.  The kebab shop naturally sold beer, so we wrapped up our evening of hooker watching with a kebab and beer.

Back at home the boys have 2 Senegal parrots for pets, which Martin (bird nerd extraordinaire) found exceedingly entertaining.

I don't know who liked their coming out to play more, the birds or Martin!  I thought these were beyond adorable:

Martin turned around the camera on his phone so the bird could look at itself.  Adorbs!  FYI there were "only" 2 poop accidents during cage-free playtime.

One thing I was continually surprised about in Germany is how technologically advanced everything is!  Maybe not advanced as in superior-to-Australia, more like "is this really something humanity needs?"  I felt like I lived in the third world because I saw so many things I'd never seen before.  For example this:

This is the dishwasher that projects the display onto the floor.  100% unnecessary!  Yet 100% cool.

Despite having been to Germany three times prior to this trip I had never noticed these before:

Rather offensively, I presume, I called them "Jew plates".  These are little plates outside of various buildings (both residential and commercial) that name the Jews who lived in that building and were "deported".  It lists their name, date of birth, what happened to them, and in most cases their date of death.  My god it was awful.  I've never been so thankful not to understand German before.  The ones I had translated were miserably sad.

Seeing several plates with the same surname - whole families - was the worst.  I'm told every city except Munich has these.  It seems like the Germans don't even notice they're there.  From speaking to various German friends it seems like they were force fed so much WWII history growing up that they don't have the stomach for any more of it now in adulthood.  I found that interesting, as my interest in the topic didn't even start until age 30, and it's growing each year.  But back to the Jew plates: the more they get stepped on, the more they get polished and they turn shiny gold.  They're really quite pretty if you don't know what unspeakable horror each one represents.

Finally, S&S's apartment is in a very beautiful, historic and trendy part of town, and has an incredible rooftop balcony where we spent a huge portion of our time together.

I just now realized we never got a shot of all 4 of us together.  Sad!  But fear not, even if it takes a decade I'm very sure we will reunite with Stefan and Sascha again one day!

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