It’s no secret that Germany is my favourite country from almost 20 years of world travel. There is just something about the place that has always stood head and shoulders above the rest. When I think of Germany, I think of a fluent and independent culture, efficiency, progression, atmosphere and substance. I’m yet to have a bad experience there or stumble over a German city that I haven’t liked. In fact, I suspect it might be impossible for any German city to be anything but brilliant!
One of those cities that stands out for me is Europe’s second largest port city of almost 2 million people, Hamburg. I’ve enjoyed a few visits there now and am yet to be disappointed in any way. It’s a left leaning city that has that “special” feeling not many world cities can attain. There is rarely a dull moment and the people are some of the most thoughtful and kind human beings I have ever encountered. So what makes the city of Hamburg so much better than the rest? Take a moment out of your day and please, allow me to explain.
Situated on the Elbe River, Hamburg was first discovered in the 2nd Century by Claudius Ptolemy and the region was originally known as Treva. In 808 A.D, the city took its modern name of Hamburg after a castle built by Emperor Charlemagne. The castle no longer exists and the left cation also remains a mystery to this day. Destroyed and occupied no less than six times, the city lost over 60% of its population in 1350 due to the Black Plague. The city was also battered by seven great fires before it became the city we love and adore today. To say Hamburg has been through the wars would be a massive understatement!
Fast forward to 1942 and over 46,000 innocent civilians were murdered by British bombers in air raids that lasted more than 6 weeks. The city surrendered to Allied Forces on May 3 1945, just three days after Hitler’s death. Between 1960 and 1962, Hamburg was then home to The Beatles who used The Star Club as a way to fine tune their sound before they went on to conquer the world of pop culture. Even today, the night life and culture is second to none.
One cannot visit Hamburg without taking in a football match at either St. Pauli or Hamburger SV. And, whilst you are at it, get yourself booked into one of the stadium tours both clubs have on offer. Like everything German, both clubs offer well rounded tours that give you a fantastic look into the rich history of both clubs who now ply their trades in the German second division. Tickets for games are reasonably easy to come by through online club shops or picking up a spare outside the ground on the day. Both grounds are not to be missed!
One of the many positives about visiting Hamburg is the ability to move about the city with relative ease. German transport, as always is spot on here and, there is a diverse culture splitting off into all corners that cater for the needs of just about anybody and everybody. You can’t get lost getting around and, if you do, the locals are always more than helpful in sending you on your way in the right direction. Food options are plentiful and the drinking is cheap and tasty! If shopping is your thing then you can take in all the big brand names or find some truly unique stores that support local fashion designers, artists and other business ventures.
If you have no yet paid a visit to Germany’s second largest city behind Berlin, then perhaps it is time to hit up the cheap airlines for that weekend away you should have taken on long before now.