It’s the last week of study abroad now, and we’ve finished up our time in Essen and gone on to Hamburg. During this time, we’ve visited a few other places, including Pheonixsee, a beautiful town that is largely characterized by its large, man-made lake. It’s a marvel of engineering, with the lake actually completely detached from the usual sources of recharge- there’s no streams, above ground or otherwise, that flow into the lake. When the water levels get too low, they pump in water to fill it up. Instead of calling it a lake, it may even be more appropriate to call it a gigantic pool. It also does not serve as a source for other water bodies.
It is surrounded by one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the region, home to many celebrities and rich, successful football (or as we call it, soccer) players, as well as other affluent people. The surrounding landscape is well maintained, and very lush. For a lake surrounded by so much greenery, it’s surprising that there’s no problems with water quality, especially considering that it is a stagnant body. The geniuses behind the neighborhood design had thought of this, however, and there is a water treatment facility that treats the water and makes sure that the lake stays pristine and beautiful- even with all the geese and plants that call it home.
Moving on from Essen, we spend our last few days in Hamburg, which is noted as a popular tourist attraction, and was once a major trade port. It has also, through history, been beset by many disasters, especially major flooding, and yet come out of each disaster wealthier than before disaster struck.
An interesting note about Hamburg is that, as with many trade ports, it once had, and continues to have, a red light district, though the location of the old one and the current day red light district have changed. This shouldn’t have been as surprising as it was to me, because of course, it was a major trade port, and most trade ports, especially those that used waterways, tended to develop a thriving business based around the ‘oldest trade’.
Like other cities in Germany and around the world, Hamburg is also developing and reconstructing. As part of a larger Green Initiative, Germany strives to create more green spaces and parks for the German populace, as well as to become a more sustainable country. These green spaces include traditional parks that are dominated by greenery, but also include places for people. We saw one such place in Hamburg, which was particularly attractive because we happened upon it while they were in the process of watering the plants via misters. I’m not sure if this is a usual event, but it is certainly a fun one, especially for a group of tired American college students who’d been walking in the hot sun all morning.
A bit more walking and exploring the city, and it was the last night of study abroad. We had one last free (they say free, we know we paid for it through our study abroad tuition fee) dinner, and then discovered the rooftop bar at our hostel (A&O Hostel, which is a very convenient hostel, if cheap). We gathered for one last time there, talking about our time spent in Germany, and took our last group pictures, before saying good bye. We would all be going off elsewhere the next morning. And so ended our study abroad trip (but not my abroad experience).