3 of 4) Hamburg, Germany

The third leg of the trip was to Hamburg, Germany, 490 km from Prague.

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP): 21% (World Bank)

Hamburg is widely considered the most international of all German cities and has the highest percentage of international residents in Germany at 14% (LabourEconomics, 2019).  It has a notable history in trade dating back to the Middle Ages and is credited with helping to bring the Germanic region out of the Middle Ages because of its access to both import and export markets.  In 1410 Hamburg to the initiative to draft a city constitution, known as “the first Rezeß”, which included dispute resolution policy and gave power of due process to citizens, a revolutionary civil liberty for the era.

Hamburg has a rich history in supply chain management.  The Hamburg-America shipping line was the world’s largest trans-Atlantic supply chain organization in the beginning of the twentieth century and was known for its efficiency in operations.  The availability and access to German ports such as the port of Hamburg have been integral to the economy of the country.

Students at the Port of Hamburg


Hamburg is the global economic trading center of the North Sea and Baltic Sea regions and the regional hub of international trade (Hamburg Business Development Corporation, 2016), as well as being home to 40,000 official millionaires.  Our city tour included Hamburg’s exclusive shopping district, Mönckebergstraße, a 600 meter-long exclusive urban promenade that is considered the European version of New York’s Fifth Avenue.  It is the home of Europe’s largest Apple store (seen in the picture below, left) and internationally renowned fashion names like Tiffany & Co., Gucci, and Louis Vuitton.  The Cartier jewelry shown in the picture below (right) was in a window display and sells for €42,100.



Our visit to Mönckebergstraße also allowed us to visit the Tesla showroom.  One student, Cody Phillips, works for Ahaus Tool Engineering as a CNC machinist.  Like many students on the trip, Cody is earning his Purdue degree and studying abroad not to help start his career but instead to enhance it.  His company builds automation cells that keep batteries from overheating.  These cells are installed into the wall mount for Tesla batteries (as seen below, top right).



1) Multinational Automobile and Supply Chain Tours:

The Port of Hamburg is the second-largest port in Europe, 106 kilometers from the open sea.  The city is called the “Gateway to the World” by German citizens because of the vast trade volume facilitated by the port, including more than 9.73 million TEUs which pass through it annually.  The city has 2,500 bridges (second only to New York), many of which connect portions of the Port to the City.  In May 1189, Kaiser Friedrich Barbarossa decreed that the Port be a customs-free zone for all merchants.  Like Prague, Hamburg’s supply chain strengths have been susceptible to political change and turbulence.  For example, the 1923 Hamburg Uprising was a post-war plot to seize control of the city by local communists several years after the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German defeat in WWI, when hyperinflation and economic chaos were rampant and access to global products through the port was prohibited.

As we had been in Munich, we were reminded of the central force that Germany has been in European politics over the past century when we saw the many pro-EU billboards (see picture below) and flyers posted around town to encourage voting for the EU Parliament, which was to be held a week after we departed.  Germany has a major stake in a strong EU, which will make their already strong economy even stronger.

We noticed the same pro-EU campaign messages as in Munich


One of the causes of the fall of the Berlin Wall may have been the smuggling of products into East Germany through the Port, which saw a spike in business after the reunification of Germany and the fall of the Iron Curtain.  Today, the Port pairs 45.8% of its services with rail (1,300 freight trains per week), 12.2% with inland water vessels, and 42% with trucking transportation (Hamburg Port Authority, 2019).  Its main trading partners include China, Russia, Brazil, the US, and Norway.  Innovative supply chain capabilities allow the Port to transport 138.2 million tons of goods per year.  The harbor’s birthday, which is observed during the first week of May in a festival called Hafengeburtstag, is one of the most celebrated cultural events of the year.

We took a tour of the Port of Hamburg by boat, which provided us enough speed to cover the massive port and its four modern container terminals. We saw the 3 million-TEU capacity Altenwerder Terminal, one of the most modern container terminals in the world.  We learned that the container terminal area can handle 20,000-square foot cargo containers, which is the largest type of container currently in use and were fortunate to be able to see export cargo containers being loaded onto transport vessels and import cargo loaded onto trains.



