It’s been six months since I got back from Europe, and quite a while since I posted this, but I figure it’s worth recapping for posterity.
Friday morning walked like baby ducks in a row following the one person who knew the way from the hotel to the office. We had a full day of work and meetings, but the CEO wanted to welcome us to his home, so he went to the market to get meat to grill and threw us a party. His EA forcibly removed me from my temporary office at 5pm, yelling that I’d be late for my own party. Who am I to argue with that? Their big conference room has a patio with a grill on it, and we all mingled and ate good food and drank beer. It was super nice!
We had planned to meet up with a group at a place on the waterfront, and then go hit up the Reaperbahn after. Instead, we found two of our coworkers getting a happy hour drink on our walk home, so we joined them, and everyone else joined them, and that’s where we stayed all night.
Drinking in Germany is interesting. Everyone just grabs drinks from a bar and hangs out on the street. You purchase both the glass and the alcohol, so you may do whatever you want with it. Most folks stack them up on the street. Some people are thrifty and collect them to get the glass deposits and drink for free. Some people, usually later in the evening, just throw them in the street and wait for the sweeper to collect them. We watched everyone do a combination of the three and had an excellent evening making friends.
We slept in a little bit after a late night, but after some cappucino, we headed down to the waterfront. Our first item on the agenda was lunch. I had some excellent spinach dumplings and Joel had some bacon and cheese spaetzle. The “small portions” of EU? Yeah, definitely not in Germany. We were full after half our plates.
Our afternoon plans included perusing the Maritime Museum. Apparently, there’s quite a bit to say and show about the Port of Hamburg. In modern times, they lead a lot of the innovations in revolutionizing the shipping industry. And… back in the day, Hamburg was a center for pirates. There were nine large floors of the museum, and one was entirely dedicated to pirate weapons. We spent four hours gawking at everything until our feet hurt too badly and moved on.
Next, we meandered around the harbor and got some gelato. I got to visit an amazing building on the bucket list (The Elbphilharmonie) and pick out where my apartment would be in one of the buildings downtown. Of all things, we found a very fancy Asian restaurant for dinner, and had some great General Tso’s chicken with these delicate wisps of saffron on top of it.
After dinner, we walked through the city a bit and then met some other coworkers at the Minatur Wunderland just as the sun was setting.
We entered the building and holy cow, it was a spectacle and a half. There were rooms and rooms of miniature replicas of cities and scenes with moving pieces and day/night cycles. We also did this VR experience with the whole group and it was super fun and got the adrenaline going when we were “walking” high above the scenery.
After we couldn’t walk one more step we got a quick currywurst snack on the way out, and then we ended up walking many MORE steps to get lost on the way to the u-bahn. We got a chance to check out the Hamburg Harbor lights from afar, though, so it worked out. We crashed hard when we got back to the hotel.
Sunday, we woke pretty early and wandered out into the morning sun to rent a bike. We had intended on renting a road bike to participate in a race, but they were all sold out. Instead, we tried to rent a city bike for transportation, and couldn’t figure that out either. Failing all means of two wheeled transport, we just walked over to check out the cyclists for a while and found some cool fountains and parks on the way back.
I then required a pretzel for breakfast so we split one with butter and chives. Germany, I miss your twenty million amazing bakeries.
We grabbed our travel companions and headed down to the harbor again to see the sights. We wanted some fresh seafood for lunch. We stopped at a lovely little place and thought we were getting a fish hamburger, but instead we got Fish Hamburg, which was three different types of fish in this delightful dill mustard sauce. Once again, I couldn’t finish the whole plate.
Then, we embarked on a harbor cruise. It was a gorgeous sunny day and perfect for sightseeing, as well as checking out my favorite building (the Elbphilharmonie, which I referred to many times as the Elphaba building) from another angle. They do sunset cruises as well, and that is definitely on the bucket list next time.
Then, we had a laundry party with our coworkers. Most everyone else was smart enough to just bring one small bag. We brought a large bag each and a small bag. Next time, no way I’m lugging that much around again. Laundry parties for the win.
Our plan was to check out a cool cathedral and then grab dinner. We spent about an hour taking in the sights of it, and our group took some time to facetime/facebook call families there.
I was warned that everything shuts down early on Sundays, but what I didn’t realize was everything shuts down early and Yelp also lies about the time. We tried multiple, multiple locations of things we wanted to eat and nada. Eventually, we just started looking for a restaurant period, no matter what type of food. Still nada. The one place we found open was only serving drinks. I was considering a dinner of bar garnishes at this point.
My companions kindly put up with me taking fifteen minutes to grab some Hamburg Nights pictures around the water since it was mostly on the way before we caught the U-Bahn back to the hotel. Thankfully the Turkish place across the street was still open at 11pm, and we gorged ourselves on another giant plate of awesomeness. I would seriously be okay eating there once a day for a week. I might gain 5 lbs, but I wouldn’t mind the process.
Monday was once again full of meetings and work, though we were taken out for the best burger I had all trip by a coworker who frequented the place multiple times per week. It was kind of a divey bar, but the food was totally on point.
After work, we found an excellent Indian restaurant down the street from the hotel and shared a nice, relaxed last dinner in Hamburg with our full travel crew. Indian food isn’t super pretty, but the walk sure was.
After we all retired to our hotel, Joel and I found ourselves in that weird space where we were exhausted but also weren’t ready to sleep. So, we grabbed a bottle of wine at the corner store and sat at the U-bahn right outside of the hotel and watched the trains come and go sipping some vino to unwind a bit. Unlike the US, this is something that doesn’t get you arrested in Germany, no one batted an eye.
Tuesday morning, we woke early, finished packing and caught our train with no stress. We enjoyed a very productive and pretty four-hour ride from Hamburg to Koln, and that’s where we’ll pick up next time!