I keep finding nicer and nicer buses AND for only $10-20 US dollars. People keep asking if I use the euro rail but with my short distances it really isn’t worth it, I have the time to spend 4-6 hours on a bus. However, if you’re traveling for a shorter amount of time and visiting more spaced out cities then I probably would recommend euro rail because I tend to just spend those days on the bus cause I never want to wake up super early.
Day 28: The bus from Amsterdam was a long one. I said goodbye to the few hostel mates I knew that were left (most left Sunday morning) and wandered off to the bus station. People seemed to understand me in English but would then give me directions in German…. Excessive hand gesturing became my best friend. My bus arrived in Hamburg right above the metro and the metro took me within a 5 minute walk of the place I was staying. My childhood best friends dad grew up in Hamburg, and I was staying with his best friend from college. Ralf was a petit but energetic man, we chatted over some white wine then headed out for dinner. I thought he had said there was a delicious sea food pasta (sea food is big in Hamburg being so close to the ocean) that he ordered for me but it was mini octopus (not quite like calamari cause it wasn’t breaded), another chewy sea food (honestly no clue what it was) with Salad but it was really good! We then waited for Ralfs espresso, which the bar tender had forgotten, and it was really only the size of a sip.
Maybe it’s just cause I don’t go to cafes that often even in the states but the espresso here seem to get smaller and smaller with each city. And most of the time the already very tiny cup is only half full! That’s something else I’ve been having to get use to, they don’t always fill your coffee or hot chocolate cup to the top, it comes out of the machine and if it fills it, it fills it. If it doesn’t, well then it doesn’t. I just kept imagine the complaints most Americans would give their servers if that happened to them. – I later found out why the cups are never full, normally people drink at the cafe so the drink isn’t filled to the top so it won’t spill when walking to the table!
Day 29: Moin moin is a common Hamburger greeting and (yes the people from Hamburg actually call themselves Hamburgers, but it’s pronounced differently so doesn’t sound as funny with my American accent).
I headed to the city center for my usual Sandman Free Tour. It’s not entirely free, you are expected to tip them at the end but you tip them for however good they were. My tour guide looked like the dipole ganger of a friend back in the states, but I never managed to take a decent picture. He was from Miami, fluent in English, Spanish, Italian, and now German. He moved to Hamburg to get his masters since it was practically free (like 250 euros a semester) and hasn’t left since he finished two years ago. Before the tour stated I found a woman hand feeding pigeons haha
The tour started at the Town Hall, and our guide summarized the history of Hamburg into about 10 minutes. I’ve known this but really started to realize how city tours are starting to blur together. There’s the town Hall, an old cathedral, a city famous statue, and maybe a famous dish the guide recommends us to try, a famous statue to rub for good luck, and a big pretty fountain somewhere. However, it was interesting hearing about the Hamburg Fire, I had heard of it before but didn’t actually know much about it. They never caught the arsonist but they think it was a disgruntled employee trying to burn down the cigar shop he worked at. He failed. The cigar shop is still there and he ended up burning down half the town over the course of 3 days and killing 30 some people before they finally got the fire out.
After the tour I wandered around the city by myself, I checked out the harbor, botanic gardens, and St Michaels church. That night we went out for Sushi! On the walk home Ralf kept trying to help me with my German pronunciations even though I had nothing to work off of. The main confusing this was the a W is pronounced like a V, a V if pronounced like an F, and I think F is pronounced like a W…?
Day 30: I had multiple different people mistake me for a local, or at least someone who spoke German. Funny thing was I would just say ‘sorry English’ and a look of shock would wash over their face but be like ‘oh okay’ but then just ask me in English.
I took the morning to sleep in a bit but headed out before lunch since it was suppose to rain in the afternoon. The weather was cold and it was suppose to rain in the afternoon so I headed off to find the Alstar, it’s basically an important river in Hamburg. After walking around there for a while I headed back toward the house to find a cafe, I wanted to be close incase it really started raining. I found an adorable cafe named May’s, I didn’t know what any of the signs said but picked what turned out to be a delicious apple stroddle type thing, and the hot chocolate was once again delicious. I had brought my laptop with me so spent the afternoon doing some much needed catching up on my blog. While at the cafe I had 3 different people come up to me and start speaking in German. One to ask if I could use the socket by feet to charge her iPad, another if my wifi was working, and a third to know the time.
Ralf left that afternoon to Berlin while I was out, when I got back the house cleaner was there who also assumed I spoke German. Bettina, his wife, got back fairly late and made a delicious late dinner snack of wild mushrooms and Brussels sprouts. (She had been visiting one of their sons up north by the Black Sea) It’s been so long since I’ve had good vegetables! As she was cutting up the mushrooms I asked her about the different kinds and she told me one is poison ‘but don’t worry, I ate it last night and I’m still alive!’ Needless to say I am as well, apparently you just have to boil it long enough to pull the toxins out. As mentioned before the mushrooms and Brussels sprouts were deliciously seasoned and we had some red wine and fresh tea with dinner.
