The most awesome street in all of Hamburg

After 11 days in Berlin I thought it was time to move on. This time it was up North to Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany and the second largest sea port in Europe. The train from Berlin is direct and its also a high speed ICE train, so that means its expensive. I bought it ahead of time to get it slightly cheaper. The DB trains are expensive but damn they are worth it, and I cant say it enough. Reserved seating, smooth and quiet ride, power points, toilets, food. Arrived at the Hamburg-Altona station and walked to the hostel, which was a lot closer than I realised. The hostel was great, one of the combo hotel/hostel chains.

For the first day I did the NewEurope free walking tour. It was pretty damn cold outside so I was in quite a few layers, beanie, scarf and gloves. Just before the tour I met up with Anna who lives in Hamburg. I met her last year in Amsterdam, saw her again this year in Wiesbaden with Charly, and strangely ran in to her in Munich and went to the Rosenheim Festival with her (blog here). She’s a pretty cool chick and it was great to have someone to hang out with. The tour started and it was only five of us. It started outside the Town Hall, which is an awesome huge old school building like most of the Euro town halls. Unfortunately I couldn’t really get a good photo of it as the christmas markets were being setup in the main square infront of it. The tour then just went around the city going to various different places. Stopped at one building that was built to kinda look like a ships bow which was cool. Another building we passed was the headquarters for ‘Degesch’. This means nothing to most people, but to some its a rather sad reminder. They were the company that sold the Zyklon B gas that was used in the Nazi concentration camps in WW2. Outside the building there is a rather subtle plaque on the wall about this. Then meandered around the place, going over a few bridges and canals. Eventually making our way to the new part of the city. Hamburg is expanding so they just decided one day to build an entirely new part of the city. It now has the most expensive apartment buildings looking straight over the water. They are also building a new opera house, something that they want the city to be known for. The initial budget was something like 600 million euros, and by the time they dug the hole and put the foundations in that was already used up. They are now at the stage where they cant cancel the project so it costs what it costs. Once the tour was over we headed back to her apartment for dinner, finally some real food. She does cooking for a living too so it was quite good. The new Harry Potter just came out and with nothing else to do we checked that out. Was an English screening of it but it seemed the entire place was still full of Germans.

The second day I basically just tried to retrace my steps of the walking tour the day before. I don’t tend to take photos when doing the tours, prefer to listen to the guide. Turns out i wasn’t really paying attention to anything because i couldn’t remember where the hell we went. I started with a bit of a walk around the christmas markets that were being setup, slightly annoyed that i wouldn’t be here for when they were actually opening. I ventured inside the town hall to check it out, there was some art/cartoon exhibition on about the war in Iraq. There were a few pieces by famous Aussie newspaper cartoonists. After that I eventually found my way to the bombed out cathedral, with the only remaining part being the spire and a bit of the walls. Went up to the top of the spire and it wasn’t the best one for photos. Couldn’t really get a photo without anything in the way, plus the weather was shit anyways. Went to the area of the river that used to be all old warehouses but now houses a lot of touristy things, like a dungeon and miniature germany/world. Had some time so thought id go visit the miniature museum. I walked inside and the chick told me there was a three hour wait. What the hell, how could there possibly be that many tourists at this time of the year? So I just left and wandered around a bit more. Didn’t really do much else except walk around. Saw multiple Ferraris, Porsches, Bentleys, etc, its a crazy expensive city.

Last day in Hamburg was a late start, went out to the Reeperbahn the night before and didn’t get home till 5am. Headed in to the city and walked around for a bit, then met up with Anna for lunch at Vapiano. This is a restaurant chain all over Germany. They sell Pizza, pasta and salads. When you go there they give you a card and you charge everything to that. So you walk up to the pizza station for example and order what pizza you want, the dude swipes your card, gives you a buzzer, then you wait at your table for the buzzer to go off. Pasta and salad is the same except its cooked right there as you wait. Its all really good food and its quite cheap as well, so ive frequented these quite a bit. After that I said my goodbyes and decided to walk to the Reeperbahn/St Pauli area to see what its like in daylight. Had a quick stop in the park where the ice rink was opening for the first time. A huge rush of kids, teenagers and adults skated on as soon as the doors opened. Looked like a lot of fun. Went on to the Reeperbahn and got some photos of the entrance to the red light district, trying to be discreet, not getting anyone in the photo. Snapped a few photos of the Davidstrasse street sign as well because its my name and its awesome.

Hamburg is another great German city, however it doesn’t really cater for solo international tourists. There isn’t huge tourist things to do, apart from the miniature museum and dungeon really. In the warmer weather you can do canal cruises which looked rather nice, but in the colder months not so enticing. Or you can also head up to the sea and go swimming. The nightlife is pretty damn awesome though so I wouldnt hesitate to come back with others.