Tag Archives: germany

The Alster // Hamburg, Germany


Leica Minizoom // 35 mm, 200 ISO

Hamburg is a city defined by water, weaving between centuries old factories and centers of trade, churches and modern flats under a vast network of bridges that outnumber Venice and Amsterdam combined. The chief body of water in Hamburg is the Alster, a tributary of the river Elbe, forming two lakes in the center that give the city its identity, not necessarily by what the water adds, but by the space it takes and the land it leaves to man. Giving one the sense that from the Alster’s edge, one finally has the requisite distance to appreciate what’s in front of them, on the far side of the shore.



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To my brother who found his wife.

I’m at it again, corn-cob pipe in hand with a steaming cup of coffee: The promenade a story below, watching as the morning cyclers go streaming by. It’s a cool grey morning here in Muenster, Germany, and it’s good to be back.

I spent a month here not so long ago, and I’ve returned to be my brother’s best man. It’s only been about a year since we were in Vietnam where he met a German girl from Muenster; today, he’s getting married and I’m getting another amazing sister. Making me the last free man of five brothers.

Congratulations guys, love you both.

Sam and Saba

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Our shadows will outlive us all

One hundred and eighty three reflections of sky and trees and bricks and mortar in a grey-blue field.

I got out of the apartment today and took a long walk around the promenade, getting my ol’ shutterfinger some exercise. The air was crisp and cool as I walked around the lake, watching the sun slowly turn the same color as my nose while my feet led me mindlessly toward the coffee shop in the center of town. It’s been some time since I sat alone at a table, watching and writing, thinking about everything and nothing.

It felt wunderbar. (It’s a shame I’m leaving Germany soon, what with my incredibly vast knowledge of Deutsch and all).

Meanwhile, Weinnacht (or “Wine Night” — what those funny Germans call Christmas) is running at full speed in the city center, with stalls selling sausages, champignons and gluhvein (a mulled wine mixed with rum). The hectic bustle adds another flavor to the ice-cold streets, making me feel all nice and cozy inside. Never mind, that’s probably the gluhvein.

Anyway, here are a few pic’s from today’s walk/food stall sample-fest. And if you’re wondering why there aren’t any pictures of the food, it’s because I ate it before I remembered to take a picture of it. Priorities.

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Through fog and glass

I’ve been having a tough time coming up with words, or even letters to press with my faltering fingers. They rest more often than they need, and their orders come in short gasps between thoughts. But sometimes all it takes is getting started.

I’m back in Munster after a weekend trip to Hamburg, a very lovely harbor city that has 100’s of rivers and tributaries winding their way peacfully through the cityscape. (According to my brother according to wikipedia, it has more bridges than Amsterdam, Venice and London, combined.)

The weekend was short, and we spent much of it celebrating (and recovering from) Saba’s 30th birthday. Hamburg has that bigcity air of excitement, as if the collective breath is always being held in prolonged anticipation.

After our day of post-celebratory-rest we visited the graffiti-lined buildings and bumper-sticker streets of the St. Pauli area, which reminded me of Portland and its hipster inhabitants, giving me some sharp, though perfectly manageable, pangs for home. After some Kartoffel and beer, we jumped back on the straight-and-flat freeway the Nepalese could only dream of and headed home.

The fog-lined fields and forests of the German countryside glowed quiet and mysterious as we drove the three-hundred kilometers home, every so often a giant arm of a wind-turbine would swoop beneath the thick upper layers of fog and cloud only to disappear again on its upward journey, a modern contrast to the ancient land.

The thin elms and oaks in quadrangle stands made my mind imagine medieval times, a thickly bearded man in armor and helm galloping at full speed toward the castle atop the hill. Wierd? Maybe. But for some reason the past doesn’t seem so distant here, and it’s all too easy to romanticize those moments lost in thought as cars zoom past us on the autobahn traveling speeds only witches could conjure…

After weeks in Germany, I sit at “home” drinking coffee and waiting for Sam to get back from his morning German classes. I am no longer a traveler, merely a visitor. I browse the news, watch tv, and eat cured meats the Germans have perfected. Occupy Wall Street dominates the news. I even witnessed the “Occupy Munster” march, which consisted of one or two men yelling out of a loud speaker as a large contingent of police escorted them safely through the streets.

My buddy Loco and I watch the protests

It has become a global movement, and say what you will about the purity of their intentions and list of demands, at least they are doing something for a cause they believe in, and not just whining about it on Facebook.

But the buzzer buzzes and Sam is back, so off I go.

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The Fall

Orange-clad trees obscure baseless spires of stained-stone churches


Rosy-cheeked runners breathe dragon-bursts of foggy mist.


Cobblestone streets grow cold and gather leafy folds of fresh decay.


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Welcome to Westphalia: the western world

The sun caught up to us as our plane landed in Germany, illuminating the grey skies and grey buildings and grey-green trees of the German landscape. A chill I haven’t experienced since the Annapurna’s cut through my yak jacket, the Fall air a welcome feeling after the hotmuggy stink of the plane.

I’m back in the first world. The lack of trash littering every niche and crevice evidence enough of that, and it’s good to be back. Though, seeing coffee for five euros is a blow to my price-bank. Higher prices, less trash, or lower prices, more trash?

Anyway, after a brief stopover in Bahrain, the journey is about to come to an end, and thankfully I made it through the plane-ride without getting into a fight with the man behind me. I don’t know what it is about people and plane seats (or people in transit in general), but a flip gets switched into self-preservation mode and social mores seemingly go out the window.

I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be up to for the next month with very little money and a lot of free time (maybe I’ll sell some of my Yak-gear on the streets to make some coffee-money), But I’m excited to be reunited with my brother.

The train is gliding through the Fall-tinged valley as I write, yellow vineyards and red earth zig and zag up the slopes as squat Tudor houses gather in crowds to look out across the river on the valley floor, their mansard roofs pulled low over their Easteregg Shells.

As I glance out the window, I’m shocked at how CLEAN the rivers are. One of the sadder aspects of Kathmandu was the level of degradation and pollution done to the rivers that ran through the town. Islands of trash and debris, and the hovering fog of shitstench permeated the air to a degree that I had to hold my breath as I crossed the footbridge.

But now, in the hills of Westphalia, the sun is starting to rise above the hills, casting the yellow-cloaked oaks with a lonely glow out of place amongst the early grey. The train is smooth, so much more so than others in India and Thailand, and my eyes are starting to droop as I stare out the window. In an hour, I will be in Münster.

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