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.

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