Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Terorist?

It's time to finish off our story about Hamburg. In the second week, there were not much going on, some of the lectures did not fit the field that we do, so sometimes, we sneaked out to enjoy Hamburg's city center a little bit more before we left. We bought some souvenirs for our family and friends, took more photos of us for memories in years to come... God, I still could not believe we went to Hamburg and not have to pay for it :)

So... our Hamburg trip came to an end on Saturday, 16 August 2008. 5.30 a.m. we were looking for a taxi, in front of our accommodation. The night before we were quite sure to get a taxi, because there is a taxi rank opposite where we lived, but in the morning, it was empty! I prayed and prayed in my heart, 'send us a taxi, Lord!' Well, we cannot really order a taxi by phone (I will say 'no way!' to the international roaming hahaha) Finally, we got a taxi, it was a Mercedes Benz! FYI, in Germany, the taxis are usually Volkswagen, BMW or Mercedes Benz! Cuman, ya itu... meteran taxinya cepet banget naiknya! Bikin sport jantung!!!

Arriving at Hamburg airport, we checked in and took some photographs and proceeded to the gate to wait for our flight. However, there is this one incident that was quite nerve-racking for us... I was called by the security, 15 minutes before the boarding. Lan was already scared and panicked, while I was taken by the police because of my luggage!
Luckily, I packed all the luggage by myself AND it was put under my name during the checking-in (otherwise, if it was put under Lan's name, he would not have a clue!). It turned out to be that they could not see what is inside the suitcase when they scanned it! One compliment that I got from the police is "you packed your suitcase so good and dense, that we cannot even look through it!" Hahahaha....

So, we flew back to Manchester, safe and sound... but somehow, the landing was not good. I got sick for a week afterwards huhuhu...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

H8 & H9 - Two weddings and a Euro!

Our second Saturday started with Lan's lead to have a walking tour around the harbour and around the newly developing area Hafencity. We took the U-bahn to Landungsbrücken. We headed, first, to the old part of the harbour, where the old port buildings are still standing strong and firm. Millions of red bricks, one after another, holding those buildings together, which are changing from the used-to-be ports to cafes, restaurants, storage houses and, even, carpet shops! The wind was a little chill that day, but we kept walking...

The old's are soon outnumbered by the new modern and fascinating buildings, which are promised to be all finished by 2010 as the new face of Hamburg; new flats and office spaces, which looks so futuristic! I have to say, Germans are very hard and diligent people! They are up early and finished later than any other western worlds. I have seen those public workers already in the middle of their jobs renovating the road before 09.00 a.m. and not even showing signs of going home at 06.00 p.m. They really do their job quick and precise! Unlike the people in UK; rain comes they stop, before 05.00 p.m. they have gone home! I remember it took more than a year just to pave a small pathway! Oh dear...

one weddingAfter seeing enough of Hafencity, we went to Katherine Church, where we spotted a wedding ceremony just finished! They looked as the happiest ones in the world! From there, we spotted a dark tall roof, which we guessed as a very old church. As we came closer, it was surrounded by a garden of roses, but somehow gave us spooky feeling. It is a building, which was built to commemorate people, who died during a war, but then was firebombed, leaving it ruined.
We could have gone up by the lift built inside to see Hamburg from above.... Oh my, nothing comes free these days! So, we gave it a miss! Instead, we just took several photos of it. Still... spooky!

Enough of the city center, we took U-bahn to Sankt Pauli this time! Sankt Pauli is famous as the red-light-district of Hamburg. Mmmm... Interesting? Hehehe...
Time hit the middle of the day, so before we continued our journey, it was time to fill in our hungry stomachs! A small kebab take away was our choice, except, we did not really eat kebab! I somehow managed to find that 'currywurst' is German's traditional food; One long sausage, served with fries and some curry ketchup! It turned out quite tasty, we must say!
Then, continuing our journey, we tried going in and out some of the 'shops' around the streets of St. Pauli and I ended feeling sick and disgusted! Really... not my cup of tea!

However, that was not the only interest we were in St. Pauli. There is St. Michel, the famous beautiful Catholic church of Hamburg that we wanted to visit. Following Lan's guide, after nearly 1 KM (spotting a pizza hut, a burger king and a KFC all in the same main road of St. Pauli!), we found out we were in the WRONG direction! We went, simply, the opposite...
After turning back and walking quite far, we saw the tip of the building! Blackish tower with a golden clock on it, standing so magnificently! And guess what?! There was another wedding ceremony! Oh my... It reminded me of our wedding, made me want to do it all over again; the happiness, the nerves, the walking-down-the aisles!
Unfortunately, it is not allowed to take pictures inside the building... Although, I must say, really, beautiful! The classical curves painted white and gold, really breath-taking!

