dijous, d’agost 11, 2005

Rainbow Tour 2005 Travel Log - Day 11 - Sunday 7.17.05

I crawled out of my casket-like couchette and stumbled down to the Waschraum to spritz some water on myself and coat myself with new layers of cologne and cologne, and finally brush my teeth. There was no room in the compartiment nor in the Waschraum to change my clothes, so the clothes I had put on early in the day on Saturday, and had slept in, were going to be the clothes I was wearing to arrive in Hamburg.

The train pulled in around 7AM, and walked to the taxi stand; as I approached it, a large black man was also exiting the building and he asked me if I needed a ride. At first I was suspicious since he wasn't sitting in a taxi, but he lead me to his car just a few feet away, an official cab. One of the nice things about taxi cabs in Hamburg is that they're all Mercedes 200 series, roomy, fast, and moderately classy.

It turned out that his name was Nesco and he was Togolese. He had lived in France, in the Bordeau region for some time, but then relocated to Hamburg. He could speak English, French and German, besides nis native language from Togo. His sister, as it turned out, lived in Philadelphia, and he had recently visited her, and complained that the summer heat in Philadelphia was as bad as Africa! He told me how he had visited Hershey and the Amish, and how he looked forward to going back to Pennsylvania. It's amazing how global the world has become really, and yet how provincial so much of America has remained. A second theme to my trip would have to be the reality of globalization.

Nesco got turned around on the way to Dörthe's, but he was good about it, and only charged me 10€ for the trip, even though the clock read more.

Dörthe lives in the Eimsbüttel section of the city, a nice residential neighborhood with Altbauhäuse (old style apartment buildings usually four or five stories with mansard roofs) and lots of nice local restaurants, bars and shops. Hamburg, technically a city-state within the German Bundesrepublik, is a pleasant very manageable large city, with nearly 2 million people. It's large port and commercial center as well best known for its beautiful Rathaus (city hall), its large Alster See in the middle of the city, and its 100,000 bridges which criss-cross the various canals, streams and rivers running through the city. It is also known for its lewd red-light districts, the most famous of which is in the St. Pauli area, the Reperbahn. Aside from these notable exceptions, Hamburg is not much of a place for tourists really. You could really see most of what Hamburg has to offer in just a couple days, and over the past ten years, it really hasn't changed much. My motivation in coming here was strictly social, to visit with my friend Dörthe with whom I went to college way back at East Stroudsburg.

Dörthe lives on a nice residential street, Hartwig-Hesse near Osterstraße, a main shopping street. Her building is a pretty Altbauhaus, and she lives on the third floor. Sadly there's no elevator so you have to walk up a lot of steps which is a little bit of work with luggage. When I got there, Dörthe had breakfast and coffee waiting, and we visited and chatted, I settled into the living room where I would be staying, and the got a shower. I did some laundry after that and they we went on the U-bahn to a station along the Alster and walked around the Alster See. We stopped along the way for gelatto and then for beer, and caught up on recent events and reminisced. We then walked over to the Sala Thai and had a great Thai meal. After supper we went back to Hartwig-Hesse-Str. and watched a DVD and called it a night.