THE KAERU KID: Ich bin ein hamburger

Cheers greeted President John F. Kennedy’s famous remark, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” when he said it in Berlin. A Berliner is also a jelly-filled pastry. Some publications have contributed to the misconception that Berliners were laughing at Kennedy’s comment and felt the proper sentence structure should have been “Ich bin Berliner,” but this would have meant he was born and grew up in Berlin, whereas his correct statement implied that he was in sympathy with Berlin residents and those in attendance knew what he meant. The title of this article is in the same vein.

I ended up in Hamburg because of my poor planning when visiting Belgium. I thought I would travel between Belgium cities by train, so I purchased a Eurail pass. These passes are no longer cheap and upon arrival I found I could travel cheaper between cities by just buying local tickets. I saved the more expensive Eurail pass and decided to use it for a more distant destination and selected Hamburg. Even having the pass required an extra 5 Euros to make a reservation on a high-speed train. 

I had wanted to visit Antwerp, Belgium but postponed this visit because of time constraints. It just gives me an excuse to come back to this country.

Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city with more than 1.8 million inhabitants, while the greater Hamburg area has more than 4 million. It is Germany’s largest and Europe’s second busiest port, thus earning the title “Gateway to the World.” My visit was only for two days, so I had to decide what were the most important places to visit. 

CULTURE OF ALL SORTS, IN HAMBURG ­— The Kaeru Kid visited Reeperbahn, the city’s red-light district and entertainment center. photo by The Kaeru Kid

CULTURE OF ALL SORTS, IN HAMBURG ­— The Kaeru Kid visited Reeperbahn, the city’s red-light district and entertainment center. photo by The Kaeru Kid

I had always heard of the Reeperbahn, the red-light district and entertainment center. The Beatles originally played in one of the clubs in the area and the city created a Beatles-Platz here with silhouette sculptures of the original Beatles. The Star Club where they performed is now closed and only a plaque marks the spot. A Beatlemania museum had also closed when I was there, so interest in their history may be waning.

A premiere of the musical “Rocky” had opened and I was tempted to attend, but decided it would not be too much fun to see it in the German language. It is opening soon on Broadway.

I thought the red-light district would be like Amsterdam. It is on Herbert Street close to the entertainment district. The short street has concrete walls at both ends warning that women and minors are not allowed entry. One walks into the area and it superficially resembles the “window shopping” of Amsterdam. It is hard to imagine anyone wanting to actually visit the ladies of the night here. I tried to take a photo of just the street and was greeted by a chorus of catcalls.

A hop-on hop-off double decker bus tour combined with a short harbor cruise is a recommended way to see Hamburg, but it can take a whole day. It was a pleasant day and I chose to visit Alster Lake, a manmade lake within the city. Don’t take the boat ride here because narration is usually only in German. 

I sat at a lakeside outdoor restaurant where I ordered a hamburger. The word hamburger originated from round meat patties combined with other ingredients served open face by early German immigrants. The creation of the meat patty inside a bun that we know as a hamburger is controversial, with many people claiming to have been the first to do so around the 1880s in America.

The Kid also dropped by Miniatur Wunderland to see its miniature collections and a slice of home. photo by The Kaeru Kid

A MINI DELIGHT — The Kid also dropped by Miniatur Wunderland to see its miniature collections and a slice of home. photo by The Kaeru Kid

The must-see in Hamburg is the Miniatur Wunderland (http://www.miniatur-wunderland.de) with tickets costing 12 Euros for adults and 10 Euros for seniors. It is the world’s largest miniature collection of trains, boats, balloons, villages and famous places and even has an airport with planes taking off and landing. It is located in a huge building and occupies several floors. It is extremely popular with families so get here early to avoid the crowds. One can easily spend hours trying to see all the amazing exhibits.

Twin brothers, Frederik and Gerrit Braun, started construction in December 2000, with the first three phases completed by August 2001. Gerrit is older and more conservative, whereas Frederik has the grand ideas. 

The twins had a successful night club and a record label. Frederick was visiting Zurich and walked into a model train shop and immediately called his brother to tell him of a plan to build the largest miniature model train attraction in the world. Gerrit was skeptical but decided to proceed. They were surprised when the bank granted them a loan of 10 million German marks to begin construction. They underestimated what the final cost would be, and have spent more than 12 million Euros ($15.8 million USD). They expect to continually add new features until 2020 with the final cost estimated to be 20 million Euros. They also underestimated the popularity of the attraction as more than 1.2 million visitors came in 2013.

I am not a fan of model trains, but this exhibition’s ingenuity and attention to detail is simply amazing. For example, there is a garden with thousands of different types of flowers. An outdoor concert has a huge miniature audience. A Las Vegas replica is even one of the many cities created. 

 It was a long trip coming from Belgium but I enjoyed my too short visit to Hamburg and it was well worth the effort.

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Las Vegas Tidbits

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada has launched RideTheStrip.com, a Website geared specifically for tourists visiting or planning to travel to Las Vegas. The easy-to-use site provides a one-stop online resource for accessing information on the RTC’s transit routes along the popular Las Vegas Strip and transit services to and from McCarran International Airport and the Las Vegas Convention Center.

 Later this summer, RideTheStrip.com will promote a new RTC transit app that will allow customers using the Strip & Downtown Express and Deuce on the Strip routes to buy and use RTC Strip and All-Access transit passes directly from their smartphones. The RTC will pilot test this mobile-ticketing app to further improve transit services within the Resort Corridor, making transit more accessible, attractive and even easier to use.

A popular tourist attraction for its double deck views of the Las Vegas Strip, the Deuce on the Strip makes frequent stops along the Resort Corridor, minimizing walking distances. Carrying more than 28,000 passengers each weekday, it travels between the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in the south and downtown Las Vegas at Fremont Street in the north.

The SDX offers riders an express transit option along Las Vegas Boulevard to the Las Vegas Convention Center and downtown Las Vegas. It operates from the South Strip Transfer Terminal, a popular park and ride location which also services McCarran International Airport, and includes stops at other popular Las Vegas destinations such as TaylorMade Golf Experience and Town Square Las Vegas. It carries more than 16,000 passengers each weekday.

For visitors, the RTC offers a three-day transit pass for $20, which provides unlimited travel to attractions, shopping malls, shows and restaurants.

The Kaeru Kid lives in Las Vegas and hopes readers will send him comments at KaeruKid@yahoo.com. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

 

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