Confessions of a researchaholic

June 30, 2009

Hamburg travel

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:21 pm
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This is my second trip to Germany in the last 3 months. People usually do not travel to the same place within such a short period of time, but I went both for conferences: the first one in Munich for an EG09 STAR (see here for more details), and the second one in Hamburg for an ISC09 panel.

Fortunately, Munich and Hamburg are sufficiently different to worth separate travels; in a nutshell, Munich is a more traditional Bavarian city while Hamburg a very international port.

Like Munich, Hamburg has a very good metro system, consisting of S-bahn and U-bahn. I could easily travel from the airport to my hotel via trains. Well, it is not exactly that easy, as after arriving at Dammtor Station near my hotel, I had trouble identifying the right exit for the hotel.

Fortunately, Hamburg residents are very friendly, as for at least 5 or 6 occasions during my entire trip someone volunteered to help. I guess I must look quite lost.

Being a port, Hamburg is a very watery city. On the north of the city center there are two artificial inner city lakes formed by river Alster, Aussenalster (outer Alster Lake) and Binnenalster (inner Alster Lake).

On the south of the city center is the Albe River. Near that is a new construction region named Hafencity.

Rathaus (city hall) is the landmark building of Hamburg city center, containing many shops, restaurants, and historical buildings.

Cafe Paris is one of the restaurants I visited; the vaulted ceiling with large paintings is quite beautiful.

Hamburg also has many museums. Kunsthalle, the art museum, contains two buildings, one for modern art, the other a curious mixture of classical and contemporary work. The two buildings are connected by a very unique underground tunnel.
The ethnology museum near my hotel is also very unique; I especially like the photo room, and was amazed by the ethnic similarity between Chinese and Central Asian, even though the latter is mostly nomadic (i.e. the so called barbarians in Chinese history textbooks).

I also visited the Brahms museum, and discovered that he was a Hamburg native.

Not all buildings in Hamburg are in good condition. St-Nikolai-Kirche, bombarded during WWII, served as a reminder of the wreckage of war.

Rote Flora is perhaps the most salvaged building in Hamburg, but ironically it was one of the few theaters not damaged by the war.

Unlike Munich where local Bavarian food is rampant, the restaurants in Hamburg are quite international, and it is actually not that easy to find really local tastes. Most of the restaurants I visited are quite good (e.g. the whole fish I had in Turnhalle, a restaurant converted from a gymnasium), I still wanted to try some local food. Well, the closest thing I found is in a restaurant named Filmhauskneipe (yes, near a film house); I ordered a plate of whole raw fish and veggie as suggested by the waitress to be truly German food.

For more photos I took during this travel, see here.

June 4, 2009

Mysterious phone calls

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:12 pm

I almost never pick up phones, especially calls from unknown sources. But for 3 consecutive days I got missed calls from the same number. The persistence of the caller impressed me, so I looked up the number online; it is registered under a “debt collection, judgment recovery, and private investigation” company.

To my memory, I have never hired a private detective, never borrowed from loan sharks, have no mistress, and have not gotten into a fight since high school, so I became really curious on why kind of business they have for me. So I called them back. After scrambling through their files, they told me they are trying to collect debt from someone else who once owned my current phone number.

When I come home and find a black jacketed guy waiting in my living room, I wonder if he would prefer tea or coffee.

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