We embarked on a road trip from Frankfurt and decided on the first night that we would head north towards Scandinavia. There is a certain freedom that comes with having a car, and deciding on where to go last minute, but it also comes with some risks, like not being to get a place to stay on such short notice.
Still, after a few attempts with different hosts, our Airbnb booking in Hamburg came through and that was to be our first stop on the way to Copenhagen. We didn’t think much of Hamburg at first, choosing it as a stop simply because it was on the way to Denmark and Ryan could rest after driving the long distance. But the second largest city in Germany was a lovely city to stop over.
Through Airbnb, we stayed at Kim’s place, which was not far from the city centre. His home is stylish and cool, and I spent many an hour writing and editing work in his living room with the great view. If it were warmer, I would have sat at the sun deck too.
His balcony has an awesome view of the neighbourhood, and it's especially pretty at sunrise and sunset.
Besides lunching at the port of Hamburg, we visited St Michael’s Church and the lovely grounds surrounding it.
We also took a walk through Planten un Blomen (their botanical gardens), taking our time to enjoy the sights. We kind of took a little too long and ended up incurring a parking fine for an expired coupon. I hope the bill isn't going to be too big. We won't know till they send a letter to the car rental company.
We ended the day at the supermarket, where we stocked up on groceries for breakfast and dinner. Lunch we ate out but it seemed a shame not to cook in Kim's well-equipped kitchen.
I know, we sound like two aunties hanging out at supermarkets while traveling. But it is part of the enjoyment. We even managed to score 30% off the already cheap pork we found at the supermarket near our apartment, because it was the end of the day. That was a very tasty pork too, as you can see in the photos above.
It helps when one of you is an ace cook (not me). And breakfast in the apartment is also enjoyable.
Music in the apartment was provided by my Spotify playlists and my newly-bought Harmon Kardon Esquire Mini Bluetooth speaker. I never thought I'd bother carrying one extra piece of tech on my trips, especially since I am such an ultralight packer these days, but darn it, that speaker is useful as heck. Acts as a wireless speaker, speaker phone, and emergency powerbank.
Sounds good too, for the size. It is smaller than my iPhone 6 Plus but thicker. You could pop it into your jeans pocket and not feel it at all. Perfect for music in the hotel room or even for watch movies on your tablet or smartphone.
Hamburg is pretty laid back for the second largest city in Germany. If I had any complaint, it was the weather. It gets a little nippy sometimes. For spring, it was pretty cold. But we came equipped with winter clothing anyway.
Every year, my family gathers for the Reunion Dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. It is a rowdy affair, filled with food, drink and laughter.
Ma cooks up a storm each time, and we all tuck in. Back in the old days, it was just my immediate family: Pa, Ma, my two younger brothers and me. But the participants grew as we siblings got married and had children.
These days, it is not just my brood and my brother's kids at these dinners. Even family friends, cousins and aunts are here. We didn't have Pa with us for the last three years but Ma felt we should have even more loved ones in the home for this dinner, and so the party grew to as many as 19 people.
It got so big in numbers that we had to buy two folding tables from Giant, so that we could seat everyone.
My second brother usually cooks some of the dishes too, because he is a great cook. And also, it helps take some of the load off my mother, who is already 73 years old. But Ma loves to cook for us, so she still does a fair bit of the cooking. It's in her DNA, I think. She has been making meals for us since we were born, while juggling work as a teacher.
I cherish these Reunion Dinners. I like eating at home with all my loved ones, and home-cooked meals. My children too, are used to this scene because they are at my mom's every weeknight for dinner (we live a few blocks away from my mother).
I am not sure how we would even execute a Reunion Dinner without her hands-on involvement. She has run this show and this household for so long.
Ma is what you would call the Pioneer Generation. When I think of her though, I don't think of the term Pioneer Generation. I just think of her as Ma.
It is nice, of course, to appreciate that generation for their contribution to nation-building and all that. But really, my late father and Ma impacted us in a more intimate way, providing for us and bringing us up.
They were there through all our ups and downs; when we struggled in school, when we failed an exam, when we grappled with work and business, when we got attached, when we went through breakups, when we got married, when we had children of our own, when we had a special child, when we lost a child.
Through it all, our parents were there, a pillar of strength and support. Their contribution to us is beyond nation-building. They are the very foundation of our lives.
A couple of months back, John of drew&barry asked if I wanted to try some of their camera bags and accessories. You know me, bag addict that I am, I said, "Sure!"
The Wotancraft Ryker was the bag I got to use, and I have to say, this bag oozes luxury and leather loveliness. I am told this bag is not always available for sale because the Wotancraft folk are really fussy about the premium leather they use, so if that leather is not available, they won't make the bag.
The Ryker is just the right size for my mirrorless cameras and lenses, but I found it most suitable for my Fuji X100 cameras, both in size and in spirit.
I can carry an X100S (the silver one on the left) and an X100T (the black one on the right) in it, together with the WCL-X100 Wide conversion lens and TCL-X100 Tele conversion lens (seen in the middle). There is space to spare for other accessories like batteries and memory cards, and also a suede sleeve with flap, for my iPad Mini 3.
It is not the lightest bag in the world, since this much leather and metal does make it somewhat on the heavy side. But it isn't mean to be an ultralight travel bag anyway.
And another plus, I love that they don't use velcro or buckles, just a simple leather strip to hold the main flap down. Or if you want quick access, just leave the big flap be and use the magentic catches.
You can also close the inner main compartment with the zippered top cover for security, and leave it unzipped for quick access during use.
The hand strap on my silver Fuji X100S is a Barton1972 strap. I love the feel of it. The stretchiness of the strap design feels very natural. My black Fuji X100T is fitted with a longer Cub & Co. shoulder strap.
And who can resist decorating the X100's with soft shutter release buttons? These are Artisan Obscura ones made of wood. The only small annoyance I have is they sometimes come unscrewed. Nothing that can't be fixed with a little Loctite.
Just to be clear, this isn't a paid post. I shared this because I like their stuff and they make my cameras happy. Also, I have a soft spot for the smell and feel of premium leather and the look of real wood.
I just hope auntie next door didn't think I was off my rocker taking photos along the corridor, on my tummy.
I am trying to catch up on my travel updates and photo editing, so rest assured, more photos and posts to come. Especially want to share the lovely Airbnb places I stayed while in Japan. Here is a peek at the lovely cottage we stayed in at Karuizawa.
Here is the backyard…
I know. It is gorgeous. We were there just as autumn turned into winter and the leaves were in striking red, and the weather cool and lovely.
It was more thorough than I expected, and I am now convinced it's something we should do more regularly.
She juggles a lot as a mother — the household, her job, me, the kids — and I want her to stay healthy and happy. Her health check is like my little Mother's Day present to her (but got other present also lah, dear).