24 July 2012

More languages, more books

I'm totally hooked on Alte Liebe. As further motivation and reward I just got this delivery.

I've always wanted to read Meine Mutter war eine schöne Frau, by Karlien de Villiers—one of my Stellenbosch lecturers. It's only available in German and French, so hurrah for learning German!

And hurrah for ♥books♥ in general!

P.S. Ulli Lust, my new hero.

20 July 2012

Ode on an Ikea Lamp

Thou still unravish'd bride of newness,

Thou foster-child of style and design,

Swedish sage, who canst thus express

A glassy tale more clear than our rhyme:

What bubbles in the material haunt about thy shape

Of factories or workers, or of both,

In Poland or the dales of India?

What plastics or cloths are these? What metals loth?

What bouncing light? What struggle to shine?

What wires and bulbs? What wild electricity?

18 July 2012


Went to the store for a textbook. Had to get more of these.The collection now stands at...

16 July 2012


They're about pigging out on life, aren't they? Like this little mouse pigged out on the mielie cob I strategically placed to attract him.

So that was an outing to Karlsruhe on a Sunday, after we had returned from Hamburg on the Saturday. As we've learnt with most subsequent weekends: you can't really count on the weather. In the Karlsruhe case we were fortunate not to get rained out of our forrest barbeque, even if it was a bit cool. The rain courteously waited for us to leave.

The next weekend it was hot enough as we made our way to a 30th birthday party. I got to practise German applicable to festivals that we had studied that very day. "Vielen Dank für die Einladung", und so weiter. (In random discoveries: neither of the common Afrikaans songs sung at birthdays are to the tune of Happy Birthday to You. Do you know other languages where this is the case?) And then we listened to the crazy thunder and watched the rain racing down the windows of the hall. Later, a baby played in the stream of rain water flowing down the side of the street and his mother made jokes like "Haha! Yes, the weekly bath." I think more of us would have liked to be half-naked in that humidity.

Then it was July and we visited the outlet store wonder of Metzingen, but more importantly I finally saw Tübingen for the first time. I was only armed with a phone camera, so clearly I would have to return. And so that's what we did this weekend. First we stopped by the Ritter Sport museum and chocolate shop in Waldenbuch. We looked at some chocolate-related art while the rain came down. Fortunately that was all over once we got to Tübingen, so we spent the afternoon having a beer on a paddle boat. (We asked the boat renter if it's okay to drink on the boats—maybe a stupid questions since he also sells beer, but we just wanted to check—and then he was like, "Duh guys, this is not America!)

On our way to have dinner in Stuttgart the local train had to be rerouted onto the track that the regional train uses because of some problem in the tunnel, so we got the better view of the city. Well any view, really, since an underground view doesn't actually count.

All the bliss that was packed into that Saturday came in handy when Sunday was dreary and rainy again. Nothing else to do but potter around at home and take long naps.

14 July 2012

The power of war and horsepower: Hamburg V

We did some sightseeing-lite on our final morning: the view from St. Nikolai and its small underground museum that tells us about war-what-is-it-good-for-absolutely-nothing type of stuff.

After that we were having coffee when we saw the coolest people ever on their insane Harleys: big German flags waving on the back, golden Bismarcky helmets on their heads... and then we finally found out why we'd seen so many motorcycles the last few days: a rally. I couldn't find the Bismarcks again, but we checked out all the bikes before picking up our luggage and heading to the station.

And that is finally that about Hamburg. For now at least.

13 July 2012

Teeny tiny: Hamburg IV

Day four in Hamburg was taken up by the all important activity of visiting Miniatur Wunderland. I can't think of a person on earth who would not enjoy this place. So, just go there. And if you're still mentally twelve, like most of us, you can find all the "naughty" details.

As a memento I got a model of a strawberry stand that's similar to the one above. I liked it because I'd seen one in the city the day before. Now just to find some time to assemble it.

In the evening we visited the opening of a Stefan Marx show at Galerie Karin Guenther. Inspiring and brilliant as always, so thanks Stefan for letting me know about it!

Later we figured we'd slowly make our way to the Hamburg UEFA fanfest to watch the Germany... somebody(?) game—can't say it matters anymore. After walking around the Alster, we were walking through the gardens towards the venue, listening to the people getting excited, and then boom: a torrential rain let loose. We fought our way through the people trying to stay dry under the U-Bahn entrance roof and went back to our hotel to watch the game on our tiny TV from our warm, dry beds.

