We've just experienced our first European weekend, which was of course great fun. After sleeping most of Saturday (though Tom had to run to the lab where he works several times to deal with some problems), we went out to Mamma Mia, not the musical but rather a wonderful Italian restaurant, with delicious wine and almost shockingly fast service. Every restaurant that we have eaten in has been fabulous, it really seems that Hamburg doesn't have any bad eateries at all. The language barrier would probably be a bit problematic for just us, but Tom thankfully takes care of any potential problems for us quite handily. So after dinner, we relaxed at his place briefly, since the nightlife here doesn't begin until much later than in the States. There are essentially no closing times for bars, so subsequently there is no reason to arrive really before eleven or midnight. To get the full Hamburg nightlife experience our main destination was the Reeperbahn, a series of about a hundred bars, restaurants, and sex shops packed into only a few city blocks, that are filled with partiers of all nationalities all weekend long. So, after a drink at the local pub to get us started, we took the U-Bahn (subway) to where the action was, meeting up with a bunch of Tom's friends/coworkers. Since he works at an international lab, his friends come from all over Europe, so we ended up partying with Spainiards, Italians, a Scot (named Matt, who'd just returned from travels of his own), and a Columbian, which was definitely quite cool. We hit up several bars, most notably the Cobra Club - a rock/punk club with a logo straight out of GI Joe, the Drafthouse which alternately featured American rock like Nirvana and Green Day as well as a typically cheesy German band covering 50s/60s music and singing in English. The band actually cleared out most of the crowd, but the mantra in Hamburg is simply to have a good time, and we most definitely did indiscriminately dancing to music both good and bad. We danced at another packed club, the Nachtlager, to tunes by Oasis and Soundgarden amongst others, and if you can't tell all and all the music isn't much different than in the States, though everyone here in Europe is much more relaxed about their partying. After a much needed refueling by way of a cheap tasty pizzas (2 euros with whatever toppings you wanted - and ready literally within a minute), we headed to a bar called the Golden Pudel to end our night. To put it in context, by this point is was right around 6 a.m., and yet the Golden Pudel was still filling up, as people streamed in from the other bars that were beginning to slow down. We were hesitant to pay the 2 euro cover, given that the bar is quite the dive, but Marcos, a guy from Spain, managed to talk the doorman into letting us all in, which worked out nicely since the DJ was spinning a lot of dark, heavy techno on actual vinyl. While every bar in Hamburg seems to have a live DJ, most use CDs and don't really do too much mixing, though since they play a lot of modern dance-rock that is somewhat understandable. But it was nice to hear some authentic techno, albeit in a somewhat nasty bar, but at well-past 6 a.m. after being out all night none of us were being too particular. After dancing for a bit more, we headed to the Fishmarkt, which is a crazy Sunday morning ritual not only for post-partiers but also for early-rising bargain shoppers. So it was quite an interesting mix of people, but a good time for sure as we wandered amongst a sea of vendors and odors (plenty of fish was around, for sure) before finally catching the subway home again around 8 a.m. If you're ever in Hamburg, make sure to catch the Reeperbahn, it is definitely a unique party spot, distinctly German and very, very fun.
After sleeping most of Sunday (how could we not with being up all night and still battling jetlag?), Tom took us out for his usual Sunday night ritual, half-price pasta at a local restaurant. We got to have some Franziskahner Heifer-Weisen, a popular German beer back home at the Sanctuary Pub where Liz used to work, and enjoyed great food that would've been worth full price. We then joined a few of his friends, Anna from Spain, and Jerome from Canada, for a quite nightcap beer before retiring to read for a while and then go to bed. We definitely maximized our weekend here in Hamburg, and are looking forward to our next couple of days here in Germany before heading to Holland on Thursday to meet up with Nicole. We're going to explore the town some the next two days (when Tom doesn't have to be at work), and on Wednesday we are going to the Fabrik Club to catch Poppa Chubby, a jazz guitar player that Tom is a big fan of. So that's where we are at now, we're both relaxing and reading our respective books (Anderson = The Fires Of Heaven by Robert Jordan, Liz = Aztec by Gary Jennings), and we're excited to be back on a normal sleep schedule!