7 years ago I moved to Toronto. A month prior to that my family moved to Germany after 15 or so years in Asia. This past Holiday Season, I finally got to spend some time at our new home in Hamburg and Mama had the chance to furnish our bedroom, that sat empty for the past 3 years.
Da Kid and I arrived in Hamburg in the early hours of December 23rd – just a few short days after the horrific attacks on Berlin’s notable Christkindlmarkt. Unterrified, though accompanied by the concerns of family and friends urging us to not visit the local markets, we refused to barricade ourselves in. And from the feel of it, so had Hamburg and its people. Festive, lit and ready to celebrate, the city proved that even in the face of hatred, it’ll never fail to deliver its German charm and traditions. That night, after some much deserved post-flight R&R, decked in our warmest attire, we headed towards the city-centre where – nestled by the Elbe river – the market was booming with people and artisans, infusing the air with sweet notes of Gluehwein, Bratwurst and candied nuts (nutella mini donuts, included).
Over the next week we chilled by the fire place, enjoyed home cooked meals, scouted the city for the best Schnitzel and Bratkartoffeln, drank numerous beers and schnapps and drooled at the smell of delicious pastries, baked around every corner. We joined a gym – because it wouldn’t be a vacation without a bit of a physical hustle – and put our German to practice.
We sipped coffee by the river , connected with the culture and ate some more.
We strolled by the river, had beers and took advantage of photo ops (because, if you’re with me, you automatically assume the duty of a photographer). We greeted local police, clad with assault rifles and passed by concrete barricades – products of recent attacks and aimed at keeping hatred out – that were turned into works of Art by those who love Hamburg and choose to keep its eternal light shine.
“Hamburg meine Perle, du wunderschöne Stadt,
du bist mein Zuhaus, du bist mein Leben,
du bist die Stadt auf die ich kann”