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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hamburg - Day 2

Breakfast is offered in the dining room - buffet style. The usual culprits are there, cured meats, cheese, hard boiled eggs, breads.

There's a few other people staying here - but unlike Cologne, they've been quiet. It might have something to do with the information sheet in the room where it directs you to be quite after 10pm because people are sleeping.

I'm out the door before 9 and the suprise of the morning is that the Colonnade now looks like this
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They are digging up the pavement outside the hotel - I couldn't see any problems with it yesterday.

First stop is Stephansplatz metro station (which is just right around the corner) to get myself the Hamburg card. It gives me 3 days of transport and discounted and/or free entry for €15. I also check out the metro routes to find out how to get to Brucken Station so I can get on one of the boat tours.

I find out that it's on the U3 line and the most direct way is to head to the Rathausmarkt and catch the train at Rathaus Stn.

On the way I take some better photos of what I saw yesterday.

These are some of the buildings on the Colonnade
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This is the statue of Lessing on the Gänsemarkt
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This building is also on the Gänsemarkt

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This is what you see if you're Hans Hummel

Just one of the canals I passed on the way to the Rathaus
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The Rathaus (Town Hall) is situated on the large Rathausmarkt (Town hall square). One side of the square leads out onto the Kleine Alster
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The white buildings are known as the Alster arcade.

At the Rathausmarkt there's actually 2 lines, the stations are just at opposite ends of the plaza. It's only a 3 minute wait until the train arrives. It's more a hybrid train/tram type of vehicle - it travels partially underground and partially on raised rails.

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View from my destination

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The first tour of the day is at 10 and I arrive in time to catch it. There's only another 5 people on board - a total change from Cologne. The tour's only conducted in german and the ticket lady offers me a written guide in english but I don't really see the point of it. Call me a philistine, I'm just happy looking.

As we ply the waters it really is reminescent of Chicago - except there's really no tall buildings here - the spires of the churches form the high points in the skyline.

There's amazing canals complete with rows of old warehouses.

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A pair of unusual staircases

The tour takes us through the docks where we see a cruise ship and a warship in dry dock. It's an interesting view and not one you'll usually see.
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We even go through a lock
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and pass by the Rickmer Rickmers
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After an all too brief hour it's back on shore.

I stroll over to get a closer look at the Rickmer Rickmers.
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There are harbour tours available near here but I decide to leave that for possibly another day. Instead I make my way to St Michaelis - it's dark tower dominates most views (sounds very lord of the rings doesn't it?). It's also something that every guide book mentions and is probably Hamburg's biggest attraction.

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By the number of buses here, I'm obviously not the only person headed for the church.

Parts of the church are under scaffolding so I'm limited in what I can take photos of
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The tower rises 132 metres and you can reach the top by foot or elevator.
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St Michaelis is dedicated to the archangel Michael and is the largest church in Hamburg, seating 2500. It was built between 1751-1762 in the Baroque style. It was damaged during the war and restored and inaugurated in 1952 but it was also rebuilt in 1906 after it caught fire. This bronze sculpture above the door shows the Archangel Michael defeating the devil.

Like good Protestant churches, you have to pay to enter. Now I had intended to do so but on the doorway there's a sign saying that you aren't allowed to take photos as that would disturb people praying. Umm, so you mean those 20 bus loads of people tramping their way through the church doesn't disturb people? But then there's the kicker, there was a further note saying that you could buy photos from their shop. Got to love that Protestant way.

A quick check of the map I see there's another church, St Nikolai, not too far away - so I head off.

Along the way I stop for lunch at a place called Le Vent
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it gives me a chance to download some pics to the Ipod because both cards are now full.

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Lunch is a very delicious Pizza Margherita - an ultra thin crust, good cheese level, nice tomato base. Simple but fills the spot.

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In front of St Nikolai is the Hopfenmarkt - which is part food market, part food stalls. It's only when I get to the other side of the Hopfenmarkt that I discover that St Nikolai is a ruin - destroyed during WW2. It's actually quite confronting to see it, especially since from a distance the main tower looks intact and it is quite a lovely gothic structure. When you walk around and see what is left, it does make you think. But the reality is that we couldn't have stood by and had the alternative. The church is used as a memorial to the victims of the Third Reich.
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Bronze sculpture "The Ordeal" by Edith Breckwoldt - the plaque is enscribed with the following
No man in the whole world can change the truth. One can only look for the truth, find it and serve it. The truth is in all places.
Those words are by Dietrich Bonhoeffer who died at Flossenbürg Concentration Camp, three weeks before the allies liberated the city. He was a German Lutheran minister who became involved in the resistance movement against Nazism.

The tower has also been fitted with an elevator which rises 76 meters to give you a view of the city. For €2.50 it's a bargain and a must see. I don't know but I've never read anything about this is any of the guide books.

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The glass elevators takes you quickly up to the top and I confirm the fact that i'm not really that good with heights. The tower is open by surrounded by metal bars - there's no safety issues. It's just a long way down.

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Now you won't get me climbing down that spiral staircase - on the next level there was a Polish display about their ordeal under nazi occupation.

Eventually I head back down for another walk around the ruin before returning to the hotel
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I take a scenic route along the canal
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I like the angles of this building
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While walking back to the hotel, the crowd is a little denser than it's been, a woman appears beside me. As I briefly look to the side she's on, she stares right at me and says something. Once again, my german vocabulary isn't very large so she might have been saying, "isn't it a nice day" or "I want to eat your liver for dinner", but by the odd look in the face and that slight hannibal lecker slurping sound, i'd be betting on the latter.

With that said I skillfully manoevered myself to the other side of the street, putting as many people as possible between us. Maybe someone eles's liver will take her fancy.

For dinner I head off early to the Sushi Train restaurant and try not to emulate Homer Simpson with the all you can eat sushi offer.
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Now I haven't included any photos of what I ate because you won't know whether I was a pig or not.

Sushi Train is part of a chain of restaurants, the sushi offered is okay, nothing brillant, it's been constantly made and the variety improves as the night progresses. It's consistent, like McDonalds. That probably is the best comparison.

By the time I leave it's pretty much full - and there are people still there that were there before I arrived. At least some people will do Homer proud.

After dinner I have a little stroll around the Alster and I come across an interesting way to park
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What do you know, they really are smart cars.

If you'd like to see more photos from today click on the following links
Harbour Cruise Set
St Michaelis Set
St Nikolai Set
Hamburg Set

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