Tag Archives: local knowledge

Hamburg: First Blood Part 1

17 Apr

Gutenbloggen! To save you the tedium of reading everything about Hamburg in one, I’ll be slicing and dicing the post and turning it in to a movie-style franchise. Hence the Rambo reference in the title. When I started this blog I swore a heartfelt oath on my Lonely Planet: Vietnam book that no one should ever have to spend more than six minutes a day reading my inane thoughts  tedious jokes  excellent travel journalism.

Being ever the cultural adventurer this post does not come to you from Starbucks, but rather “Balzac Coffee” in the heart of Hamburg City. There is a joke about that I’m sure, but I have standards and integrity. Given the usual tone and quality of this bloggen you’re probably expecting a whole plethora of tactless German cliches and bad jokes. Relax. Though I have been extraordinarily efficient in my writing today for some reason.

I’m sure plenty of us still think of ze Germans as a cold, stiff, unfriendly people. “Slanderous and offensive speculation”, I thought to myself as I entered a supermarket. As if sensing amateur travel blog material was required, I was then conveniently growled at by an old man for NOT ramming his shopping trolley out of the way with my own, forcing him to move it himself so I could pass. Happily this was an isolated incident of stiff, cold, unfriendliness.

I’ll be honest, when I think of visiting Germany, Hamburg is not high on my list of destinations. I’m not really sure why this is, though it could be because of the rampant gang-related food crime. In any case it’s a great shame, because it is an overwhelmingly pleasant city to visit.

I must admit the main reason I went there rather than anywhere else was because a friend of mine lives there and had invinted me numerous times. But this just leads me to discuss how good it is to know a local when you travel. Aside from the great company, free accommodation and knowledge of the best sausage outlets, knowing a local was a great way to side-skirt my terrible issue with “foreign language anxiety”.

At the best of times I am dreadfully embarrassed by my lack of ability to speak anything other than the language of ignorance, or English as it is more commonly known. Not bad enough to actually do anything about it, but I feel bad nonetheless. This situation basically leaves me terrified that the simple act of ordering a bratwurst will somehow result in a misunderstanding whereby I give up the rights to my liver and other major organs. It’s not what you’d call rational, but the popularity of the Vengaboys in the late nineties has caused me to stop trying to rationalise human thought.

The next stop after the supermarket (remarkably cultural places, seriously) was to check out the old tunnel that runs underneath the harbor. It looks like this:

Back to the Future 2, anyone?

I think it’s pretty cool by itself, but those crafty Germans installed an elevator…for cars! I’s even more impressive when you realise that they did all this around 100 years ago.

After all that exhaustive sightseeing it was time for a drink. I was taken to a place in an area my friend lamentably called a “hipster district”. He was right. There were bicycles, suspenders and haircuts everywhere. Nevertheless the bar was warm and pleasant and I couldn’t understand any of the nauseating conversation that was no doubt taking place.

Sadly my friend had to work the next day, so we sipped the last of our beers before taking our rudely un-sculpted haircuts and belt-held jeans out of there.

This brings me to the end of part 1. Not a great deal of travely stuff but my test-reading time is running perilously close to six minutes, so it’ll have to wait.


Safe travels. J

COMING SOON TO BBS – Hamburg II: Hamburg-er (Die Hard reference)