Christmas Spirit within 1.5 km of the Hamburg Train-station
As I entered the station, I was in for a surprise! Lights everywhere! Hamburg HBf (H: Haupt=Main, Bf: Bahnhof= Trainstation) looked like straight out of a hallmark movie.
When in Hamburg at lunchtime, I try to make it to my favorite little north-indian Imbiss. Its a 1 minute walk from the train station called 'Badshah' in the street 'Bremer Reihe'. That is exactly what I did this time as well.
As I had to reach the city early morning for a meeting and it was mandatory for me to return home by evening, I chose to use the noon to have a look around. Very unplanned. Very spontaneous :)
So I started walking along the street 'Mönckebergstrasse' that leads one from the train station to the Rathaus (Townhall). You will find many beautiful cafes and loads of shopping possibilities here. I forget at times how it is to be in a big city (population more than 500,000). Most of my German friends and colleagues spent their childhoods in villages or small towns. So visiting a big city is exciting for them. I share their sentiments, as I have been living in a small German city over the last few years.
With three hours at hand till it was time to return home, it seemed plausible to walk into the next place that looked inviting. It turned out to be more than plausible :)
After checking out the very lavish Einkaufs- (shopping) Passage, I came across about four different tiny Christmas markets. They were located a few buildings apart from each other. Each with stalls selling food, decoration, ornaments, mufflers and sweaters.
The most crowded were the places to eat. From salmon flamed right in front of your eyes to roasted caramelized almonds.. there is a lot of yummy food waiting for you out there. (about what to eat and drink at a Christmas market- will be summed up in a separate post as it applies across the entire country).
I must say, the evening would be a better time to visit Christmas markets, as you can enjoy the lights. Also Hamburg and most of north Germany is often cloudy during the day.
And then I arrived at a grand sight: The Rathaus. Many people including me took various pictures of this beautifully lit up place, before we made our way into hundreds of people flooding the lanes of Market there.
Right across the Rathaus is the lake Alster. I took a longer route by following the decorations in the streets. At the end of it I reached the 'Weisser Zauber' (White Magic) market on the banks of Alster. It was cold and humid, so I did the next best thing for me: ordered a hot chocolate!
Carols being played on loud speakers, the squawking of seagulls and the whistles of the tourist boat added quite some Christmas cheer to this somewhat rainy noon. if you are eating something here, prefer not to do it in seclusion close to the seagulls. As they want to steal your food, they are going to make many goes at getting some.
Extra boats were lined up at the shore. All of them dazzled in fairy lights hanging over their windows. A handful of them had plenty of kids on board. As I glanced inside, it seemed like they were mingling with dough. These boats are present there only in the advent season and called 'Märchenshiffe' (Fantasy ships). Some host cookie baking for kids, others have a regular cafe on board and much more. Click here to read more about Fantasy Ships.
The trees in the White Magic Market were lit up in blue lights. Pity, it was still noon.
I took a slight detour and reached the not too touristy streets. There was a small square with a Christmas tree sale. Small Cafes and shops with flair. Felt quite warm and lovely on this windy-murky day.
On my way back I walked through a mall: Europa Passage. Oh it was beautifully lit up. And then I walked back to board my bus, happy about an afternoon I spent grinning around the streets of Hamburg.
This experience had no extra costs except for food. My entire lunch costed me 8 € and my hot chocolate 3.5 € (they initially charge you 2-3 € more per glass/ cup at the market. Its caution money. You will get it back when you return the glass/cup when you are done).
Such a memorable afternoon!!!