Did you see the frightened ones? ....
Jul 21, 2013
|Did you hear the falling bombs?
The flames are all gone, but the pain lingers on....
Next stop…. Germany!
Traveling from the Netherlands to Germany was smooth and easy BUT much to my dismay, since it is all the EU Zone now, I did not have to go through Immigration and therefore did not get a German Stamp in my Passport. Not fair.
I arrived in Hamburg, Germany and was greeted by a friendly face at the airport - my friend Katrin whom I met last year in Namibia. She and her Mom were traveling in Africa and I had the pleasure of sharing the Cape Town to Windhoek segment of a tour with them. And as fate would have it Gov't Mule had a concert scheduled in Hamburg for the very next day. Perfect. Friends and music, ahhhh.
That first evening was spent getting caught up with Katrin and meeting her boyfriend Keith and getting to know him some. We walked to a great Thai Restaurant and chatted into the early hours of the morning. No worries, for me at least, they had to get up and go to work, me? I slept until well after noon.
Well rested (me, not Katrin) and raring to go, Katrin and I set out for Fabrik (an old bomb factory turned music venue). Gov't Mule played to a Sold Out crowd and blew the roof off the place. It was packed, and mostly with Mule fans which was a treat to see. My friend Slim got the sound just right and we danced, no one else in the place did (being German they were a little reserved - well at least until they got about 14 beers in them) but we danced. The show was amazing and the band rocked and we danced. After the show we met up with Warren and the rest of the band and gave our thanks for a wonderful evening. Then we took a taxi exactly one block (it wasn't the original plan) and payed 5 Euro to get out and walk back the same block we had just come. But it was worth it as there was a late night Italian Restaurant open and they were still serving Tiramisu and Cappuccino's!
I spent the next few days walking the city. There is an excellent public transportation system in Hamburg but I always like to walk and get the feel for a city. The weather was perfect, sunny and 28, and I walked. I wandered through neighborhoods, walked down to the St. Pauli FischMarkt, along Reeperbahn and the Red-light District. Met up with Katrin downtown and enjoyed a take-away lunch sitting and looking out over the water. Stopped into numerous cafes along the way and sipped espresso and watched the world go by.
By mid-week it was time to move on. With a little help form my friend I made it to the main train station and managed to buy a ticket, find the right track and hop a train to Berlin. I arrived at the main station in Berlin to the hustle and bustle of mid-work week, middle of the summer, madness. I decided not to take a taxi but to walk to my hotel and started to soak up the vibe immediately.
Berlin - wow! A city with a crazy story. It wasn't too long ago that it was still a divided city, a city with an actual Wall separating the East from the West. It wasn't until 1989 that the Wall came down and the city started to heal itself. Today, at least to my untrained eye, it is a vibrant, modern, vital city trying it's best to put the past behind it. But not without it's memorials and reminders to the turmoil and pain that will forever be a part of it's history.
I have never been to Germany or East Germany or to any place that was once behind the Iron Curtain. So for me it was an incredible experience to wander the cities varied tourist attractions and to walk in the footsteps of so many who struggled and suffered. All of that comes with lots of thoughts and emotions but to sum it up for me it boils down to this - It is always difficult, more like close to impossible, for me to imagine the control and fear it takes to get one human being to harm or kill another human being. My hope and dream is that people stop letting Governments (especially the USA) dictate when and who they should kill.
Okay, off my soap box, and on with my visit. I spent a few days, again in perfect weather, walking around Berlin. I went to visit the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), the Reichstag (German Parliament), Check Point Charlie, Berlin Wall Museum, Berlin Wall Memorial, Memorial To The Murdered Jews Of Europe, Topography of Terror, Tiergarten and so many streets and alleys and neighborhoods in-between. What an incredible living history lesson.
The highlight of my time in Berlin though was getting to spend a day with my friend Isabel. We met in Peru back in December trekking the Inca Trail together. She had said that if I was ever in Berlin ….. and well if you say that to me you just never know when I'll pop up. Isabel spent the better part of a day playing tour guide and we walked through the city as she pointed out the sites and shared the history with me. She also provided me with a candid look into what life is like in todays Berlin. Very cool.
That evening Isabel invited me to join her at a friends Garden for a party. (they have these really amazing green spaces set aside in the cities for the residents to be able to go out and relax and grow their own food and plants etc… - they are literally right in the middle of the city and when you are there you feel like you are out in the country - amazing!) So off I went to experience a real German "backyard" BBQ. I had a fantastic time. I met her friends and dined on fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden and of course BBQ'd chicken, beef, and pork and…. well, I don't know what else. I couldn't identify all of it but I ate it and enjoyed it, that much I know for sure.
What a gift it is to have good people take such great care of me in their country. So far my plan is working out perfectly - travel to Europe, see friends, don't be a tourist (well at least not a total tourist), catch some live music along the way, and just be.
So, Germany, friends, food, music ….