Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hamburg Germany (Part 1)

Diana and I have been in Stuttgart for just about three months now and finally got our chance to get out of the house for a few days. A mutual friend of our last roommate and her husband live in Hamburg up on the other (northern) end of Germany and invited us to come for the weekend.

We really didn't think that we were going to be able to go since airfares and the train were super expensive, there's no bus service, and I still don't have my Euro drivers license so renting and driving up were out of the option. Leave it to the locals (our new roommate) though and we found a way to get there and back for a really good price (story coming later).

We got to Hamburg on Thursday evening and spent a couple of hours hanging out and eating snacks. The next morning we headed out to explore the town. Since there are a ton of photos, I divided them into two groups so consider this post "day one". I'll put up the rest of the weekend in a couple of days as my school and work schedule allow.

Hamburg is just about three times the size of Stuttgart and was interesting and fun. We started our tour in the center of town at the 120 year old Rathaus (city hall) and plaza:

I knew that Hamburg was a port city (15th largest in the world - larger even than the one in Los Angeles, which is huge) but I didn't know that it's sometimes called the Venice of Germany because of the number of different waterways running through the city. This Schluss is about a block away from the Rathaus:

The city also has two large lakes in the center. This waterway connects the lakes to the river Elbe (in the direction that this photo faces):

There are parks and walkways all along the Elbe. This area reminds me a little of Penn's Landing in Center City Philadelphia with its walkways, pedestrian plazas, and sightseeing boats:

Hamburg seemed to have more older buildings than either Stuttgart or Frankfurt (the only other cities in Germany I've visited so far). The architecture was very impressive and gave me a much better idea of what pre-world-war Germany probably looked like. I'm not sure how old this building is but I liked the style:

This building wins the award for the most unusual because of its cross-hatched style and strange, button-like emblems all over its facade. The building covers a whole city block and each raised feature has a different sculpture in it. Sorry the photo's not very good...

On the southern end of the center of Hamburg and right on the Elbe is an old industrial area called Hafen City. It's a series of industrial buildings built along the waterways and it's being rehabbed and updated to house new offices and businesses.

I saw all types of businesses from software and financial companies to Pakistani carpet importers. There's also some condos I think. They'd be cool buildings to live in I'm sure but there's not much life in the neighborhood (yet). Nice views though.

Later in the afternoon we went out one of the public-transportation, bus-like ferry boats that makes stops up and down the river. The cool thing is that our day metro pass includes taking the boat. This photo looks towards downtown with the new philharmonic building on the right and a Mississippi paddle boat on the left:

Further up river we went by Hamburg's most popular "beach". It's a stretch of sand in front of a residential neighborhood about a ten minute ride from the center of the city. The day was fairly warm and there were quite a few people hanging out and even some swimming...without wet suits! Brrrrrr...

We got off the boat to check out the scene and to get some drinks at one of the beach-side restaurant/bars. Everything was way over priced and fairly quiet so we decided to just go for a walk and then get back on the next boat to go to dinner in town.

A photo of the happy couple out on the river.

Our hosts took us to dinner at a swine-themed restaurant in downtown. I managed to splatter food all over myself but I still don't understand what I did. I was cutting some Schnitzel and all the sudden my knife and fork sprayed sauce all over me. Oh well. After dinner, we went back to the apartment and relaxed so that later we could go back to the city center and check out the lights. This is a shot of a couple of churches and the Rathaus (right-most of the three tall towers) from across the smaller of the two lakes:

All in all, a super fun super busy day. We were really ready to crash when we got back to the apartment especially because we knew that we'd get to do it all over again on Saturday!

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