seven quick takes…

…which are totally pointless but at least tangentially related to my work/research/productive things, so this can totally count as progress, right?

Basically, boring week = boring post.

1. I became a student member of the International Water Association to attend that conference in Patras, and now I get their magazine every two months, which is pretty cool. The current edition’s cover story is about “Hamburg’s lead on water and energy,” which gives me hope that maybe one day I could live or work at least part-time in Hamburg… because I’d be down with that.

2. Also, I’ve only read about three pages so far, but the frequency with which the “water-energy nexus” has already been discussed is very encouraging, since I’ll be focusing my master’s research on the interconnectedness of water and energy to some extent!

3. I really long for the day when I will actually feel motivated to work. It’s been rough goings here lately, but my report is coming along… even if the pace is glacial. (Geography puns!!!!!!!) My professor even liked my first chapter, and the revisions for that are coming along! However, my day-to-day motivation to actually get to the library, first of all, and then to remain focused when I get there… are… I don’t want to say non-existent…

4. Ok, that was headed in a bad way, so we’ll change gears. People who knew me in college will know that my favorite day of the whole semester was the day when the new course schedules would come out, so I could plan my projected classes for the next semester… color-coded and prioritized into plans A, B, and C, of course. I’ve started the process for my first semester of graduate school, and there wasn’t all that much to decide, but who knows what kind of obstacles I’ll run into when it comes time to register? As I have it drawn up now, I’ll be taking the intro class for my Energy Analysis and Policy certificate, Energy Economics, Benefit Cost Analysis, and Water Resources Institutions and Policies. I know that probably sounds super boring to everyone but me, but I’m pretty jazzed about it!

5. I’m giving a group presentation in my Physical Geography of North America class about water use, demand, and resources in North America/the US! It should be really interesting. We’re starting work this week.  Of course it will all be in German but if I was able to totally make a fool of myself in fluent German this week in class with little to no preparation, I think it will go over nicely with 2ish weeks of prep.

6. One slide in our lecture today was a big map of the transport (train) networks of the US, and all I could think of was playing Ticket to Ride with family and friends… standing on chairs for a full view of the map, crying in the corner due to a missed connection et al. (hehehe.) All the major junctions were the same, but notably Sault Ste. Marie was NOT included. We may never find out what made it important enough to include in the first place…

The only way to fully appreciate the entire map and thus create a bonafide railway empire

The only way to fully appreciate the entire map and thus create a bonafide railway empire (stealthily passing cards under the table while the parentals aren’t looking notwithstanding)

7. I should really be working on my revisions right now so I’ll bring this post to a premature HALT… if anyone could go ahead and send me some packaged or bottled motivation of some sort… that would be great.

Advertisements

hanging with the hamburgers

(because that’s what people from Hamburg are called. It gets better; people from Frankfurt are Frankfurters.)

To round out my March of constant travel (excepting one birthday week in Dresden which I still need to write about), I took the bus to Hamburg on Friday to meet my dad, who was just finishing up a fortnight in Europe. He was like a dang college kid taking the train all over Switzerland, Germany, France, and England! I’m glad we got to meet up, because it was really great to spend the weekend together, and neither of us had ever been to Hamburg… we both loved it!

Sailboats and a view from across the Alster

Sailboats and a view from across the Alster to our hotel area

My dad was surprised to learn that Hamburg is actually Germany’s 2nd largest city after Berlin. It’s also one of three city-states (the third being Bremen). I’m just shocked, after having seen how lovely it is, that more Americans don’t choose Hamburg as a main destination in Germany, because let’s face it, Munich isn’t that great. (Unpopular opinion; no shame.)

It took us all weekend to sort of get a geographical feel of the city… it’s just not easy given the 4021 bodies of water. (Not an exact number.) Did you know that there are more bridges in Hamburg than in Venice?

DSC04784

On Friday night, we set out in search of a delicious seafood meal but it turns out that all the cool places are full on Friday evening! Instead we settled for some meatless Italian and then made our way to the basement of city hall, which apparently houses a bar! It was probably the most historic place I’ve ever imbibed.

Hamburg's famous Rathaus

Hamburg’s famous Rathaus

We took a (loooooong) guided walking tour on Saturday that taught us everything we could have ever wanted to know about Hamburg’s history… its founding by Charlemagne and subsequent Christianization, the importance of its harbor to North Sea trade with England, its membership in the capitalist Hanseatic League, its destruction by fire in the 19th century and firebombing in the 20th century, and its current drawn out and super expensive construction of the world’s best-acoustically-engineered symphony hall…

A monument in the town center memorializing the 40,000 Hamburgers who fought and died in World War I.

A monument in the town center memorializing the 40,000 Hamburgers who fought and died in World War I.

