Last week we lucked out that some user-testing needed to be done in Hamburg for one of Josh's projects. This meant a week of working for Josh, but more exciting a long weekend for us to experience the second largest city in Germany. This is probably one city that we would have never visited without having made the move to Zurich. Being able to see cities likes this keeps reminding me that leaving Austin for a couple years was completely worth it. Here are some of the highlights.
Once I made my way from the airport to our hotel, I got settled in and decided I needed to do a run along the Aussenalster (Outer Alster Lake). I guess it had been raining throughout the week and the sun came out just when I arrived. I am starting to realize that running in each city we visit is the way to really feel like a part of the culture. The lake was breathtaking. Everyone was out with their dogs. All off-leash and none wanting to bite each others heads off. Guess they are better socialized here than in Zurich. Tons of people were out running the same trail as me. It was pretty cool to see someone on one side of the lake and then a half-hour later see them again on the other. This is about a 5 mile loop with multiple marinas, restaurants, and amazing mansions lining the shore. Loved it.
On Friday, Josh got dragged back into work for a few hours leaving me to venture around the city on my own. I think this has to be the first time he let me off the leash. I made my way around weaving through street after street of storefronts. It was exciting to see prices that didn't make your want to run away crying. I had heard things in Germany were cheaper, but couldn't believe it til I saw it.
I turned a corner and this is the building that stood before me. What amazing architecture! This is the Rathaus (City Hall). It overlooks a large, open square where people busily pass by each taking this site for granted. I took my time taking a zillion pictures and then walking through the building to get to the inner courtyard. We went back multiple times, but decided not to wait in the line for a guided tour. Maybe next time. I hear it is worth it.
I saw off in the distance a tall steeple and thought that might be something I should see. So, I wander. Somehow I lose track of the steeple (hard to believe when it jets over the entire city). I come to this parking lot and start to think that it might be a dead end. Surprisingly, I turn the corner and this is what I saw. My mouth must have hit the pavement. Josh had mentioned something about wanting to see the St. Nikolai memorial and somehow this is where I ended up.
This church was bombed out during WWII and never restored later. It serves as a reminder of that time and is definitely a site to see. I even heard that this acted as our point of reference when deciding where to bomb within the city. There is an elevator that will take you to the top of the memorial during the day where you can get some amazing city views. I felt a little bad considering I had just seen two of the places that Josh was hoping to see. I swear it wasn't intentional, just the way my internal compass took me. I was a nice wife though and took Josh back later that night to experience what I had seen during the couple hours he had his meeting. It was just as spectacular the second time.
We made our way down to the waterfront along the Elbe river. I guess this is the third largest port in Europe and nicknamed Germany's "Gateway to the World". It was packed with small tugboats to huge ships that had been turned into museums. We hit it just at the right time when the sun was setting.
Somewhat in the same area is the red-light district of Hamburg known as the Reeperbahn. I guess you could say it was a much bigger 6th street lined with strip clubs, porn stores, bars, and music venues. We could have definitely spent more time here. Maybe when some of the Austin folk make it over to visit we will have to take another trip up to Hamburg. We didn't even get to see where The Beatles first played or Herbertstrasse where the hookers hang out at. Side note to any females wanting to hit up Herbertstrasse. You will get drenched with water. This is a no-woman zone or maybe more like a no-non-hooker zone. Trust me. You won't miss out on seeing the hookers. They also hangout directly on the Reeperbahn. Fanny packs and all. Wish I had some pictures for you, but this is something you have to experience for yourself.
From the Landungsbrücken train station, you can make your way over to the warehouse district. Overall a pretty cool site to see. Beautiful brick buildings that go on forever with water running through the area and a bunch of bridges. It is said there are more bridges here than in Venice if that means anything to you. Nice area to take a Sunday stroll which is exactly what we did.
Our final excursion was a walk through the Botanical Gardens. It was the perfect way to spend the last little bit of time before having to catch a train to the Flughafen. Small pathways in the center of the city lined with trees changing all the colors of Autumn. I don't know the last time I actually saw a real Fall. I know it means Winter is on the way, but makes for some beautiful scenery.
I have to tell you that this has been my favorite city so far...above Paris, above Stockholm. There was just something about this city. I love the different areas all closely situated next to one another. There is a different feel for each part of the city. And, the city doesn't have that old, old look to it. You get some of the old, but a lot was destroyed during the war and in its place are some contemporary gems. I also got to bust out a lot of my German during our stay. They didn't even laugh that hard at me. I did think their German would sound crystal clear to me, but it was still way too fast. But, I held my own. We are definitely looking forward to taking some friends back with us another time. Any takers?