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TRAVEL DIARY: 21 hours in Hamburg

hamburg.jpgHello! Do you still remember who I am?

I haven’t been blogging much the past month or so, while I got back into the swing of things with uni after the long Christmas break. I am now halfway through my final semester of classes in my four-year-long degree which I CANNOT BELIEVE I am even saying right now. I really love my classes this semester actually, especially my one on Victorian Gothic literature (Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, The Island of Dr Moreau, some Sherlock Holmes, SO MUCH GOOD STUFF) so it hasn’t even been much of a task making myself sit down at my desk and crack on with it. It makes such a difference to your productivity levels when you really love what you are doing, doesn’t it.

Anyway, now that I truly have the hang of it again and am back into a good routine, my blog can return from its place on the back burner. I have missed writing on here!! I have a couple of blog posts planned for the next couple of weeks, including a book review on The Wicked King, if you aren’t sick of those already from every other book blog under the sun (although I could read people’s thoughts on Jude and Cardan all day long).

Today though, I wanted to tell you about a very exciting and last minute trip I took a couple of weeks ago with my flatmate courtesy of Ryanair flight sales.

Yep, I went to Germany for the day for the same price as it would cost to get the train home for the weekend.

Warning: long post ahead.

hamburg 1hamburg 2The week before we went, or even knew we were going, my flatmate got an email through advertising cheap Ryanair flights as part of their January sale. It started off as sort of a joke, wondering where we could jet off to, and we started looking at flight times without really caring about the destination. Most of them didn’t suit because they didn’t fit around our university classes, and since we are semi-responsible adults now we didn’t want to miss anything so close to graduation. Then we spotted one to Hamburg in Germany that meant we would only be away for a day in total, and a few minutes later we were booked.

We left Glasgow at 4am and caught the City Link bus from Buchanan Bus Station to Edinburgh airport. Our flight to Hamburg departed around half 6, and less then two hours later we landed. We didn’t even have a plan for what we were going to do for the day and didn’t even really know what there was to do in Hamburg since it was such an unplanned trip, so we sat in Starbucks and had a look through some leaflets and guides before heading out into the city.

We bought something in the airport called the Hamburg Card, which I would highly recommend if you are planning on visiting the city. It gets you free rail and bus transport, as well as discounts off a lot of the main attractions including the guided bus tours. This meant that we were able to hop on the train straight from the airport and arrive in the city centre about twenty minutes later with absolutely zero hassle whatsoever. This card costs 18 euros for a group of two to five people, so it would be even cheaper for you if there are more people involved!

hamburg 3.jpgWhen you are heading into the city centre, you want to get on the train that says it is heading for Wedel. There are only two lines from the airport, so it is easy to make sure you are on the right one. Hauptbahnhof is where you want to get off – this is the main train station for the centre. 

The first thing we did when we got to the city centre was we investigated the hop-on hop-off bus tours. There seemed to be quite a few to choose from, all leaving from the same place right outside the main train station and all around the same price. So, we just picked one, paid our money (18 euros each if I remember correctly, with our card discount), and hopped on. These buses are fab if you don’t really know what there is to see around the city and don’t want to traipse around aimlessly, and you also have a guide pointing out everything along the way and explaining some of the history. You can get off at any of the stops if something catches your eye and then just hop back on the next one whenever you are ready!

IMG_4546IMG_4554IMG_4564.jpgRathaus

The weather was pretty miserable the day that we went, but being from Scotland where it rains pretty much all the time this didn’t really bother us. It would have been nice to see it in the sunshine though! We jumped off at Rathausmarkt, the central square which houses the Hamburg City Hall (Rathaus), a beautiful building which is an icon in Hamburg’s history. Even on a dull day the architecture here is nothing short of impressive. The neo-Renaissance building is open to the public and there are guided tours, I believe, but we just had a quick look around inside at the exhibition showing photos and stories from the war.

hamburg 7Rathausmarkthamburg-6.jpghamburg 8hamburg-9.jpgInside Rathaus. Gave up waiting on those women moving out the way since they appeared to be having a full on photo shoot.

We also walked along Spitalerstrasse (don’t ask to me pronounce any of these names) which is in the shopping district of central Hamburg and is actually one of the top ten most visited streets in Germany. There were a lot of shops that were German brands, but there was also a lot of shops that I recognised so we didn’t go in most of them. We didn’t do any proper shopping actually, partly because we weren’t there for long but also because we were doing the whole trip on a budget.

