When I first said that I would blog about my experiences from Germany, I was told to not talk about sex, drugs, and politics.
After this series of posts, I might get fired.
So before I lose my job, and since I’m getting paid by the post (I am… right?), I figured I’d split this up into a few parts for your enjoyment.
Hamburg is only a hop, skip, and a six hour train ride away from Munich, and I was told by several people that Hamburg is a beautiful city. My internal thoughts ranged from “Beautiful city? Who cares?” to “You are in Germany. Live a little.”
I’m glad that I did.
(Quick tangent: Up until I started working for Mueller, I had never travelled alone. Someone was always there to help me reach my destination. Whether that was in an airport, taking the train into the city, or really just driving anywhere. I think it’s really important to get over that. I have been lost more in cities that I don’t know in the last month than I ever have before. Throw in the fact that most of the time I don’t have a map; it helps you grow a lot.)
My train ride was going beautifully, even though I still had a headache from the prior evening’s festivities, but nothing I couldn’t deal with. I have a picture of the train that I was riding in going 200km per hour which translates into roughly 124 mph. After the first three hours of my ride, a loud group of kids boarded my car and talked for three straight hours. Wonderful.
Upon exiting the train, I then was faced with the problem of trying to figure out where my hotel was. I had my map out trying to locate which street I was looking for, when two people stopped on their bikes and asked me in English if I needed help. Apparently, I look like an American. Honestly, it’s a humbling experience. It’s important to note that Hamburg is known for their hospitality (more on this in part two), but I had been in the city for five minutes, and the hospitality was clearly on display.
I arrived in Hamburg at about 9:15 at night, and started the journey to the hotel, which ended up being quite the trip. My printed route map wanted me to walk essentially around the block and then come back to the street my hotel was on, and I thought that it didn’t make any sense. So naturally, I took the shortest distance to my hotel. What I didn’t know at the time, I agreed to walk through one of Hamburg’s two red light districts.
In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m a pretty friendly and outgoing guy. Generally if someone says hello to me, I will be courteous and say hello back. My German has improved a considerable amount since I’ve been here, so now I have some new found confidence to say something to someone if the need arises.
I was walking down this street and a random person said ‘hello’ to me. Being ‘Mr. Friendly’, I responded back with a hello of my own. What a mistake that was. When asked, “Do you have time?” the alarms finally started going off in my head. I had forgotten that prostitution was legal in Germany. I responded with a clear and plain “No.” and put my head down to head to the hotel.
This was going to be quite the weekend.
Alex Krog, CPA is an Audit Associate and participant of Mueller’s Global Employee Exchange Program.