Days 3-7 Northern Germany and the Wild Hannover

Germany in not a country – it’s a place of a religious cult for speed and tidyness. 

Being German is not a nationality – it’s a state of mind.

image

The Autobahns:

The moment you drive across the border everything changes. You won’t believe how much difference a 10 kilometres drive from Holland to Germany makes. Gone are the cows, the water ways and the wind mills. You’re now entering the world of engineering, old trusted autobahns and cars… fast cars.

image

All you see from now on are endless stretches of old and fast roads. There is something to be said about the old Autobahn: it’s half-reclaimed by nature, small trees grow through hard shoulders and road barriers, the road isn’t particularly smooth (you will remember those silky Dutch high ways) but man do Germans know how to put roads to a good use.


Where you’d normally expect to see a 50 miles an hour speed limit, the Germans are doing 110kph, everywhere else the sign “end of road regulations” means what it’s intended to mean – END OF REGULATIONS. This is freedom, the freedom in its first and last instance. At least as far as driving goes.
Many people think that the cool thing about Autobahns is that you can go fast… it’s not exactly true. The cool thing about autobahns is that you don’t need to think how fast you’re going. And this changes the whole perception of driving. You are no longer checkeing your speed all the time so you can focus on the pleasure of driving the vehicle, the joy of controlling the beast. Something you will NEVER experience where doing excessive speeds can deprive you of driving what so ever.

And then you realise – this is what makes you as a man. I can enjoy moving in space in excess of 200 kilometers an hour… this is how I challenge myself, for myself! And from what I’ve later learned in Hamburg, women enjoy this too!

This is what Autobahns are about – they will fuse you with the car you own and the country they call Das Vaterland.

Bremen

imageBremen was my first stop and what a day it was to see it. There was a football game happening between Bremen and Frankfurt, the whole town was wearing green and everyone looked happily intoxicated.


There is a massive difference between a drunk German and a drunk English person especially in girls… the Germans don’t have this “no alcohol for under 18s” thing and beer drinking by the youth is mostly tolerated so by the time they grow up there is no need to get shit-faced “because you finally can” so drunk Germans are mainly nice people… just happier and louder than normally but you will rarely see someone being sick.

Bremen greeted me with amazing people I met there. I roamed the empty streets while the rest of the city were busy waiting for 75 minutes for the first (and the last) goal of the game between Bremen and Frankfurt. In the cafe a guy has spoken to me. We chatted and started watching the game together, joined by another bloke at the restaurant. My Bremen adventure has began here.

So much needs to be said about Germans’ ability to communicate. They have this rare gift of just having the balls to talk to random strangers. Yes, if they don’t like you then you’ll find that out pretty quickly but if they do, then you know you made friends.

And so I ended up having to come back to Bremen after a few days in Hamburg… for a Birthday party:)

HH


I decided to see a friend in Hamburg and stayed there for a few days, it’s a beautiful place to be. They have a massive wide section of the river which is bound in the North and the South by the wealthier neighbourhoods of the city.

Hamburg is a chilled city, it really feels a lot smaller than it is. People are way more relaxed than they would otherwise be in a place of this size.


What I like most about it (and Europe as a whole) is that you can just go anywhere… To understand it, let me explain to you how Britain works.

In Britain, if you can see something which isn’t public space and unless it’s a road or Marsh… or maybe a city park then you aren’t allowed there. Can you see those beautiful boats? It’s a sailing club, members only – you’re not allowed. See that garden? It’s a communal garden, locals only – you are not allowed. This pretty much sums my Britain up.

imageIn Hamburg you can walk to the water! You CAN actually come over and touch the lake’s surface! In Britain there’d be a fence surrounding the entire thing!

You may wanna walk down a pier and have a look at the beautiful boats, you can be naughty and touch the wooden yachts which I must say is an experience, so much craftsmanship in those things. So yes, definitely walk around the Alster lake and check those things out.

You will also go past houses – very expensive and large pieces of German architecture. I would not call them beautiful but something tells me they don’t have problems with leaking Victorian roofs or Georgian plumbing.

Lake Alster is THE place to chill out in Hamburg, just go to one if the peers, get a Curry Wurst and enjoy the view!

So I had to say a Good-bye to the beautiful eyes and faces of the city of Hamburg but I knew I would be back, after the horrible Hannover and the busy Frankfurt I would be back.

Hannover.

There are states in mid-US where… you just don’t go to. Seeing Hannover made me think of that.

But there were two things I liked there’s one is the red line and if you follow that you will be taken across all important buildings and monument in the city centre.

I don’t know why more towns don’t do it. This is ingenious!
The other is the tradition at an ice cream ship in front of the main train station – the last in the queue holds this sign:

Again, why would not more street food stalls do it is beyond me!

Advertisements

Days 1&2 – Belgium and the Netherlands

image

Belgium is a small place in the majority of European people’s mind but not for the English. When an English man thinks Belgium he immediately immagines either Brugges or Brussels. And while Brussels is usually mentioned as the axis of evil, Brugges is a honoured travel destination. It is probably the closest and the prettiest among the towns you can get to and then come back to London within a day, the other one is Edinburgh and let’s be honest, there are three sunny days in a year there so you usually won’t even bother.

But I of course did not go to Brugges, as many English men I have been there way too many times. For me Belgium is a great place to drive through and boy can you drive here fast.

It is a flat world with wide open roads, I find it at least as good of a driving place as Germany, the only place better for a high speed adventure is Holland.

I spent my first night at a small town near Utrecht where there was a suitable Air BnB room. On my way there I saw about the most beautiful sunset imaginable.

image

The next day was all about Holland. It’s a shame I only drove through this beautiful country and did not stay here for a few days but living in the UK means you can always get to Holland so I had to keep going.

