November 11, 2016 – November 13, 2016
This past weekend I visited my 8th country on our first weekend getaway. We tagged along with 13 almost complete strangers who had planned the trip to Hamburg, Germany, about a 4 hour drive from Amsterdam. Having never really heard of Hamburg before, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but I suspected that I might eat some good hamburgers.
We started our Friday night off at a typical German restaurant with lots of beer (and no hamburgers). Due to the fact that Hamburg is situated on the water, it is a big maritime city with fresh fish on every menu. They pair the fish with their other favorite food – potatoes. I have to say that potatoes are growing on me, and I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. After dinner, we decided to pretend like we were in college and go to some very crowded, smoke filled bars. It was fun for a while until I looked behind me and saw a table of teenagers making out. Somehow I ended up in a conversation with one of them who thought my 27 years of age was ancient compared to his 19 and he suggested that our group go to a bar down the street instead. We all decided it was probably a good idea to end the night here in order to be fully functional for sightseeing the next day.
I woke up on Saturday feeling like a million dollars, and was ready to take on the walking tour. We decided to do the Sandeman’s (free!) walking tour which lasted about 2 hours. Our tour guide was an Irishman who reminded me a little bit of Harry Styles [Editor’s note: upon googling Harry Styles, it appears that he more reminds me of Ed Sheeran.. I must have my English popstars mixed up]. He was pretty entertaining talking about the city and how much of it was destroyed either in the great fire of 1842 (started by an angry cigar factory employee, and lasted for 6 days) or WWII (also started by someone angry, and lasting much longer). The only complaint of the day was that It. Was. Freezing. I really should have invested in some warmer socks before moving here.
That’s Irish Harry talking about Poodles
After the tour we went to St Michael’s church which is supposed to have the best views of the city. I decided to walk up the 20 flights of stairs, because I hadn’t gotten in enough walking on the walking tour. I expected that the views at the top would be worth the effort, but was unpleasantly surprised by the fog that had covered the city, drastically reducing visibility.
However, we could see the lights of a fair from the top of the church, and while the rest of the group went ice skating, Tyler and I decided to check it out. This fair was the biggest I had ever seen, definitely putting the Williamson County Fair to shame. We immediately stopped to get drinks and I had some delicious hot chocolate + rum and then some hot apple cider + vodka. We played some fair games and ate some fair foods, and I got a fair hat, and then convinced the rest of the group to come join us because we had been eyeing the laser tag tent. I must say, running around in the dark shooting people is more fun than I remembered. So much fun that we ended up playing twice!
After the fair at the suggestion of the Irishman, we went to the Red Light District of Hamburg. It didn’t really seem to have anything on the Amsterdam version, but somehow we ended up at a drag show by the end of the night. Tyler even got his picture with the star of the show. The details here are probably left undocumented, but it ended up being a great night.
The struggle was real Sunday morning, but nevertheless we ended up getting up in time to do a little more sightseeing before the car ride home. We decided to go visit the Opera House which had just opened to the public the week before and had cost $1B to construct. It has really interesting architecture and was totally jam packed with people. The views from the top were spectacular and I was glad that it was a clear day, so this kind of made up for church views from the day before. The last place we went was Mutterland, the breakfast place that we went the day before which was kind of like an upscale European Cracker Barrel. We wanted to get some gifts for people back home, but apparently they didn’t sell most of their gifts on Sundays. Go figure.
All in all, it ended up being a great weekend, and I was so happy to meet more friends. We’re already talking about planning the next group trip… maybe to somewhere warmer.