Final Hamburging and home
Final trip post! For my last day in Hamburg I supplemented foot explorations with a hop-on hop-off bus to partial success, before beginning my 40 hour journey to get home. I was lucky that a disappointing discovery on the way didn’t have a greater impact in what had been a fairly epic adventure.
Taking a shortcut through the train station, I backtracked over some of the previous day’s ground to take a closer look at places I’d not had time to stop at.
I picked up the bus tour from here but felt short-changed when the commentary was supplied only in German. A few minutes away was a stop near where I caught the boat tour yesterday. By the time I realised that our bus was stopped for an indefinite period, the bus in front had pulled away leaving me somewhat stranded. I climbed off frustrated – when I asked the driver and guide apparently I should’ve known to ask for English?
Too annoyed to wait for the next bus I continued on foot without much of a plan. The silver lining was spending time in areas I’d seen from the boat the day before.
Hamburg is an old city in relatively new clothes. A rebuild occurred after about a quarter of the central city was destroyed by fire in the 19th century only for WW2 bombing to level much of the city and harbour about 100 years later.
I gave the bus another attempt. I didn’t complete a full circuit and so didn’t extract maximum value from the pass but the segment I did this time was useful in my rapidly shrinking window of time – especially once I requested English commentary! (Which still didn’t seem to be the full equivalent of what was being relayed in German but was better than nothing.)
By late afternoon I was back at the hotel, armed with a commemorative drink or two to mark my final night away and hydrate me through the full unpack-discard-repack task. This included farewelling my shoes – after several years of excellent service I laid them to rest in the continent they were debuted in a few years before.
The next day I bid farewell to Europe. My previous experience of Germany was an overnight stay in the Black Forest five years ago when Mike and I drove from Switzerland to France. This visit was also fleeting and so Germany remains somewhere I still need to visit properly. Among other things, the Nürburgring track is very much on my to-do list!
While transiting in Zurich a credit card purchase was declined and I was subsequently shocked to discover that my card details had been hacked somehow somewhere and someone(s) had been shopping up a storm in England and Canada. I was fuming and tried to report it, but was unable to get hold of my bank until I got to Shanghai. While it had gone undiscovered for a few days as I was using my credit card only sparingly, I was extremely fortunate that it didn’t become an issue until the very end of my travels and so didn’t cock up any important transactions.
I had several hours to kill in Shanghai and opted to make use of the hotel inside the airport. As dodgy as it sounds, you can book this in hourly increments – the room was nice though and it was an excellent spot to rest and freshen up before tackling the next half-day ordeal through to Auckland.
This penultimate flight was made all the more enjoyable as it was Air NZ. Not only did it give me an early connection with home, but the service was excellent and the new plane had the best personal entertainment screen I’ve encountered.
Without my dodgy shoes I skated through Customs in Auckland with relative ease. I built a few extra hours into this stop and Mum and Dad made the trip in to see me. I was able to offload a couple of kilos of stuff that I’d brought back for Mum. The final hop to Wellington produced a very windy and bumpy welcome home.
I’m really happy with how my travels played out. Poland is a beautiful and historical country, packed with things that interest me and with a family connection to boot. Lonely Planet has announced Poland among its top 10 destination picks for 2016 so tourism is only going to get bigger there. Where I went it was easy to get around and in most places you can get away without knowing Polish – though the basics are always helpful. It was a good decision to use a pack for increased mobility and to experiment with travelling light-ish (though it was a bit cumbersome with the daypack as well).
Continuing the momentum of the family history theme, Mum has been able to make further headway with research. It will be an ongoing labour of love though – and with more than 400 Fabiches evidently living in Poland, one could be researching forever.
I’m yet to see the box that I shipped back to myself from Kraków about eight weeks ago but hopefully it will turn up!
Thanks to everyone who followed along with this trip. Normal transmission will resume again soon!