. During Christmas time...everyone and their uncle is going to the big cities for the Christmas markets, shopping, visiting family,etc. I guess this is the pay off of getting the discount.
Upon arrival in Hamburg, after having someones ass pressed against my back for over an hour (thank god he wasn't a taller German man....I would have been scared where the ass would have ended up then), I made the phone call to see where Anne, my friend from Berlin was. She was also coming to town, and convienently enough, her mom had a place in town that we could use as she was funny enough, gone to Ahausen to get away from the big city madnesss. Just as German clockworks...our trains arrived minutes apart and we meet on the top platform of the extremely overcrowded hauptbahnhof (train station). We made our way to her mom's place to drop our things of, and get ready to explore this new city. From what I had been told, Hamburg is a huge shipping docks, one of the biggest in Europe if I am not mistaken. This is a little confusing for me, because geographically, it looks to be a little to inland for that, but I was wrong. Also from long ago, this is where all the sailors would come to party when they were done their time at sea, so they would come to Hamburg looking for two main things. Women...and party. So til this day, Hamburg has kept its reputation of being the party hub of north, if not all, Germany. Anne and myself went to do a quick walk in the blistering cold waterfront along the docks
. We zigged and zagged through some of the little side street, over canals looking at the very modern looking buildings, among one of which was an ultra modern looking syphony house that was still under construction. The glass all the way up the sides of the building looked as though it was bubbling in and out. Every piece of glass on the 20+ storey building must have been customly made. I wish I would be around to see what this place would look like when it was fully completed, but I am sure that my travels may have me passing through Hamburg again sometime. That evening, Anne had made arrangements to meet up with a friend that she used to work with, who was living in Hamburg with his fiancee (I am so sorry, but for the life of me, I can't remember his name right now...Wolfie?). We met at the main Christmas market in the middle of the city, and not too far away from the dock area. Anne was anxious for me to try some drink that is quite famous in Germany around christmas time, known as Gluhwein. It is warm wine, served with a mixture of spices in it to add to the flavour. Sounded interesting...bring on the Gluhwein. But this drink was to come with a twist, or spike shall I say. You can get it the normal way, or you can get it with rum, or amaretto in it. The three of us grabbed out glasses of gluhwein + rum, and had a toast. Jeeeeeezzzzzz. I must say that at first taste, it was not going down easy. It felt like getting punched with alcohol. Leave it to the germans to think that there is not enough alcohol already in wine...they have to add rum to it as well
. At very least, it was going to keep me warm as the snow began to fall. After we had a few glasses in us, the three of us walked to check out the very cool looking christmas markets, with their very interesting displays of toys, tasty german treats, and knick nacks. There was even a real life Santa Claus that was suspended on a cable in his sleigh that went flying over the crowd every hour on the hour. You can tell he is a German Santa because of he was always on time! We parted ways after a couple hours of roaming around with Wolfie, and went home to get some food in us, and to get rehydrated for our night bender out on the town. We were off to visit the famous Reeperbahn, filled with strip joints, bars, and clubs of all sorts. The place was packed...or so I thought. Apparently it was rather quiet Anne informed me....I didn't seem to think so. The first place was this dive bar that she wanted to show me, I can't remember the name of it, but it was really funky. We walked into the dimly lit bar, that was filled with all kinds of old couches and furniture. The walls looked they haven't been updated since shortly after the way, with graffiti and tags all over them. We tried to find a pen to leave our own mark there. After a few Astra beers, we decided to move on to the next venue of the evening, another small bar, music punk and rock and roll music blaring. It was another cool bar, but wasn't really what we were looking for. Finally, we stumbled upon a bar called Headcrasher. This place was massive
! It was two floors with multiple rooms and types of music. The upstairs was more popular music, but the downstairs was rocking with heavy metal and hard rock. Now this....was my type of club. Rocking out to the music, the beers began to flow like Iguacu falls. I remember heading upstairs, and while ordering a another round at the bar, we bumped into younger tall german wanna be hiphop guy. Now nothing against German hip hoppers, but they just seem so fake compared to the people you see in the states. Like I mean come on dude.....your dad drives a Mercedes is an accountant for some big legal firm. How rough is your life?? Wanna be thugs. So this guy was trying to impress us by telling us that he was a writer for the most popular german hip hop magazine, but neither of us seem to give much of a rats ass. It was after this that he asked me where I was from, so I told him. "Holy Shit!!! A real live Canadian!!" he was saying as he was poking me, as if to see if I was real. I never thought that being a Canadian was so rare. I could understand if I was from some small island in the middle of the Pacific, but there is 30+ million of us. I guess he hasn't done too much traveling before. Either way it was funny to see his reaction, and after he bought us a few rounds in pure amazment, we decided to slip away, because he was drunk to the point of bumping into people. I could see a fight erupting because of him, and I didn't want to be anywhere around when this happened. Remember....Germans are usually big people, and I am not letting someone else organize a dental restucturing
. We decided to end the night on a good note. We managed to stumble our way back home via metro and taxi into the freezing cold night. I do vaguely remember running down the middle of a snow covered street after a taxi, but that part of the story can be left out......:) The next morning, Anne had to get going back to Berlin for work, so after a very slow wake up, we had breakfast, I walked with her to the train station where she was to meet her rideshare back to Berlin. We said our goodbyes, and off she went. Now earlier in the year, another friend of the family was going to be visiting Hamburg, which happen to work out the same weekend I was in town. Sandra, who is another German nanny that moved to Canada, and was coming home to see her friends and family for Christmas. She arrived in town late after being out with some of her friends and we went to grab a bite and walk the Reeperbahn area, although everything was all closed down. She told me that her and her friend were to be going to a Hammam, tukish bath house the following day, and she invited me to join because I had never gone while in Turkey. The following morning I met up with her and her friend Inga outside the Hammam. We went and changed into the approriate attire, and off we went to the massive steam room. In there, there was several other people, all lying down on a massive heated marble slab in the middle of the room. We got all covered in the hot water and went and relaxed until we were called for our turn to get the full treatment
. When we were called over, there were large marble tables with three very hairy Turkish men that were basically wearing loin cloths. I must say that it was one of the most relaxing experiences of my life. It was a full hour of getting massaged, bottom of my feet cleaned, head massaged....the works. I was literally jello when I left, and I was stuggling to keep my eyes open. Even though it was a short visit to Hamburg, it was quite eventful. I don't think i could have done more in the short period of time there. On my final day before leaving, I went and walked the christmas market one last time to see if I could find any small knick knacks to buy as gifts. I made my way back to the Hauptbahnhof, boarded my train, and headed back to Ahausen to spend some more time with Ester and Katharina, which I was looking forward to do in the quiet little town :)
Now I had been warned that Hamburg was the Amsterdam equivalent of Germany, with the large party section of town known as the Reeperbahn. The only thing it was missing was the smoke that makes Amsterdam so famous. On weekends, there is a discount ticket that you can buy, for something like 25 euros, and you can go anywhere in Germany, provided that it is only the slow trains....not the ICE speed trains. Another bonus that comes along with this ticket is that 1 ticket is valid for up to 5 people. Ester decided it would be better to ask the people in line to buy tickets at the machine if anyone was going to Hamburg, and if they would mind if I tagged along with their ticket. It would be win win situtation for both parties as I get a discount, and they would get a portion of their ticket paid for. Sure enough, there was an older lady going to Hamburg to visit her daughter, and she was ok with the idea. Luckily she spoke english as well. When the train arrived though, we had to almost push our ways into the cars