Hamburg on Ice
This past weekend was an especially exciting one for Hamburg in the North of Germany. The Alster river, which builds two artificial lakes in the city, completely froze due to below-zero temperatures that have been prevalent in the last few weeks. Ice covered the lake-like surface of the Außenalster – the “Outer Alster”, the wider and bigger part. Authorities had been regularly measuring the thickness of the ice and had given the official green light for a street fest last week – the “Alstereisvergnügen”. 20 centimeters thick was announced to be safe for walking on. The “Binnenalster”, the smaller lake in the city center, was also frozen, but the ice here was brittle and fragile, people were therefore warned to stay off it. Not curious birds, though.
The weekend saw thousands of people making their way to the river. Many ice-skated or played hockey on the frozen surface of the Alster, booths offering food and drinks were stationed around the edge of the ice and on the ground nearby. It was almost like Christmas number 2.
The weather in Hamburg being humid and rainy, rather than cold and frosty, something like this doesn’t happen every day. So when the Alster freezes over, it’s a big event, which was also seemingly covered by almost all the national media in the country. With the Port of Hamburg being one of the most famous and busiest in the world, anything to do with water is news here.
According to the local paper the Hamburger Abendblatt, the last official Alstereisvergnügen took place in 1997, so the excitement this year was palpable. The Alster is 56 kilometers long and offers some of the most scenic walking routes in the city. The Alstereisvergnügen gives a rare opportunity to cross from one shore to the other, instead of walking around. The best moment to do this is before it starts to get dark. Stopping in the middle of the frozen lake, you look around at the distant views of Hamburg’s landmarks and get a whole new perspective on this exciting city.
Image Note: Stephanie Kopf