Small Trip: Hamburg

This posting is a continuation of my previous Small Trip postings in Europe back in Fall 2010.

This time, it’s a bout a city in the northern part of Germany, Hamburg.

I had wanted to come to Hamburg for a along time because it seems like all the great bands need to play in the city, before they can claim their greatness. Plus, it is the city where hamburger got its name from, why wouldn’t I want to visit it?

But of course, the real reason was because my hostsister, Lisa, talked about Hamburg countless of time.

I think the visit to the city was very special, because before I eventually got to the city, many people said, “oh, Hamburg is a really nice city.” Including Lisa’s parents.

Peter (Lisa’s dad) tried to explained to me what the city center looked like over dinner on one night, but he eventually gave up, and said, “you’re gonna se it yourself. It’s a really nice city.”

And Christine (Lisa’s mom) was obviously in love with the city since she owns a very strategically located apartment, which Lisa and I stayed in for the two days we spent there.

Unfortunately, Hamburg didn’t welcome us all that well. We arrived in the afternoon and we were there for a few hours when it started raining. It was pouring, and gloomy, and we were very wet. That was why I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have taken in a sunny day.

The first thing Lisa brought me to was the shopping area, that is very famous. All kinds of brand was there, from H&M to Bvlgari. And it was actually located right in the city center, very close to the town hall.

Town Hall

I am not really sure if you can see the picture below very clearly, but it is actually a street full of branded stuff, like Luis Vuitton and Gucci.

High End Shopping

The street also has some very pricey cafes and restaurants, where (it seemed like) only dressy people go in.

Lisa and I went through the rain in search of the ‘true’ Hamburg. We went walking around for a while until we got into the pretty part of the city, where the old houses still stood strong. I took a few pictures of the old houses, but unfortunately there were so many construction around them and within the area, I decided that they were not very good.

But I found this particular picture which looked like the houses a bit tilted on one side, but had no appearance of any construction site. I decided it is a pretty good picture, considering you can clearly see the beauty of the old architecture that decorated the city.

Old Houses

As you can see in the above picture, there are a lot of water area in Hamburg. At first, I thought the waterfront in Hamburg was actually the North Sea, as Germany bordered with it in the northern part. But it turned out that the many harbor I saw in Hamburg was not a seafront at all. It was actually from a river called Elbe and the central area was located around the inner and outer Alster, which now looked like huge lakes.


Above is a picture of one of the harbors out of many in Hamburg. Of course there are a lot of cruise tours that offer a sight seeing trip in the Alster. But it was just a very horrible day, which made Lisa and I wanted to find a shelter as soon as possible.

That day in Hamburg ended with a house party in a friend’s place.

By the way, I mentioned that I had the privilege of staying in Lisa’s mother’s apartment in Hamburg. Her apartment was very lovely decorated and its location was very close to the train station.

Although it was very close to the train station, it was also located in the ‘economical’ part of the city, where the students and the prostitutes live together. The area was not exactly a red light district, but I could really see some girls who wore very little of clothing in the cold and wet night. and of course the drug sellers could be seen, almost secretively.

The next day, I finally got a glimpse of the real hamburg’s red light district. Hamburg’s red light district is called the Reeper Bahn.

Reeper Bahn

When Lisa said the name ‘Reeper Bahn’ for the first time, I blanked out. I was not familiar with the name of the area, but I had heard the famous remarks about Hamburg’s red light district.

What really cool about the city, in my opinion, was that the mixture of everything everywhere. For example, in this Reeper Bahn area, although you coul go to the wildest erotic show ever, you could also find a really good club where concerts were held and good music was played. Christine was very excited when she told me that she went to a concert in Hamburg and Lisa actually pointed out the place for me, which is very close to the red light district.

When I was there, there was actually a music festival held in Reeper Bahn, which proved my point.

Music Festival

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to see the music festival.

Christine went there and told me how much fun she had. It was a weekend festival and the list of musicians who played there were actually some of my favorites. I cannot remember any names, by now, but I remember the excited feeling when I saw the festival’s program that Christine brought home.

Remembering this festival made me think about how much money I would want to spare on going to concerts when I eventually move out of Indonesia.

After the Reeper Bahn, Lisa took me to an area that was famous amongst the poor people long time ago. It was so popular because the cheap but yet cool stuff (clothing, accessories, etc) were sold there. It was so popular, that the rich people started to come to the area and got settled in easily. As a result, in these last few years, this particular area had changed from the area that was exclusively cool for poor people into an damn posh area for rich people. It was proven by the high rate of renting and how the cheap-but-chic little shops turned into ritzy-expensive boutiques.

However the area changed, I could still see the somewhat ‘original’ side of the city, as the used-to-be squat house was still standing tall.

Squat House

The squat house still looked abandoned and dirty and very hippie, but Lisa said that nowadays, it would be forbidden to actually stay in a squat house. People could get arrested if caught living in a squat house.

Unfortunately, I did something stupid with my BlackBerry and erased every little notes about this trip. The effect? I cannot recall the area’s name. so, I googled and found neighborhood named Sankt Pauli and Schanzenviertel (in fact, the later has pictures of the area that looked similar to some pictures that I took). I am also pretty sure that I went to two areas like this, instead of just one. So, the chance was that I actually went to both Sankt Pauli and Schanzenviertel.

The coolest and funniest thing that I saw in Hamburg was on the picture below.

Jesus Center

No offense. But I think it was a very funny way to spend a day.

It was almost like saying, there’s no need to worry if you want to get extremely crazy in Reeper Bahn, because there was always a Jesus Center close by where you can forget all your previous sins.

Despite all the darn rain, Hamburg was fun.

I got to see a new city, meet new people (which I will be writing about later), and learned some new German culture.

One thing is for sure: I will come back to Hamburg to see a concert!
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