Friday, January 29, 2010

Hamburg, Germany and the Adventures Within

On Tuesday the 12th of January, Kassia had class so I was off to explore Hamburg on my own. Without much of an idea where I was going, I hopped on 2 buses in search of a vegetarian restaurant called Hin & Veg. I texted someone from couchsurfing, Torben, a guy originally from Berlin who had moved to Hamburg in October, who met up with me for lunch. We talked about ourselves over veggie hamburgers (in Hamburg!), went to another place for tea and coffee and then boarded the U-Bahn so he could show me a bit of downtown Hamburg, including the Town Hall and the River Elbe. Did I mention how awesome couchsurfing is? It’s basically a great excuse to meet and hangout with people from whatever city you’re in, anywhere in the world. It’s definitely nice to hangout with someone who knows the area rather than doing the tourist thing, and Torben was a great host! Regardless, anything that makes it socially acceptable to hangout with strangers and make new friends is fine by me.

Me outside of the Hamburg town hall (Rathaus)

Torben and I

I just had to take a picture of this because I think it's hilarious. This is apparently the most liberal party in Germany. Does anyone else see a large proportion of The Gay?

After Torben left, I got myself a German SIM card from Vodafone and met back up with Kassia, Stephanie and another Smithie studying in Hamburg named Liz at Hin & Veg again. It was definitely strange spending time with Smithies after so long. It honestly feels like I graduated 10 years ago sometimes! I enjoyed some delicious tomato soup this time and a vegetarian currywurst.

In the evening, we headed to a bar I heard about from Gulliver called 3 Zimmer Wohnung (3 room flat). This place was set up like it was somebody’s flat, bed, fride and all! It’s now up there on my list of favorite bars. Once there we met up with Torben again and another couchsurfer named Misha who’s a student from Jordan doing an internship in Germany for his degree. We chatted for a bit about life, visas and our travels and once Misha and I discovered our mutual love of hummus and falafel, he mentioned a place in Hamburg that had amazing versions of both. Convinced, we layered up and set off on a walk through the freezing Hamburg streets back to the Schanze area for falafel. He did not let us down. That night I consumed the best falafel of my life, and it had all sorts of goodies included in the pita, including beets, my newfound love! We all hungout until after midnight and then parted ways. Rock on couchsurfing.

Torben, Kassia, Stephanie and Misha on the bed at 3 Zimmer Wohnung

Having a little cat nap at the bar

Okay, so on the way to the bar we had to walk through the red light district, but this was especially funny to me, if you can see, because on one side it says "Gay Kino, Sex Kino" and on the other it says "Jesus Lebt (Lives)".

Stephanie and I set out to take the U-Bahn home, but unfortunately only made it halfway before it shut for the night due to our internet addictions, leaving us to take an epic trek home through an unfamiliar city without a good map, having been guided slightly by a very friendly construction worker in the U-Bahn tunnel. At least I got to use my small amount of German, (“Wo ist?”or “Where is?”) before getting horribly lost near Kassia’s street and making her come and get us at 1 am. Oops.

Stephanie in the U-Bahn tunnel waiting for the train

I only had one full day in Hamburg, but good times were had and I hope to go back eventually for more exploration. It was great to see Kassia, however briefly, and chill in this pretty rockin’ city to start off my German adventures. Speaking of, it’s always crazy to hear a friend bust out language skills I didn’t even know they had in front of me. I am always so impressed by this. Mostly I think of other languages as passwords to get the things you want.

There's a Christmas tree floating in the middle of the water and I think that's pretty nifty.

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