Today we flew to Hamburg for the weekend to visit the Christmas markets (notice they are not called German markets because, well, all markets in Germany are technically German markets). I was surprised to find that there were in fact any markets left in Germany as the majority of the father land seemed to have landed in provincial towns and cities across the UK selling comically large sausages, Gluwein (alcoholic Ribena) and nut crackers that look like a cross between the soldier off the Quality Street tin and Wallace from Wallace and Gromit.

We flew from Manchester, an airport which we have not flown from for a while preferring to fly from Liverpool John Lennon (Speke airport to anyone over 30) which has the slogan “above us only sky” taken from the Lennon song imagine. (Apparently the baggage handlers slogan is also taken from the same song but is the line “imagine no possessions, it’s easy if you try”. But I’m rambling and I’m not even dressed for the occasion). We are away with our friends Daz and Sue (Daz is short, Darren. Not sure what Sue is short for). We arrived at terminal 1 at Manchester and the got off from the little bus which bought us from the car park (which was in the middle of an industrial estate in Wythenshaw) and entered the building.

We entered on the ground floor (departures are on an upper level) and so followed signs to the lifts. As we turned the corner, myself and Daz’s faces dropped. Before we had even arrived in Hamburg, we came across our first Christmas market. There before us was a sea of stalls, santas and charity collectors. There was only one thing for it, heads down and run. On the way I dodged a female Santa trying to sell me an umbrella, some school boy flogging popcorn and then at the end of the hallway, the dreaded student girls dressed as fairies collecting money for St Anne’s hospice (don’t look at their wings, they’ll suck you in). Luckily my partner in crime is as tight of me. Some would say tighter. I couldn’t possibly comment. So together with our heads down we streaked through that concourse and didn’t stop until we arrived at…arrivals. Ah, we had slightly overstepped the mark. Where had the signs for the lifts to departures gone?

When we actually stopped and caught our breath (running away from charity stalls pulling a suitcase is actually quite a good work out) and we were joined by our respective better halves (who had actually “browsed” their way through the stalls) we realised we would have to retrace our steps. It was then the full horror hit us. The stalls were in the hallway infront of the lifts! We had ran so fast that we had missed them, and the only way to get up to arrivals was to enter the charity muggers lair again. Embarrassed we shuffled past the fairies a second time and managed to reach the safety of the lifts and the departure hall.

As I said before, we have mainly been travelling from Liverpool which is small, but perfectly formed, quick and friendly. Manchester is not Liverpool (which I know is stating the flaming obvious but their airports are massively different as well ). 1 hour queuing to drop our bags off and another 35 minutes queuing to get through security. I’ll say one thing though, somebody at Manchester Airport has obviously been to Disney land. The queue for security looked ok, then you went around a corner and saw the full extent of it. Well you thought it was the full extent, but no. Another corner, another curving queue. I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone was at the end trying to sell you a photo of your ride on “Security Maximus” the longest queue with the shortest ride time of any attraction I’ve ever been on.

Anyway, a few more delays, a very short flight and a train journey and we are here. Hamburg looks lovely at night. I had the most German meal I could possibly have had tonight (Pork, with a Frankfurter, cabbage, potatoes and mustard washed down with a beer). We have seen a few of the markets so far. They’d are huge…and busy. Very busy. But more of that tomorrow.

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