“Hamburg was a very pleasant experience for me, even though it was my first visit. I spent a lot of time in the city. My first impression was that it was that it seemed very quiet, and I was sure it was the sort of place where nothing ever happens. How wrong I was!
First there is the DOM, a travelling theme part that comes to the city center twice a year, and stays for a month. In terms of atmosphere, it’s a bit like Oktoberfest in Munich. In fact, there’s a parade of colorful festivals one after the other, all year round.
The city also has quite a noteworthy historic past, and the citizens of Hamburg (or Hamburgers, I suppose) are proud of it. As a major trading port and important center of the historic Hanseatic merchant alliance, Hamburg remains one of the richest cities in Germany, and a prestigious place to live.
One of my favorite districts is the Speicherstadt, which was once a merchant’s mecca. All goods were shipped through here, and this was where they decided the prices before sending them out across Europe. These days the old merchant houses have given way to office buildings, conference centers and museums. This is also where you’ll find the world’s largest model railway. It’s on three levels, and covers 5000m3! It’s a funny thing, but adults are harder to drag away from it than children!
In the part of the city which is bisected by canals, the easiest way to see the beautiful old brick buildings is by taking a boat trip. You can board one of these by travelling first to the Landungsbrücken S-bahn station, and from there heading not towards the Speicherstadt, but rather towards the shipbuilding docks. It’s interesting to see how they can cut a luxury cruise liner in half, insert a new section, then weld the whole thing back together again.
Hamburg’s ‘new kid on the block’ is HafenCity, which has been built on the part of the Speicherstadt that was obliterated during World War Two. This district is characterized by very modern, futuristic architecture. This may be the best symbol of Hamburg: a harmonious combination of the old and the new. On a pleasant Sunday afternoon it’s one of the best places to stroll, take pictures and relax by the many parks, promenades and piers.
Hamburg is now also one of Europe’s premier destinations for musicals. High-end productions of such famous shows as The Lion Kind and Tarzan are staged here, and the specially constructed theater can be reached from one of the shipbuilding docks, on stylized, lion-shaped boats. Hamburg also has a red-light district, similar to that of Amsterdam, called the Reeperbahn. Here everything is focused on entertainment, from theaters, bars and restaurants to discos and night clubs.
“One of my favorite parts of Hamburg is the Speicherstadt. This district is divided by numerous canals, each of which is lined by red-brick warehouses of the city’s merchants. This network of warehouses was once among the largest in the world, and goods from every corner of the world arrived here by ship, before being transported on to destinations across Europe. Today it is an architectural heritage site, and the warehouses have been transformed into galleries, offices, banks and luxury apartments. The HafenCity district was constructed on that part of the Speicherstadt which was destroyed during the Second World War. The modern architecture of this district, combined with the more historic appearance of the rest of the Speicherstadt, gives to this part of the city a unique atmosphere.” (2018)
“After unpacking our things, and despite the driving rain, we set off to explore the district. The rain didn’t bother us – we’re already used to the fact that in Hamburg, summer autumn or winter, the streets are almost always wet.
Hamburg is the most expensive city in Germany, and is home to the largest number of German millionaires. The shops are elegant, and the streets are clean. Unfortunately, certain ‘bad’ habits have begun to encroach. There are plenty of ‘disorderly’ young people, including many Arabs and Africans, who neither respect nor follow the ‘tüchtig’ (upstanding) habits of the city’s older inhabitants. The Germans themselves seem to be losing their former character, particularly in, for instance, their driving style. Germany used to be famous for following the rules of the road, but you can forget all about that, and cyclists are as willing as drivers to break the rules. Aggressive, selfish, horn-honking drivers, and no courtesy – and that goes for the native Germans as much as for the many rich Arab visitors.”