A Travellerspoint blog

Day 8 - An Immigrant's Song

Who will take me away from this wretched place?

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"We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!"
"Led Zeppelin - The Immigrants Song"

Well maybe they didn't come from the land of ice and snow, but there were a hell of a lot of Germans who drove their ships out of Hamburg Harbour seeking new lands, if not Valhalla.

And so it was today. All of Lee-ann's German relatives left their homeland through this harbour, some singing, some crying. Starting with George Forster in 1855, then Juliane Buchback in 1863 and finally Heinrich Hopp in 1870. Germany was not a unified country at that time and serfdom was still all the rage (making a comeback lately). Constant wars between principalities meant that life was cheap and likely to end too soon. At that time the Queensland Government was actively recruiting these young Germans as citizens for a fledging state. It worked, look around at the names in Queensland and there is German names aplenty.

Well originally I was going to write that Hamburg was and still is a place to get out off. It is a working port town with little to offer in the way of a tourism experience.

The purpose of this visit was see the port that all of Lee-ann’s relatives left Germany for Queensland. I think it is the 3rd or 4th biggest port in the world and it certainly looks and feels it. Import and export and everything that goes with that is all here for display.

After the obligatory photo of Lee-ann down at the (modern) port, we went out separate ways. Lee-ann did the bus tour and I headed off to the emigration museum. I was hoping for a bit more information on what drove all her relatives out of Germany back in 1850-1870, but it would have been one of the worst museums that I have ever experienced. Needless to say I didn’t get much out of the experience.

Afterwards I went down to the Reeperbarn, the famous red light district of Hamburg, It is also the place where the Beatles played prior to becoming famous. As a port town such places are big and gordy and never a pleasant experience. And so it proved to be. Lots of down and out people all spending their time drinking their way to sleep. I was here too early to get the full experience, but I could safely say that the ladies would be very special.

Headed back to the hotel especially early and had a little lay down. It is a classic “central” hotel opposite the main train station. Cheap, cheerless and you can’t swing a cat in the room. I expect it to be a night of cheap sex through thin walls and many banging doors throughout the night.

Still Hamburg did surprise. Because it doesn’t get dark to 21:30 we decided to go for a walk prior to dinner. Found a nearby lake with lots of boats, runners and people out strolling, which was very nice. The President of Estonia was also nearby and it was a big operation just to get him to where he was going. Princess Mary (our Mary) was also in town yesterday, so we missed out on saying “G’day”. So after a suitable pre-diner exercise we found a little Italian dinner in a quiet square next to a small church to have our dinner. €25 ($40) for 2 people with a huge glass of wine each. All very civilised.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in Germany Comments (2)

Day 7 - Hopp on board the good ship Queensland

Heinrich Hopp a thoroughly good guy

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Left Berlin behind us and took the slow train to Schwerin to get back on the family trail.

This time it is Heinrich Hopp, Lee-ann’s GGF, being the father of Julianne Hopp, who married William Hewton. All very confusing, even for me; and I did the family tree. I did have a rather fondness for Heinrich as he appeared to me to be a thoroughly good fellow. Mostly likely very formal and upright, but he brought out a belief of trade unionism that he pursued in his life in Brisbane. Given that he lived in the times of serfdom, this would have been a bit turnaround in his way of life.

It is unknown why Heinrich left Germany when he did, but it may had something to do with the Franco-Prussian Way being waged around that time.

While not completely certain, he most likely came from a fly-speck of a village called Settin, located about 3 kms outside of Crivitz. My host at the AirBnB arranged for his girlfriend to drive us around. So quick introductions and we were off. Found one of the original buildings and took the obligatory photos before moving onto to Crivitz. Crivitz was the nearest major town and given Heinrich was a tailor, most likely the place where he worked. As luck would have it as we pulled up to the church, the pastor’s wife walked by and open the church up for us. The place reeked of old religious values. So more photos before heading back to Sherwin.

