A glorious day in Hamburg.

The weather was fine when I arrived, and it stayed fine all day—as Hamburg is as much known for its exaggerated supply of rain as Seattle, that was not a given, but it did. Lucky me! So I walked a lot, visited familiar places, found some of them changed, some for the better, some for the worse, and had a lot of iced americanos, including my very last one; you see, after posting my cup on Instagram, a friend of mine commented just two words: no plastic. And right she was. It’s amazing how one can support people cleansing the ocean from plastic, blame everybody else for our planet’s decay, and still sip coffee with a plastic straw from a plastic cup. I learned my lesson though, deeply ashamed of myself. And instead of showing off my mind’s double standards, I give you Hamburg’s natural beauty. Enjoy!

Trees galore. And some sights.

It’s hard to find a place without any trees in Berlin, they’re everywhere, even important buildings like Humboldt University in what used to be East-Berlin – the Berlin featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain, a place much less horrid than the film, he must have been drugged throughout the entire production, or even at the time when he was reading the script, why would anyone shoot such a boring mess, anyone, I ask you, but I wildly digress – anyway, even this architectural gem is partially covered in leaves and blossoms of a majestic chestnut tree, actually, all of Berlin is covered in trees, up and down every place and street, they’re flourishing so opulently you can’t make out the trunk at times. I wonder who planned this urban jungle, some green spirit way ahead of its time – whoever he was, I proposed a toast to him today, with my little bird friend and my soy caffè latte venti at a very treed Starbucks.

Berlin’s grey, Berlin’s green.

Berlin’s façades fascinate me, the old ones, I mean, the ones talking of a great past, like the one above near Friedrichstrasse and Unter den Linden, right in the middle of Berlin. As the third floor lettering suggests, it was once a great hotel – the Splendid Hotel. But some research showed that period lasted only for fourteen years, however splendid it might have been, it got shut down in 1918, possibly due to a lack of customers, who would want to visit Berlin shortly after World War I? So its rooms were rented to small businesses, tiny offices instead of vast suites. The building survived even WW II and the GDR’s neglect of anything remotely elegant, and as it stands now in one of Berlin’s most cared for areas, it’s in perfect shape and wouldn’t have lost any of its appeal if it weren’t for spring — I can’t pay much attention to anything grey these days. And although this building as well as mine are under monumental protection, mine was not a hotel but it used to house female students in the good old days of the Kaiser, I tend to just look at the wonderful green of the trees from the very moment I open my door or a window…

A gardener‘s pride and shame.

I didn’t talk much at dinner, actually I didn’t talk at all. I just ate. Can’t remember what we had though. Something with grilled octopus. I didn’t care. I had just committed murder. A brutal murder. Most foul. Unforgivable. I had cut off an innocent rhododendron’s branch, a branch with tree blossom buds. Perfectly healthy obviously, not dead at all. Not even in bloom yet. Botanical abortion. Unforgivable, as I said. In court, my attorney might come up with excuses like he didn’t know what he was doing or he was in a hurry or even worse the lighting was bad, you see, he was working late, right before dinner time, the sun had almost set, but all this would be just some disgusting bending of the law, juridical malpractice, truth is, our rhododendrons are in bloom, the pride and joy of any gardener and the perfectionist I am, I was cutting dead wood, I had these flawless gardens in mind you see on Instagram, and was being careless, yes, totally careless, it was murder, no doubt, manslaughter at the very least – I am guilty of rhododendronslaughter. That’s a great word for scrabble, by the way…

The paradise that is spring.

Within a week, everything went from pale green to bright green, the magnolias and the azaleas burst out into splendour, the apple blossoms overcame their basic shyness, they’re not yet in full white bloom, they’re just peeking, all pink buds, but blushing is very becoming, that’s at least what Oscar Wilde once said and he should know, all while the camellias try to outbloom everything else. I spent all day readapting my eyes to spring, to tell apart all those different shades of pink, amethyst, purple, rosé, red, ruby, maroon, and fuchsia, shades I then had difficulties to specify, defining needs variety per se, but a variety that makes you run out of words is quite unsettling, what do you call a fuchsia with a touch of orange? Or worse, a lavender that is somewhere inbetween lilac and violet? Obviously, the human speech cannot not express in entirety the richness of nuances in these blossoms, our vocabulary does not reflect nature’s absurd wealth of shades. So, I came up with some new colours: opyr, trevine, joaquinth, horsate, satch, dorrak, and poppyl. Poppyl is popylo in French. The others, I’ll still have to translate into all known languages. I’ll keep you posted.

A Gothic walk.

All of a sudden, at exactly 12:12, the sun came out and took me by surprise on my walk through the romantic ruins of Babelsberg Park. I had rather been in some kind of gothic mood, as if I were stumbling not through the underwood of one of Berlin’s recreational areas, but through a novel by Mary Shelley or one of the Brontë girls, my mind somewhat befogged, exposed to wind and rain, all alone, with no soul in sight, abandoned, deserted and lonely, but what can one expect on a weekday, forcing my way home to a warm fire and hot cocoa, getting rid of my heavy boots, formerly known as New Balance sneakers, weighted down with mud, as I had made it through these wuthering heights’ frightful woods, my way had led me far from the madding crowd and paved grounds, and then, just I had reached a street, right in the middle of nowhere, bright sunlight, a blue sky, blue! I hadn’t seen a blue sky for ages! But hell, what a disappointment, with all that blue sky, Misses Brontë and Shelley were no longer with me in my twisted brain, their influence on my imagination was gone, dissolved, my mind was thrown back into reality, ever so harshly, all those kilometers through the woods had just brought me back to the place where I started: to the entrance gate of Babelsberg Park. But that’s the trouble with any tour, isn’t it?