There are days when you very much feel like staying alone. When you need some time off with just yourself and your thoughts. That’s how I felt on my first day in Hamburg, Germany. So I stayed in my cabin when everyone else was disembarking, finished watching Les Miserables, and then quietly strolled away from the ship, following the signs that led to Rathaus, the city hall. From my experience in Vienna I remembered that the Rathaus is usually surrounded by sights and must-go places.
Have you ever noticed that swans tend to behave like dogs? Hamburg swans most certainly do. These birds that flood the canal next to the Rathaus almost jump out of the water, trying to reach the bread from the tourists’ hands. At this point they very little resemble the proud kings of the lakes. They even ate a piece of my falafel. And local ducks are just like racing cars when it comes to food.
So, on my first day in Hamburg I just strolled around. Went to Kunsthalle, an art gallery next to Hauptbahnhof (hope I spelled it correctly), the train station. I never expected to see so many mindblowing paintings by German artists of 17-18 century. I spent over three hours in the gallery until I saw it all, and then I went on walking. Got a bit lost, found a lake. Hamburg definitely lacks English and wifi hotspots. Although – my remainings of German started to come back quite fast.
Next day we went to Lubeck with a group, saved a lot on the ticket because of that, and then split up. Unlike Hamburg, Lubeck survived the WW II quite well, with most of the historic buildings untouched. It’s a very beautiful medieval city, full of candy-stores, churches, hand-made and cozy sidewalks. There, in front of the local Rathaus, was a store. “Niedergegger, Lubeck”, said the sign. Well, my friends, here I must confess that I walked in and lost it.
It was a candy-store, but not just any candy-store. You could find anything made of marzipan and chocolate in there. Marzipans in the shape of pigs. Marzipans in the shape of fruits and vegetables, of bacon, sausages, chickens and seals. Chocolate of all kinds. Man was it delicious. I walked out of the store with a bag of yummy yummy stuff and yet the next morning I figured out it won’t last long.
So, straight from the train from Lubeck I headed to a very nice neighborhood of Hamburg for a reception. I volunteered to help with this open ship event, when people register to visit the ship at one of the ports. And there was a great reception at the place of former UVA student. I came home in great mood but tired as hell. So I tried to sleep till 11 today, but my Jewish luck struck again – first I was woken up by my roommate, and then by announcements from the captain – today was the day when they decided to hold emergency trainings. Yep. Wanted to swim after the end of the open ship thing, but decided to get to the grocery store first, and now the sun is gone.
I walked to the Gallery, a huge shopping mall near the Rathaus. I thought I lost it yesterday – guess what happened just now, when I saw the shelves full of my favorite Harribo, Mamba, Lindt, and again, Lubeck marzipans… Well, I had to buy a fabric bag because it all was too heavy for the plastic one. And mind that I didn’t even buy a 1-kilo jar of Nutella… But I got blueberries. If they won’t let them on the ship, I’ll get a spoon, sit on the pavement next to the ship and eat them all. I mean it. My preciousssssss. Guess now I have to go back to the ship, because this bag is way too heavy to carry around…
May I just tell you that Germans smoke a lot and it’s very annoying. And their bike tracks are straight on pedestrian passages, and the bikers are crazy. But local churches have beautiful bells.
Okay. Back to the ship now. Should also plan Belgium and France in advance (I wonder if I’ll have enough room for all the chocolate). I may have missed Berlin because of the reception and stuff, but I’ll plan a separate trip there someday. What I am totally not going to miss now is Bruges and Ghent. See ya.