DAY 1Aug 06 2017
This was perhaps the first daytime flight I've had from Athens where the view from the window as the plane was taking off / gaining height was actually great. Concrete buildings out of the perspective, and you get hills of a semi-desert-like beauty and endless blue sea.
After a 3-hour flight we arrived in Hamburg. Getting out of the airplane, the sun/temperature/wind balance was perfect. The air (in the airport, amidst airplanes) smelt fresher than the one in "parks" of Athens.
DAY 2Aug 07 2017
Block House Othmarschen
On our way to further explore the neighborhood and find food and beer:
Not even 10 minutes passed and a huge wild hawk flew in front of us. It was majestic.
🍔🍄🍺 After a long walk we arrived at the metro station. It was Sunday, all stores were closed and the shopping street had a strong ghost town vibe to it.
Fortunately food shops where open. We ate at a place called "Block House", where both food and beer were delicious. (Keeping a note for future trips in Germany.)
DAY 3Aug 08 2017
During the day we were at home, it was quite rainy and we needed to study. At some point we cooked pasta with yoghurt, it was so horrible we ended up throwing half of it away.
🍻 At night we went out in the center, I have no idea where exactly, but it was pretty. After walking alot we sat at a bar where I had an incredible beer called Maisels Zwickl, it's now one of my favourites. We left at around midnight since the place was about to close.
DAY 4Aug 09 2017
Kulturkirche Altona gemeinnützige GmbH
Hamburger Fischmarkt Altona
Hamburger Fischmarkt Altona
🎶💑🎣⚓ At the port we saw a man and a woman on a romantic date: Punk-dressed, sitting on a bench by the water, listening to dubstep and fishing together.
Your average couple or what.
DAY 5Aug 10 2017
I spent the day at home, doing research & feeling dizzy and sleepy in the process.
🕷🕸 We realized that a small orange spider had built a perfect web on some decorative wooden sticks in the "window room". She was sitting on the center, awaiting her first victim.
📷🐠 I had some photography practice using the spiderweb and the aquarium as models.
In the late afternoon I had a call with Alex.
Gartengemeinschaft Kiesgrube e.V.
My call finished at about sunset, and we decided to go for a short walk. We followed the usual road to the supermarket, but turned left after the church, and strolled around a quiet neighborhood with big, beautiful, probably extremely expensive houses and blooming courtyards.
After a while the road came to a split, and we had to choose: Left, uphill towards thicker trees and what seemed like a park, or right, downhill towards more of the pretty neighborhood. We chose the former.
The plan was to then turn left again at the first opportunity and return home.
🌲🌲 Anyway, as we walked the road soon turned into a short dirt path among tall trees. We could turn left on another dirt path, but since we didn't know where that would lead us or if we'd manage to get out of the park, we continued moving straight ahead.
🎠⚽ We got out of the park, and on our left there was a big red brick building, the shape of a stable but a lot bigger, and, well, it wasn't a stable. There was no main door, only a big arch through which we could see a large courtyard. Toys were scattered around the arch but there was nobody in sight. Observing the windows we realized that all rooms seemed to be children's rooms. Was this an orphanage? We never knew for sure.
🌹🏡🌹 Finally, turning left on a "real" road was an option. So we did. Now we were walking by tiny, mostly old houses, fenced and surrounded (almost hidden, I'd say) by rich flowering gardens, all seemingly empty, and surely extremely quiet.
The "Spirited Away" vibes were definitely strong in this place.
🌄 Despite their mildly creepy appearance, we deviated from our way for a few minutes to follow a very little path between two rows of those very little houses with the quite large gardens. After getting a strong dose of fragrant flowers and admiring the beautiful sunset over the little houses, we went back to our original road.
A taxi driving by, a bus station, a group of people walking further in the road reassured us that we weren't trapped in some kind of fairytale limbo.
🏢🏢 After a little while, we realized that we had indeed gotten "trapped" in a very large building complex made for refugees. There was a strange atmosphere to this place, it was like a fake little village amidst this huge city. Granted, it wasn't a concentration camp, but it still felt dehumanising in a way.
🌃 Since it was getting very dark, and it wasn't clear if and how we could get out of this place, other than the way we came, we followed the exact same road back home.
Passing through that first split in the road when we decided to turn left, I was amused thinking of how many different and unpredictable things you might experience as a result of such a small decision.
DAY 6Aug 11 2017
Today it was raining a lot. We stayed in and studied for the most part. I'm starting to realize how many things need to be done in a very short time period and I'm freaking out a bit.
