DREAMS … DREAMS, DREAMS, DREAMS

Unfortunately – or should I rather consider it fortunate? – I remember my dreams nearly every day. I always have.

Like last night? I was back in Graz, meeting my great-uncle twice removed – or is it cousin twice removed? My father’s cousin, anyway. Well I was meeting Wolfi and moving from one classic play he directs and acts in to another.

Very often I dream of those who are not here anymore. My parents, my grandparents, aunts and uncles. And thankfully, most of the time they represent themselves in their healthy forms to me. And I treasure those dreams. Being able to talk to my Dad, my Mum, Aunt Do … it’s at least a little consolation.

Sometimes, the things that still occupy my mind subconsciously, find their way into my dreams. I still dream of my grandfather’s house and his evil second wife and even more evil son, who blinded us all, nearly taking everything from my father’s, uncle’s and aunt’s past, childhood, memories, inheritance after his death. I dream of confronting those two, asking them WHY. Again, and again. It’s a recurring theme and if I were Freud, I would tell myself that I still haven’t gotten over it, even after 20 years. And it’s also a topic coming up regularly when I’m talking to my cousin on the phone. It still hurts us. It especially hurts us because it had hurt our fathers so much, even though they didn’t show their pain of being betrayed in that way.

Occasionally, I even dream of being back at school or at university. And even though I know in my dreams I already have my degree I dream of having to take another exam and another and another … 

Or tutoring again. Like very recently, when I was back in tutoring hell, having agreed to do a two-week holiday course for a few students, four hours every morning, then correcting homework, preparing exercise sheets for the next day … and being so annoyed with myself that I agreed to do this, sacrificing my vacation. As grateful as I was during my university years to have a job and earn some money, I was very close to a really bad burn-out situation. So bad that it’s still following me in my dreams years later.

These past months many of my dreams took place in Austria. Yep, once again Freud would have a field trip with me … and I don’t need his analysis to know why I’m constantly dreaming of home! It’s constantly on my mind, so it’s not surprising, Austria, my family and friends – dead and alive – are following me into my dreams.

Mostly, I enjoy it. To remember my dreams, because mostly, they are nice dreams and it’s a treasure to be able to remember them. Most people don’t, I guess. And it’s especially lovely to at least talk to my dead loved ones in my dreams. Hearing their voices, seeing them move around without pain. And that compensates for the less pleasant dreams any time!

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SAYING HELLO TO GOETHE AND SCHILLER

Six and a half hours of driving, leaving at 3:45 a.m., arriving at approx. 10:15 a.m. Just to discover that not one single room was available for me yet. Well, it’s not the Atlantic … So, I left my stuff in my car and walked into the city centre of Weimar. Wondering what to do first. Exploring? Breakfast?Lunch? Well, too late for breakfast, too early for lunch! So, I went exploring, getting to know the little city, discovering Goethe’s and Schiller’s living quarters – closed on Mondays, great – and was majorly amused by being surrounded by Goethe everywhere. All kinds of souvenirs and culinary, shop names, hotel names, street names … but Goethe was not the only prominent Weimar citizen. Or at least celeb who once visited. Apart from his buddy Schiller, Herder, Hummel, Wieland, Liszt and many more happily resided and – some of them – died here. After an atypical lunch of Pizza, some souvenir and book shopping (what else) I walked around some more, visited a little museum about the history of Weimar and treated myself to coffee and cake at an old-fashioned café, reminding me of the ones in Vienna. Being quite surprised when they were serving Meinl coffee (Viennese coffee). Good choice! Which is where I am now, by the way, on day 2, choosing another delicious cake to have with my Latte Macchiato.

But back to Day 1: which was basically over after coffee and cake. I drudged back to the hotel, exhausted from getting up so early, the long drive and the first Weimar exploration. And I bet you already know how I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening? Right! Stretched out in bed, watching old TV series I found by zapping around. Married with children, Tool time, …

Day 2 started out with hot chocolate in bed and heading into town around 9 a.m. Enjoying the empty streets – discovering later that it’s a holiday in Thuringia, so the lack of people in the early morning streets was not all too surprising – and waiting for my first museum to open. I chose Schiller’s house. Should have started with Goethe’s though, since I would have enjoyed less people with me in Goethe’s rooms to enjoy and imagine myself there. Instead I was kind of annoyed by the other tourists, hurried through, taking pics and after some souvenir shopping I was on my way again. The perfect time for lunch (since breakfast was non-existent), even though it was only 11:15 a.m. and I was the first in the oldest restaurant of Weimar “Zum weißen Schwan”, where Goethe himself often dined. (Well, it’s next to his house, so quite convenient!) I chose onion soup and Thuringia bratwurst with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes and for once I don’t have any complaints when it comes to German food. It was perfect, plain and simple.

