Hamburg was quick. We were only there for two nights, which really translates into one full day. And that full day happened to be a Sunday - not the most notorious of days for travel/sightseeing. However, we tried to use the best of our day, and started out from the hotel at around 0930h. Thehotel was situated in a more residential area, but right near a LIDL food shop and a 15 seat bakery and cafe. That morning, we opted for the 4€ hotel breakfast - bad call in retrospect. Anyway, after eating and organizing ourself, off we trotted.
We decided to walk into the main centre of town from the Hotel, without really knowing where we were going. We followed a road in the westerly direction, and walked through a series of residential, commercial, construction, and industrial sections. Went by a skate park and saw a "cool" dad go in with two boy-children (his sons probably). Passed by an office building that was somehow associated with Hamburg Water Power - it had 3 large water mains under a glass walkway. We kept on, still not knowing where we really were, and ended up arriving right at a hot air balloon ride. It wasn't really a hot air balloon, and it wasn't really a ride. It was more rigid than a helium balloon, and was connected to the ground by a giant hydraulic winch. It *could* carry 30 people, but we got lucky with only 2 others and a conductor. We got to see an air view of Hamburg, and it's quite neat from above. There are older church's and public building's roofs of copper; interestingly shaped buildings that conform to preexisting structures, canals and street curves; the harbour area and the lake that Hamburg conforms around. The we came down.
We left the suspended stage, and wandered through the surrounds streets, looking for coffee. We spend a lot of out time looking for coffee. For some reason, I'm compelled to walk past the first 7 places we see. Anyway, we discovered the main shopping strip and wandered up an down that for a bit. We finally translated a sign that was in every window to mean the street would Open on this Very Special Sunday for a Variety of Tax Free Shopping from 1300h to 1600h. But at the moment it was deserted. Before the mania started, we headed towards the lake. Itwas quite nice. It's a small lake (larger than Central Park Reservoir (Onassis?), with sailing, rowing a fountain and at least 4 kinds of aquatic bird (duck, goose, swan, and some little sharp beaked black diving guy) and a fountain. There are canal boats that are moored where one can get a cup of tea for 4.50€ (Ha! no!). The view of Hamburg is quite nice from the lakeside. One sees the old 5 storey residential buildings, with a mix of new glass and steel and construction cranes. We passed by one business, advertised as a "Maitre Chauffeurier". There was a SMART car parked outside.
At the end of the lake was another shopping strip - this time boutique - that followed a canal. It intersected the Rathaus square - the Town Hall of Hamburg. Hamburg's seemingly official name sounds like a duke's title. We went into the Rathaus, and saw an editorial exhibition of "offensive" cartoons (most pertained to the peeve talks between Israel and Palestine). The building's architecture is quite ornate. There are gilded doors, wrought iron decorative doors, lions (always need a good lion and a fountain in the Rathaus courtyard of some lady with a bunch of anthropomorphized ideas. My favourite decorative touch was a fearsome foursome of fantastic beasts - unicorn, sphinx, capricorn and griffon.
After the Rathaus, we wandered some more and ended back up on the shopping strip. Instead of being two of ten, we were in a herd. Basically, it was a regional tourism free-for-all. The LEGO store was open, and had to be visited. I saw the Architecture series, completed and in person, for the first time. Disappointed. We sussed out snowboard packages for Matt (reasonable cost), looked at some electronics (image the biggest Future Shop, and then multiply it by five) and sat in front of the Steiff Teddybär gallery (whoah). We left the crazy shopping area, and decided we would start walking home. There was this small area of the city that was on 5 canal islands. Walking through, we saw a pre-production Mercedes station wagon, and commercial complexes that had canal access and in beautiful restored buildings. Matt compared it to Gotham City. I say it probably has less crime and less Batman. Out of the islands, we headed closer to the river side to walk along the industrial harbour. Then Matt saw the Prototyp Museum. Of Cars. Of German Racing History and Cars. Not one to pass up an opportunity of education, I allowed him to run gleefully in. We even paid to take pictures! It actually was very interesting. Matt was taking a bunch of pictures of the cars, so I took pictures of him.
It was three floors of F1, production cars, art and history. Dorked out, we then grabbed a late lunch/early dinner of unmemorable panini and headed home on the underground.
Then we did the usual. Paid for wifi, checked our email. And then we figured out the scam.