I have spent the past 4 days in Hambug with Alex and Sabine in their great little flat in the city and I have had a really great time staying with them. It was sort of like staying in a 4 star hotel... meals, laundry, driver service etc. etc.! They both went out of their way and were fantastic hosts! Now I just have to try to match it when they come back to Idaho next year... hmmmm maybe it wasnt such a good deal after all... :) Sabine took Th and Fri off of work, and we had a great time rambling around Hamburg to see all parts of the downtown area, port, boardwalk etc.
It was very cold all week, down to about -5C, but it was wet and there was usually a stiff breeze so I wore almost every layer of clothing i had and was still cold! Fortunately, there are lots of coffee shops, and we took advantage of many of them!
We toured all over the city, and and also visited the Hamburg Museum which holds all sorts of stuff about the history of Hamburg. It had lots of stuff that interests me, mainly regarding the old Hamburg sailing port, its warships, pirates, military history and weapons, and the building methods of the ships and buildings, so I really enjoyed the museum! There were a ton more exhibits on antique furniture, daily life, paintings, WW1 and 2, model trains, and on and on. I could have easily stayed and read everything, but ran out of time after 4 hours or so.
Another day we went on board the Rickmer Rickmers- a fully rigged saililng boat from 1896, which has been fully restored and now holds a museum. People must have been much smaller back then, because at best I could fit into the bunk at near fetal postion- anybody over 5' would have had problems!
Alex came with us on Saturday and we toured U-434 - a Soviet Tango class submarine that is the largest non-nuclear submarine in the world and was still in operation until 2001. Everything is impossibly small and cramped in the submarine- even to the point of all the torpedomen hanging hammocks from the torpedoes! Every nook and cranny is utilized and there are pipes, cables, valves and machines everywhere. Everything has a function and nothing is done cosmetically to the interior, so it felt way older than its 30 years. When the captain turned it over in 2001, he said that he had taken it down to 440 metres!
There is quite a famous red light district in Hamburg called der Kiez where everybody goes to party in Hamburg. It was somewhat mellow when we went on Saturday night, but we had a great time and didnt make it home until 7:30 am on Sunday morning - typical for here! The tradition is to stop by the fishermans warf and get a fresh fish sandwich on the way home, and my herring sandwich was very good- even if my tastebuds had been abused all night!
So tomorrow I leave for Prague, and into true backpacker mode. I have been savoring having a house to come home to every night with a comfortable bed and reliable hot showers, good food and compay... because its over after tomorrow! It has been really great spending time with Alex and Sabine, Marek and Katherine, but I am ready to put on my pack and just get going. So, until next time, I will be somewhere in Europe!