Tag Archives: hamburg

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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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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