Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Visiting Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg

As a good friend of mine was going to present his final Engineering Diploma project at the Institut für Umwelttechnik und Energiewirtschaft, part of the Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg, I just had to take the opportunity to pay him a visit, share a good (and I guess important) moment with him and see the second largest German city.

The drive to Hamburg (yes, I drove, I love to) was easy and relaxed. Good roads, interesting scenery (well, mostly flat fields), good music blasting in the radio and as soon as I arrived to Germany, a beautiful Sun shining in the sky. I can highlight how relevant seeing and feeling the Sun was to the general feeling of the trip. It has been months since I last saw a clear sky, totally devoid of clouds - sometimes in Amsterdam we do see a slit of blue sky, or the sun might shine for a couple of minutes, but that's it. I could actually drive without any heating and in a simple sweater. That felt sweet.

I stayed with my friends in the flat he shares with fellow students (if any of you ever reads this thanks for taking me in) and in the morning I couldn't wait to go out and walk about. We were staying in the south part of Hamburg named Harburg (Hamburg is a agglomeration of several smaller cities, a State City) and as my friend's presentation was in the afternoon I decided to stay around. Despite not being a super touristic place Harburg still has a nice feeling to it.

That evening and night were dedicated to celebrate the accomplished of my friend. Let's leave it at that…

The next day it was finally time to go and see the city of Hamburg. We (me, my friend and one of his flatmates) took the metro to the station Langungsbüken and started what would be something like a six or seven hours walking tour.

Right next to the mentioned station is a feat of beginning of XIX engineering: St. Pauli Elbe Tunnel, a tunnel bellow the Elbe river open to the public in 1911. Instead of the usual entrance and exit ramps this tunnel uses big elevators for vehicles to be lowered and raised from the tunnel. Pedestrians an bicycles can always use the stairs.

On today standards of engineering this almost 500m long and 24m beneath the surface doesn't sound like much but think about it: it was build more than one hundred years ago, when the technology and knowledge were a far distant ancestors of what they are now. The technic to build tunnels those days was by pressurising the under construction tunnel in order to prevent water from leaking in. Workers would be submitted to a high air pressure and then at the end of their shift would simple return to normal one atmosphere. This lead to some of the workers feeling sick by what we now know as the decompression sickness.

After walking the length of the tunnel, reaching the surface and walking around the tunnel entrance building one is greeted with a great view of the lower city. I took sometime to take a set of photos that latter at home a stitched as a panoramic view.

As you can see the weather had turn gray. Low clouds were blocking the Sun and in the end of the day it actually started to rain. Well… I wasn't complaining. The effects of the previous exposure to Sun light were still being felt. Or maybe it was the previous night partying. Or a mix or both.

Anyway, this is a already long post and my TODO list is calling. On a next post I'll continue with the story of visiting Hamburg and the reason why getting to Hamburg is a lot better than leaving it.

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