January 26th, as at the end of every month, came one of the moments on which each steward / stewardess is waiting – flight roster for the next month. Excited I opened the e-mail, and there was multisector Singapore – Melbourne – Singapore, Prague, exotic Lagos, cold and intriguing.. Moscow and Hamburg. German city, Europe, sleet, in a word nothing exotic for me. I told myself “what I’ll be doing there?! Another old town to go? Another cathedral, wurst und bier? So I was interested in this destination as in last year’s snow. I even wanted to swap this flight for something else, but what convinced me to not do it was that I’ve never been there and I couldn’t say no to the new magnet on the fridge, or new postcards.
The day before departure I checked on the application on my phone how big is going to be the load on the fly, and there was: full! So beautiful, not only I want to go there as to Bombay, but I’ll also work my tits off!
Surprise nr 1. Extremely pleasant flight. Passengers were very polite. “Please”, “thank you”, “could you”, “I would be grateful if”. Nice atmosphere, lovely chats and discipline. Before the start we must always secure the cabin, or check whether the passengers have fasten seat belts, seats in the upright position, the armrests lowered, raised window blinds etc. Usually it takes a little bit of time. This time, I’m going down the path and everything is done! I didn’t have to say even one word!
Surprise nr 2. Very sophisticated hotel! We always sleep in hotels of higher standard, but among them are the better and these.. less the better. Usually the most luxury are in Asia and Africa, Continental Europe also holds a high level, the United Kingdom, Australia nothing special. Hotel in Hamburg was special. Elegant, sleek style, automated, restaurant where I ate breakfast had a glass wall at a slight incline overlooking the lake AuBenlaster. And the breakfast itself: smoked salmon, marinated herrings, hams, good quality bread! Yumi!
Surprise nr 3. Not bored. For the first time in my life I went to the Bundesliga match. Local HSV was playing against Borussia Munshengladbach.
I quickly accommodated in a hotel, took a shower, put on clothes and went! After making inquiries at the hotel reception moved briskly toward Hauptbanhof Nord railway station where I took suburban train and went to the HSV stadium – Imtech Arena. (What Imtech club pays for the name I do not know but the previous sponsor – HSH Nordbank shelled out for this purpose, in 2007, 25 million Euro. In comparison to the Polish league gap is huge, taking into account that the most popular Polish club Legia Warsaw got from Pepsi 4 million Euro in 2011).
The road from the station to the stadium was almost 2 km. Given that I was a little late, I walked quite fast so in the same time good cardio was done ;) In a quite large crowd I reached stadium, I bought a ticket at the box office (39 Euro), for which no special card was needed.
Stadium of this average German team can accommodate nearly 60,000 people. So it is a similar size as the largest Polish stadium, that is, the National Stadium in Warsaw. However, we can at least feel a bit better, that our National Stadium is of a bit higher standard with comfortable seats, interesting architecture, folding roof, not to mention the additional function which is the ability to transform into a swimming pool ;)
The match wasn’t a hit of the league . Local HSV attempts to escape from the lower part of league table which guarantees drop to the second division. Borussia Munchengladbach just occupied the third position, but as I found out from the crowd seated aside, this was due to the weaker disposal of other clubs and several happy matches (just keep in mind that I heard those opinions from the HSV’s fans ;) ). And for such a match, without special rate, without well known teams, came over 52 thousand people. Compared to the attendance on the Polish stadiums we can just envy.
In 1998-2000, during the reconstruction of the stadium, the club decided to move tribune designed for the most ardent supporters of the southern stand (Sudkurve), where also were sitting the ultra right-wing neo-Nazis on Northern Grandstand (Nordkurve). Those unhappy with this turn of events put the board of the club one condition – no seats on the new grandstand, only standing places. The Board agreed to the condition. This type of fans doesn’t use their seats anyway, at least in the way it’s intended to use, it is a very cool idea. Occurs in most of the German stadiums, and in other countries as well.
HSV fans who sit on that very tribune, apparently realized that it was my first time on the Bundesliga match and gratitude me that I choose to visit their arena, they decided to make a surprise for me and hung out a flag “DANIEL ON TOUR”;)
When it comes to fun stage, it didn’t make an impression on me, nor did the HSV fans or visiting Borussia, although the latter I must admit that appeared in a nice number, more or less 3000 and sometimes were louder than the most ardent fans of HSV . Both sides had a few flags and were singing throughout the game. Others tribunes were rarely involved to sing along. There wasn’t also presented and choreography, not to mention the pyrotechnics. This, however, is not necessarily surprising, considering the importance of the match. I know that during Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich matches is happening much more. Furthermore, I must mention that from my perspective, the bar to assess the level of sports fans is placed very high, considering the fact that for several years I have been pretty regular visitor to the stadium located at street Łazienkowska 3 in Warsaw, and even on a few away games I attended as well.
As for the game itself.. who would even look at the game?! ;) It is known, the level of Bundesliga is “slightly” higher than at Polish Ekstraklasa, but the match itself wasn’t too much captivating. In the end of the match HSV finally opened the scoring at 1: 0. Stadium cheered, all ready to leave, but all of a sudden Borussia in stoppage time scored goal as well and enthusiasm moved into sector of visitors.
Players from both teams began to thank theirs fans for support, and I was heading to the exit because my ass already freeze! (February!). In the crowd of HSV fans but also beware!, Borussia fans, did cardio back to the station (2km!). Yes opposing teams supporters marched shoulder to shoulder, and nothing happened. Some novelty for me and exotic image at the same time;)
From the 24 hour layover was a few hours left the next day. After eating a delicious breakfast which I mentioned at the beginning, I went to the city. The area around the hotel, as you can see below, is the basin of a certain sexual minority.
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, after the Berlin. Inevitably, therefore, I didn’t see everything, but what I saw – downtown, made on me a very positive impression. How the most of the cities in western Europe, the pedestrian-friendly, no motorways in the center, limited movement of cars, lots of green areas, among other, the lake, which overlooked a view from my room, I would like to say.. But, unfortunately, I can’t. My view was on the charming, intriguing and unique .. building site.
The old town was almost completely destroyed during an air carpet raid of Allied forces in July 1943. But because of the fact that this part of Germany founded itself on the happy side of the Iron Curtain, it most of the downtown was rebuilt. City center is surrounded by more modern housing development integrated into the wooded areas.
As usual in Europe, I checked a few cathedrals. Some of them were constructed in the Gothic style, some in Baroque and that would be all when it comes to architectural curiosities in this post ;) A nice touch was a booklets and prayers in Polish language in almost every church, to which I went.
Germany, and especially the western part of it is the strongest economy in Europe. So Hamburg is economically strong as well. One of the largest transshipment port in Europe, developed medical and biotechnology industry. Also here is produced most of the components for the largest passenger aircraft, which is the A380, on which I flew here.
For this trip I was skeptical, but it surprised me in a very nice way. Hopefully I’ll have more such surprises.