22 September 2021
I can’t help it. When eating a delicious slice of pork shoulder, my server thought I was leaving the best part, the layer of crispy fat. “Das ist gut” she points out. Yes it is, I agree, but I have a desire to keep my arteries open a few more years.
So, as I sit in the Frankfurt Airport, perusing Paulaner’s German menu for “soul food,” I cannot pass on the Gegrillte Schweinshaxe as a further threat to my blood flow. Grilled pork knuckles are just too tempting to pass up. I love sauerkraut and just for the fine dining experience, I add a side of buttered Swabian noodles. “Takes half an hour, is okay?” Yes, actually it is perfect. I laze over my Hefeweizen and think of what a great “freedom” trip this has been.
I have visited here several times before because my daughter Didi lives here. There is always lots to do and lots of life to catch up. Fall has arrived, light misty showers fall, and it’s a perfect time to relax and share time together.
Covid has definitely effected travel; it is not as easy as it was pre-covid and there is always the concern: “what if?” The Luca app, contact tracking, masking, verification of vaccination, distancing – all add layers of hassle and stress. However, every bit of it is okay as a trade off to being able to travel. The biggest stress is the Covid test requirement to renter the US. No matter how confident and healthy I feel, those 30 anxious minutes waiting for results are long.
My last stop on this Germany 2021 trip is the bedroom community of Bergedorf where my daughter Didi lives. In spite of too little time and drizzly rain, we had a wonderful time. Highlights included:
St. Michael’s Church, a Baroque but beautifully simple Lutheran church which, unlike most churches in Germany that were built as Catholic and later converted, was purposely built Protestant and is probably the most famous church in Hamburg. The present building is the third one at this site; the first one was built from 1647 to 1669. The bronze statue above the portal depicts Michael the archangel conquering the devil. The unmistakable 433′ copper-topped bell tower has always been a landmark for ships sailing up the Elbe. With 2,500 seats, it is the largest church in Hamburg.
St. Michael has five organs, one of which Johannes Brahms played. In fact, Brahms was baptized here in 1833. In the crypt lies Johann Mattheson, German composer (1704 opera Cleopatra) and diplomat and close friend of George Handel, although he nearly killed Handel during a heated quarrel. Also in the crypt is Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, musician and composer, a son of Johann Sebastian Bach. Overall, hard not to be impressed both with crypt contents and the sleek and clean, white interior.
The Hamburger Kunsthalle (art hall) is just a couple minutes from the Hauptbahnhof and should not to be missed. The Kunsthalle is one of the largest art museums in Germany and consists of three connected buildings, the oldest dating from 1869. Today, the museum houses an expansive art collection that covers seven centuries of European art, from the Middle Ages to artists of the present day. (Although I have to admit that contemporary art is like olives with Didi, I have to view contemporary art every so often to remind myself I don’t like it. The highlight of this section was the man in harness, belays and carabiners outside the third store window.)
It is difficult to highlight the masters on display here; suffice to say the Kunsthalle will have an art work or two of your favorite artist. And the grand staircase with its corner posts of monkeys is charming.
For a view of Hamburg and its busy harbor, visit the Elbphilharmonie, or concert hall. One can enjoy innovative architecture and ride exceptionally long escalators to a great 360° view. And while in this area, stroll through the Speicherstadt, or Warehouse District, the largest warehouse district in the world. While the buildings, mostly built between 1883 and 1927, stand on timber-pile foundations of oak logs, the upper multi-storey buildings are of red brick. The gentrification of the area and its architecture earned it status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
Perhaps when in Germany, one should eat German fare. In our case, this was deliciously prepared Peking Duck and an array of dumplings at the Dim Sum Haus just across the street from the Hauptbahnhof. The restaurant has been around for almost 60 years and is the perfect setting for friends to gather. A fun night of food, drink and conversation brought an end to wonderful travels in Germany.