Most of the time, if you ask someone, “Hey, what were you up to Sunday afternoon?”, the answer is not going to be, “I was in Hamburg, Germany.” That would be my answer, though, if someone were to ask me. It’s a very specific thing to ask — “What were you up to Sunday afternoon?” — but it could happen.
The entirety of my trip to his country, Claus was a superb tour director; this cannot be denied. He asked me a month ago if I was interested in leaving Berlin for a day to visit Hamburg. The decision was not to be made lightly. With only a week’s worth of time, leaving Berlin explore another city might be best saved for another trip. “Next time,” right? There’s always “next time.”
It’s true that I wanted to focus my energies and get deep impression of Berlin. But when I thought about a train ride through the German countryside and how heaven on Earth is snuggling on a train; when I thought about seeing another city in Germany that would then give me perspective on Berlin; when I thought about adventure, ultimately, my answer could only be yes. “Let’s do Hamburg,” I said to Claus. So we did. Claus bought train tickets and we were out the door early, greeting the cold.
You know how you go to certain places and you’re instantly like, “Wow, get me outta here!” The place could be a party, a neighborhood, a city — even a whole country. But then there are other places that just zap you and you go, “Okay, well, I’m moving here.” That was Hamburg for me.
The aesthetic harmony. The harbor. The jaw-droppingly gorgeous new symphony center that has only been open two weeks, which made it extra exciting to see. Hamburg is called “the Venice of Germany” for its canals and channels, but I think it beats Venice with an oar; the winding streets and bridges were downright seductive.
The food was incredible (e.g., pumpkin soup, fresh fish, chocolate from the chocolate shop, micro-brewed beer.) I didn’t buy anything — hello, spring semester tuition bill — but the window shopping was great; there were many shops that offered German-made goods and if I could’ve spent lots and lots of money and checked nine suitcases, I would have come home with an entirely new wardrobe. Le sigh.
It was a dream day. Start to finish. Am I punishing myself, reliving it? Or is it giving a gift back to the day to describe it all? There’s a fine line between honoring and wallowing, I think, but damned if I know where the line is or where I’m falling on it now.
Being an adult feels lousy, sometimes. This is due in part because all the beauty of a city like Hamburg can be laid before you — even in memory — and all you see is a rain cloud.