Wednesday, November 8, 2017


My company is headquartered in Germany and every year they have a Global HR meeting. This year was my first time we were a part of that (acquired this year) and one of the first things they told me was to get my passport. So, on the second day of our last show, I left the arena and headed to the airport to fly to Hamburg, Germany via Iceland and Copenhagen.

The check in process with Icelandic Air required me to show my passport, but otherwise was just like normal travel process at the airport. I was offered the opportunity to hang out in the Icelandic Air lounge, but that was in the B terminal and the gate was in the A terminal, so I opted to just wait at the gate. Perhaps next time I will check it out, but for my first out-of-the-US trip, I wanted to be sure I didn't miss the plane. I traveled business select and that didn't suck. The seat shown above was very comfortable and there was a blanket, pillow and travel gift (socks, toothbrush, toiletries) in a nifty bag on the seat. We were offered a bottle of water and a small glass of sparkling wine when we were seated. It was amazing. Plus, we got to board first. 

It was an eight hour flight from Denver to Keflavik airport was almost eight hours. We were served a wonderful meal of rare bison with some kind of root veggies, a rump steak with baby onions and mashed potatoes. Then I napped on and off until they served us a breakfast of turkey and chees sandwich on a cross ain't with me on, for breakfast. Then we landed in Iceland.

The plane landed on the tarmac in Iceland and we moved between the plane and the airport by bus. This seems to be the process in Iceland. I had an hour layover and then traveled by bus out to the plane that would fly us to Copenhagen. It was still dark and I had no idea what time it was. I did learn however, that the Broncos had lost badly to the NY Giants. 

The landing strip in Copenhagen.

One of the many shops at the airport. There was a lot of fish and caviar available.

One of the shops selling caviar. I did not partake.
The prices at this airport were very high.

The Copenhagen airport was a chaotic mess of shops and signs and expensive food. I wasn't hungry and felt absolutely exhausted. I found the correct gate, snagged a seat and just waited for a little over an hour for the plane to load. By the time I got on the plane for the final leg of my journey I had been traveling for 17 hours and had been up for 27. The flight from Copenhagen to Hamburg was a puddle jump of just about an hour and then I was there. 

I expected to have to pass through customs, which I had also done while in Iceland, but despite asking for direections, I ended up on the main causeway trying to find my way to the hotel. (The other really nice thing about business select is that your bags come off the plane first).I used my debit card for Euros and also exchanged some cash for Euros as well, since a taxi ride to the hotel was going to be 45 or 50 Euros. I went outside and found a taxi, gave the driver the address to the hotel and climbed in the car. 45 Euros later ($53 USD) I was at the hotel. My US colleague was sitting in front of the hotel when I arrived. We made plans for dinner after I had checked in, got organized and taken a shower (remember I came from the horse show). 

Hands down the most uncomfortable bed in the history of beds. Who makes a king sized bed this way? Do the Germans not sleep together? And even as a single person in a king sized bed, I want to be able to spread out. That's not possible when what you are sleeping on is two twin mattresses. I can't tell you how many times I ended up waking up with my ass in that crack.

I took a nice hot shower, which was absolutely wonderful, then dressed and headed downstairs. I had been awake for 30 hours at that point and I was starting to slur my words. Thank goodness I hadn't had any drinks. I was also on a mission to find Dr Pepper, since I hadn't realized it wasn't going to be easy to find in Germany. Next time I will load my bag with bottles at the airport and have one a day while I'm gone. I met up with my US colleague, (Jase) and my German collegue (CN) to head out for dinner. I have to say that the public transit train system in Hamburg is first class and we managed to figure out how to use it fairly easily in the four days we were there. There were a lot of people who spoke English and everyone was nice and wanted to help. 


Although it did have the under flavor that both Jase and I tasted the entire time we were in Germany, kind of like the slight taste of sulfur. It wasn't in the bottled water, but I could taste it in the DP, in the melon and other fruit, in the juices and yogurt. By the end of the week, I was struggling with the taste. I don't know if it's sulfur, but it has to be some sort of mineral there. Or maybe it's the taste of sorrow and ash.

The restaurant we went to was at the top of a tower overlooking Hamburg harbor. The steak they served was amazing, as was the side fixings. As we were looking over the area, I saw a Hard Rock Cafe and told Jase we had to go there. I make a point of going to as many as I can. 

After dinner we went up to the bar at the top of the building. This was on the stairs up. It is the prow of a boat and you could see on the wood where the sailors have rubbed her for luck.

This was an old factory we walked past on our way to the office in Hamburg.
I am fascinated by old brickwork buildings.

See that star like shape on the wall? It is an anchor. There is a cable that runs just above the dropped ceiling from one side of the building to the other, where it is attached to another star. The cable keeps the building walls from leaning out away from the framing inside. This is very common with buildings that are framed inside with wood.

