After our admittedly terrible direct flight to Europe from Mexico, we landed mid-day in Frankfurt, Germany. It was morning for us–but 2pm for them! We found a cheap Germany car rental in advance, and after picking it up at the airport we were on our way.
First stop? Food! Sadly, we stopped at the first recognizable food we could find: McDonalds. It also had a play place for the kids…a great release for their pent-up energy after our long flight. Did you know that when you are done with your food at McDonalds in Germany, that you don’t throw your trash in a big garbage can? Nope–you deposit your tray in one of these handy devices:
My guess is that they then have a staff member sort the trash into paper/plastic/glass/metals, for recycling purposes. I love how eco-friendly Germany is!
As we were driving north to Hamburg (about 5 hours North of Frankfurt), we discovered that our European map we had bought for our Garmin GPS wasn’t working. GREAT. We therefore arrived in Hamburg with only a street name and address, and a general idea of where in the city we should find this street. And of course our phone died before we could call our friend in Germany and tell her we were there, and ask for directions.
After driving around for about an hour, we finally found our pre-arranged rental apartment for the next 4 days. We found a place through Airbnb.com for about $110 a night, which is a steal in a city like Hamburg (hotel rooms won’t allow you to have 3 children in one room–and they require you to purchase 2 rooms! And since hotel rooms are more expensive than this rental per night, it wasn’t looking pretty)! Our rental was a beautiful 1 bedroom place in the heart of a lot of Hamburg action, but on a quiet street. It was perfect!
We stayed up for several more hours visiting with our German friends, and when we finally crashed, we were certainly all ready for a full-night’s sleep, even though it was only 4pm Mexican time.
In the morning, we found the kids still sleeping away…
We set of to return our rental car, and stopped to fill up gas on the way. This is what a gas station pump can look like in Germany:
We dropped off the car rental, and immediately headed down to the Subway, the U-Bahn, that runs throughout Hamburg. A day pass for 5 people costs 9.90 Euro, and gives you unlimited travel on the U-Bahn, the S-Bahn (the bus), and their boat system, as well. It is a good deal!
We took the next train to Hamburg’s Central Station, which was a sight to behold!
The Station was immense, and had many different sections, as well as a seemingly endless amount of stores and restaurants. A Chinese-food lunch for all five of us cost a mere 8 Euro–not bad!
What a gorgeous central station!
We walked down to the nearby shopping district *across the street), stopping every 20 feet to take photos of the gorgeous buildings.
Hamburg is a college town, and I was impressed by the wonderful oboe and bassoon players performing on the street. When someone plays quality music, $$ must be donated!
We walked South of the main station on a big walking-only street, Spitalerstrasse, a street littered with European big-name stores and restaurants. We came across St. Peter’s Church, a beautiful old church that was restored in the mid 1800′s (restored–yes–because it dated back to the 11th Century)!
Behind the chapel was a cute old building with windows that twisted up its side.
We also found a fancy children’s store, where we purchased the cheapest and smallest stroller they had in stock (75 Euros–ouch!). We had hoped to travel Europe without a stroller (since we left several behind in the states), but it was a ridiculous dream that two of our three children would walk without assistance. Jako is a great children’s store to check out in Germany, if you are in need of anything!
A look down the street gave us gorgeous views of the city’s towering old buildings, and the large Hamburg Rathaus City Hall.
This building was also erected in the mid 1800′s, after a huge fire in Hamburg took out a large part of these downtown buildings. The City Hall is enormous and has 647 rooms on last count.
In the 1970′s the 647th room was discovered by accident, after a paper fell behind a filing cabinet, which led to the discovery of a hidden room. It is believed there may be additional rooms yet to be discovered!
We didn’t know it at the time of our visit, but during normal business hours you can go inside the building, and there are many gorgeous rooms to see. Next time!
Sorry for so many pictures of this building…but isn’t it gorgeous?!
We walked further down the street along the waterfront, where there were some high-end stores and restaurants.
Looking back on the City Hall…
Some cool transportation in Hamburg, if the subway is not your thing:
But the Subway suited us just fine. It was clean, efficient, and found everywhere!
After walking and walking, we were worn out and so we caught the subway back to the neighborhood of our rental apartment. The Schanze District in Hamburg is quite hip, with cute boutiques and endless cafes that are frequented by a college crowd. I found the temporary cheese-trucks to be a fun addition to the already-busy street.
The Schanze district has gorgeous and colorful buildings, with bakeries to stuff yourself with all of the amazing German pastries and bread, and small little produce shops to pick up some berries on your way home!
Do you like Germany?! More is on the way!