Mon 4 Nov - Hamburg, Germany

Go east young man and woman...

A day of traveling as this was to be the end of the Netherlands for us for this time. Noordwijk to Hamburg included 5 sets of traveling, in addition to walking, as follows:

  1. Bus from Noordwijk to Leiden
  2. Intercity train from Leiden to Amsterdam
  3. Deutsche Bahn train from Amsterdam to Osnabrück
  4. Deutsche Bahn train from Osnabrück to Hamburg
  5. S-bahn train from Hamburg's Hauptbahnhof to Stadthausbrücke

We got up just after 6am, packed up what was left to pack into our bags, made the house livable again with clean sheets and towels and cleaned up Brian and Doro's place in Noordwijk just a little bit as Anneke's cleaner will take care of the rest at a later time (after some monetary contribution for ourselves).

Our train to Hamburg was leaving Amsterdam Centraal at 11am which meant that we had a bit of time to get there, first via bus to Leiden and then the intercity train from Leiden to Amsterdam. Of course, as always we were early and left on a bus at 8.15am. Bye Noordwijk.

Monday morning was rainy and grey with plenty of traffic and the bus trip took twice as long as normal (45 minutes vs around 22 minutes), so we were happy that we allowed extra time.

Here are a few pics from the train platform in Leiden, waiting to travel to Amsterdam Centraal.

This just looked very artistic with its straight lines and colours.

The Dutch intercity trains are double decker trains just like in Sydney, and were pretty full during this rush hour so we stayed with our luggage at the entry for the 30 minute trip. In fact, our train was only 4 cars long when it could easily have been 6 or even 8 cars long given the number of passengers - plenty of people standing.

We started chatting to a young Indian girl on the train who also bunkered down with her luggage by the door. She was on her way to Haarlem for studies, coming from the UK. A well spoken and well travelled young lady who had spent time with her brother in Australia in Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong in addition to the main cities.

Plenty of time again at Amsterdam Centraal before our train to Germany so we found probably the nicest Starbucks that we have ever seen inside the station building and sat ourselves down there with a cup of coffee. Here is an inside shot. Check out the curtains for example.

At Amsterdam Centraal, waiting for the next train. The platforms here are so long that they split them into A and B halves and can run 2 trains from the 1 platform - behind Hans is section B.

The train arrived and we looked for our carriage number 5 where we had seats reserved. Close to the locomotive clearly, car 8, 7, 6 and.... 4. No car 5...!!?? What to do?

Well, we found our respective seats in car 4 instead and made ourselves at home there, but hold on, one of the seats is reserved by somebody later on during the journey meaning that we would then have to move.

Then an announcement came from our conductor, sorry, no car 5 but everybody with a reservation in car 5 can find their seats in car 8 instead. OK, must have been some problems with that particular car, it happens.

So we got ourselves and our luggage to car 8 and our respective seats there, but they were occupied by a whole bunch of loud Dutch teenagers. No obstacle for Di...

Well, we got our seats and were then surrounded by loud youngsters for a couple of stations before they left and peace prevailed. Here we are in car 8...

Not our most modern DB train experience...but plenty of space and comfortable.

The 3 hour eastwards journey to Osnabrück did not go that smoothly. Slow, stop / starts, signal failures and delays. We originally had a 20+ minutes overlap in Osnabrück for our next train, which quickly reduced to 7 minutes. Further delays on the way made it obvious that there was no way we, and quite a few others on the train too, were going to get there in time for our connecting train. In fact, in the end we arrived 45+ minutes late at Osnabrück.

Luckily, there seem to be hourly trains to Hamburg from Osnabrück so we didn't really have to wait that long. We killed time with a 50 cents coffee each from a vending machine on the platform. It wasn't too bad surprisingly enough.

Our next train was far speedier and we arrived at Hauptbahnhof in Hamburg, a very busy place, at 5.20pm. Before we move on, a few observations from our train trip between Amsterdam and Hamburg...