My colleagues waiting for taxis to take us to our evening event. 

We did a team building event in a place called Walking in the Dark. It was a tactile experience of being blind, with canes, in a basement that had a series of tasks we had to complete. I came pretty close to losing my shit, but my coworkers did a great job of supporting me, and after the first couple of minutes my feelings of claustrophobia diminished. There was no light at all, even though I spent the two hours we were down there feeling like I was straining to see. 

We did five team exercises. We crossed a swaying bridge that had obstacles in the middle of the bridge, then had to cross the road with traffic, all in one group, without anyone getting killed. The third obstacle was sorting fruits and veggies at the market stall and counting how many there were of each type. Next was a puzzle made of half circles. We almost solved that one correctly. I used my lanyard to measure the opening of the half circle and we only had two ot of 24 pieces incorrect. The final task was to use a rope to create a square with right angle corners and even lengths on all four sides. It ended up being a very fun experience. 

This was pumpkin soup served in a bottle for dinner. 
It was tasty but not as good as butternut squash soup.

A clock tower in Hamburg

More brick work - I'm smitten

There were a lot of cobblestone streets.

The architecture of old buildings is utterly fascinating to me.
Do you see the hood like element on the very top of the building above the arches on the far right of the photo? It's actually a dumbwaiter and that line of "windows" is actually doors. The barges would navigate the canals with goods, stop at the bottom of this building and use the dumbwaiter to raise pallets of goods to those doors where it could be unloaded into the warehouse.

Actually laying brick (as opposed to facade) with decorative arches is amazing, and those small cut outs were stunning.

There were canals and locks through Hamburg. It was possible to rent a boat and travel on them, but I didn't get a chance to try it out.

Random doorway on our way to a Pizza joint, ran by people from Italy.
Their pizza was awful though. I ordered a Hawaiian which was served with six pieces of pineapple and the ham was sandwich meat cut into triangles.
The antipasto was good though and the olives were very tasty.

Back when buildings were designed and built to bring pleasure to the eye.

Round windows and decorative brick work

Thursday night, Jase and I went into Hamburg in search of a restaurant that was supposed to serve the best schnitzel in the town. We took the train into the city and got dropped off just outside the red light district. Ja had his phone with walking directions so we set off in search of this incredible restaurant. Every open store that sold beverages was inspected in our ongoing search to find Dr Pepper, to no avail. (Next time I am ordering it off Amazon and having it shipped to the hotel. Or I will carry on a collapsible cooler that I fill from the airport before take off.) We ended up walking what felt like five miles, although Jase's app lied and said it was just a mile. We finally found the restaurant and walked in.

The proprietor ignored us. Jase asked if they spoke english and the guy gave us a glare and said a very begrudging yes. Then he refused to seat us saying we hadn't called ahead. There were tables that weren't seated but he refused to budge. So, we left and walked down the street to another restaurant. We were asked if we had reservations and we said no, turning to leave, when she gave us a big smile and said she would find us a place. They did, in a corner at a very small table, but it didn't matter. That was the best meal I ate the entire trip. I had the porterhouse and Ja had an ox steak. Dinner was served with fresh warm bread, roasted mushrooms, cream spinach (actually really good and I usually don't like cream anything), and fried potatoes. The people there were friendly and really warm, with huge smiles and a bit of teasing when we couldn't finish our meal. 

On our way back to the train station, we found a rock bar and went in for a drink. Jase had found a petro station that actually had Dr Pepper, so while he was having a beer, I had a Dr Pepper in a glass with ice. I have to tell you getting a glass with ice was incredibly difficult in Germany, since no one seemed to know why I could possibly want ice. Plus, all of their beverages were served at room temperature. Anyway, the bar was playing some good rock music (Metallica, Rolling Stones, etc) and I was having fun speaking Spanish to the guy behind the bar (he didn't speak German). We finished the night in giggles (not really sure what was so funny, just knew I couldn't stop laughing).

Gratuitous selfie with a brass statue of the Statue of Liberty

On Friday, Jase and I got to explore the city together. We started in the heart of Hamburg at a Dunkin Donuts. I had juice and a couple of donuts and Jase had coffee an a donut. I was kind of happy to actually have american breakfast food, even if it was entirely sugar. Germans seem to think that cold cuts and cheese are breakfast. That was the hardest meal of the day for me.

All that fattening goodness

We wandered around the mall the donut shop was located in, shopping for souvenirs. I scored a Winter is Coming (GoT) shirt, found a scarf for a friend, and got J a "All who wander are not lost" shirt with the silhouettes of the Fellowship of the Ring (Gandalf, hobbits, elves) on the front. (Scored big on that one.) Then we wandered the town. 

We found lots of chocolate and marsipan for T at a sweet shop. Some of it was filled with alcohol, which he isn't a fan of, but we also found some Swedish chocolate bars at the Chocolate Museum, so that turned out okay. 

