Hamburg

So far, all the posts in my 30 German towns before 30 series have been about towns in the South of Germany (in fact, most of them have even been in baden-Württemberg), so I thought it was time to vary things a little bit. Today’s post shall be about Hamburg. While Hamburg isn’t the northernmost town in Germany (that would be Westerland), it is a lot further North than anything else I’ve told you about so far!

Hamburg Town Hall
Hamburg Town Hall

I went to Hamburg in July 2008 to visit a friend, Claire, who I had previously done an internship with. I actually wrote a little about my trip at the time, but I didn’t include any pictures (and it’s not exactly my most coherent piece of writing) so it doesn’t get to count for the series.

We managed to visit Hamburg on a weekend with perfect weather, which I’m told is unusual in Hamburg. Apparantly the town is known for being constantly rainy, but we got gorgeous blue skies and sunshine (at 31°C – around 87°F – it was actually almost too hot for me!)

Hamburg

There are two lakes within Hamburg city – the Binnenalster (Inner Alster lake) and the Außenalster (Outer Alster lake), the Alster being the river that was dammed to form the lakes. Here’s the Binnenalster:

Binnenalster
Binnenalster

Because we were visiting friends (as well as Claire, we met up with a friend of Jan’s) and didn’t have a lot of time, we didn’t actually see much of Hamburg. We arrived on Friday evening (having flown up there straight from work) and left again on Sunday. However, on Saturday morning we did go with Claire to see the Nikolai Kirche (St. Nicholas’ Church), which was mostly destroyed due to bombing in the Second World War and is now preserved as a memorial to everyone who died in the war.

The spire of the Nikolai church
The spire of the Nikolai church

There is a lift inside to take you up the spire. You get some great views from the top!

Inside the spire
Inside the spire
View from the top
View from the top

After we’d been up the tower, Claire had to leave us to go to work and Jan and I went underground to look at an exhibition showing photos showing Hamburg after the bombing of the Second World War. They also had a special section with photos from Coventry, showing the damage caused there by German bombs.

After the exhibition, we walked down to the river and the “Speicherstadt” (Warehouse District) of Hamburg – Wikipedia says it’s the “largest timber-pile founded warehouse district in the world” (whatever that means!). Here are some photos:

The River Elbe
The River Elbe
The Elbe and the start of the Speicherstadt
The Elbe and the start of the Speicherstadt

Speicherstadt

After walking around the Speicherstadt for a while, it was time to meet up with Jan’s friend, N. He took us on a ferry to a beach bar. On the way there, we saw the Lion King boat, taking people across the river to see the Lion King musical!

Lion King boat!
Lion King boat!

This is the view from the beach bar. I don’t remember what it was called, but I do know we drank Astra beer because that’s just what you do in Hamburg.

Sand

In the evening, we headed to the Sternschanze area of town, which N told us was the studenty part of town. We ate at an Italian/Greek restaurant then headed down to the Reeperbahn (when in Hamburg…) for some drinks and to meet Claire, once she had finished work. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to take a single photo of the Reeperbahn!

The next morning we got up late then Claire and I went back to Sternschanze for a delicious brunch. Jan stayed in bed nursing a hangover, finally coming to meet us just as Claire had to leave for work (the advantage of this was that he then brought the luggage so there was no need to have it with me at the cafe). Jan and I sat in the park for a while until it was time to head for the train station and back to Karlsruhe.

I absolutely LOVED Hamburg, or what I saw of it anyway. Our trip was definitely too short! With a population of more than 1.8 million (it’s the second largest city in Germany) I wasn’t sure I would like it, but it’s so pretty and didn’t feel as horribly overcrowded as some big cities (London, I’m looking at you!!) If I get the chance to go again, I’ll definitely do some more touristy stuff (they have 2 museum ships and I wasn’t on either!) and take more photos.

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Back to reality

After a lovely weekend away it was back to work this morning for the last week of my internship. I’m only there til Thursday, then I have Friday to myself and start my new internship at 8:30 on Monday morning. That means I’ll have to catch a tram at 8am! Bye bye good night’s sleep…

Hamburg was really nice. The weather was gorgeous – almost too hot in fact. On Saturday it was 31 degrees! Normally Hamburg is foggy, rainy, cold or a combination of the three so we picked the perfect weekend for our trip. It was lovely to see our friends again. Despite the fact that we were there for such a short time we managed to fit quite a bit in. We saw the old burnt out Nicolai church, which now serves as a memorial for all those who have been killed in wars. The tower is still standing and now has a panorama lift in it, so we went up there to take a look at Hamburg from above before heading back down under the ground to look at an exhibition of photos from after Hamburg was bombed during the second world war.

We also took a walk down to the Speicherstadt part of town (down by the River Elbe) and later, when we met up with N, we took a ferry to a beach bar. For dinner N took us to a studenty part of town called Sternschanze. We ate at an Italian and Greek restaurant and I had an absolutely gorgeous Mussaka. Afterwards we headed down to the Reeperbahn for some drinks and Claire came down to meet us after she had finished work. We went to a few bars, including an Irish one with live music on, and finally made it home at about 6 o’clock in the morning!

