I am at Hamburg main train station as I write this. It is the end of my first full 24 hours in the city after arriving from Freiburg. I didn’t know I would decisively go to Hamburg until Thursday afternoon. This meant no hostel reservations and no notice to acquaintances that I am arriving.
I arrived yesterday and checked in a 0.5 star hotel, the nearest and cheapest one that I can afford near the train station. As they say, you get what you pay for. I didn’t expect five-star hotel accommodations. To begin with, I heard sirens when I made my reservation via phone. I did not expect that it is the same sound that would greet me as I cross the street to my hotel and that I would hear for the rest of the night. I heard somewhere that there was a demonstration last night. It must be that, or the police station and hospital is really near my hotel. The street that face my window must be the route that connects the police station and the hospital to the rest of the city. If not sirens, it’s some shouting from across the street or the zooming of cars passing by that keeps me shifting from neverland and Hamburg. Is it for this reason they say ‘sleep sound’?
As I expected from my 0.5-star hotel, they don’t have space for me to deposit my luggage when I checked out this morning. They must have did this on purpose because they know there is a luggage storage area at the main train station just a few steps away. I think the same logic applies for their not having internet connection- an internet cafe is 10 steps away from their doorstep. It was closed though the whole time I needed it. I am now using one of those computer stations that require you to buy 2€ tickets which contain a username and password for an hour’s use of internet.
These mishaps haven’t dampened my first day in Hamburg though. Besides, it is just my first day, and things should go better in the next six months! Armed with my camera, a three-day ticket, and a sandwich I sneaked out during breakfast from my 0.5-star hotel, I set forth with my journey. Just to remain consistent with the theme of this post, I have no itinerary to begin with. I got on an U-bahn, waited for five minutes for it to leave, and got off 30 seconds later as it reached the next station- Rathaus. As I emerged to the Rathausplatz I followed the general direction of the crowd to the Alster. I have a surreal memory of this area. The first time I was here, I saw pigeons walking on water. This was last New Year’s Eve when winter was swinging high (or low). I took a break here and tried to call prospective flats that I can visit. Out of the three I tried to contact, all were unsuccessful. It is either they cannot pick up the phone or refuse to reply to my SMS. I have been warned of the difficulty to find a place to stay here in Hamburg, but not the lack of phone courtesy!
Once done with thís chore, I just started to enjoy my time and took lots of photos. I covered by foot the half a kilometer route between the Rathaus and the Speicherstadt. The beautiful weather was just not worth missing in the safety of a bus or a U-bahn. And besides, I didn’t know which bus or U-bahn to take. Speicherstadt translates to ‘warehouse’. The brown-bricked warehouse that bound the channels of the Elbe river lend a historic feel. Highlight this earth color with gold and bold letters of the businesses that have called Speicherstadt their home and you’ve got one of the most expensive quarters of Hamburg. I spent a good two hours in the area, alternating walking and picture-taking. Afterwards I met up with a guy in his flat who was advertising a room, and yes, in Speicherstadt. He couldn’t have described his place any better. His flat cannot get as any close to the place where I will do my internship. It is literally beside the building where he is living. I sounded a bit desperate while we were chatting, which is because I am desparate. If I get to live there, it would incur me a record-breaking time of 20 second to get to the door-step of my office building, or vice-versa.
I returned to the Rathausplatz. This time it was more alive than early this morning when I left it. A bio-cum-sustainable expo was set up. Bio-marmalade, bio-müsli, bio-house, err, passive house- you name it, the bio-market has it. When I felt it was getting too healthy, I traced my step to the place where I might be spending the night, from the train, to the streets, to the location of the lifts. In less than an hour, I will be taking the U-bahn again and dragging my at least 20-kilogram luggage and about seven-kilogram backpack, which, come to think of it, basically makes up my life.