Most of those at the lunch met up again on 31st August to travel to
Hamburg for 4 days – yet another opportunity to practise our
our story, anyway!) Margaret
McDermott very efficiently arranged our
travel and booked us into an
excellent hotel (Hotel Baseler Hof)
within walking distance of all the
main sights and close to bus and underground stops.
During our stay we had ample opportunity to sample the
delights of this
truly interesting city.
Hamburg has proudly maintained its independence since
the Middle Ages when it was one of the
and even today it is an independent city state within the Federal
Republic, its parliament meeting in the ornate Renaissance-style town
You are constantly aware of its strong maritime traditions,
although it is some distance from the open sea.
No visit is complete
without a boat trip around the harbour where
a variety of vessels,
ranging from the most up-to-date container ships and tankers to sailing
ships and paddle steamers are on view.
Water is everywhere in Hamburg
and some parts of the city are reminiscent
of Venice with its numerous
canals and bridges. There are more bridges in Hamburg than in Paris,
Amsterdam and Venice put together.
Margaret, fortuitously, arranged for
us to be there at just the right
time, during the Alster
festival held the first weekend
of September along the shores of the Alster, Hamburg’s large
inner city lake.
There were pop concerts, shanty choirs, masses of
stalls selling crafts and foods of many nations and a firework
Unfortunately we had no real cause to sample the
culinary delights on offer as we were too well fed in the hotel. The
breakfasts were particularly splendid, though some balked at starting
the day with roll mops, smoked salmon and fishballs.
Although we did some things as a group, we often went our
to indulge our own particular interests. For three of us,
getting up at 5.30 on Sunday morning to visit the fish market (open
from 5 to 10 am) so as to get back in time for breakfast. Everything
imaginable is on sale and there are some amazing bargains in fruit and
vegetables, cheese and chocolate as well as all kinds of fish, all sold
with humour and flair by the extravert dealers with their humorous
patter. Some visited Hagenbecks
Zoo, the first in the world without
cages while others went to see the largest model
railway in the world
and the spice museum , both situated in the Speicherstadt
old warehouse district which now houses several interesting museums. A
highlight for most of us was a light show in a nearby park (called
un Blomen). Illuminated fountains danced in time to the music
of Greig – a free show every evening!
Our four days went by too quickly, and although we
managed to see
and do a lot, we have left much to enjoy on a future visit.