Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hamburg's Welcome Point

Moin! The Cyber Cruise welcomes you in Hamburg , Northern Germany, today. A place I called home for nearly 9 years! A sunny sunday is a perfect day to go out to visit Hamburg's Willkomm Höft, the Welcome Point . This place is about 18km/11 miles from the city center on the Elbe River.

The place's name is Schulau because this was the name of the independent village, first officially mentioned in history books in 1419 , which was integrated to Schleswig-Holstein (Hamburg's neighboring state or Bundesland ) in 1909. Technically, therefore, this is not Hamburg but the neighbor state, and the place to welcome the ships heading to or leaving the port of Hamburg! . There is a lovely restaurant which opens a terrace during the warm season (which can be very short up north!).

Here is the bridge to walk directly to the welcoming station

Each incoming or outgoing ship has been greeted here since 1952. It is a lovely tradition and fun to watch. The port of Hamburg is located to the left of this picture, therefore the container ship pictured below was actually leaving .

And this is how it works: Right in front of the bridge there is the platform with huge loudspeakers, from which the ships are greeted. From the cabin (next to the exit to the terrace of the Ferry Station Schulau) each incoming and outgoing ship is greeted with the help of a computer system. Over 150 national anthems in nearly all languages of the world are saved on a hard disk. In the meantime the Hamburg flag on the mast, which is 40 metres high, is dropped automatically from the cabin in order to greet the incoming and outgoing ships (the sailor calls this the dipping of the flag) and the international signal for "Have a pleasant journey" is hoisted.

The respective ship answers the greeting by also dipping its flag. The captain working at the ship welcoming station receives information about the motions on the river but (...) he still has to recognize the nationality of the approaching ship with the help of a magnifying glass in order to be able to choose the right anthem and flag.

Afterwards he provides the guests of the Ferry Station with all kinds of information about the ship which has just been greeted with the help of loudspeakers, our more than 16.000 index cards and the daily harbour report being his main sources of information.

If a ship is not greeted from the loudspeakers but only by dipping the flag, it means that this ship is under 500 register tons or that it will not leave the German coast
. Source

See below Hamburg's civil and state flag: it shows a white castle with three towers on red background. More about this flag, first adoped in 1751, here

After seeing the ships you can go back to the terrace to enjoy a cold drink and something to eat . Here you can still see the ships and listen to the greeting through the loudspeakers. Almost everybody here was having a beer, something I have tried and tried but already stopped trying because it's not my type of drink. But I am sure everybody can find something on the menu! Cybercruisers are known to be thirsty people...thirsty of adventures, that is!

On such a lovely day it's a pleasure to enjoy this beautiful view of the Elbe River!

Happy Mother's Day if you are celebrating it today. Mother's Day was last sunday in Spain. But I think the rest of Europe is celebrating today as well. Have a lovely sunday anyways!

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  1. How interesting ! This captain who has to great all ships hasn't probably slept during geography lessons as I did, lol ! And all these flags ! I am already happy when I recognize the European and American flag(s) I have never been to Hamburg or in the North in general with one exception my father made a "Kur" near Hannover and I met a boy there (what else) But Hamburg must be a very nice town. I always love to watch "Jörg Pilawa's Quiz" and sometimes he uses this nice accent !

    My new blog is not open yet (tomorrow opening day) but it's just a continuing of the actual one. I had no choice.
    And congratulations to a sister or brother baby ! The age difference will disappear very fast since Lisa with her 16 yrs is already 85 on a human scale so even with your 250 it's no problem and then you can play with each other !!

  2. Oh, I really enjoyed this little walk around, but even more to hear the captain greating us when we arrived and dropped the Swedish flag ;-)

    ...and how did he know all is facts about the Liferuiser ship? *giggles*

    It's sooo nice to sit down by the river and watch all he ships! I could sit there for the whole day long!

    I've learned to drink beer ever since my youth, butt I had a real hard time with it for many years until suddenly it changed.

    Still I don't drink much, butt find it very refreshing when it's hot weather or after long walks.

    I think I have to pay that captain a visit up there and have a look at the view - and all the info he has!

    Cheers :-)

  3. It is so nice to see photos of that area. I used to have a pen pal from Hamburg, when I was 10-11-12 years old.

    Mar, thanks so much for the accent site! I have saved it and I'll study it after Mother's Day festivities are over. Thanks for the good wishes.

  4. Never been, but it's on the short list of places to visit - well, Germany is. These are some great shots, it sure looks inviting.

    Michele sent me,


  5. Hello Mar!
    Ho, I'm really happy to visit Hambourg! I like germany! My grand mother was from Strasbourg in France near the border so she was spoken german language and before the school we spoke together in german. At 16 I had a german boy friend very very beautiful story!
    He was 1,90 m and me 1,58!
    My uncle went to live in Germany in München! So I know the south but not the north! And if I never drink beer in France I was drinking many big glasses in the atmosphere of Bavaria!
    I think it's very nece that the capt'ain of Hambourg great all ships arriving!

  6. That welcome point sounds like a great spot to visit. I love the tradition of greeting the ships.

  7. Yes we Lifecruisers are thirsty of adventures and this was a really good treat!

    Hamburg is known to Norwegian sailors of course and I've heard that Hamburg was one of their favorite harbors (I think it was because of the night life:-)

    This ship greetings tradition are really great!

    I don't know if todays Mothers Day is an European thing (in Norway it is the second Sunday in February), but I'm sure it is an American thing as I have my mother in law from US visiting this week. So I better not forget:-)

  8. Moin moin! Ohhhhhh I am certainly glad you have taken us on this tour - how LOVELY it was to hear ... which anthem was that again?... as we passed in to Hamburg! How exciting! I wonder... do American ships come through often? This was just sO much fun!!! And Mar... I'm not big on beer either! I much prefer a glass of wine or a marguerita!

  9. Wow, this is such a cool port! =O Saving all national anthems in hard disk and playing it when appropriate? Greeting ships which are berthing at the harbour? All I can say is... amazing! =O =P

    Thanks for the amazing trip to Hungary! Vielen dank! =)

  10. Moin, Mr. Gattino spent yesterday afternoon in Barcelona, watching Formular I (on TV) !

  11. OMG this is where my family is from!

  12. Very interesting and a fine tradition greeting the ships that way. Even I has been greeted welcome this way. It was back in 1965, when I did a trip with a 20 feet Daycruiser on the Channels of Europe, writing for a Magazine. We even went to West-Berlin by crossing the former DDR. That was not at all fun, as we were prisoned - in a military prision.

  13. Moin!

    It is so blue there! Very nice how the ships greet each other. :)

    Thanks for linking all the facts; love learning. I enjoyed reading how the river Elbe runs into the North Sea, 'cos the North Sea has been in my dreams lately. Neat to see the bigger picture. :)


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