Hamburg and the Missing Organ

The lady on the bicycle flipped us off.

Not that I blamed her.  I woulda done the same thing. I could not BELIEVE this motor coach was turning onto the bike path. 

“It’s pehrfecktly leegahl,” the guide assured us, “as longh as we dohn’t go overrr 20 kph.”  

Or flatten any cyclists, presumably.  Not that the driver would see them in this Goliath.   We were in Hamburg, being real American tourists, shuttled around the city until the noon organ recital at St. Michael’s, the only standing gothic cathedral in the city. 


Then we came nose to nose with another genius commandeering a coach of tourists in the opposite direction.  And a passel of rather annoyed German cyclists scowling at the whole fiasco as they straddled their now stationary bikes. 

Watching the two busses attempt to pass without biffing into each other was almost worth the tour.  And amazingly they succeeded.

We’d started the day on a not so great note – there were four coaches doing this same tour and the other three peeled outta the lot on time.  We sat and waited.  And waited. 

Sheri had seen someone with our bus number climb on another bus, so I dutifully went off to tell the woman in charge, in case that was the problem. 

“Ja,” she said, “somewun tolt me.”

Oooh-kay. Back to my seat. The wait continued. 

Finally a grey haired man jumped out of a taxi and leapt into the bus. 

“Guten morgen!” he said brightly. 

“Good afternoon,” I responded a bit dryly, which earned me a sharp dig in the ribs.  Jeesh.   Some people have no sense of humor. 

So after driving around Hamburg, stopping at the Lovers’ Bridge (kiss your honey on the bridge and you’ll be together forever), we headed to the church for the Organ Recital. 

The organ, taken after the service when pictures were allowed again.

“Oh, ja?  They have a moment of silence today for Kofi Annan.  Just soh you knoh.”

Okay, whatever.  He was a good dude, we can keep our yappies shut for 60 seconds.  

So we went into a gorgeous old church, stuffed full of cruise-goers awaiting the recital. Me, I knew the Cwm Rhondda was too much to hope for (I loooove that hymn belching out of a powerful organ, so if you outlive me get ready, because I expect you to HOWL it in a minimum of four parts as you see me off), but Deutscheland Uber Alles?  A little Beethoven, perhaps?  Heck, I’d take Wagner as long as it’s not Gotterdammerung. 

No worries on that count.  We didn’t have anything LIKE that kind of time to sit through. 

They said NO PHOTOS as we entered…well, okay…but then I noticed the two camera crews.  WTH?  It’s a simple organ recit…oh, noooo…

The pulpit was full of people in traditional African dress. 

And so began the Hamburg edition of Kofi Annan’s memorial service.  Conducted in German. With very little music. 

Specifically, three little twiddly bits.  Okay, I know I dropped music theory before the UCSB professor could flunk me.  However, I am aware of discord when I hear it.  That shit was BAD. 

And short.

Unlike the eulogy given by the Secretary-General’s nephew. 

Which was less painful as it was in English, I guess, as opposed to the rest of the service, although referring to the Honorable Mr. Annan as Mister Cool was somwhat odd given the circumstances.  The Lord’s Prayer’s timing is a bit different in German…I got to Amen a wee bit late.  

The other oddity was the filming.  I got the distinct impression the crew was Ghanaian, and they were delighted with the robust turnout for the prodigal son’s memorial service.  How beloved is our leader in foreign nations!  Let us film the massive, packed cathedral and the mourning crowds!

Not us, buddy, we’re here for the oompa organ. 

I groused about the whole deal on the way back in the ship’s elevator.  A Chinese gentleman turned around, scowled and said, “How you think I feel?  I’m Buddhist!”  and stomped off. 

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