🐌🍎 I was very focused, and only had little breaks for food, and one for getting out to the courtyard to see the army of slugs roaming the grass. Tsuka fed a thin apple slice to one of them, and we watched as it enthusiastically chewed on it. They're very cute but I'm anxious I might step on them and accidentally kill them.
🏵💧The rain had the grass and flowers decorated with water drops - their silver shine could rival diamonds.
By late afternoon it had finally stopped raining. After wearing half our wardrobe (the temperature had fallen sharply at 14°C), we left for REWE to get supplies. Thanks to Tsuka's curious spirit we followed a different road to get there, and albeit we didn't see anything too spectacular I was still grateful for the change of scenery. Had I been by myself I'd probably have followed the usual road.
🍻 We're here for almost a week now and I was starting to wonder why you only find about 5 different types of canned beer in the supermarket. Aren't we in beer country?
The answer was simple and satisfying: Right by the supermarket, there was a second supermarket ONLY FOR BEER. It was really cool. Then a group of people came in, punk clothes, colored hair, horribly drunk and stinky. Of course, they bought more alcohol. It was sad. We got two beers and left for home.
🏡 On the way home we followed a different road once more. We went by a park featuring a glorious treehouse. This place seems to have jumped right out of my childhood dreams.
I must say I really appreciate how you can get cheap, high quality, extremely delicious food at the supermarket. It is unreal.
DAY 7Aug 12 2017
🧀👣😷 This is the second time we bought cheese that smells like sweaty feet here. Guys, it's not funny.
🍄🍺 For lunch we cooked spaghetti with Austernpilze (oyster mushrooms), cream, onions and parmesan. It was goooooood.
These mushrooms have a strong delicious taste, a bit salty, and do not soften much after cooking.
Altonaer Volks Park
Tonight on our after-rain/sunset walk, we discovered yet another magical place: A "secret" garden, in the edge of our huge local park. Endless kinds of flowers and trees, a satisfying lack of order in how they were planted, a maze like design of the paths, bushes trimmed to create archways. Vivid colours, snails and crystal droplets due to the rain. Only sounds were the birds and the very distant chatter of a group of people in a nearby kiosk. There was nobody else around. The dirt was wet and soft. The sky was finally clear and blue after a long cloudy day. I was sad for not taking the dslr with me. Hamburg really starts to seem like a great place to live in.
DAY 8Aug 13 2017
St. Nikolai Memorial
Now that the grey clouds & rain finally disappeared, we went for a looooong long walk - I think it lasted for almost 8 hours.
For the most part, I will let the photos tell the story of the places we visited, and only write about things that weren't recorded on camera at all:
🏅🎽 Some kind of marathon/sporting event was talking place in the center, near the rathaus and lakes. There were lots of participants, even more spectators, loud music, many kiosks that sold (overpriced) food and beer. The event was called "Ironman" and the broadcaster would, in regular intervals amidst his otherwise German sentences, cheerfully announce: "You! Are! An Ironman!!!". The way everyone seemed to be so excited about being there was ridiculous and cute at the same time.
🍟 I tried currywurst for the first time, it was surprisingly really good! (and very expensive, it cost around 3.40€)
⛲🍺 We grabbed a beer and sat by the lake to rest for a while.
DAY 9Aug 14 2017
Tips for future trips, inspired by today's adventures:
⏺ Eat a big fat breakfast/lunch before going out.
⏺ Carry a water bottle & snacks that aren't too salty/sweet with you.
⏺ Carry tissues, wet & regular.
⏺ Bring along a large fabric, for sitting on the grass/sand.
⏺ Don't carry half the wardrobe with you.
A middle aged German(?) man, white hair cut short, shaved, wearing glasses and a plaid shirt drove by in a Cabrio, loudly listening to metal music.
🐝🕷 As we watched a spider sitting in the center of the web she created on a sculpture, two, probably unrelated things happened, one after another:
The spider suddenly started moving in insane speed between two close points.
Then a bee passed by, and attacked the spider for no apparent reason.
The spider performed some weird defensive moves and finally the bee went away. Bee, what the fuck.
DAY 10Aug 15 2017
DEAD after two days of 8-hour-long walks. Today is rest day. Food, nap, GRE prep, nap, twin peaks, nap, coffee, nap, nap, nap, na...
