Day 19: Hamburg, Germany

Ugh!  Up at 5:00 am, so we could catch our cab to the airport at 6:00.  But we got downstairs with 10 minutes to spare. We said our goodbyes to Nandor, piled into the cab and we were off.

The ride to the airport was fast!  It was supposed to take about an hour, but only ended up taking 40 minutes.  A lack of traffic will do that for a trip.  And driving 120 km/h all the way…

At the Brussels airport, the cabbie walked us all the way to the baggage check.  Last of Viking’s awesome service: even they’re hired cars took great care of us!

Baggage drop-off and security went off well. We lost a couple of items owing to discrepancies in liquid weights in the US vs. EU, but other than we survived.

Since we’d arrived so early, our plane had not even been assigned a gate, just terminal A.  So we found some nice comfy reclining seats to hang out in till our gate was available.

 A Little Nap
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Once the gate became available, we hightailed it there and found that our plane would actually not be at the terminal, but that we’d have to take a bus to the plane, somewhere in the airport grounds.  Oh boy!!

The flight was completely uneventful. I had a window seat, but no window, as our seats were under the wing.  Also, we had no carry-on space, as the overhead was half of the height of a normal bin.  Had to store it further back.

At the end of the flight, we had to wait for a while till many of the passengers from behind us deplaned, so that we could get our carry-ons.  Didn’t delay us much, but did a little.

Of course, there wasn’t really a delay for anything other than getting to the baggage claim, where we had to wait 20 minutes for the big luggage to come out.

And, our big bag was the first out!  Of course we had to wait for a bit for the second bag, but, again, no hurry!

Hamburg seemed like any other big city as we motored along to the hotel, the Reichshof, next to the train station.

The Hotel Reichshof, Our New Crash Pad
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The taxi dropped us at around 11:15am.  We checked in, but the room wouldn’t be available for awhile. Dropped our bags at reception, headed off to see the Hamburg train station.

And what a station!  Two concourses full of shops and restaurants, three or four long platforms for trains; it was a bustling place!

The Hamburg Train Station
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We had lunch around the corner from the hotel, then started to wander the city.  Not 100 ft from the hotel, we found what looked like it would be a good restaurant for dinner and then the phone rang.  It was the hotel letting us know our room was ready!

What timing!  We took a 10 minute detour back to the hotel, dropped the bags in our room, and we were off again!

Down into the center of the historic area of Hamburg we went, ultimate destination, the Hamburg museum!

On the way, we saw many sights:

St. Jakobi
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St. Petri
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The Rathaus
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An Interesting Dutch-ish neighborhood
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After a decent walk of a couple miles, we arrived at the museum around 3:15 pm. Just enough time to see a few displays before closing time at 5 pm!

With museum map in hand, we strategically planned our visit.  That is, until we found out that there was a railroad layout in the museum. Then we strategically mapped our visit around that!

Really, though, we started on the second floor and made our way through the history of Hamburg exhibit before heading up to the trains on the third floor.

The Hamburg exhibit was fascinating.  It was very interactive with great models of cargo and passenger ships, as well as models depicting current and historic city layouts.  We both really enjoyed that exhibit.

The Hamburg Exhibit
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Then up to to the trains we went!  The layout was a pretty good size, around 40 ft long by 15 ft wide, with a control tower in the middle.  Very cool!!

The Model Train Exhibit
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The final exhibit we had time for was a furnishings and decor exhibit with pieces dating from the 16th through the 19th centuries.  We started at the end and worked our way back through the displays.  Pretty interesting!

One of the most interesting aspects of this trip have been how much we’ve learned through absorption from what tour guides have been telling us.  Throughout the walk through that final exhibit of, I found myself looking at pieces of furniture and architecture thinking, “that looks like something out of the gothic / baroque / rococo /etc period”.

I certainly hope those guides weren’t BS’ing us!

On the walk over, we’d wandered through a neighborhood where the architecture of the building facades was very Dutch looking.  It was actually then that I realized that I’d never have known that before the trip.  Never really expected to learn a lot, other than the history of the sights we were seeing, but since it’s all so intertwined, I couldn’t help myself but absorb it.

After the museum, we started back toward to the hotel, passing St. Michael’s on the way. In the tourist brochure, it said that there was an observation tower near the top of the main tower.  Would be cool to see the city from there, but it was too dreary a day to hope for a good view, so we took some pics and continued on our trek.

St. Michael’s Church
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With a quick stop at a bakery for the next morning’s breakfast, since we were no longer getting breakfasts included, and a quick stop to freshen up at our room, it was time for dinner.

We’d scoped out the restaurant earlier in the day. It was just a hundred or so feet from the hotel and was called ‘Schiffer Börse’.

The restaurant was decorated in a maritime theme with several model ships and pieces and parts of multiple ships, like an anchor and an ugly carving of a person from the bow of a ship.

Scenes from a German Restaurant
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The food was amazing.  And just what we were hoping for: real German cuisine.  Turquoise had weinerschnizel and I had the schweinbratten.  Both came out amazing!  So incredibly flavorful!

Great Food!!
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After our delightful culinary experience, we headed back to the room and chilled out for a couple of hours.  It is amazing how much walking around a city can wipe you out!!

At around 9:30, we hit the hay.  Had to be ready for our big visit to Miniature Wünderland the following day!!