My wife and I have planned to travel somewhere this Easter, but we couldn’t make up our minds where to go. One of the reasons is our little baby girl, because you know how it is with babies – you never know when they can get sick. Having that in mind, we gave up Amsterdam and decided to go to Hamburg, Germany. The very morning we should go, our snowflake got smallpox/rash and we almost canceled our trip. We councelled our doctor and we thought that she could stay with my parents. And so we drove to Hamburg. It takes only 3 hours by car, including one stop.
Our hotel was about 3 km north of Hauptbahnhof (the central station), so we parked the car, checked in the hotel and ran out; took subway (U2 line) and came to the central station, the biggest railway station in Germany. I really liked this area, not only because it was such a vivid place with thousands of people, but also because of many shops, book and press stores. We spent a lot of time at this station.
We headed to the south and came to the famous shopping area around the Mönckebergstraße, where Amra found her heaven with all shops and gallerias one could imagine. The street ends at Hamburg’s city hall (“Rathaus”), which impressed me quite a lot. We made a stop at several coffee shops and enjoyed a cappuccino or white chocolate.
We visited also the canal called Alsterarkaden and the shopping area behind it, ruins of the St. Nicolai Church and the area close to the harbor. Amra bought two pairs of shoes here, while I was wandering around. We were quite tired and hungry, so we had a lunch in form of fish & chips somewhere around the Mönckebergstraße. It was actually quite delicious, and while we were eating, some guy was holding a big wooden cross and preaching and singing about Jesus.
Only one elder male paid attention to him, while most of the pedestrians tried to hide from rain. We came to our hotel around 21 o’ clock and we were completely exhausted. However, we managed to go to the swimming pool and swim ten rounds in the pool and take a sauna. I slept like a baby, but I also woke up several times during the night due to the thirstiness and some pain in the back.
We took a shower and hit the road (some 300 m) to the subway. Exiting at the central station. It was raining so we’re heading towards the museum Kunsthalle, except we were heading in the wrong direction. Normally I am quite good captain (read: navigator), but I made the silly fault, that is actually embarrassing since the museum is just right next to the central station. But, hey, we managed to see some Red Light district-like street and some peaceful streets on the way.
Eventually, we reached the museum with the characteristic dome. It was raining outside, so we thought it was a good idea to use some time on art. And Kunsthalle proved to be a really good museum, offering us drawings of Rembrandt, paintings of Pieter Lastman, Holbein, Caspar David Friedrich, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Anselm Feuerbach, but also less enjoyable Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. It proved to be a very good move to visit the museum in the morning, because once we got out, the rain stopped and sun appeared in the sky. The rest of the day was sunny and very tourist/pedestrian-friendly. We walked from the museum towards the harbor, an impressive complex with thousands of cranes and ships from all over the world. The harbor itself exists since the 9th century AD. We took one of those boat trips and it proved to be an enjoyable tour. I took many pictures of the docks, ships and cranes.
After one-hour trip on the river Elbe, we decided to take a walk a long the river bank. It is such a nice place, full of Germans and foreigners, bars, shops and restaurants. Seeing the old building, I imaged the times when this town visited sailors of the world. Sunlight reached the harbor sporadically and the scenery almost reminded me of southern Europe. I believe it must be a fantastic atmosphere at the harbor in the summer.
We got hungry, so we walked beside St. Michelis Church and ended in Reeperbahn in Sankt Pauli – probably one of the most famous red-light districts in the world. Although you’ll find prostitutes, sex shops and night bars, people also go there for dinner, live music and other non-sex entertainment.
We could not find any satisfying restaurant (or we were just too hungry?), so we committed a sin and entered McDonald’s. I know, I know, I am the first to criticize tourists when they eat at Burger King in stead of local restaurants. Once we fed our stomach, we walked towards the center of Hamburg, but after few kilometers we decided to have a break and we entered Balzac Coffee Bar. We really liked it there, so we stayed for an hour and a half, at least until 18 o’ clock. We walked around the city hall area and shopping area, when we felt little hungry again.
We went to the central station a separated for 20 minutes, because Amra wanted to take a look at some shops, so I went to a paper shop, checking out the Bosnian press and some great German history magazine (why don’t I polish my German?). All of a sudden, Amra told me that she wants to buy me anything if she could just buy a pair of shoes. “The shoes of my dreams”, she said.
“But you just bought two pairs yesterday!”, was my reply.
“I know, I know, but I just have to have these! Pleeeaasse! I know you are the reasonable one, but I would really like to have these… I promise, I won’t buy shoes for one year”, she said.
“Yeah right”, I said to myself and replied to her that “I guess you should buy them if you really like them”. And so she did. Let me just clarify one thing here – she doesn’t have to have my permission to buy things, but she just wants my approval that she’s doing a right thing. Women?! [sigh]
We entered a restaurant complex inside the central station (with around 20 restaurants in one) and chose an Italian restaurant serving mostly pasta. A Bosnian woman was serving food, and we ordered 2 pasta Napoli, since we were not very hungry. Unfortunately, I was a little bit too creative, so beside the Parmigiano cheese, a also used some chili, which spiced up the whole experience “a little bit”.
This time we wanted to walk back to the city hall, expecting to see some activities in the area, but there was nothing special going on, since it was Easter, so we walked back to station and took a subway to our hotel. We went to bed around 23 ‘clock.
Next morning we checked out, went to a local supermarket in order to buy some chocolade, Berliners and water, but they did not accept Visa cards. So we went to neighboring Aldi, but with the same result. That was strange, we thought. Anyway, we left Hamburg with wonderful experience and great memories.
Many Danes consider Hamburg just “as a city to drive through” on the way to the south, but this city is full of history, culture, entertainment and charm. Definitely a “must-see”.
Oh yes, Amra got herself three pairs of shoes while in Hamburg. I got nothing but the memories. 🙂