Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Weekend (1.5 - 1.7): Getting to Know You

The first weekend of the new year we decided to get to know our new neighbourhood better, in a general kind of way, by ticking some of the obligatory things off the list. 

December was, for me, moving into our apartment with jetlag that was replaced by bronchitis (but thankfully Lena had powerful antibiotics left over from the last time she had it), figuring out what documents we actually needed to get married (surprise, you have to be functional in basic German, better start learning!), of course the multi-day Christmas extravaganza, celebrating Lars' 30th birthday twice, and drinking. A lot of drinking. 
But that's what the next post is about, minus the Christmas pics I dumped in the previous post. 
This one is mostly scenic.

Brisk winter walks through parks are not that big of a deal, but I've been stuck in the house most of the time I've been here, so like, they're really alright. Germany is full of greenery and water features, even in the big cities; that's one of the many reasons I thought it'd be pretty nice to live here.

Ah yes, Purpleberry. Cures your Pokémon of poison but poisons you

10/10 would recommend the park nearest us, Jakobipark, for its above average levels of goth

Yes, let the darkness flow through you

This particular church, unlike almost every single other old-ass church in this region,
only dates from the mid-19th century. I think. The Wiki is weirdly unclear about it.

Although, I did find out that it has an altarpiece that dates from 
about 1500 inside, which means that I have to go in next time. 

When life gives you a bleak grey landscape and a still-as-glass pond with no ducks on it..
Then like..
I don't know..
-throaty guttural black metal noises-

Anyway, on Saturday morning we headed to the main art museum here, the Kunsthalle Hamburg, because Hannes decided that he wanted to see more of those obligatory things I mentioned and that he was actually in the mood to look at art. He admits freely that this happens roughly once a year. But we're both happy to be here, of course, and prior to this January we mostly just equated Hamburg with getting completely trashed. Although, to be fair, that's what Seoul was to us too, and that seems to be a good thing so far.
Anyway part two, we had also decided to check out the Speicherstadt, a popular and scenic red brick warehouse district in the center of town that dates from the late 19th century and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.

I hope that I never get to a point where I think it's dumb and touristy to appreciate 
the opulent details affixed to and carved into European buildings.

"Look!" the lumpy monkey exclaimed, "there are some fine details now!"

This museum has on permanent display five centuries of predominantly German art, 
in addition to their current running exhibitions.

(George Grosz: John, der Frauenmörder, 1918)

(Max Pechstein: Junge mit Spielzeug, 1916)

(Kristian Schad: Bildnis Egon Erwin Kisch, 1928)

(Paul Klee: Felsige Küste, 1931)

Forgot who painted this one and didn't take a picture of the plaque; 
I just like that my new camera lens captures up-close textures so well.

(Salvador Dalí: The Birth of Liquid Fears, 1932)

I like that this looks like a fantastical scene from a distance and is just kind of nothing 
but good composition close-up.
(Richard Oelze: Orakel, 1955)

Heckin' spoopy
(Alberto Giaccometti: Stehende, 1948-49)

Did you know anything about Edvard Munch besides The Scream?! I sure didn't.
(Madonna, 1894-95)

There were a number of Max Beckmann paintings, all totally stylistically distinct 
and clearly done during different phases in his life, that I really liked.
(Große graue Wellen, 1905)

The movement tho.
Franz Marc was one of the key figures of the German Expressionist movement..
who did not come back from World War I. What a waste.
(Affenfries, 1911)

(Auguste Herbin: Der Hafen von Bastia auf Korsika, 1907)

See? Max Beckmann is back.
(Großes Fisch-Stillleben, 1927)

(Stanislas Lépine: Nächtliches Bad am Kanal St. Martin, late 19th century)

I was extremely impressed by this one. It's just stunning in person, such emotion, wow
(Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller: Der Heimkehrende aus dem Kriege, 1859)

... Mordor, is that you? 
Actually, it reminds me more of the island in Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, which is an outrageously, stupidly, intricately, beautifully animated little fantasy adventure (that weirdly but appropriately enough for the current cultural zeitgeist involves Nazi owls) that Hannes and I finally watched. 10/10 would recommend in HD, even if you're just in it for the feathers and water droplets.
(Carl Blechen: Stürmische See mit Leuchtturm, 1826)

Also blows your tits right off in person. The symbolism is heavy-handed, but who cares? 
This is considered a classic, essential piece of revolutionary French art.
(Jean-Baptiste Regnault: La Liberté ou la Mort, 1795)

Once you sink down into the 16th century and earlier, though, the quality and sense of proportion deteriorate, and the subject matter becomes overwhelmingly Christian:

"Look at this smug fucking baby."
"Seriously, I hate him. Him and his stupid pose."

