The fine line between dream and nightmare

Sorry for abandoning you for the last week, unfortunately events conspired to restrict my internet access and disposable time.

The rest of last weekend wound up being just as fun as Friday evening was.  I woke up Saturday morning feeling chipper and energetic, so I decided to finally do some tourist-y things in Hamburg.  One of the city's main attractions is its Rathaus (Parliament), an impressive baroque building in the downtown core.  I managed to find my way there without too much trouble (though it turned out I took the long route there) and got to go through some parts of the city I haven't explored yet.  I joined the next English-language guided tour, and while waiting for it to start I took in the sights in the Rathaus' breathtaking courtyard.  The baroque style is one of my favourites, and the building was most impressive.  It was the first time since getting here that I've really felt like I'm in Europe.  Luckily Saturday's weather was gloriously sunny and beautiful, which also added to my overall enjoyment of the adventure.  The tour was fairly informative, though for some reason one genius couple decided to bring their squalling infant along with them.  Honestly, the thing was less than a year old and very obviously did not want to be there.  I don't know what they were thinking but it annoyed the hell out of me.  For the most part my tour group was composed of elderly, overweight, and therefore slow-moving people, which I thought wasn't nearly as exciting as it would have been had they all be tall, dark, young and handsome potential dates.

After the tour I went on to explore the Alsterarkaden, a collection of shops looking out over the city's canals.  Just as I was entering this area I happened upon a large crowd enjoying the antics of a street performer.  This was perhaps my favourite part of the day, because he was absolutely hilarious.  He was set up in the middle of the pedestrian avenue with a sound system, a marionette, and a small piano.  I don't know how it worked, but with a remote he would change the songs playing so that the lyrics serenaded passersby.  So, for example, when a woman all in black passed by, a song came on that sang about a woman in black.  Often the lyrics (from what I could understand) would make a comedic point about whoever it was, and I must have stood there for at least a half an hour.  He even played a song at me, which I gathered was some kind of love ballad.  After having been thoroughly entertained for quite some time I approached him and donated some money, at which point he played the wedding march and got a hearty laugh from the crowd.  I hope I have a chance to see him perform again, because it was fantastic fun.

After a brief stop at my favourite Starbucks I headed back to my apartment, after which I moved on to the more mundane weekend activities of cleaning, chores, and grocery shopping.  I'm pretty sure I spent the better part of Sunday watching movies or reading, because nothing much stands out.

Unfortunately the week wasn't quite as awesome as the weekend had been.  It was one of those weeks where you're constantly tired and there's always another issue to deal with.  Also, the weather has been appallingly bad, especially given it's midsummer for Christ's sake!  Rain nearly every day, and miserably cloudy.  My phone still wasn't set up, my internet was being inconsistent, and I was getting increasingly stressed about my travel arrangements for this weekend.

Depending on how much attention you've been paying to these updates you may be wondering why I'm writing today - wasn't I supposed to be in Düsseldorf?  Well, yes, I was.  But thanks to a series of unfortunate events and faulty communication it turned out that this weekend wasn't going to be a good time to visit, so I had to reschedule my flight for two weeks from now.  This was fairly disappointing for a couple of reasons.  The visit is so that I can see an old school friend, and I was really excited to see someone from home - it's no secret I've been mad-homesick recently.  Also, I was looking forward to seeing more of Germany and getting a break from Hamburg, whose weather has been ridiculously bad lately.  Well, like I said things didn't work out so I rescheduled my flight, but of course it turns out that the weekend I am now supposed to be going down is no good either: my friend won't even be in Germany!  So now I get to call the airlines again (they'll be laughing all the way to the bank about this) and reschedule again.  One begins to feel as though this visit will never happen.  To his credit though my friend called me (my phone would get incoming calls but wouldn't make calls) which went a long way to cheering me up and helping with homesickness.  It's still going to be a while before we visit I think but I suppose I'll just have to be patient.

For a reason I have yet to determine when I arrived at work on Friday I felt awful.  I had a terrible headache (+ light and noise sensitivity) and felt slightly nauseous.  Luckily it was a fairly quiet day so after completing my first assignment of the day I mostly just sat and waited for my pain killers to kick in.  When I still didn't feel better by lunch, my coworkers told me to go home, get some rest, and feel better.  I did, and wound up sleeping for most of the afternoon, but I wish I had felt better and could have stayed at work: it was my coworker's last day with us and so that afternoon we were going to have a goodbye party, which I expect was rather fun and would've liked to have attended.  Oh well.  On the bright side before I left work we FINALLY sorted out my cell phone, and I can now make and receive calls!  I tested this out by calling home, which was probably exorbitantly expensive but totally satisfying.

In other good news I've finally gotten around Germany's inadequate English book selection.  After trudging through a thoroughly awful Nicholas Sparks novel (what was I thinking?!) - it was so bad that I actually wished bad things upon the female protagonist - I decided I needed to find an alternative source of literature.  So, when talking to my padre on Friday night he told me to download the Kindle reader and start buying ebooks.  Glorious ebooks!  Cheap (even in Canadian dollars), immediately accessible, a wide selection, and I won't have to leave them behind when I finally return to North America!  The first ebook I've started is the first book in the Game of Thrones series.  I managed to catch a few episodes of the HBO series and was curious as to how the books measured up.  Also, the books are ridiculously long, there's tons of them, and they're escapist lit that can distract me from the fact that I'm totally isolated.  Bonus!  So far it's pretty good, and I'm thoroughly impressed with how closely the TV series stuck to the books.

Today, like every Saturday, I went downtown to run errands and shop.  I have been on a quest to find boots (I brought only flats and sandals with me) lately since the weather has been so awful.  Unfortunately I have found nothing that I like for anything close to a reasonable price or a good fit.  Either they're exorbitantly expensive or they will pinch my toes.  So, no boots for me.  However, I may have a new favourite store.  It's called Mango, and I think they have it in the US but nowhere I've seen in Canada.  I would compare them to Forever 21 or Zara.  The stock is trendy and reasonably priced, so it was fun to have a look at what they were offering.  I also picked up a scarf I've been eying at a local boutique for weeks.  It's cashmere the colour of seafoam (or Tiffany blue), and it went on sale, which made my mind up quickly.  Once I got home I returned to my now-standard routine: grocery shopping, dishes, and cleaning.  But you probably don't care about that.

Today - like last Saturday - was brilliantly beautiful and sunny.  On these days I love Hamburg and am delighted to be here.  But, unfortunately, these days have been quite rare.  The weather here frustrates me endlessly because it's so unpredictable.  It can go from sheeting rain to clear skies to ominous clouds and powerful winds all in the course of an afternoon.  I find it impossible to dress for and am always either dying of heat and too many layers or woefully under-dressed for the weather.  I wish the city would just make up its mind what season it's going to be and then stick to it!

Hopefully this week will be easier than last week, but somehow I suspect this is unlikely.  I am supposed to be visiting some family in Lyon (Southern France) this weekend, and so I expect the planning for this will work me into some kind of stress-fest.  This Friday the firm is having their summer party though, which I'm really quite excited for.  Besides that it's just work as usual and I suppose I'll need to sort out what to do with my Düsseldorf flights.  Sigh.

Anyway, my book calls and I've covered about all I can think of.  Until next time!

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