and even though we are supposed to be saving for Korea next year, I really really needed to get away, so in my I-don't-give-a-fuck state, I suggested we do a hotel vacation in Hamburg instead. it's been a while since we've been there, but it's a place we love and know and could just have a nice, relaxed time there.
so we spend a few hours online searching for vacancies, but with our short notice and it being the summer season it was a little difficult, also cos we were particular about wanting to stay in the St. Georg area.
in the end we settled on the not-cheapest-but-also-it-could-be-worse Hotel Furst Bismarck.
|location bonus: right on top of a Block house!|
we took an evening stroll down Lange Reihe, and even though everything was already closed, this little shop, that said "asia" or "asian" in pink letters on the front, caught our eyes. it looked really cute, but once we got back there at a later date it turned out to be mostly clothes. and not that it wasn't cool clothes, but for various size reason, Asian clothes aren't our thing..
anyway, the glorious thing about this vacation was that it was complete improv, so we slept in and just rolled around in bed for hours \o/
when we finally got hungry we whipped out the sandwiches we had bought at the station the night before at the end of our stroll, and settled in bed
when it was time for dinner we had to leave the room
having never had tapas in Spain I can't judge, but this might look really authentic, but let's just say, I hope the taste isn't.... the potatoes were good, but they're potatoes so not a big culinary Spanish discovery, and the baby fishies, but the rest were either not good, or what we can buy whenever at our supermarket at home (ham, cheese, olives).
I wasn't impressed, and hubs who did have tapas when he was in Madrid recently was disappointed, too.
|our room's in the wing right under the red Block House letters|
first stop was a bakery at the station for sandwiches. I always rearrange every sandwich and burger I get cos I can't stand when all the filling is piled on one side, it's the actual worst.
it was only a short subway ride to "Hackenbeck's Tiergarten", and out from the station, we were pretty sure we were at the right place.
|the entrance. I have no idea what the Asian pavilion is for..|
this was a first for us. I've never seen a zoo before where you were allowed to feed the animals! or at least the elephants. in fact, I think they even calculate the stuff people feed them with as part of their diet, cos they sold the veggies at the zoo. some clearly also brought stuff from home, but most people carried the zoo veggie bags.
but clever way to make some extra money, free up staff to do other tasks than feeding, and, maybe most importantly, have a fun twist that other zoos don't have.
|apparently there was something special about this white lama, but I never caught what exactly it was.. maybe just that it's white?|
we saw a sea lion/walrus feeding show.
one of the last things we saw was the brown bears. this one was playing with a ball, but it said this loud clonk sound sometimes, and we realized it wasn't just any kind of ball, it's a bowling ball! and he's just tossing it in the air like a regular ball!
suddenly bear no. 2 got it over on his side of the pool and bear no. 1 was begging to have it back but no. 2 was having none of that. poor no. 1 :(
after the outdoor part we went into the big tropical aquarium. it was really impressive for a zoo this size, I think, and it was so detailed in making it like you walked through the tropical settings.
|the tiny fish that can breathe above water. I dunno what they're called in English, but we call them lung fish|
|except for the spine these fish were almost completely see-through.|
before we went back to the hotel, we went for dinner, and since we refused to believe yesterday's swing and miss was the best tapas Hamburg had to offer, we tried a new place.
at first we got the end table, but then a party of four arrived, so of course we didn't mind getting another table so they could sit together.
but the rest of the stuff were really good. those little fishies, oh man! I dunno, I was kinda apprehensive at first cos in my mind and experience, fish heads aren't something to be eaten, but I thought, what the hell, when in Rome.. AND OH MY GOD SO GOOD heads and all! *q*
I'm wondering if it's possible to buy the fishies in DK so we can make them at home. fryer fresh, all hot and crispy, dipped in cold alioli with lots of garlic! okay, I'm salivating here..
after that we went back to the hotel and watched more Running Man!
the next day, after another leisurely morning, we went to the Korean supermarket they have here. we used to buy a ton of stuff, but over the years our own little one Asian shop in Copenhagen have gotten a lot of the stuff, so now we mostly go to see if they have sales, new things, or the things we can't get back home.
this is a Vietnamese street food restaurant, and it's sorta become a tradition to eat here at least once when we come to Hamburg, and since it's conveniently located between the train station and the Asian supermarket, we never miss it.
it's extremely popular and unless you come at odd hours you will have to wait for a table. this time we came just before what turned out to be the corporate lunch rush, so we did get a table right away but had we gotten there just ten mins later, we would have had to wait.
the menu's simple and short, but everything is super delicious and freshly made and very authentic. I've never been to Vietnam, but it's Vietnamese people who speak Vietnamese who're in the kitchen, so I think it's pretty close?
|NOM NOM NOM|
the neighbourhood's equivalent to the bar in Cheers..?
