I arrived in Hamburg around 3:30 PM on Tuesday. Svenja (my host in Hamburg) was going to meet me at the Central Station when she got off work, so I had some time to check it out. I love train stations. I think they are so cute and I love seeing all of the people hustling and bustling, catching trains and buses. I like to imagine where they are headed off to.
Since I had some time, I figured I should try a German pretzel and beer! I found a little place in the station serving beer and pretzels, and had myself a seat. I got my pretzel and beer, but – interesting fact – most of the places in Germany are cash only. Since I had just come from Denmark (which uses Danish krones, not euros), I didn’t have any money on me. Luckily the woman trusted me enough to let me go find an ATM. Crisis one, averted!
I met Svenja at Starbucks in the Central Station, and we took off on a bus toward her apartment. The buses in Europe are insanely busy, which meant that there was standing room only. My goal for this trip is to not fall down on a bus. So far, so good.
Once we got to Svenja’s apartment, I threw down my backpack, and we decided to hit the town. She lives a little north of Abenalster lake, so we walked through her adorable little neighborhood and a little bit down by the lake.
We stopped at a little Italian restaurant and got dinner. I had a gnocchi with vegetables and a glass of Merlot. It was the perfect ending to a long day of travel.
Day 1: Amanda tries to do everything
The next day, I woke up at 6:30, raring to go. I get so excited when I’m in a new place, I just want to get up and explore. I got ready, but soon realized the sun doesn’t come up until 8:15 AM. I waited until it got light, and then sprinted out the door. I stopped at a little coffee shop on the way to the city center. It was adorable. They had vegan breakfast sandwiches! There are so many vegan options here, it is really incredible.
I headed back out into the super cold 45 degree weather and started my journey around the lake. It is so beautiful here. There are a ton of people running and biking around the lake. Finally, I got to the city center. It’s adorable!
I wandered around for a bit, until I found St Michaelis church. There is a tower on top, which of course I went to the top of to get a great view of the city. I attempted a panorama on my iPhone.
There is a bit of a learning curve with that one.
The view is amazing!
After the tower, I wandered around to HafenCity, the old warehouse district. It is filled with these beautiful old buildings, separated by canals.
One side of the street is old, and just on the other side of the canal, the buildings are new. There are places in Hamburg with older and newer buildings interspersed. This is because a lot of the older buildings got wiped out from bombs in World War 2.
After wandering around the old warehouse district, I found the town hall, which had a massive Christmas market in front of it.
That is one impressive building! I wandered through the Christmas market for a bit, looking at all of the merchants with homemade alpaca scarves, chocolates, and gluwein for sale. The Christmas markets are the place to be here – they are packed!
I was a little tired after all that excitement, so I headed back around the lake and to the apartment. I found my future home on the way back.
It will be hard to choose between this one or the castle in Sweden.
When Svenja got off work, she met me at the apartment, and we headed off to get some German gluwein! The German gluwein is totally different than the Danish glogg. They are both equally delicious! Apparently the gluwein in Germany is served to children, and the adults get it with a shot of amaretto in it. I am technically an adult…. so I had to try it.
Another perfect ending to a great day!
Day 2: The Harbor and Alter Elbtunnel
The next day, I decided to take it a little easier. I like to track my steps to see how far I walk, and I had walked 15 miles the day before! It was a little tiring, to say the least. I slept in a bit, which helped. I got ready and headed out around the lake again. It’s a long walk, but it’s so beautiful that I can’t bring myself to take a train or bus. Plus, I usually prefer walking through new cities. It’s the best way to see the sights!
There is a little Christmas market on the edge of the lake.
I decided to head over to the harbor on this day. It was a little cloudy, but the harbor is stunning. These pictures do NOT do it justice.
The little red boat was all decorated for Christmas.
All of the little boats on the little canal. So precious.
I even got another pretzel. No one can hold me back when I see a pretzel for sale.
After the harbor, I headed over the the Alter Elbtunnel – it’s an underground tunnel that connects HafenCity to the mainland. It isn’t super long, but it was fun to walk through.
After all of the excitement of the day, I headed back home. I walked through the Christmas market by the lake on the way. You can pretend that random Asian girl is me.
Svenja and I finished the day with chocolate and red wine. Is there anything better? No.
I am loving Germany so far!