Wednesday, April 20, 2005

HAMBURG (Germany) Weekend

Hamburg is Germany's second largest city (1.8 million) behind Berlin, the capital (3.5 million), and is the country's busiest port, situated on the Elbe River in the north. If you connected the dots, from Hannover to Hamburg to Bremen to Hannover, you'd have the triangle trip we made this past Saturday and Sunday (more on Bremen in another post).

As a large industrial city, Hamburg still has plenty of charm. Over the Alster Lake (artificial) and all the canals off the Elbe River are 2,321 bridges, more than any other city in the world. And I just
did a post on the 100 charming Water-Carrier figures all over the city that made the city worth it for them alone.

As with most of these cities, I'm finding out, there's a general 3-part theme of the Town Hall or Market Square (City Center), the key churches, and everything else.

So, here we go:

1. The "everything else" of the city we saw, besides the water carriers (which did indeed deserve their own, separate post!), can be summed up in the beautiful buildings like this Alster Arcade off the lake, just a stone's throw from Town Hall. This is when the city tours are worth their weight in gold, especially if all you have is a day!

2. The 5 churches in Hamburg considered to be "the fab five" (my term, of course--GO BLUE!) are St. Peter's, St. Jacob's, St. Nicholas (in ruins), St. Katharine's and St. Michael's viewed here. Though not my visual favorite of the five, St. Michael's is considered the "hallmark" of Hamburg, with it's great pipe organ and bright, open sanctuary, used for music concerts all year around. There are places in the city where you can see all 5 church spires at the same time. We saw one such spot on our tour bus but, alas, I couldn't take the photo fast enough to show you.

3. The Town Hall, built in 1886-97, is incredible. There was a great fire in 1842 that destroyed 50% of Hamburg's buildings and then the allied bombers destroyed much of the rest of the city in 1943 during WWII. That means what you see is not that old by European standards. The re-building after the war, even here in Hannover, blows me away. I guess it's just what you do!

One last trivial thing about Hamburg. At lunch, I ordered a meal with fried parsley that got my curiosity. Oh my! I have never experienced anything like it. It must have been fried in butter because it was very rich...but very melt-in-your-mouth crispy-light.

I guess you could say I will most remember Hamburg for its Water Carriers and fried parsley. Sometimes it's the little things that count the most!

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