25 March 2024

The Plan, 4th - 7th March 2024

4/3 Departing from Dublin: 1145 FR 5125. Proposed meet at Departure Gate from 10.45 am. Arrive Hamburg mid-afternoon and check in at hotel. Meet for drinks 6pm – No specific restaurant booked – possibly walk through the notorious Reeperbahn area for inspiration where there are many bars and eateries.

5/3 Airbus tour: Early breakfast to leave hotel sharp at 8.40 am for ferry/bus ride to Airbus. At ca. 2pm return to St Pauli area and free time until dinner at Blockbrau 7pm.

6/3 Free time: Hamburg has a great maritime history. From here the tug “Gladiator” carried rifles for rendezvous with the “Asgard” off the Belgian coast in 1914. It has many museums, floating and static plus unique attractions. Examples: Maritime Museum; U-Boat; “Cap San Diego” a refrigerated cargo ship built in the 60s and now a museum, Model Museum (reputed largest in the world). Most of these are within walking distance or short public transport link from hotel area. 7pm: Dinner at Hamburger Elbspeicher overlooking the River Elbe.

7/3 Returning to Dublin: Breakfast and free time until checkout and return to airport for flight to Dublin DEP 1400hrs FR 5126 ARR DUBLIN 1500hrs.

As it went, 4th - 8th March 2024

DAY 1 - The day started as planned; a group of ROMEOS gathered in Howth, taxis ordered and on route. Ouch - a phone call from one of the taxis, he had been crashed by a lorry on route. Quick thinking and phoning a friend, Paddy was seconded into taxi duty and rescued the stranded ROMEOS. The schedule was kept and despite the metal hips and electronic body gadgets setting the alarms off through the security, all ROMEOS made it to the plane on time.

ROMEOs ready to rocket from Dublin

Arriving at the Hotel in Hamburg St. Pauli district, the ROMEOS got a warm welcome. All rooms were allocated, and a lazy night was on the agenda. (He He). The ROMEOS dispersed to explore the various restaurants and admire the various tourist attractions, for which the local area is world famous.

On return to the hotel, the ROMEOS reputation was well known and a rock band was specially hired for entertainment. What a bash: ROMEOS favourite rock music to test the hearing aids and liquid refreshments on tap.

DAY 2 - Some of the ROMEO Rockers thoroughly enjoyed the night/morning music and comraderies with the band. With the next day’s plan starting with an early breakfast and leaving hotel at 09.20, in the morning it was easy spotting the enthusiasts; their eyes where kept almost closed to prevent haemorrhage. However the enthusiasm was revived and all away at 09.19, on the dot, to the train and ferry to the AIRBUS Factory.

The landing dock heading to AIRBUS factory

The ROMEOS were welcomed to Airbus by Heiko Stolzke SVP Product Safety Airbus Industries. Chief ROMEO presented a HYC Burgee to Heiko who accompanied the ROMEOS on factory tour.

The guided tour of the Airbus Manufacturing Facility was fantastic. The tour guide was very clear and knowledgeable. He explained the processes of all the visited sections and answered any queries. The tour took the best part of three hours. It was a fabulous mind opener to see the Airbus assembly in a whirlwind tour.

A visit to Germany would not be complete without a visit to a Haxe House. Hungry and thirsty ROMEOS descended on the Traditional Blockbrau Establishment: Located on the water front, famous for its Hansiatic cuisine and home brew beer. One gets thirsty and hungry inspecting airplanes you know. ROMEOS got stuck into gallons of home brewed German Beer, massive pigs knuckles and baby pigs, all cooked to perfection. At end of night there was a bunch of happy ROMEOS well lubricated with aspirations of visiting the tourist trail but only made it safely to the hotel, to celebrate a great day in Hamburg.

Happy Munching

Still Standing

DAY 3 - Free day. ROMEOS had a lot to choose, Submarine, Maritime Museum, Bus Tour and Water Tour of Hamburg, all spectacular. Luckily the weather was brilliant, sunny and clear. ROMEOS dispersed to their choice entertainment. One of the displays was the 3 mast museum schooner “Rickmer Rickmers” which was visited by Chief ROMEO and Patrick Smyth, and motley others. After the schooner visit we were on our way to the M.V. Cap Santiago a museum refrigerated ship.

The 3 Mast Schooner Crew

Surprise, surprise, surprise! We got a text from Paddy Judge, lightning strike……bad news, Rail strike and Airport strike the following day…… All hell broke loose, Chief ROMEO, Patrick and myself, pushed the FUBAR button. We returned to the hotel and began to forage the possibilities for returning to Dublin. We looked at all airports in Germany which had flights to Dublin, no joy: all German Airports were closed. We then checked available seats for the next days and the weekend, no seats available in Germany. We then checked Amsterdam, the airport with most fights to Dublin, access to Amsterdam from Hamburg was by hiring a coach, a 6/7 hours road trip and a bill for €4,000. No guarantee of seats out of Amsterdam to Dublin. FUBAR X2: 25 ROMEOS running out tablets and money and nearly a 1,000 miles from home. As luck would have it, the chief ROMEO has a good friend in Ryanair. This is what real friends are for, and a phone call was made from Hamburg to the Ryanair head office. After a short conversation, explaining the 25 ROMEO predicaments, the Ryanair wheels were put into motion. Within an hour a phone call was received and the predicament was resolved. Ryanair arranged a special flight from Hamburg to Dublin on the day after the strike. Some clouds have a silver lining, now that the flight had been arranged the ROMEOS had an extra day in Hamburg. They made the best of the beautiful weather and visited other sites and museums. Some took “hop-on hope-off” bus tours.

Some took a canal trip on tour boats; Hamburg is referred as the Venice of Germany.

Hamburg City is on the Elbe River and the port is 110 Kilometers from the river mouth into the North Sea. It is fascinating to see huge container ships manoeuvring into the loading docks.

Hamburg Port Magleby Maersk; L: 399m, B: 60m

At the end of the extra day, now that the homeward flight was sorted and the hotel rooms were arranged, ROMEOS were looking forward to a ‘last’ supper. The Steak and Fish restaurant on Reeperbahn was the favoured haunt.

DAY 4 - The Ryanair flight we boarded had not been scheduled, the 25 ROMEOS were at the airport for 07.00 and they got their seats. Not only were the ROMEOS on the plane but Ryanair accommodated other passengers who were stranded at the airport. Many thanks to our Chief ROMEO Gerry O’Neill for his organising, and a big thanks to Patrick Smyth who used his knowledge of German language and assisted Gerry with the organising. Explore Hamburg with the ROMEOs in the documentary video production "Das ROMEO's in Hamburg" by Brian Cronly (Parental Advisory...).

Scripted by Garry Davis