- Food & Drink
- Creative Writing
- Say’s Who?
Find Chapter 1, here.
I plonk myself onto the plush leather seats of the taxi and we’re off, rushing through the Hamburg rush hour traffic, secure from the rain clouds that loom far above. Oh dear, it’s only just occurred to me that I’ve gone completely off plan. I rummage through my satchel for my printed journey details and curse under my breath as I realise I should have taken the S1, which is one of Hamburg’s underground train lines. I was doing so well – how did this happen?
Having felt suddenly exhausted, I had forgotten all about my itinerary for getting to The George and wanting to get there fast, had headed straight for the taxi rank. A bad, bad idea. Later on I would discover that I could have saved myself seventeen Euros! That may not sound like much, but when you’ve pretty much got nothing to spend, making smart decisions like taking the underground are really rather important.
I sink into my seat and try not to ponder the cost of the 25 minute (according to Google maps) taxi ride. I recall how impressed I was at the very well organised and brilliantly designed airport and how remarkably clean I had found it and… Oh God, I can’t stop looking at the meter – I urge it not to rise and will the traffic to disperse. Ah yes, beautiful buildings, concentrate on those, I tell myself. I do love beautifully designed buildings and for a while, my focus is seized by fantastic old Hamburg town-houses with pretty balconies. I do love a good balcony.
It’s raining by the time the taxi stops in front of The George, fast and loud, but the heavy pitter-patter is drowned out by construction work in progress right beside the hotel. The amalgamation of my insomnia, travelling and rain has convened behind my eyes and are obviously playing ping-pong, tap-dancing or simply kicking against my skull. The sound of building work is not going to fend them off. Please let the windows in my room be triple or quadruple glazed.
The George is not the most handsome of buildings; its exterior giving one the impression that it may not be the grand 4 star hotel it is expected to be, but this impression is deceptive, for as I enter the reception at The George, dragging my suitcase and drenched in clouds, I am transported into luxury, warmth and intrigue.
The baroque wallpapered walls, magnificent crystal chandeliers and cherry wood panels extend into open lounges off the reception. Furnished with chesterfield settees, floor to ceiling bookcases and dimly lit retro-style lamps, I imagine a similar room in the 1930’s; poets, journalists and politicians gathering in the evening, attired in their finest smoking jackets and discussing and debating the future.
“Hallo?” My thoughts are interrupted by the smiling receptionist trying to grab my attention. I am saved the embarrassment of speaking terrible German, return the greeting “Hallo,” – I smile apologetically and quickly hand over my booking confirmation at reception. The receptionist smiles, welcomes me to The George in Englisch (phew! I hate how much of a ‘tourist’ I am having to be.), politely tells me that no upgrades are available tonight and hands me the key card to my room.
Wonderment is what I’m feeling as I find my way to my room, for the décor at The George would seem to be merging antique and old English bourgeois style with simple but striking, modern minimalistic décor. It’s like meandering through two different worlds, which are surprisingly very in synch with each other. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does and it does so with excellence.
My room dips into the more modern rather than the vintage, but there are touches of vintage inspired furniture and accessories here and there. I launch myself onto the bed, face down, eyes closed, the thumping in my head becoming rigorous and near excruciating. The bed is a very welcome salvation, but I shouldn’t sleep now, I’m in Hamburg – I must deal with my headache and go out and explore.
The sun has retreated by the time I awake three hours later, still face down on the bed and confused by my environment. Then it’s back again, the thumping behind my eyes and I’ve reoriented myself. It’s really cold and I’m shivering like a sphinx cat in the snow. I turn the heating right up, but it’s not the room that is cold I realise, I just have a roaring fever. I certainly won’t be going into Hamburg any time tonight.
Food sounds like a good idea – maybe it’ll alleviate the pain. I’m beginning to realise just how bad a traveller I am – I could really do with pain killers right now. I’m in no state to leave the hotel or even go down to the restaurant, so I opt for room service instead. That is until I realise that my feeble budget can’t justify the costs. Right now, I’m hating being away from home and I am very likely to cry.
I suddenly remember the cake from the plane and go about frantically searching for it. A thorough search of the chaos which inhabits my bag results in the discovery of one squashed and tired looking piece of cake – it is the best cake in the world and it’s gone, just like that. The cake is doing a poor job of appeasing my tummy, which complains loudly. I’ve never given a second glance to hotel room mini-bars before these are serious circumstances. Keeping in mind my budget, I decide on the peanuts. I eat each one gingerly to make them last.
With supper consumed, there is nothing for a sick and hungry tourist to do, but sleep and hope tomorrow brings a better day.
The bed is spacious, the sheets comforting and the pillows cool, but fever has a way of mocking you with restlessness, so by the time exhaustion allows me to sink into a coma like sleep, it’s nearly 6am. I had planned to be up at 7, but I wake at 10:45. I have just over an hour to leave my room and check out.
A good sign of a well looked-after and quality hotel is a pristine bathroom – well, that’s my opinion anyway. One thing I cannot stand is an unclean bathroom, so I’m relieved and super happy that my bathroom at The George is not only beautifully designed and stocked with delicious smelling toiletries, but that it is squeaky clean! I shower quickly (good pressure by the way), dress, rearrange my suitcase which has it’s contents spilling out all over the room, make sure I haven’t forgotten anything and bid it adieu.
My headache has subsided, but I’m still exhausted. As I walk into reception, I regret not having been able to see more of the hotel, lounged in the library, enjoyed the roof terrace views and made use of the spa facilities. I check out at exactly noon. I realise I have no itinerary for the day and have a moment of panic. The panic subsides rapidly when the friendly and enthusiastic receptionist gives me great tips and advice for what one should do if they are in Hamburg for just half a day. “You must visit us again when you are in Hamburg,” she remarks. I’m sure they have to say that to all their guests, but it’s said with such sincerity and warmth that my day seems brighter already.
- May 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010