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Evil Jim

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09:40 pm: Day 3: Cologne to Hamburg
Ich bien ein Hamburger!

That's not what President Kennedy said when he was touring Germany but it's what the residents of Hamburg wanted him to say when he traveled to their city sometime after his famous speech in Berlin. Hamburg is where we went today & from where I am currently writing. A large part of today was simply driving from Cologne to Hamburg. Check your map & you'll see what I mean. It took about six hours drive time. Time enough at last to finish the excellent book, World War Z by Max Brooks. But that's another story.

Since the bus was delayed due to traffic we skipped stopping at our hotel to settle in & went straight to the center of town where we had our late lunch. It was in a food court type area with lots of little restaurants surrounding a narrow central eating area with tall tables & no chairs. All the convenience & variety of a mall food court with none of the tackiness. I was determined to get a hamburger while in Hamburg but was suddenly distracted by the delicious looking selection of grilled brats & sausages cooking at the frankfurter stand. The lady there was very helpful & I have to commend her customer service in both speed & quality. She also spoke perfect English. "Boiled or grilled? Spicy or not spicy? Garlic or no garlic? Mustard, ketchup? Potato salad with yogurt, vinegar or mayonnaise?" Once we got to her we were in & out of line in a couple minutes.

There wasn't much time to ourself after lunch because we had opted to take the side tour & cruise that afternoon so Dad & I didn't go much farther than around the block & up a couple of streets to get some pictures, especially of this huge, ornate copper roofed building at the end of the square opposite from where we ate. I don't know the building's name or purpose but I'm betting it's historic & civic. I have plenty of photos so I can identify it later if I remember.

I found a subway entrance so we ventured down the three flors to the tracks. There were no turnstiles or guards so I don't know how people pay to ride the mass transit system. I do know that the platform we found was loaded with ads for Converse Chucks, which I happened to be wearing at the time. Of course by then it was nearly time to meet back on the bus so we rushed back, stopping only to pick up a Hamburg ball cap for Dad since he inexplicably did not bring one on this trip.

The optional side tour began with a trip through Hamburg's Red Light district. And yes, I do mean that sort of Red Light district. Evidently prostitution is legal here. It's government regulated & the prostitutes pay taxes. There is still crime & problems with pimps & mafia types, but the average citizen isn't afraid to walk the streets at night. Which, by the way, is the only time the hookers are allowed to go out looking for business & only in certain areas. Naturally enough there is also a myriad of sex shops in that area. A whole string of the all down one of the streets we traveled. Sex toys & clothes & topless clubs with explicit advertising right on the street. It was definitely an eye-opener.

The cruise, unfortunately, was somewhat less interesting. Since the city is located where the river Elbe meets with rivers Alster & Bille there is a lot of water traffic. Huge shipping containers docked & loading, preparing for voyages to the rest of the world. Other ships in floating dry docks for repairs or renovations. One we saw was being cut in half so it could be elongated. All this was interesting to me in that I used to work with & unload shipping containers, but the majority of the tour was spent driving by these carriers & ships like them so my attention just drifted along. I also couldn't hear our guide through the PA since I was on the stern outside of the cabin & just about everything was drowned out by the roar of the diesel engines. I was much more interested in the warehouse district we drove through. Blocks & blocks of huge buildings surrounded by water. They said that Hamburg has more bridges than Venice. Of course, they also have more Germans than Venice so take what you will from the significance of that comparison. The buildings were really neat. Even those that weren't ornate usually still had interesting architecture beyond the merely functional. I remember lots of red brick buildings separated by narrow alleyways that our captain steered us through with the precision of a tour bus driver. It seems incredible that he didn't hit anything during those sharp turns.

The side tour took a little over an hour, then we were picked up by the bus & rest of the tour-goers & continued onward to an orientation of the city. There isn't much remarkable stuff to report as the bulk of the day was spent on the bus, but I believe tomorrow we head to Berlin, & I am a Jellydonut!

E V I L O U T -

P.S. Someone remind me to talk about the two-way windows & the pay toilets while I'm still out here.

Current Location: Hamburg, Germany
Current Music: Burnt Weenie Sandwich (album)
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