It was Amber's first time to Germany (and Europe) so it was awesome to be able to stay with our friends Cloudy Dziallas, Peter Henning, and their little girl "Inchy". I knew Cloudy from my mission and Amber met Cloudy when she came to visit us in 2004 in Pittsburgh. We had a lot of fun introducing Amber to North German dishes specific to the region (matjes!) and talking soccer and politics. I am very appreciative of their hospitality and friendship. Friends like them are a rare find.
Inside St. Michaelis Cathedral in Hamburg
Fall In Hamburg
The first couple of days we spent in Hamburg. We saw the famous Rathaus (city hall), St. Michaelis cathedral, and shopped a little. On Tuesday, we took the typical tourist route and went to Berlin. It was my first time there so we did what most people do there: see the Reichstag, bits of the Wall, the Berliner Dom, Brandenburg Gate, etc. Berlin is so big and has so much history one day was simply not enough, but we did our best. Amber and I did feel it necessary to eat a "Berliner" in Berlin in tribute to JFK's famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate.
Amber and I at the Reichstag
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Mosaic
On Wednesday, we were joined by my "German Mom" (Cloudy's real mom) Brigitte. All of us, except Peter, took a short trip to Luebeck, a port city by the Baltic Sea. There we saw some of the beautiful architecture and ate a ton of good food. Here Amber got her first dose of matjes (raw sea herring). We ate at an old captain's society restaurant. All of us ate dishes very indigenous to the area. After we got our fill there, we waddled our way to the Niederegger Marzipan Cafe to eat some of Luebeck's world famous confection: marzipan. Marzipan was invented in Luebeck and only the best comes from there. Amber and I tried to down what we could without looking like pigs.
Pinkys Up! at the Niederegger Marzipan Cafe'
Amber and I at the Holstentor in Luebeck
Thursday was "my" day. No soccer games were scheduled the week we were in Hamburg due to World Cup qualification games that week. So after a lunch of more great matjes prepared by Brigitte, we visited the Nordbank Arena, home of Hamburg SV. There, we walked through the museum, saw the impressive trophy case (I was 12 inches from the Champion League Cup!!), and took the stadium tour. On the tour we saw the inner workings of the stadium. The best part was when they allowed us to walk the tunnel that the players take on their way out to the pitch. I didn't get to touch the pitch. It cost at least 900,000 euro, so I couldn't even sneeze on it. However, I did get to sit on the players' bench. And did I say I got to walk the tunnel? Yeah, that was wicked cool. We were joined by Rudi Jaeger, Cloudy's bro-in-law, for the tour. We then went out for steaks and ended at Rudi's house where Amber met Britta. Britta also being a fan of the "Twilight" books, they had a lot to talk about, ugh.
Some of Hamburger SV's Trophies
Walking the tunnel at Nordbank Arena with Peter and Inchy
Amber and Cloudy in Wernigerode
Peter grew up in Wernigerode. Wernigerode was just inside what was once East Germany. Because of this, things were a little less expensive than in Hamburg (dang Euro!). We stayed at the Weisser Hirsch (White Buck) Hotel. Our room was the best I've ever stayed in. It looked over the town plaza and city hall (see pic below). So, If ever in Wernigerode, stay at the Weisser Hirsch and request room 204.
The view from our hotel room in Wernigerode
In Wernigerode, we visited a glass making factory, took a gondola up to the top of a mountain where legend has that Witches gather every year to dance. We also toured the famous Wernigerode castle (Ambi's first time in a castle). From the castle you can see the Broken, the highest point in Northern Germany. I hiked it three times during my mission, but not this time around. Maybe next time.
Sunday, our last day, we spent some time meandering through the lovely Goslar. We saw the Kaiserpfalz castle and watched a Glockenspiel. Afterward, it was back to Hamburg. Rudi, Britta, and their girls joint all of us at Cloudy's house where we enjoyed the last hours of our trip in Hamburg.
Kaiserpfalz in Goslar
It was sad to go. Hamburg never feels foreign to me. Not when you have people you care about there. Sure there is a language difference, but never a language barrier. I think even Amber felt the same. What make a trip special is the people you spend it with. I hope it won't be another 10years 'til we return.