Something great about Phase II, a.k.a. Germany, besides potatoes, is that here you can get group train tickets. These group train tickets allow you to travel in a group of up to 5 people, and it comes off really cheap. So that is what I did to get from Kassel, town located on the Fulda River in northern Hesse, to the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, with only €7.
For my surprise, what thought would be the longest train ride, turned out to be extremely interesting as soon as a group of Rotary Exchange students hosted in Germany entered the train.
The only complication I had was not having a place to stay. No big deal, happens all the time, right? Well, the solution was clear to me. The first thing that popped into my head was to go on the Rotary Facebook page created for the former Exchange students and ask;
-Is anyone here going to be around Hamburg this weekend?
That same day I got a response from Annika Peters, former Rotary Exchange Student to Brazil. And that is where I stayed. That same night after I arrived in Hamburg and met up with her, we watched the UEFA European Football Championship match between Denmark x Germany at the Heiligengeistfeld. It was fantastic, the energy from the Germans was unique, and I am very glad I was on the German side that night.
Next day I met up with Philipp, former Rotary Exchange student and my roommate during the East Coast Trip in 2010. Earlier this semester he had come to Bordeaux, so this was my second time seeing him since our exchange. Philipp lived in Ahrensburg, little town in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, situated in Stormarn. Its population around 31,700.
Even though I had just seen him a couple of months ago, I felt like this was foreign territory. I would finally meet his friends and his family, after hearing so much about them. I spent four fun days in Ahrensburg with the Roehls, the Ma’am and Sir were very kind and cooked me plenty of kartoffeln.
I partied in Hamburg, walked through the Reeperbahn, street in Hamburg’s St. Pauli district, one of the two centres of Hamburg’s nightlife and also the city’s red-light district. In German it is also sometimes described as die sündige Meile (the sinful mile). Had my first conversation with a lady in a fanny pack – here is a tip for the ladies that are visiting the city, don’t wear fanny packs, or you might get mistaken by someone else.
I left Ahrensburg on the 22nd of June and went to Odense to meet up with Malou Tolstrup Rhode, another former Rotary exchange student.