It’s raining. It’s the type of rain that makes me feel safe, that sneaky rain that’s subtly pushing my hand up and reaches out for old photo albums on the bookshelf – in my case, dusty DVDs and folders on my laptop.
The nostalgia of the past travels and of the places I’ve been to has finally caught up with me. I’ve got thousands of photos that mean so much to me because of every country, and every person that I’ve ever met which took part in my growth. I went on one of my first trips to Germany as Roxana, the shy brunette girl, who moulded around others more than taking her own shape- and who eventually metamorphosed into Roxi, ticket by ticket. I am a stronger woman – and yes, it took me a while to accept this transition and to embrace the term WOMAN, because I was afraid of the responsibility that comes along with it, overlooking the power and beauty.
Through the photos I also came across some notes from my previous trip to Hamburg, and I’ve decided to tell you guys a bit about my experience.
As soon as I got back from Hamburg, Germany, I felt an extraordinary desire to write about everything I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, and the places I’ve visited. In my head I’ve already written a book and made a film about it; I’ve already told the world about this ‘Amsterdam of Germany’.
Here we go… Hamburg wasn’t like any other city I’ve been to in Germany, and although some compare it to Amsterdam due to its canals and “Red Light District”, I felt less pressured to “move”. The locals were friendly and patient. After a few days of being a tourist, I’ve abandoned my group and went to explore on my own, with a little map and a camera. I got lost not only on the busy streets, full of people but in all the colourful shops that caught my attention. I stopped at almost every corner because I wanted to capture everything. That day there was an amazing smell in the air: fresh rain, dust, oblivion. It made me feel talkative. I was asking strangers random questions because I wanted to take with me a part of their energy and culture when I leave.
Do you know that feeling when the moment feels just right, and when your heart is at ease, and you just want to stop time? In the German literature (Goethe’s Faust) there is a famous quote that describes it perfectly; he says: “Verweile doch, du bist so schön” – “Stay a while, you are so beautiful” when Faust, referring to the moment, wanted to stop time. If this city was a person, it would be a man called Erik, with dark curly hair and green eyes, that takes his city bike everywhere he goes. He enjoys social events, especially photo exhibitions, own a little studio where he and his dog Milo live.
While walking by some high-end golden shops that wore their names with pride, I could feel in the air the smell of expensive perfumes and sophisticated dishes. The difference in social class was obvious: from worn trainers, jeans and a plain T-shirt, to fur, high-heels, and carefully selected jewellery. But there was no attitude involved. Regardless of how different they were, there was a beautiful blend, as if they complemented each other. I felt like I could fit in with the city. I was everyone. I was one of the gentlemen in suits with his phone in one hand and a bag in the other, rushing through the crowd; I was the sweet old lady on the side of Norderelbe, feeding the swans; I was the young child with teary blue eyes begging her mum to buy her something sweet.
It was so easy to lose myself that week but even easier to remember who I was. That’s the beauty of travelling, discovering your strengths and weaknesses, giving yourself a break from who you are back home – or who you’re supposed to be. I was the city, for a few days at least… But same as Faust, I had an agreement with the “devil” and I had to return to England where my old self was waiting.
©Roxi Albescu – Please do not use my photos without crediting me. Thank you.