WARNING, THIS IS A LONG POST. BUT THERE ARE LOTS OF PHOTOS, SO BROWSE AWAY.
Moin Moin meine Lieben!
As promised, here’s a post about my 21st birthday and everything I got up to with my parents while they were here for a few days.
We were on the go every day, and I was so exhausted by the end of the weekend, that I began this working week a bit like this:
But I have to say, it was entirely worth it to spend a few days with two of my favourite people, and of course to get to see a bit more of this beautiful city!
So, here we go:
My birthday started with breakfast with my Mum at her hotel, which is just down the road from where I live. Before you say anything/curse me for being such a cold-hearted daughter, I did offer a place in my little flat, but, perhaps wisely, she said she’d book a room anyway.
After breakfast, I headed off to work for a little bit. The only class I had that day were lovely; they knew it was my birthday, and so as soon as I walked in the door I was met by a mixture of English and German well-wishes. I took my seat at the front, and my mentor teacher started to go through the register, but when he was about halfway through, I looked up because one student was nudging another, and then before I knew it, they had launched into a heavily-accented, yet very lovely, rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never quite mastered the art of what to do when people are singing Happy Birthday to you. I find it a very sweet, yet quite embarrassing experience, in all honestly! It was lovely of the class to do so though, because they did it of their own accord.
My working hours flew by, and by the time I had finished at school, my Dad had arrived in Hamburg from Bonn. I went back to my flat and my parents met me there, and I had another little rendition of Happy Birthday sung to me by them, complete with a little cake brought over from England by my Mum.
It was, of course, a Halloween-themed cake, which made me a very happy Halloween baby bunny!
We headed off into the city, and went on the search for the truly German speciality that is, Bratwurst. We found an Imbiss (takeaway type thing) by the Rathaus (Town Hall) which had them, and my Dad and I ordered while my Mum went to have a look at a nearby memorial. My Dad called over to her, and asked whether she wanted mustard on her sausage.
Well, what ensued is known in German as a Lachkrampf (fit of laughter). I may well have been the youngest out of the three of us, yet it wasn’t me who lost it. No, no, dear Reader. It was my Mum. Never did I imagine that my parents would fall about laughing at a phallic joke in front of the town hall in Hamburg on my 21st birthday. Never. But so it was. This photo was taken about one minute before the mustard/sausage incident.
The woman behind the counter had no clue what was going on, but she was crying with laughter at these foreign people also crying with laughter, so it was good spirits all round!
I had booked a table at a bar overlooking the harbour for that evening, at a place called 20Up, which is on top of the Empire Riverside Hotel. The bar is, as you may have guessed, on the hotel’s 20th floor, and has a phenomenal view over the city. You have to book usually, because it’s one of the most loved bars around.
We went from here down to the harbour front, where we eventually got a table at the Hard Rock Café. They were really taking Halloween seriously there, and all the staff were dressed up. One was some sort of mutant rabbit, and that was actually terrifying. Most of them, however, were brilliant. This is the scary rabbit thing, and I was in the same position as that man at one point, and let out a proper scream when I turned around.
While I was not amused, my Dad was.
Remember that thing I said earlier about feeling a bit awkward when people sing Happy Birthday to you? Well, imagine everyone in the Hard Rock Café singing it to you, while you’ve just been presented with some ice-cream with a candle in it. This happened.
Embarrassing, yet very kind and yummy, times. My Mum had a little witch’s hat on, and I had my little spider thing, and my Dad joined in a little with a glow-in-the-dark necklace worn as a crown/halo. Even the man dressed as Braveheart did a double take.
This more or less wrapped up my actual birthday itself, but of course we didn’t miss the chance for a photo op at the Alster earlier in the day.
Having my brother, Chris, with us would have made it even more perfect, but unfortunately he’s all grown up and things, so work got in the way a little. He was absolutely there in spirit, though!
Friday was spent as tourists, and I took my parents to have a look around Sternschanze. If you’ve been there, you’ve probably been to Rote Flora, or at least been past it. Rote Flora is, well, terrifying. During the day, and night actually, there are always lots of homeless people gathered on mattresses by its steps or in front of its graffitied walls. It does actually host club nights, but when I told my Mum that I’d never been there, and had no intention of going, she visibly relaxed. We then went down the road to a café called Herr Max, which is very ‘shabby chic’, and does amazing cakes!
While we were there, my Dad phoned the ticket box office of o2 World, which is home to Hamburg’s ice hockey team, the Hamburg Freezers.
Ice hockey is brutal, and, not to give you the wrong impression of me, I absolutely loved it! Never did I think that it would be ok for one player to brake using another player. What I mean by this isn’t ‘braking’ as such, but more like slamming someone else into the side of the rink, and then shooting off back into play while the other person recovers.
This reminded me a little of a story I once heard about my Granny. She once went to a boxing match with my Grandpa (I think it was army organised, but I’m not sure). Anyway, she went in, apprehensive and a little perturbed at the thought of two men beating each other up, and passing it off as a spectator sport. Within about five minutes, however, she was the loudest of the bunch, screaming, ‘HIT HIM! HIT HIM!’
It definitely runs in the family.
The atmosphere was incredible, and it’s clear that the team has some serious supporters. Someone had a drum, and for the entire match (I now know that ice hockey games are split into 20 minute thirds) the fans chanted and waved flags. This, dear Reader, is where the title of this post comes in. Imagine this to the tune of Yellow Submarine:
‘Wir ziehen Bayern die Lederhosen aus, die Lederhosen aus, die Lederhosen aus!’ (‘We take off Bavaria’s Lederhosen!’)
Now, the Hamburg Freezers were playing Red Bull Munich, so unfortunately this Bavarian chant can’t be used every single match. Anyway, it was a 3-2 win for the Freezers, and I went away that evening with a new love for ice hockey, as well as a Freezers scarf, emblazoned with Der Norden Sind Wir (We are the North) on it.
I also went away though, a little embarrassed. There were no goals in the first third, but when the first goal was scored, my parents let out a huge cheer. They, my dear friends, were cheering for Munich’s first goal. We had swapped ends, dear Reader. I didn’t look at anyone else’s reaction, but I imagine it was a little like this (if you don’t know this little girl, just Google ‘chloe youtube disneyland’):
Anyway, the rest of my extended birthday celebration was full of tours galore. On a bus, on a lake, and round the harbour; we certainly saw a lot of this city!
We also went up to the most famous viewing platform which Hamburg has to offer. That is the Michaeliskirche. It’s a beautiful church which has been rebuilt a few times. A few hundred years ago there was a fire in it, and it burned to the ground in an hour and a half. Fortunately, it’s been fire-free for quite some time, so we were able to enjoy the view across the city.
We also went down into the main church bit itself, but the only comment my parents made in there was one likening the church’s pulpit to a coffee pot with a lid you can flip up. Yep.
They do have a point.
Well, we have now more or less approached the end of my birthday celebrations with my lovely parents, but the excitement wasn’t over. No, no. Someone fell asleep on my mum on the tube, and that was a really fitting impression of Hamburg for her.
The people are friendly, after all!