The food market scene in Hamburg is pretty extensive. Stalls sell all kinds of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, breads and baked goods. You don’t really need English to buy anything if you can point and know a few numbers. It’s easier, and more interesting if you make some effort and speak some basic Deutsch.
“This is my friend Scott. He lives nowhere, and travels always,” my friend Clemens introduces me to his level 2 business German class at the Berlitz school.
“Oh Jesus…,” I thought to myself…. there is only temporary truth to this statement, I think but conveying this in German to a class full of Spanish people is nicht going to happen.
“We met in an Indian Ashram last year. Say something in German Scott,” Clemens asks.
“Uhh…Ich heisse Scott..,” I say. All that comes into my brain so instantly. They are not so impressed with My name is Scott but that is ok because I’m only here to observe. I will soon be in my own Deutsch lessons of some form, somewhere, making a fool out of myself yet again.
A couple hours of German Lesson later, I am fully completely fluent in level two business German.
Ok… not quite!
There are some gorgeous hikes in the German forests to be experienced, just watch out for cyclists. You can seriously be run over if you don’t watch where you are going.
The hike I went on took us through densely wooded area with various trails of all kinds. The smell of trees and fall leaves and fall foliage was fresh in the air. Bikers whipped down trails in plentiful numbers, and people rode horses through other areas. Colorful mushrooms lined dirt and stone pathways and heather lined fields rolled on gently into the Hamburg skyline.
As for the rest of Hamburg, there is plenty to be seen and many ways to spend your time wandering. Although the shopping is extensive downtown it is mixed with the bridges and canals, cafes, offices and cobblestone alleyways around various corners. The bakeries here are amazing, and the best I have encountered in Germany as elaborated more in my first Hamburg post.
It would be impossible to pick a favorite part of Hamburg. Drinking an Astra beer by the Elbe perhaps? The Alster lake with its highly active walkers, cyclists and joggers makes for a very healthy community. Sailboats are often seen on the Alster lake, and the Elbe river. Had I sailed, it might have been up there with top experiences.
Immigrants are quite common in Hamburg and there’s a pretty large range of ethnicities bringing forth some amazingly cheap markets and tasty foods available. The restaurant scene is very modern, and the bakeries constantly have something for every appetite. There’s not as much Thai food as Cologne seems to have but no shortage of everything else. The walking tours and tourist attractions could keep you busy but so can biking, wandering and social life. Health spas like the Meridian offer pretty luxurious options if you want something high end. Jogging or biking around the Alter is free though, as is a hike in the forest.
There’s plenty of hospitality and the German efficiency makes things quite clear to navigate and interesting to explore. According to some of the locals and word of mouth, Hamburg is among one of the more expensive German cities to live in, alongside Munich. The quality of life and attractive urban features make it highly attractive as a destination. The architecture is a wonderful mix of old and new. Architecture aficionados might get some looks due to some potential open-mouthed drooling activity. Being disappointed will not be a problem, as you will run into something shiny and new or old and grand every few blocks to stimulate your idea of what does, and should constitute an urban built structure.
The city seems to go about its business rather methodically and with its own pulse and agenda and sophistication on par with the rest of northern Europe. Hamburg really felt uniquely like its own city, unlike Cologne which I felt reminded me of many other cities combined into one.
The summer crowds and prices might leave things a slight cluttered, so I feel more that fall or winter in Hamburg would be the ideal time to visit. For those connected to the water, Hamburg will make them feel right at home with a central lake around which to congregate and a tidal river rising and falling with the rhythm of the seas.