This weekend has been spent adjusting, pushing my body forward 7 hours and orienting myself with the neighborhood that will be home for the next 7 months. Tomorrow is the first day of language class at the Colonnade institute, and hopefully I’ll start picking up conversational German so I’ll know that the old lady yelling at me as I was boarding the bus was asking for help getting her walker onto the bus (The bus lowers to the curb via hydraulics and I thought she was telling the bus driver to lower the bus so she could get on). I have met all the people that are living on the same floor/suite as me besides the girl from Hungary (she comes and goes). There’s Fazil from India, Jan from Deutschland, and of course Wolfgang from the US. Everything I’ve encountered is new, all of my senses have been stimulated by the modern industrious environment of Hamburg, Germany. Today, most of the shops and markets are closed, a sort of secular day of rest. Though on Saturday, I did encounter a fixture of what’s left of organized religion in Germany in the St. Petri’s Cathedral, just adjacent to the Congressional building in the heart of Hamburg.
It was a dark looming figure over an otherwise vibrant and modern aesthetic architecture, a product of the Gothic era of centuries past. The best way to describe the architecture of modern Germany is if the designers tasked with creating Apple products created this urbanscape, heavily clad in glass and steel. Though I’m sure German design inspired Apple designers. Smells of a sundry of sausages cooking, which I just had to indulge in (wurst has made its way into my meals at least once a day). Even the people, who seem to be very style conscious and aware of their presentation, have a distinct odor, seeming to have applied an extra hint of cologne before going out. Sounds all seem harsh to my American ears; the language inflections, the tones the Hochbahn (light rail public transit system) makes to indicate the doors are closing, even the birds make unpleasant sounds! I guess that’s something I will grow used to over the next several months. There’s a pervasive cold and dampness entrenched in these northern reaches of Germany; with the maritime climate it never seems to make it out of the 40’s F. Walking through the village of Rahlstedt, where the renovated pre-WW2 barracks I live in are located
(I’m afraid I’ll have to fight off Nazi zombies every time I go down to the basement/bunker), I noted that the ground cover of choice was moss instead of grass. The sun doesn’t make it up to a very high azimuthal angle this time of the year, shining directly in your eyes above the horizon. The Germans compensate for the dreary weather with their technological wonders; the hot water comes out of the tap almost hot enough to brew tea, and at extremely high pressure! Everything is environmentally friendly, I’m told that Germany will be completely weaned off of fossil fuels by 2020, with wind, solar, and nuclear filling in the gap. In later posts I’ll have more pictures of where I’m staying and the places around me. Right now I’m relying on Wolfgang for internet as my computer doesn’t have Ethernet capabilities. That’s all for now.