So, it’s Easter Break once again. Being one of the students pursuing their studies in a foreign land 11000km away from home, we had these few options: take the opportunity to explore your neighboring countries; take the first trip back home to SG; or to be a studious and meritocratic student and prepare diligently for examinations.
I chose the first, definitely.
So Germany it is, with my new beau this time, instead of the 4 last year. One word for you international students out there; not going anywhere on Easter break would be a waste. Just ensure you have set aside some time for studies. So before we start, I’m providing a perspective from a budget traveller, scenic-loving student; not a shopaholic nor an extravagant one. Museums are…interesting, but more than an hour or two (depending on the exhibits displayed), and I’m outta here sitting somewhere with a cuppa coffee, people-watching instead.
So, first stop: Hamburg.
Why so? Plane tickets are cheap: approximately GBP11 when we first saw it in end-Feb, but it was approximately GBP22 when we finally fixed our dates in the first week of March. It was still one of the cheapest cities (with Cologne following close) to fly to from London to Germany.
We arrived in the afternoon, and if you’d like my advice, 2D1N is enough, or unless you’re with a bigger group of friends with a keen inclination for nightlife, perhaps 2 nights, as their Red Light District (Reeperbahn) is deemed to be rather popular. Besides those, other worthy sights are:
1) The Harbour (Elbe Tunnel, Fish-market)
S-Bahn / U-Bahn: Landungsbrucken
Heeding the advice of Budget Traveller and our Airbnb host, we ventured into the Harbour area, despite the crazy weather with extreme changes from strong gales to heavy rain to sunny spots (that’s Germany’s spring for you). At the train station, we decided to grab a bite, indulging on an ala-carte curry-wurst and bratwurst each, totalling about 6 euros. It wouldn’t be enough for a proper meal, but there are options of adding fries (mit pommes) on the side if you’d like, for about 5euros per set.
Then, we headed out of the station towards the harbor, and for those who aint observant enough, turn RIGHT after you cross the pedestrian overhead bridge. Tourist shops, tourist information centre, and then the Elbe Tunnel.
Be prepared for approximately a 40-60minutes walk through the tunnel to the other side, and a walk back. Then, either walk or take a train down the same direction to the Fish market. Sadly, we went on a Monday, and the market was not open.
However, we went down to Reeperbahn, the nightlife hotspot of Hamburg. It was in the day, but we did return that evening, only to be disappointed by the quietness on a Monday night.
3) Free walking Tour (Historical centre)
Mandatory, I’d say, for any budget travellers seeking to know more about the city, and even more obligatory for those who are non native language speakers. We went for this, and we’d never regret going for it despite the short time we have in Hamburg. The tour covered so much which we would never have covered had we been exploring the city ourselves, unless we did sufficient reading up on the history of the city, or of the particular landmarks themselves. However, if you’re up for some light reading, check out the Great Fire of 1842, Hamburg’s role in the world war. An important and bustling port of Germany in the past, there were a lot of burnings and bombings were involved. Also, a German-pirate version of robin hood might be of interest to you. So do google and you might perhaps find your answer to these 😀
4) Monuments and Landmarks
Some of the churches we explored: St Petri (the oldest parish church), St Michaelis (highly recommended due to a higher and less obstructed view from the tower I’m not sure, but approximately 7 euros of entrance fee] and due to a breathtaking interior) and St Nikolai (with a lot of ongoing construction, but the church bells are still functioning and are struck once in a few hours, if I am not mistaken). And definitely, there is the starting point where the Great Fire started, previously a cigar factory, it may be worth visiting the stretch of shops, with a number of restaurants and a couple of Amsterdam-looking designs.
Aside from the mandatory currywurst and bratwurst, we filled our tummys with a number of street food, including sugar donuts at the Hautbahnhof (perhaps an ideal location for shoppers, or where you can find anything – SIM Card, etc)
One word of advice, though, we were contemplating hard on getting a prepaid data plan for our devices, but managed to survive through without it. We relied on payphones to contact our Airbnb owners (back to the 90s). And, as long as your accommodation has WIFI, and you are independent enough to make the necessary preparations to have a vague plan before-hand, or you’re prepared to indulge on a cuppa coffee every few hours in a Starbucks or place with WIFI (we did, as we constantly required a WC, which cost 0.50euros on average, and a shelter to hide from the rain and the cold), it’ll be fine. We did contemplate, however the sim plans were confusing, and only a few like O2, Blauworld had relatively more wallet-friendly plans for us, though still at a minimum of 9euros for a less-than-ideal usage allowance.
It is possible to cycle, but not ideal for me due to the erratic weather. Best way to get around would be on the S and U Bahns (the train) or the bus. Trains are ideal as they provide you with an overlook of all possible routes and detours you could make to get to your destination. Ticket prices, like day passes could be around 9 – 10 euros, with single trips at around 3 euros (I only checked two to three single trips). SO yes, to be safe, do try to buy a ticket, it isn’t too costly.
DISCLAIMER: THESE ARE PERSONAL OPINIONS.
So, that’s all for Hamburg, and we left for Berlin, on the Meinfernbus with WIFI and power sockets, and comfortable seats with a smooth ride (I love the service).