I have a goal in mind for my journey through Germany and that is Oktoberfest. But before I get to that, I’m going to make my way through the country paying visits to my German friends I’ve met over the years. I know so many people who live here that I figured now is the perfect opportunity to visit and get an authentic German experience! First up on this extensive list is my buddy Björn. If you followed along last year, you will recall that I met Björn on a shuttle on the way to Pai, Thailand. We also ended up traveling through most of Cambodia together along with his friend Kevin.
From London, I flew to Hannover, Germany, where Björn was going to pick me up. I arrived and couldn’t find him anywhere! I was actually a little concerned I wasn’t going to easily recognize him based on recent photos he’s put on Facebook. He looked like a completely different person! I found some Wi-Fi and about 20 minutes later, we found each other. He was late because he couldn’t find his glasses. I didn’t even know he wore glasses. He never wore them in Asia.
It’s been almost exactly a year since I’ve last seen him. His traveling buddy Kevin lives in Munich now. I’ll see him later on. Björn had planned for us to go to the north to Hamburg, one of the major cities in Germany. Unfortunately, Hamburg has nothing to do with hamburgers but instead is known as being one of the biggest cities and home to a very large harbor. On the road up to Hamburg, we caught up on everything we’ve been up to since Cambodia. Björn has continued his studies and has done smaller trips recently in countries close to him in Europe. About an hour or so later, we made it to Hamburg where we met up with his friend Tillman, who has his own place there. Björn and I would be staying here for a few days while we wandered around the city!
After settling in, we immediately went out into the city to see what was out there. Since this was my first day in Hamburg, and in Germany for that matter, it was time to get started on some German delicacies. I heard there was a lot to choose from! We passed by a small restaurant that served up bratwurst, but I decided to start with a currywurst. Simply put, it’s a sausage with curry spices and sauce on top of it.
We continued walking around the city center until it began to rain. We went back to Tillman’s and just relaxed there for the remainder of the day playing a couple games Björn brought with him from home. There, I received a message from another German friend of mine, Gesa. You may remember, Gesa lived with me in South Africa at Mama Zulu’s last autumn. She said she was coming down to Hamburg to visit for a couple days and it’d be perfect to meet up!
The next day, we still had some time before Gesa would meet us so Björn and I decided to pass time by visiting the Hamburg Dungeons. It’s an attraction where actors dressed in creepy costumes tell you scary stories in different dungeon themed rooms spread throughout an old building. This attraction was not English friendly and I couldn’t understand a single thing that was said. Björn couldn’t translate because frankly there was way too much to translate. No big deal, it was still amusing to see.
Later on, Gesa met us near the harbor and after greeting each other, I instantly noticed her English has improved tremendously! Seems living in South Africa for a year has done her wonders. The three of us explored more of the harbor and its scenic spots. I even had my first döner, currently my new favorite German food. It’s a pita bread filled with shaved meat, garlic sauce, cheese, and veggies. It was cheap and delicious! It’s actually Turkish but it’s more of a German thing I guess. I killed that döner!
That same night, the three of us along with one of Gesa’s friends and Tillman went to a couch bar on the other side of town. Simply put, it’s a bar with lots of couches to lounge on. The drinks here were cheap so we loaded up! Afterwards, Björn, Tillman, and I went to another bar across town that stayed open into the early morning hours.
Hamburg was my first city in German and it was quite alright. A great introduction to the country. I would later find that every place I visited is very different from one another. Björn and I left Hamburg after a few days to his hometown of Dorste which is a little more than an hour west of Hannover.