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Hamburg, Boat and Bus Tour

December 11-14, 2008

Written December 20

Written December 20

Dear Friends and Families,


We took two tourist tours in Hamburg, one by boat and one by bus. Each was fun and, although we haven't done these "city tours" in quite awhile, we were reminded that it can be the best introduction to any new city, particularly one as large as Hamburg


Not far from our hotel, on the Jungfernsteig pier in the Inner Alster ("Binnenalster), there are several boats available for short excursions along the inner and outer lake. The older boats have been converted into a restaurant, a theater, and a pair of "bakery boats" where kids can take cooking lessons. I suppose this is a special Christmas event, but it looked like a lot of fun. There is also an old steam-power boat that goes along the same route we took.

Our boat was modern, with lots of glass and a small, outside stern deck. ( ATG Alster-Touristik - http://www.alstertouristik.de ) The seasonal spiced wine was available and it filled the inside of the boat with Christmas cheer.

What did we see? On the Binnenalster, we saw downtown Hamburg, a pleasant skyline without skyscrapers. Only church steeples and the tower of city hall punctuated the horizon. Along the Außenalster (Outer Alster), we saw all the wonderful places where one could live in Hamburg, with enough money and old-time family connections. A good place to look for dream houses.

Along the way, we passed under a few of Hamburg's 2,500 bridges. The guide told us that Venice, Paris, Amsterdam, and London together only have 1,800, making Hamburg the bridge champion of the world.

There are many other boat trips, mostly up and down the Elbe River , where one can see Hamburg harbor, the second busiest in Europe. Next time.

Our tour boat was not a quaint old version, but it was pleasant and open and our guide was funny and informative(I think, since he only spoke German and I don't always understand)

Under busiest train bridge in Europe - 900 trains per day

No power boats allowed - except the tour boats such as the steam boat in the background.



The banks of the Outer Alster are filled with wonderful places to live -- if you are able to afford it.

Our favorite

Land cost in this neighborhood: 10,000 euros per square meter (about $1,400 per square foot)

U.S. Consulate. One of 97 consulates in Hamburg. Only New York and Hong Kong have more.



We really should have done the bus tour on our first day. Another lesson we need to learn over and over. Oh well.

Our big red bus ( Stadt Rundfahrt - http://www.hummelbahn.de ) picked us up in front of our hotel. In principle, we could have gotten on and off throughout the trip, but we had run out of time so we just stayed aboard. Besides, it was cold and gray and sitting in a (slightly) heated bus seemed a better idea.

The best part of the tour may have been the tour guide (who's name we forgot to get!) He was informative and funny, this time in both German and English. We asked him if he had lived in an English-speaking country in order to develop the language skills and he said no, he learned it from movies. In school, he hated studying English but later, when he got interested in movies and filming, the incentive changed. He noted that his slight Brooklyn accent comes from watching too much of The Sopranos.

Outside the bus windows, the city passed by, from the old street car bridge, built to carry dock works to and from work, out to the St. Pauli district. and back.
In St. Pauli. we passed the street that allows no women (other than those working there!) as well as the barber who, reportedly, created the Beetles hair style - or at least cut their hair when they were in town.


In the end, we had to leave the bus before our ride was over, just as we had to leave Hamburg before we had seen everything. We'll be back.


John and Marianne.


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