Hamburg and the Hometown

Since the start of August I have traveled from the very north to the very south of Germany – from Hamburg to Switzerland. Hamburg is an important shipping center located on the Elbe River and the second largest city in Germany. During our stay in Heidelberg at the beginning of July, Natalie (another DAAD student here in Marburg) and I had met other DAAD students located in Hamburg that invited us to stay a weekend in August. Initially we joked about going up to visit them, but then we figured why not take the weekend off to explore Hamburg?! After a four hour ride north, we finally arrived to the Hauptbahnhof and trekked our way to our hostel. As it was very late and we hadn’t had much to eat, nor did we know much of the city, our only real option was the McDonalds at the station. But I ended up getting a souvenir coca-cola glass so all was well. The next morning we made our way to where the DAAD students lived. We dropped off our bags and began exploring the city. Our first stop was the botanical gardens:

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We then made our way through the Altstadt, wandering through the historic buildings and churches. To our surprise, it was also pride weekend, and the whole city seemed to have gotten behind the festivities:

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After a walk around the town, we made our way down to the harbor. I loved the old shipping docks and the red brick buildings.

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We stopped for a quick drink and then finally reached our destination: “Miniatur Wunderland”. The museum houses the world’s largest railroad model collection. The attention to detail and the artistry was simply amazing. People from all ages and walks of life were equally mesmerized by all the trains, figurines, and the scenery. The inner child in everybody came out.

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Time went by very quickly in the Wunderland. We hadn’t noticed that over two hours had already gone by when we left the museum. I highly recommend visiting the Miniatur Wunderland to anyone visiting Hamburg! After the museum, we kept walking along the harbor to the new neighborhood of HafenCity. This modern neighborhood is a great blend between new and old, right on the water. You can see huge barges and shipping docks all along the edges. The new opera house especially seemed to embody this theme.

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As it was very warm outside, we decided to stop by the lake and enjoy the nice weather on our way back into town.

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In the evening we met up with the other DAAD student in the botanical garden once again, where we enjoyed a spectacular light and fountain show that occurs every night at 10pm.

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That evening with about 15 other DAAD students, we celebrated Tyler’s birthday. The next morning, sore from all the walking we had done the day before, we decided to hit the beach! The “beach” is really a long strip of sand and rocks that runs along the Elbe River. A short ferry ride from the docks of the city takes you right to the beach.

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The sunny skies and warm weather made for a perfect day of sunbathing and relaxing while entertaining ourselves by watching large ships unload their containers.

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Once back at the main ferry station we visited the old Elbtunnel that runs underneath the river.

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Saturday evening we rallied all the DAAD students once again and headed over to the infamous Reeperbahn, or the red light district. But first, we stopped by the harbor once again to take in the beautiful view of the “Blue Harbor”.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, and was then surprised at all the flashing lights filled with tourists, bachelor(ette) parties and seasoned partygoers.

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At around 5am, we reassembled our group and headed down to the Altona fish market.

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Of course, we weren’t the only ones with that idea. Once the fish market opened at 5am, the party continued with a Rock band taking over the stage and all hungry party people eating raw fish sandwiches. I wasn’t a fan of the sandwich at first to be honest, but when it is 5am and you are starving, it was just enough to hit the spot.

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The next morning, after only a few hours of sleep, we decided to have a lazy morning and relax in the botanical gardens. We stumbled upon a jazz concert in the park and enjoyed some music before packing up our things and making our way back to Marburg.

Visiting the Homeland

This past weekend, I finally managed to visit my family in Switzerland!! My Aunt Yvonne and Uncle Peter picked me up from the station after arriving in Zug Thursday Afternoon.

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After settling in, my Uncle Roger and Aunt Sybille joined us for a traditional Swiss dinner of Alpenmakronen and Stiär Biär, of which my uncle is a distributor. Friday morning we drove to Schwyz and visited the history of Switzerland museum, as it is important for me to know about the origins of my people of course.

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Friday evening, we had a large Hegglin dinner! It was wonderful to see all of my extended Swiss family once again. Saturday it rained again…for the third day in a row…I had forgotten how Swiss summers tends to have April weather. With a cloudy overcast sky, our entertainment for the day was to go see Planet of the Apes. In the evening, I relocated to Ägeri, where we had another typical Swiss meal for dinner: Raclette. Raclette is a Swiss cheese that you heat up with a special grill, and is absolutely delicious.  

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Sunday morning we made the hour long drive to the Klausenpass up in the Swiss Alps to visit the passmarkt. My aunt and uncle had a station set up in the market from the Suyana foundation that sells homemade crafts from a workers in Bolivia. The rest of the market mostly featured typical Swiss cheeses and meats, all of which was amazing. After sampling all of the cheese and meat varieties, we had basically had had our lunch. Of course the views were absolutely spectacular.

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Thankfully it was finally a beautiful day with clear skies. It had been a long time since I had smelled air that fresh from the mountains. But sadly, it was time to drive back down the mountains and drop me off at the train station, where I said my goodbyes and made my way back to Marburg.

This week is my last week here! My mission for tonight and tomorrow is to wrap up my work, clean the apartment, pack, and get ready to go back to New York. School starts in a week, scary thought!!

Last time from Marburg,

Miri

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