not a Berliner

There in the distance? That's the JFK bridge in Hamburg.
There in the distance? That’s the JFK Bridge in Hamburg.

Lately, there’s been plenty for me write about, and I just haven’t been doing it. The last several posts were photos that I certainly liked, but there wasn’t much text. The whole point of this blog is to show off my writing, so these filler posts without much content go against what I originally set out to do. There might be times when a curious photo and a few lines of texts is all I’ve got time or energy for, but I’d prefer that to be the exception rather than the rule.

My favourite week in Munich tends to be when we have our Filmfest, which starts this weekend, so I already had something up my sleeve in which I’d planned to ramp up this blog again. Then I was out and about with Ella and Louis, the sister and brother Hungarian Vizslas that have featured prominently in this blog, and found myself walking across the John F. Kennedy Bridge.

Why not at least  a mention of what happened today, 26 June, exactly 50 years ago? If you’re like I am, you check out ‘this day in history’-type entries in the paper or online, so you already know that this is the day in 1963 that Kennedy gave his famous ‘Ich bin ein Berliner‘ speech in front of the Rathaus Schöneberg in West Berlin

Whatever you think of his politics, and I’m most certainly not going to get into that here, it was the height of the Cold War, and a significant gesture of solidarity to the citizens living in the divided once and future capital of Postwar Germany.

The Berlin Wall went up, and the Americans response was to send planes in filled with supplies, so that the city could continue to survive while surrounded by  Soviet-supported East Germany. Not an easy time here in my adopted home country, and at that moment in history it was incredibly unclear what was going to happen next.

The gratitude that West Germany felt for Kennedy’s show of support – both symbolic, as well as practical – was what led to major German cities naming things like bridges after him. The one here in Munich is the northern part of the Middle Ring Road that goes over the River Isar. It’s not particularly beautiful, and I doubt many locals under a certain age even realise that the bridge even has a name. 

The Kennedy Bridge in Hamburg (pictured above) is what divides the Binnenalster and Außenalster, which are the beautiful lakes right in the heart of the Hansestadt that is Hamburg. Whether you’re on the S-Bahn or ICE Train between the Main Train Station and the Dammtor, in which case you’re riding along the JFK Bridge, or walking along the Alster, there’s a memorial to Kennedy staring back at you. 

Fifty years. Not such a terribly long time, I suppose. Wonder if they’d still name any of this stuff after him today. 

Elaine’s Cuppa Cake

Elaine’s already gotta place to land when she gets to Scotland!

Our favourite Tottenham Riviera blogger elaine4queen has been threatening to move to Scotland, so I happened upon the perfect place for her. Her own café. Where we can all go and be sweary and inappropriate. As we are wont to do.

This isn’t easy – all this blogging. To be honest, I’ve never been a daily blogger. Well, there was a time I wrote a post everyday on my teablog, and that was enjoyable. Was even travelling a lot at the time, and wrote about tea drinking in Vienna and Hamburg and whatnot. I’m not against daily blogging in theory, but it’s really difficult to be out there living and documenting it simultaneously.

Lately, when faced with the choice, I’ve gone with the ‘focus on the life swirling round you‘ approach, and have taken sporadic notes along the way. At some point, I’ll get round to actually making those into blogposts.

There’s a great place where we stayed right outside of Durham, and I’d like to finally write a bit about the Lambton Hounds Inn, which is in the curiously named neighbourhood of ‘Pity Me‘. I mentioned in my last blogpost, and I assure you I’ve not forgotten it.

And then Fafa, which is my mother’s childhood nickname, and I went on to Lindisfarne in Northumbria. That’s worthy of at least three blogposts right there. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. And if you know me even a little, you know I’ve been a lot of places.

Here’s a taste of what’s ahead:

Everybody goin’ to the castle on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne…

Then we went to another castle that someone told us was involved in the filming of all of that Harry Potter nonsense, but when we got there, they were having a wedding and the place was closed off to visitors.

Turns out Bamburgh Castle has no connection whatsoever to the filming of those books that I’ve not yet read, but I suppose I will at some point. *sigh*

Mother claiming Bamburgh Castle for her own!

So, that’s a taste of what’s to come…aren’t you excited? Here’s your not-quite-humble-enough blogger at the same castle:

One of the few times you’ll see ol’ Lahikmajoe in less than formal attire.

for the love of train travel

Taking the train…

 

Fafa on the train…

 

The train station in Durham

 

Poppet and Elaine…on a train. A proper train, mind you.

