The mob in front of my windows can go home now. Take your pitchforks, your torches and your shouting back home. I submit. I will tell you the great tale of how a group of fearless adventurers travelled to Hamburg to search for wealth and to find friendship.
It all began a long time ago (more than two days, I guess). Tegan rushed in my office, screaming “CHERRY BLOSSOM” while struggling to get her breath back. I nodded wisely. Just before she fainted she could mutter “hamburg…” Her head hit the edge of a desk and she fell to the ground. I shrugged and continued to work on facebook.com. As people came and went they grew more and more annoyed by the lifeless body blocking the entrance, so I carried her all the way back to her office and put her there somewhere.
I could not forget her last words before she dropped into her coma. What could it mean? Was it some sort of code? I went to yahoo.com to search for bing where I entered google.de and then looked for hamburg, cherry and blossom. I found a website. Did it hold the answers I was looking for? Would it end my quest? How much XP would I get?
Apparently the Japanese community in Hamburg celebrates every year the beginning of spring when the cherry trees blossom around. It was to take place on a certain weekend. I decoded the numbers to 23rd May. This year. Was this dying Tegan’s last wish? I wrote an email to the others, suggesting we spread her ashes in Hamburg on the Cherry Blossom Festival. They happily agreed. “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead” rose to the TOP10 of iTunes Charts again.
It was when I looked up if an autoclave could be used to cremate Tegan that someone tapped my shoulder. A dusty Tegan looked angrily at me before she punched me in the kidney. A week had passed since I last saw her standing. In hindsight I understood that she just got unconscious from the long sprint from hers to my office and the hitting the table did the rest.
She told me that she wanted to go to Hamburg, alive. She had just read all the emails discussing her recent passing, where we included her by accident. In fear of more punches to the kidneys I agreed to book a trip to Hamburg for all of us, the cremating had to wait.
The big day arrived. We sneaked away from work at noon and took a train to Hamburg. We prepared food for pick-nick on the train, but the hungry crowd — that was Andy, Tegan, Pau, Nadia, Doro and me — devoured most of it already at Berlin Zoo on the platform.
After a suspicious announcement by the train supervisor we changed trains in the middle of nowhere near Schwerin. We really hoped that the train man did not play an evil prank on us.
But no practical joke was played on us, a train arrived and shipped us to Hamburg.
We took the chance of splitting up, as we learned our lesson from most of the movies ever made: when in an unknown situation, split up, it advances the plot and makes it look deeper than it actually is.
So they — Tegan, Andy, Pau and Nadia — went to their accommodation for the night somewhere on the Reeperbahn, Doro and I went to the luxury home of our friend to drop of some things there.
We regrouped at the Schanzenviertel, where we hoped to find food for the night. Little did we know that we chose the right place and the right time to do so.
We went to Altes Mädchen, because foursquare told us to. We managed to find a table after some waiting and ordered the food. And the beer. They have an impressive range of beer on offer and as I am a quick decider I decided to take the degustation board with five varieties of beer.
Doro got a Malzbier. A good one, too.
We also had Burgers with advocado dip and home made crisps (delicious).
A tasty take on Labskaus.
Their version of a Strammer Max with cured ham, salad and a poached egg.
Andy of course went for the giant amount of pulled pork drowned in BBQ sauce. Aussies.
The Altes Mädchen was exactly my kind of place, home made bread, lots of beer, friendly people and traditional food with a twist. Only downside: really full, average service. Andy and I waited for another 20 minutes without food while the others had theirs already, just because the waitress forgot about us.
We then continued our march to the big fireworks for the festival. We had to pass through streets of expensive cars and city mansions. The area was constantly guarded by the police because they have to make sure that no rich asshole attacks some friendly citizens.
The fireworks were as exciting as — well, fireworks. Some went bang, some went pfsshh and others just puff. I saw more than two colours. Really good stuff if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m not.
We strolled back to the centre of town, the others went to their dodgy place for the night and Doro and I rode the subway to our beds. We did then all the sleeping that was necessary.
The next day.
The night is always darkest somewhere around the middle, not before dawn, as Sophokles once said. We woke up in the morning and directed our group to the Schanzenviertel by the powers of the internet to try out another foursquare recommendation. We had breakfast at Kopiba, a small coffee bar with a breakfast buffet.
We feasted to the smell of fresh coffee on bacon and eggs and salads and bread and Nutella. Doro wanted one of the coffee plants they sold there so we got to packs of freshly roasted coffee for me.
(Stolen from Tegan who stole from Pau)
Filled to the brim we went ahead and did some sight seeing. On the way we picked up Andy’s mum near the Reeperbahn. We strolled through the city, saw this and that and ended up at the botanical garden where the Japanese Culture Festival should take place.
And how it did. Both of the booths were offering information and food and there even was a group of drummers that did not play (yet). Fantastic.
We then visited the green houses, where we saw coffee plants and some unlucky plants who escaped the burnt lands of Australia to be welcomed in the lovely lands of Germany just to end up being touched by a raging Aussie woman again.
Then there was some running to get stuff, a train ride and we were back in Berlin. Tegan’s wish was fulfilled, we are all hoping it was her last wish, and we continued with our solo or pair weekends according to preferences.
I leave you with some more pictures. This is were you come in. I give you the opportunity to make up your own adventure. Imagine what we do on the photos, why and what happens next. Are we space cowboys? Who are all those people? Can it be Hamburg and sunny at the same time? It is up to you now to answer these questions. This is my gift to you. Make the best of it.