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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hamburg 1st Impressions

***First off, for any who might have missed what it the world we are doing in Hamburg (read: Aunt Karen - though I'm sure there are others), I thought I'd do a quick (or not so quick) update.  So, a couple weeks ago I graduated with my Master's.   Well, technically I'm still a student until August, but I'm done with all of my classes and I walked at graduation.  One of the requirements for my Master's degree is to do an internship.  We don't really have to find the internship (although we can).  Instead, we give our preferences to the professor who heads the program and he finds one for us.  So, the one I got is working for UNESCO's institute of Lifelong Learning in Hamburg.  UNESCO = United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  They're the ones who designate World Heritage Sites.  But, I'm working in the education sector where they do a lot of development work.  When I got my internship, Tom thought he might as well see if he could come along as well.  His first google search he happened upon an international law firm (I won't list which one just for internet privacy reasons, but if for some reason you HAD to know you could always ask).  He asked his dad if he'd ever heard of it (his dad was living in Peru at the time btw) and he said, "yeah, I was just at their Venezuela office yesterday!"  Turned out he was good friends with someone relatively high up in that office, who contacted the Hamburg branch and Tom got the internship without even so much as sending in a resume.  Of course, none of this is paid, but I at least get $3,000 from UPenn to repay internship expenses, so that is covering most of it.  There have also been other helpful parties (who know who they are).  So, there you have it.  We are doing internships in Hamburg until mid-July.  At which point, I will fly back to California for my bro's wedding and Tom will fly back to Philly, get all our stuff and drive it to Utah and then hopefully come out to the wedding as well.  We'll then be looking for jobs ANYWHERE and I haven't a clue where we'll be in a year.***

So, onto Hamburg.  Let me just say that I wasn't necessarily super excited about coming to Hamburg.  I was excited.  I thought it would be good.  But, my first choice was to do an internship in Africa somewhere and once I knew it would be Hamburg I was so busy that I barely had time to think about it.  Plus, I think I just saw it as one more move.  I'm almost glad that I didn't over-psych myself out for it, because it has made it all the more enjoyable now that I'm here and it's great.

Both Tom and I work in very nice areas of the city.  Tom's firm is downtown.  It's right next all the pretty things I took pictures of in the last post.  Plus, there are lots of European-looking cobblestone streets and toooons of shops.  His walk to and from work thus far has been quite pleasant.

My work is by the U. of Hamburg and is in an area with lots of very nice, posh looking houses and shops.  It kind of reminds me a bit of the area of D.C. with all the embassies.  In fact, there are a few embassies there.  So far I've seen the French, Venezuelan and U.S. embassies.  On thursdays there is a big food, grocery, flower market right under the auspices of this church:

There is a pretty large lake at the center of Hamburg and after work, I often walk down to it.  On my walk I pass the church above, many nice houses, such as this one, which always has intense classical music flowing out of it:

Little cobblestone street that leads to the park that's on the lake. 

Walkway to the lake. 
Park on the lake, looking to the North.

Park on the lake, looking to the South.

As you can see, the lake is wonderful.  The park right next to it is quite large and has beautiful and varied foliage, lots of walking paths and even pretty white chairs on the lawn.  People are there jogging, cycling, walking dogs, picnicking, etc.  On the lake there are sailboats, rowboats and tourboats.  There are lots of benches too.  I often walk there, read a chapter or two of my current book, then walk to the subway.  The best part is that there are also little ducklings waddling and swimming around everywhere with their mommas.

I really have lots of thoughts on Hamburg so far, but here are the things that stand out:

- THE FOOD.  I love it.  There are pastry shops everywhere with all kinds of delicious creations for relatively cheap.  There's a lot of icecream, lots of Indian food, and lots of kebabs and falafel.  We went to the grocery store for the first time the other day and I was so excited about what we bought that I took a picture of it:

Just a few highlights: the milk was 0.45 euro per carton, the Vitalis is a cereal I ate all the time and love in Romania and I've overjoyed to have it back, the oranges were juicy and tasty, and the yogurt is in a JAR.

Right after getting home I made bruschetta, but cutting (literally, with scissors because we have no knife) the French bread (which was still warm btw) in half, spreading it with olive oil, frying it (no oven), spreading a creamy basil pesto sauce we bought on it, then topping it with mozzarella (the ball cost only 0.55 euros!) and tomatoes.  Oh my.  It was one of the best things I've ever eaten.

I also love grabbing a pastry at the train station each morning on my way to work.  A different kind every day!  I could go on and on and on, but I guess I'll stop here.  I love food.

- Cyclists.  Hamburg is filled with them.  The sidewalks have a side for pedestrians and a side for cyclists and you better make sure you're on the right side if you want to live!  One time I inadvertently stepped through the bike lane as I went to cross the street and before I was able to take another step a cyclist whipped past me followed by about 3 more before I could even move!  It makes me really want to have a bike here though.  Fortunately, there are bikes for tourists scattered throughout the city.  They're free for the first 30 min and the stations are close enough to each other that you can just ride from station to station and keep going for free all day!  Haven't done it yet, but looking forward to it.

- There are flower shops EVERYWHERE and flowers are much cheaper.

- The lake + the River Elbe.  Work is close to the lake and home is close to the river.  I'll introduce it to you in another post.

- The area we live in is the richest/nicest area of Hamburg.  The houses are large and pretty and sometimes they're on hills with little cobblestone walking paths that wind from house to house and the River below.

- The parks/gardens.  I feel like I come across these everywhere and they are all stunning.  The one we went to the other day had to be one of the most gorgeous parks I've ever had the pleasure of walking through.  For another post.  I have a list of about 10 that I want to explore.

Well, I'm sure there's much more to say, but Tom wants the computer, so I better save it for another time.  Until then, auf wiedersehen!


  1. Actually, that info was good for me, too! I didn't know a lot of that. I hope I can get back to Germany someday! So many things I love. The ice cream is SO GOOD! Also, we loved the bratwurst street stands. They always had long bratwurst inside a little round baguette and it was always delish. I'm assuming they have little fussplatz areas where there is only walking and no cars really. Love that too. I wanna go!!!! Sounds like you guys are going to have a great time and I can't wait to hear all about it in a couple months! Love you! Sorry your guess of the 18th didn't work out : )

  2. sounds like you guys are having a fabulous experience so far! You know, you make a good point. I recall that shopping in European markets was one of the best things about traveling around Europe. The food selections were always top notch. And the yogurt is to die for. I had the best yogurt of my life in Rome, and when I wanted to go back to get more on our last day, the market was closed (due to the crazy short store hours). We missed this opportunity because Clark just had to wash his dirty clothes. I'll never let him live that down. So do you guys think you'll get out on the lake soon? Do you guys think you'll get up to Denmark or get to explore more of Germany?

  3. Thanks for the quick explanation of how you eneded up there. its so nice to read about your experiences thus far. It all sounds so lovely, it makes one want to be there and share it with the both of you. Keeps these great posts coming.

  4. By the way I'm stalking you guys on your blog. I know it's not Africa, but it's hard to complain when there's such dang good ice cream, eh? I'm glad you guys are enjoying another adventure!