Schwerin was once the capital of the former principality of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and what a castle the prince had. It really was a different life they lived. When you think of the money piled into this castle over the years, it is no wonder the peasants eventually revolted.

When back into the old town and had a leisurely dinner. Apparently there is a train strike tomorrow, but some limited trains will run. So the leisurely sleep in and casual walk to the station for a 9:30 train will be replaced by an early start (at least for Lee-ann) for a 06:00 train to Hamburg.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 6 - Cruising down the river

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Decided to have a lazy day today.

I got up early and went to a few places that I wanted to see. While it is good to get to these places before the masses arrive, they don't have the same appeal because they are largely devoid of people. Keep falling into the trap of taking photos of buildings and places and not of people.

Went on a 3 hr cruise down the Spree River. All very cruisey.

Afterwards went to the oldest part of Berlin, which is still quite modern and had a leisurely lunch at one of the plazas.

Tonight we are catching up with a friend of Lee-ann. Scott Curry, brother of Lisa Curry-Kenny, who is a music teacher. All very cultural, so must wear my best trackie daks. Turned out a good night as Scott has been living in Berlin for 35 years. Saw the inside of his apartment and the complex so it gave us some insight into the living conditions of some Berliners (96 stairs up and down each day). As with most places in Berlin, there are numerious bars and resturarants that have no outwards signs of life. So you have to know where to go. Scott took us to the "Monkey Bar" because it looks over the Berlin Zoo and in particular the monkey enclosure, where you see the moneys getting up close and personal. Afterwards we wandered up the Kurfurstendamm, which is the premier shopping street in Berlin. Usual high end designer stores and lots of eateries. We popped into a small courtyard bar/resturant just off the main street and it was very pleasant stilling outside in the long twilight drinking and chatting.

It is tonight that I saw a more different side of Berlin. Pervious days I had been up early and and spent most of the day walking around, so fairly tired by dinner time and we did not venture out too far or late at night time. Given this was a Monday night I was constantly surprised at the number of people out and about all socisialising. We caught the bus back across town at 22:30 and the streets and bus where still full of people going about their lives.

All in all I enjoyed Berlin. As you got used to the transport system, it was extremely easy to move around the city. It was not the Berlin of my memory, but time and place stops for no one.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 5 - Hey Hilter - where the bloody hell are you?

What's happen to old Berlin?

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This was another title that I originally thought of back in Oz that I thought was witty, but on reflection is a bit ockerfied.

However it does reflect the theme for today in what has happen to old Berlin. I was here 30 years ago (pre unification) and maybe it was the times I had then as opposed to now, but Berlin seems to have lost a bit of its edge. It still has the grungy urban cool in some parts, but it is now much more a stark modernist city that has a certain blandness when applied across the bigger city. It is a city that Le Corbusier would have dreamed of. Nothing wrong with this and it does have some wonderful architecture, but the bocks are big and attempts at civic spaces are massive in scale, but don’t work that well on a human scale. However, nothing stays the same and I am quickly learning that I am no longer 25 years old what I did in my backpacker days no longer works so easily.

Spend most of the day walking walking walking. 10 hours in total and my feet feel it. Walked around Friedrichshain, Mitte and Museum Island and spent 4 hours in the German History Museum. So I am knackered.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in Germany Comments (2)

Day 4 - The Planner's Lament

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Got up early for a walk around Fulda. All in all a pretty town.

Spent much of this morning on the train from Fulda to Berlin. We shared a carriage with the Frankfrut FC supporters on to their way to a game against Berlin FC.

And here is the nub of the planner's lament. I can travel on a first class train over a distance of 500km at speeds between 150 & 250 km/hr with 4 stops inbetween. Passing through lots of agricultural fields with what seems like villages 2 km apart. Some villages seem a little bigger, but none seem to be bigger than 2,000 persons. So how can they run a first class train service over such large distances? I would kill for such a service connecting our major towns.

Then you arrive at Berlin a city that exudes vitality. Spent the afternoon just wondering around the local hood, familiarising myself with the the area.

Posted by Neileeann 08:09 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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