St. Michael's Church, which was destroyed during WWII and is now preserved in its damaged state as a monument.

St. Michael’s Church, which was destroyed during WWII and is now preserved in its damaged state as a monument.

The Chile-Haus, a "brick expressionist" building that looks like a ship and was built by a man who made his fortune trading salt-peter with South America.

The Chile-Haus, a “brick expressionist” building that looks like a ship and was built by a man who made his fortune trading salt-peter from South America.

In the Speicherstadt, the world's largest contiguous warehouse complex

In the Speicherstadt, the world’s largest contiguous warehouse complex

We then took to the harbor, the city’s pride and joy (and paycheck). We dined on the rooftop terrace of the Blockbräu brewery, enjoying the gorgeous view of the harbor. We forewent the hour-long, not-free harbor tour for the 10-minute, free-with-transit-card ferry ride. We wondered where all these people had come from and where they could have possibly been headed.

DSC04833

Throughout the course of the weekend, we enjoyed several leisurely walks through Hamburg’s biggest and most famous park, Planten un Blomen. Some parts were more scenic than others…

DSC04842

DSC04789

A huge, imposing, and frighteningly Stalin-esque statue of Bismarck, keeping the peace

A huge, imposing, and frighteningly Stalin-esque statue of Bismarck, keeping the peace

Some of the best scenery, in my opinion, could be found after nightfall on the Alster in Hamburg’s city center. The lights reflecting on the water were just gorgeous. Unfortunately, the lights reflecting on the water were also difficult to capture with my abused little point-and-shoot:

A shot taken during the day

A shot taken during the day

And at night

And at night

On Sunday we took a tour of the Rathaus (town hall), which is a ridiculously large and extravagant building to house the government of a city/state of only 1.8 million people. Miraculously, the building is all original as it was not destroyed at all during the war (even though over 65% of the entire city was wiped out)! Incredible. The rooms that we saw were intricately decorated according to different themes: the Imperial Room honoring Wilhelm II, the Room of the Republics depicting the famous republican city-states that Hamburg strove to emulate; the Phoenix Room symbolizing Hamburg’s rising from the ashes after the Great Fire (and later the Great War[s]). Due to some scheduling/Daylight Savings snafus (probably) we took the German tour and I got to flex my translating muscles to keep Dad clued in.

DSC04867

DSC04863

We attended an English Mass in a beautiful little outlying neighborhood before heading to Trip Advisor’s #1 recommended attraction, which had also been recommended to us by Grandma Lord, the Miniature Wonderland Model Train Emporium of Super Extravagant and Unnecessary Detail (I may have taken some liberties with the name). You could have spent seven hours in there, but we blazed through in 1.5. It’s three stories of tiny little worlds created with model figures and trains and plains and cars and fire trucks and what have you. They’ve recreated entire cities, states, and “countries” (the US was Cape Canaveral, Las Vegas, Sedona/the Grand Canyon?, Mount Rushmore, and an unidentified Christmasy mountain town. Close enough). The vehicles actually move, the lights change to create day and night, and there’s even an entire operational “airport”. Absolutely ridiculous!

The tiny model of the Miniature Wonderlands building itself as part of the larger Hamburg recreation...

The tiny model of the Miniature Wonderlands building itself as part of the larger Hamburg recreation…

I won't be returning to Neuschwanstein this year, so this was close enough.

I won’t be returning to Neuschwanstein this year, so this was close enough.

After re-charging with some beer and bratwurst (totally stereotypical, ugh), we did the obligatory Reeperbahn/St. Pauli thing and headed to Beatles-Platz, where the boys themselves are immortalized…

DSC04881

John, Paul, George, Ringo, and another Paul

We did a quick lap around the block in St. Pauli and decided to get out of there ASAP, heading back to our beloved Hafen City neighborhood to enjoy dinner in an old shipping warehouse that’s more slanted than the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

DSC04822DSC04879

Overall, I really did love Hamburg! It’s probably claimed a Top 3 spot among my favorite German cities (don’t ask me for my final list, I’m still formulating it) and I have no idea how I’ve lived a cumulative 10 months in Germany in my life and never been before! It has a kind of US-East-Coast vibe with a little London thrown in, but at the same time the whole town is totally relaxed. Our tour guide noted that it’s his favorite city to give tours of because he doesn’t have to compete with the traffic volume-wise. The history of the city is incredible (I couldn’t totally do it justice with my limited blogging patience) and all of the different waterfront environments are just gorgeous! In case you put any stock in my travel recommendations, know that Hamburg gets two big thumbs up (and my dad loved it too so he’ll corroborate).

And now, to hunker down in Dresden (also a Top 3 city, naturally) and get as much research done as I can before my next adventure!