I love this building. The windows are just amazing.

The doorway into St Michaels church.

The sanctuary of St Michaels

My first glimpse of a pipe organ
I've read about them but never seen one

Same building from the side.

The other side of the church

The government building in Hamburg.
We photobombed a couple getting wedding pictures there.
Jase wanted to investigate all of the out-of-bounds areas in the building, but my common sense prevailed. (I'm not really a rule breaker.)

Statue outside of the government building.

Just have got to love this building.
So intricate and elaborate.

Just more stuff that caught my eye.

This is the cutest car. We are facing the front and the door handle is on the left.
You open the door and crawl in.
It only has one wheel in the back.

The Spire of St Nicholas Church.
Used as a landmark by the allies in the bombing of Hamburg.
70% of the City was destroyed in the bombing run and the top of the spire is still blackened from the fires that were created by the bombs.

There were a few panels of stained glass that was salvaged from the bombing of the church.

Another stained glass window

The outside wall of St Nicholas. This wall and the tower were all that remained of the Church.
Hamburg decided not to restore the landmark and to leave it as is.
It is a memorial to the war.

We took the elevator inside to the top of the spire and looked out at the city.

Angel of Death statue installed in the 90's.
The wall behind the statue was rebuilt from brick salvaged from the bombed buildings.

A statue just outside the church.
The plaque said "Adolf the Great. 1143 AD to 1204 AD"

We also found a Jack Wolfskin shop and I fell in love. I would consider moving to that area of the country just for the shop. It is the Norwegian version of North Face, only with a cool wolfprint on all of the things. I got one of their messenger bags with a nifty three point connector. The bag is easy to carry and doesn't pull on my shoulders. I know it probs makes my boobs look huge, but I don't care. I love how it feels and how easy it is to carry. After buying it, I immediately stuffed everything I had purchased so far into it. Geek.

 How cool is that? I pretty much bought the bag for the clasp.

See how it works?

I got J a thick fleece jacket with the wolf's paw on the back and a pair of warm gloves. Seriously, though, I could have walked out with one of everything. It was that good.

I'm pretty sure this brick was made from the pilings of a steel mill.
It was sharp and formed differently than the other brick.
The circles formed from the brick were amazing.

And the brick was set in the building in a vertical format instead of horizontal
Just so cool.

It was fun to see the different architectural styles in the city.

Trumpeter Swans 
Jase said that when winter comes the city moves the Trumpeters inside out of fear that they will freeze.

The top one is a mannequin.
The other two are not.
I'm absolutely positive that there is a frame with seats that the two guys are using to hold the one on top up.

I absolutely love this.

Guarding the entrance to a building.

We ate lunch along the canal, at a small cafe. The food was good and the atmosphere was cozy. I had a chicken caesar salad and Jase had something regional. By this time I was pretty much ready for American cuisine again. There were no tacos the entire trip. After lunch we walked around a bit more

I think these were converted warehouses along the canals that ran through Hamburg.
It was a shipping or receiving building at some point in it's past.

Finally, it was time for our tour of the Miniature Museum of Hamburg.  I thought it was going to be pretty lame when Jase first suggested it, but it was fascinating and pretty freaking cool.

We stuffed all of our stuff into a locker and headed toward the beginning. I saw the sign for a WC and opened the door to find this:

Everything in the miniature museum is small.

We started in the American section and then just wandered through the halls looking at all of the layouts. The US had: Grand Canyon, Las Vegas with its more than 30,000 lights, the Rocky Mountains, the amazing Carsystem with American fire engines, Miami, the Everglades, Area 51, Cape Canaveral, Pueblo villages, logging camps. There is the Knuffingen airport and we got to see the Millinium Falcon fly out of there.

Italy and Rome

And then I got really fascinated with the whole thing.

Jousting Knights

I just liked the color of these buildings.



Neptune, Roman God of the Ocean

And then I discovered the little hidden Easter Eggs in the layout
Like the Ghostbusters

At that point it was all over and Jase and I started hunting

We found little people having sex. We found dinosaurs hidden in the trees in various places around the map. We found monks hiding behind a line of trees watching a woman change a tire with her skirt blown up around her ears. All of it was hidden in plain sight amongst the figurines. Overall, it was a great time. 

After the museum, we met with a collegue and once again attempted to eat schnitzel at the restaurant we had been told to go to. With a German speaking person with us and reservations made by her boyfriend (they wouldn't take her reservation over the phone) we ate schnitzel in the best schnitzel in Hamburg. We were unimpressed. The service was crappy and schnitzel is basically chicken fried steak, only with veal. It was probably the least impressive meal of the trip, including the meals on the airplane.

The next morning Jase and I headed to the airport to head back to the states.
I texted this pic to Jase as I was sitting on my plane waiting for take off.
Spare no expense, they said.

