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Thursday, 2 August 2012

Hamburg and Hamburgers


So after my brother ditched me in Hamburg, I decided to check the city a bit. Luckily I’ve a friend here who introduced me to the place and her friends, and Hamburgs friendly heart took me in and got me an Astra Beer.

Its all about the 'Wanderlust' - Yes, this is the print thats been up in my hallway for the last 15 years, and i finally found its in Hamburgs Kunsthalle

I’d say cities are either one thing or another – either they’re all about knowing where to go (like London, New York, Tokyo) or you can just turn up and you’ll probably have a great night anyway…(like Las Vegas or Tallinn)

Hamburg definitely seems a ‘know where to go’ city, especially if, like me, your German is limited to ‘Achtung Himmel’ and ‘Die Englander Pig’ (Yes, I read war comics as a child)

But if you have a local, then suddenly you see that here’s a free rock concert here, a place where you can get shots for 50 cents there….

'Wreck in a Sea of Ice' - another KDF classic in the Kunsthalle, Hamburg

In the daytime, there are a few interesting things to do. Kunsthalle, the main art gallery is a whole spiritual home for, as it happens, my favourite kind of people, the 19th century German Romantics, headed by the main man himself, Kaspar David Fredreich. Strangely enough, my pretty much favourite all time painting was sitting there – ‘Wanderer above the Sea of Fog’ or just known as ‘The Wanderer’.  You know these strange moments where you look for something for years and suddenly, you turn the corner and there it is!

The shopping area is around there too, and a good (and popular) running/dog walking path around the main lake.  At the end of the shopping street, there is a kind of cute touristy area, centred around the ‘Rathaus’ (it’s the town hall, rather than a house full of rats)  and a very lovely white colonnade going out to the lake (which makes you think…ah wait a minute, yes Hamburg is by the sea after all…
On the right is a WW1 memorial, but this is a lovely part of town across from the Rathaus.

Contrary to what they teach in American Schools, Hamburg is not by the sea. Just so you know. Also, dear friends in USA. It’s not the capital, Iranians are not Arabs, and going to Cancun does not count as ‘travelling abroad’.

St Georg is a kind of more laid-back nightlife area. There’s a street full of quite average Italian restaurants and some bars, and lots of middle aged gay guys walking around with bags of dry-cleaning.  I understand from a certain friend that if its toothless drug addicted prostitutes you’re after, you can find them a few streets south of there.

Talking of which, the guys/girls showed me around the famous ‘Reeberbahn’ in ST Pauli, at the weekend. They say its ‘the main red light area.’ – I mean what kind of city of 2m people has even more than one??? But it seems to me that prostitution is the main occupation in this port city – when I went out to Scheezel, there were even camper van brothels lining the laybyes in the posh suburbs (‘for the truck drivers’ I’m sure)

But now Reeperbahn and the surrounding streets have pretty much become the centre of the cities nightlife – you could barely move on Saturday night when we went out. One street has rock bars, one has hip hop, one has football bars and skinheads, all mixed between tranny bars, casinos, and 12 storey brothels, mixing up into a cacophony of weird things to gawk at (if you’re a tourist like me at least)  There is a street that is ‘men only’ except for the Amsterdam style  ‘red light’ windows. Actually it looked pretty dull if you ask me. There was a sad looking bar in the back which I was told is on some kind of S&M street. The guys in there looked more M&S though really.
This bar had an old lady poledancing

The general neighbourhood has an interesting history though. St Pauli even has its own football team with famously ‘left wing’ supporters, to allegedly counter the other ‘right wing’ football fans. Personally I think its all a lot of rubbish- In Germany, left wing people all seem like anarchist/libertarians to me, and right wing people act like socialists. Maybe we need to give them some books on politics so they can actually make some logical opinions for once.
Here's the site of the 'Star Club' (since burnt down) where the Beatles alledgedly got their first break (There are no bands whatsover from Hamburg, it seems)

However, I digress….

If you seek an altogether more wholesome drunken night out, a new ‘shoreditchy’ type area has sprung up around the ‘left wing’ squats in an area quite nearby and also near the Uni, called ‘Sternchanze’ (translate as Star-ski jump or something similar) - there’s an S Bahn takes you straight there, and it’s full of cheapish food and drink places, and had a great atmosphere when I was there. Unlike the Reeperbahn, the girls tend not to be prostitutes, which is a real plus.

The ‘Mexicana’ drink, which is used all over Hamburg, is a spicy tomato soup shot which is sold for about 50c-1 Euro and actually (unlike the Estonian version, Mili Malikas) tastes quite nice.  This and ‘Vodka Ahoy’ is my excuse for making lots of new friends at the weekend - thanks to you guys in Hamburg for helping making this accidental holiday a good one!
A lot of the city was bombed, so there is a lot of concrete. I have no idea what is going on in this picture though.

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