While I still have much of the world to see, Hamburg, Germany is the city that takes my heart as my favorite city in the world. From the people to the Hafen, from the food to the Reeperbahn, from the theatre to the small markets, Germany’s “gateway to the world” is where I had the luck to spend the last weekend, October 24-26th. After a quick layover in Copenhagen (yay passport stamp from Denmark!!!), I arrived in Hamburg just hours before my graduation from my MA from the Europa Kolleg Institute for European Integration Studies of the Universität Hamburg.
One of the things that I love about flying into the Hamburg Airport is its easy connection to the main parts of Hamburg. One can board the S1 S-Bahn (subway) and reach all parts of the extended HVV network (a network that extends into the wider area and towns surrounding Hamburg). For €5.90, one can buy a network pass for the Großbereich (main city network), the 9-Uhr-Karte (which allows for the travel of three children up to 14 with an accompanying adult).
After meeting a German friend at the Hauptbahnhof (central station), I took an S3 out to Veddel. I had never been to this part of Hamburg on the opposite side of the Elbe. It was dominated by massive apartment buildings and a number of small Arabic and Turkish establishments. After climbing up to my friend’s apartment, I made my way out to the far West side of Hamburg to the Europa Kolleg.
The graduation ceremony was a grand ordeal. After receiving our degrees, I was honored with presenting a graduation speech on behalf of my graduating class.
After the formalities concluded, we were treated to delicious German style catering (with plenty of beer and wine) before making plans to go out on the Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s party district.
Accompanied by the new students of the Europa Kolleg, we made our way to the Reeperbahn. The district is dominated by a mix of bars, clubs, strip bars, and sex shops. Historically, it was a part of Danmark and was outside of the Hamburg City limits. Check out other posts on my blog to find reviews and recommendations for the infamous Reeperbahn.
On this particular night, we made our way down one of the side streets to a bar to which I had not previously been. And while the name escapes me now, like many places on the Reeperbahn, it is the bars and clubs off the main street that tend to be more exciting and filled with more locals (a sign that it is a better bar). After drinking and dancing we made our way to one of the most famous side streets of the Reeperbahn, Große Freiheit Straße.
This street famously was one of the first places the Beatles performed abroad at Große Freiheit 36. In 2008, Hamburg erected a “Beatle’s Square” at the head of the street. Nowadays, the street is easily found packed with party-goers on any given Friday night. It hosts a number of establishments from the 99 Cent Bar to one of my favorite joints in all of Hamburg, the Thai Oasis Karaoke Bar.
While it is narrow and packed, the Thai Oasis has a great atmosphere of people who are drinking, singing, and having the time of their lives. A number of tables in the back facing a big screen with the lyrics of the current song offer a great place to sit and wait your turn to sing whilst singing along with the current singer. We spent a well-earned night singing there till the sun was on the horizon.
That next day was a slow start. While I had a number of issues to attend to during the daylight hours with shipping things I had left behind after I moved from Germany, there was a second night planned by my graduating class for us to wish one another a final goodbye.
On Saturday night, we went to Hamburg’s other main party district, Sternschanze. Nobody had much energy after the previous night, but we found a great bar to sit down and have a final round of beers. The atmosphere of Sternschanze is one that is a little more contemporary and sophisticated than the Reeperbahn. What it lacks in dance clubs and strip bars it makes up for in cozy places more conducive to conversation and sharing a “quite night” with mates.
After we finished our beers, we each made our way to our own hotels. That following day I caught a 12 pm flight to Frankfurt and from there a 14:50 flight to Heathrow. Sad as I am that my brief return to Germany had ended, I was relieved to make it home to Hamburg. Sleep was so inviting after a near sleepless weekend in Germany’s Tor zur Welt.