The train station in Lubeck, which is all I have seen of this town.
The train station in Hamburg, which looks like Lubeck, but much larger.
I kind of like this tableau … the little red switcher shunting DB passenger cars, the bicyclist, pedestrians and taxis. You get this odd sense of German orderliness.
Everything in Germany was closed today for the national birthday. I took the train to my previously-anticipated destination, Lübeck, but just didn’t care anymore and there was nowhere to sit down and get my bearings, so I pressed on to Hamburg.
I dropped my luggage off in a locker for 1€ and went in search of hostels. I could never get an answer from the first-reccomended hostel in my guidebook, but some good soul had left a page photocopied from the Hostelling International directory for Hamburg’s HI hostel. I took the U-Bahn over. It was big and clean and overlooked the Elbe with an impressive view.
I purchased a Hamburg Card for the next day. This is a transit day pass with discounted museum admissions. It was valid from 6PM the day before, so I spent some time wandering on foot around St Pauli, a cool alternative sort of neighborhood, stopping in at little fast-food restaurants and puzzling over the incomprehensible German menus.
As an aside, I recalled Stefi’s lament about how Latins never speak English. In Hamburg I encountered any number of Germans who will continue to rattle on in German, even after they have established that I don’t speak that language. I guess that if you’re German, you really don’t notice whether Germans speak English or not, and if you look sort of generically northern European, as I do, perhaps one simply assumes that your reticence to respond is due more to your character than a linguistic deficiency. I have further found that smart-looking young adults are the best bet for English. A bit younger, the kid selling me bread was practicing her high-school English.
I stopped in an Indian fast-food place. The smells made me hungry. I ate there.
During my meanderings, I consulted various paraphenalia to determine if there was some club I’d want to visit that evening. There were a very few available on that national holiday. I opted to do laundry instead, as I was on my last pair of underwear.
The super-efficient German washer and dryer in the hostel’s basement took six hours to complete a wash-dry cycle. I and the other American doing wash may have been a clue short since the machines operated in German, but we followed the graffitti on the one machine that indicated “full wash” followed by “hard arse rinse” and “soft arse rinse”. I got to bed about 2AM. My fellow countryman remained in the basement to complete his second load. After all, he had been out the night before and just barely missed the 2AM curfew, and had to sleep on the porch until 6h30. One must respect the insanity of his long-suffering tenacity, but best to do it from a distance, tucked cozily in bed.