  • We saw no official looking train conductor or inspector at all within Dutch territory, but as soon as we got into Germany, we saw about 6 uniformed officials in a very short time
  • Nobody checked our ticket between Amsterdam and Ossnabruck. Seemed to be spot checking only, and then only on the German side
  • The most blatant customer profiling by the "Zoll" as we got into Germany. We saw 2 guys being asked to show their tickets (and possibly passports too, we couldn't see). One looked Indonesian and one was black. No Caucasian looking person, including us, was asked to provide anything. We were ready but ignored.
  • Announcements were in Dutch and German and sometimes in English. If an announcement was made in English, it was very short and could by no means cover everything that was said in the other languages. Luckily, we could follow some of the German.

From Hamburg Hauptbahhof, it was only a 2 stop train ride on the S-bahn (where S apparently stands for Schnell or fast). We hoped that S would have been Strassenbahn or tram but it was not so.

There were no turnstiles either in or out of the S-bahn so we just jumped on S1 and travelled our 2 stops. We found out later that you were supposed to buy tickets from a machine somewhere on the platform, but we didn't see any, not that we looked too hard.

Once at Stadthausbrücke station, in the dark we headed in the wrong direction for about 100 metres (before getting some directions) then found our place at Neuer Steinweg in Neustadt. Our host is Johannes, and as hoped, his apartment is in a most central location, soft of halfway between the Hauptbahnhof and the Fischmarkt, an easy walk to St Pauli, about 1km to Reeperbahn and to the Elbe. A big park is about 2 blocks away. It is also on top of a bakery and a convenience store, with a larger grocery store 2 minutes away.

In this photo from the street, the apartment is on the second floor with the living room to the left and our bedroom to the right of the light from the lamppost. Yes, it was a bit hard to get a view of the place in the dark.

Johannes seemed to be a lovely host and welcomed us with a beer each, tips of places to see and things to do, a well used map and of course a rundown of his apartment and its logistics.

We have booked a bedroom in Johannes' apartment from Airbnb as opposed to booking a whole apartment like we did in New York City and in Edinburgh. Di, of course, booked a room like this in London while Hans was in Stockholm and because it worked there we thought we would try it in Hamburg too. So far so good - Johannes seems to be a smart professional guy and easy going.

The building is only 3 years old and the apartment has a large combined kitchen and living room. A few pics after Johannes left us to settle in by going to the gym.

And looking the other way towards the street that was in the previous photo.

For dinner, we followed Johannes recommendation to go to a pub, as he called it, on Grossneumarkt which is only a block away from his apartment. The name of the place was Thämeser.

Great recommendation. The pub oozed out good karma even from the street and definitely once we got in. Hans had a beer and Di had a glass of white wine while we were waiting for our food to arrive. Our waitress was chatty and charming and the owner/manager was funny too.

And yes, they love candles in the Netherlands and in Germany too, and so do we. They really give the places a homely atmosphere, in particular we would assume during the darker winter months.

The food arrived and... There was a lot of it. Hans had kassler (pork chops) with sauerkraut and brat kartoffeln (aka home fries in the US) and Di had a wiener schnitzel, salad and also with a pile of brat kartoffeln. In fact, almost every meal on the spiesekarte was served with brat kartoffeln.

Yep, the food was absolutely delicious. Good solid German staple food, how can you go wrong there

Funny coaster with the Ratsherrn pils, a craft beer that Hans ordered. The coaster says that if you can read it through the glass, it is time to order another one...

Well, Hans thought that it was OK, but not spectacular so he stopped after his pint.

After eating ourselves silly, we stopped at the grocery store that Johannes had recommended to get some breakfast supplies and some alcohol too.
Look at this. A Franziskaner 50cl beer costs... 79 cents here (or 59 cents if you go alcohol free...!!??).
What a fantastic bargain!!! At Bavarian Beer Cafe in Sydney, we pay $11 for the same vs around $1 here. Hans bought 2 to start with...

We were not long out of bed when we got back to Johannes place, who was still out and about. At 10.30pm it was dreamtime for both of us. Good night.

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