Hamburg, Germany

In order to celebrate my birthday (a little bit early), we ventured to Hamburg in the north of Germany last weekend for a bit of culture.

In consultation with Paul, I have made a list of some of the key things about the trip – and I’ve included some pictures too.  So here we go:

Quirkiest Place – a restaurant called the Oberhafen Kantine which was on such a lean it looked like it was going to fall over.  When we were sitting in the booth, it felt like you were on a ship or something!  Very nice hamburgers and very cool atmosphere though!

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Best Attraction – the Alter Elbtunnel.  This 500 metre tunnel was really unusual – a way to get from the main city to the docks via a flight of steps or a lift followed by a well lit, well travelled tunnel that was really fun to photograph.

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Biggest Disappointment – we had high hopes of having a bit of a laugh watching the sights in the city’s red light district which was on a street called the Reeperbahn.  Unfortunately the place was really run down and a bit of a dump.  Not at all like the fun, atmosphere that Lauren and I came across in Amsterdam.  I’m not sure why all those British stag do’s head to Hamburg with this area being their main draw.  Well – then again, even I am not that naive…. 😉

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Biggest Bonus – the weather.  It was really good.  We even sat outside without coats on drinking the local beer – well in fact, I had a local beer shandy!

What we learned for next time – take a German dictionary.  Everyone we met spoke excellent English however, we both felt very silly asking for translations of things like menus!

Greatest success – the choice of where to stay.  Our apartment was in a great location, near to a train station and in between several areas of the city which made it the perfect base for exploring.  It also had a kitchen which was handy for breakfast and for grabbing some food on the first night when we arrived late into the city.

Nicest flowers – those on display at the Planten un Blomen.  This was a very nice, very large park in the city with a rose garden, a japanese garden and a cafe selling Bratwurst (amongst other things).  Yum yum.

Best views – those from the top of St. Michaelis’ church.  And it was a perfect day to be up there – clear and dry and not very windy.

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Most miles walked – on day two we walked through the canals and warehouses of Speicherstadt, down to the dockland called Hafen City, through the shops of the old town and then into the red light district when the sun started to go down.  Tired feet!

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Favourite beer – Paul liked Astra Urtyp which was brewed in Hamburg.

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Biggest mistake – Paul ordering a shandy of said beer by accident.  You should have seen his face!

What’s missing – there was a viewing platform located in the Hafen City identified in the guide book that we targeted in our journey only to find it had moved across the docks to somewhere that well, to be honest, wasn’t really in a position to offer much of a view.  And then there was a the sculpture of the Giant Bathing Lady that was supposed to be in the inner lake.  That hadn’t just been moved – it had completely disappeared!

Biggest coincidence – Paul wearing a pair of “Hamburg” Adidas shoes while we were in Hamburg.  I kid you not.

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We both enjoyed exploring the city and seeing the sites and I think the overall conclusion is that our first European city break together was a great success.

When we got back home, the birthday celebrations continued when went out for a meal on my birthday at a pub called the Jug and Bottle in Heswall (http://www.the-jugandbottle.co.uk) which is super dog friendly.  We’ve been a few times before and the service is excellent and my fish and chips were a close rival to Georgios – that’s saying something!

I could definitely feel the love of family and friends on my birthday with phone calls, cards, messages and generous gifts.  How nice is that. 🙂  Thanks everyone.  But that’s it now – another year older and feeling pretty good about it all.