After Istanbul, Hamburg is the city I stayed in at longest (till now). I live here since 2009 and already declared it as my home. Well, yes the weather is shitty and blah and all that… But honestly Hamburg is one of the greatest cities I lived in. You want to now why?
I could have named this post with “A love letter to Hamburg” but I thought this would be too cheesy. What else could I say? I love Hamburg, because,
It is beautiful
Just one word: Elbstrand. A sand beach, the River Elbe and the sun.
It is only 30 min. walk distance from the city centre. Though, the best way, to get there is taking the ferry from the landing bridges in the port. In sunny days it gets really crowded, but I’m sure you’ll find a quiet spot to listen to the wind.
Once you get off from the ferry, don’t forget to have a “Fischbrötchen” and an Astra from the snack bar Nuggi’s Elbkate.
Well, Hamburg has many pretty faces. Alster (outer and inner) is also one of them. The first year I moved to Hamburg it was a damn cold winter and Alster was frozen so that the whole city could get on it. I really mean ON it. People were crossing the river by foot, ice skating, playing ice hockey, and all that stuff you do on ice. I was amazed. I had never seen a river frozen before.
It has a participating community
No matter what social political topics the country is discussing about, the Hamburger community is actively participating. There are many associations, clubs, movements, etc., who speak up and participate with many creative ideas in the local political decisions. Indeed, these movements have changed many courses this city took. Shortly, they know how to make use of their rights.
Sometimes the situation escalates between the police and the activists, but never that much that it gets dangerous. Funny story, last year, 2014, during protests the Government of Hamburg City declared a particular zone as “danger zone” which allowed police controls without a particular reason. This pissed off the locals even more and they reacted. The best reaction was humour and they managed to turn this whole “danger zone” thing into a gag. One guy hid a toilet brush in his trousers so that during police controls the officers think it is something dangerous and then to find out it is a stupid toilet brush. This was in news all over. That day the toilet brush became the symbol of the protests.
Another example for me was, how fast (within a day) a big solidarity protest against Turkish government was organised during Gezi Park protests in Istanbul. The Park Fiction Community (a remarkable project) renamed the park to “Gezi Park Fiction“. All this and projects like Gängeviertel, Rote Flora, Laut gegen Nazis and many others are the reason I’m proud of living in Hamburg.
In the 80s squatted houses in Hafenstrasse (Harbour Street) also have their indispensable part in Hamburg for me. Once occupied, today a cooperative administered by its residents these houses demonstrate with their facades that this city is not like any other city.
It is near to the sea
Oooh this is absolutely a bonus for Hamburg. If you’re a sea lover you’ll like it in Hamburg. In 1-2 hours drive distance you can go either to North Sea or to Baltic Sea. Sankt Peter-Ording, Wismar, Timmendorfer Strand, all those German Islands like Fehmarn, Heligoland, Poel, Sylt, Rügen and many more are perfect for a day or weekend trip.
It is a big city without being crowded
Hamburg is the second biggest city in Germany. Its population is almost 2 millions. Unlike other big cities, in Hamburg you don’t get the feeling being cramped. Well, if you avoid rush hours. But this is a golden rule for every big city. There are huge parks like Stadtpark and Planten un Blomen. My workplace is very near to the Planten un Blomen and I love having lunch there on a warm sunny day.
It is full of hidden gems
Hamburg has an outstanding subculture. Have you heard of the “Hamburger School“? It is a music current in German language with social and political statements which started around 80s-90s and it still influences the music scene of Hamburg. How many times I was surprised to find out that many musicians and music bands come from Hamburg originally. Jan Delay, Beginners, Deichkind, Fettes Brot are only some of them.
Also the street art in Hamburg is worth mentioning. All over the city you’ll find the finest street art. Just walk around Gängeviertel, St. Pauli or Ottensen you’ll realise the art does no longer take place in in museums.
The one and only Banksy graffiti, Bomb Hugger, you can see in Hamburg is in Neustadt on a cement column between Gerüchteküche (my favorite burger place I know in Hamburg) and Kardelen (yummy turkish food, no not only döner kebab). Well couple of weeks ago the “bomb hugger” has been oversprayed by other graffiti guys and it was the highlight of the week in Hamburg. Anyway, I heard they want to restore it so that you can see it when you visit Hamburg 😉
Of course there are also many local street artists. I can’t close up this post without mentioning OZ, who put his smileys all over the city and made us smile. OZ is the grandfather of German sprayers who died in 2014, in a very unfortunate way while spraying. Rest in peace OZ.
To my surprise, I have the urge to mention the local football club of Hamburg. No, not HSV. I mean St. Pauli. It is the first time in my life I have sympathy for a football club. It is not because how they kick the ball, it is because of their political statement for being anti-racist, anti-ageist and anti-sexist. If one day I should turn out to be a football fan I’d be definitely supporting this club.
Well, I could name hundreds of other reasons why I love Hamburg but every post has to come to an end.
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