Happening Hamburg

Ian Hughes on 26 February 2015

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I had never visited Hamburg before this action packed weekend. It was something I had aspired to do for quite some time and having a friend now living out there for work reasons this seemed as good an excuse as any to discover what one of the largest cities in Europe had to offer.

It is strange to think that this city is indeed one of Europe's largest, you wouldn't believe it to be so leaving the relatively small but efficient airport and peering on the quaint local architecture. It certainly doesn't suggest a thriving metropolis but do not be fooled by the façade. Hamburg has many sides and though I tried my best to see as much of this as possible during my 3 days there I am certain there is still much to discover.

Culturally Hamburg has a fantastic, varied and fascinating history. Signs of this a prevalent throughout the city and especially as the banks of the river Elbe, the aquatic behemoth that has been central to the history and growth of the German hub. There are wonderful gothic buildings intertwined with more modern, quintessentially German architecture.

For me however, the real joy of Hamburg was the people, the atmosphere and the ever surprising shift in this ideology from street to street. We were staying in the St Pauli district of Hamburg, not far from one of it's most famous haunts, the notorious Reeperbahn. This area struck me as similar in vibe to Berlin, with many underground, hip bars filled with all manner of people from all walks of life, all of whom were welcoming it must be noted. These bars were almost hidden from the outside, with every more cryptic entrances giving way to glorious internal décor and a vast supply of original, quirky cocktails and drinks. The same could be said of many clubs that held a similar camouflaged veneer only to reveal a fantastic atmosphere within.

Yet only streets away was the Reeperbahn, the notorious red light district and packed with many tourist like clubs and bars, far removed from the underground, understated concept of the bars only metres away, with their brash neon signs and enthusiastic promotional workers beckoning you inside. This could just as easily be a concrete bound Magaluf such was its brazen ways. That is not to say this was a criticism, it was enjoyable as an experience but more fascinating given the contrast between there and much of the rest of the city.

It is also useful to bare in mind that this is all possible due to the radically left wing attitudes of the locals in the St Pauli area. I learned quickly how proud they are of their community and use this as positive force in all areas of life. The local football team of the same name often have pro-immigration and equal rights marches before home games and if you get the chance to visit a match while you are there I would implore you to do so. the atmosphere is fantastic as well as extremely welcoming at a ridiculously cheap price, especially in comparison to our much vaunted Premier League.

I saw many sides to Hamburg in my short stay there but all of them were fantastic in their own way. It is a city that you could visit many times and still be surprised by some of its facets. However, at the heart of all of these are the people. They drive the atmosphere and make the city what it is, building on a wonderful history to a thriving future.

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