Wednesday, 28 February 2018


Last weekend I went on my first trip of the year to Hamburg. It is not somewhere which was particularly at the top of my must see places, but there is a little story behind how we ended up there. So you may remember last October, I went to Madrid with my best friends. I had a fabulous time, however the holiday was not quite as smooth as we had expected. It was the time where Ryanair cancelled tens of thousands of flights. We were the unlucky people who got hit with this and our flight back to Manchester got cancelled and we ended up flying back to London. Ryanair were not giving compensation due them offering us a flight back to the UK. They gave each flyer a voucher for £80 to spend on any flights before June 2018. At first, I was so angry that the flight was cancelled and vowed to never fly with them again. After the holiday, I had the usual holiday blues so on the last day possible me and my sister started searching flights. My sister is a teacher so is tied to school holidays. However, we found return flights from Manchester to Hamburg for both of us for just £56! We booked the flights on the whim, and decided if we did not want to go nothing would be lost. 

We decided nearer the time we really fancied going and booked our hotel at the Holiday Inn Express which cost us £120 for both of us for two nights. So really we only had to pay £60 each to get there and back, and have our accommodation covered. Our flights left Manchester at 06.35 in the morning, so it was a 3am wake up call for us. The flight was only one hour and 20 mins, and with the one hour time difference we arrived at 9am. We headed straight to the hotel after collecting our cases, to drop them off and recoup. The service from the hotel was exceptional as it was so early we thought we would have to put them in the suitcase room, but they had our room already ready. It was a spacious twin room with a lovely bathroom and all the basic necessities you need. The hotel was located in Lubecker Strasse, which was a great location. It was a little bit out of the city centre, but it is conveniently located just a five minute walk to two different u-bahn (underground tram) stations. To get into the city centre from the hotel there was a direct tram which was just three stops, an approximate 15 minute journey. From the airport we bought a ticket which cost €3.30 and there was a direct journey to the Landbehr s-bahn station, which was also just a short walk to the hotel.

We had already planned most of the trip before we went as we were literally in the city for just 48 hours. We had bought a guide book and had done quite a bit of research before we set off. Me and my sister love zoos there is no denying it and we love to visit them whenever we are able to. The zoo was called the Tierback Hagenback and is located in Stellingen. It was easy to get to, but as expected it took about 30 minutes to get to as it was outside the city centre. Both of the full days we were there we bought all day tram tickets that cost €6.70. When we arrived we discovered that there was also an aquarium attached the zoo, so we decided to buy the combination ticket for €30 for both attractions. 


The zoo was huge, much bigger than we thought it would be. It had so many amazing animals including some which I have never seen before including walruses and chinese leopards. I have been to quite a few zoos over the years all over the world, and this zoo had many endangered species including polar bears and red pandas. I was so excited at the prospect of seeing brown bears as they are such inquisitive animals, and I am a massive lover of paddington bear. However, they were not in their outdoor enclosure, and unfortunately you couldn't see their indoor one. Hamburg is a cold place and they had had some snow over the weekend before we arrived so there was quite a lot of ice in the park. We came to the conclusion for the safety of the animals, most of them were kept indoors.  

We had our first experience of German food at the zoo, as I had bratwurst and fries which tasted incredible. After the zoo which took us at least 5 hours to go round, it was time to head to the aquarium. It was once again massive; it had such a great array of sea life. There was a walkway all the way round where there was lots of different species of sea creatures from fish to turtles. There was also a huge cinema size tank which you could follow around the aquarium, you could also sit and watch all the creatures swimming by. It contained once again a variety of fish, but also stingrays and smaller sharks. It was mesmerising to see and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There was also a huge tank of jellyfish and my favourites the clown fish as I adore finding nemo.


After we had finished at the aquarium it was around 6pm and as it was a Sunday, we thought that if we went back into the city centre there would be nothing open during the Sunday trading. Therefore, we decided to head back to the hotel to recoup before heading out for our tea. When we were on our way back to the hotel we decided to go for a little walk, the hotel staff had said on our arrival that there were a number of restaurants on the street where the hotel was situated. There was a lovely little Italian we had stumbled across 2 minutes from the hotel, so decided we would go back there later in the evening to eat. As we had been up since 3am, we went to the restaurant at around 7.30pm. We both ate lasagnes and it was a lovely little restaurant with one man running everything. We strolled back to the hotel, and decided we would have a drink in the hotel lobby before heading to bed. We had a quick glance at the menu and quickly concluded it would cost €9 for a single vodka and lemonade. Me and my sister did that awkward glance at each other, and quickly backtracked and just ordered soft drinks. 

