Hamburg, Germany

Trip Start Sep 30, 2007
Trip End Jan 08, 2008

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Hamburg wasn't in my original itinerary but decided to make this city my first detour of the trip. Hamburg doesn't attract lot of tourists and frankly, there isn't much to do here in terms of visiting old cathedrals or historical significance. But, I'm glad I visited Hamburg for couple of reasons. Before I begin though, I must come clean and say I was bit skeptical about Germany. I honestly didn't know what to expect due to Germany's tragic past, but today's Germany is forward-looking country with heavy influences in the region, economically and culturally.

When I first arrived in Hamburg, I noticed many similarities between LA and Hamburg. For starters, you see a lot of familiar cars, BMWs, Mercedes, Volkswagens, etc. What you don't see in LA is BMW police cars and E-Class cabs though. Hamburg also has good amount of open space and wide streets, unlike most European cities I've been to. Most of the buildings seem fairly new and you get a general feeling that you're in a wealthy city. It's unbelievable how modernized this city is. From sensormatic escalators to Gucci stores and one of the best public transportation systems in the world, it had everything LA had without the juicy tabloids and the bad traffic.

In addition to the city, I found the people very amiable and genuine. When looking at the map on the street, people offer to help. When looking them in the eye, they smile instead of firing back a "watdafuck-ulookin-at" stare. It's a different vibe from London or New York where the people are just too busy to get from one place to another. Touring the city wasn't all that difficult and I mostly did it by foot. Hamburg serves as an important port for Europe and has the 2nd largest harbor in Europe after Rotterdam. When looking at the port, you'll find cruise boats and commercial boats docked in one of its massive docks. I couldn't help but think what it would've been like 60 years ago here. All of the boats were probably replaced by aircraft carriers and submarines. It also made me realize how much things can change in 60 years. It's just like South Korea where the country was wiped out after the Korean war but it's now one of the economic powerhouse in Asia. I'm very proud of that fact, and I think the Germans are as well.
I stayed in Hamburg for three nights which gave me plenty of time to get around the city. I'm glad I came to Hamburg but I don't think it's a good place to visit for someone who only has couple weeks to travel. On the other hand, I heard Berlin is a must see from all the travelers I've met. What's so great about Berlin? Well, I was dying to find out so I hopped on the bus to Berlin first thing in the morning.
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