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Hamburg harbour. Pic: D. Ellison  

Insider guide to Hamburg
January 2007

Dean Ellison's insider guide to the German city of Hamburg.

Hamburg harbour. Pic: D. Ellison

Extrageographic
See also:

> Hamburg photos


> Luxor guide

> Prague photos

First off, outside the city centre, take the train out to my old 'hood, Suldorf. Right by the train station is your traditional German ice cream parlour. There is nothing else at all in Suldorf apart from pensioners.

Altona is a nice little town that was originally independent from Hamburg, like Salford and Manchester, Birkenhead and Liverpool, Birmingham and Walsall. Its more down market than Hamburg so ideal if you want cheap accommodation, and it has a nightlife of its own worth checking out once.

Suldorf. Pic: D. Ellison
Suldorf. Pic: D. Ellison

A lot of gigs happen in Altona. They also have a British Indie night once a month and its likely to be the only place you'll hear Happy Mondays or Stone Roses.

In the city centre

In the city centre start sight seeing from Dammtor station, which is by the congress centre. North of this area is the University campus, with some great record stores, cinemas and memorials to the synagogues in the area burnt during Krystalnacht. Also in the area is an Ethiopian restaurant, and the store where I bought Germany's only Half Man Half Biscuit CD (Voyage to the Bottom of the Road).

If you come out the station heading north, go left and you come to an Australian bar where you can see Neighbours and also get all you can eat chicken wings. The Cumbrian chicken wings have jam on, a classic example of the German sense of humour. Walking south from Dammtor towards Ganzmarkt takes you towards the city centre. Going right by the station takes you to a very traditional German pub, litres of beer and bratwurst menus and all, and also towards the press offices of Das Bild.

Alster Lake. Pic: D. Ellison
Alster Lake. Pic: D. Ellison

The smiley face graffiti tag

Going left, takes you towards the town centre, with the Rathaus (Which has a nice cafe in the basement) and towards the Alster. From here you can take a ferry cruise and also visit the many canals of Hamburg. It’s famous for them apparently but I never saw one.

Of course I should mention, while doing all this you should keep an eye of for the smiley face graffiti tag. There are hundreds and no one knows anything about them it seems.

Anyway, from the town hall I'd head down towards the cathedral, one which has a history of burning down. You can take tours and go up the bell tower, and a famous composer is buried there, I just forget which one.

Out at 5am? Banana Fred

From here head down to the waterfront, take a right. You'll be walking past the scene of Hamburg’s largest squatters protest. All the houses where taken over and the place was like a war zone for some time. In the end I think they got to keep their properties, they just had to start paying rates and tax on them. This is also where the Sunday morning Fischmarkt takes place, which, should you still be out at 5 AM Sunday morning IS A MUST SEE!!

Construction. Pic: D. Ellison
Construction. Pic: D. Ellison

It is a place for people to congregate waiting for the trains to start again, and also the prime place to catch Hamburg legend Banana Fred in action at his fruit auction. Don't try to take him on with jokes, he'll tear you apart, the man is a legend.

As you head up you come to a small pub by a bridge, bottom of a flight of stairs. This is Hamburg’s oldest pub and a fantastic place to try that first bottle of Astra. It’s a great place of a weekend, with local electronica experiments taking place, but doesn’t get going 'til late.

Reeperbahn - on your own

Up the stairs takes you to the Reeperbahn. From here on you are on your own, it’s how you'll get the most memorable experience.

If you make you way all across the Reeperbahn my favourite pub is Roschinsksy. Take the left by the KFC, and head down the road (there’s also a good 99c bar) to find it.

At the bottom of the Reeperbahn is Grosse Freiheit Strasse, on which is the site of The Star Club. The pubs in this area are quite expensive and are the more tourist friendly end of the Reeperbahn, but there is another 99c bar, and Dolly’s Dinner do a nice litre of beer, and even a litre and a half.

Remember that on Sundays almost everything in Germany is closed. Not the case in Hamburg of course, because by the train station you get off at for the airport you'll find the world's second largest graveyard. It has a museum open on Sundays.

Festivals

In Hamburg . Pic: D. Ellison
Airwolf ride. Pic: D. Ellison

As for festive events I'd recommend going in Nov / Dec to catch the massive Dom, a giant carnival with a weekly firework shows. It’s great, and the sell an excellent Hamburg. The Airwolf ride here is where I lost my passport.

Hamburg is also the closest town to the Wacken festival, for all you metalhead readers out there.

Another great venue in Hamburg is Kunst, not far from The Reeperbahn. It's where I saw, and sang on stage with, The Misfits.

By Dean Ellison for Extrageographic, January 2007.

Links:

See also: Insider guide to Luxor - Extrageographic

Official Hamburg tourism website:
www.hamburg-tourismus.de

Hamburg at Wikipedia

Thanks to Phill Huxley.

 
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