12 July 2012

All outside: Hamburg III

On the morning of day three I had to do that shot-from-my-hostel/hotel-window thing, because the sky was all like, "HELLO!" Let's not get into the fact that I knew this because our curtains were about a metre short of covering the windows.

After taking a train to a transfer station I first popped outside for some coffee. This lady, her coffee, her cigarette, and her Karl Lagerfeld book, made my day.

I decided to continue with some general exploring, starting out in the Reeperbahn area. Read about its... "colourfulness" elsewhere on the web. I dropped by Smallville Records, which you may remember from this post, but had to reschedule seeing the store for that evening, because Reeperbahn is more of an afternoon and evening trading kind of place.

I found myself back at the gardens after a while and took the time to enjoy the greenhouse since I had been too late the day before. I think I enjoyed it almost as much as Hamburg was enjoying the sun.

I found another cool second-hand book store, but I forget what it was called and it's moving to another location anyway. The guy there was pleasant, unlike this lady, at a store I can remember the exact location of, who I got this stop-touching-things-please-leave vibe from, presumably sent from her brain, through her eyes, to penetrate the back of my skull.

Anyway! By late afternoon my husband was free from his business duties and we went to take Boat Line 62 to see the city from the water. It actually seemed that this was what most of the passengers were doing, even if it is just a regular water bus and not a tour-related thing.

11 July 2012

Sea history and seafood... and books: Hamburg II

I kicked off my second day with a SANDEMANs NEW Europe tour of the city. A supposedly free tour, with the guides working only for tips, though I couldn't help seeing some comment on dodgy labour practices online just now. Anyway, I leave it to you to Google such things for yourself. As it is, our guide did a great job of showing the group some of the major sights and telling us about Hamburg's history—not unlike what we experienced in Sofia.

The Elbe Philharmonic Hall features in quite a few pictures (bottom). After a lot of money had been spent on the project, it was halted due to building standards issues, and that was the state I saw it in. I've noticed on the TV news scroll that construction has recently resumed though.

After the tour I got some lunch in the Portuguese district. Then I happened upon the coolest new book store: Servus Hamburg. As I told the lady who rang up my purchases, the quality cover designs of the books really appealed to me. If I could have made a more complicated German sentence at the time, I would have asked how they manage to stock an entire store with only beautiful books. I purchased what she described as the best books in the store: three childrens' titles. Wolf Erlbruch's Zehn grüne Heringe made me laugh out loud. I make all our house guests read it. Emily und das Meer / Emily un dat Meer by Andrea Reitmeyer and Dirk Römmer seemed a fitting memento, as it's written in Standard and Low German. And then there was Miriam Koch's Fiete Anders—Eine Reise mit dem Wind, with a story as charming as the long format. While I didn't splurge on adult content, I made some notes...

Okay, maybe the National Geographic book doesn't have the best cover, but it's pretty inside. I'm telling you, those Servus Hamburg people are curators. There's also definitely a trend in beautiful small books. Check out Kein & Aber, and below are some examples of small Fischer Verlag books with their round sticker covers.

I caved and bought Peter Stamm's short story collection Blitzeis once I was back home. Not just for the sticker-cover though; it's turned out to be good and manageable German reading! There are some other covers that don't fall under the sticker-theme that are also nice. Apparently it's so nice that it's worth ripping off: I recently saw books from another publisher that have been brought out in a similar size, with identical (somewhat metallic) printing, rounded corners, and a sticker with the title and author's name. The sticker isn't round though, so it doesn't look as cool. I'm just assuming Fischer was first because their stuff looks better.

Anyway! If you don't like books I suppose you've fallen asleep by now. I spent the afternoon at the Museum für Völkerkunde, opening and closing drawers full of awesome stuff from ancient South American cultures. When I left I initially walked in the wrong direction for a few blocks. Being a directionless woman works out well when you find a glass box full of old books though, so I'm not complaining.

After a small purchase I corrected my direction and ended up at the Botanic Garden Hamburg where I hung out before meeting up with the husband-man and some friends for dinner. In short: we ate all the seafood. The next day I had a Franzbrötchen for breakfast and then an ice cream for lunch, because only around dinner time could I remotely locate the feeling of hunger again. But more about that day in the next post.

10 July 2012

Late afternoon wanderings: Hamburg I

Finally. I put it on the to-do list, so here it is.

On day one in Hamburg, a short—ahem—three weeks ago, I arrived late afternoon, deposited my luggage at our hostel, and just wandered around Speicherstadt and HafenCity for the rest of the plentiful daylight hours. The sky was a bit grey and dreary though, the absolute worst for taking pictures, but it cleared up a bit around nine—you know—sunset time.