What’s Your Story 1

From the Far
East to Europe
- Meet Hamburg
on the AEX route

From the Far
East to Europe
- Meet Hamburg
on the AEX
route

Yooncheol Yang, 3rd Officer
(M/V Hyundai Dynasty)

It is 23,089 miles across the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean to Europe. The Asia Europe Express (AEX) route, whose distance is equivalent to the circumference of the Earth (about 40,000 km), is one of HMM’s services that connects Asia and Northern Europe the fastest. I would like to introduce Hamburg in Germany, which I visited after a long, 77-day voyage on the M/V Hyundai Dynasty departing from Busan.

My second ship at HMM was M/V Hyundai Dynasty. It was another experience of excitement and tension for me after becoming a navigation officer for the first time last summer. As with many people, the mere word “Europe” was enough to thrill me, as I embarked on an AEX service ship that connects between Asia and Europe. M/V Hyundai Dynasty, which returned to Asia after three European countries of the Netherlands, Germany and United Kingdom, was a dream for a travel and photography aficionado like myself.

Hamburg is the second largest German city after Berlin and the biggest harbor city in Germany. As the ship made the seven-hour entrance up the river to the port, I could see that the houses built facing the river were really impressive. In the darkness of the evening, I felt the lights of the yards lit from house to house, which were built neither specially nor excessively, as warm as a mother's embrace.

After the ship entered the long Elbe River and berthed at the Port of Hamburg, I saw wind power generators in many places which created a unique European atmosphere. After berthing at the port, I first visited the Seaman's Club with my colleagues. The Seaman’s Club is a convenience facility with a variety of amusement facilities, computers, and a store for ships’ crew. Seaman’s clubs at each port represent the welfare and interest of the country for ships’ crew. The Seaman’s Club in the Port of Hamburg was by far the best I have ever visited. It was the best decorated and cozy.

Seaman’s Club in Hamburg

After the Seaman’s Club, we moved on to Hamburg Central Station by taxi. Though not very large, it is one of the busiest railway stations in Germany. Many people poured out of its front doors as soon as we arrived there. Sites such as the Hamburg Museum of Art, Alster Lakes and the City Hall are nearby. As we walked beside the railway station to the City Hall, we could see shopping centers clustered along the tree-lined avenue, and unique European-style buildings. It was Christmastime when we visited Hamburg, and we decided to enjoy Christmas in Europe at its fullest.

Hamburg Central Station decorated with Christmas lights

Christmas in Europe was a “fantasy” that I had long dreamed of. In particular, the Christmas market in Hamburg is famous in Europe for its size. It was as if I had stepped into a whole new dream world of Santa’s village. Although the weather was cloudy, the beautiful lights and warmth from the orange lights of the markets made me forget the cloudy and cold weather. It was a weekday, but a lot of people were out on the streets enjoying Christmas. They were sharing warmth with each other, eating salmon and sausages which were cooked in firewood and drinking "Glühwein", German’s traditional warm wine. The market was also selling a lot of other items, including food, handcrafted wood crafts, Christmas decorations and sweets.

Christmas markets in Hamburg

As I walked along looking at the market and tasting various food items at the station, I noticed a special Starbucks building. It was a Starbucks that we can see anywhere in the world, but the building was more special and beautiful because it was modeled after a Greek temple. Next to it, showing the unique architecture in northern Germany, was the Baroque-style St. Michael's Church. I could view the entire city of Hamburg at a glance on the highest observatory of the church. However, this required taking an elevator and the wait was so long that I decided to go up there next time and moved on.

St. Michael's Church, Hamburg

Hamburg, along with Munich, is said to be the richest city in Germany. As if to prove this, the City Hall of Hamburg has 647 rooms, revealing its grandeur from the outside. Tours inside the City Hall are available, so I will definitely take one the next time I visit Hamburg. When I looked the other way after looking up at the stunning grandeur of the City Hall, I found many families and lovers enjoying Christmas. I also enjoyed my leisure time like those people casually hanging out there. It was a very short time, but it was enough to relax myself so that I could prepare for my next voyage.

Hamburg City Hall

Anyone who loves traveling will know the expectations and excitement that the word “Europe” gives. Is it because I feel Europe's unique comfort that I cannot feel in Asia? Although it was not a long visit, it was enough to relieve my fatigue of the long voyage from Korea to Germany. As I returned to my ship, I promised myself that I would come again someday to Hamburg, a city that was still exciting. I will remember it forever as a place where warm memories can be made for seafarers, who, day after day, miss the sights and scent of humanity.

* Asia Europe Express (AEX) Service Route

Busan - Shanghai - Ningbo - Kaohsiung - Shenzhen - Singapore - Colombo - Rotterdam - Hamburg - South Hampton - Singapore - Hong Kong - Busan

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