Make one entry about sex and the number of views boosts by the dozens. You saucy people you.
So! Now I’m in Hamburg. My friend, born and raised in the land of German folk, assures me that people who live in Hamburg are, in fact, called Hamburgers. This will amuse me every day for the rest of my life.
That fence up there is covered in locks signed by recently married couples. Cute tradition – I’ve seen it a lot in Japan, too (those can be just dating couples, too, though), so I wanted to take a memorial photo. I’ve been enjoying finding similarities between the countries I visit and Japan.
I and the friend I’m staying with are fans of the same Japanese entertainers, so we spent my first day here immersed in the duties and responsibilities of fandom. In other words, my exposure to Hamburg that first day consisted of sitting next to my friend, who is actually from “nowhere”/a very remote part of Germany.
Yesterday was actual sightseeing.
As we headed into the city center, I learned something surprising about Hamburg that I haven’t heard of existing in any other place (although it undoubtedly exists elsewhere). As we walked from the bus to the train station, I tugged out my bus ticket and asked her if I could use it later for the return trip. In Spain, I felt more comfortable with the language – even though I don’t speak it even close to comfortably, enough of Spanish resembles English that I could figure out what people were saying. In Germany, I’m thoroughly screwed. The grammar may be the same, but I’m much, much more dependent on my friend here than I was on O in Spain.
(However, whenever my German friend explains how things work, it seems easier to digest. I’m just not ready for tidal waves of it. Yet.)
Anyway, she said, “It’s good for the whole day. Until, like, three AM.”
I nodded, tucking it safely away, and we headed into the train station. We walked to the escalator, up to the platform, and I blinked.
A train was pulling away from the station. My friend said, “Ah, and there goes our train.”
I turned around in a semi-circle, investigating our surroundings, and realized, “The train is free?”
She blinked back at me. “No. You paid for a ticket, remember?”
That ticket she mentioned was good for public transportation all day. That’s pretty standard of the places I’ve been to. Where it gets unique is that, in Hamburg, there are no ticket gates. You walk into the station, and you take the train. You don’t have to swipe a pass or insert a ticket or even wave to a guy and tell him you paid. Nope, you just hop on and off the train and you’re done.
It’s all on an honor system. And occasionally, since honor systems are only effective some of the time, a dude will walk through the train and if you don’t have a ticket, he’ll eat your left arm. Or, like, fine you. I didn’t ask.
I thought that was pretty cool.
Then, as we traveled along the track into the city center, my friend told me something even more unique. Most cities have a red light district. Hamburg’s, according to my friend, is in a popular, people-want-to-live-there part of the city. Considering most of the red light districts I’ve seen are in seedy, dank parts of the city, this also surprised me.
I’ve decided to call it the Rare Hamburger District because it takes very little to amuse me.
After we had lunch at an Italian place (“No one in Germany eats at German restaurants,” my friend told me, “except in tourist areas where it’s expensive”), we walked through the Rare Hamburger District and sure enough, she was right. If I’d just walked through during the day on my own, I might not have guessed what it was. Apart from the brightly-lit, casually-placed sex shops every five meters, you’d think you were in any other part of Hamburg.
We walked through the biggest of them, a shop that looked nicer and cleaner and more stylishly designed than many high-end clothing stores I’ve seen, and amused ourselves browsing the objects therein. They had some gorgeous high-heeled shoes, but sadly out of my price range.