The trip: Canada-Germany-France-Germany-Canada. My itinerary: NONE! The gift of time, personal space, solitude and a nice glass of Pinot Grigio to get me started while waiting for my flight out of Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau Airport, in Montreal. This wasn’t just a trip to Europe, but rather a trip to reconnect with my family, friends, my roots and explore the culture I know so well. More of a refresher course, I guess. I’ve always kept up and maintained as many of my German traditions and cultural habits as best I could in my Canadian life, but living it in its actual environment drives it home.
My walks along the streets of Hamburg were just like when I was a kid. The sights, the sounds and smells seemed engrained into everything around since my last visit. As if it was all preserved just for me, for my return. The weather didn’t participate much, but it did not phase me one bit. In my heart it was always sunny.
I walked, bicycled and looked at buildings and structures that have more stories to tell than most of us have stories combined. Hamburg Rathaus , Hamburg’s city hall has been here since 1897 replacing the previous one that burned down in a devastating fire. A beautiful structure that represents the strength of its city and people.
Deichstraße, the oldest street in Hamburg dating back to the 14th century. It survived the great fire of 1842 and I’m glad it did. What a remarkable little spot. Quaint, lovely, and appealing to the eye. This little street speaks volumes, telling tales of the ongoings of its past. The fine details, the smallness that surrounds Deichstraße magically transports you into fairytale.
Hamburg is not just about buildings and history, but much more than that. It’s about the people. It’s about the food. Combined, they make Hamburg what it is. The Hamburg folk have a way about them. They are very honest and direct but at the same, very jovial. They love their city and it shows. They are proud of their city’s history and take pride in continuing a lot of old-time traditions and ways that were observed going back many generations. Probably, one of my favourite places that does so, and most entertaining Sunday mornings is the fish market. This place is open Sunday mornings only for a few hours but it’s the busiest, most popular place in town. It’s been around since 1894 and I swear it hasn’t changed. The vendors, the beer, the dancing, buzzing with people looking for a deal. Women and men filling their woven baskets and bags with fruits, veggies from local farmers, and fresh fish caught over night. Everything in one spot and only until 10:00 am. After that, the place is deserted. Like nothing ever happened.
Lebkuchen was always a favourite treat as a kid and still is today. I brought back quite a few for my loved ones in Montreal. What a sweet way of making some one’s day with a love note on a cookie……..YUM!
And who doesn’t feel a little relief when they see those popular golden arches? This clock let’s you know the restaurant name, location, AND time…….brillant.
For me, if we’re talking about old-time favourites, it’s all about the Curry Wurst. It’s what I’ve dreamt about the most leading up to my trip and it’s what I ate and savoured the most. The memories that this sausage brought back for me was worth the 20 year wait.
I was lucky to have been invited to a friend’s house for lunch and was asked what meal she could prepare that I haven’t had in a long time. Only one came to mind. It was one that my mother made so well. Birnen, Bohnen und Speck mit Kartoffeln. Translation: Pears, beans and back bacon with potatoes. They have to be boiled potatoes, nothing else. WOW, what a treat that was. My friend nailed it. Home sweet home, I thought.
This was one of the best trips I’ve ever had. Not just because I returned home for a quick visit, but because I got to experience a lot of different things while I was here. We did so much.
The trip back home to Canada was bittersweet. I wanted to stay in Germany longer but my family and work were calling. As much as I missed my loved ones in Montreal, Hamburg will always be that special place where no matter what, it’ll always feel like I never left and I’ll pick up right where I left off.