First impressions of Hamburg
Hamburg by LuxTonnerre
isolde101 is a recent Oxford University graduate in Modern Languages currently working in Hamburg. Here she describes her preparations, journey and arrival in the city...
Packing and preparationI’m writing this post, on the other hand, at a less ungodly hour from Hamburg. The process of actually getting here was a pure test of physical fitness. Originally I’d hoped to pack all my things into just one big suitcase and a rucksack. Then again I’m going to be living here for at least a year and if the UK economy continues landsliding into a double-dip recession, possibly longer. In fact, my parents and most of my friends from university, whom I have all undoubtedly bored to death by going on and on about my love affair (in more ways than one) with Germany, seem to think that I will marry the man of my dreams here and become a dirndl-wearing buxom Hausfrau with five kids. Erm, no. Also, Hamburg is currently on the cusp between the sweltering humidity of a continental summer and the mild showers and falling leaves of autumn, so I had to be strategic about my clothes. A few dresses here and there but plenty of jeans and jumpers as well, not to mention my raincoat, of course. Apparently, it rains quite a lot in Hamburg, although no amount of downpour in the world could possibly compare with the torrential summer we’ve just had in Cardiff. At one point, everything felt so miserable and grey that my father seemed to have SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Anyway, in the end, I decided to take one big case, one small case and a big rucksack. All in all, they weighed about 40kg. My dad was in dismay; insisting that there’s no way I could carry all of that on my own. I was a bit more confident. Although my arms are puny and my back is narrow, I have some residual strength from the rowing regime at Oxford. Besides, the last time I came back from a long stay in Germany, I carried 60kg. That was a bit more challenging. Thank God that ALL German tram and metro stations have lifts and escalators. In Paris I was not so lucky and had to drag my case up and down what felt like all the rickety steps of the Sacre-Coeur.
Flights, arrival and accommodation in HamburgThe flight was uneventful; in fact, I slept through half of it. As I staggered out of the plane and into the blinding sunlight, I was hit full in the face by 30 degrees of heat. Eugh. I managed to navigate my way through the S-bahn and U-bahn to Rotherbaum, the district where I’ll be living until the end of September. I managed to snaffle a cheeky flat for 6 weeks through a very handy sitewhich lets you look for rooms (both short-term and for longer stays) in most German cities. I had a map and broadly knew where I was going and so I didn’t spend much time on the streets. I was, however, quite stunned – not only by the sheer beauty of the district itself but by the vitality and attractiveness of the people passing by. Everyone I saw looked radiant, toned and were impeccably dressed. I mean, Munich and its inhabitants were both impressive in their elegance but this was bourgeois chic coupled with healthy living on another level. I know that I’m going to sound terribly materialistic in saying this but I was also quite impressed by the beautiful, glistening, bullet-like cars that would glide through the roads… So far, so good.
Unpacking and getting locked in!I spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking. My flat is Spartan in terms of its furniture (my room has no curtains or cupboards) and looks as if no-one has ever lived in it. Nevertheless, it’s spacious, airy and in a great location so I’m definitely not complaining. In response to my grumbling stomach, I got ready to go out and buy something to eat. I locked my front door and just to make sure that I could get back in (German doors and locks have often completely mystified me in the past and this one would continue the tradition), I tried to unlock it again. Impossible. The key just wouldn’t bloody turn either way. It was completely jammed in the lock. After huffing and puffing for twenty minutes and battling and shoving against the door and its infuriatingly persistent lock, I hopelessly climbed up the stairs to ask a neighbour for help. In my search for someone who considered themselves ‘strong’ enough, I got to know quite a lot of them. Interestingly, the woman on the top floor had lived in London for twenty years and started to speak with me in perfect English. True to my British sense of embarrassment, I apologized incessantly for the ‘Stoerung’ (disturbance). She told me that her husband (a carpenter) would be home later and could maybe help me. I’m waiting for him to arrive now (managed to get in by ramming against the door for another ten minutes). How kind of them. I really hope it’s a small case of corrosion or something, as I really don’t want to stay in the house tomorrow waiting around for emergency locksmiths. In such a promising city, it would be a bit of a travesty if I couldn’t leave the house.
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