T.R.U.D.E at the Museum of Labor
Heidelberg printing press at the Museum of Labor
Schoenboeken’s famous Lindenallee with its cathedral of 150-year-old linden trees
Deer at dusk from Judith’s balcony
We woke up to cloudy skies and then quite a bit of morning rain (although we did manage to have our breakfast on the covered balcony even while it was raining). Kai wanted a bit of extra time at home, and we decided to go to another hands-on museum that was going to be especially fun for both Andrea and Mark: the Museum of Labor in Hamburg-Barmbek, which I’d never visited before. It’s on the grounds of a former rubber factory and features a bunch of interesting machinery, part of it in working order and staffed by volunteers that demonstrate and lecture certain processes. The highlights were an enormous drilling head for a machine that drilled and constructed the last of the four modern two-lane “tubes” of the current tunnel under the river Elbe, fondly named “T.R.U.D.E” (Trudy, but also the acronym for “deep down below the Elbe” in German, “tief runter unter die Elbe”), and a whole floor about printing and typesetting with various machines, including a Monotype, a Linotype, and a Heidelberg printing press that we saw in use as they made posters, and as a volunteer, a retired printer, talked to us about his profession and a lot of stuff we already knew (both Andrea and Peter still learned to typeset and print when they were studying graphic design, and Mark has an enduring fascination with Linotype machines and loves all machines, anyway). We also saw various other machinery and some exhibits having to do with the daily life of factory workers, including old punch clocks and lunch pails etc. It was really interesting!
We got back home about 1 pm and then headed out again, now with sunshine and with Kai and luggage in tow. We put the luggage in storage at the main station and continued on to the banks of the inner Alster lake, where the Alster river forms two connected lakes, the smaller “Binnenalster” and the large “Aussenalster.” We had sausages and fries at a fast-food place and sat in the sun on the terraced steps on the lakeshore, warching the tour boats and the birds waiting for handouts among the tourists. Then we walked around the nearby botanical gardens for a bit and headed back to the train station, so that Kai could take one last look at a bookstore with a big manga collection. Our train was on the tracks early, so we said goodbye to Andrea and Peter a bit before 4 pm, and actually got a seat in what ended up being a very crowded train. Visiting Hamburg is always fun, a way of coming home in many different ways–to the city where I attended university, to Andrea’s and Peter’s “Wahlheimat” (hometown of choice, rather than birth place), and to my pre-Hamburg past as well, because Andrea and I inevitably spend some of our time talking about our school days and our families. Andrea and Mark have limited ways of communicating–she understands English, but is shy about speaking it, and he doesn’t speak German–but the common fascinating with machines, tools, and especially cameras is always a base for them to talk. And Kai is always happy to talk to Peter about Japan and anime, and they had some great conversations.
Our train trip took us, rather slowly and with a 15-minute delay, to nearby Neumuenster, 45 minutes from Hamburg, where my sister Judith came to meet us and my mom, who came to join us directly from Osnabrueck. It was another 20 minutes to the teeny village of Schoenboeken, where she and Michael live in a beautiful apartment in a house that is part of a little farmstead and overlooks a quiet meadow with four cows and occasional deer at dusk and dawn. We sat on the balcony for a while, enjoying the quiet, had a lovely spinach soup for dinner and even went for a little walk between squalls of rain. Judith also unpacked our early birthday present–a camera with exchangeable lenses–and she and Mark talked camera instructions for quite a while. We all took showers and baths and then went to our rustic and adventurous sleeping quarters–the apartment is not quite big enough for all six of us, and so they arranged for Mark, Kai and me to be in a cabin in the woods that belongs to the nearby zen center with which they are both affiliated (and which is the reason that they live here–Michael works there and Judith participates in zen meditation and volunteer work; both are ordained Zen Buddhist monks). Mark and I shared one twin bed (rather than opting for bunk beds, but we would have had that option) in one room / section of the cabin, and Kai had another single bed. The path to the cabin is a two-minute walk through the woods from Judith’s house, but in the rain it was a bit of a mud fest. We were tired and slept well, despite the screech owl outside, but I think Kai had a bit of a harder time with the rustic environment.