Hamburg

May 21, 2010

I guess first I’ll write a bit about the train ride there.  The trains are pretty comfortable and nice.  The countryside is really nice.  We passed a wind farm and a lot of Mustard fields.  The mustard fields are awesome to look at because they are such a bright yellow.  Once we got to Hamburg we took the subway to our hostel, which was actually really nice.  It was clean, quiet, and well kept.

After finding the girls’ hotel, we went to this restaurant called Oktober, where we had dinner.  I had what they called a “Mexican Burger,” which was ground chuck, onions, bacon, barbecue sauce, pickles, lettuce, and tomato (I took the tomato off).  We walked around the city for a while, which is actually pretty small (at least compared to Amsterdam).  We saw this awesome statue of Otto Von Bismarck and were excited to walk over to it, but we were disappointed to find that the base was all graffitied up.  We walked down to the docks and walked the length of them for a bit, stopping in a few shops.  Right across from the docks there is an island with tons of cranes on it.  Apparently it is the biggest construction site in Europe, and will be finished in 2026.  I’m not sure exactly what it will be… probably some sort of financial district.

Clay, Bennett, Anthony, and I went to a little casino in Reeperbahn for about 2 hours.  I didn’t bet anything, just watched the other guys go at it.  We had a good time there.  The Reeperbahn is comparable to Amsterdam’s red light district.  It’s the main place where you can find bars and “other” night life entertainment.  The prostitutes in Hamburg are much more sociable than in Amsterdam.  There were still some in windows, but there was just a huge line of them in the street and sidewalks as well.  They would go up to you and wrap their arms in yours and try to entice you to give some business.  Needless to say, we had our hands in our pockets the whole time, watching out for pickpockets.

So now it’s back on the Eurorail, and onto Berlin!

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Amsterdam

May 21, 2010

Amsterdam.  The city is insane.  Everyone there rides bikes.  They do it to and from work, day or night, rain or shine.  It makes for some interesting traffic situations.  There are bike lanes and road and sidewalk, but it’s not always clear which is which.  Most of the roads are made of the same brick as the sidewalk.  The bikers all have little bells on their bikes and don’t hesitate to use them to get you out of their way.  I’m conflicted on how I feel about the vespas.  They’re pretty cool, but their considered bikes, so even though they go pretty close to the speed of cars, they can go in the bike lanes.

We stayed at a Christian youth hostel in the middle of the red light district (or the blue light district).  The prostitutes just stand right there in the windows.  The first day we were walking down the street and one of them knocked on their window at us and surprised us.  I’ll just say this:  I will never look at a mannequin the same way again.

The first day we went to the Anne Frank house.  It really made the holocaust more real for me.  It’s so hard to imagine what those people went through, and the risks their friends took keeping them safe.  We also went to the Van Gogh Museum, which housed the largest collection of his works in the world.  I really don’t think Van Gogh was very good, so I won’t go into detail there.  We went to the Heineken brewery where they took us through the brewing process and gave us samples.  The library in Amsterdam is HUGE.  It’s like five floors and had a full on food court on the top floor.

Okay, so it’s time for food.  The first morning I had this apple fold from a bakery, which was pretty good.  It was kind of like a croissant with sugar on the top, filled with apples.  For dinner we went to the most famous pancake house in Amsterdam, where I had an apple and bacon pancake.  It was delicious.

We went bar hopping both nights, trying a lot of local beers.  I actually had my first beers here.  Also, apparently all the preservatives in beers in America are what cause hangovers.  So, even though I had quite a few one night, there was not even the semblance of a hangover the next morning.  A few of us also tried this thing in an English pub called a “snakebite,” which is apparently different than the one in America since Bennett ordered it first and was surprised to see them mixing a bunch of stuff together.  We heard from some Englishmen there that it’s banned in most bars in Britain, since whenever people drink it they just fight everyone.  It’s half lager, and half cider, with some black for flavor.  It was awesome, and tasted like cherries. We found a Christian bar there as well.  They had bible verses on the walls and were playing some Christian music.  That was really cool to see, especially since I think a ministry like that would get some bad press in the churches in the US.  We found a sweet Irish pub right next to our hostel, made friends with the bartender (his name is Renee), and I ended both nights there.

So now we ride the Eurorail to Hamburg for a day before Berlin.

Update: I figured out how to post pictures! Now to figure out which one I want posted/get them ready.

Anne Frank House
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My Trip Posts

May 21, 2010

Well, if you’re seeing this, there’s a good chance you know me, so there’s no real need to introduce myself.  I am on a two week tour through Germany right now, and I’ll be blogging throughout the trip, partly as a journal requirement for the class I’m in, and partly to record my thoughts at each city I visit.  Updates will be somewhat sporadic, as I am writing these on the train to the next city and have sporadic internet access.

My first two posts will be coming right after this one– Amsterdam and Hamburg.  After that will be Berlin and Munich, but those won’t be for a few days.  I’ve also been taking pictures during my trip, but I don’t know when I’ll get those up.