13.02.2009 - 16.02.2009 -5 °C
Yeah, well - I haven't been in Siegen/Cologne long enough to have any sort of informed / comedic opinion. So you'll just have to put up with my ramblings on Hamburg a little longer.
I knew The Beatles spent quite a bit of time in Hamburg, so it was an awesome bit of synchronicity that on the way home from a rather large night out, to have a troupe of dudes get on the train and bust out "Love Me Do" in a pitch perfect quartet rendition, although with a heavy german accent. It eased my thumping head, that's for sure. To make that moment even more surreal (at least in my oh-so-slightly alcoholic state), I sat down next to an IT Manager, reading Terry Pratchett (of Discworld fame, for you non-Sci Fi-Fantasy nerds). Dude, that guy could almost have been Deutsch-Mick.
Anyways, so I've started to learn a few general travel tips. One - have a system for your suitcase, so you know what's washed and what isn't, otherwise you just end up smelling like off-socks all the time. Two - if you look helpless enough and wear an Australian scarf, someone will help you out. Three - learn to apologise in every language and you can travel the world!
The second two tips probaby helped me out in my first courageous expedition out in the great unknown of Hamburg for a day. I did pretty well until the first street corner, where I confidently strolled left instead of right, ended up on the wrong side of the tracks, and became utterly lost, despite my maps. Still, look helpless and ask strangers, right? Eventually I found a railway station, and I was right for the rest of the day. Main attraction and my goal for the day - Tours of the Elbe (the big river that runs through Hamburg) - although entirely in German, so I didn't learn much but saw a lot of pretty sights.
I met up with Volker and the rest for a big night in the Reeperbahn - the red light district of Hamburg. Kings Cross 'aint got nothin', and that's all I'm going to say about that. Well, except that when you're in Hamburg, you have NO CHOICE WHATSOEVER about whether you have a big night if it's a Saturday. Because on Sunday, it's the Fishmarkt. You can guess what that means - c'mon, it's only missing one letter! Go practice on some crosswords or something. Anyway, so the idea is you party hard Saturday, then head down to the Fishmarkt area by the port about 6am Sunday morning, and chow down on some awesome freshly cooked fish inna bun (Discworld Reference!) and watch some brilliant live bands by the harbour as the sun comes up. Yes, that's right, live bands as the sun comes UP. The White Stripes have played here at that time. Crazy.
Having conquered Hamburg, Volks and I drove the four hours to Siegen, which is where Volks lives, for some much needed RandR. Siegen is a tiny ex-mining town that, at least according to residents, has never really covered. That is, residents will tell you that it's an ugly, boring city with a highway through the middle. But with all the snow and quaint little streets and cottages n stuff, my tourist-colouered glasses beg to differ!
Of course, all this is just a precursor to the main event - Karnival. That is, the week long, costumed beer-fest that is second only to Oktoberfest in size, but not in atmosphere and frivolity, or so I'm told.
The pictures will be colourful, in more ways than one. You have been warned.