Day 13 in Deutschland, Stick a Fork In Me (I’m sorry Hamburg)
Hamburg–you big, noisy thing, you–I’m spent. Had I arrived in your arms days, even hours, ago, I may have had the moxy to embrace you back. But I’m tired now. I don’t even want to force myself to go through the motions of an excited visitor, synthesizing resources and calculating routes. It takes energy to learn how to navigate a new city. And for today at least, I’m depleted. Perhaps a quieter city and a more stroll-based itinerary would have been a better option for today. I have a New York at home, thank you very much. You sound nice through the window though. Not really actually.
Tomorrow is my last full day here in Germany. Although it will be my 14th day, I feel like I have been here for months. Being away from your everyday life, you get an inaccurate sense of time passing. No 8080 on in the morning. No New York Times delivered with the date on it. No Electrician coming home from work making fun of the ridiculous programming you’re choosing to watch. No cat kicking you out of her spot because it is bed time. Sure, I’ve made new routines in my travels but they exist in isolation and, being born of my whims, they are not real structures. I’m like paper, like trash, floating around. It sounds better in Spanish.
This morning was a different story. I had a to-do list, several missions in place. Sure, they were short-term goals but they motivated me all the same. Part of those goals involved utilizing the Tram system in Bremen efficiently. And I succeeded. I am daunted by public transit systems in other cities–mostly because it is really hard to orientate myself and then I get flustered. But Bremen was a training-wheel size city. By the end of the day, I was boarding Trams with ease.
I needed to also pick up some items for some loved ones. I thought the adorable and rambunctious Brothers Grimm folktale mascots of Bremen was a whimsical theme, as did many of the townspeople apparently. They had the image on a slew of things; it was even the tram seat fabric.
Coffee (of kaffee) is very different here in Germany. For one, my tolerance is a lot stronger the small cups being doled out as “large.” So I had Starbucks for like the 3rd time in my life, glad that they had the same-sized cups as the States. It is always funny to take note of what pieces of American culture affix to other cultures. Coca-cola and McDonald’s are given, I suppose. But some of the more odd Americanisms I noticed were Thirty Seconds to Mars (Jordan Catalano’s band), Newsted Metal (Metallica’s Jason Newsted’s new band), and That 70’s Show‘s father as a spokesperson for a mobile phone company. Weird.
Ah, another case of taking pictures of closed vegan eateries! Tom & Karo is a vegan fast food joint located in that Park Slope-ish section of Bremen. I had very special brunch plans so I am a bit relieved their doors, like most along the still-bustling strip, were closed. Sunday is still a day of rest for most. I just love seeing the word “vegan” feature so prominently. Maybe next time, Tom & Karo.
Speaking of vegan being so prominent, all across the streets a chalk-iti commentator was delivering messages of animal rights. These bronze pigs are saying, “Why are you eating me and my children?” or something similar, along with the link to Earthlings, in its entirety, in German.
It was time for brunch, the very special brunch I never would have known about had I not met Tatjana the day before. I was excited and nervous to enter the squat house, covered in graffiti. It was the kind of place you see in the movies, the kind of place a concerned parents visits looking for her drug-addicted son or daughter. But no such adventure. Just a vegan going to eat a really cheap all-you-can eat vegan brunch with a bunch of the local gutter-punks and alternative types.
Thankfully I saw Tatjana right away who helped this out of place tourist navigate the vegan brunch underground. With my plate I made a b-line to the food.
I filled my plate with as much as I could as swiftly as I could. Everything was delicious. It was a really cool experience to have stumbled upon this meal. What did I eat? Beet hummus, spinach pinwheels, potato salad, sweet tofu and carrots, a pasta salad, more potatoes, tofu scramble, herbed carrots–I don’t even know what I was grabbing. I found a table, which was easy because everyone else there knew each other, and ate eagerly, as if I was going to be kicked out any moment for not having any piercings.
I joke, I joke but, sure, I did feel a little odd with my bag with souvenirs and my big camera… but mostly I felt food-excited. I stopped midway through my plate to snap pictures as there were big crowds loading up their plates. My pictures were hasty. I had to clear my plate quickly because I wanted to make my way up to eat some of the deserts: danishes, cookies, cream cheese pastries, vanilla cake with chocolate frosting… Aaah!
Part of the spread.
The bread table. I was happy I got to try the German-equivalent of Earth Balance. It spread well but wasn’t as tasty. Germany is not into the food chemistry and natural flavorings that are part of so many of our foods.
Another shot of the spread.
I ate quickly and cleaned my plate in the provided bins and said goodbye to my new vegan friend in Germany. Hamburg awaited me. My time in Bremen was over. What can I say, with each city I gain a bigger appreciation for Germany and the many experiences it has offered me.
So I mentioned earlier that I am here in Hamburg now, a large bustling city. Till now I had been doing a good job rotating bigger city with smaller towns; quiet sites to energetic urban centers. But this was a double dose of city that has done me in. I skipped my plan of visiting attractions this evening so I may escape to see the Baltic Sea early tomorrow. But before I lull myself to sleep, I had the energy to stop at Hamburg’s Fairy Food, an adorable all-vegan counter spot close to my hostel, thankfully.
They have breakfast, sweet treats and hot dishes, which–at the time of my visit–were mostly sold out. The German dish on their menu was still available so that is what I order. The seitan goulash. I’ve had this many times in Germany. It is tasty indeed, but not what I would go for today if I didn’t have to.
The bakery case had many goodies left. A chocolate cake, a layered cream cake, a sweet almond marbled cake, a variety of coffee cakes, as well as some raw desserts–an avocado pie and New York cream cheese.
In the end I chose what was most striking, the marbled sweet almond cake, a dense treat with rich chocolate swirls and a delicious almond glaze. This cake pushed me over the edge. I was stuffed–officially. I was going to head back to my room to relax, forgoing some of Hamburg’s sites for the sake of my well-being. The homesickness that has been running simultaneously with my traveling excitement has taken the lead. Tomorrow I will leave with a splash, but tonight–I’m an l.o.s.