Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 1: Hamburg

Day 1's story will just pick up from Day 0's entry. When I arrived at the office I pretty much set straight to work and put in 5 hours. That may not seem significant but considering my head was doing the "bishopric nod" (if you're not familiar with this motion, just wait for the next High Council Sunday and watch any member of the Bishopric, especially those over the age of 45 and you'll know what I mean). I knew I had to make it through the day or my internal clock would never make it here in Hamburg.

I worked with my team members here and attempted to get past the plague of problems that prompt my visit. After working the whole day we got closer but still came up a little short. It was hopeful though and we made real progress, just not the whole way.

I got a ride home from a member of the team. This guy is 2 meters tall (that's just under 6 foot 7 inches). He's huge. But he's funny and personable. I got to noticing that most of the team members are quite large. Then I noticed other people and it just seems like they really drink their milk here. Quite tall in stature.

On the ride the work mate made some dinner suggestions. He asked whether I like Italian or Chinese food. Seriously. My first and possibly only time in Germany and he wants to know if I like Italian food. I laughed and stated that I'd prefer to eat German food whilst I'm here. He caught the irony of his question and then began to suggest a restaurant that I definitely had to visit. He stated that the place if quite Bavarian and it was quintessential German and that no visit to Germany was complete without stopping in on the Hofbrauhaus. OK I thought.

After checking in at the hotel and calling my family for a moment, I left the hotel, camera in hand, in search of the recommended restaurant. I had a map that the guy had marked. The route hugged close to the lake that is central to Hamburg. The lake front was chalked full of runners, strollers and bikers. Hamburg is alive with people that truly enjoy the outdoors. The whole circumference of the lake is lined with parks, green belts, trees (a lot of weeping willows that are quite old and weep a considerable distance), rowing clubs and marinas. The lake was full of wispy sailboats that danced, rather glided gently, on the water with little effort and little concern.

I nearly got lost walking the lakeside trail as I was caught up in the beauty and serenity of it all. Yet I managed to find myself crossing a very busy intersection to the short lake in front of town hall and the shopping district. I oriented myself on the map (my oldest knows a bit about orienteering after his first campout, which I still need to write about), and found myself in front of the recommended restaur....

Wait, it was more than just a restaurant. It was a beer garden. Yep, a true bavarian experience. And no, obviously I didn't drink beer but I was recommended the restaurant and so I tried it.

I sat down, looked over the English menu, and then not knowing what to try asked the waitress for recommendations. She asked whether I was hungry. Nope, just thought I'd ask for her help and then eat nothing. Of course I was hungry; hadn't eaten since early that morning. She then went on to say that if I were to drink beer with my dinner.... hold up. Who said anything about beer. After I informed her that I would not be drinking any alcohol, she paused, did a double take and then asked why I came in at all. Seriously.

Well, she recommended something anyway, including a drink of carbonated apple juice that was quite good. She brought out a "pork knuckle" that was not only large, but fatty and a bit on the disgusting side...to begin with. But once I busted open the innards and got to the good meat it was really quite good. I topped it off with some Apfelstrudel with Vanilla Ice Cream. Nice end to a meal.

I walked back home, strolling along, fully enjoying the scenery. It was also nice to see so many people out, most of whom were either sitting on park benches, snuggling, or laying on the grass overlooking the lake, snuggling. Very romantic spot and yet I felt that much more alone. Without my dear wife with which to share such a moment the impact of the romanticism was lost on me.

I made it back home, talked with my wife a bit longer and headed off to bed, thoroughly exhausted and yet excited for another day.

Post a Comment