Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hamburg - we think we love you! Anarchists and all...

A couple weekends ago (Sept 3 - 6) we went to Hamburg, Germany to visit our friends Miriam and James! You may remember them from many of our Zurich posts on hiking, oktoberfest, Zurich Street Parade, skiing, and more.  We actually saw The Hangover (for the first time) in a cinema in Zurich with them, and I would definitely consider them part of our "pack". :)  

It has taken me forever to write this post, because I thought I lost the cable that gets the pictures out of my camera and onto my computer and a post without pictures would be lame - right?!  Anyway, found it this weekend as we were cleaning/packing up our Finnish apartment to move home!  YeAh!

We arrived pretty early on Friday, so we had the whole day to sight see and hang out - boy were they lucky that they had to entertain us for 4 WHOLE days:)!  We started off our day by walking from their place, past Alster lake, down Mönckebergstrasse (shopping street!), to the Rathaus, and then to get a beer/lunch on the water.  I could already tell by the first 4 hours of being in Hamburg why they loved it so much.  Hamburg is a beautiful city with a LOT going on!

View of the Alster from lunch

Nathan was at a different table on a conference call... it doesn't look like it was going that well.:)

Miriam's work building had a paternoster - a perpetual elevator with no door that you just "hop on/hop off" when you get to your floor.  No way in HELL you would find one of these in a building in the States.  I'm sure some idiot would try to jump out too late, hurt themselves, and sue.

We did a little shopping at Becker's Jewelers and I got some special German Trollbeads!

The weekend we were there, there were three street festivals going on!  The first night we met up with some of their friends (all Americans no less:)) at the Alstervergnügen - a festival that was around Alster Lake (where we had been most of the day).  Typical fair food (lots of fried stuff - mmmmm), lots of sausages (hello - we are in Germany!), bands, games and one of my favorite parts - beer and Caprihinias!  They definitely don't sell alcohol at the NC State Fair - that's for sure!   Around 10 pm there was an International Fireworks Show, after which we hung out and watched a band sing well known German songs (poor Miriam was sitting with a bunch of Americans and had no one to sing with:( - I'm going to have to learn some of these songs for her!)

German sausages - mmmmmmmm!  Somehow we never got one though:(

Saturday morning Miriam and I woke up and went to the Goldbek Market - a street market near her house where one can buy cheese, meat, local vegetables, etc.  We had a market similar to this near our place in Oerlikon, but this one was awesome because of all the handmade items - like jewelry, knitted items, and jewelry:).  I wish there were more of these in the States.  I know we have some streets fairs like this, but they are usually once a year - this one is every weekend!   And if you guys are thinking "well we have farmer's markets in Raleigh" - it isn't really like that either - you would have to go to one to see what I mean - just a different feel and atmosphere than that.  This is something I will definitely miss when we move back State side.

After this we met back up with the boys and headed down to the Schanzenfest - by day the largest unorganized flea market in the world (okay - I just made that up - I'm not sure if it is the largest - but it seemed like it) and by night an Anarchist riot.  Yes riot.  In 2009, once it turned dark, 1000 masked anarchist threw bottles, stones, fireworks and even torched a police car (you can read an article about it here).  Although we went during the day, Nathan said he wanted to stay until dark to "see what happens".  Ummm - yeah - riiiiiiiight.

There were a lot of people selling and shopping at Schanzenfest.  My favorite were the people with no shoes on, that hadn't taken a shower in at least a month, that were selling homemade food.  Uh yeah - I don't think so...not even one of those brownies.

There was a lot of street music and other cool stuff mixed in with the clothes and food.

The street festival takes place in a trendy neighborhood called Schanzenviertel.  The area was super cute with all its boutiques, restaurants, and pubs.  However, the main thing that sticks out in the area is the Rote Flora - a building that was taken over by squatters in 1989 and is a place for left wing activists to meet.  The boys wanted to try to get inside this building (yeah, I don't think so), but they dragged us around the side/back of the building to see what was going on (I'll admit I was a little scared).  Thank God we couldn't get in - there was a guying guarding the door - and I'm pretty sure they weren't letting guys with Polos on inside!:)

Rote Flora

I translated this on google to mean - "bulls in the blood rushing" - not sure what that means but obviously it is a police man with blood on him.  I guess they don't like the police:)

Although it seemed like a free spirited street fest, you could actually feel the tension.  We read in the paper the next day that riots had broken out that night.

From here we moved on to another street fest called STAMP in the Altona district.  STAMP stands for Street Art Festival.   At first I wasn't sure what "street art" was, but then I had the ahh-ha moment. "Street art" is street music and street dancing (think guys breaking dancing on the corner in the '80s) :).  Performance groups traveled to Hamburg from around the globe and it was cool to see all the different types of  street art. Once it turned dark, there was a carnival like parade of all the performers - and you know we LOVE a parade!:)

About to watch a breaking dancing "dance off"!  I have video but was too lazy to upload it - sorry!:)

If I ever have to been in a parade I want to wear THIS!  It's probably really heavy but it looks so cool!

Miriam and James have made some great friends in Hamburg!
Finally we headed to the Reeperbahn in the St. Pauli area which is the "red light" district in Hamburg.  Call me sheltered, but I had no idea that this was one of the largest red light district in the world!  Sex shops, prostitutes, drag queens - you want it - they've got it!  Surprisingly it wasn't that seedy though.  Okay - it was seedy, but I didn't feel grossed out.  Sure there were prostitutes on ever corner soliciting Nathan and James, but the atmosphere of the area was more of a wild party!  Although I wouldn't think of a red light district so much as a tourist attraction - that is exactly what it was.  We saw everyone from 80 year old grandmas to bachelorette parties living it up!  A must see in Hamburg for sure!
I didn't take one picture in the Reeperbahn - what's up with that?!  I guess I was too busy taking it all in (and keeping the prostitutes off my man:))! I stole this pic off the internet - it is the entrance to Herbertstrasse.  Only men over 18 are allowed behind the wall,l so I'm not sure exactly what it looked like and Nathan's not saying:).  All I know is they were behind it for a while.... 

Sunday morning we all woke up at a reasonable hour (which was a shock considering all the ridiculously big beers we drank the night before) and actually made it to the Sandeman Free Walking Tour at 11 am.  Nathan and I love a walking tour and feel it is a great way to learn more about the history of the city.   Although our tour guide was a bit of a goober, we all learned alot about Hamburg (even Miriam and James said they learned stuff they didn't know)!

The tour started at the Rathaus (Town Hall)

Chilehaus - it was designed to resemble the front of a ship
St. Nikolai Church - it was bombed during WWII and never rebuilt as a reminder to the people the perils of war.

Deichstrasse - origin of the Great Fire of 1842

Binnenhafen - the inner harbor

The tour ended in Hafencity (Harbor City) where we continued to walk around look at all the amazing architecture.  Wow!  You have to go to really appreciate it, but I could see us living there (after we earned a couple million of course:)).


In the distance you can see the Elbe Philharmonic Hall that is still being built.  I want to come back when it is finished and see a performance there - it looks really cool!

At the end of the tour Nathan and I were drafted to be part of the reenactment of the death of the infamous Pirate Klaus Störtebeker

That night Miriam made us another amazing dinner (thank you Miriam!) and we just chilled after a fun filled weekend filled with lots of German beer, street festivals, and walking!  Although it felt like we covered the whole city - apparently there are even more areas to see - I guess we are just going to have to go back! ;) 

Thank you Miriam and James - we had an amazing time!  Can't wait for you to come visit us in North Carolina!:) 

p.p.s. - I hope I got all the facts right and if not - Miriam please let me know!

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