 

The Dammtor in Hamburg
The train to the Zugspitze

 

Ella and Louis on the U-Bahn in Munich

 

Cottbus fans on the way to see their team play in Regensburg, and they’ve wrapped Ella and Louis in their team’s scarves.

 

Doing #DangerPanda on the train…an ICE train in Germany if you were wondering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

up in the Hochbahn in Hamburg

Sternschanze U-Bahn and S-Bahn station in Hamburg

This is a blogpost I’ve been waiting to do until I had enough photos to make it make a bit of sense. Not that this blog always makes much sense. What’d be the point of that?

No point, I tell you.

In the S-Bahn in Hamburg.

Just like other major German cities, Hamburg has both an U-Bahn and S-Bahn system. Most of the time, the U-Bahn system is underground, but like Boston’s T or Chicago’s Elevated, Hamburg has what’s called a ‘Hochbahn‘. All over the city in the U-Bahn stations, there are auld photos of the 100-year old Hochbahn. I’ll include those in a future post.

Here’s my favourite train station in Hamburg:

Hamburg’s Dammtor in the late afternoon.

This art deco train station is on the S-Bahn line, which as Wikipedia describes, is a, ‘…city centre and suburban metro like railway system in AustriaGermanySwitzerland and Denmark.’

Retro photo of a Hamburg shopping scene.

This photo has nothing to do with the Hochbahn, but I liked it and I decided it was going in this blogpost. It’s my blog. If you don’t like it, get your own damned blog.

 

 

 

 

 

early morning on the Reeperbahn

Early morning at the Michel on the way to Fischmarkt.

We’re going to the Fischmarkt in Hamburg, baby. What’s that? Well, it’s actually a blogpost for another day. This is the Reeperbahn on the way to the Fischmarkt.

A Bavarian-style ad on the Reeperbahn.

This is completely out of place in Hamburg. Bavaria might be in Germany, but it and Hamburg are polar opposites in so many ways. I’ll write more about this at some point. It’s really remarkable how different the cool, detached Northeners are in contrast to the very boisterous, hearty Southerners. I could have a whole blog about those differences. Not just a blogpost. A whole blog.

Looks a bit like Vegas, doesn’t it?

This is the world-famous Reeperbahn, which is the high street that goes through the St Pauli neighbourhood on Hamburg. It’s where the sailors came for their leave and where both German and international tourists come for probably Europe’s second most famous red-light district. Yes, there are whores. Of course there are. St Pauli wouldn’t be the same without them. Get over it. It’s only your puritanical leanings that mayke you think prostitution shouldn’t be legal. Well, that and that they’re notoriously poorly treated the world over. There is that, I suppose.

This guy only looks like he’s having a good time.

Rarely, do I trust one of these characters. Clowns are ok, but jongleurs? Nothing good ever comes from a jongleur. Nothing.

A moment in the mountains.

This one’s really personal. I’m not sure if any of my readers can tell you what this is, but if you know, leave it in the comments. The winner gets a prize. Really. Who says Lahikmajoe never gave you anything?

arriving in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

Upon arrival…the Hauptbahnhof in Hamburg

So, Munich is so last week. Now we’re in Hamburg. I’ve brought you all with me. Aren’t you glad to be coming along?

The central station from outside

Here’s a photo of one of my favourite buildings in the city…really. I have so many good memories of arriving here. Want to know more about the building? Here’s the wikipedia page:

Hamburg’s Hauptbahnhof

What’s the baby holding? A fish? A loaf of bread?

Now we’ve left the station, but we’re still nearby. I’m fascinated with masonry of any kind, so you’re going to get a lot of photos of the sides of buildings. If you’re not into that sort of thing, come back next week. More importantly, who’s not into that sort of thing? What’s wrong with you?

What’s this lady doing lounging around in public in her birthday suit?

I wish this weren’t a Starbucks now…sigh…

We’ll be discussing this church in a coming post…anyone know what it’s called?

Very beautiful churches here, even if they are sometimes a bit austere. More photos of churches are also in your near future.

Which Evangelist has the lion as his symbol?

More masonry…you sick of this yet? Hope not.

What’s this little guy doing?

This is a ‘lounge’ with several of these little infants on the wall. What’s the meta message here? I don’t like the looks of this Sodom and Gomorrah stuff.

We’re not ALL peace-loving hippies in Europe. Here’s where you can get your ammunition and arms-related accessories in the Hamburg

It’s been rainy most of the time since I arrived. Aside from a few fleeting moments of sunlight, one might think it only rains here. Not complaining…I love walking in the rain.

The Alster on a rainy morning…you can see the radio tower in the background.

Ok…how was that for a first chapter of the trip to Hamburg? On the itinerary for today? Fischmarkt, that church I showed you above, and some serious culinary adventuring. Who’s coming with?

