The next stop on our tour was Hamburg. I had visited Hamburg long ago, and only for a day in the middle of winter. It was dark, cold, Nordic. Also, I got to see Ulrich Wildgruber perform Prospero in The Tempest. That of course is another story.

My impression of Hamburg by daylight in warmer weather is something else. There are sites that match one's mental image of Europe. This, for instance, is a courtyard in the Town Hall.

Other areas are more functional and industrial. This area near the harbor reminds me a lot of Chicago, right down to the bascule bridges that I spotted here and there.

We got to take a boat tour of the harbor, and that too reshaped my impression. Hamburg is one of the largest, busiest ports in the world, and the scale of activity around the water definitely gives the city a muscular feel.

These gigantic cranes (I'm not sure what else I would call them) move shipping containers onto and off of ships. Under optimal circumstances, one of these can load or unload a 40' container in a minute. You do the math. That's 60 an hour, and there are four cranes in this photo alone. To get an approximate sense of scale, think of each crane as a five-year-old child, and each 40' shipping container as a matchbox car.

This is a creepy buoy out in the harbor.


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