My Story

The Peaceful Winter’s Night

Written by Teguh Nguyen

I am a restless person when it comes to traveling. As much as I enjoy staying in one place so to soak in all the scenes of a country, I do start to feel angsty. Of the cities that I have visited over my travels, three have stood out as being something special to me. The first is Sapporo, Japan.  A city that invited me to explore its nooks and crannies to find hidden gems. Many Japanese cities have been like this, however, this one was the first, so it takes that honor. The second city was New Your City, U.S.A. A city whose excitement and energy pumped me up, even though I had been traveling all night and had lost my passport. The city was a cornucopia of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Everything pulled me towards it begging me to visit and explore. However, the last city was completely different than these two. It has been the only place to clam my restless feet. That city was Hamburg, Germany.

After getting married, my wife and I talked about where would like to go on our honeymoon. We threw some places around, however, when Europe was mentioned we were both excited to go. Me because I had always wanted to travel anywhere in Europe. My wife because she wanted to see the land of her ancestors. We talked about the different countries and their benefits, however, we couldn’t agree on one country, or even two countries to go to. Not being able to settle on one, we decided, to do as many as we could. This lead us to a trip that would span 11 different countries. Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein (which we had to give up on because of issues), Luxembourg, France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Denmark. A trip that solved my restlessness. We bought the plane tickets and rented a car. Everything was a go for this trip.

We arrived in Sweden on the 22nd December 2013. We collected the car, where we ran into our first problem. no GPS. Lucky I had downloaded a maps app for my phone, and while it was sporadic, we still managed to use it to get around. And around we went. We went from Stockholm to Berlin, to Munich, Innsbruck, Verona, Zurich, Stuttgart, Luxembourg City, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. We looked at Castles, explored cities, enjoyed the scenery in between, and had great food. I have to admit, It might not have been a traditional, stay in one place honeymoon. But it was really exciting to go everywhere and experience the different places. Everywhere we went, My heart was beating fast, and I was always looking forward to the next place.

After leaving Amsterdam, we were heading towards the end of our trip. And I was getting really angsty as I wasn’t too sure if we were going to make it back to Sweden by the 2nd. The plan was to get into Hamburg. Quickly get something to eat, and be on our merry way again.

On 29th of December, I drove into Hamburg and parked the car. At that time Hamburg felt like all the other cities we had visited. It wasn’t until my shoes touched the footpath, where the full effects of the city hit me. The feeling of being home. This feeling was not one that I had experienced before, and have yet to experience again. In Australia, we have a song called ‘I still call Australia home.’ I love Australia. However stepping onto the streets of Hamburg, I felt that song play, but replacing all the great things about Australia, with what I had seen in Germany. It was the strangest feeling.

My wife and I walked down to Alstervergnügen Jungfernstieg, where the winter markets were still happening, and looked around. It was funny that there were many things that my wife was looking for, however, could not really, ones to match her standards. We were able to find them in Hamburg. Our quick plans turned into a 4-hour stay in the city. Not exploring. But enjoying.

We grabbed some Bratwurst, and Currywurst, and sat down on the steps looking out at the lake. And looked at the still erect Christmas tree. Cuddled together in the cold winter’s air. With all the hustle and bustle of people around us. But to me. At that moment, there was my wife, and a feeling of extreme happiness, and peace. I didn’t want to leave. I was home. My wife and I talked about all the places that we had been so far. We both agreed that none was like Hamburg. Although that might have been that we were feeling nostalgic as it was towards the end of the trip. But for the feeling was there.

When it got too cold, I reluctantly left my place by the lake, and left the city. Vowing to my wife that we would be there again. Next time, for a lot longer than the few hours. We finished our trip. Seeing more sights back to Sweden. And back to Japan.

I can still feel that feeling when I look back on that night. I have had friends ask my why Hamburg. To which I always reply. It felt like home. No other place I has made me feel like I was home. Although my wife and I have divorced. I my heart still feels the draw of Hamburg, and it wants to settle there.

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