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Kasteel Well Week 9: Germany (Part 4) – Hamburg

  • March 27, 2013
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My train from Berlin to Hamburg ran during dinner and I arrived in Hamburg with a growling stomach and the realization that I forgot to eat. After initially heading in the exact opposite direction from Hauptbahnhof, I found my hostel and checked in. It was bitterly cold, so I opted for just brining my iPhone along on my search for food. I had arrived later in the night than planned, so most stores & shops were closed down. I wandered around the city under the full moon. Finding free Wi-Fi is a struggle in Europe, but you find your ways. For me, that meant huddling outside the Apple Store on my iPhone until my fingers called it quits due to the cold and I scurried back onto the U-Bahn and back to the hostel for the night.

Canal in HafenCity

Canal in HafenCity

I awoke to a transformed city. The people buzzing around the streets under the shining sun contrasted the dark, empty cobblestone paths I walked just hours before. My adventure for the night started at the port. Hamburg reminded me of cities like Boston and Baltimore in the way that the city is very much center around the harbor. I followed my hostel concierge’s suggestions of visiting the Altonaer Fischmarkt – an open fish market that only operates on Sundays. Located right on the water, the area was lined on both sides by trucks and stalls with vendors shouting at the crowd of potential clients. A sea of people milled about the street perusing the selection of seafood, produce, souvenirs, and sweets. I loved to people watch so I spent a fair amount of time strolling about the market just observing the crowds as they browsed. Eventually I purchased a bag of mixed sweets for my ride home and continued my exploration of the waterfront. I worked my way down the harbor, appreciating the varying styles of ships on my right and varying architecture on my left.

Soon, I reached HafenCity, a new district in Hamburg. The entire district has been built after 2003 and is still under construction. Built over old warehouses, the area has much more modern architectural designs that most of Hamburg. One building still under construction is the Elbe Philharmonic Hall – the plans of which can be seen at the scale model not far from the construction site. One of the canals in the district is host to a maritime museum that featured a collection of vessels along the dock.

A woman reads with her dog at the Botanical Gardens

A woman reads with her dog at the Botanical Gardens

I had taken the subway out to the waterfront, so I chose to brave the cold and walk back to Hauptbahnhof. I crossed a canal lined with narrow building reminicest of Amsterdam and crossed a major intersection via a triple-spoke pedestrian bridge before arriving at Planten un Blomen. This large park reminded me of Boston’s Emerald Necklace as it stretched through a significant portion of Hamburg. The park was lively even on the chilly Sunday afternoon with children ice-skating, people walking their dogs, or simply enjoying a book on the ledges of the Alter Botanischer Garten Hamburg. Built over now boarded up bomb shelters from the World Wars, this botanical garden was originally established in 1821.

I exited the park by the manmade lake Binnenalster, where I ended the previous night. Now full of people on the streets and boats on the lake, the street was now clearly the place to be. Rathaus – the city hall – was visible over the dam and acted as the hub of the city. I retraced some of my route from the night before and arrived at the train station, only sidetracked by a currywurst cart. Although I had plenty of snacks from the market, I had enough time before my train to find something hot for dinner. Soon I was settled in on a train hurtling southwest. A train transfer at Wuppertal sent me back over the Netherlands border to Venlo where I caught the bus to Well. There was something special about walking back into the castle after a week of galavanting alone around Germany. Home Sweet Kasteel.

Travel time: 125 hours, 6 days = 6 cities