So, back to the future!

This grass thing with the lit numbers was donated to the museum anonymously.
There is risk of electrocution if you fiddle with it, and I mean, it's also mostly kindling. The numbers don't seem to have a discernible pattern of any kind. This level of trolling is really beyond me.

Hey! Who's that handsome guy?

Okay, this installation was super cool: it's Bogomir Ecker's Tropfsteinmaschine, 
installed in 1996 and intended to be part of the museum until 2496. 
It collects rainwater from the roof and this top part here...

... drops it down here.
This way, museumgoers are able to watch a stalagmite form in real time.

I've lost track of the name of the artist who did this one, too, but it's an entirely conceptual hospital room installation complete with fake historical documents about how staring at and getting lost in these huge paintings was a type of therapy that was supposed to improve patients' mental states. It might be based on an experimental treatment that was really done, though, as much stranger things have happened (re: the invention of Kellogg's Cornflakes) and it doesn't seem like a bad idea.

There's a large room full of these big panels of glass held up and balanced by these straps for securing and transporting heavy loads. They're collectively called Uncharted Territory, by Jose Dávila.

The skeleton painting with the thoroughly unpleasant textures is by Gustav Kluge.
My first thought when I saw this spoopy rusty guillotine, though, was:

#sliceybois #evrytim

Every five minutes these play a funny little chorus - with the occasional, tiny, high-pitched ding - and the straps you can sort of see in the middle there move around a rod that's suspended from them, kind of like the hand of a clock.

This reminded of me one of the pieces we saw at Takashi Murakami's Oz Zingaro in Nakano Broadway back in 2016:

I mean, same thing, right?

(Christian Boltanski: Réserve: Le Suisses Morts, 1990)

And finally, let me just leave you with some hella creepy puppets.
Who made these? I don't know!

On our way to the Speicherstadt area we passed an anti-Iranian government demonstration. 
They're demanding freedom from dictatorship and freedom of the press, among other things.

Aaaaaand it's more brick buildings lol

I mean, don't get me wrong. Obviously I totally dig brick buildings. It was interesting.

We both found this thoroughly impressive and pleasant. It's like a hidden passageway.
I mean, I know it's just a low or maybe even seasonal tide, but how whimsical.

I've been making an effort to capture glimpses of partially-visible bicycles parked next to brick gothic and gothic revival buildings through arched passageways and haven't been able to?
I think my problem is that I'm ridiculously specific?

These little dudes in a box were my favourite graffiti here until I started seeing 
the hilarious Popsicle sculptures adhered to walls and underpasses. 
I have no idea who does them, but eventually I'll find out.

Speaking of underpasses, this leek is pretty good too lol

Urgh, quaint and old-fashioned af. We didn't go in, though.
Along this block is also Miniatur Wunderland, the toy train museum that is inexplicably 
Germany's most popular tourist attraction.

Oh - you didn't think we skipped stopping for coffee on a cold overcast Saturday afternoon altogether, did you? Oh no, ahaha, no no no. Consuming large quantities of coffee is obligatory in drizzly northern latitudes such as these.

It's been hard, though, getting all this marriage/visa stuff done. 
We've spent way too much time being worried and stressed out.
-pensiveness intensifies-

But hey, this café is really fuckin' cute, right?

Some kind of historical alleyway; I didn't feel like reading the little plaque.

Before heading home we also walked over to take a look at the Nikolaikirche, one of the famous landmarks in the center of town. It's just a brutal scorched tower without a church hall because of the bombing of Hamburg during WWII. Apparently there's an elevator inside, but it was being renovated and was blocked off and closed. 
Interestingly, construction of the first of numerous iterations of this particular church started in 1335. It burned down twice and collapsed once inbetween. The tippy-top of this current Gothic Revival tower here was finished in 1874, and for two years, it was actually the tallest building in the world. Huh. Crazy. Today it's not even the tallest in Hamburg: the TV Tower is taller.

When we were over at Nico and Andrea's for Silvester, Hannes was informed that a ticket to an ice hockey game in Berlin had been bought for him as a present for Nico's birthday, so the next day, that's what he was doing. Turns out there were like 20,000 people and pyrotechnics there, which admittedly sounds pretty neat. 
Once when I was in elementary school we went to a Phoenix Coyotes game and a few of the players beat the snot out of each other right in front of us, because we were right up against the glass, after the announcer had specifically asked them to refrain from doing that in front of all the kids, so that's one of a small handful of happy school memories I have. But.. I'm glad I skipped the other game that was on the day we drove back to Rostock after we murdered ourselves with Pfeffi and Mexikaners at DildoFabrik the night before. I think I'm good on sporting matches for now.

