Hamburg: A Vibrant Port City

Can one find beauty in a view of an industrial port city harbor? Today I found out the answer and it wasn't quite what I expected.

Breakfast this morning was outside overlooking the canals between the old mill buildings where we are staying.  Flat bottom canal boats filled with tourists glided by and it looked like a pleasant way to spend the morning.

We walked down to the city harbor crossing over several small canals and we were not alone. Hundreds of families were strolling about, eating at cafes, and hopping  onto harbor cruises. The harbor boat we chose was an English language tour. I thought it would just be cruising around the harbor, but instead it took us on a guided tour of Hamburg's port and container terminals.  Hamburg  is the second largest container port in Europe. Ships from all over the world load and unload their cargo here. We saw enormous cranes unloading cargo bins as if they were tiny Legos.  A ship can travel from Hamburg to Singapore via the Suez Canal, in 60 days. 

Lunch was in the shadow of the sailing ship Rickmer Rickmers.  Two men in a 10x5 foot trailer prepared salads, curry wurst, and ice cream drinks.  The ship which is now a museum once sailed all over the world. When it was restored in the 1980s, a surprise was discovered- 11 old cannons were used as ballast in the mid 1800s. Up on the top deck the ship was offering a challenge for adventurers- climb the mast for a panoramic view. We saw a young teenage girl try it and she scampered right up there.

Heading back to the hotel we stopped at St. Michael's Church, a Lutheran church. Behind it was a small street with half timbered houses. This is a rare treasure for the city as much of it was destroyed during WWII.

Dinner tonight was at Block Brau. It's a traditional beer hall right on the harbor with a rooftop terrace. Across the street, up on a hill, we noticed an old world hotel with a cafe overlooking the harbor.  The steep climb was well worth the reward- coffee at a table with a magnificent view. Looking out at the harbor I spotted the hundreds of cranes we had seen today moving cargo on and off the ships. Had I not seen them up close in action, I probably would have thought they marred the landscape, but from our perch they earned my respect as a vital part of global trade.  Hamburg is a beautiful city. I lit a candle in the church today hoping that both of my sisters can come here and see it too.


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