Time is relative

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The weather is always really bad when I come to Gothenburg. But this view is nevertheless pretty and it’s still a nice place.

Today at 8.24 p.m. I called almost all my close contacts. Only two answered. Most of the others texted shortly after asking if they should call back. Why this sudden need for real communication? Well, I was l flabbergasted! I had arrived to Hamburg with only a five minute delay all the way from Gothenburg. Am-a-zing.

Taking the train meant investing twice as much time as if I had flown, but the only available flight would have been at 7 a.m.. “I won’t use my CO2-budget for such an inconvenience”, I decided and prepared myself for being on the train forever. I left my friend Joraine’s house at 11.07 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive at 8.16 p.m.. That’s already a long journey. But I had booked a connection with 7 – seven! – minutes transfer time in Copenhagen, a railway station I don’t know at all. So I mentally had already conceded that I would strand in Copenhagen, take the next connection that would take much longer and if I’d be lucky I’d make it home before midnight. But then the Swedish train arrived a minute early, the connecting train was late and I had plenty of time waiting for the train.

After going on the Öresund Bridge with its impressive views, we chugged through Denmark (they stop in like every village?) until we came to the boat. Yes, the train goes on the ferry boat! There are actual tracks on the boat. Of course I knew this before but I felt like a child on an adventure. The 45-minute-ferry-ride allowed for a visit to the deck breathing some nice Baltic Sea air, having dinner and browsing the somewhat tacky boat shop.

I had brought countless newspapers for work and leisure to read, made plans to write letters, and do lots of work. I had downloaded some Netflix that I had been wanting to finish. I texted back and forth with Ingrid for a while, I looked out the window and marvelled at being able to follow the route and feel the distance. I also ate way too many dates. I could have been on the train another five hours and still have stuff to do?! (It wasn’t that comfortable, so I was glad I didn’t have to.)

But suddenly, we were already there! “Next stop Hamburg”, it sounded and I was, as I mentioned, flabbergasted. It was only a little after 8 and I was home! My mind was still set to getting home past midnight so I had to readjust to reality. Time is relative, I noticed once again, and expectation management is everything.

Upon arrival, I texted my godchild who I’m going to Paris with next year: “We’re totally going by train”. She replied, “Obviously”.

Now I’m home and finished watching Swedish “Quicksand” and following the shows about the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. The East German channel has their theme for the day on the screen, and it’s “Freedom 89”. I started this day with my friend who was born in the GDR and who I’d never have met if it wasn’t for November 9, 1989. I spent the day travelling through three countries without being asked for my passport once. And I am ending it missing the little girl who is Swedish-German-French, a real European.

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I actually didn’t only go to Gothenburg to get my regular Swedish fix and try to charm the baby (she wasn’t easily bribed!), I came for work, doing two seminars about the German market.

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The little one loves music and I could score some points with singing all the children’s songs I knew. Also, I now have Swedish kids songs stuck in my head for probably forever. Lilla bocken Bruse trippar över trollebro…!

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My very international youngest Swedish friend is so international she skypes her family abroad at age 1,5 years.

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We went to the library (such an awesome place!) where they had every magazine imaginable. And when I say that I mean “Magazine for building history” and “Magazine on narcotics”. And this one, a satire magazine that is illustrated with photos from the 1820s but writes about somewhat contemporary issues (or just makes up completely ridiculous stuff).

 

Big Apple

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I love apples. People give me funny looks when I say I buy 14 apples at the Farmer’s Market for each week. But if you eat one for lunch and one for dessert after dinner, that’s 14 a week. I remember my grandpa cutting up apples into slices for me when I was sitting on his couch watching TV with him. It’s one of my fondest memories and if I only could eat one fruit for the rest of my life, I suppose it would be apples. Or oranges.

How convienent for me that I now live an hour away from Northern Europe’s largest fruit-producing region, eh? I’ve only waited for fall to roll around so that I could set off to the Altes Land (“Old Land” – apparently a mistranslation from Low Saxon. The land is not old, but was originally colonised by Dutch settlers, and thus called the (H)Olland). In the Altes Land, you can go apple picking yourself and what I hear this is a popular activity for Hamburgers. We went on October 3, German National Day, but next year I think I’d go a little earlier. Most of my favorite apple, Elstar, had been picked already. But that was fine, there were plently of others left and the idyllic atmosphere was amazing. After four days of constant rain, we even had sunshine! I got to pick Finkenwerder Herbstprinz, a local apple I heard about but that isn’t sold in the supermarkets (at least not in mine). As I was roaming under the apple trees, I wondered when self-picking became popular. I mean, 100 years ago people would have thought you were crazy to pay to do the work of a farmers’ hand. But today, with us urban people feeling so disconnected from the origins of our food…yeah, you get it. (Half of the people might come for the pretty instagram pictures this adventure yields, though.)

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Of course I choose the apple that looked like a butt.

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Small, non-edible apples that can be used for decoration

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I was very charmed by the Altes Land region with its timbered houses, open skies and large fields. The Prunkpforte, the gate pictured above, was also a highlight. Wealthy people apparently build these kind of portals to, well I don’t know why, but I suppose to flaunt their wealth and impress others? Or to please God – the inscription was very Christian.

If you are ever around in August – October, I suggest you take half a day and explore what’s outside the gates of Hamburg!