Look at these handsome motherfuckers though

So, what did I do while Hannes was in Berlin? Well, I met up with my friend Jannes. We randomly started talking online last summer, about all kinds of things, but mostly literature, art, and music. 
He's a music teacher and classical pianist who moved here to start a new job several months before we did, but it's cool having met someone who's also kind of new here, before I even got here, and who isn't one of Hannes' long-time friends. The first time we hung out in person was at the Christmas market at City Hall, one week after Hannes and I went.
Jannes is pretty energetic and talkative and fanciful, but some of his ideas for how to spend the day involved combination land and sea voyages, and I didn't want to commit to anything major. I had found out right after coming here, though, that the day tickets for the trains and subways also include the Elbe River ferries, and had been wanting to do that, so boom! plan. I mean, it's basically free.
It's also a combination land and sea voyage, though, technically..  But I mean, within town.

These little fucking guys again

We met at a large restaurant called Gasthaus Heimathafen for their brunch bar, which has quite a lot of nice options. I got more scrambled eggs and asparagus salad and some fresh yogurt with a couple of different fruit jams after this plate, too, wanting to get my money's worth and not expecting to eat again until pretty late that night, when Hannes got back. The coffee is unfortunately not included in the price, but I totally plan on going back at some point. 

It was the first clear, sunny day in several weeks, so it was surprising that the brunch bar wasn't packed, I thought. Well, it probably just took people a little bit of time to realise what was going on with the weather, get up, and get moving: the ferries were absolutely packed. People here also have no earthly concept of queuing, which is a pretty big culture shock after living in Japan, so the entire ferry port was essentially a chaotic mass of impolite humanity desperate to absorb some vitamin D.

However, we were in no rush, and simply boarded the nearest and most convenient ferry.
It turned out to be the Elbphilharmonie ferry, amusingly enough, and only took us the equivalent of like three blocks over and back.

I think it's a little weird that they go to the trouble of running ferries such an insignificant distance, but then again, this glass behemoth is now an essential part of the skyline, and it took so many extra millions of taxpayer dollars to build that placating people by giving them a fuller experience seems like a smart idea. See all those tiny people on the observation deck? That's also free.

Fun fact: Hamburg is the third-busiest container port in Europe.

Rounding this spit of land was really nice. I don't know what this building is, though.

We had decided to ride the ferries as far as they went down the Elbe, to Teufelsbrück, which was brisk and invigorating and fun, but it wasn't actually that far. Standing out on the dock, we looked to the left and went, "Oh." realising that we could still see the center of town pretty clearly.

I thought this last stop also seemed nice, though, because it has a massive park called Jenischpark, which we proceeded to take a lovely walk around. There were a lot of people out and about, trying to make the most of the sun before it got dark again around 3:30 in the afternoon, many of them with doggos. There are so many good boys here. Jannes told me about his friends' Bernese Mountain Dog, a very popular breed here, who's pretty big but skittish and babyish in a very lovable way.

This is more or less how I imagine New England and the southern English countryside to be.
But I mean. I have no idea. Whatever. It was very picturesque.


We stopped at what I later found out was a famous attraction, called Jenisch Haus, for coffee and hopefully a toilet, but it was far too packed for either. Instead we headed back to the dock and stopped into this weird little floating restaurant called Dübelsbrücker Kajüt.

The decor was completely over-the-top, but even moderately authentic nautical themes can't be offensive in my opinion. We had to sit at a big round communal table with five other people because the place was so tiny. It was a compass, and when the waited came over to wipe it off he rotated it, so that Jannes had to grab my camera before it spun away. It was so weird!

But, anyway, we had a good talk, my hot chocolate was good, 
and it was getting dark and time to go home.

Colourful sunsets aren't exactly the norm here, at least not in winter. 

You know what was a lot less nice than the sunset? The absolutely freezing, powerful wind on us as the ferry sped back to the main docks. Jesus. I told Jannes about how my shift at Berlitz in Seoul started at 6:45 A.M., and that in winter, the wind coming off the Han River felt like that. Mostly he just wondered aloud why I didn't wear hats, and I have to admit, he got me there. I didn't grow up in a place where hats would do anything except make your head super sweaty in 10 minutes or less!

It was pretty well impossible to get decent photos from a speeding ferry in total darkness 
while frozen solid, but damn it, I still tried.

Quite a set of weekends we had there!
2018 got off to a strong start in our new city.