(ALL IMAGES CLICKABLE) Last full day in Germany. Here we go!!
When we woke up (at about noon of course), we decided to do another Hamburg tour. Without a car, though, we had to get to the train station somehow. Niels suggested we ride bikes, so of course I made a lemon face and got on. He was shocked at how good I was at bike riding (for an American). Little did he know, I was a Central Park bike tour guide for two years previous so it was not a fair game. Of course I'd be good. Have you met me?
We got to Hamburg and did a walking tour of the city. The first place we went to at my request, though, was the electronics store. Slow motion speaking: "You see, although I didn't have my laptop, my iPod Touch needs wireless Internet access, so I'm buying one for the house in London I'm staying." ...riiiiiiiight. A German wireless router. For London. ;)
From there, we walked to city hall, probably the sight with the most heritage in Hamburg.
First, we walked into this huge entry way...and that was it. You're not allowed anywhere else. Well, that was anti-climactic. My favorite thing in the hall though was this mini-fountain near the doorway. It was a brass sculpture with a pipe in it's mouth, which disperses water. I joked about how I should drink from that. Niels asked an employee who said that you could!!! It was actually a water fountain!! Ewww! It was not cute. The employee said a water fountain outside would taste a lot better. We went outside to find it. It was SO windy. Look at the pictures. Cracked me up!
One moment that brought me to Earth was this church.
Looks pretty, right? This picture was taken from what used to be the inside!! It was bombed during World War II, leaving just the frame. It really gave me perspective. There's a human side to both sides of wars. I don't know the details--maybe this is what it took for them to get it. So unfortunate.
Niels then took me to Hamburg's most prominent church. On the way there, we came across this round ad spinner.
This basically summed up my whole time there! There was the X-Factor ad, which Niels's girlfriend Dani was on!
Then there was the Day of Legends ad for the huge soccer event that Niels's choir was singing for.
Finally, there was an ad for Kinder chocolate.
I love Kinder (well, any) chocolate. And I loved my time there. Sigh.
We finally arrived at the church.
I believe it was Lutheran. It was nearly all white inside and had a large second balcony. It also had a huge bell tower which gave an amazing view of Hamburg. Niels explained how this place was Hamburg's Carnegie Hall--you've made it when you've played here. Can't wait to hear you play here.
Niels took me to the entry area to the bell tower, which was blocked by a turnstile. He says to watch the entrance as he is about to jump it. Wait, what?? Jump it?!! What?! First of all, we're not 16. Secondly, there's a security camera right there! He sees the camera, says he didn't notice it and we start to leave. At the main door, I stop him. "Listen, I know it costs â‚¬3, but if there's no where else you want to go, I'd love to visit the top." Niels agrees, so we (he) greets the attendant in German and we pay for the tickets. After a flight of stairs, we get a choice: wait in line and take the elevator or take the stairs. The tower is high, but not THAT high. Let's take the stairs. Well shit. Can I tell you there were some 200+ stairs? I work out 3x per week and I was exhausted! As a good American, I ask you, where is the escalator??
I cannot begin to tell you what a great idea it was to go to the top, so I will show you pictures!
It was breathtaking! We loved it SO much! We stayed up there for such a long time! The average time for a tourist was about 20 minutes. I think we were up there for over an hour!!! We were on top of the Hamburg world!
Probably the highlight was this idiotic cargo ship that was attempting to be tugged into port. It took nearly 6 tries to pull that thing in. It was so much fun to make fun of and watch.
On our next walk, I started to notice a pattern that was emerging this trip. The word Hamburger was everywhere. Someone from Texas is a Texan, right? Well, guess what a person from hamburg is called.
The next stop was the public boat system. You heard right. The city pays for buses, trains, AND boats. That was another really unique and fun way to see the city. We stood near the edge to get the view. Occasionally, a wave would crash against the front of the boat, splashing everyone on the deck a little mist. It was a fairly steady pattern. Mist. Mist. Mist. It was cold enough to not be too comfortable, but not enough to completely avoid standing at the front. Niels thought it was a fun risk. Mist. Mist. Mist. SPLASH! This HUGE wave caused by a large ship ahead of us crashed into the front, soaking Niels and getting everyone else at least a little wet. Proof:
That night, we went to the Reeperbahn (easily pronounced rape-o-bon, which, btw, is perfectly named given it is their nightlife street). Hahahhhahahahaahha. Oh man, makes my day. We actually didn't go inside any place. We just walked around.
Neither Niels nor I are drinkers so we were okay with that and decided to visit Dom!
Dom was amazing! It was a traveling carnival with candy, games, roller coasters, and all of the other traditional items you'd see at a carnival. I must say, it seemed actually like an American carnival, only on crack. These people that worked there really enjoyed their jobs. They loved what they did. The costumes were immaculate. I was floored. The best part were the funhouses. Remember the hall of mirrors? Or the room built on a slant? Or the hall with moving floors? It had all of that!!
I had SUCH a great time. We actually went into one and walked out into a completely closed Dom. We shut down the place! Oops!
It was getting late and I has to get up REALLY early for a flight out, so I agreed with Niels that we should head home. After biking home, Niels immediately biked to his mom's house to get the car they share. PERFECT! I had a few minutes before Niels would arrive home, so I tore into the computer room and ripped open the router I had bought to "test it". :) I tried so hard to finish the process before Niels came home, but I kept running into problems. I got on Dani's laptop and plugged in the flash drive installer. The setup program wouldn't run. As it turned out, her OS was too new for the router. I started up Niels's desktop and got it running. I plugged in the installer. Again, lots of small errors were keeping the router from being recognized. I furiously worked to install it. Just as I finally got the installation program to run, Niels walks in the door. I put on my "nothing's up" face and greet him like normal. I'm on his computer instead of Dani's laptop, which was a red flag, but he didn't say anything at first. He comes back in a second time and I explain that I am trying out the router. I say how I'm coming across problems, but it is almost done. He walks out, but almost immediately, I sense the gears turning in Niels's brain. He comes back in the room and says suspiciously, "You're testing a German router.. "Right." "For your host family's house in London." "Sure." He starts to smile, catching on that this is for him, and was never intended for London. I will never forget that moment. I get some passwords from him to finalize the process, then BAM, it works. :) We now have a working router! Granted, he's only living there for two more weeks. At least now, he can live like a normal, electronic human being.
While in bed that night, I write this:
After 3 looooong but all too short days in Germany, the time has come to depart. :( I have not felt this sad in a while. It was really a fun trip and a wonderful reminder at the beauty of life. There's so much more to grasp when you've traveled in countries outside of where you live.