Today we awoke to see that there had been a massive snowfall overnight, and that the trip to Hamburg might take a little longer than expected. We set out anyway, and made it out of the city in about thirty minutes. I knew that I would then get to drive on A10, which stands for autobahn 10. The autobahn is fantastic, even in a car that struggles to reach a nice cruising speed in top gear. Some spots in the road were a little rough because of the snow and ice, but for the most part, the motorways were clear.
We arrived in Hamburg, and right when we got here I had a bit of that same feeling I had when I visited Detroit last year. Hamburg seems like it might be on the decline, but that they are hoping to rebuild. The only reason I say that is because of the relatively few people on the roads and walking, as compared to Düsseldorf.
The hotel is nice, but it is completely the opposite feel of the one from which we just departed. The Artus had a very cozy, bed-n-breakfast feel to it, while the Commodore in Hamburg is much larger and has a business / corporate feel. The only problem so far is that they are having trouble with the wifi on the upper floors, but it works just fine in the lobby. The receptionist said that they hope to have it fixed by tomorrow morning.
Once we got all of our things up to the room, we decided to go visit a town that is northeast of Hamburg called Lübeck. Unlike the metropolitan city of Hamburg, Lübeck is much more of a quaint, rural town. I haven’t looked it up yet, but I think that it is also home to a university, as there were many student-age young adults walking around with backpacks, and several halls that seemed like they might house lecturers for classes. Lübeck is incredibly serene, and the scenery is gorgeous. As I was looking for a particular restaurant, this cat randomly came up to me and started rubbing up against my leg. I knelt down to pet her, and after I had done so for a minute, she seemed satiated and went about her business roaming and being nomadic.
There were many different ethnic restaurants up and down the small and somewhat quiet streets. We ended up eating at an Italian place called Ristorante Ecco. I had a simple penne alla bolognese, which was very nice, and the bread was freshly baked right in front of us in a brick oven. For dessert, nothing came close to the Tartufo Nero, which is a traditional Italian specialty. It is a ball of vanilla gelato surrounded by a coating of chocolate gelato, then dusted with cocoa powder, drizzled with chocolate sauce and caramel. Traditionally, though, it is rolled in hazelnuts, but this one was not. Overall, a nice meal. On the language barrier side of things, we were in an Italian restaurant in Germany trying to read a menu that was in two languages, neither of which we understood. It was a challenge…
Once we got back we had to go see the Reeperbahn, which is an odd district adjacent to the city centre that is known for its scandalous shops and activities. Some refer to it as “the sinful mile.” It is basically a somewhat rundown, neon sign-infested street filled with adult shops, strip clubs, and street-walking prostitutes. Though these activities weren’t enticing in the least, there were also some neat places to sit and have a cup of coffee or tea.
Lastly, we stopped by the JET gas station and picked up a bottle of orangensafe (orange juice) for the morning, and headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow will be the full day in Hamburg (and probably Lübeck again), and then it will be off to Amsterdam (which I can say instead of Amsterdarn [more appropriate when there are children around]). 😉 (I know, I know, it was a completely lousy joke).