Monday, August 06, 2007

Happy part two

So, where was I? Oh yes, happy.

I'm very pleased with Hamburg and my stay there. The city reminds me of London with all of its pleasant associations to my college years. And aside from that it is a very nice place in itself. The first thing one notices is that there are trees everywhere! Nearly every street is lined by mature trees (all exactly sixty years old, but that's another story); riding the bus or subway (mostly above-ground, often elevated on a viaduct) is like travelling through an inhabited park.

The near-omnipresence of water in Hamburg also appeals to me. Not just the Elbe and its enormous harbour complex, there is also a large lake, the Alster, in the middle of the city, fed by many broad, slow streams that are crossed and re-crossed by the elevated subways. And the waterways are used too: Ingrid and I sat outdoors at a waterside café for lunch last week, and counted three sightseeing boats and a half-dozen canoes and pedalos going past. Were I to move here, I'd definitely get a canoe and explore the water.

I told Ageing Yuppie my theory on the setting of the social tone in Hamburg; he thought for a moment then agreed with my analysis. It is a working city, a city of workers, and while it does have the small-c conservatism and mild anti-intellectualism that one associates with such places, it also has the active social conscience and the desire for order that one misses in cities like Berlin.

Interrupting myself for a moment, I am trainblogging again, writing in the train to Hamburg on a sunny and warm Sunday afternoon in late summer. I'm taking an earlier train than usual, which should get me there an hour or so before sunset. Perhaps I shall find a spot by the Alster and drink a beer or two there? I am debating spending the next two weekends here, or perhaps at the North Sea shore.

Immaculate blue sky, about 28° with a gentle breeze as we left Stuttgart; the forecast is for a whole week of the same. Woot. It's been six weeks since Siebenschläfer and the curse of bad weather has been lifted. The old wives' tales win again.

Signs of the times part N: from my seat, I can see seven laptop screens.

I am wearing my working glasses while typing this, obviously, but then I noticed that I was looking out of the window at the scenery while still wearing them. These glasses have changed my eyes! When I first got them I could barely see beyond two metres or so, my eyes wouldn't focus that far away while I had them on. Now I can focus adequately well off to the horizon through the uppermost 5mm or so. Amazing. (I can't see as well as with my normal long-distance glasses, and it is a strain to look far away; but it does actually work.)

To be honest, part of my happiness in Hamburg is due to Ingrid, who is a charming and attractive young woman; she's not classically beautiful, but she has a very interesting face and manner (and a marvellous body, with a very biteable arse). It's a pleasure to sit opposite her and surreptitiously watch her over the top of my monitor. We are alone in the office now (in our half of the office, to be pedantic: AY shares the space with a furniture-and-interior-design company) since the others have moved to the Speicherstadt as I mentioned to work on a different project. We are still in the old place because the tyrant client for the museum would be wounded in his godlike self-importance if he knew that his project were not the be-all and end-all of the office. He's the kind of arsehole client who will call up at 9:20 on a Saturday evening and fall into a screaming rage on hearing that the lazy worthless scum architects are not all in the office. Bah. Glad that we don't have anything to do with him or his project. Yet.

Sorry, I got sidetracked by scorn there. I was falling into a reverie about Ingrid. Pity that she's only about 28 or so; not exactly half my age but close enough that I hesitate. On the other hand, hesitating is my natural mode anyway, so what the hell. She lives in Altona, a western suburb of Hamburg that was once a separate town; it's near to the Elbe which has a beachlike sandy shore at that point. I discovered that the bus from the office to where I'm staying continues to the Altona train station, so we went home together on Thursday evening. I'd overheard her earlier on the phone with a male voice, cancelling a loose evening arrangement because she was tired; only after I'd said goodbye and left the bus did it occur to me that this might have been an excuse and that I should have invited her for a drink despite it.

It's odd, three months after the walk to Santiago de Compostela, I still find myself looking twice at people walking or cycling between the fields out here, wondering whether they are pilgrims. Talk about yer lasting impact.

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Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Well, if we hear comments about the teeth marks preventing sitting we will know the drink part went OK. Good luck. (28 is legal, no matter what country you are in)

August 7, 2007 at 6:23:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Hee. I have several co-workers that are quite bitable. Fortunately I've been able to restrain but it has been hard.

I'm glad you're having a good time. Hamburg sounds lovely.

August 7, 2007 at 6:26:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Anonymous antonia said...

i also like Hamburg quite a bit, but I disagree that it is a working city - it's been this way, but not today so much anymore...look what has become of the Schanzenviertel....all commercialized. Yet these are minor things, it is a nice place, of all big cities in germany the one i like most. and yes - the beautiful Alster.
and the best thing is they have a district called Harvestehude, me as the old Neil Young fan would definetely settle there.
[I have to second joe about the age.]

August 7, 2007 at 10:28:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Lioness said...

Just do it, Udge, life's too bloody short. And then you'll know, and then you'll at least have tried it.

Hamburg does sound lovely.

August 7, 2007 at 11:21:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger zhoen said...

Oh, Udge, it's not like she's 22.

I feel much the same as when I was 26, which was nearly 2 decades ago. He who hesitates, and all that.

August 8, 2007 at 5:36:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

I can only say "indeed" and hope to do the deed :-)

August 11, 2007 at 11:45:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Rob said...

Jings, Udge, I knew it had been a while since I dropped by but I hadn't realised you'd fitted in an entire pilgrimage I'd missed. OK. Memo to self: visit blogroll members more regularly.

Not even sure why I missed you, in fact.

August 17, 2007 at 6:51:00 a.m. GMT+2  

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