The next morning we woke up at 8am, and headed downstairs to the breakfast buffet which was included in our hotel booking. We had decided the night before that we would go on a bus tour of the city to see the sites at a glance, and would get off along the way if we saw anywhere where we wanted a further look. When we arrived we discovered the tours only ran every hour and we had just missed the start of one tour, so we had an hour to wait before the next one commenced. We did a quick Google search, and found out that Sephora was conveniently located just 5 minutes away. It is located inside a shopping department store called Galeria. It had a great array of different brands, and I obviously had to treat myself to a few things. A haul will be on the way in the next few weeks!

We finally made it on to the tour and we were able to see many of the main attractions Hamburg has to offer. First up, we saw the Hamburg Rathaus. This is the Hamburg's city hall and is the seats of government. It was built in the late 1800's, and has some amazing features. The building is a masterpiece, and is definitely the statement of the city.

St Paul's Church was beautiful and you are able to go inside for a further look. It was such a well kept church, and it has some gorgeous stained-glass windows inside. The architecture from the outside was timeless and I love how it has kept its original ornate features. 

Further around the tour we saw many more impressive buildings including the library, grand theatre and post office. On the tour we learnt that Hamburg is well known for its theatres, and the city hosts the largest number of theatre productions after New York and London.

The tour took nearly 2 hours to go around the entire circuit. After the tour had finished, we decided to head to the main shopping street called the Spitalerstrasse. We needed a drink so decided to nip into what looked like a very basic supermarket. We were very pleasantly surprised as we quickly got coaxed in by the chocolate aisle. It was so cheap and we decided to buy all of our souvenirs in here. We got caught up in the moment, and before I know it I had a basket and was heading down to the makeup aisle. Even though my basket was full I only spent €17. I am going to a German supermarket haul, as I honestly picked up so fabulous things. 

We then headed for a spot of shopping and stumbled across a huge shopping centre called Europa Passage which is located on the Monckebergstrasse. It had five floors, and lots and lots of shops mostly high street but some high end also. We spent a good hour wandering around here, and then went for some dinner at one of the cafes. By this time it was 4 o clock, and we decided to head to the higher end of the shopping parade called the Neuer Wall. We took a look in Abercrombie and Fitch, where my sister treated herself. I then went for a gander in Gucci, as those sneakers will be mine at some point. 

The weather over both days in the cities was very cold. The temperature was about 1 degree celsius, and there was a constant bitter wind. However, we were just glad there was no snow or rain, and the weather was actually quite bright and pleasant. We just made sure we wrapped up warm. To warm up a little we headed to Starbucks for a quick tea break, and took a little time to recoup. 

We had decided we would treat ourselves and go to The Hard Rock Cafe for our last meal. We usually have to wait a while as they are always so busy, but we only had a 20 or so minute wait. Yes it is overpriced, but I always thoroughly enjoy the food that they offer. The burgers we had were delicious, but once again alcohol was expensive and our cocktails were €10 each. We decided we would just have one each as a holiday treat. In all honestly after the burgers, we were in food comas and our feet were killing from all the shopping. We arrived back at the hotel at 9pm, and decided we would pack our bags and settle down for the night watching the winter Olympics. Our flight home the next day was at 09.35, so we needed to get up at 6am.

On the last day, we headed down for breakfast once again and headed back on the tram to the airport. The airport was huge, and the process through security and on to the plane home was very smooth. 

We would have liked to have spent another full day in the city, as we had planned to go the miniature wonderland which is the world's largest model railway system. We got a bit carried away with our afternoon shopping, and we just could not fit it in. Ryanair only flew to Hamburg three times a week so the flights were very limited. 

Overall, we both had a fabulous time in Hamburg and we both said we were really glad that we went. However, I don't think it is a city to visit for a long period of time. I think three full days is the perfect amount of time to be able to see and do all the sites. There aren't a huge number of sites to visit, and you can definitely fit a few things into one day. We thought everything (except alcohol!) was good priced, and to put things into perspective we spent €200 each over the 48 hours. We did both spend about €50 on personal shopping though!


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