I've been to quite a few places in Germany before (Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Munich, Trier, Roethenberg), but have never ventured up north to Hamburg. One of my goals of studying abroad is to explore Germany and Europe as much as my time and money will allow, so I jumped at the chance to tag along with nine of my new friends on the excursion. In preparation, we bought special train passes that amounted to 8 Euros per person for the round-trip. Cheap travel is the best travel!
Our train departed from the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main train station) at 7 a.m., but due to an extremely inconvenient subway strike, we had to leave our apartment complex at 5:15 a.m. Exhaustion worked its way into our systems that morning- we nearly missed our train due to some confusion with delays. Once we were finally boarded, we settled in for a long four-hour ride with one transfer. Of course, we had to choose the train car with a crying baby and obnoxious drunk men shouting nonsense about "choo-choo bahns" at 9 a.m. Only in Germany!
Somehow or other, my friends and I ended up in the Red Light District for a round of drinks. I've never seen so many sex shops in my life! The sidewalks were lined with racy window displays and "gentleman's clubs," which would never appear on a public street in the U.S.
We left Hamburg at 6 p.m., after spending seven short hours in the city. On the way home, the ten of us got lucky and had an entire train car to ourselves, complete with a table and comfortable chairs. As we were driving through the German countryside into the sunset, a thunder storm surrounded us, throwing down lighting in every direction. Seeing the bright bolts light up the countryside was truly breathtaking, and we took turns standing with our heads hanging out of the open window like dogs, dodging the rain pellets and taking in the view.