The view outside the window at take off.
The reflected face in the lower clouds is my reflection from the airplane window.

Copenhagen was a three hour layover. Everything was pricey. I ended up buying a big box of Toffifee and ate those in lieu of lunch. I was going to be fed on the plane any way.

Landing in Iceland on the first day of their winter

More of Iceland.

While in Iceland's airport, I found a new stocking cap for me that says 66 degrees north and a pair of thick wool glove things for J. They are wool tubes with a cut out for the thumb. You slip your hand into the tubes and your fingers and thumb are bare. She loves them a lot.

Greenland on the flight home

More of Greenland (I was forcing myself to stay awake).

Either Greenland or Northern Canada.
I didn't ask.

Customs at the airport was easy and quick. One of the benefits of flying business or first class - your luggage comes off first. I got outside just as J was pulling around (our flight was delayed) and she had two Dr Peppers in the car for me for the ride home. That's love, y'all. We got food and I crawled into bed almost 30 hours after I woke up. This world traveling thing is hard.


  1. That caviar place - you can get one bite of caviar for 100Euros! Crack in the bed - in every hotel. I have no idea. Also, no top sheets. I found Dr Pepper at a gas station. If I could find DIET Dr. Pepper (or root beer of any kind) I'd be so happy. No ice, warm beverages, even beer served room temp. Creamed spinach - I bought two boxes of it last night, I can't believe how yummy it is. You like Wolfskin - had you heard of it before? Since everyone wears it, I avoid it, which is a silly reason, I know. The pizza in Germany is the worst in the entire world. Can you imagine how bad that taco would have tasted, if you'd found one? It seems you had a lot of good steak, which is hard to find - it's not a German thing. My husband eats cold cuts and cheese every single morning, I eat eggs and bacon, odd your hotel didn't at least give you boiled eggs. The architecture - your photos just got better and better! I've been there, the city of bridges, "Germany's Venice". The mini museum looks awesome - it's Rome! The team exercise making a square out of rope, yep. Escape rooms haven't quite arrived here. "Basically chicken fried steak" LOL you're right. Did you drink sparkling water or tap water? Did you try the coffee? After those long exhausting flights, I think you can see why we don't visit very often, and we're in cattle class. But when we do visit, it's all about mexican food, seafood, and root beer for me, and dark chocolate MnMs for my husband.

    1. I decided that next time I will order Dr Pepper off of Amazon and have it shipped to the hotel for delivery the day I arrive. Or possibly bring a collapsible cooler through security and purchase a couple of six packs in the airport to carry on the airplane with me. That way I can pack the collapsible cooler in my bag for my flight home.

      I did not drink sparkling water, just room temperature non-gas water (that phrase cracks me up), and I am not a coffee drinker. Do you still notice the difference in taste in the food and water (it was most noticeable to me in the cantaloupe and melon they served with breakfast).

      I had not heard of Jack Wolfskin prior to being in Hamburg. I love it. I'm a collector of backpacks and bags anyway and the three point triskele harness buckle was enough for me to drop big bucks on the bag I brought home. J has been completely taken with both her fleece and her gloves and I have already placed a second order with Amazon for gloves for me (and a hat because you can never have too many hats). It's probably a good thing I can't just go into a shop here, because I think it would take the place of REI and North Face for me. I found it really amusing that once I had twigged to the brand, I saw people wearing or carrying it every where.

      The hotel had both boiled and scrambled eggs, but they are my least favorite breakfast meal. I had bacon a couple of mornings and tried some cold cereal, which isn't really cold when the milk is room temp. I ate a lot of bread and fruit, although I didn't like the taste of the yogurt.

      Every place we ate, except the Italian place, offered great steaks. I ate steak a lot. The other thing I found interesting is that every single German woman I met (seven or eight in our HR group) was vegetarian and the men were not.

    2. I never tasted anything off about the food or water, but I don't like the sewer smells in the cities. How is it that America can mask its sewers so well that you never smell them? I hated "gas" water when I arrived, and now I can't live without it - I drink 2 liters per day.

      Interesting about the steaks - a beef steak is an American thing, oddly. They've only recently become available at the grocery store (historically, J says, you'd go to the butcher to buy such a fancy type of meat). I've still never had a rib eye or NY steak here, what I can find is haunch steak - a type Americans don't usually eat.

      Bacon has finally arrived in Germany. I really missed it. Too bad breakfast sausage does not exist here: ( I love the yogurt and ice cream here, and supposedly no artificial colorings is a good thing. Did you see the color of the Mountain Dew? It's the color of pee, so they put it in a fluorescent green bottle. Germany is very proud of its bread, which most buy fresh at the bakery, but I'm not into it. I think, like pizza and coffee, it's all a matter of what you're used to.

      I miss REI so much!


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