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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.

Refugees destined for Sweden

Refugees destined for Sweden

City hall, aka rathaus. At 647 rooms it's slightly larger than Buckingham Palace

City hall, aka rathaus(!). At 647 rooms it’s slightly larger than Buckingham Palace

The lobby inside. I thought you might be able to go up the clock tower but seemingly not, perhaps because it is still a fully functioning city hall

The lobby inside. I thought you might be able to go up the clock tower but seemingly not, perhaps because it is still a fully functioning city hall

Hamburg has more canals than Venice

Hamburg has more canals than Venice

St Michael's is Hamburg's most famous church and is a prominent landmark

St Michael’s is Hamburg’s most famous church and is a prominent landmark

The interior is stunning white and gold baroque

The interior is stunning white and gold baroque

Downstairs is the crypt where well over 2000 people are interred and which was used as a shelter during WW2

Downstairs is the crypt where well over 2000 people are interred and which was used as a shelter during WW2

I walked up the church steeple to get me some views

I walked up the church steeple to get me some views

That's Hamburg's TV tower

That’s Hamburg’s TV tower

The unfortunate result of a few industrial chimneys on a calm day

The unfortunate result of a few industrial chimneys on a calm day

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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.

Loads of Hamburg elements in this image including St Michael's where I was earlier

Loads of Hamburg elements in this image including St Michael’s where I was earlier

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.

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Just for something different, a gold t-rex head

Just for something different šŸ™‚

The Speicherstadt or warehouse district. In July of this year it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Speicherstadt or warehouse district. In July of this year it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hamburg has many spaces that make the most of its plentiful waterfront area

Hamburg has many spaces that make the most of its plentiful waterfront area

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Part of the extensive HafenCity development that will continue for many years to come

Part of the extensive HafenCity development that will continue for many years to come

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.)

Beautiful day for open top double-decker - just watch out for tree branches

Beautiful day for open top double-decker – just watch out for tree branches

Not having done too much homework on Hamburg, this lake was a surprise, especially when I realised later that one end is just on the either side of city hall

Not having done too much homework on Hamburg, this lake was a surprise, especially when I realised later that one end is just on the either side of city hall

Lakeside pads. This feels like a great relaxing part of the city

Lakeside pads. This feels like a great relaxing part of the city

I bailed at city hall so that I could investigate that end of Alster lake

I bailed at city hall so that I could investigate that end of Alster Lake

The next morning I'd be on a train over that bridge to get to the airport

The next morning I’d be on a train over that bridge to get to the airport

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.

Bye shoes

Bye shoes

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 NĆ¼rburgring 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).

Bulky but hands free and not too weighed down. (Leaving Ukraine)

Bulky but hands free and not too weighed down. (Leaving Ukraine)

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 KrakĆ³w 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!

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. The closed up photo of you is a very good one. You are looking rested in that one. I hope the back got your money back to you. How in the world do cards manage to get stolen? That is dang scary. Your photos are getting better and better. You are capturing the essence of each place that you visit. Take care.

    9 November 2015
    • The bank transferred out the fraud transactions, issued me a new card and are no doubt continuing their investigations. It shows you can’t be too careful as 99.9% of the time my card was in a wallet that protects against electronic theft. I’ll be ramping up my vigilance next time that’s for sure! Thanks Yvonne for reading and commenting throughout the trip, it has been much appreciated.

      12 November 2015
  2. Janice Strong #

    This is an amazing city Hayley I had always thought of it as an affluent place and in the old buildings one can see the richness of architecture and St Michael’s is one in particular. The photos of the waterfront look a bit like Auckland many years ago. The photos of yourself are
    lovely you look great. But what a distress about your credit card. How awful. It is good that the bank has been able to sort it.Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful trip Hayley. I feel so much richer in knowledge now as well. Looking forward to reading your next blog.
    Love
    Janice xxx

    23 November 2015
    • Thanks Janice for taking the time to read and comment all along the way. I’ll email soon for an end of year catch-up. x

      29 November 2015
  3. Wow! It’s like being there! Thanks! Great commentary and photos! So sad about the shoes, but it seems they served you well!

    4 February 2016
    • Yeah they still had a good bit of life left in them but on the plus side I sailed through Customs when I got home! Thanks for your comment.

      8 February 2016
  4. Excellent post and great set of very beautiful photos. Thank You.

    15 April 2016

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