Sunday, June 30, 2013

A different view of Hamburg

Each day my wife and I buy a transit pass. It costs 10.40 euros (about $14) for an all-day pass for both of us, and permits unlimited travel on subway, local trains, buses and ferries...yes ferries, including one which offers a great harbour tour (no 62). A few photos from the boat, although at one point we had to go inside as surf washed over the deck onto my camera (that's why photos a bit blurry!)
The ferry boats come in all shapes and sizes.
I was surprised that they don't tie the ferries up when loading and unloading. Just raise and lower the gangplank

Lots of photos of the odd-looking building in the background in a future post
I read that Hamburg has the third busiest harbour in Europe after Rotterdam and Antwerp
one of many warehouse conversions along the harbourfront

someone will have to tell me what this building does, and why it looks like this!
from the water you see some of many beautiful homes around Hamburg. There's a lot of $ in this city

I know this very 'boxy' architecture is not for everyone, but I find it very elegant
This is an interesting tower in that from different angles it looks much less bulky. There's an idea here for Vcr
I was horrified to discover the old fischmarkt has now been converted into a large space for rock bands and drinking

another wobbly building for Daniel Fontaine, who is not a fan of wobbly buildings (nor am I, whether in Hamburg or Vcr)
The sun suddenly came out, so I had to take a photo of Sally who finally got to wear her sunglasses!
It's not the love boat, but it should be!

A home exchange in Hamburg

We decided to do a house exchange in Hamburg for a few reasons. Firstly, when I was at the Shanghai EXPO2010, Germany had a very impressive pavilion that included a presentation on a major harbour redevelopment and other interesting 'sustainability' initiatives in and around Hamburg.

More recently, I read about IBA, an International Building Exposition happening this summer in another waterfront area of the city.  Finally, as Vancouver so often talks about becoming the Greenest City in the World, I thought it would be interesting to spend a month in what most consider to be the Greenest Country in the World!
So here we are in a very comfortable house in a leafy mature ring suburb. We are a ten minute walk to the subway which takes us downtown in 20 minutes.
A delightful pedestrian zone surrounds the entrance to the subway with all the shops and services one could ever need. It's a very pleasant way of life. We have a car, but so far we haven't used it. We don't need to. We have bikes and will use them, as soon as it stops raining!
One of the reasons I hesitated to come to Germany in the past was that I didn't think I would like the food. One of the reasons I'm already planning to come back is that I love the food. But then again, I grew up enjoying smoked fish, sausages, lox, herring. In that respect, I've died and gone to heaven.
One of the things I did not appreciate is just how much water there is around this city. In addition to the river, Hamburg has more canals than Venice and a large inner city lake network.
Hamburg is a city-state so the impressive city hall serves a dual purpose
There is also a very impressive City Hall with a very nice bar/restaurant inside.
Of course for many, a highlight of Hamburg is its red-light zone....

Over the next few posts, I will offer far too many photos of the older and newer parts of the city, and the major harbour redevelopments. Both the older areas and the new architecture is quite impressive, although some of the new buildings definitely are an aquired taste, to put it nicely. So let's start of with some of the other things we saw around town during the first couple of days.
Some of the neighbourhoods feel very much like parts of England
Just one of the many grand buildings that either survived the war, or has been subsequently rebuilt

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Fortunately, we had advance notice.
Otherwise, we would have been shocked when we arrived this morning at Hamburg's main train station and witnessed thousands of people milling about in flourescent wigs and brightly patterned clothing from the 60's and 70's.

It's called Schlager Move, and it's an annual celebration of the cheesy music that was so popular in Europe in the 70's. According to newspaper accounts, more than 300,000 people showed up in an area of the downtown near the harbour for this year's parade and festival. We only caught the tail end since we decided to spend the day elsewhere, but an hour or so milling about on our return to the city was enough to get a sense of what was happening.

It was very bizarre...while I could expect young men and women dressed up in brightly coloured costumes, it was much more difficult to accept what appeared to be very respectable German businessmen and business ladies wearing these ridiculous outfits.

I don't know how to put this delicately, but this was a very different image of the German people than that which I grew up with, as my dad and other relatives told stories around the dining room table. And these were certainly not the people we saw watching Second World War movies.

But people were singing and dancing and drinking and having a wonderful, wonderful time. The one thing they weren't doing, despite their outfits, was smoking dope.  We didn't smell any...although we did see a lot of very drunk people.

As the day wore on, and people got more and more drunk, there was more and more broken glass and garbage strewn about the site. And just as I started to wonder how they would ever clean it all up, there were the workmen...and yes, this is what I have learned to expect from this very industrious people.

But they sure can be fun-loving too.  It's called Schlager Move. Here's a very long and somewhat boring video from last year's event.  But it will give you a better idea of what happens at the end of June on the streets of Hamburg.