Come on, don’t be shy.

 

 

 

 

 

a broken church in Hamburg

Always travel somewhere in mid October, and this year it’s going to be Hamburg again. In case you don’t know this already, Hamburg is my favourite Germany city. I love my adopted home, and Berlin has a fantastic bustling energy that makes me feel more creative.

 

But Hamburg? It’s is a dream. An unfulfilled one, but a dream nonetheless. One day I’ll live there. I just know it. Who cares where you live, right? It’s all the same damned thing.

 

Well, I’m not going to give into that sort of fatalism. Not me, baby.

 

There’s a church in Berlin that was bombed during WWII, and they left it as it was as a symbol to remind everyone of the horrors of war. That church is world famous, because it’s on Berlin’s Ku’damm, which was the Flaneur Mile of West Berlin during the Cold War, and you see it on the way to your upscale shops and such.

 

The one in Hamburg? Well, I suppose if you’re a local you know of it. Not like it’s hidden or anything. It’s right there in the middle of town, but the tourists are flocking to the harbour or the World’s Largest Model Train (Miniatur Wunderland). Who has time to go look at a broken church? Well, I do and I will.

 

More on this in October.

Broken Church in Hamburg

my rays of sunshine

Before there was even the thought of Ella and Louis – the Magyar Vizsla brother and sister that I talk and write about a great deal – before them there was a dog who came walking up to our car on a little road in southwestern South Dakota on the way from Sturgis down to Colorado. There was no intention of taking this dog. None. She was a mop of very dirty black hair, and looked painfully hungry. After giving her a bit of food, she jumped into the car and insisted that she was coming with us. Clearly of her own volition.

Lyle in snowy Colorado

Her name was Lyle, and there was something about her that I’d never experienced as a dog lover. See when I was a child, we always had dogs. My brother Michael had an incredibly strong connection to each one, but the very first dog, Dandelion, lived an astoundingly long time and he was especially fond of her. So much so that when she died, he was unconsolable. From my perspective, this was preposterous. ‘What’s wrong with you?‘ I wanted to ask him. ‘The old dog’s gone, which means we get a brand new dog. Maybe even a puppy.‘ He only wanted Dandelion. Once again, this made no sense to me.

So, back to Lyle. Brought her to Germany, and she was my only responsibility in the early days when I was still polishing my German. She’d run alongside my bicycle as I went to get papers from the main train station. She’d watch German television with me and offer sympathy when I insisted that I’d never get this language.

She was the perfect café dog. For hours, she’d sit next to me as I nursed my tea (sometimes even a coffee) and read book after book in my native tongue and sometimes even struggled through the daily papers in the adopted one. She was simply happy to be alongside me.

You see where this is going, right?

Lyle and me

In late January 2005, Lyle was healthy one day & violently ill the next. Before I could even consider taking her to the vet, she was up through the night unable to sleep. Took her out to the street in the middle of the night and she desperately wanted to go deep in the snowy bushes and be left alone. I held her the rest of the night and sometime around dawn she died in my arms.

I was suddenly my brother who I’d ridiculed. For months, I cried everyday. She had been my companion in such dark, frustrating moments. I didn’t want a shiny new puppy. I wanted Lyle.

Still brings tears to my eyes when I think about her.

Sometimes you really need more time to grieve the passing of a pet. And anyone who says they need more time…

I completely understand that. Without reservation.

But in this case, the only way to still the waves of inconsolable emotions was to get a new dog. Or in this case two new dogs. Then there it was written in the local Munich paper:  ‘Hamburg family has Magyar Vizsla puppies‘. Went to get them at Easter time. In the photos, they were still tiny. They were anything but small when I first saw them. The thing that sealed the deal for me was Ella laying next to me on the bench at the family’s house in Hamburg, and she began to purr. Just like a cat. She still does it to this day. It’s easily the most adorable thing she does, which says a lot. Louis was very standoffish. Over the years, he’s grown to become anything but that.

Here they were when they were still quite small:

Louis (on the left) and Ella as puppies

And if you know me at all, you know that my day revolves around these two. Happily. I’m sure I’d go outside if I didn’t have them begging to be taken, but I wouldn’t go as often. Or for as long.

I literally have hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of them. I’m loathe to include too many, but here are some of my favourite:

earnestness
Ella listing to the port side
in the autumn leaves
Going up Wendelstein-one of our favourite hikes
serious glove tug
goodnight happy dogs

Happy Birthday my rays of sunshine. You give so much more than you take. Thanks to all of you reading for loving them too.