We jumped back on the bus after wandering around for a while and saw some more of the city, including the warehouse district (Speicherstadt), the port of Hamburg, and the Red Light district (Reeperbahn). Wow, there are a lot of strip clubs.

hamburg 11 edit.jpgLooking rather worse for wear after so long with no sleep, being rained on all day and still many hours to go. Pint of cocktail to liven me up.

hamburg 10hamburg 12 editI mean. Look at the size of that. 7 euros. 

After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing (I have no idea how many times we aimlessly circled the city but it was a LOT), we came across a Mexican bar and restaurant called Sausalitos. Yes I know, we should have been having proper German food, but this find turned out to be one of our best choices of the day. We weren’t really hungry, so we just decided on sharing a plate of spicy beef nachos, which turned out to be MASSIVE and ordered some cocktails. Naturally, we managed to turn up when it was happy “hour” (which lasted longer than an hour) when cocktails were so cheap. JUMBO cocktails, literally bigger than my head as you can see, were something like 7 euros each. AMAZING. So, of course we had three. The waiter also gave us free shots because he liked our accents (yeah right)!

hamburg 13.jpgMy photos sadly stop here when my phone ran out of charge and we had to try preserve Emma’s in case we got lost. Ending on a high though, clearly.

We finished off our trip by heading back along to Reeperbahn by hopping on the train again, and picked a club at random that I can’t remember the name of. It was free entry, and it was an experience to say the least. We didn’t even buy any more drunks because were rather tipsy from the pints of cocktails we had been drinking so we just danced and observed the weirdness. It was so different to Glasgow clubs, let me tell you. I couldn’t even describe what it was like, so I am just going to let your imagination take you wherever you like. It was so much fun though, and we did know a lot of the music because it was mainly chart stuff.

Then it was time to head back into the city centre and find our way back to the airport. The train we had arrived on in the morning didn’t run at this time so we had to get a different one to Ohlsdorf, I think it was, and then a connecting bus to the airport from there. Obviously all of this transport was free with our card that we bought in the morning. There is actually no one checking train tickets at any point on the journey that we seen, so technically you could get away with not buying one at all. However, I have heard that they do random checks with massive fines if you are caught out, so it isn’t worth the risk in my opinion when the card was so cheap anyway.

Our flight back to Edinburgh was around 6am again, so we arrived at the airport around 3am. It was a much quicker journey back than we expected and we also didn’t want to risk getting our drunk selves lost by leaving the bare minimum time. Skip forward a couple of hours and I was back in my bed in Glasgow by 10am.

All in all, it was a very successful journey. Hamburg felt like such a safe city to be in, even at night, the people were lovely, the transport is fantastic – clean, perfectly on time, cheap – and it really was the perfect weekend break away from university. I would definitely like to go back and spend a little bit of time there. I’d also like to go in some of the museums, go for a walk along the lake on a nicer day, that kind of thing. Our flights cost £7.50 each way though, which is a deal I don’t know if I will ever see again!!

One thing we did notice is that although a lot of people did speak English, particularly the younger people, we didn’t hear a single other British voice while we were in the city centre. This might be down to the time of year that we went, I’m not sure, but it would be worth remembering that you will stand out as a tourist. It’s always good to be careful with pickpocketing and the likes for this reason, although we had no problems with this whatsoever. Also, I think it is a city of contrasts, so to speak. Just outside the city centre and the main tourist areas, there is a lot of graffiti, litter and homeless people. Not everyone is as privileged as us, which I think it is important to remember.

If you are heading there, hit me up with any questions you have and I would be more than happy to help you and give you some recommendations!!

 

Some more photos…

IMG_4562hamburg 5hamburg 15.jpghamburg 16.jpghamburg 14hamburg 18hamburg-17.jpgThe look of love…

 

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2 Comments

  • Reply Ruth

    What an exciting and spontaneous trip! Isn’t it crazy that you were able to do this for less than a train ticket? I can’t believe how cheap your tickets were – what an amazing deal. I’ve never been but it looks lovely and I’m glad to know you felt safe. That’s always a major point I consider before going anywhere, haha. Thanks for sharing your adventure!

    February 22, 2019 at 10:28 AM
    • Reply thewritingfinch

      I know – it would literally cost me at least £20 for a weekend at home, which is a whole 1.5 hour journey each way!! Obviously I spent money while I was there too, but it was definitely a cheap trip that I don’t regret.

      Feeling safe was a definite bonus, especially when only there for the day and having limited phone charge and nowhere to charge it! It is 100% a city I would recommend if you are fancying a little break somewhere, there is so much to see and do and you could spend a day or an entire weekend wandering around the sights.

      February 24, 2019 at 2:25 AM

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