This trip to Hamburg was to visit our most recent German children, Tim and Vivi. Tim and Vivi came to live with us by surprise when the apartment they rented through Craigslist turned out to be a scam. We were in Florida when the company called to say that after paying in advance for the non-existent apartment, these kids were now homeless! We sent Carina over to let them in, give them a key and show them around. We met them a week later when we returned from Florida. Tim and Vivi stayed with us for 6 months and were absolutely delightful! When they left in July, they took as much luggage as they could with them, but everything they brought plus all of the shopping they did meant they had to leave about 80 pounds of "stuff" behind.
We already had a trip planned to Germany for August so we added a slight diversion to Hamburg to visit the kids and take them the rest of their luggage. We got great seats on the Atlanta-Frankfurt flight and planned to connect with a 10AM Lufthansa flight to Hamburg.
Delta took a 2 hour delay so we missed our connection, but Lufthansa flies Frankfurt to Hamburg once an hour so we had no worries!
We NEVER check bags so we had under calculated the connection time anyway. By the time we picked up the luggage, we couldn't even make the noon connection to Hamburg. We were very impressed with Lufthansa's kiosk and bag check process. When we checked in to stand by for the noon flight using our record locator, the kiosk informed us that it was not possible to travel on that flight and allowed us to check in for the next available flight at 1:00PM. We were assigned seats at the kiosk and directed to check our luggage at the automated luggage check.
Lufthansa flight attendants handed us a shortbread cookie while boarding and offered us drinks in the air on the short 1 hour flight.
We, again, had to wait for the luggage to arrive before we were greeted by Tim who picked us up in his mom's Mini! We were all rather surprised to be able to fit 3 people and all of the luggage in the tiny car!
Tim took us to our hotel (The Reichshof Hamburg, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton) directly across from the train station.
After settling in, Tim took us to a really pretty area on Lake Alster.
The weather was spectacular, which Tim said was unusual for Hamburg, so lots of folks were outside enjoying the weather.
We admired the HUGE swans which Tim warned would bite!
We stopped for a bier at the floating restaurant Galatea and then walked around a bit, sightseeing.
There are some beautiful buildings and canals in the area.
We met Vivi at the Marina near the Ferry she takes to work and then drove to Vapiano to meet Tim's mom for dinner.
Vapiano had a neat concept for ordering and paying for your food. You were given a card at the door and then there were stations where you could order things. You placed your card on a reader at the station and whatever you ordered was added to the card, then you could turn in the card and pay when you left.
There wasn't room for all of us in the mini, so Vivi took the train and Tim's mom dropped the rest of us at Tim and Vivi's apartment. They have an adorable little two room flat that they are just getting settled in. We visited for a few minutes and then jetlag set in and we decided it was time for us to head back to the hotel.
Tim and Vivi walked us to the train station and directed us which train to take. I took a photograph of the train station so we would remember where to return to the next morning.
It was a 12 minute ride back and short walk back to our hotel.
We spent a few minutes online figuring out how to purchase our train tickets to Cologne. If we had bought them before we left home, we could have saved about 30 Euro, but when flying standby, we are never completely sure of our destination so we waited. We still saved about 30 Euro over a same-day purchase. Since we didn't have a printer, BJ downloaded the DB app for her phone to store the ticket information.
We slept well and had breakfast at the slowman restaurant. As Diamond Hilton Honors Members (Thank you Citi-bank Hilton Honors VISA), the 21 Euro breakfast was complimentary for us. Bacon, eggs, 2 cups of cappuccino for me, bread, jam and Diet Coke for Tony.
We collected Tim and Vivi's bags (One 50 lb and one 30 lb) from the bellman and went to the Hauptbahnhof Sud Metro station on the U1 line. As we puzzled over the map, a very nice lady gave us directions to find the right track. The escalators were not in service so we had to lug the heavy bags up and down several sets of steps! We took the metro to the Kellinghusenstrasse station and then walked several blocks to Tim and Vivi's apartment.
Tony carried the 30 lb bag up the 3 flights of stairs to the apartment but we left the 50 lb bag at the bottom for Tim to retrieve!
We rested a bit at the apartment before striking out for our day's adventure which entailed renting a paddle boat on Lake Alster. We stopped by the grocery store to pick up some beer and snacks to enjoy on the boat.
We rented a boat from Isekai and started out with Tim and BJ peddling and Tony relaxing in the back. Tony and BJ swapped places and BJ relaxed in the back.
We picked up Tim's friend Peer somewhere along the way. Peer and Tim pedaled for awhile. We made it past the beautiful bridge to Lake Alster and toasted our success with a local Astra brew. It was surprisingly refreshing, even warm!
We swapped again so Tony and BJ could pedal. We stopped to feed the ducks. Tony let them eat out of his hand even though Tim warned that they would bite.
We returned the boat (2.5 hours @ 17 Euro/hour) and had a beverage at Cafe Isekai.
We walked to Schramme and had just ordered a drink when we saw Vivi approaching. We were delighted that she had gotten out of work early and was able to join us for a drink before dinner.
We returned to Cafe Isekai and had a nice dinner of Schnitzel overlooking the water.
We said our goodbyes to Tim and Vivi and promised to see each other soon.
Back at the hotel, we had a nightcap sitting in front of the hotel.
We had another nice (free) breakfast at the slowman restaurant on our final morning in Hamburg before crossing the street to the train station for our 8:45AM train to Cologne. We were able to secure seats in the Bord Bistro car for the train ride! Stay tuned for the rest of our adventure in Cologne and beyond!