Hamburg's Past and Present
Just down the block from our hotel this morning we noticed a huge Costa Cruise ship, the Costa Romantica, docked in what must be a very deep but narrow inlet. With several thousand passengers aboard, we wondered how everyone would decide to spend just one day they had in port. Hamburg is a bustling thriving port city, but it has had its challenges too. Today we got to find out what life was like for people here during WWII.
Some people think that churches were spared from bombing during WWII, but but this is not true. St. Nicholas Church once had the tallest steeple in the world. It was a beautiful stone church with hand carved statues and mosaics, but sadly much of it was destroyed in one night of bombing during WWII. However, through the interest and generosity of people, today the steeple tower is behind scaffolding and being completely restored to its former glory. We got to ride up on the outside of it on a glass elevator and the view from the top through the scaffolding was breathtaking.
In the shadow of the museum is a small museum that tells the story of life for the people of Hamburg during WWII through postcards, pictures, stories, artifacts, and brochures. We learned about how the city prepared itself for war and what involvement Germany had in bombing other places in Europe as well. A simple tin box of cigarettes told the story of how one young girl and her friend used them to barter for rides on bikes out of the city to safety. Another display showed a child's game about air raid safety.
One building that did survive the war was the city hall. We took the English language tour to see some of the historical paintings and rooms. After the tour we walked a promenade of almost identical tables and umbrellas until we saw one serving lunch. Until they brought the menu, we had no idea what they served, but it turned out to be wonderful. It was Syrian and we enjoyed an artistically designed plate of sesame falafel balls and a farm fresh salad. The bread basket had wafer thin pita and delicious humus, Coffee arrived with tiny pieces of baklava. It was the best meal we have had in Europe.
Hamburg has two small lakes in the middle of it. As we looked out over the smaller lake with its tall geyser in the middle, a woman tried to present me with a yellow rose. Knowing it's a scam I refused, but an elderly German woman beside me smiled brightly and said an enthusiastic and sincere "Danke!" Her smile quickly faded when the woman demanded money, With a frown, she thrust it back and that was the end of the rosé scam for both of us. The small lake, while a refuge from city life is not necessarily impressive in my opinion because it appears to have a retaining wall all around it.