The weekend of December 15, I took a less-planned, more relaxed and at times spontaneous, trip to Hamburg. Hamburg is my first German love. When I traveled to Germany in 2000 with my German class, we spent about a week in Munich and its environs and then headed north to Hamburg to stay with our German host families. That previous fall, my family and I hosted a girl from Hamburg, and I traveled to the old country in June to experience life as a teenager in Germany. I loved Hamburg. I loved the freedom people my age had there. I loved the harbor and seeing the evidence of the city’s strong shipping past and present. I guess I have always liked big ships, and Hamburg has tons of them. Hamburg is one of Germany’s largest cities, and in the past four months, I have actually spent time in the four largest. I had been to Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne before, but never during the same visit to Germany. From that experience, here are some of my thoughts on Germany’s super-cities:
· Berlin is the biggest hippy city of the four. People in Berlin are a bit more casual, and the cultural diversity and communist past (former east only) of the city marks a lot of its neighborhoods.
· Munich is the conservative city. It is always packed with tourists, and you notice them more than in the other four (except for maybe when you hang out at the cathedral in Cologne).
· Cologne seems small compared to the other three. Maybe I have spent the least amount of time in Cologne compared to the other cities, but I also don’t want to go to Cologne as much as I would rather be in the other three cities. The people, however, are very nice, and the melody of German speech in Cologne is probably the most attractive of all the regional dialects in Germany.
· Hamburg is the city with the beautiful people. With the shipping industry, there is a lot of international companies with influence throughout the world. Of the four, I would want to live here the most. The Elbe River is beautiful. The center of town has a lake too, the Alster, and there are so many great neighborhoods. Plus, you are close to the sea!
I was visiting my friend, EJ, who is also conducting fieldwork in Germany this year. We spent our days visiting as many Christmas markets as possible (I think we saw four or five!), and checking out some of her favorite places. On Saturday we had Persian food, at a restaurant where we had our own private concert. Sunday we went to her church, where I choir-bombed her choir and sang along with the rest of the members. Then we went carol-bombing! EJ goes caroling every year, and she was having a hard time getting her Hamburg friends to join her. Luckily, I also am a seasoned caroler and have no qualms about singing in public, as long as there is a purpose to do so. We brought much joy and good cheer to those who stopped to listen to us, and we tried not to take any donations. What we did get EJ has donated to a Hamburg charity.
One of our low points caroling was when the police stopped us in the underground station. We of course did not have a permit to perform in the underground, but we were there because it was warmer, not rainy, and provided good acoustics for singing. Thankfully the two police officers didn’t arrest us or make us pay a fine. In their stop, they also said we sounded nice, and they didn’t even interrupt us when we were singing one of our longer carols!
We went to a posh bar Sunday night that had a great view of the harbor, and Monday we attempted a walk along the river. It was too foggy to really see much, unfortunately.
Enjoy the photos! Hamburg, I hope to see you again soon!
|View of the Rathaus and the Alster. The lights were beautiful at night!|
|The market at the Rathaus was so packed! But, it was fantastic!|
|Part of the entrance to the market.|
|Another view of the market, because it was awesome!|
|Here I am in one of the many shopping centers in Hamburg. I liked the arched lights!|
|Another Weihnachts-moose! So cute!|
|Here is a shot of the harbor from the bar EJ and I went to. I bet it is nice during the day too!|