Yesterday Olaf, Werner and I took a walk around Hamburg. Click on the pic below to see the album.
Maybe it was because I had had a couple of beers already, but the funniest damn thing happened to me in the bathroom of a bar Olaf and I were in this evening. After finishing my business, I went to wash my hands. As I reached for the button on the towel dispenser to spit out some paper, all I heard was a long mechanical “whrrr” sound. Clearly it was empty, but I pushed the buttton again 2 times, only to hear the dispenser start to play Dusty’s Springfield’s “Wishin’ and Hopin’“.
And no, I am not kidding!
Been working in Hamburg the last few days on a project for my friend Olaf. It is funny being back here, as it was the last major Western country I was in before beginning my long trip around the world. Everything seems so familiar and yet slightly of another world at the same time. The otherworldyness is due in large part to my inability to understand much German at all. I should really commit to six months or more here to try to learn it, I find it really interesting. The days have been filled with working on the project, and the evenings with wonderful meals, conversation, tv or movies, and drink. Since I don’t have easy access to a gym, I have been trying to get back into my yoga, and I can’t tell you how difficult it has been relearning touching my face to my knees and giving salutation to the sun. And speaking of the sun, I must be very far north indeed, because it is still light out at 10:30pm every night. One loses the sense of time a bit, not being used to daylight taking up so very much of the day.
This cracks me up. Arriving at the Hamburg airport, I pass this charming little glass smoke house reserved for all those that just HAVE TO smoke. Olaf tells me that especially in the mornings, there are a fair amount of people shoehorned into this tiny, smoky, smelly room, and they come out of there looking rather unhappy.
I love the way looking down Paris streets is often like looking at slices of things. Ever since Haussmann made Paris safe for modern traffic, there have been these criss-crossing shortcuts between points. Click on the pic to see the whole Paris album thus far…
– Perhaps b/c I have been living in NYC for several months now, but the streets of Paris seem eerily, wonderfully, quiet and calm
– I never noticed how much shorter the Metro stations are here compared to New York
– Paris has completely solved what used to be a very bad dogshit problem. I’ve seen hardly any since arriving here and it used to be everywhere.
– The food this time around has been decidedly unimpressive. It is easier to each much better and much cheaper in New York
– Some things don’t change much and it has been an absolute delight visiting with old friends here.
– Paris has put in place a grand experiment with public bike transportation called Velib’ (for velo libre – free biking). Although there are some problems with maintenance, it has absolutely changed the way people think about transport in the city, and it is pretty amazing. We took a ride today to the Bois de Vincennes.
– With only slightly more frequency than in New York, I hear people speaking English here all around me (vs hearing French in NYC)
– It was a beautiful day out, so I bought a sandwich poulet and headed to the amphitheater in front of St Eustache, where there were tons of people eating their lunch. I remember that I used to refer to this church as the “Valentine Cathedral” for the heart shaped windows on its second level.
– Walking in a crowd is different here than in New York, and I find that I bump into or cross people with much greater frequency. I have in the past said the same about New York and I realize that each culture finds its own “rhythm” for moving in crowded places.
– I love how language and culture mix around the world. I bought a made in Japan, French design inspired notebook with English writing on the cover that said “Note Book. Most advanced quality, Gives best writing features”. It sounds kinda lurid when you put it that way.
Like many previous hygiene mysteries in my past, the correct answer probably has to do with training and control. Yet still I wonder: Looking at the picture below of the bathtub with shower handle that is in the apartment I am staying in here in Paris, however does one prevent the water from going all over the place and still clean oneself? I have tried several things. Using the shower head to wet my body, then lathering, then rinsing. Using one hand to shower and the other to clean, then switching hands. Sitting down the entire time. But I feel clumsy and/or not fully clean with each of these. Is a shower curtain so visually unappealing? Any ideas?
Ah, Paris. Sometimes it feels like coming home. Everything just falls into place so easily. I met up with old and new friends all day today, sharing great food and wine, and walks and talks. Despite being majorly jet lagged and tired (as is the norm for me, there was a screaming infant in the seat next to me on the flight over), I had a wonderful time today getting reacquainted with Paris. I especially love how most of the best conversations and interaction are around the table, as it seems to bring out the friendship and connection in everyone. It didn’t hurt that the weather was gorgeous and everyone had a bit of spring fever.
Now if you will excuse me, I am going to pass out and hopefully get adjusted to the time difference. Bonne nuit!