Friday night I caught a red-eye flight from India to Germany, for another round of work related meetings with my international teams. Following a “quick” eight hour flight into Frankfurt, the 50 minute connecting flight into Hamburg seemed like a breeze.
I’ve been to Hamburg a few times before – most recently in January of last year. I’ve really come to enjoy this city and was especially excited to be here in the summer, when residents really take advantage of the perfect weather and long days.
I arrived to my hotel around 11am, dropped my bags at the concierge (my room was not yet ready) and immediately began wandering. As my hotel is very close to St. Michaelis cathedral, I decided to stop for a visit, something I’ve never done before. Similar to many European cathedrals, this structure is quite impressive – ornate, full of history, etc.
However, what really sparked my interest in visiting was the opportunity to ascend the clock/bell tower. The tower is 132 meters tall (433ft), with an outdoor observation deck located 106 meters (347ft) above the river Elbe. With a diameter of 8 meters (26 ft), the tower clock is the largest in Germany. For content, the big hand measures 5 meters (16ft) in length and the small hand 3.6 metes (11ft) … each hand weighing 130 kg (286 lbs). Also, the tower features six chime bells and two clock bells and I can attest firsthand the chimes/ringing is deafening from the inside the tower.
While there is a lift available, the line was crazy long and I also wanted to see the bells up close along with the historic interior of the tower itself. Accordingly, I took the stairs and about 10 minutes later I exited at the top, onto a very crowed observation deck. (the green tube is the very small elevator)
Yeah, the tower views are pretty impressive.
I spent about 20 minutes casually gazing outwards onto the city. Of course the views were great, but as I had plans to rent a bike and explore the city by land, I took advantage of the birds-eye views to chart a rough plan for the afternoon atop two wheels.
Like most European cities, Hamburg is extremely bike friendly which made the process of exploring easier than it would have been in a typical US city. Via smart phone, I did a quick search for the nearest bike rental station, quickly created an account, and within minutes I was off.
My bike for the day
I generally made my way towards and around the northern neighborhoods of the city centre. Knowing the town hall was about 15 minutes away, I began riding, enjoying the leisurely mode of transport.
Looking southeast, Alster Lake in the foreground
One of Alster Lake’s many sailing clubs
Alster Lake is a surprisingly large body of water given it’s proximate to the city centre. On a gorgeous day like yesterday (Saturday), the waterfront was packed. (For those who can relate … a comparison would be the Grant Park lakefront in Chicago on a warm sunny day)
So many people were out walking, biking, jogging, picnicking, chatting over coffee at cafes, etc. Like me, everyone seemed to be enjoying a lovely summer day.
As I am not particular familiar with the city, I had no destination really – I just rode around … for hours. Eventually, I checked Google maps to reorient myself. Not surprisingly, I’d covered quite a distance. Knowing I had dinner plans with a former colleague and his wife, I began the journey back to the hotel.
I’m definitely planning to ride more tomorrow (Sunday).