Saturday, April 28, 2007


I was in Hamburg for two days 17-18 March 2006. I was actually looking to travel to Venice or may be somewhere in Greece. But the flights were extremely expensive (upwards of GBP80 return, i got Hamburg for GBP30 return!). I was traveling my Ryan Air and when the flight started its descent we could see the ground and it was all covered in snow. Immediately I started cursing myself - experience at Glasgow was fresh. However, some of the co-passengers told me that the snow was old and since Hamburg is used to snow (it hardly snows in Glasgow and so the city was caught off-guard) and thus roads etc should be clear. Next was immigration.

I have been to 3 different countries over past few weeks (aside of UK) over successive weekends and immigration would inevitably take a 'closer' look at me. All the things that would flag suspicion would be present - adult male traveling alone with a backpack just for a weekend, mustache, from India, not looking very 'rich'. Hamburg was no exception and in addition my Visa was set to expire next day (when i was returning). So after taking the hostel address where I was staying, taking my passport and return ticket photocopy I was allowed to enter!

Next up was finding my way to the hostel. Fortunately the hostel had given directions of how to reach from the airport and so I was hoping it would be pretty straightforward. However as it turned out, I had landed at Lubeck airport which is way outside the city (Since I was travelling by Ryan Air - a low cost airline). The directions were from the main city airport which was much closer. Anyways, I manage to find my way to the hostel.

This is my third hostel and this was the best (A&O City Hotel & Hostels). Very clean, very friendly staff and not too expensive - around Euro 20 a day with bfast. I had a 6 bed room however, there was no one else, so I had the room for myself!

After getting refreshed, I head out...

First snap in Hamburg, just outside the hostel. The hostel was located near the tube station - Hammer Kirsche. Was surprised to learn that Hamburg is actually the second largest city in Germany (after Berlin). Would I thought that that honor would go to either Munich or Frankfurt etc.

The Hamburg port. Hamburg is the second largest port in Europe (after Rotterdam). Hamburg is very cold and although it is in Germany and germany is to the south of UK (or so I felt), Hamburg is actually to the north of London. So I had actually traveling East but slightly north!

A light house, again a few hundred years old!

What you see in front is a floating dock. It completely submerges under water, goes under a ship (or a ship comes over it) and it resurfaces along with the ship. The ship can then be subjected to repairs etc.

I had taken a boat ride through the harbor. As it turned out there was a restaurant down and everyone was having food and beer. Maybe they were local people, but I was more interested in seeing around, so I went up onto the deck (in the open, and yeah the chill wind on the port was hurting but then the thrill of this experience compensated!).

A sense of how large the port really is. You see these huge cranes over and over again, and all of them are automated. No people around!

This part (along with the one just around the Hamburg lake) is one of the most expensive places in the city. What a view the guys staying here get...

Another view of the port and its cranes. Interestingly, I did not see a single 'Indian' ship in the port - either here or at Dover (when I was going to France) or at Harwich (when I was going to Amsterdam) - but I saw plenty of Chinese and Korean ships.

This is the main Hamburg bus stop. Again what strikes is that there are no people, there are no inquiry counters. Every deck has an electronic screen which shows the timing and place of the next bus. In the main building there is a touch screen kiosk where you can get all the information you need.

This is the famous hamburg lake in the city center. Just to illustrate how cold it was, parts of the lake were actually frozen. there were ducks walking over it!

The road alongside, no this is not evening - this is afternoon, but the sky was dull.

Another view of the lake.

This is on day 2 and this is the museum ship 'Rickmers' It is more than 100yrs old and has seen pretty much everything. Its well maintained and is good time spent.

The tall bulding in the distance (with the cross) is the American church. Do not remember exactly, but I think this is the oldest American church in Germany(!?)

The Hamburg railway station - covered with snow.

Railway station from inside, finally some glimpse of chaos (mumbai ishtyle!)

India is going global and Bollywood has already. A Zee dealer in Hamburg and John Abraham poster in Hamburg. My guess is this is the 'Asian' part of the city as I saw quite a few asians around here and some Asian shops also.

A nice fountain on the streets. Now I am just roaming around here and there...

The famous German 'bullet trains' which travel a few times the speed of Indian trains. Actually these are not the exact bullet trains, these are just normal trains which run pretty much on similar tracks, but the engines are powerful and the number of coaches is half what we have on our trains.

A highway but very orderly traffic.

The U Bahn - backbone of local transportation (metro if you are an indian, tube if you are a British). Translated into English U Bahn means 'underground railway'

That's it. I return from here go to the hostel, collect my bag, head to lubeck and take off to London Gatwick.

One quick point, I was taking Ryan Air again and the flight was supposed to take off at 8pm or so. Ryan air being a low cost airline relies on faster turnaround of its planes, so the plane comes to lubeck at around 7.30, people descend, it gets cleaned, people board at around 8 and the plane takes off at around 8.15. Phew... No wonder while all airlines world over are making losses, Ryan Air (along with Southwest Airlines in the US) continues to grow @ 20% plus ever year.