I decided to stick to the Northern route which took me through a beautiful town Leeuwarden, all small towns worth seeing remind me of parts of Amsterdam and Leeuwarden was no exception with its canals, hilly parks and bicycles.

image

Ah, and there I bought the coolest child’s book in the universe called “Let’s be friends” where characters on the illustrations have texture to them. Amazing stuff.

image

Netherlands – Feel the Contrast

The moment I crossed the Channel Tunnel I could feel the difference. I don’t know who decided that the UK was a European country, in my view it’s just as much of a part of Europe as Iceland and Faroe Islands (Brexit, my fellow Brits!)

Netherlands is a country of freedom, a place where you don’t see borders and fences and where there seemingly is no Big Brother whipping you each time you’ve done something wrong.

The devil is in the detail. Take, for example, the fact that there are over 30 speed cameras on the way from London to Dover and only one between Dover and Amsterdam… and that one is in France. The roads are wide and as smooth as your bathroom mirror. I don’t know what the word is for driving comfort but it’s certainly not there in England where they try and impose misery upon you with speed humps, narrow sections where metal poles are covered with scratches and paint of people’s damaged cars. All that just isn’t here.

image

But the best part is of course people. In England no one talks to you in the street, here people look into my eyes and approach me to start a conversation. This is amazing. The Australian guy I let my flat to said that he felt like women looked down upon him in England and I did not know how to cheer him up because it’s clearly the case. Here everyone is equal, more happy, much more sociable and creative.
image

I went to a library and met a very interesting lady. Kim was working on organizing an architecture fair. She dug out old blueprints of a cheese factory and was choosing the ones to take on display.

image

I don’t know if you have ever seen a blueprint but they are fascinating. They also had old advertising mock-ups!

image

I really liked seeing how she did her job, she was so fast and efficinet. Such a contrast with sleepy bankers at the old donkey sanctuary;)

Europe makes you feel like you are a capable and intersting person, I am sure I will see more of this as I keep moving through this amazing continent.

It is now time to head towards Bremen. Ah and by the way, do you remember Scrat from the Ice Age?
… sorry to bring you bad news, he is now here, in Grningen;)

image

Finding Your Inner Self – The Beginning

“Our Generation has had no Great war, no Great Depression. Our war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives.”

                                      ― Chuck Palahniuk

DSCF6379.JPG

We certainly are living in very special times. The western world had endured exceptionally quiet time of economic and political stability ever since the last shot was fired in the World War 2. This lead to existence of generations of truly creative and talented people who did not have to fight for their very existence, nor did they have to work anywhere near as hard as their ancestors to ensure that both themselves and their families had food on the table. But with time this also gave us tremendous struggles and made many doubt the purpose of their existence and the role in the wider society.

Continuous economic growth freed up space for great developments on the fronts of equality and fair treatment, allowed us to focus our efforts on scientific research and social well-being. We are arguably the healthiest generation that ever lived on the Planet Earth and yet, those in the  millennial generation may not feel like this is the case. Of course, we have everything we need to sustain our daily lives and yet something seems to be missing, a key to self-fulfilment. Something is happening in the society and it makes us feel les happy and fulfilled than our parents.

More and more often young, people feel the need to go out there and prove themselves as proud sons and daughters of their nation but there are few ways they can do it today. We no longer praise and cherish explorers, warriors, doctors and nurses working in remote parts of the planet. The western empire although had not yet shrunk but expanded and homogenised so much of the world that compliance, control and predictability of people has become the new equivalent of the brave and fearless. More and more actions that would previously be socially praised as part of an individual’s development are now seen as dangerous and even unacceptable. The new world presents challenges that undermine the structure of relationships and with that, the ability of men and women to comfortably find their places in relation to each other. In other words – the world has become complex… very complex! And it’s only going to get more sophisticated.

The importance of individual’s actions is also being downplayed as we, as a society, left for the world of big numbers where Corporations employ tens of thousands of people and where the role of every single one of them is diminished with each new hire.

At the level of countries we no longer praise heroes because we have few and because we don’t need them. We routinely save lives and if anything, greater contributors to public safety these days are antibiotics, heart-disease drugs and speed limits on our roads. If you happen to have been born in today’s Europe and you feel that you were meant for something greater than the daily routine of a 9 to 5 job and a four week holiday plan, you’re in trouble. But don’t despair because you are not alone. There are tens of millions of people who are experiencing exactly the same frustration.

Dealing with this frustration may mean the difference between a happy living and a failure, finding your inner self is a journey that has many paths and is arguably the most important achievement for an individual in the beginning of one’s adult and independent life. It will determine the quality of your life and with it everything from the success of your career to how happy you will feel with the partner of your choice. A lot of attention has been diverted towards setting life goals and milestones and this is something everyone will one day find out how to but most importantly is knowing when you’ve found yourself, this will open the doors to your personal development and will allow you to, one day, feel that you’ve accomplished what you were born for.

But it won’t happen while you’re reading books on personal success in your office or while watching new series of a favourite drama. Success does come to those who can wait but it does not come to those who don’t make a move in order to meet it. So to find yourself you need to do one thing – get up and go looking!

These pages will tell you the importance of an open travel in an individual’s life, a travel you must accomplish in order to better understand yourself and people around you, the travel that one day will make you feel that your life has not just flashed before your eyes.

Follow me on this trip and see for yourself that in order to get to a better place you need to become a better person and there is no better way of doing that than sacrificing the comfort of your office chair and the convenience of monthly wage payments into your account for a life of exciting uncertainty which is although not easy, is full of surprises, events and encounters with people and nature that will leave you with memories to last you a lifetime!

Welcome to the great escape of a corporate man!