My travels in Deutschland definitely amounted to a pleasant and enjoyable experience on the voyage thus far. Our ship docked in the beautiful city of Hamburg where we spent much of our time, but I was also blessed to have been able to journey to the country’s capital of Berlin during our port visit.
On our first day in Hamburg, my friends and I took a city tour where we were able to see just how scenic the area is. We walked around the affluent neighborhood by Alster Lake where there were trendy lakeside houses and adorable sailboats bobbing along in the water. The picturesque landscape made me stop and think about how lucky I was to be standing there taking in all of the beauty. I couldn’t help but smile and imagine myself living there as I took pictures in the sunshine, desperately trying to capture the moment.
We ended the tour in St. Michael’s church where we sat and listened to an organ concert. Then we signed out and decided to take on the streets of Hamburg ourselves. Without a map and relying solely on the directions of the locals that we stopped to ask, we found ourselves walking through the Reeperbahn area, home of Europe’s largest red light district. Although such places are usually known for strip clubs and brothels, this area of Germany is also where many of the best bars and nightclubs are located. We ended up spending two of our nights there enjoying the club scene and meeting locals.
As for Berlin, we trekked three hours on a bus to arrive at our hotel, where we stayed for one night. While there, we spent a wonderful afternoon walking along each side of one of the largest remaining sections of the Berlin Wall. In the background, live music from street performers played as we admired the graffiti and street art. It created the ideal atmosphere for viewing the striking and metaphorical murals.
We were also lucky enough to have been in Berlin at the same time as one of our SAS friend’s fathers, who was there on a business trip. He invited us to dinner at a lovely restaurant where we ate delicious traditional German food while we shared stories about our experiences on the voyage so far, our studies and majors, and our families. The next day we traveled to the main gate area of the wall (as was suggested by our friend’s father) and enjoyed the street fair that was organized as a part of the Berlin Music Festival.
However, these adventures also amounted to quite an expense. The German economy is currently thriving which is certainly great for the people who live there, but is definitely a pocket pincher for tourists/visitors. We weren’t thrilled about the required fee to use public restrooms or the extra charge for condiments in restaurants. However, we were happy to find that their metro works on an honor system, which means that you are expected to buy tickets but you are not checked for them or required to scan them for every ride. Needless to say, we took a chance and went on a few free rides.
Regardless of the prices, it was still an awesome experience and fun port visit. I ate plenty of schnitzel and drank a few German beers (which they even sell in some of their McDonald’s locations!). I also scratched my head at the length of some German words and became used to quickly jumping out of the way when I heard a high-pitched “ding, ding” of a bicycle bell behind me. I genuinely had a great time and would love to return to Deutschland in the future. 🙂