My friend C. (a different C. from the Macedonia trip) and I took a weekend trip to Hamburg. I found a deal from Deutsche Bahn for 188 euros per person for the high speed train and two overnights. Their Ameropa travel service often yields some decent enough deals, especially when one books as far in advance as possible. If not booking very far in advance, one will find that the hotels on offer are often sold out. I booked three weeks out and was able to secure a room at the A&O Hotel&Hostel.
Our train came in before 9 on Friday night. We walked to the A&O from the Hauptbahnhof; it was an easy 10 minute walk. It was jam-packed when we arrived, apparently with school groups, bachelor parties, and other travelers. What a mish-mash!
We dumped our luggage in our room and took the train to the Planten un Blomen Park. We picked our way carefully through the insufficiently lit and deliciously fragrant park to see a cheesy tourist attraction: the Wasserlichtorgel, or water light organ. It's a water fountain in the park's pond that is synchronized with light and organ music. It was sufficiently touristy and kitsch, but also very pleasant to stand among the wonderfully aromatic plants and enjoy the sight, which is free, and a good end to our first day's journey.