It is Friday, October 7, 2011, 7:20 a.m.. Fourteen trembling people are clutching their now lukewarm cups of coffee from a familiar bakery chain and waiting for the last stragglers.
At 7:39 a.m., the long-awaited and comfortably climate-controlled (which is not necessarily a given, as I have heard) ICE heading toward Hamburg finally arrived. The pleasant peace and quiet, which reigned here in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the train station, tempted a few people, including me, to close their eyes for a little while.
The calm before the storm.
Germany’s largest harbor
But the calm before the storm did not last long. Suddenly a deafening screech was heard behind me. It turns out that this loud noise that gave me quite a shock (as people noted, despite music in my headphones) and tore me from my slumber was an eight-member women’s team from a shooting club. Even if you could not hear, you could have determined at first glance that this group was having a lot of fun: A bib with a bear on it, “drinking eyeglasses”, drinking from a funnel, not to mention a striptease, which Anna witnessed close-up were just a few signs…
Apprentices in Germany’s largest harbor
But to return to the actual topic: Once we arrived in Hamburg, the search for the correct exit proved to be a small challenge, but once we had overcome this hurdle we did manage to find the right bus that was waiting to take us on a tour of the Hamburg Harbor. After the invention of the container, which caused a real revolution, Hamburg Harbor grew to encompass a length of 235 km, where 85 million tons of goods are handled each year. It’s no wonder that Hamburg Harbor is Germany’s largest, and after Rotterdam and Antwerp, the third-largest harbor in Europe. As “small town people”, we were especially impressed by the AGV (Automatic Guided Vehicles), which enable the driverless transport of containers. In this case, driverless does not just mean without a driver, but across an area of 1,400 m x 100 m that people are not allowed to access. In this particular area, people are considered a source of errors and a disturbance so they are not wanted (and where should this lead us?) *g*).
Culture and coffee
However, in the end, it was not just the gigantic impressions that the harbor made on us, but especially the small retreats for sailors, which you would hardly even suspect were there. We got to know one of these, the “International Seamen’s Club,” during our short break, and as is customary for wholesale and export traders, we were overwhelmed by the different cultures that are finding or have found their way in there. After a cup of coffee, a group photo, and a round of billiards with some disputed rules, we continued on the bus tour. At the end of this entertaining tour, we experienced a positive rush of stimuli, and we spent our lunch break absorbing the new knowledge and simply enjoying the experience.
Customs museum and trip home
Unfortunately, our visit to the customs museum is hardly worth mentioning. Its size disappointed us, as did a tour that did not happen because we would have needed to book it in advance. Thus it would be futile to read through the descriptions of the individual exhibits, and furthermore, free time in the big city was enticing us.
Precisely at 7:00 p.m., all the apprentices made their way back to the Hamburg train station and they looked forward, some of them with tired feet but satisfied with the expedition nonetheless, to the journey home.