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Des’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 04 Jul 2006

Location: Hamburg, Germany

MapHamburg :- I had more interesting experiences in one day than in several trips back in the 70’s.
I walked down the Reeperbahn, the scene of our tours in the 70’s where innocent Australians saw their first taste of sleaze – unless they went to kings cross on the way. Strip bars, shows and the word “sex” as far as the eye can see (and believe me, with my distance lenses in, I can see for *&^% miles). But by day, in 2006, it is looking tired and old, as probably, do I.
One highlight here was a tunnel to get under the river Elbe. A car tunnel it was, and it went under the river, and it was built in 1900 and was lined in those cream tiles like a pub dunny (I kid you not, you would have felt at home leaking against the wall just like in Young & Jacksons or the Cloncurry Railway Hotel.) What was different about this tunnel was that it went under the river…..just. Two cars at a time, each way, drove into a lift, where they were lowered into the tunnel, allowed to drive across the river through the tiled dunny, into a lift on the other side where they were whisked to the surface in a lift, mirror image of the first. On the whole, a claustrophobic’s nightmare. Fabulous experience.

I had a taste of German minimalism at the hotel too – one bottle of fluid for all purposes – washing hair, body, cleaning teeth, shoes etc saves all dose little bottles making ze mess – ja ? It was a nice hotel, old style, but I first thought it was very posh, as the car park was nothing but BMWs, Benz, Audi with an occasional VW. Then I thought, d’oh, where am I ????
At the Shell plant in Hamburg, we had lunch in the canteen – typical Shell – tight as a fishes *&^% - and the Bavarian specialty was revolting. But the pint I wish to make is the smoking room. In a room, annexed to the dining room was a glass booth, not unlike a telephone box minus the caped crusader, with a fan installed to extract smoke so the workers could chat to their mates while standing in the phone box, having ze cigarretten.
On our way home to the hotel after a meal, Fabian, my colleague, who can smell a party a mile off, saw some pretty girls waling into a construction site. I poo poo’d the thought but followed him into what looked like a building site. But, waiting on the edge of the river, surrounded by scaffolding from the neighbouring buildings, was …….cue trumpets….a beach – I kid you not. I had just read in the BA magazine, that cities have beaches to attract city folk on barmy evenings just like Brisbane’s Southbank, Paris’s Seine beach etc I read about Hamburg but here we were. And it was packed, reggae music playing, drinks from the bar, bbq going, beach chairs, and sand sand sand. All overlooking the most wonderful view of cranes, and container ships in one of Europe’s busiest ports ! but hey, if you can’t take Mohammed to the mountain, bring it to him.
The taxi driver to the airport must have been Herr Schumacher’s long lost cousin because warp speed meant nothing to him. What is it with euro taxi drivers ?