Moin! Moin! For the past week the whole group has been exploring Hamburg. We were lucky to have a few days of sunshine, but most days we stayed bundled up in our coats and scarves. Sometimes we found a little café in which to warm up or perhaps, more importantly, to use the restroom. There were definitely several times that a few of us really missed free restrooms back in the States. However, one thing that challenged a few of us even more than trying to locate a restroom was the doors. Yes, this may seem ridiculous, but to open a door by pushing it or pulling it was always a question. Hence, we quickly learned two more words in German: drücken (to push) and ziehen (to pull). These two simple words made our lives a little less of a struggle.
Educationally, while we were in Hamburg, we toured an old Jewish cemetery and the Hamburg History Museum, which both helped enhance our previous Paideia 450 class discussions. It was interesting to learn about how Hamburg had two groups of Jews, the Portuguese Jews and the German Jews, who both shared the same religion but were completely culturally separated. My favorite historical place we toured as a group was St. Nicholas’ Church. This church was mostly destroyed by bombs during World War II, but parts of the church still stand today. The city keeps what is left standing of the church as a memorial of World War II.
In addition to all its history, Hamburg has many other opportunities waiting. We had the opportunity to tour Miniatur Wunderland. This place was amazing and is known for the largest model railway system of its kind. Everything was obviously small here but, more impressively, it was built to scale and extremely detailed. In the trains and apartments, we could see people reading newspapers, talking, sleeping, eating, etc. Also, to keep us on our toes, the designers included random things such as elephants on the highway or penguins at the beach. The displays included several places such as: Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Hamburg Airport, USA, etc. At the end we briefly saw all the technology and engineering that takes place every day in order for the displays to run appropriately. Miniatur Wunderland was rather impressive and I would say a highly recommended place to visit in Hamburg.
The other place that I 100% recommend touring is the Elbphilharmonie. This building is rather new and cost the city of Hamburg €780 million and €60 million in donations to build it. That’s only around €840 million…ONLY! I am not sure how happy the citizens of Hamburg are with how their taxes were spent, but I personally enjoyed it very much. The building consists of a parking garage, a hotel, outrageously expensive apartments, and two concert halls. We toured the concert halls and I was beyond impressed. Both the small and large halls had walls made up of curved wood panels to provide the best acoustics (which I know nothing about as I am not musically inclined at all). The chairs were designed to not absorb sound so performers can practice as if it was the day of the concert. The whole architecture and design of this building was simply amazing. We didn’t get to actually go to a concert, but I guess that’s just an excuse to go back to Hamburg.
Lastly, like any good tourist, we took a boat ride on the harbor. This was fun because we actually got to see them unloading and loading containers on the ships. One of the ships could hold some 19,000 containers, making the cost of shipping an iPad from China to Hamburg all of €0.16. That is crazy to me!
This past week in Hamburg was incredible and filled with fun experiences. There was also a lot of quality bonding time between the students, including a nice group dinner with some true German food. Also, don’t think we were just on vacation. We all did some studying since after all, we are all very diligent students. 😊 I hope you all enjoyed hearing some about our Hamburg trip! This was just a summary of some of the highlights.