So the other day I’m sitting with a bunch of students outside the Studentenwohnheim, chilling atop a blanket and enjoying some nice weather. Thinking I’d have a chance to read and do some writing – the others were planning on sunbathing so I figured it’d be quiet enough for me to work uninterrupted – I’d hauled out several notepads: two for brainstorming, one for outlining essays, two books: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics and A Short History of Time and a shit ton of pens, highlighters and notecards.

Now the presence of the books was in no way obnoxious. In actuality: I barely got a chance to get started before we all got to talking and I would go on to sit with a pile of stationary, non-boisterous work at my side for a good few hours before tiring of brushing away spiders and ants and taking everything back inside.

People who know me know of my obsessions with certain disciplines – scientific, academic or otherwise – most of which are lifelong obsessions. One could argue that the most visible manifestation of my neurotic obsessions, apart from a clear biased tendency to speak more than is commonly acceptable on the same non-standard topics in general non-academic conversation on that topic, is that I hoard a number of books, films and other mediums of information on said discipline.

My interest in theories of the universe, time and space first developed when I was twelve and visited NASA for the first time, where I witnessed a space shuttle launch and met an astronaut. It is perhaps important to note that it was at this time that I was heavily involved in the sciences and was seriously considering studying the natural sciences and pursuing a career in either marine biology or physical cosmology, which I ended up opting against for the humanities as my career interests altered. Although I would not claim to be an expert, I still follow NASAs online networking sites and avidly read up on space news, but would, as it were, only consider cosmology to be a casual obsession of mine.

That I was reading — well, I wasn’t physically reading at that time, as I mentioned I didn’t end up getting the opportunity to — better said: that I was assumedly in the process of reading Stephen Hawking’s A Short History of Time in German was met with heavy skepticism by one of our ten person group — who I will not describe here for sake of politeness — who then, after flipping through the book a bit — apparently skimming past my notes and failing to notice the hand-written, self-reflective essay titled Das Universum dehnt sich aus lying atop my pile of work, proceeded to announce to the group that they didn’t think I was actually reading it.

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Now that’s a statement.

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I recently took a two-day trip to Hamburg, a port city in the north of Germany that is said to have one of the largest harbors in the world.

Leaving at around 7:30 am to take a train, first from Brandenburg to Berlin and then continuing onward after a short window of time, a friend of mine and I arrived midday at the Hamburger Hauptbahnhof.  Our first stop was the information center, where we received a city map with key interest points highlighted by the female desk assistant.  We decided to go the casual route, opting to shop a bit, walk along the harbor and get burgers at the Hard Rock Cafe strictly based on the irony of eating Hamburgers in Hamburg.

As I plan to return to Hamburg over the next year, I was not in a tourist’s rush to see all the major sights, but rather experienced the city by exploring.

The Passage Kino Hamburg, where we spent the evening watching the film ‘Bis zum Horizont, dann Links‘ in a small, eight-row theatre, is the oldest such movie theatre in the city (information given to us by an employee upon our inquiring about the building’s history).  We hit a cafe for some late desert crepes and walked along the magically lit up Jungfernstieg, an incredibly well laid out street of shops and cafes along the shore of the Binnenalster, an artificial lake.

The following morning we took a boat tour along the river Elbe and passed by some of the most expensive-to-own apartment complexes and business suites.  This view of the city, as well as the view I experienced whilst walking around the city centre gave me the impression that Hamburg is quite wealthy.  I was particularly struck by a two-story, 5 Star Abercrombie and Fitch where merchandise prices seemed to hover casually over the 100 euro mark; we were greeted by a half-naked store model at the door and an extremely tall statue of David in the foyer.  The over layout of expensive shops and upscale restaurants reminded me of Unter den Linden in Berlin, the Champs Elysées in Paris and Ulica Nowy Świat in Warsaw.

Dresden ist eine sehr schöne Stadt, die ich gestern zum ersten Mal besucht habe.  Ich bin um 6Uhr aufgestanden; die Fahrt, Brandenburg nach Dresden, hat ungefähr 3 Stunden gedauert.  Wir sind angekommen und haben das Auto geparkt.  Dann haben wir Gebäck bei einem vegetarischen Café gegessen.  Ich habe mein Lieblingssüßgebäck, i.e. un éclaire au chocolat genommen.

Stehend auf der Augustusbrücke, die mich ein bisschen an die Aussicht von der Westminster Brücke in London denken lassen hat, habe ich die historische Altstadt gut gesehen.  Es hat glücklicherweise nicht geregnet und ist doch eigentlich sehr angenehm gewesen, 24 Grad im Schatten; ich hätte keine Jacke mitbringen müssen.

Wir sind direkt zur Frauenkirche auf dem Neumarkt gelaufen.  Ich habe für eine Dreiviertelstunde die Architektur dieser rekonstruierten Kirche analysiert, als ich da drinnen auf einer Kirchenbank saß.  Ich habe in den letzten paar Jahren ein bisschen über Kunstgeschichte gelernt.  Die Frauenkirche ist ein wunderschönes Beispiel der Barockkunst.  Ich habe den goldverzierten Altar und die kolossale Orgel besonders bemerkenswert gefunden.  Ich habe leider keine Photos davon, denn photographieren ist in der Kirche verboten.

Anschließend haben wir an einer Führung der Semperoper teilgenommen. Vom Füßboden zu den Deckenverzierungen ist alles unvorstellbar detailliert.  Der Opernsaal wird von einem großen Kronleuchter und verschiedenen kleinen Lichtern beleuchtet; ich konnte mir nur vorstellen, dass diese Atmosphäre noch schöner wäre, wenn ein Orchester ruhig spielen würde.  Ich würde mich gerne elegant anziehen und einen Auftritt hier anschauen.

Bei dem Zwinger gab es eine Porzellanausstellung.  Ich sage ehrlich, sie hat mich nicht interessiert; die Ritterrüstungen und Gemälde aber doch, bzw. die einzelnen Werke von Rembrandt und Jan van Eyck.  Der Zwingerhof selbst ist grün und entspannend, ein sehr einfacher Platz zum Sitzen und den Ausblick genießen.

Ingesamt hat dieser kleine Besuch nach Dresden mir sehr gut gefällen.

-Maria Athena