The ducal crypt with Goethe’s and Schiller’s coffins standing next to each other, Liszt’s house (where he lived for the last 17 years and has been a museum since the 1880s) and Goethe’s garden house were still on my list and I made it before the first rain shower of the day set in. The second one I survived sitting comfortably in the same café as yesterday, enjoying coffee and cake, doing what I love to do: writing, reminiscing about the past days. And looking forward to getting home tomorrow after a quick last sightseeing stop at “Wartburg” and picking up my cat again. As lovely as it is to be away, seeing and experiencing new things, my one and a half weeks were not particularly relaxing like one would have with a beach vacation, but quite nice nevertheless.

WEEKEND AT HOME

Yep, only crazy me considers a trip back home basically on the way to Weimar. But, well, you should be used by something like that now. Me doing crazy stuff.

After my Hamburg adventure and the annoyingly long train ride getting back, I was busy stuffing my car with boxes and whatever else I could squeeze into it to take to Austria with me. Plus, the usual gifts for everyone, of course. My own luggage was reduced to my smallest suitcase and I was a bit cramped in my driver’s seat in order to take everything with me I wanted to take.

After four hours of sleep I left in the middle of the night and made surprisingly good time. It only took me 8.5 hours to get home – with two very short fuel stops – despite all those horrible construction sites in Germany. One after another … with no one seemingly working there ever.

Being welcomed by my aunt, spoilt with home cooked lunch (Wiener Schnitzel) and being in my second childhood home, I couldn’t have been happier. In the evening, I had been invited to dinner by friends and time flew. It was just wonderful! Not to mention being spoilt by them with fried chicken, Styrian bean and potato salad. Culinary heaven!

Day 2 started out with me visiting the cemetery, followed by doing grocery shopping – but not all too much this time, I was quite proud of myself -, meeting my aunts and sister (of course, my lunch choice at the restaurant was Cordon bleu), meeting another friend and being totally exhausted by all those many people. And especially by all the talking, talking, talking. (Maybe I shouldn’t mention that I met my friends at 4 p.m. and left to drive back to apartment of my aunt shortly past 1 a.m. So, basically a full working day plus 2 overtime hours!)

Day 3 was a bit more relaxed. I slept in, then walked around a bit, visited the cemetery again and soon it was time for the visit of the next friends and their 4-month-old daughter. Sadly, no pork roast, cause their oven has decided to quit. So, we ordered in – guess what? Cordon bleu again – and spent a relaxing and quite talkative afternoon together.

And that’s it! The two and a half days passed so very quickly they were over in a flash – but I enjoyed every second of them. And I’m glad that I had this crazy idea to go home. (And yes, I couldn’t help crying again when crossing the border into Austria! That tells a lot, I guess!)

HAMBURG DAY 2

You should have known I wouldn’t be done with one post, right? I just have to draw it out! The boring days – and mundane posts – will come quickly enough as it is.

So, here we are again! I’m still in Hamburg! And Day 2 has arrived. Thanks to me falling asleep at 8:30 p.m. I was up way too early. Big surprise. At eight I just couldn’t wait any longer and half an hour later I was already on my way. Probably the only tourist starting the day so early. And as soon as I was close to the “Speicherstadt” again – I had missed out on a few churches and the famous “Deichstraße” – I was blissfully alone. Or at least more or less. Wonderful not being trampled by other tourists. I could wander around, take my pictures and after one and a half hours of walking around I was back close to the Civil Hall.

Time for breakfast. Which I ordered in a small bakery. With two rolls, ham, salami, cheese and “mett” (raw ground pork) with onions, garnished with a few cucumber and tomato slices. Plus hot chocolate instead of the typical morning coffee. 

Well, it was close to 11 a.m. when I did some more walking around, taking lots of pics of beautiful old buildings, walking along Jungfernstieg again, this time more alert than yesterday (with the one goal to get back to the hotel as quickly as me hurting feet would carry me) and enjoyed it immensely. Doing some shopping in between. First stop: the Apple Store. I briefly contemplated exchanging my iPhone 7 (I know, I know, such an old model, it’s close to a disgrace) with an iPhone 13 (yep, I know the 14 has just come out, but I’m a bit reluctant to fork over 1000 plus Euros when the 13 with 900 is lots of dough too). But didn’t. I’m still happy with my 7 and I hope it will keep working for a few more months at least before I have to get a new one.

Second stop: Alsterhaus. Think luxury like Bergdorf Goodman or Saks. With all my favourite luxury labels like Louboutin, Balenciaga, YSL, Prada, Agent Provocateur​and many more in one place. If I were not saving for Austria, I would probably have finally splurged on a pair of Louboutins … but they will have to wait a little longer. I did splurge on Fortnum & Mason tea. And yes, I know, I’m not in London where I would typically go to Fortnum & Mason. But it’s better than nothing. 