Tonight is the second time that rainy weather coincides with our room attracting lots of mosquitoes. As Tsuka tried to kill one of them, it fell right into a spider web. *triumphant music*
What's more, the spider was maybe 1/5 of the mosquito in size, but she still wrapped the shit out of that mosquito.
I've always liked spiders and been protective of them, and now my babies make me proud for doing so. 🕷❤
DAY 11Aug 16 2017
Landesaufnahmebehörde Niedersachsen Außenstelle Lüneburg
Oberschule am Wasserturm
🚂 After eating a hearty lunch, we left for the Hauptbahnhof, where we first battled with the ticket machine, and then accidentally got into a totally wrong train. Fortunately realising our mistake before it started moving, we caught, as intended, the 14:30 train to Lüneburg. At this point I have to comment that a) German transportation isn't nearly as punctual as I expected, and b) their information boards are horribly confusing.
🚉 Only 30 minutes of pretty-nature-scenery train ride had passed and we'd already arrived at Lüneburg Bahnhof.
Now, *this* is a true fairytale town. Only 10 minutes after our arrival and already we were walking by a small beautiful canal, red brick buildings, flowers and green, towers in every direction - plain towers, water towers, bell towers. The red-brick water tower was especially majestic - like a giant chess piece.
✝ St. Johanniskirche was open to visitors, so we decided to take a look. Probably my favourite artifact there was a wooden cross, used as a pinboard. There was paper and pins next to it, so that visitors could write a few words and pin them on the cross. Incredible.
🍫 On what seemed like the main road of the old town (Am Sande), we stopped by edeka for supplies. We got berry buttermilk (meh) and paprika chips (alright) to snack on, and a big box of blueberries to devour at home. Since this supermarket was cheaper than the ones we visited so far in Hamburg, we also got four different Ritter Sport chocolates as a souvenir.
At this point, I bring you the great motto that epitomises both these chocolates and many other German creations:
As we went further into the old town, cars and asphalt roads gradually subsided to give way to more and more medieval buildings, cobblestone paths and pedestrians. This place has probably more tourists than Hamburg, and, surprisingly(?) more immigrants too.
We spent a long time strolling and examining the old buildings. Every 20 minutes we'd say "Wow boi *thisss* is the best house here".
They all had unique, beautiful details, be it the roof design, the windows, the door, the brick, the decorations. Some were profoundly old, and seemed closer to falling apart than not, but they only added to the overall charm of the town.
Speaking of decorations, the naval theme was strong here too. We'd often come across mermaids, fishes and tridents.
Walking from the Rathaus to St. Michaeliskirche, it seems that we were moving out of tourist territory and into local territory. There were only a very few shops, closed, and even fewer people, who didn't look like tourists. The streets were narrower and houses shorter. I'm trying and failing to describe the essence of this place. It was so magical I can't do it justice. I think not even the photographs I took can. But I will remember this place as one of the most amazing I've visited in Germany so far. It almost made me upset - how is it possible that such places exist? that people live there? that they have their own special fairyland?
Our adventure finished in the best possible way: After admiring St. Nikolaikirche, the last and most beautiful church on our route, we ate EXTREMELY AMAZING matjesbrötchen (I'm a big fan of raw fish now)and had a great beer. As it was getting dark, we walked around the old "port" - actually a little, beautifully-lit canal, full of people who were out to drink and have fun, whether on the restaurants and bars by the stream or on the bridge ground. I also saw my American friend's Mark Twain statue on a bench, I have no idea what he was doing here. Next to him, his famous quote was written on the wall:
Well actually, the real end to our adventure was missing two trains that would take us back to Hamburg because we were extremely confused as to what kind of ticket we should buy. It turned out we had bought much more expensive tickets than we had to on our way to Lüneburg.
After a short time of being mildly pissed of and extremely stressed about the whole situation and the fact we had to now wait almost an hour for the next train in that tiny station, I decided to let it go. I thought that such mishaps are not important and that this town was so amazing, I would have anyway spent that money to travel there once, and waiting for an hour wasn't so bad considering all the beautiful experiences we had. Many things are often not under our control, especially when travelling to a new place, and the best thing to do is accept it and work your way around this.
DAY 12Aug 17 2017
We were too dumb to go to the supermarket early in the day when it wasn't raining, and so we ended up having an empty fridge and stomach. We ate pasta with tomato sauce and garlic.
DAY 13Aug 18 2017
We went to the supermarket in the morning to resupply, and discovered yet another playground with a very fun game.
DAY 14Aug 19 2017
DAY 15Aug 20 2017
DAY 16Aug 21 2017