Thursday, October 25, 2018

Thoughts from Hamburg, Germany: 25.10.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable. 
                                                                                                - Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

Matters Hamburg
  • Yesterday morning was rather frustrating. Firstly, the office in the centre which would've sold me a travel card seemed to have closed down; secondly, I again got confused by Google Maps and walked several minutes in the wrong direction towards an alternative office in or near the central train station; thirdly, it took me at least 30 minutes to find the latter, again sent round in circles by Google Maps; fourthly, the guy at the (HHV)office rejected my foto as not being on foto paper; fifthly, I couldn't find the foto booth (blinkee!) he directed me towards, 'just across the street'; sixthly, when I did find a booth on the station, the guy already in it seemed to have no idea how it worked and threatened to be there all day. So, I left, empty-handed. BUT . . . I did find another booth in the underground station and – albeit with some difficulty – did finally manage to get a single foto for €1. AND . . . In the brochure on travelling around the impresive Hamburg transport system I did notice that a month's ticket for someone of my age would be €62, and not the €106 quoted to me by the guy in the HHV office near the station. I wondered if he'd have eventually told me about the discount, if I'd dealt with him. Oh, yes, my credit cards were again refused at the HHV office where, with the help of my host, I did finally get a card.
  • Speaking of the latter . . . He asked for my help in making a transfer from his UK bank to his German bank. Thus it was that we spent at least an hour last night trying to do this on line and then on the phone with a chap with quite a thick Scottish accent. We did eventually succeed but my – fluent in English – Anglo-German friend admitted that he hadn't understood a word said by our interlocutor in Scotland.
  • I forgot to mention that my companion and I were diverted when walking to a restaurant in Essen because of the discovery of an unexploded WW2 bomb. My host tells me this is a common occurrence in Hamburg and that a hand grenade had been found only a day or so ago. I wondered if this had been by someone 'magnet fishing' in the river Elbe.
  • English words and phrases are everywhere here. Outside an optician's was the a sign saying: You can't buy happiness. But you can change your glasses. Just few examples from one web page of words that surely can't be German in origin:- Bestsellen. Online-service. Sweets. Superfood. Fitness. Home. Shop. Feedback. Download. And Live-talk.
Matters Spanish/Galician
  • Will Spain return soon to a sensible 'clock', in line with its northern and southern neighbours the UK and Portugal? Click here on this.
  • More on that imminent Arctic weather here.
  • Alerted by reader Sierra's report of a local Galician beer tasting of pumpkin, reader Maria waxes lyrical on a modern trend on her blog here.
  • Another article on the Franco Bones controversy.
  • And more here from Don Quijones here on the consequences of the Supreme Court's indecision on the mortgage stamp duty issue. For a start the mortgage market has 'seized up' and bank shares have 'plunged'. DQ characterises the situation as a 'fiasco that that threatens to spiral out of control'. Will heads roll? Probably not. Will consumers win? Probably not.
Matters UK
  • Here's one sensible commentator on Brexit: Which of the several possible scenarios is it to be? I’ve no idea, and neither has anybody else. But what I do know is that Mrs May’s Alice in Wonderland “Brexit” will satisfy nobody. Something must give. As I've been known to say to my daughters: You can displease all the people all the time. Hats off to Mrs May for having proven this aphorism true.
Spanish
  • Word of the Day: Azar
Finally . . .
  • It's possible you've never heard of the fruit which is the subject of this sad article. Where it's said that: The fruit’s odour has been described as resembling feet, onions and manure. I tried the stuff when living in Jakarta and prefer this description of the experience I heard back then: Eating durian is like biting into rancid cheese while standing in a sewer. So, there are worse fruits than the pumpkin. Or is that a vegetable???
© [David] Colin Davies: 25.10.18

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