I think this is like, the first time ever, mainly cos we've always got places to go, and I'm cheap when it comes to stuff like this, and I don't like alcohol and hubs doesn't like drinking alone.
but today we thought, why the hell not?! I got a passion fruit/mango-something and hubs got a mojito ^^
special appearance by the fan that basically never left my hand all summer! that thing got dragged everywhere ♥
when we were done drinking, we dragged our lazy selves to the station and took the subway to a very special place.
TADAA~!! I had Googled if Hamburg had any Korean restaurants, and this appeared to be the "main one", whatever that means, so in my desperate longing for Korean food we actually made an actual trip through town just for this!
and, oh lawdy, was it worth it! it was real, authentic, delicious 삼겹살 and 해물파전 and 반찬, and she and her hubs were Korean and spoke Korean, and for a moment everything was right with the world.
|noms = ME HAPPY|
it was a perfect meal, and if definitely won't be the last time we go there. was it expensive? I can't remember, but in any case I bet it was cheaper than tickets to Seoul so.
to stay in the mood of things, we nommed Korean snacks with tonight's Running Man eps :D
one of the things we did on our first trip to Hamburg many years ago, and that we do for our first time in most cities if possible, was take a sightseeing bus tour. now, this might sound cheesy and touristy, and it is, but it's also a really great way to get a feel for a city, to get transported around to places you "should" visit, but don't wanna make a trip for, and to get an idea of which places you do want to go back to to get a closer look at. plus maybe discovering stuff you haven't read about in the guide books.
anyway, by now it's been many years since our first tour in Hamburg, and since we mostly come otherwise for short trips all year round, this was the first time in a long time that we felt like we had time to re-do this this, and fortunately the weather was really nice cos we always wanna sit up top in the fresh air.
we got off the bus almost at the end of the tour (it's "hop on, hop off") by the harbour promenade cos hubs also wanted to re-take the harbour cruise. I had no objections to being outside, tanning, while getting cooled by wind at the same time cos it was super hot.
Hamburg habour is the second largest in Europe (second only to Rotterdam), and 10th largest in the world, so there's plenty to see. the tour boats are these little barges that can go everywhere in the enormous harbour, even the places with so much sludge that they dry out during low tide.
|museum ship that used to sail to Asia and South America and during WW1.|
|another museum ship that also sailed to South America for several years.|
|before we went to Korea in '07 I'd never seen or even heard of the lock phenomenon, and now it's just every-random-where.|
|beautiful old warehouses.|
|was this one of the first lock houses...? I forget..|
|picture doesn't do it justice, this ship was HUGE!|
|Hamburg has some huge docks, and even Queen Mary 2 comes here for repair and maintenance.|
|Rickmer Rickmers again.|
|one of the taxi boats that bring people from the promenade out to the theater location for the longtime running musical, Lion King.|
for some reason Germany does really good French fries, and being the poor people that we are, we hardly ever get steak, so since Blockhouse was so conveniently located, we went to indulge on our last night in the city.
|hello giant rib-eye, let me put my mouth all over you.|
|yes, technically previous pic is obviously hubs' steak, but that doesn't change anything.|
we started out by going to 2 different motorcycle gear shops cos before we left hubs had bought those two bikes, but we had no gear whatsoever cos his last bike was almost 15 years ago, and gear was cheaper in Germany than back home.
we ended up spending 5 freaking hours on it, and came out with - wait for it - helmets! they were huge shops, but the prices on clothing was too high compared to what hubs figured he could buy for online, but this way he could try stuff on so he'd know what to order online.
but we did need helmets at least cos no driving without them.
so around 4 or 5pm we finally headed out of Hamburg. we stopped in in the northern part of town for a quick Subway sarnie cos completely starving. we hadn't had anything to eat all day cos we figured we'd get something brunchy after shopping, and never imaged it would take all day.
after a nice drive, we arrived at our second destination, Kiel, and this nice little hotel that hubs had stayed at before when he was in town for work.
now, I say "nice" cos where others might be, like, "wtf", I'm not picky. as long as the bed is nice and clean I'm all good cos I'm the one who chooses cheap hotels so I don't really think I can expect a castle.
|only slight con was the fact that the bottom of the shower must've had a crack cos floor got wet after a little while when you showered even though the cubicle door was tight. again, shrugs.|
|City Hall. and ps. clearly a lot smaller town than Hamburg cos there were hardly any people around anywhere.|
sidenote: the green umbrellas on the left is where we ended up eating.
we looked around for a bit, but in the end just opted to go back to the restaurant by City Hall, and it might look a little dull, but the food was actually good. I got schnitzel cos still wanted more fries, and hubs got a local specialty, some sort of vinegared pork. it was really good despite how it sounds lol
the next day we went to the Sky Mart by the hotel and stocked up on pretty much everything, and then we set out into Holsteinische Schweiz (Holstein Switzerland). it's a hilly area with tons of little lakes east of Kiel, but resembling it to Switzerland is stretching the truth, but Germany like calling any hilly area for "something Switzerland"..
