Modern Nomad in Hamburg

John Early
From Saskatoon, Canada
3 days in Hamburg
Traveller & author


We met you at the IndieMagDay! As somebody who’s seen the world: what do you think of Hamburg?
I travelled to Germany to write a piece on Berlin street art for my upcoming book, Tales of the Modern Nomad, and stopped in Hamburg on the way to visit an old friend. The first thing that struck me was the beautiful and creative architecture and how it is influenced by and conforms around the harbour. It’s a unique blend of modern meets industrial with lots of red brick work that seamlessly blends history into a contemporary city — just like the Oberhafen warehouse where I met the Gute Leute team on IndieMagDay! Another thing I love about Hamburg is its own unique identity while still being a very German city — and people mainly speak German, hard to find in big international cities with many expats!

What made you decide to up and travel for 9 years? And how could you capture all that in a book?
I never set out to write a book. I also never intended to backpack the world for nearly a decade. It started as a trip to France to study, work and travel and kept building momentum into the next destination. Following the flow of saying YES to unknown situations leads more to opportunity than indecision. But backpacking and working abroad in foreign and third world countries can easily spin off into those difficult, scary or ridiculous travel circumstances—the experiences you never want to relive again, yet always end up being the best stories to retell.

Those stories create the essence of my book Tales of the Modern Nomad – Monks, Mushrooms and Other Misadventures (articles include “How to get robbed in Mexico”, “Adventures with Japanese toilets”, “Ayahuasca in the Amazon” and “When you get hit on by a monk”.) No one wants to read a happy story about a day on the beach or that free walking tour they did! Haha. Modern Nomad is based and designed around 15 handwritten journals with over 300 photos including unconventional life philosophy, poetry and quotes from around the world. The idea is that flipping through its pages will hook in even the most hyperactive of wandering minds and transport you right into the story.

What did you learn about friendship on your travels?
Friendships and dating while you travel—particularly in hostels or longer backpacking trips—is by no means a standard relationship like at home. Everything is suddenly open and highly accelerated. In hostels, you’re already having beers and sharing a bunk bed before you even catch the person’s name. If you’re travelling with someone, time becomes a vortex. Experiences are constantly blasted your way and can accumulate so quickly that even a week of travelling can equate to months of hanging out at home. For me, it’s the best and fastest way to really get to know a person. Especially travelling, I’ve found it’s key to find your solo time no matter where or who you’re with. An unexpected trait I’ve picked up is getting good at saying goodbye; giving someone a hug and a smile like you’ll never see them again but also with the comfort that you’ll see them tomorrow—and you might!

Photo: Thai style siestas in Khao Sok, Thailand.

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