The peace of the holidays is rapidly dissipating. Wildfires in Australia. Tension between the US and Iran. And closer to home, the sale of 630,000 acres
of Montana timber land by Weyerhaeuser to Southern Pine Plantations, a
Georgia-based brokerage and investment firm. Rumors abound that treasured public access to
recreation areas will evaporate as smaller parcels are sold to developers.
While I am not one to panic, it is enough to bring on a
general sense of unease. In response, I
pray. And then I look for escape. Akin to the proverbial ostrich, I stick my
head in the sand of happier, carefree days.
So let us return to October 2019, and our trip to Hamburg, Germany. As I wrote in my previous two posts, a city of romance, and of hopes and dreams.
Our tour of inspiring churches resumed with the Russian Orthodox Gnadenkirche ('church of mercy'). The round church was built in 1907 and for almost a century served as an Evangelic Lutheran house of God. As the number of churchgoers petered out, in 2004 the church was acquired by the parish of Saint John of Kronstadt. After extensive renovations to suit its new congregation, the church now possesses captivating frescoes and intricate iconostasis crafted by Moscow's premier icon painters.
Iconostasis - a screen bearing icons, separating the
Our admiration continued, albeit in a more natural setting. Planten un Blomen ('plants and flowers') is a 116-acre urban park, famous for its water-light concerts, public theater and music performances. It is easy to imagine summer-time, with families strolling wide pathways, and couples relishing a picnic while lounging on a blanket near one of the numerous water features. This day, light rain spattered the ponds and gravel paths, leaving the park to a handful of visitors braving the weather. Readers, you know my adoration for any garden, so you will believe me when I write that my enthusiasm was not dampened by a pinch of precipitation.
By evening, the walking tour resulted in a voracious appetite. Once again, Dr. H hit the mark with a reservation at La Creperie Bretonne de Hambourg. As you might surmise from the name, this restaurant serves only crepes and galettes, but I challenge you to peruse the menu without finding at least three dishes you would like to sample. And then you have a decision to make about a dessert crepe! Ooh la la!
|Staff were dressed in traditional French garb (think white and blue striped seaman shirts) and speaking French!|
Stuffed full of crepes, I was ready for fresh air and a promenade to our next destination, the Elphi. On our first day in town, we viewed the Elphi from a distance, but Dr. H promised that a night-time visit has a magic all its own. As we approached the Philharmonic Hall, its dazzling blue and white lights pulled us forward like bees to honey. We were bewitched by the escalator, which curves over its 270-foot length as you ascend to the Plaza level.
A stroke of marketing genius, the Plaza permits access without concert tickets - thousands of visitors cop an up-close view of the building's architecture, undoubtedly resolving on the spot to attend the next available performance. And then, there is the panoramic vista of the harbor - everywhere you look, people lean on the railings, taking in the ships outlined by strings of lights, with Hamburg's skyline beyond. Who can resist a romantic picture for two?
The night was still young when we crossed town to the Reeperbahn, Hamburg's legendary nightlife mile. Its reputation as the red-light district jangled a few of my nerves, but I rested easy in the trustworthy hands of Dr. H. Although the area offers "adult services" of every type, most are not obvious and many are on side streets. In the end, the Reeperbahn reminded me of the music scene in Nashville, the neon of Las Vegas and a US-style Spring Break, rolled into one. Dr. H took us to two of her favorite bars, and we danced our little feet off. Before we boarded the train to head to her apartment, I was tickled to see a bar with my name. Who knew?
The next day saw a late start (“old” people need their sleep), and
it was mid-morning when the train swept us to Blankenese, on the western outskirts
of Hamburg. Blankenese is a wealthy residential district known for its
half-timbered fishermen’s houses and pre-war villas, many of which line the
winding stairs of the Treppenviertel (German for “staircase quarter”) neighborhood. I was fascinated by the contrast of
traditional homes cheek to cheek with ultra-modern construction. Just a guess – being fit is a requirement to
live here; I read a statistic that the average mail carrier in this village
covers 5,000 steps and 300 feet of elevation each day.
The rain had picked up again by the time
we chose a lunch spot, but that did not deter us from outside dining. As I reported in an earlier post, many
restaurants provide heaters, blankets and even awnings to protect customers
from the elements. That said, my pumpkin
soup was a warm welcome.
The restaurant offered a ring-side seat to the
harbor action, as container ships were loaded by sky-high cranes. Impossibly large cruise ships squeezed past
the commercial operators, their captains somehow keeping them within the
deepest parts of the channel. Soon enough,
we joined the fray on the ferry that transported us back to Hamburg.
Although we were still satisfied from our lunch,
Dr. H convinced us (it wasn’t too difficult) that we must try the fischbrochten
at her favorite harbor-side shop. We
gazed into the glass case to select among these sandwiches, made with fish and
complemented by one or more of the following: onions, pickles, remoulade, creamy
horseradish sauce, ketchup or cocktail sauce.
Spousal Unit was in his element, recalling the salty, fresh fish of his
youth. (Of course, the souvenir
emporiums beckoned and we documented our stay in Hamburg with his and hers
t-shirts, and a shot glass for his bar.)
Too soon, it was our last day, and Dr. H
laid a fine breakfast table before she returned to work. We ran 6 miles (gotta do something to work
off those calories) and finished our packing in time to head for the train to
the airport. We felt like locals when we
grumbled about waiting FOUR MINUTES!
Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme
where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain
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Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.