Having left Brussels I took the mid-morning ICE to Hamburg, arriving in the early evening. I managed also to, at least partially, tick off Koeln [where is the fucking umlaut in an iPad?!?] en route- Albeit only for an hour between trains. Helpfully they have listened to tourist feedback and placed the Cathedral right next to the main train station so I was able to have a bit of a gander.
Hamburg seems a pleasant enough place. I stayed at Generator hostel, which is part of a European-wide chain. http://www.generatorhostels.com. Being used to hostels in less salubrious parts of the world I was actually very impressed. It’s a huge building with dorms and private rooms over 7 floors. It’s all well decorated, well thought out and scrupulously clean. It has also set the benchmark for most comfortable hostel bed of my travelling “career” thus far, which I think I will struggle to better. It’s situated right outside the main station which makes life easier with luggage- But more about that later. It seemed like a place that people simply passed through fairly quickly. I’m not staying long during my journey to Russia as cities aren’t really my scene, but I’d have quite liked another day to explore a bit more.
The clientele at Generator is generally fairly young but it’s not full of idiots, which can’t be said of some of my previous hostel visits.
Getting back into hostel life is a bit of a culture shock but it’s one that will pass quickly. I’ve always been happy to pass up a bit of personal space to save some money- Hostel beds when you’re travelling alone generally tend to be about a quarter to a half of the equivalent single room, so it makes sense. Particularly in Western Europe hotels rapidly erode budgets, and I want to keep as much of mine as possible intact, for now anyway.
It’s also far more social… With hotels you tend to just lock yourself away in the room without meeting other people and have far less opportunities for interaction. This was a real bugbear of my Indian trip because, again, I was travelling alone and the hostel scene isn’t as big there.
Unfortunately my carefully laid plans for Hamburg went awry as a result of this sociability… I had firmly planned to have a nice meal out, early night and then a decent early morning sightseeing wander in advance of my 11.30am train. I managed the nice meal. However, the morning plan went out of the window some time in the late evening when I met Simon from Australia at the hostel. Limited persuasion led to a whistlestop tour of Hamburg’s gay scene.
This has done nothing to change my long held view that certain sections of German society can be a little… specialist. Perfectly normal basement bar with a dungeon dark room attached, etc. He and I both drew the line at another place called Slut which from the advertising looked distinctly vanilla however on arrival was filled with a variety of leather outfits and a sign on the door advertising their “piss party”. Just don’t ask. We didn’t. We left.
So, a 2.30 am bedtime was followed by a 5, 6, 7am series of wake up calls from fellow residents getting ready to leave and RUSTLEzipscrunchZIPPPPPPPPPPrustleBANG packing their bags. Therefore the morning sightseeing was eschewed in favour of an epic hangover, very much needed lie in, quick run up to the town hall and then a slightly panicky return to the train station as the departure time loomed.
Now up to Copenhagen. I’m currently intending to spend one night here, as a quick online search for accommodation seems to confirm its wallet-draining capabilities. I’ve booked into a reasonable-looking hostel near the station which is a slightly scandalous £30odd quid for a bed in a dorm- the next cheapest looked to be around £50-£60 for a dorm bed. NOPE.
And so to kit.
My rucksac is already annoying me. It’s just slightly too heavy, and a bit bulky. I’ve taken an Osprey Farpoint 70 (www.ospreybackpacks.com) which I bought from Nomad Travel in Bristol. It came in just under £100 after discount which is fairly reasonable for its market segment. Online reviews are generally fairly positive but do comment that, with the attached daypack, it becomes too bulky- Mainly due to it’s shape. It is signifcantly ‘shorter’ than other similar packs which does account for this.
I’d tend to agree. It’s a great pack- The back system is comfortable and the loading via the back rather than the top is very user-friendly. There are plenty of kit loops on the outside which I’m trying not to use too much for fear of becoming a wandering, clanking neo-traveller hobo. It’s pretty much the right size for most of my kit. I have been particularly savage with my wardrobe and despite several reviews, re-reviews and a bit of swearing at home I really couldn’t take less clothing.
The only fly in the ointment is that most of my valuable, and heavy, kit has gone in the daysack which makes it a heavy, unbalancing ‘hump’ when attached to the main bag. So, some jettisoning is going to have to take place. I constantly return to my iPad and bluetooth keyboard and muse how weighty they have ended up but I’m not pecking this bilge out on an iPhone keyboard so it’s staying for the time being. Might jettison some more pants, or something.
Just arrived in Copenhagen. I am DEFINITELY not young, pretty or hip enough for this city. It’s like a Scandinavian Made in Chelsea, with more totty. Bonkers.