A Week of Comfort

After a couple nights in Hamburg, Onkel Carsten picked me up from my aunt’s place and we drove together to Oma and Opa’s house in Bad Oeynhausen for Easter week. My time at Oma’s house is usually spent reading, baking, and going on walks (no wifi, computers, or cable TV). I don’t have many photos of the house because I have been there often enough to have compiled an abundance of photos from previous visits. However, upon Oma’s request, I took a few portrait shots that I have shared below.




As always, it was a relaxing and pleasant stay. Bis nächstes Jahr!

2 Tours, 1 Day

I went on 2 free walking tours on my second day in Hamburg. The first one was a tour of the city’s main attractions, and the second one focused on the St. Pauli area, which includes the famous red-light district centered around the Reeperbahn street. The following are the remaining photos I took throughout the day; before, during, as well as after the tours. Most of the photos are described via captions.


St. Pauli is located between the Altona district and Hamburg. Legend has it the name Altona comes from “allzu nah” (all too close), referring to the city’s close proximity to the border of Hamburg. Originally, sailors would come to St. Pauli for entertainment during their stay in Hamburg or Altona. Our tour guide informed us that since then, the St. Pauli district has unfortunately fallen victim to gentrification, and the cost of living in the area has risen noticeably.


Oldest police station in Hamburg, located on Reeperbahn street and still functional.

The next photo depicts the few old houses that remain after the Great Fire and WWII. They are situated directly along a canal. Many contain a small room the juts out of the house and over the water. Our tour guide said these were once used as water closets, and the waste would fall directly into the canal (as intended..), contaminating the water.


The Alter Elbtunnel (Old Elbe Tunnel) was originally built in the early 20th century to increase the ease of transportation between the central city and the busy shipyards and docks on the other side of the Elbe River. It was the first underground river tunnel in Europe and measures 426.5 meters in length.  It is now open to the public (free for pedestrians and bikers, small fee for automobiles).


What city has the most bridges?

Hamburg. With its numerous canals, rivers, and streams, the city has over 2,300 bridges in total.


That’s over 1,000 more bridges than in Amsterdam.

Even on a grey, cloudy, cold day typical of northern Germany, the red brick reflected on the water is a uniquely striking site to see.


The bridges are everywhere, and cannot be avoided when touring the city by foot.


The Elphi

In contrast to the historic city hall, the newly built Elbphilharmonie (finished in late 2016) represents the more modern look of the port city.

Nicknamed The Elphi, this concert hall sits in HafenCity (“PortCity”) and is one of the largest in the world. The upper wave-like structure was built atop a former warehouse for coffee and cocoa bean storage.

This enormous project cost roughly €550 million more than estimated and took an additional 6 years than predicted to complete.


Entrance to the inside is free for the public. Once inside, you take a 2.5 minute ride up the world’s longest (and first) curved escalator to access the viewing deck. Below are photos of the curvy, fluid architecture of the interior.


The observation deck gives a 360 view of the surrounding city and port.


Hamburg Rathaus

The next leg of my spring break trip consisted of 2 days spent in Hamburg. I toured the city by myself during the day and spent the nights at my aunt’s house. She gave me suggestions on what to see and, unsurprisingly, the City Hall was first on her list.


It is so huge that it was nearly impossible to get the whole building in one shot.

This was one of my favorite buildings in the city. I learned from a walking tour that it was built after the original city hall was destroyed during the Great Fire of Hamburg in 1842, and one of the only major buildings left standing after the city was heavily bombed in WWII. The Hygieia (goddess of health and hygiene) statue was chosen for construction in remembrance of the cholera epidemic of 1892.

It is the one building that still displays the historic European architecture that I have grown so fond of.


Courtyard view

Belgian Day Trips

On our second day in Belgium, we headed to Brugge- known for its medieval charm and herds of swans. Unfortunately for us, we were informed that because of a recent bird flu scare, all the swans had to be put into quarantine, so there were none for us that day. Upon arrival, we strolled through some smaller, residential streets before reaching the main square.

We stumbled upon Old St. John’s Hospital, built in the 11th century and one of Europe’s oldest surviving hospitals. It is located next to the Church of Our Lady, whose tower can be seen peeking out from behind the hospital building.

Just past the church is the Bonifacius Bridge, or what many people refer to as the “Fairytale” Bridge. Legend has it that after you cross the bridge, the first person you see on the other side is who you will marry.

After wandering a bit further past picturesque buildings along the river, we sat down for lunch until our walking tour later that afternoon.MRN_0836Our tour began in the main square, called The Markt.MRN_0891We were then led around the most significant areas of the city, according to our tour guide. The following are photos I took during the tour!

These (above and below) are good representations of the medieval charm I mentioned earlier.MRN_0849


More picture perfect shots along the river!

Of course I had to stop and snap a photo when walking past this forest-field full of flowers.


Anna-in-red-coat versus old red door (located in the old red light district). It seems people used to be a lot smaller back then..


Our last day in Belgium was spent another train ride away from Brussels in Ghent. I would almost go so far to say Ghent was my favorite of the 3 cities. It was a lot calmer and less populated with tourists. Additionally, it seemed the entire city ran along the river!


Brussels & Beer & Lots of Chocolate

My month-long spring break began with a 3 day trip to Belgium. Gaby accompanied me and we met Anna and Madison there. The first day we stayed and toured Brussels. The following are photos of the Grand Place, the city’s central square. It’s amazing how the square is transformed from day to night. One night, we bought beers at the store to bring to the square and just sat for an hour to people watch. The place was full of people, including a group of teenagers playing music and a father with his baby, who joined the teens to dance to their beats. It was a heartwarming sight!




Like many European cities, Brussels boasts historic and grand architecture, including the Stock Exchange and Royal Palace buildings.


Brussels Stock Exchange


We took a walk just as the sun was setting, and it made for some enchanting photos of the city.



And of course we stopped at a “do it yourself” chocolate shop in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert to pick out decadent truffles and, my personal favorite, chocolate covered orange peels, to gorge on after dinner every night.