Blog Post No. 4 (08/09/2019) - Ein und Halb Uhr in Hamburg
Some Context: “Lüneburg is basically a suburb of Hamburg. But don’t tell people in Lüneburg that… back in Medieval times Lüneburg was the larger town.” -Steffi, USAC program
Yesterday, the USAC group left for Hamburg at 9:05 am. I being still ill-adjusted to Germany’s schedule woke up closer to noon. Having spent Saturday getting this very fine website into order I thought that I should take the opportunity to visit Hamburg today. I may not have seen it with everyone else, but I will be wretched if I do not try the train system. On a Sunday. For the evening. You have every right to question my logic but I wanted to experience first hand the German public transport system. Let us see if it really is possible to get to Hamburg and back in three hours. If Steffi speaks true when she calls this town a suburb of Hamburg, then the rest of the world may as well be one town over.
6:28- All abroad! On the train to Hamburg. This excursion was meant to be more than two hours long but I found the passageway to the platform too late. 30 minutes of good reading though!
6:47 Passing through the German countryside. Charming triangular fields, peaked Tudor homes, and hedge-lined roads in the orange sunset. Niedersachsen is beautiful… I will have more to say on that later.
7:04 Arrival in Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. I get off the train and I check my watch. 1 hour and twenty minutes until I have to be back aboard. Let us go!
7:06 Immediately as I leave the train station I get distracted. Someone offers to sell me cds as I come to inspect a street performer. I refuse them. Same person immediately gets into an argument with a neatly dressed man behind me.
7:08 This man threatens to call the police (all I could understand from their conversation). Some pushing and shoving and the cd fellow calls his friends over. I was watching it closely if I needed to intervene, but thankfully the sharply dressed man left before any punches were thrown. Not a good first look for Hamburg.
7:10 Now that’s over, I enjoy the street performer as he breaks out into a heartrending rendition of Bella Ciao. Judging by his accent in German, he must have been a native Italian speaker. Operatic voice, electric mood at the Hauptbahnhof east entrance.
7:23 After an enthralling performance I realize I only have an hour or so left and I still want to see the Hamburg Rathaus. Take off in the right direction this time, because I actually looked it up.
7:30 I realize that my pace will not take me to the Rathaus and back in time. I can see the spire in the distance and it is beautiful, but I won’t risk missing the last train.
7:35 I stopped in Gerhart-Hauptmann-Platz and dined at an Italian
restaurant. Very passable food, gnocchi mozzerella with Erdinger on the side.
8:04 Thanks to a very quiet restaurant and a very attentive waiter, I had my food and paid the bill in barely more than thirty minutes.
8:13 Back at the station and wandering around, trying to sort out the platform system.
8:15 Security guard gives me some directions to nearest train plan.
Wondrously I understand him enough to find the train schedule.
8:20 At my platform, but the next few incoming trains are delayed. It is extremely crowded now and the mood almost feels solemn.
8:35 Our train is also late coming in. This has been a trend with my other trains and buses these past few days. Perhaps the German railway system is not as punctual as I thought?
9:25 I’m watching the message board in my cabin declare each stop as it rolls by. It feels both tedious and terrifying, because this line continues to Hannover. It would be hard to explain to my professor that I was late because I took the train to the wrong city.
9:30 The train was much slower coming back in, but look how it easy it is to get to Hamburg! Three hours was all it took to get dinner in another state.
There is something thrilling about this situation and the wonder is in proximity. Hamburg is a city-state of 1.8 million people, larger than the entire population of my home state. As someone who wonders if the grocery store is too far for my schedule it is a great wonder to know that anything so vast and interesting could be so close. Expect plenty future adventures in Hamburg, Hannover and potentially Berlin. Deutschland wartet auf mich!