Friday, 5 August 2016

Travelling Europe: Amsterdam to Hamburg

And so the posts begin, or at least my attempt of these posts begin. It's been less than a week since we were in beautiful sunshine, exploring new and exciting places. It's strange being home actually, strange because it's so easy to sink back into the routine of before. When I think about everything we did it feels like a dream, but the happiness remains real. 
I can barely put into the words the amount of fun I had travelling Europe with Tom, everyone keeps asking me how we managed spending 35 days consistently together and I laugh to myself saying how incredibly easy it was. This seems irregular now. This terrible routine of work, gap, sleep, work. I feel glad that I have these blog posts to do now which I know will take up a good amount of my time, so long as I'm in the right mood. 

Europe was special, the freedom we had was special and something you don't come close to feeling in everyday life. Being in a new environment every other day was so incredibly amazing, it was such an excitement, always moving forward, always deciding on the day if we'll stay somewhere longer or move on. 
Now I've got to place my mind back to 5 weeks and 5 days ago. 
Sunday 26th June, the day of departure. 
We began the morning at Tom's place in Penarth, we were lucky to be getting a lift to Bristol Airport erasing the hassle of getting a coach. I remember feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness as we began our journey. Looking back at it now I can't think of the reason I felt nervous, maybe it felt daunting that we had such a large duration of time to fill up with whatever we please. Of course we knew where our first night was going to be spent, Hamburg. Known to us for its "warehouse district", we were looking forward to spending our first proper day exploring the harbour city. Before all that though we had to get to Amsterdam.
After bidding farewell to Tom's parents we handed over our backpacks and headed up through the security checks. We had a long wait ahead of us, which ended up being made longer by delays. We spent the time filling out a wordsearch we had purchased at one of the shops along with a travel sized Battleships - handy for our long train journeys and quiet evenings, or so we thought.. we actually discovered after the second game its very tedious. - We ended up boarding our flight close to 3pm and after our quick flight to Amsterdam and a train into the center we just had enough time to find some food - chips and a salad box each - before we were on our train to Hamburg. The total travel duration was around 6 hours, we left Amsterdam Centraal at 6.50pm and arrived in Hamburg a bit before 1am, with a 50 minute walk ahead of us to our booked hostel. The train journey was considerably enjoyable. We had no troubles finding seats and for hours became mesmerized by the flashing views from the window. Even the countryside seemed new and exciting. There we were wizzing through the Netherlands, we made a game of trying to guess once we had entered Germany. It was a difficult game - they're both confusing languages! We had to change over once, which involved a bit of a sprint to a train on a different platform (we weren't entirely sure if we had to run, but everyone else was so we quickly followed). We watched the sunset over the hills and tried to stay awake as the train rolled into Hamburg. 
Hamburg station was desolate, it was hard to find the exit because it was so quiet there was no mass heading one direction. When we left the building I felt a tinge of nervousness.. As you get around any train station at night, there were a few homeless people about, other young people drinking around the building. I though oh god this is it, before we've even started here's trouble. But it was an irrational thought, with help from the maps on our phones we headed on our way to our hostel. We had booked it on the train journey, I won't be able to recall the name, but it was the cheapest on the Hostelworld app so that was enough for us. We walked for 50 minutes, through high streets and along side busy roads. Being in a place you don't know means that you're pretty much indifferent to which area you are in good or bad. It's not something we generally knew beforehand, it was only a pon walking through an area or a place we made a judgment on whether it was nice or not. Walking through the streets of Hamburg was pleasant, it was quiet and surprisingly the air had a floral sent to it, as though there were great blossoming bushes somewhere unseen in the shadows. When we came onto the street of our hostel it became clear we had entered some sort of red light district. Every building was either a bar, sex shop or brothel. It was quite amusing we had chosen such a location. We walked on and turned down a side alley and there was our first hostel a small building at the end of a car park with a few bikers sitting around close to the entrance. We were greeted by a friendly girl a bit older than us and were quickly settling into our room. It was nice, reasonably sized with a private bathroom and a big window over the beds. We fell asleep straight away of course..
The next morning I was straight up out of bed at 7.30am and we had checked out and were ready to explore Hamburg by 8.30am. We made our way down the streets we had used the night before and with the help of a map made our way to the Speicherstadt (old warehouse district). It was pleasant, the weather already considerably nicer than it had been back home. We looked about the district and then moved on, following our map north, stopping off at as many marked buildings as we could along the way. We ended our walk in a park and I with my crafty eyes spotted a botanical gardens (just our luck!) which we headed to straight away. Funny the kind of plants (cacti and succulents) they had growing in the glass houses, were the sort we would see in the wild in Croatia and Italy.. After that we sat down for a bit in the park, maybe it was the fact we weren't yet used to our bags and they were rubbing in particular places - my collar bone bruised for the first day or so, but that quickly subsided. -  but we were tired though and glancing over the map, had visited most of the interesting looking buildings. We decided there in that park to move on to our next stop.. Schwerin. 







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