Not surprisingly we didn’t mange to get up particularly early on Sunday. Once we did manage to get out of bed, Claire and I headed to Sternschanze again for some brunch while Jan (who was hungover!) went back to bed for 45 minutes. He came to meet us after we’d eaten then Claire had to go to work and, after relaxing in a little park for a while, Jan and I had to head for the train station. We almost didn’t make it on time when the underground train we were on broke down half way there, but luckily we managed to find a taxi rank almost straight away and arrived at the train station with about a minute to spare. The train then ended up being delayed and it was 10:30pm when we arrived back in Karlsruhe. A long weekend and a late night last night left me feeling very tired all day today but it was definitely worth it.

So, to sum up, go to Hamburg people. You won’t regret it!

Off to Hamburgerland

Hehe. I wonder if I’ll ever get tired of the joke in the title? Probably not, for I am strange and childish.

So tonight the boyfriend and I are off to Hamburg to visit my friend Claire. We leave straight after work tonight so this will be my last blog until I come back. We are also going to see a friend of Jan’s, N, who he went to uni with. Claire has to work tomorrow night so we’ll meet up with N. then.

And now a message for the one person from my real life who actually reads my blog. She also happens to be my boyfriend’s sister and is 22 today.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY dear Frauke. I hope you have a wonderful day surrounded by lovely people.

(Also, I’ve just discovered that you can change the colour of the font on here and am very amused that the button you press to make that stuff appear is called “Kitchen sink”. Tee hee)

The year I was born…

On the way home today I went to Thalia, a book shop that’s practically opposite where I work. They’re selling some of their books of for 2.95 each (that’s only about 2 English pounds!) so I thought I’d take the opportunity to grab some reading material for the journey to Hamburg tomorrow. Of course, all the cheap books are in German (the English books live downstairs and are not on sale) but I did choose to move to Germany so I really should start reading the occasional book in the native language. As it happens, both of the books I got were tranlated from the English so I shall give you the original titles:
Shooting Butterflies by Marika Cobbold (definitely women’s fiction but probably not quite chick lit) and Bad Prince Charlie by John Moore (fantasy that claims to be perfect for “all Terry Pratchett fans” – the cover even has Pratchett-esque (or rather Josh Kirby-esque) illustrations all over it).

On the way out of the shop I spotted the Pratchett book “Making Money” on the best seller shelves. A little gold sticker caught my eye. On closer inspection it turned out the sticker had the words “25 years of Discworld” on it. “Ooooh” I thought “I didn’t know Discworld was the same age as me!” I suppose it’s probably not really – I bet he started writing it long before 1983. But it was published in the year I was born. Suddenly I feel a lot better about my impending quarter of a century birthday. After all, not everybody can say they were born the same year The Colour of Magic came out…

So many plans

My mum called last night. She wants to come and see me at the beginning of AUgust and has asked me to book a hotel! This is the 4th time she’s said she’s coming to see me and the first time it’s got as far as flight bookage… I’d better get the hotel sorted before she has time to change her mind and decide staying in Munich with my uncle is a better idea after all (she’s actually flying to Munich with my Grandma and Aunt, then her and my brother are coming down to Karlsruhe by train to visit me for a weekend).

We also booked tickets to Hamburg last night. Yes, I’m actually going now. YAY! We’re flying there but have decided to take the train back (cos it’s cheaper). Believe it or not, it actually worked out cheaper to buy first class train tickets than second class ones. Bizarre or what? (The special deal cheap second class tickets are all sold out and a normal price second class ticket costs more than a special deal first class ticket). So that’s the weekend after next sorted. And next weekend (or this coming weekend if you prefer to look at it that way) it’s Das Fest in Karlsruhe, the biggest free (as in for no money) open air music festival in Europe. Excellent! They usually have fairly decent / biggish name bands on too. This year, for example, Katy Tunstall is there on one of the days.

So that’s the next few weeks. How did my life end up so busy?

Money makes the world go round

Why does everything have to be so expensive? I wanted to go to Hamburg at the end of this month to visit my friend Claire. Jan agreed it was a nice idea – he also has a friend in Hamburg who he wouldn’t mind visiting. I wrote to Claire asking if that weekend would be ok, she replied that it would be and we’re welcome to sleep on her floor…. then I went to the Air Berlin website and found out that the price has gone up. Now a return flight will cost 208 euros per person. I can’t afford to spend 208 euros because a) I am intern and I don’t earn much money to start with and b) I may be unemployed next month, which means I have to save up as much money as possible so that I will at least be able to pay the rent. Jan has a proper job and earns proper money. This means he can afford to take himself to Hamburg, but he can’t pay for me as well. So… no trip to Hamburg, unless I can figure out a way to get my hands on 200 euros by the end of this week. Ideas anyone?