it's a beautiful area, though, and we just drove around, and at one point we thought we had gotten lost, or at least maybe taken a closed road deep into a forest, so why not eat lunch here since there were no one else around.
|hubs' rendition of Wolf since we were in the forest. looks more like a disabled bunny to me I dunno...|
in the afternoon we were back in Kiel and set out for the promenade down by the water. when we past the harbour there were a cruise ship setting out.
the harbour's so narrow that the ships have to back out and then turn around once they get to the wider area.
|photobombed by random police car|
there were also some sort of aquarium, I think, and we never really figured out what the deal was cos it was closed, but they had a couple of seals hanging around.
after "the show" was over, we took a drive further up the coast.
back in town, the sheer size of just one of the brothels made me think at least 60% of the people coming in on cruise ships must be here for sex cos the industrial part of the harbour is so small, and a lot of it is on the opposite side of the river.
instead we went by a Chinese place and got sushi to take back to nom while we watched more Running Man.
the next day we made a trip north to see the western lock of the Nord-Ostsee Kanal (Kiel Canal). it's the busiest artificial canal in the world with 43000 vessels in '07, not including small crafts (thank you Wiki), and it saves ships from having to go around DK to get to the Baltic Sea.
it was another beautiful day with exceptionally blue skies (we never edit our pics so this is the real deal), and fortunately there was a ship coming in as we got there.
turns out this lock business is an extremely slow business, so before it got released out into the Kieler Fiord we were long gone!
we wanted to have a lazy beach afternoon, and our map showed several places along the coast, but because the weather was so good today, everywhere was absolutely packed. since we hate that we kept going, and in the end our efforts paid off cos we found this lovely beach with only a senior couple, a single dude, and a couple with a kid.
|what's better than this ♥ though next time we're bringing a blanket, too, so we can just lay around all day!|
|maybe a trip to the museum?|
|I've never seen a thatched roof on a windmill before|
|the wire that drags the ferry across|
back in Kiel we had dinner on a roof top by the promenade. this one was pretty not good, except for hubs' herrings.
random helmet selca. hubs is gonna be driving the most so he got a real A+ helmet. this chubby here didn't have many options cos not many helmets come in XXXL >_<
in the end I had to choose a half-helmet. it was okay though, cos I felt really claustrophobic in the full helmets I pressed on.
the next day we checked out and headed west across Germany, and then drove north along the coast on all the smallest roads, as close to the dike as possible.
|I was really surprised and happy to see how many places here used solar power!|
we drove all the way out by the water on the road along the dike, and we had these marshes on the land side of us.
|an old lock.|
|more solar panels covering the entire roof of a huge farm.|
it says enter at your own risk, and to expect "dike typical nuisances" such as sheep poo and whatnot lol
the 2D of the pic doesn't really show how high up I'm sitting compared to the road running "inside" the dike, but obviously it's pretty high up cos it's made to keep an entire ocean out. and there were sooo many sheep (and crap everywhere!) even though we somehow only managed to get a few in the shot.
after that we drove to the in-laws who live down here in Southern Jutland.
the next day we drove to Rømø.
first we drove to the south end of the island, and walked on the outer side of the harbour pier with our feet in the water, squealing over huge crabs (okay that was mostly me), and watched the ferry from Sylt come in.
then hubs took me to the golf course where we sat on a bench by the 1st tee and had a soda.
|the little hut had a swallow's nest on the door.|
|the golf resort. far from the prettiest place I've ever seen, but the course is good and I guess that's what's important at a golf resort.|
and on the other side it looks like this! flat sand, literally as far as the eye could see and beyond.
I've never seen anything like this, it was completely surreal. there were so many people here, camping, flying kites, kite surfing, just driving around like us.
there were no roads so you could just go where ever you liked, but there were obviously some tracks that were kinda road-ish, where the sand was safely packed. other places were more sketchy and had more visible track marks hence the sand was softer and more dangerous. not dangerous in the help-we're-gonna-die dangerous kinda way, but more in the shit-we're-stuck-how-to-get-the-car-moving-again kinda way.
|most people drove slowly and safely, but of course there were also idiots drag-racing and making sand donuts in between families playing -.-|
safely back on asphalt we drove north.
|the heather was so prettyyyy|
|it's easiest to see in the dead tree, but a huge flock of bird had settled here and they were so noisy.|
|this was just a really pretty thatched house.|
|I dunno if this picture conveys it right, but when we drove back towards the beach entry road, it looked complete crazy seeing all the cars coming from all directions all headed towards the same point, like moths to a flame.|
the bridge is 18 km long, and the western part has the road and rail road running alongside each other. the eastern part after the tiny island, Sprogø, is the suspension bridge. it's 1624 m free span makes it the world's 3rd longest suspension bridge, and the longest in Europe.
|to think I biked here in the race before the opening in '98.|