Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hamburg II

Day two in Hamburg! 
Our hotel provided breakfast with the cost of the room, and it was a really good spread, so we feasted on fruits and veggies, scrambled eggs, sausage balls and bread (there were lots of other things too, including cocoa puffs!). 

The hotel (Hotel Blankenese and yes, we'd recommend it) has two buildings, and we stayed in the one across the street from the reception desk and the breakfast room. Our building had a restaurant, but I think it's only open for dinner.

It was a 12 minute walk to the S-Bahn to take us into the city. We took the S1 and went straight to the train station. Our plan was to leave our backpacks in the lockers there so we didn't have to carry them. Unfortunately, the lockers were all taken, so we had to carry our things all day. I'd almost packed in a rolling suitcase and I really regret not doing that (well, my shoulders regret it).

We took the S-Bahn to Landungsbrücken where we'd read they had ferries to give us a view of the harbor and take us to the Philharmonie.

We boarded the number 72 shuttle which was included in our city day passes, but costs maybe 1.80 to purchase a single ticket. The ride was a mere five or so minutes, and we probably could have walked, but ferries are way cooler, right?

We got off the ferry right at the Elbphilharmonie. It sits right there on the Elbe River and is designed to mimic waves. There's a viewing deck halfway up the building, and the building is used as a concert hall, but also contains a hotel and some pricey apartments.

We asked someone to take our picture and they offered to take one of us with the building and with the harbor in the background. That's our ferry behind us.

A piece of the Berlin wall was set in front of the Philharmonie.

We walked further into the Hafencity quarter, and crossed Mahatma Gandhi Bridge to get there.

I thought this sidewalk painted as a tapestry was pretty neat.

We got a picture in front of these rows of buildings in the Warehouse District (Speicherstadt). Behind us are a few attractions we didn't have time to visit: Miniatur Wunderland and the Hamburg Dungeon. It rained off and on during our time in Hamburg which is why this picture is a bit blurry - those are raindrops.

Hamburg boasts more bridges and canals than Venice, London or Amsterdam, and I read something that said it has more than all of them put together! It has the second largest port in Europe (Rotterdam is the largest)! I definitely didn't know that before I came to visit Hamburg.

We passed by the church of St Katherine, and decided to go in. It's bright inside with its white walls and simpler stained glass. Arielle speculated that it was a Protestant church because it was done in a simpler style, and when I looked it up, it says that it's a Lutheran church. Good eye, Arielle!
There were some amazing singers singing Christmas songs in German off to the side, which provided a beautiful background to a lovely place.

 We returned to the Rathaus Christmas market to meet up with Sophie and Lloyd. They both live about an hour away in Kiel and came for a few hours in the afternoon to see us and to visit the markets. We'd gone through this Christmas market rather quickly the day before, so we finally got to browse a bit slower.

We thought that the Chinese section of the market was interesting. I liked the lanterns, and there were stands with massages and Chinese food that looked delicious (little known fact: the first time I ever had Chinese food was in Germany in 2005).

Someone spotted a stand for Kartoffelpfannkuchen, which are potato pancakes, and that sounded pretty good to me, so I went along. Oh my, these were delicious. You could get them with a variety of sauces, including herbed sour cream, which was my choice. Another option was applesauce, which I did try from Sidney's plate. That was a surprisingly good combination as well. I hope Munster has these, because I want to get my fill while the markets are still around.

A kind stranger took our picture. It turned out really dark from the contrast of the Rathaus and sky (oh and please note the bird who photobombed us), so just to be safe, we asked a different person a little later to take a picture of us with just the markets in the background.

This monument is dedicated to the four thousand sons of the city who gave their lives in WWI (that's not a verbatim translation, but encompasses most of the words I understand).

We split up then, with Julianne and Lloyd going to St Michael's Church to take in the view of the city from above, and the rest of us heading back into the Christmas market for a mug of something hot and more window shopping.
I had a peppermint hot chocolate, which is what I've been craving, and it really hit the spot. Sophie and Arielle had the same, and Sidney had Gluhwein for the first time. After we'd warmed up a little, Sidney and Arielle went to rest inside the Rathaus while Sophie and I browsed.

As we were walking along, we heard a loud voice from overhead, and suddenly, there was a sleigh flying across the sky. At one point it stopped, and Santa Claus told the story of Rudolph. My German isn't great, but I caught enough to understand most of the story.

 I've never seen a candle like this before, but I guess the idea is that you burn a little every night until Christmas. Isn't it cute?

Christmas village, with a model of the Rathaus. I've never been so inspired to collect those Christmas village pieces.

 Our next stop was the train station. Sophie and Lloyd had the first train at 5:30, so we all walked together. We'd left a little time to walk slowly and browse markets on the way, and we also stepped into this pretty church that had a market surrounding it.

Munster has a huge pyramid like this one, but I've never seen the figures inside spinning. This one did, which was so neat.

These lebkuchen (gingerbread) are everywhere. I've never had one, but they must be good, because I constantly see them being sold.

We got a Fulbright group picture to cap off the night: Lloyd (Kiel), Sidney (Bremen), Julianne (Neuglobsow), Arielle (Berlin), me (Munster), Sophie (Kiel), Andrew (Hamburg).

They did a good job making the train station festive. So many pretty lights and decorations everywhere.

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