Now just another hour away from Lübeck is the city that I have been waiting for. Hamburg, here I was finally!
As I wrote earlier in my post, Hamburg is the third must visit cities in Germany. It is not surprisingly to understand why people would say this. Hamburg is the country’s biggest port and the second-busiest in Europe, despite being located astride the River Elbe, some 100 kilometers from the North Sea. It is also Germany’s second largest city with a population of over 1.8 million and the Greater Hamburg Metropolitan Region has a population of over four million.
Historically, Hamburg is also unique because a large part of the city was destroyed and burned during the World Wars. Some parts were even taken down during the Napoleonic wars too. A good friend, in fact, told me as a result of this some areas may look more empty because Hamburg as a city did not want to rebuilt the entire city fully in hope to remember this history. This all, I was about to learn more soon in person.
While Lübeck was cute, Hamburg, I could tell immediately that this, was a big city indeed.
As I stepped out of the Hamburg train station, I felt a fresh chilly breeze. It was cold and I was not wearing warm enough. But I was excited. It was crowded and I was about to discovery my second city of the day.
And the blue deep water. I would have believed if it was the sea for it was vast and endless. In fact, the more I walked around the city that afternoon, the more I noticed its endlessness. This place was just huge, just as Berlin had been.
You can already tell from this photo that most of the people are bundled up. That’s because it was quite chilly this day. It felt, in fact, like the October weather in Washington, D.C. And there I was in my summer thin outfit smiling in front of my camera to take good pictures during my short stay at Hamburg. I’m sure those who took my pictures laughed inside as they walked away.
Luckily, I lucked out on the weather again! Unlike the weather forecast that predicted rain, I had the blue sky the entire time I was there! Plus, turns out, there was an annual marathon event going on in the city that day! So many people were out to enjoy the event and enjoy the blue sunny afternoon.
Though it was only noon time by the time I arrived here, I didn’t have much time then I thought. Since Hamburg was far, the train ride back home will be equally as long as it took to get here. Hence, I had only about five hours or so to explore this big German harbor city. I started off at once!
If I were to spend only five hours, I decided to strategies my time. So these were the few things I decided to do.
First, I went to search for the place where I can get a good view of the city. Ten minutes away from the train station, I found myself standing in front of St. Peter’s Church (or Hauptkirche St. Petri in German). This Gothic style church was first documented in 1195 as a market church and was rebuilt between 1310-1418. The bronze lion head door handles was turning gold after having so many people touching the door. Apparently, that part of the door is an important art of the Church that survived.
For me, who had few hours I stepped in to find the counter to go up the bell tower. 4 Euros paid and I was ready. And wow, when I opened that door up the stairs. Soon enough I was able to witness how beautiful this city Hamburg was. I mean, check this out! Isn’t it beautiful?
I mean even the window views were stunning!! I was thrilled to see such a blue sky so close.
And you can really get a good sense of how big this city is! I mean, look its endless!
Now a side fact to share. While I was excited making my trip up towards the tower. I realized that this was a way longer walk then I thought. I mean, really! By this time, I had already walked up a number of towers or some sort to see the city view. I did not expect this one to be that different either. But already there was something odd. The counter lady kindly asked me to leave all luggage and record my name before I start the walk up. This was, she explained, for my own security. Since the walk up is long and high they encourage many to leave their heavy luggage. I followed her instructions gladly but did not expect anything more.
Turns out, I made a walk up the 436 feet (132, 2m) bell tower. Hence, to just go up one way, it took me more than an hour. The stairs got narrower and narrower. And I could not only get a better view of the city, but also feel the strong wind. Only later did I realize why that is so. Because if you look up this bell tower the very top is pointy and small. That is how far I was able to walk up. Literally all the way to the very top! I have flown in different airplanes that fly higher than this, but to walk up such a height made me really aware how high this place was.
Hence, guests can see the city view through small windows like this. Luckily, since I had a clear blue weather, I was able to see quite far.
Second, I decided to take a walk around the city center area where I saw a crowd. Yes, a huge crowd was in front of the city hall this day. Remember my luck with events? I lucked out again. Today there was an annual marathon going on in the city.
It made me smile. As I watched people racing, people clapping hands and supporting their friends and family. Even the cold breeze around me seem to warm me up. At least it was not raining.