While getting around in Hamburg, we had yet another opportunity to learn about the logistics of the local U-Bahn, S-Bahn, and tram system.  Several students took the initiative in helping our group on and off the various lines so that we could more efficiently find our destinations.  Due to successful taxi-union lobbying, Uber was not available in Hamburg and so we especially needed to learn their public transportation.  Hamburg’s system was a bit more technologically advanced than Munich’s, with screens inside the trains showing soccer scores and GPS-like maps of upcoming stops (as seen in the picture on the right).



2) Cultural Excursions and Immersions:

As in many European countries, cultural and societal values in Germany vary from region to region.  While Munich’s residents comprise a traditional 70% Catholic to 30% Protestant demographic, Hamburg’s residents comprise the opposite percentage (not counting recent immigrants).  The food of Northern Germany is different from the food of Southern Germany.  In Hamburg, carp is a favorite for Christmas and New Year’s meals.  Other popular items include lobster soup, currywurst, savoy cabbage and duck and/or goose-related dishes.  There is greater emphasis on global spices and seasonings in Hamburg’s cuisine.  Many of the students commented that Hamburg’s food seemed to be less stereotypically German.  In order to sample a variety of foods from different cultures, one night we had a group dinner at a locally-owned (there are very few chain restaurants in Europe) Italian restaurant (below).



The Port contributes to the profits of 7,300 organizations in the Hamburg city limits, many within Speicherstadt, or HafenCity, which is a newly gentrified district of Hamburg that is also the world’s largest official warehouse district.  It has recently been awarded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, “a unique symbol of the rapid international growth of trade in the late 19th and early 20th century” (Deutsche Welle, 2016).  Speicherstadt was the first section to be zoned as office-only in Europe (Deutsche Welle, 2015).  We hopped off the harbor tour boat at HafenCity.

In HafenCity, our group visited the Prototyp Car Museum, whose aim is to convey passion for beautiful design and powerful engines (Hamburg Tourismus, 2017).  Racing and sports cars from the past and current century were displayed, and technology enthusiasts are their target demographic.  Included were the Porsche Type 64, considered a forefather of all Porsche sports cars, and Formula One racing legend Michael Schumacher’s first official car (Hamburg Tourismus, 2019).  Several students drove the simulated orange Porsche shown below in a video game format (in a picture below, top right).  This excursion was particularly relevant for Evan Knight (in a picture below, top left), a technician at Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, an auto racing team in the IndyCar series.  He repairs/maintains the primary and backup race cars for the team.



During our free time in HafenCity, several students visited the nearby Maritimes Museum.  You can see the old cranes on top of the building, which were utilized to lift goods from vessels below (below, left).


In HafenCity, after free time, waiting on the harbor boat to pick us up.


Another local cultural excursion included attending a Hamburg Rotary meeting.  Rotary has a special significance in Hamburg.  “The first Rotary Club in Germany was founded in 1927 in Hamburg; it was the first German city to bridge the divide to the United States since the First World War” (Rotary International, 2015).  We were ready for a German language presentation, but the presenter changed to English to accommodate us.  The topic of the presentation was innovation in fashion.  The hosts were very gracious and welcoming, and the food was excellent.  This was a semi-formal evening for everyone and a nice opportunity to enjoy German culture at its best.



3) History of Capitalism/Trade:

HafenCity Universitat has taken the lead in the urban planning of Hamburg, and we had the opportunity to take a walking tour of the city.  The astute planning of the city center has resulted in great economic strength for the city.

Our tour guide explaining the layout of Hamburg’s city center


The historic city center includes the neo-renaissance Town Hall (which the Chamber of Commerce now partially inhabits), home to the Senate and Parliament.  Most buildings were destroyed by Allied air raids during the end of World War II, but this one was lucky to have only minor damage.



While inside the Town Hall, we were treated to a visit for the first time to the emperor’s hall, where official presentations are made.  The day we were there, hundreds of Hamburg city police officers were strolling through the area because they had their annual swearing-in ceremony.



Also while in the Town Hall, we noticed a statue of Vanir, the Norse god of commerce and wealth (below, top left), depicted prominently in the Chamber of Commerce.  Shortly after, our tour guide told us that there was a convention focusing on innovative foods being held.  Like the city of Indianapolis, much of the tourism in Hamburg comes from trade conventions.  Timing is everything, and the numerous food samples provided to us in this convention were an unexpected treat.