Day 31: I packed up my things and headed out in the light rain. I mistakenly ended up standing with my bag on while waiting for my bus. Never again. I arrived 15 minutes in advance like they advice and figured ‘meh I can wear it for 15’ but then the bus was late and I kept thinking as soon as I take it off it’ll get here. It was 30 minutes late ha
I love how Germans say ‘Make Party’ and I’m not making fun of their English cause I know it’s a hard language I genuinely enjoy it when they say that. I’ve ran into several Germans who ask if I’m going to ‘make party’ tonight vs just party or partying. It was raining and almost dark by the time I arrived. I checked out Yelp to see which direction I should head towards for dinner. As soon as a burger place popped up I was suddenly craving burgers and it was exceptionally reasonably priced, and very delicious.
Day 32: My newest hostel mate is a porn actor. I am not joking he spent about 30 minutes that morning telling me about his work life and how people are normally so surprised but he’s been doing it for 8 years so its common for him. It was such a strange conversation, not creepy or awkward at all just strange, he’s in town for a porn expo to talk to producers etc haha.
Sam came to meet me at my hostel so I wouldn’t get too lost train hopping to the city center. Sam studied at SDSU for 1.5 years but I didn’t meet him until Spring 2014 when I got back from Barcelona. He transferred after that semester to Berlin and I haven’t seen him since! We spent a while on the metro, went the wrong direction once, but we eventually made it to the Brandenburg Gate. I cannot pronounce anything in German it’s horrible ha then we got some delicious kebabs, I hadn’t had any since being back in Europe and forgot how delicious they are! Then we wandered over to the Jewish memorial, lost each other in there and headed to the Sony center. Afterwards we headed into the mall to find the restrooms, which is when I realized I still needed a hat, my ears have started to freeze at night or if there’s a decent amount of wind. After trying on half the store’s selection, cause I don’t wear hats, I finally picked one out. After that we wandered through Tiergarten park on our way to Victory Column. I forgot how much I miss being out in nature. The park is HUGE so you can’t hear the sounds of traffic around you. It was cloudy out but the Autumn leaves and green ponds were still gorgeous. Our hands were freezing and feet ached from walking all afternoon so we headed to Alexander plaza to wait for Eddie. We found a cafe, ordered some hot chocolate and pastries, and talked to our Cyprus host.
Eddie was also part of GAA but last Fall semester. Eddie and I wandered around the center and the Light Festival. We soon met up with one of his friends and ended up back at theorist place Sam and I went to, Brandenburg Gate. Before we got back there we wandered around Museum Island, got some warm wine which is usually only sold during Christmas at the markets but I guess because it was so cold out and the light festival was going on a few stands came out. We went and saw the Sony center at night, checked out Charlie’s check point, and grabbed a quick dinner/late night snack. We arrived just in time at the Brandenburg Gate as we arrived they announced the 60 second count down until the video competition. They festival has their own version, then there were 6 finalist done by light show company’s from around the world. I’m not entirely sure what the theme was but I liked Australia’s the most. It didn’t quite fit the theme of what everyone else was doing but it was about tree’s/ life and was very nice.
We finally made it to the bar a little after 11 and didn’t end up leaving until 2 hours later. The boys were headed the club and anticipated they’d be there until about 6 or 7 am so I decided to head back to the hostel. The boys waited with me for my tram to arrive and I was off to find an unpleasant surprise back at my hostel.
I got back to my hostel around 2am, and the new roommate, a guy in his 70’s I’d say, had an old fashion ticking clock. But it wasn’t ticket every second it was ticking every millisecond and was on the night stand in between us.
Day 33: I got maybe 3 hours of sleep? I didn’t end up falling asleep until maybe 3:30am? Then would wake up every 45 minutes it felt like. Then clock guy got up at 6:30, had his own hot water maker in the room, made his breakfast and didn’t leave until 9am! I was up the entire time and then couldn’t fall back asleep. I had a lazy morning, made more bookings, finally made my flight from Italy to Spain, the bus would just take WAY too long. Before meeting up with Eddie I wandered around Charolttenburg, I walked around the stores on the hunt for another hat with no luck but did find some ear plugs. Then wandered around a farmers market, and then went for lunch and a yelp recommended Persian place. The lamb was SO delicious. I met up with Eddie and two of his other friends as we headed to Berlin last weekend of Octoberfest. Contrary to popular belief Octoberfest is celebrate in other cities besides Munich, Munich is just the largest. I honestly think I would prefer the Berlin one to Munich because it was mostly locals. The old couples were SO cute, (and by old I do mean old like 70) they got there early to get good seats so were already drunk by the time we arrived, and once the live band started playing they all started dancing!
Two liters of beer is a lot, which me and eddies two girl friends thought we could handle. The second portion of the evening was a bit of a blur and was spent dancing on the tables and fake siging along to German songs I had NO clue as to what they were saying.
Day 34: Day 4 of Berlin was spent mostly sleeping now that I had earplugs and being hung over. I managed to go out for lunch and grab a Döner and then wandered over to the Charlottenburg palace. I was able to skype with a few family and friends but I mostly spent the day enjoying Netflix.
Day 35: It was once again sprinkling when I headed out, at least it wasn’t actual rain like when I arrived. At the bus station a girl asked me to watch her bag while she went and grabbed a snack before the bus arrived. When she got back we started talking, she was going to Prague as well but for an art show! She went to design school and now makes leather furniture and accessories. She was going to the show to show her jewelry type leather materials which is why her bag was so large. Luckily our bus was on time and we were off.