We just returned from a half-day tour of Hamburg, Germany. And, no, the hamburger wasn’t created here; according to our guide, it was created in the United States. He did say, however, that the residents of his city are called Hamburgers, so I suspect they get a lot of teasing from clueless Americans.
I knew very little of Hamburg before our tour, but our guide Jorge did his best to educate us.
Hamburg was founded by Charlemagne in the ninth century. In the twelfth century, Frederick Barbarosa gave it a certificate that, for lack of a better explanation, made the city an independent city-state enabling it to conduct free trade on the Elbe River. We saw impressive statues of both men at the City Hall.
The Elbe flows into the larger seas surrounding northern Germany, which enabled Hamburg to develop as a significant seaport.
The city was devastated by a great fire in 1842, but rebuilt. One hundred years later it was devastated by bombs in World War II. Again, it was rebuilt; so it is common to see very modern architecture standing next to buildings that are two- and three- hundred years old. It makes for an interesting historical perspective and equally interesting photo opportunities.
Our tour passed many of the major monuments, churches, and civic buildings as Jorge described each. Clearly, his English was better than my German would ever be, and it made me wonder if tourists coming to the major cities in the United States are able to find guides who speak in their native languages. I hope so.
The final stop on our tour was a snack shop where we were treated to a beverage – hot chocolate, coffee, or beer – and German pastries. You would have thought the passengers on our bus hadn’t eaten in days the way they devoured everything. Or perhaps it’s become a way of life.
Cold turkey begins in two days.