The photo below shows the Chamber of Commerce display of the Wapen Von Hamburg II, a 1722 warship that was commissioned to accompany the lucrative Hamburg merchant ships and defend them from pirates.  During one voyage, pirates attacked the merchant ships that the Wapen Von Hamburg II protected.  Admiral Berend Jacobsen Karpfanger was able to fend off most of the pirates while the merchant ships got away, and died in heroic fashion toward the end of the battle.  His bravery in defense of Hamburg trade is legendary.



Our Beatles tour provided everyone an opportunity to walk through the Hamburg Reeperbahn in the St. Pauli district, which many consider to be the continent’s version of the Vegas strip.  This area stood in stark contrast to Hamburg’s city center and reflects a varied aspect of German culture.  This is where the Beatles first toured and sharpened their musical skills and synergies from 1960-1962 before they became famous back home in Liverpool, England and soon thereafter worldwide.

After World War II, the Hamburg live music scene was thriving.  The locals had grown accustomed to American rock and roll because of access to imported records available to buy locally via the Port of Hamburg.  Citizens in Hamburg enjoyed and appreciated 1950s-style rock and roll artists such as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard, and these music fans were willing to pay to see the similarly-styled Beatles in their local clubs.  The Beatles and the music scene in Hamburg were truly ahead of their time in the early 1960s.

Students at Beatlesplatz


Our Beatles tour included a stop at the Kaiserkeller (picture below at the top), the oldest live rock and roll venue in Hamburg, where the Beatles played a series of gigs in 1960.



Unlike the polished, professional look of Ed Sullivan-era Beatles in 1964 New York, the Beatles in Hamburg were more like Ramones-esque punk precursors who wore black leather jackets and stomped and chanted so much on the stage that the audience often went into a frenzy.  They kept up this spirit when hanging out in Hamburg during their free time.  Their favorite place to let loose was a shipping-themed pub with model ships and a shipping compass called Gretel & Alfons, where we were treated to a private concert/singalong of Beatles songs by our tour guide.  Paul McCartney lived in a flat right above it in 1962 and famously left an open drinking tab, which he paid back with compound interest in 1989.



So, a go-to trivia question is “Who did Ringo replace in the Beatles?”.  The answer is Pete Best.  An even more obscure trivia question is, “Who replaced Ringo in his band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, when he left for the Beatles?”.  Well, the answer is Gibson Kemp, who wandered into Gretel & Alfons during our singalong.  He is good friends with our tour guide, who was depicted in a prominent LA Times article published few days before our tour.


LA Times article released a few days before our Beatles tour, featuring our Beatles guide: https://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-travel-beatles-hamburg-germany-20190512-story.html


Based on student feedback about their free-time last year, Hamburg’s tourist destination Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway exhibition, was added to the official group itinerary.  It features scale-models of airports, concert venues, and hillside communities.






Students use their free time for all sorts of additional experiences, and these are often the most rewarding and memorable times during these trips.  As usual, student-initiated exploration during free-time became a favorite component of the visit.  In Hamburg, Guy Myers of Purdue Polytechnic Vincennes continued to explore.  One morning he and a few other students woke up early to go to the Hamburg Sunday morning fish market, “Hamburger Fischmarkt”, a massive weekly festival at the port that caters to both night owls and early risers.  He also took time to see St. Nikolai, a local cathedral built in the 12th century that was partially burned down during the Great Fire of Hamburg in 1845.  This church was one of the five original Protestant churches in the city and was the world’s tallest building from 1874 to 1876.  After being bombed in Allied air raids at the end of World War II, the only part left standing was the steeple.  Guy and his group climbed the 75-meter high steeple (see pictures below), and explored the memorial and the museum in the crypt area.



Car-watching in Europe reached a high point in Hamburg as students attempted to point out all sorts of luxury and sports cars that are not normally seen on the roads of Indiana.  One student, Dominic, previously worked in the automobile industry and seemed to know every model of every exotic automobile (see picture below).  His fellow students were impressed.



In HafenCity is a venue called Boilerman Bar, which called for an obligatory picture…



On to Rotterdam…