We left Amsterdam early for what David had been referring to as the train challenge; eight hours to Hamburg. The first leg of the journey offered the hope that long distance train journeys on the continent would be significantly better than those in Britain. However, once we reached Hanover this hope and the belief that the Germans were ruthlessly efficient with everything was destroyed. Our connecting train to Hamburg was delayed by at least fifteen minutes for one of many reasons depending on how long you had been waiting on the platform for. Eventually the train arrived and we found ourselves, at last, on the way to Hamburg. Disappointment reared it’s ugly head once more on arrival as two English speaking Germans informed David and myself that the train would not be continuing to it’s final destination in the suburbs of Hamburg where our hostel was.
We eventually reached the hostel after consulting tourist information and a trip on the metro and were relieved to find a converted hotel. We found ourselves particularly tired and decided to find some food as quickly as possible before returning to sleep the night off. As we were Hamburg, what else could we have enjoyed but a hamburger. Not just any hamburger though, a super burger, or in David’s case a giant super burger.
The next day we headed into the city centre, after more of the now standard meat and cheese challenge and to explore the many water features that Hamburg was famous for. After a struggle with the ticket machine that gave detailed instructions in English, we made our way by train to the Alster lakes and felt that it would be worthwhile to walk around both the inner and outer lakes. Two hours later we found ourselves back where we had began and questioning our initial decision to make such a trip.
We headed down one of canals to find somewhere to eat, at which point I received a text from Jamie Dassoulas, a friend found through the glorious Twitter, to find out where we were and if we were able to meet for a couple of beers. After enjoying a typically German chicken stir-fry, we went off to find Jamie and tuck into some beer.
Jamie first took us towards the lake, but due to the fact that we had arrived on a weekend and the weather was pleasant the bars along the shore were packed. We eventually headed down a side street, and after struggling to find drinks on one menu settled at a table. Due to Jamie being a semi-local he offered a recommendation for Franziskaner, which helped to cement the “cool” label that I had previously applied to him. He also had the decency to bring his friend Chris down to meet us and after we were politely requested to leave by the presentation of the bill they both took us on a tour of the harbour.
After much ambling about between converted warehouses and canals we headed back into the centre to get a train back to our respective destinations. It was a pleasure to have met both Jamie and Chris and we left them at the station and on the train respectively.
As we left Altona station we were met with a seemingly unjustified show of force from the Hamburg police. There seemed no reason for the sheer number of officers to be in the area and they didn’t seem to mind us passing through their ranks to return to the hostel.