Haben Sie etwas zu verzollen?

In just four hours, Hamburg became one of my favourite cities. The Hamburgers were calm, the pavements were wide, there were no unpleasant aromas, the shops weren’t crammed together like sardines in a Chinese laundry and there were some beautiful places.

After taking a 20 minute bus ride into the centre near the Rathaus (town hall), we walked at a reasonable pace to the east and north-east to get a mile or two under our belts before turning slightly westward to walk through a pleasant park with children’s swings and that sort of gubbins. We continued to reach the river and sat for a few minutes, cogitating over the street map, while in the background…..

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and ……..

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Just beautiful. Was it a river, was it a lake, I don’t know, but it was just very very beautiful.

We walked round the river / lake and found a wonderful Japanese botanic garden (ok, we didn’t actually find it, we saw it on the map) and wandered through this for a while. The fountains were great – set to music and these just seemed to go on and on – the garden was apparently open from 7am to 11pm and perhaps they do have a 16 hour music tape choreographing the various orifices from which the water was spouting, but in any case, it was almost hypnotic.

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Time was getting on a bit, so a decent walk awaited us back to the centre of Hamburg and a bit of shopping. I am very thankful not to have a ‘shop til you drop’ wife and one who actually doesn’t like shopping for anything other than is necessary, but we still bought three items for just under €50 (which is a bit of a splurge for us!) and headed back to the bus stop.

One thing I did regret about today was the fact that I remember so little of my O Level German, as opposed to French, which I can understand pretty well and converse to an extent. One of the very few sentences I can remember is the title of this blog post, unless I somehow become an employee at a German border check. Sometimes you just want to know just a little bit more about what you’re seeing, and just a few more words could help. But a really fine day and the best of our cruise so far. Not sure how far we walked but it was all within the space of about 4 hours.

At sea tomorrow, back to Le Havre on Tuesday. Chilling out day. Cold just about gone now though I did feel a bit knackered when we got back on the ship. Still no internet (apart from if I did want to pay €16.90 for an hour – and I do not) so this gibbering will be published at the same time as the previous, and probably the next post.

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