I spent most of my time in Hamburg, Germany snoozing in a bed to the sound of the pouring rain. I had not planned on getting more than my money’s worth of my one-night, $48 (€43) hostel, but I definitely did.
Since I have chosen to write my recent European trip out of order (and a few months late), let me start by saying that I visited Hamburg near the end of my journey. After running around a few countries, I was completely knackered. My exhausted body just could not give this city the love it so clearly deserved. This post chronicles my eight or so hours walking around Hamburg.
My friend Charles (Chaz) once told me: “You’ll never make it to Krakow.” He’s right. Although I have always wanted to visit Germany, I had not planned on venturing there this time around. For long-term readers of my blog, you know that I have tried and failed several times to make it to Poland. One major fail (someone broke into the rental car and stole my purse and a friend’s jacket/passport), turned out to be one of the best experiences ever. I looked for reasonable tickets to Krakow, but was unable to find anything worth my coin. I had a two-day slot to fill in, so I was determined to go somewhere. I then changed my search on Skyscanner to “everywhere” and was given a bunch of options. I was looking for a short, direct flight that arrived in the morning for the first day and left in the evening of the second. Hamburg, at roughly $80 for a return trip, was right up my alley. I searched on Google Images for pictures of the city and fell in love with one of Speicherstadt. I booked my ticket a minute after. It does not take much to convince me.
I left Budapest bright and early and got to Hamburg a little after 10AM. By the time I got to my hostel, I saw that the clouds were quickly rolling in. I threw my stuff down and ran outside to enjoy the last 30 minutes of sun I would see in Germany. My hostel was right next to the city hall (Rathaus), so I was able to bask in its glory for the shortest period of time known to man. Rathaus, finished in 1897, is spectacular. I crept all around the building and ended up finding the courtyard which housed a fountain. Atop the fountain was Hygieia, Greek goddess of health and hygiene. I wish more people worshiped her. WASH YOUR DIRTY HANDS, HUMANS.
Ah, there she is.
After, I strolled to St. Nikolai Memorial. This church was mostly destroyed during World War II, so only the crypt and tower remain today. As a lover of sky-high views but a hater of stairs, I was thrilled to take the €5 elevator up to the top. The chilly February air whipped my hair around and chilled me to the bone. After about ten minutes, I tapped out before the rest of my elevator-mates.
I then walked to what I was most excited about: Speicherstadt. Speicherstadt, according to what I have found on the internet, is the largest warehouse district in the world that stands on piles of timber. In 2015, it was selected to be one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The weather was piss-poor, but I suppose it was atmospheric. I walked around trying to find the exact location of the picture I had previously seen online. After weaving through what seemed to be dozens of beautiful German men on lunch breaks, I was victorious. Although the view was nice, I would have preferred seeing it kissed by the sun.
I had only planned on eating a quick meal in my hostel, but I ended up staying there for the rest of the day. I ate, watched some YouTube videos, then fell asleep to the rain beating down on the roof. After jetting around Europe for two weeks straight, my body finally got some rest. When I woke up, I decided to go to Speicherstadt again at night. Afterward, I walked around the center of the city for a bit.
The next morning, I was determined to see more of Hamburg. I made my way to St. Michael’s Church (Hauptkirche St. Michaelis) because I saw somewhere online that you could walk in the crypt. One of my biggest regrets is not going to the catacombs when I was in Paris. I absolutely love bones and cemeteries. I am not one for gore (blood and guts), but the rest fascinate me. As I walked around the crypt of the church, I was disappointed to find out I would not see any skeletons at all. St. Michael’s Church is the largest one in Hamburg. It has a fascinating history of destruction – one by lightning, another by fire, and yet another due to war.
Hungry, I then walked to a vegan cafe called HAPPENPAPPEN that I found on Instagram. Shameless plug: Follow me @helloitisjen. I ordered a slice of banana bread and a salad. Everything was delicious. I definitely recommend eating here if you are in Hamburg.
Before getting on the train to head back to the airport, I walked around a really hipster, graffiti-covered part of town called Sternschanze. I did not have much time, but I browsed some second-hand stores on my way to the train station. Back in college and later in Hungary, I always shopped at these kinds of stores. I miss having all of those weird, unique, cheap options. Much to the chagrin of my wallet, I have become such a department store queen in Korea.
Although my time in Hamburg was short, I was charmed by the city. I just wish I could have seen it in the bright light of the sun. Maybe one day…