Easter with the Anarchists (and some tourist stuff too)

Hey there! Long time no blog… I know, I know, I’m bad. Well, to make up for my lack of activity over the past couple of months, I’m going to write you a blog post with LOTS of pictures…

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See, here’s a picture already! That guy’s backpack says “FCK NZS” – a popular slogan here in Hamburg.

I spent Easter weekend in a rather non-traditional fashion this year: at an anarchist street festival. While Americans were out hiding eggs, Christians were going to church, normal Hamburgers were enjoying bonfires on the beach and Swedes were hanging colorful feathers on trees, the Hamburg neighborhood of Sternschanze was throwing a block party/street festival/demonstration. Continue reading “Easter with the Anarchists (and some tourist stuff too)”

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The little town of Lüneburg: Hamburg’s best day trip

Just 20km south of Hamburg’s bustling downtown and industrial river ports lies the little town of Lüneburg, a city frozen in time.

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The Lüneburg harbor.

It’s easy to forget the city of Hamburg is much older than the second world war, because outside of a few restored churches, not many buildings from the pre-war era remain. Lüneburg, on the other hand, escaped the brunt of the bombs in both wars, and periods of affluence followed by poverty in the city’s history lead to beautiful houses being constructed, then preserved, as there was no money to tear them down and build anew. The result is like a step back into the middle ages. Continue reading “The little town of Lüneburg: Hamburg’s best day trip”

Living in the shadow of World War II

For most Americans, World War II is nothing but a distant history lesson. As the people who lived through it slowly die out, it doesn’t really seem to exist outside of textbooks, tombstones, and the occasional war movie.

But for Germans, memories of the war are a daily reality and cannot be escaped.

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Square of the Deported Jews – your daily reminder that the Holocaust happened. This is located near Dammtor Station in Hamburg, where thousands of Jews were packed into trains and were sent to camps which almost inevitably lead to their deaths.

Continue reading “Living in the shadow of World War II”

Stadtrallye – a different kind of new-student orientation

One of the most memorable university orientation events was the Stadtrallye. It turns out “rally” has a completely different meaning in German than in English, and rather than a pep assembly or political demonstration, this was more of a scavenger hunt/team challenge.

The challenges mostly involved a lot of alcohol.
The challenges mostly involved a lot of alcohol.

Continue reading “Stadtrallye – a different kind of new-student orientation”

Barcelona y Cadaqués

My first impression of Spain was the warmth. At the end of February it wasn’t hot, just a comfortable 15-16 degrees C (60 F).

I got to go outside with bare arms, got to lay on a beach all day, and got to use F-stop 22 on my camera. No complaints here.
I got to go outside with bare arms, got to lay on a beach all day, and got to use F-stop 22 on my camera. No complaints here.

My second impression was the mopeds. They darted through traffic like a person with a deathwish. They drove on the lines between lanes when traffic was slow, dodging cars and narrowly avoiding rearview mirrors and swerving bumpers.

Mopeds in Spain are like bicycles in Denmark - they're everywhere (though they don't obey the traffic laws half as well as Danish cyclists). I'm told this is true of Italy as well.
Mopeds in Spain are like bicycles in Denmark – they’re everywhere (though they don’t obey the traffic laws half as well as Danish cyclists). I’m told this is true of Italy as well.

My third impression was the palm trees. I’d seen palm trees before in California and Florida, but somehow it didn’t occur to me that they’d grow in Spain as well.

Palm trees were street trees, and cacti instead of shrubs.
Palm trees were street trees, and cacti instead of shrubs.

Continue reading “Barcelona y Cadaqués”