Third stop: Nivea shop. Not the biggest Nivea fan butI was curious. Bought a shower gel set and two “surprise” Nivea bags with “varying” products. (And guess what, they will remain closed until Christmas for the surprise effect regarding my gifts to myself!)

Fourth stop: the Alex, a large café with terrace at the Binnenalster where I was lucky to get a table outside with view of the water, Jungfernstieg and the buildings surrounding the Binnenalster. 

Well, time to get back to the hotel for my scheduled “High tea” and I wanted to change for this special occasion into skirt and blouse. Which is where I am now, at the lounge of the hotel, doing what I love to do. Having Earl Grey and writing. With the accompanied delicacies of petit fours, bread with roastbeef and avocado – I skipped the salmon – and a variation of three scones. With real imported clotted cream, strawberry and orange preserves.

Too much. If I had known, I wouldn’t have breakfasted anything. I might ask the waitress to pack up the remaining two scones, the two macaroons and the little madeleine cake or whatever that is.

The rest of the evening? Will be spent lazily in my room, watching TV again and trying to stuff all my purchases into my suitcase. Darn, should have taken the large one after all instead of the middle sized. I should know myself better!

And tomorrow? Back home to prepare for the next part of my vacation! Less luxurious, but less alone as well, going home to meet my family and friends. But that’s another story … moin, moin (as the Hamburgians use to say)!

HAMBURG DAY 1

Aaand … here I am! In Hamburg, the port city, famous for its trade and fish, fish, fish. Thanks to Google Maps I found the hotel without too much running in the wrong direction – even though I could have taken a simpler route, as I was discovering later. But, as having experienced in Bristol as well, Google led me through the back streets. Which is why I basically had to surround the whole hotel building until I arrived at the main entrance of the famous “Hotel Atlantic”. Doesn’t ring a bell? Think James Bond fly crashing his BMW into a rental car shop. The hotel 007 was staying at was the “Hotel Atlantic”. And here I am, splurging on two nights to spoil myself. Anyway, I arrived around 9:30 am and lucky me my room was already available (usually check-in is at 3 pm), so that I could freshen up. Gorgeous! That was my first thought! Huge! My second! Yippie, L’Occitane! My third, as I was inspecting everything. Yep, here I would spend two very happy days!

A few minutes later I was already on my way to explore the old Hamburg. Once again with Google Maps. Due to a huge construction site, I did take the wrong street and had to turn around until I found the correct path. My first destination was “Speicherstadt”, a complete little town in itself with red brick buildings on a small island connected by many bridges. Being built in the late 19th century it’s not that old, but very impressive with the cranes on every building to load the wares directly into the buildings from the water. I’m really glad I’ve read the first novels by German author Boris Meyn, introducing me to the history of these parts of town. Discovering the “Hamburg Dungeon” (like the London Dungeon and the Berlin Dungeon) I spontaneously wanted to join a group for the tour just to being denied due to being fully booked. Unfortunately, the next free place would have been at 4 p.m. Too late for me. Thanks, bloody school visiting classes, who took away my space!

Well, so, I kept wandering around, buying some tea at the “Wasserschlösschen” at a cute little old fashioned tea shop where I could have bought dozens of different teas. I restrained myself and just sampled five. 4 Earl Greys, 1 fruit tea.

By now the sun had come out and it was beautiful walking along the port on my way to lunch. Because, I had discovered Hamburg has its own Hard Rock Café. And of course, wherever there is a HRC, I have to go there. It was good as usual, but let’s face it, it’s not London. With their homemade iced tea in large glasses. And it’s not the US where you can also order the delicious Oreo Cheesecake. 

I was already half dead on my feet, so I was walking quite a bit more slowly. Following the signs, I headed in the direction of the Civil Hall and by doing so basically already covered my sightseeing program for the second day. Since it led me through the shopping streets and the Jungfernstieg. And after having asked a local guy where the hell I could find a book store I finally did some book shopping. Well, as you can imagine, not as extensively as I would do in an English bookshop. But I did find one about the history of Hamburg, two German historical Hamburg mysteries and Goethe’s “Italian travel”. By then I was really done in and drudged back to my beautiful hotel. It’s not as if one couldn’t spend hours in such a beautiful room!

Which is where I spent the rest of the afternoon, stretched out on my wonderful box spring bed, soft as a cloud, being totally exhausted, watching TV. To my utter enjoyment, old 80s / 90s series “Diagnosis: Murder” and “Hart to Hart”. A great vacation day through and through!