Weekend trip to Hamburg
Last weekend, the gang went to Hamburg..
(left to right: Pau, Joram, Doro, Nadia, Andy)
It was a kind of high-speed thing- we zoomed up on the trains on Friday afternoon- arriving just in time to find our hostel and then find some food- and headed back down on Saturday evening.
Doro and Joram, who are skilled with the finding of great food (and who we forced to be our guides simply because of their native Germaness), lead us to Altes Maedchen.
The palce reminded Andy and I a lot of Little Creatures in Fremantle- not only the way they decorated, but also the menu, the mood, and the clientele. There were people of all ages- young and old, families and couples and friends... In fact there were perhaps too many people- we were quite concerned that we would never find a table- but then Pau hovered and swooped and saved the night.
At least Joram had his mermaid-full of bear to keep him company.
Since leaving the deliciously-moist-beef-paired-with-fresh-salads-chewy-cibatta-buns-and-creamy-blue-cheese holy land of Perth, with it's many gourmet burger bars (Missy Moos- I miss you!), I have been in a perpetual state of 'really feeling like a good burger'.
So I ordered one.
The chips- with herbs and salt, were pretty amazing. The guacamole-y paste was pretty good, and I enjoyed the fact that the bun wasn't one of those horrible dissolve-in-your-mouth american style buns that are so prevalent here.
Ultimately, the bread was a bit sweet, and it seemed to be spiced- so that it tasted better by itself, but in a different setting (high tea?), and the patty itself was only 'ok'.
All in all, it was a good burger experience, but not the best.
Doro and Nadia went for the Hamburg speciality- Labkaus.
You should really follow that link just to so the picture of what this stuff normally looks like. A definite air or 'pre-digested' to it.
To top off the delight- it's traditionally made with minced/corned beef, potato (pureed) and onion. Which is sounding ok until you get to the 'plus a side of herring, pickle and beetroot' part.
I mean- seriously, who even came up with that.
Anyway, the Altes Maedchen version was much more charming than google-images would have you believe.
The beef was slow cooked, the beetroot roasted, the mashed potato a delightful barbie pink. Not a bad experience.
Andy went with some sort of pulled-pork monstrosity.
The bun that it came in, was in fact a corn-bread, but of the 'severely sweet' type, which somehow also had the added surprise within of whole peppercorns for the crunching.
Overall, the sweet bread with the already saccharin pork was overkill for me- but I'm a well known grinch when it comes to the mixing of sweet and savoury.
Our original plan in visiting Hamburg was to go up for the Japanese festival, a weekend deal including fireworks, Japanese culture and food, and- most exciting of all for me- Cherry Blossoms.
Of course, as you've probably seen from the blog- the blossoms did their thing in Dresden over two months ago- and are pretty short lived- so we weren't particularly optimistic that the few hours of northness would make such a difference in the growing season for Hamburger Blossoms.
Thankfully, fireworks are a bit easier to control than the seasons...
They were pretty, although I have a sneaking suspicion that the Australia National Day ones are just more flamboyant. Also, I definitely missed the sound of 100s of radios playing old Aussie music hits in time with the bursts of colour.
We all went in for the breakfast buffet (Andy was sold the second he smelled the bacon), with some of us also pigging out on hot chocolate.
The morning had started of with ominous clouds, but by the time we finished feeding the sun was shining aggressively.
(photo from Pau)
A couple of our group hadn't seen Hamburg before, so we decided to do a power tour of the harbour and surrounding sites of interest.
The Hamburg Opera House: ridiculously over time, ridiculously over budget.
Plus- Ridiculously AWESOME looking I think you will find.
(As previously discussed- Hamburgers pretty much love any building that reminds them of the sea or of ships).
We were joined by Andy's mum- who had just moved north with his Pop from Berlin the day before. She was pretty excited to be in Hamburg:
And Gruppenfotos were had by all.
(above from Pau, below from Joram)
The sun was almost unbearably hot to those of us who have acclimatised to the frosty north (possibly over 20 degrees even!). We took a break for drinks, icecream, and hotdogs.
Some crazy tea with about 33 ingredients in it. Maybe not.
Listening in at the little building describing the awesomeness of the Opera House.
The Rathaus (which translates literally as 'place of the council'=townhall , but sounds more like 'place or rats').
Pau was pretty enamoured by this particular incarnation.
After a great deal of walking, we reached our 'ultimate' stop of the day: Parken and Blumen. Andy and I visited the park last time with his parents, but had somehow managed to miss the Japanese Garden.
There were Japanese style- gardens and building, Japanese drums, and a small tent with information and food- but not a lot more in the way of a Cultural festival. And of course the blossoms were well and truly gone.
Still, it was quite beautiful to frolick around.
We also headed into the botanical collection area, where I proudly showed off the Aussie plants, and told boring anecdotes and scientific facts.
Just before we left the city, Andy and I went with Mari-Anne to visit her cousin, Wolfgang, who works at the Hamburg Theatre. He was kind enough to show us around backstage...
The beautiful contrast between the old theatre, and the modern world behind the stage:
There are winding tunnels and huge hanger-like spaces filled with workshops and off-shot with small rooms packed to the brim with every kind of prop you could ever imagine needing.
One of the plays required some sort of melting woman at the end of each show. And so, voila! Wax Women:
One of the amazing props- they had cupboards and cupboards filled with everything from modern weaponry to independence-era muskets to axes and swords...
Mari-Anne fancied herself King.
In which we discover that my acting is not so good:
Because Wolfgang is the pyrotechnics guy, we also got a little show!
More crazy and amazing crops. This is her 'Summer Look'
Eventually, we had to head to the station, pile into a carriage, and speed out of the city.