Saturday 3.10. Hamburg!

I would normally have shared our trip on Sunday night, but that was not possible this week, read on to find out why…

So on Friday I left off with a bit of a teaser as to where we might have been going from Amsterdam airport. Anybody who may have been following my twitter (and Facebook, for that matter), may have noticed a few checkins via untappd in the gorgeous city of Hamburg, Germany!

We arrived later on Friday evening with a bit of delay to a very quiet and very empty Hamburg airport. At this point, we wanted to just get to our Airbnb as quickly as we could (as we were already late, and didn’t want to inconvenience our host). So we tried Uber for the first time. We waited just over 10 minutes for the driver to arrive from the city centre (Uber is not yet very active in Hamburg he said). In this case it was UberX or a taxi. UberX estimated under €20 to get us where we were going, and is reputed for being cheaper than a taxi. On this occurrence, it turned out to cost 15, or about a euro a minute. Definitely cheaper than hailing a cab! (If anyone fancies trying Uber, sign up with this link, and we both get a tenner off our next ride! Happy times!)

Following all that, we had a bit of a panic outside the door to the Airbnb host, because we didn’t know their last name and had no phone number. Normally you would think “surely you just pull the bell on the correct address right? Wrong! Number 11 happened to have about 9 different ringers and names on it…. So after unsuccessfully messaging our host, we set about googling key words in the hope of a linked-in or Facebook profile. We figured from his name that our host would be italian, so we narrowed it down to two names. On the second one, we got lucky, we found a newspaper article related to the local football club with a picture. A quick comparison of the airbnb picture made us sufficiently certain that we should try. Fingers crossed, we rang the bell and explained who we were. The door buzzed open, and we breathed a sigh of relief (remember, it was 11:30 in the evening). We were shown into a lovely apartment, cozy and with great decoration (sorry no pics 😦 ).

Following that we quickly went to bed.

We woke up around 8 to make good use of our time in the city. I like to step out onto the balcony first thing in the morning to get some fresh air and start the day, and this is the sight that greeted me.

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It was fresh and damp, but we got ready and headed into town. A quick ride in the U-bahn (which you can’t see against the sun, but is actually across the street in the picture), got us to town quick and we had some breakfast at a small cafe which won our favour simply on account that it was open.

Nearby was the town hall, which we didn’t visit, but ended up walking past several times in the following day(s).

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Following breakfast, we took a stroll around town to try and get our bearings. We eventually walked to HafenCity. A trendy part of town with lots of newly built housing mixing in with older loft style apartments. The brick buildings actually reminded me of Nottingham quite a bit.

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We walked all along the  harbour  and then began a lengthy search for something to eat. We wanted to get some good German food and this is where it downed on us that something wasn’t quite right. Namely that in Germany’s second city, on a Saturday, everything seemed to be shut. It seemed odd, but we didn’t give it much thought. We later found out it was a national holiday, “Tag der Deutsche Enheit”, or Day of German Unity, in other words, the day celebrating the reunification of Germany (extra tip, it was the 25th anniversary thereof). Eventually we found a place that served the longest Currywurst either of us had ever eaten with chips. Which is pretty much exactly what we wanted.

After lunch we went back to HavenCity to visit the Maritime Museum. The museum was superb, though we only spared 3 hours for it which was actually a bit tight as it was a surprisingly large museum. Nevertheless, it was a very interesting visit, and being a fan of sailing and boats, I was over the moon.

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Here, in no particular order, are a few pictures. Me with an anchor, Catherine with a buoy, and a lego version of Queen Mary 2 that required some 700,000 pieces of lego (Though I cannot get my head around why there is a cow on the aft sun deck)…

Follwing the museum visit we ate nearby, not wanting to repeat lunchtimes endless search.

Naturally we then transitioned to a visit to St Pauli, as no visit to Hamburg would really be complete without one right? (For those not in the know, St. Pauli is home to the Reeperbahn…….In case you live in a cave, the Reeperbahn is the name of Hamburg’s Red Light District….. If you need to ask what a Red Light district is, then quite frankly, I don’t think you should really be allowed on the internet unsupervised just yet, if you’re unsure what the internet is…..how did you get here again?).

The pictures from St Pauli are a bit blurry on account of being taken without authorisation by Catherine, as I visited the “men-only” street. This street is not a joke, there is a big sign that says no women allowed. Women who do visit it get doused with a bucket of cold water. Though its an improvement over old times, as it used to be a bucket of wee….. You’ve been warned.

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But I suppose there’s no harm in telling you what was down the street… I hope I’m not breaking some secret code of men. In essence, if you’ve ever been to Amsterdam, you won’t be shocked, as it’s more or less the same. There are a couple of differences though. Instead of being glued to their smartphones, the professionals working in Hamburg are much more vocal in offering their services. They call you out, suggest things and generally try to catch your eye to lure you into conversation. I have to hand it to them, they work hard. A word of warning, if you want to walk around that part of town as a man on his own, prepare to be hounded, especially if you go into what I called “dirty-grandad mode” and pulled your shoulders up and sunk into the collar of your coat and only glance furtively left and right occasionally. What can I say, as a bit of a shy introvert, being approached by loud, (and sometimes quite imposing) women is something I find quite intimidating (though I guess some people like that?). Anyway, upon exiting this street (and feeling extra-pervy as I walked it end-to-end twice) I came out of the barrier and could not find Catherine, so I had to walk up and down another street a couple of times, this one with the “professionals” right on the curb and in your face, not hemmed in behind their windows! After guaranteeing two charming young women that despite not having had “etwas mit zwei Frauen zugleich” before, it was not something I was particularly inclined to try out right away, I found Catherine again. Walking arm-in-arm was like donning Harry’s cloak of invisibility. If you have a lady-friend with you, guaranteed you will not be disturbed.

We moved on back towards the city and decided we would walk back to the apartment which should take 25 minutes or so. On the way we decided that if we found a decent looking bar, we should get  drink. Eventually we found a bar called “Oma’s Apotheke” with a table out on the pavement that seemed nice. We sat down and obtained a drinks list from a first waitress. A few minutes later the second waitress asked us “was wollen is zum trinken…..Hello, what are you doing here?”. It turned out to be Linda, Catherine’s housemate from Amstelveen, and to the best of our knowledge, the only person we know in Hamburg! (By the way, this was not preplanned or scripted for my blogging endeavours, this is genuine 100% unexpected coincidence!). We caught up for a few minutes and ordered some drinks, and arranged to meet the following day for lunch).

We got back to the apartment and after relaxing for a bit turned in for the night.

More to follow tomorrow!

B

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