After so much awe inside the church (and, somehow, waiting for the wedding ceremony to finish), we walked our way back to the U-bahn, intending to go home, only to find another interesting event: Hamburg DOM! It is like... a temporary theme park, with a lot of wild rides, scary games, shooting games, plenty of food stalls, drink stalls (non and alcoholic drinks!) and many-many-many people in a big piece of land!Hamburg DOM All in all, I think we spent at least two hours going around all places.
We did not go on any rides (thinking mostly about our budgets, here!), but we did try some of the snacks they sold there; Schmalzkuchen, €2.00 per 100 gram, it is like donuts cut into squares and clothed with sugar. Really nice and smooth! With the day being hot and bright, people are really taking their time enjoying the rides, food and drinks there!

our photo!There is this ONE stall that caught our attention, though... A stall where we did not even mind waiting for 30 minutes for the stall owner to come back with his tools! It was for him to make a picture of both of us... Not with a camera, but with a black paper, a pair of scissors and a white A4 paper! We were so pleased with the result, that we thought €20.00 was really worth it for the 2 pictures he made. What a talent he had, it did not take him long, either, only about 20 minutes and it was done! Look at the picture on the right! Do you think, it really looks like us?

Sunday: We had rest the whole day before heading out to Colonnade street to have some dinner. We must say, there are SO many Italian restaurants there!! What's with the German's restaurant?
Anyway, we decided to eat in an Italian restaurant named Tiffany's. And we got a small incident happened when we paid the bill! It came down to €21.00. And I gave €22.00, when Lan said there is a Euro coin in my wallet. But I said "It's OK" (meaning... it's OK giving them 2 Euros coin, they will give me the change anyway!) The waitress took the money and never came back with the receipt nor the change! We waited a good 10 minutes at least!
So Lan went and asked for it from the waitress (We were not being stingy, it is our University policy that we cannot give any tips! Unless we pay the tips from our own pocket off course!). The waitress said, "The lady said 22 Euros is OK!" WHAT?! I have to say she was RUDE!
First, to butt-in and listened to our conversation. Second, for making assumption from her eaves-dropping! Although I have never been a waitress before, usually we assume it is a tips if, after given back the change, the guest leave the money on the table! At the end, we did get our one Euro back. Phew...
What is it with the Italian restaurants? We had 2 unexpected experiences BOTH in Italian restaurant! (Read this one, if you don't get me!) So, after that, we agreed not to enter any Italian restaurants in Hamburg until we go home hahahaha...

Ps. All photos can be seen in HERE.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

H3..H7 - Sommerkurs (Week 1)

As the new week begun, our summer school begun. The first class starts at 9.15am and the last class ends at 18.45 a.m. You can imagine how exhausted we become each weekday after the class. Still we had pretty interesting experience...
Mensa cafe: Our last meal there...Universität Hamburg: Beautiful architecture, Strong wireless connection through out the campus, and, one most important thing is the student canteen!!! They give special subsidised price for students, the menu changes everyday; they provide several different foods, including vegetarian menu, salads (€1 per bowl), and yummy desserts (85¢ each bowl). They had Salmon (big portion) for €4.00 and yummy beef steak for about the same price as well... I have to say the students here are really spoiled!
Lan and I really wish we have such a canteen in Liverpool. Mansa canteen (that's the name) is always crowded each day with students, lecturers and even some family with little kids! Two thumbs up for Universität Hamburg!

Inside RathausRathaus townhall: Monday afternoon, after the last class, we, the whole group of ESSLLI participants, walked to the townhall for a special reception. The Senate of Hamburg had invited us to the reception to welcome us. Remember that on the first day we went to the townhall? Well, this time is even better, we get to see the private halls that the normal tourists cannot enter. Inside, it is really beautiful and magnificent! The classic decorations painted golden yellow with hanging chandeliers made us feel royal. Simply astonishing!

Sick: Started with a little ulcer, which then grew so huge that I felt my face was swolen, I was feeling exhausted and ill on Monday. Lan dragged me home early that day, without going to all the lectures we supposed to go... Then Tuesday, I stayed in while Lan went to the lectures by himself. Sleeping almost for the whole day made me felt much better afterwards.

What beautiful experiences we are having! I thank God for this wonderful journey in Hamburg; we gain knowledge, we get some holiday as well, and yet, we are very close to not spending a penny nor a cent (except for our own souvenirs of course!) for this beautiful trip! Truly one rare chance in a life time! Praise God!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

H2 - Crap pizza & free ice cream

University of HamburgSunday, 03 August 2008, we allowed ourselves to sleep in a little longer before we hit the road around lunch time. This time was a journey to the ESSLLI (summer school) site, that is the Universität of Hamburg. Taking train from Borgweg to Hoheluftbrück, we then got on the bus number 5, as instructed in ESSLLI website. Got off at Staatbibliothek, we guessed our direction to the main university building. Voila! We got it right!
We got there about 01.00 pm, hoping that we can register early so that we can continue our adventure. However, I have to put my thumbs up for the Germans, they are really strict and on-time! Hence, Lan suggested we have some lunch first. Not really knowing anywhere, we dragged ourselves to Dammtor train station, which is opposite the university.Dammtor Station This train station (S-bahn) serves journeys between regions and province, whereas, the train we took earlier (U-bahn) is an intracity train. Inside the station, there are some souvenir shops, bakeries, cafe and a McDonald! I have to say that here in Hamburg, we have only seen 2 McDonalds, no KFC, and no Pizza Hut! And yet, we never find it difficult to find places to eat, Hamburg has a lot of restaurants and cafes, which, although little, they all look cozy, unique and so inviting! What's more surprising is that most of them are quite affordable!

