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Greek Explorer Part 3

24 July 2012


Dear Family and Friends,
I have just returned from a long weekend in Hamburg, visiting friends who stayed with us as homestay guests 18 years ago ... we kept in touch throughout all these years and when we met, it was as if it had been only yesterday. I was given a right royal treatment, even had my own small apartment in the retirement home where the parents live, the whole family went out off their way to give me a wonderful "Hamburg Experience" and they certainly succeeded! The son and daughter in law (in their early 60s) did some great sightseeing with me, his father at 88 joined us in all the excursion, but unfortunately the mother could barely walk, so only came on the car outings and for the meals at the various restaurants. And what meals!!! They chose exclusive restaurants with fabulous menus, the type of meal you wouldn't have a clue of cooking yourself ... no need to have hunger pains at 2.30 in the morning, muesli bars beside my bed remained untouched!!!
Hamburg is a fascinating city and to be shown it by people who know and love it, was very special. On Sunday morning we went to the "Fish Market" where in the old days freshly caught fish were sold ... today it's a big eating hall, with bands playing at each end, very busy and noisy, the Hamburg equivalent of Munich's Hofbrauhaus". Outside are many stalls, selling anything from fish to fruit and flours, baked goods and clothes ... very colourful sales people, a real fun scene - breakfast consisted of a bun filled with a soused hering, gherkin and onion rings.  I just loved it, while the men chose some cakes, a bit more conventional, we all "munched" while we viewed the colourful scene. A boat trip around the huge harbour followed, very interesting, we were fortunate that 2 big luxury liners were in Hamburg on the same day, the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth (first time ever), we came really close to the Queen Mary.  Huge container wharves with the most modern technical equipment, and ships with over 1,000 containers on them were pointed out to us, very impressive - you shudder to think what would happen of they met with an accident!
The railways behaved with German precision this time, departures and arrivals right on the minute, so no more refunds ... We duly filled in the formulars to claim a refund for the trip to Berlin (the clerk said that we had been extremely unfortunate to have had such long delays on both journeys), but considering the cash we got and even the much smaller refund on my Visa account, we felt we were rather fortunate than unfortunate. I promptly spent this bonus money on a very smart little handbag .... which in all honesty I needed like a hole in the head! I had fun shopping for some of the German spices and herbs I enjoy using, also the ingredients for my "famous" dessert with the various fruits, so I can treat you all again. I have to make up a parcel today as no way I could carry all these things with me, even then, I have come to realise that "travelling light" is just not my forte! Even my little bag to Hamburg was heavier than I had intended, that "be prepared" motto is just too inbred.
Off again tomorrow,  to spend a few days with a cousin of mine in a lovely forest area in Southern Germany near the Czech boarder, we all look forward to that - let's hope the weather will improve, quite cool with heavy showers every day - certainly not what I had hoped for, Greece feels like a lost paradise!
Must sign off, and start with the sorting out - luckily the Post Office is just across the road - with very pleasant, helpful staff.
A quick thank-you to all of you who sent me little notes, I love hearing from you all and am very pleased you enjoy my ramblings.
Love to you all,  

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