‘This is the first place you’ve decided to take me in Hamburg of all places?!’
I uttered in disbelief at my good friend, Bente, as I picked up a whirling dildo. I held it out to avoid being smacked in the face and stared bemused at her as she giggled naughtily.
I met Bente in New Zealand in the Kiwi Experience bus in Christchurch where her blond curls first appeared in my vision as she cussed the bus driver in her German accent for being late. (Classic German Trait) If she had the guts to do that, I knew we would get on famously. Spending 10 days together in our small group we explored the rest of South Island before heading through to Auckland where I bidded farewell to her. She made me promise to visit her hometown of Hamburg and yet here I am.
I suppose you would rather know why I’ve got a fake willy in my hand instead. I know I would be.
Just an hour before, I landed at Hamburg airport in the early morning, bleary eyed from no sleep that night from London. My flight was at an awful time of 6.30am and I needed to be at the airport for 4.30am (thanks Easyjet) so I wrongly figured I would stay up to avoid being in a dark mood from waking up at a time of night that even Santa would roll over and go back to sleep on Xmas Eve. I wasn’t in a dark mood, just a zombie. So after being greeted with a mouthful of blond curls at the arrivals gate, Bente decided she needed to perk me up.
Dropping my bags off at her place, she swiftly took me to a sex shop on the high street. It wasn’t the only one, there are rows and rows of them. This one was big enough to fit a Tesco Extra Superstore. She succeeded in her mission. Laughing mirthly, I chased Bente with the revolving contraption and we spent a hilarious time repeating titles of DVDs that lined the walls that had a variation on original films – Good Will Humping was the least offensive. Tiptoeing into the S&M section, this made the Sex Museum in Amsterdam look tame. I probably started to get freaked out at the bondage techniques and gags on display so a swift exit was made not before giggling at loved up couples who indiscreetly tried to purchase their daring items. I mean, I got 2 full days to explore Hamburg and, really, I shouldn’t be spending half of one in the seedy shops.
But this got me thinking about my stereotyping of German people. I imagined them to be extremely private with their lives particularly their sex lives. If anything, I thought they would be come across as uptight virgins that would give me blank stares if I mentioned the word ‘thong’. That truly was not the case. I just needed to go to the other end of the spectrum. They are extremely liberal. Even more than their French and Dutch neighbours (the Belgians don’t really know what they are doing unless they are controlling the rest of Europe with their health and safety policies) and they aren’t afraid to show it. Later on, that night I would pass by on the same street and they were advertising sex shows a plenty to make Russell Brand blush. However, no one made any overtures to me and instead congratulated Bente on landing a sexy and handsome man… (Me).
All my stereotypes of German people was proved wrong during 2 full days in Hamburg except their dogged insistence of time keeping. I actually found them to be the most friendly people on Earth. They would offer to buy you a drink, share stories with you, give you smiling customer service and what was best thing – their totally relaxed attitudes to life. Of course, they work very hard and give 110% into their output but they also like to play hard. They deserve it. I mean, the Greek economy isn’t going to be looking after themselves.
I should have known this. Germans were everywhere when I undertook an epic RTW trip and more than often I would choose to be in the company of these funny and thoughtful nationality than others especially the dour French and even my own English people as most chose to treat their fantastic opportunity to broaden their minds as a drink-fuelled binge across the globe. The Germans were up for a natural and cultural experience. My favourite times with them were hiking in the Northlands of New Zealand, travelling the South Island with Bente and having a laugh with them on the Fijian Cruises.
My first taste of Germany was in Munich, and my first expectation to be barked at for faffing around with the ticket machines at Munich Airport to get into town was met with kindness from strangers who offered to pay for me. We had a laugh on the metro. Anywhere you go, they want to know you, help you, guide you, involve you, cook for you and mutually complain about the French. The myth that the German People don’t have a sense of humour is totally wrong. Of course, sometimes they don’t get the British humour but we could say that about their humour. Case in point – the British programme ‘Allo ‘Allo’ set in Nazi occupied France had the Germans rolling around with laughter at our portrayal of them. The French didn’t like it one little bit.
I did comment on my observations of the German people to a few natives how much I really liked their country and its people over a few beers and surprisingly one of them, a student younger than me, replied,
‘We have to show other countries what we are really like, the past still haunts us.’
Which leads into my next post that may prove controversial:
‘Should the Post Cold War Generation German People Feel Proud for their Country?’
Meanwhile, I’m still in Hamburg. Lets see the sights.