Bruxelles Midi – Koeln Hbf – Hannover Hbf – Hamburg Hbf

Although I’ve been through Brussels on both the previous legs of this trip, I’d not done the direct line to Cologne before. I did have some work to do, but interesting sights out of the window are always a distraction, indeed they are a key part of the trip! As we pulled into Liège, the station canopy caught my eye. Once we were inside a fabulous multicoloured roof revealed itself.

I had a little time in Cologne between trains and the station is right next to the famous cathedral so I took a short walk. I’ve been here before and it is a remarkable building, though I also very much liked the station. I wonder how controversial it was to site one so close to the other.

German stations do have a distinct style and even very new ones like Berlin clearly have their design roots in places like this.

Heading towards Hannover on what I thought was a completely new line for me, I was surprised to see a familiar sight out of the window. We passed through Wuppertal, home of the overhead railway that I’d visited on the first trip. I’d previously approached from a different direction, bypassing Cologne.

Wuppertal Schwebebahn
Wuppertal Schwebebahn

At Hannover I changed trains and was now on new territory, as I now will be for the most of the rest of this trip.

I’ve never visited Hamburg before. That would have been evident to anyone watching me as I got off the train one stop early, having inadvertently reserved to Hamburg Harburg on my Interrail planner. Having stepped off the train, I looked at the small station and the number of people who had (not) got off and quickly looked at a map. I jumped back on for one more stop.

I knew that it was a huge port, and that was evident from the long lines of cranes and containers on the horizon as we approached the city centre. Having dropped my bags I went for a walk, but was not expecting the a lake in the centre (see header image on this post) or for the city to be criss-crossed by canals. It was too late in the day to do a boat trip, unfortunately, but still light and I had time for a good wander around.

I guess the obvious food to eat here is a hamburger. There is no shortage of places offering them, from the global chains to luxury restaurants and local cafes. I looked at several but none seemed especially appealing. I guess I was spoiled by the place we used to eat in Newcastle-under-Lyme when I was younger. Compared to that every burger I’ve ever had since, has been a disappointment. That said, I did enjoy the (unofficial?) sign outside a McD’s that said “if not here, then where?” However I decided on an Indian, in a small friendly cafe just out of town. Inevitably on my way back to the hotel I found what looked like a really good burger bar, but never mind.

My route back took me past the main station so I had a look inside, as I’d missed it on my arrival – the steps from the platform took me straight to the street. Another super German station. I’m becoming quite a fan of these.