A World Away from Home: Bergedorf

My grandmother lives in a small town call Bergedorf. It’s just outside of Hamburg, so it’s easy to travel to and from the city centre.

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Full of cute buildings

I have been there many times, so I have my familiar places, restaurants, and shops that I regularly like to visit.

My grandmother, of course, always likes to take us for steak. She was horrified when I contemplated getting a burger. (We are at a steakhouse! You must get a steak!) And one does not simply refuse her. She is very stubborn. In the end I did not regret getting steak.

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No cars allowed

Sitting outside in the pedestrian-only area of Bergedorf is always a treat. The buildings are gorgeous, and it is full of the murmurings of people.

There is a level of detail in the architecture that we do not get here in Vancouver. The intricate railings, the carved decor, the tower-like roof points.

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Would love to live in one of these apartments.

It’s very suburban in Bergedorf, but it’s comfortable. There are many open plazas where people sit and drink coffee and eat ice cream (eis). On Tuesday we sat with my cousin well into the evening, eating eis and drinking Hugo – a wine cocktail that she insisted we try (she could not fathom how we had never heard of it before).

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Hugo

You don’t see too many people rushing around with coffee in their hands. Here they sit and take their time sipping. There was a Starbucks in Bergedorf at one point, but after the initial hype fell away, so too did its popularity. Compared to the incredible bakeries and cafes, it fell short.

There are so many bakeries and cafes, in fact, that I sometimes wonder how they all stay in business. On every block there are multiple bakeries. Every train station has at least one. And they’re always bustling.

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Apparently this is a thing you can do in Bergedorf. My grandmother was politely horrified.

And during the summer everyone eats a lot of ice cream. Like, a lot. Which is fair, considering it’s delicious.

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The Castle

Bergedorf also has its own little castle. Everyone is, of course, very proud of it. First used in the 1500s, it remains today, now a museum and cafe.

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The entrance

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Gorgeous details on the door

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Because castles need moats

Small as it is, this city will always have a special place in my heart. Spending weeks here during the summer was a huge part of my childhood. And I think this town will always remain important to me.

This is Halloween

The sound of feet hitting the ground, drawing nearer. Small feet, excited, running. Larger, steadier feet follow behind. Giggles and shrieks herald their arrival.

Miniature hands clutch pillowcases and plastic pumpkins in front of them as they surge towards the next house. Candies bounce with each step as if trying to jump from the confines of their prison, but never quite make it out. They rattle and then settle and then repeat the whole process again.

The knock is quick, and a little bit light. Even if you don’t hear it, the unsuccessfully muffled laughter will certainly rouse you. And when you open the door, they are beaming proudly, bags open and ready as they shout the famous lines.

A young boy with the fake bulging muscles of a superhero, and a small girl dressed in a glittering dress, holding a shiny wand in one of her hands. She’s missing her two front teeth and he’s missing one.

You can’t help but smile as you lower the candy bowl for their eager hands. And with a gentle reminder from their parents, they shout out their ‘thank-you’s as they hurry down the steps, their minds already set on the next house.

The next child is there with her dad. Her face has been painted red and green, and she is wearing a dinosaur costume. You grin and give her an extra candy. She smiles shyly and expresses her gratitude.

And when the knocking begins to die down, explosions in the sky start up. A safe perimeter has been set up, with children edging as close as they can get. The wet street does not faze them at all.

A whistle, a whine, a scream, and then colour flies, dancing through the sky, shouting its joy. Unfazed by its short life, it spreads its coloured wings and soars.

Where Even the Moon Cannot Reach

It curls from under the closet door. It is formless, and yet horrifying in shape. Dark shadows have consumed it, and now it can only appear where even the moon cannot reach.

Hands like blackened claws slowly push open the door. The wailing hinges warn the child.

The small figure on the bed stiffens, then curls up tightly, head disappearing under the covers.

Hissing in displeasure, glowing red eyes peer from the darkness. Then it begins to move forward. A skeletal frame, cloaked in shadows that never rest. One withered foot emerges, pressing into the carpet. Sharp, hooked nails pull at the loose threads.

Bones whine as they scrape against each other, grinding as the creature elongates from the small closet.

Slowly the head follows, so gaunt it’s mostly shadows. The eyes are sunken, the skin stretched thinly across the bones, translucent. The whiteness of the skull underneath glares in contrast to the hollowed cheeks.

A lipless mouth is stretched widely, curling up at the sides in a leer. Unnaturally sharp teeth gleam from darkened gums. Brown stains the wicked incisors.

It whispers forward until it is looming over the bed, its back arched, and its limbs disproportionately long. It soothes the covers over the trembling ball.

Come out, it croons in a guttural hiss. Let’s play. Like a dying cat it laughs. Come out, it repeats, call for your mother, for your father. Its hand hovers, waiting, always waiting for its chance.

Challenge the Waves

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The water is cold as it claims your feet, so you burrow them into the sand. It is not much of an improvement, but it warms as the water drew away. Soon only the very top of your feet are left visible to the sea’s curious eyes.

A slight wiggle ensures that you are firmly in place. You keep your hands stretched out to your side to make sure you don’t fall. Perhaps, you muse, you should have set your feet a little wider apart.

The next wave comes, a little bit stronger. The sea is playful, seeing your resistance as a challenge. It attempts to knock your feet out, but you’re adamant in your stance.

The water drags away some of the sand, but still you do not move. Instead you attempt to work your feet even deeper before the next rush of water.

Your lips curl upwards, and the sun mirrors in your eyes and off your teeth.

This wave is stronger than the last one, and you can feel the sand being pulled from under you. Soon your toes will begin to peek out, but the waves are now too fast, and you have no time to rebury your feet.

You kick out at the wave in defeat. The sea’s triumphant fireworks follow the arc of your foot.

The waves recede, and you make your way back up to your towel. But you’ll be back, you grin at the ocean. It’s not over yet.