We decided to eat at Burgmann cafe, a nice little cafe and cozy seatings. I ordered chicken Schnitzel and Lan had chicken wings, which both came with some delicious salad. €5.70 for those food! Afterward, I had a rumkugel (bola-bola coklat) at a bakery there, huge and I can truly taste the rum! Very nice! 02.00 pm, time to return to the university to register.

Hamburg cruise daysAfter registration, we went back home and had some rest before we then went to Hamburg's harbour, the famous Hafen city, to watch the Hamburg's cruise days, that is 7 big and famous cruise ships parade and some fireworks later on. Those ships are trully giant, when the horns were blew, I can't help myself from covering my ears, so LOUD! The parade finished around 09.30 pm, we were starving then... so we went to grab some dinner before the fireworks, which ought to start at 10.30 pm.
We chose Luigi's Italian restaurant, which seemed to be very crowded and popular, only to get disappointment. Lan ordered pizza Luigi and I ordered Fettucini Carbonara, which we only got it about 45 minutes later!!! And the food was not so tasty! Lan's pizza was very hard, as if it was overcooked, and my Carbonara was nothing more than ordinary. Plus, because of that, we missed the fireworks! *sob*
Well, I guessed... sometimes in travelling, we get to get unpleasant experience to remember too...
A glimpse of Hamburg at night
Still, a thumb up for the restaurant... When I asked for the bill, our server came not with the bill, but with a bowl of ice cream. He said, "This is for you. For the late coming, ya?!" They are quite responsible for their mistake, indeed! The ice cream was delicious. We did not take any photos of our dinner this time, because we were so hungry, angry and disappointed. We even missed taking photo of the ice cream huhu...
Well, after that, we went back home. Tired and sleepy... The wind was chilly...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

H1 - Hamburg City Centre

Halo! That is how Hamburger (Hamburg people) say 'hi' to each other. Hehehe...
We are in Hamburg now, very happy and excited! Hamburg is a city of water, they say. The buildings are artisticly beautiful and historical! Here is the story...
05.18 a.m. we got on the first train from Liverpool to Manchester Airport with heavy eyes but full of excitement. I kept asking myself "Could this be true? We are going to Hamburg!". We had a small incident, arriving at the airport... I almost believed that I forgot the keys for the suitcases locks at home, in fact, it was hidden under Lan's wallet in our backpack.

After checking in in Terminal 1, we looked around the terminal, it was our first time to be in T1, where all flights to Europe are located in. Usually we go to T2 for all the other International destinations.
09.10 a.m. we are ready to go, seating at 12A and 12C, it is the smallest plane I have ever been! It looks like a mini jet and the stewardesses' heads almost touch the ceiling of the plane! The passengers were only have full, there were only 13 rows of seats with 4 seats in each row... Well, our Lufthansa flight flied high taking us to Hamburg.

One hour and 15 minutes later, we arrived safely at Hamburg Airport, the bus picked us up when we stepped down the plane, we can even see our luggages were being unloaded from the tail of the plane. By the time we got into the terminal, there were our luggages, ready to go! The immigration was not very long, either! The officer looked a bit scary though and really checked our passports before stamping them and saying "Welcome".

We got on bus (H-bahn) number 110, to get to the University of Hamburg first to sort out our accommodation. We almost got lost, because we had to change from bus to train (U-bahn/underground), and apparently there is a construction work going on... Thank the Lord, someone helped us to get into the right track. Hamburger, although they don't speak perfect English, they are very friendly to us.
After the accommodation is sorted out, we started our journey!

We did not want to waste our 1-day ticket, so we went to city centre and walked around. But, before that, we had our late dinner, kebab at Denniz grill, very very delicious and reasonable price.

First stop, city hall. Beautiful old but clean and tidy building! We were lucky to see some kind of food and wine festival right in front of it. After taking some photos, we walked again. Hamburgers drink and smoke a LOT! We don't really enjoy breathing their smoke :(
Second stop, gay and lesbian parade. Loud music, stalls that sell alcohol, chaos and huge crowd! Some people they dance as if they are in night club! They dressed up too... I asked Lan to leave, because it was so crowded that I started to get dizzy...
After that, we just walked around spotting some famous brand shops; Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Escada and many more... We guessed it was the High class shopping district...

Time went fast, it was already 07.00 pm. Time for dinner! We gave a try at Chai room, an Indian restaurant on a bridge on top of a river where a swan was swimming around. I ordered Chicken Thali, Lan had Tikka Masala. Again, the food were very delicious, rich with spices and tastes plus reasonable price! Ahh... Heaven!

After that, we went back home, had shower and slept! So tired...