The weather, though chilly, was beautiful! And many people were outside just enjoying their Saturday afternoon. I heard the boat tour was good, but since I had only few hours left before my next train ride back to Vienna, I decided to take a long stroll around the Lake area. Aw the blue freshness.
I missed the view of sea/water/and lake. So being here, just standing here made me happy enough for now. So I continued walking around the lake.
I probably took dozens of photos as I continued walking out of the city center. And before I knew it, I was way out of the city hall center. I came upon even areas where people park their boat for sailing. And came across many joggers who were enjoying their Saturday afternoon.
Despite the busy city center I saw a moment ago, it seemed suddenly so calm and peaceful here. I guess that is part of the beauty of being at Hamburg. Because of its unique geography of being surrounded by harbors, you get both the active city experience, the sea experience and the peaceful country-like taste. In fact, before I knew it, I realized I walked way too far because after passing few beautiful embassies (of course U.S. had one of the biggest buildings at a beautiful location), I realized I had already walked away from the city center for more than 90 minutes. That means it will take me another 90 minutes to walk back in the city center! Opps. Better start heading back!
Opps. Walking for hours means that I also became extremely hungry. I heard a lot about the good food Hamburg provided and I was ready to try some seafood. Unfortunately, since I had little time (I kind of got lost on my way to find the places I wanted to eat), I ended up finding something quick. And this is what I got at one of the quick seafood eatery at the city center.
There were more fun one’s like this one. In which fresh fish was literally inside the baguette I wasn’t sure if I was ready to try this. Perhaps next time?
Nevertheless, I loved the one I tried. It was delicious! The best part was yet to come. Because as I took a seat, two sisters came up to me and asked if the seat next to mine was free. I said it was, and as they took a seat we started a random conversation. (Yes, here I was making new friends again before I took off!) Turns out the sisters were from Holland who were teaching and doing art. One sister was visiting the other who was living in Hamburg with her children, and when I told them what I have done so far in Hamburg, they were horrified and said “but you really didn’t see much!! You have to come back and see the city for real!” I broke out a smile and a laugh. I was actually glad to hear that because I also felt like I was missing out a lot on this trip. Good friends have told me how much they have loved Hamburg and I felt like I saw too little of it to figure out if I loved it or liked it. I blamed myself for getting lost and walking too far. But that is simply because it was big and spacious. I smiled back to them and nodded in agreement that I will probably return to have a look again. I already knew I was going to miss this place.
By the time I really returned to the train station, it was still bright outside. It was only five in the evening. It was not even six or seven at night. But I had to take this train to return back to Vienna, Austria. So this was really going to be last one with the EU Rail pass and the thought of that was really sinking in me. The 10 trips I made so far were amazing and I learned so much from each trip. I luckily will have another one, which I call it the bonus, for I was able to take a day off from work with the hours I have worked overtime in the office. Still, getting back on to that train back to Vienna made me sentimental again. I knew my time of such freedom will not come back again so soon. But at the same time, I was certain this was just a beginning of a new chapter in my life.
In fact, even on my train ride back home, I started new conversations with three more people. In fact, when I learned that this African I just meet was on her way to go to Church in Vienna, I decided to tag along. If there was one thing that I missed out on all of my trips was that I was not able to go to Church that often because I often came late pass the service hours. But this time, it was odd. Not just the fact that I meet so many interesting and fascinating people who shared such honest stories but the fact how I was heading back to the place I left.
I was extremely tired. The last time I saw my bed at home was Friday 4pm. It was Sunday 4pm. But I was smiling. I thought this was going to be an ending, but it only reminded me that there are many more unlimited possibilities out there waiting for me. This journey was just a beginning of another new journey.
Side note: Thank you for following my stories so far! And sorry for taking this long to update. I am currently back at my full-time Masters degree program, which means back to a full-time busy life! But I do hope to update few more of my trips to Cesky Krumlov, and the cities in France, Germany, and Italy that I went with my family! In addition, as I learned how many people do not know about the US and Washington, D.C., I hope to write some about what is great and good to check out in this city. So hang on there! And feel free to share your feedback on the comment section!
But I hope overall my story encourages others to continue traveling and to continue doing what they are passionate for.