As I mentioned in my first blog post, I have traveled a fair bit this summer across much of Northern Europe.
With most Belgian companies going on vacation during July and August, including EU-related organizations, I headed back home to Sweden for two weeks.
In my quest to minimize travel costs I found a €3 (yes, three euros) flight from Brussels to Hamburg with Ryanair, from where I could catch a later flight to Gothenburg. The only caveat was that I would have to spend the day in Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city.
Hamburg, much like Gothenburg, is famous for being a left-leaning industrial port city. The city recently held the G20 Summit, which was accompanied by a fair share of protests, although I did not see any of the after effects of them.
Hamburg is also home to two famous German football clubs: Hamburger SV, the only club to play in every season of the Bundesliga, and FC St. Pauli, which currently plays in the 2. Bundesliga and is famous for its fans and working class culture.
After taking the train from Hamburg Airport to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (you can buy an all-day public transportation ticket for only €6, and you can store luggage at the airport for €5 per day), I made my way to HafenCity, Hamburg’s large port area.
Upon arrival I was immediately struck by the enormous brown brick buildings which adorn the HafenCity. Building after building, block after block, these majestic buildings continued to appear. Some are museums, but most are actively used by businesses, including some that comprise the Hanseatic Trade Center. These buildings are even more impressive when you consider that many of the older ones were destroyed and later rebuilt after 1945, as Hamburg was nearly completely destroyed in 1943.
Slowly but surely I made my way through this area towards the newly built Elbphilharmonie, which opened in January. While my layover was too short and my wallet too thin for a visit inside, one day I would love to go to a performance in that magnificent Opera House.
The rest of my day was spent wandering the very hot streets of Hamburg, perusing through shops, cafes, restaurants, and other tourist attractions. As it was a warm summer day the city was filled with tourists from all corners of Germany and the world. Numerous vendors where selling ice cream, which was especially appreciated on this day.
For anyone who has yet to visit Hamburg, I highly recommend it. The city far surpassed my expectations, and I look forward to going back there in the future for a proper visit.
While not all travel situations can accommodate a long layover, my ten hours in Hamburg taught me that, if possible, taking a later flight back home will always be worth it if it means exploring a new city. A few hours will never be enough to properly experience a city, but those hours can give you a significant insight into a city.
I look forward to having many more long layovers in the future!