Tag Archives: tourism

Hamburg Episode III: The Shameless Money Spinner

22 Apr

Previously on BBS: A taste of traditional German food and drink left me with a possible a case of food abs, but feeling very satisfied. Now, the long awaited conclusion…

Another advantage of knowing a local when travelling to a new place is you get your own personal tour guide. Especially great is you don’t feel like you have to tip him at the end because you feel bad that his “guide pimp” is taking most of the money to renovate his gold caravan.

With this local knowledge we were able to take a free public transport boat for a tour of the harbor rather than a vastly more expensive (and gold caravan-funding) tour boat. Now I know you’ve come to expect a certain low quality of “wordage” when it comes to my writing about travel-related things. But I have to be serious for just a minute and say that I found the harbor district of Hamburg utterly fascinating.

To be honest, it had me at the Fischbrotchen. These are basically fish sandwiches that come in a variety of styles and are deliciously fresh. However as well as the sandwiches and the tunnel discussed in part one, the Hamburg harbor is the second largest shipping port in Europe. This is difficult to forget as the shipping facilities lie directly across the river from bars, restaurants, shops, houses and even the beach:

It's a unique scene to enjoy a beer if nothing else.

After relaxing, sipping our Weizen and trying to guess which of the shipping crates contained illegal immigrants, it was time to make our way back to the “hipster district” to talk about our Apple products and turn up the legs of our chinos (by which I mean watch a game of football and eat schnitzel).

My last night in Hamburg meant we had to try something different and go out to drink. This groundbreaking decision took us to a few cool bars, but one in particular was run by a man named Klaus.

To put things in perspective, Klaus looked roughly 146 years old and was running the bar by himself. This would be impressive if it was a dingy pub with three regulars and a twirling midget, but this bar was packed with at least 60 rowdy revelers.

The name of the house specialty was a shot with a name that can’t be repeated on this family blog, but I’m told on his more active nights Klaus accompanies your order with a vigorous mime action (eeeeew!). After one of these (without the mime), a few G & Ts and some less-than-impressive dancing, it was time to catch a cab home.

After waking up feeling surprisingly fresh, filling time before my flight involved watching a local amateur football team in an epic struggle against some other team (good detail is good writing). It was highly enjoyable, if only to hear the spectators and club medical staff openly mocking their own injured players (or so I was told by my personal tour guide  translator good friend).

This brings the epic Hamburg trilogy to a close. Watch out for a remastered blu-ray edition in time for Father’s Day, I predict it will sell slightly better than The Matrix trilogy. In the meantime I highly recommend Hamburg as a travel destination for a weekend or a bit longer. Particularly if you like pork, beer, tunnels, shipping, hipsters, venereal disease or any combination of these. I thoroughly enjoyed most of them and will be returning for certain, if only to see Klaus do the mime.

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

*J traveled as guest of his good friend who kindly offered his living room to sleep in. If any cities or travel companies would like me to bake a fresh batch of soft, fluffy, possibly irrelevant words specifically for their brand, get in touch via this bloggen. I also do roof tiling.

Hamburg 2: Judgement (of sausage) Day

19 Apr

Previously on BBS: I traveled to Hamburg and apparently spent most of the time writing things not about Hamburg. And now, the hopefully-more-relevant continuation (no promises):

With my Hamburger friend at work, the next day was a chance for me to explore on my own and confront my irrational fear of language barriers. Before we go on, in this context “Hamburger” means someone from Hamburg, though I must admit even I couldn’t help but imagine this:

The other hamburger friend

Hamburg’s public transport system is much like an unmanned farmer’s stall on a country lane. Honest people pay, but there’s little to stop you not paying. Unless you’re the unlucky one to be shot at from the porch for “helpin’ y’self  ta some corn bread”. I was honest, and after paying took a quick and efficient trip in to the city centre.

The city centre and shopping district is quite pleasant without being spectacular. There is a very impressive City Hall building, and imaginative tourists can spend a good few minutes wondering what this guy was pondering:

"Hmmm...I wonder why I have to rest my head on my arm when I've got the neck of a steroid abuser."

I must have questioned him for at least 10 minutes with no response. I spent the rest of the day either in Balzac Coffee or wandering around trying not to look like a tourist. Having come through Asia this was the first time in a while where I didn’t automatically look like a rube for every rose or crappy trinket salesman. To illustrate my point, I’m sure I did better than these people:

Surefire way to attract attention

Just seconds later, this unfortunate couple were mobbed by “tourist hunters”, and after a whirlwind of activity were left with nothing but a mini replica of City Hall and a St. Pauli football g-string for modesty. BBS top tourism tip: GPS on your iPhone will work with no internet connection if you load the map before you set off. Paper maps are the metaphorical equivalent of having “steal from me or sell me crap” tattooed on your forehead.

That evening I satisfied my main two objectives for the trip in the space of one well-chosen venue, the Groninger Privatbrauerei. To save my exhaustive description, here they are in telephotographic digital pictorials:

I asked for a side of sausage instead of salad but sadly they weren't having it

I was similarly transfixed when I saw the 10L table keg.

If there is a better reason to travel than these two things, I don’t want to know about it. The night (or possibly my friend) then took us to Hamburg’s famous Red Light District. Here you are certain to find authentic local bars, authentic local music, and authentic local venereal disease. Ever the cultural adventurer, I naturally had to experience two of these.

A few beers and quite a few songs later we found ourselves back on the train home. So ends the second installment in the Trilogy of Hamburgers. 

Oh and to make my flimsy movie-themed title make sense, at some point during the day I had a Krakauer sausage from one of the many fine outlets in the city. It was very tasty.

Safe travels as always, thanks for reading. J

COMING SOON TO BBS – H3: The Mighty Burgers (It’s getting hard to come up with different movie franchises)

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)