A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
FINALLY, I’ve handed in all my essays and waved the library goodbye – for this semester at least. Have you done so too? And no idea what to do with all that free time?
In order to relax completely I decided to jump on a train to Hamburg to see my friends and now here I am, in the most beautiful city of Germany.
When it comes to trips to Germany, most of the people I’ve met in Leiden would mention Berlin or Munich, but barely anyone has ever been to Hamburg. That’s a great shame, as to me it’s just the best city in all of Germany. Though I did not grow up here, I lived here for quite a while and it has become my second home in Germany. It’s been a year and a half since the last time I was in Hamburg, and while back I realized that walking around this cold but charming city just makes me happy. Therefore, I would like to share some tips with you and highly recommend using your well-deserved study-break for a short trip to the “pearl”, the name Hamburgers have for their city.
First of all, I need to free Hamburg from the myth of being the city where the hamburger was invented. NO, hamburgers do not come from Hamburg! Quite the contrary: people here prefer fish.
A real Hamburger student spends Saturday night on the dance floor at the famous “Reeperbahn” until 5 in the morning to go directly to the fish market at the harbour and get a fried fish snack. That’d be my first tip for you: the Reeperbahn is a unique place to go out. It’s a 2 km long street where you can find one dance bar next to the other. They are all free and open till late, so you can swing casually from one into another until you’ve found the one you like most. My favourites are “Hörsaal”, “Sommersalon”, “Barbarabar” and “Roschinsky’s”.
On a Saturday, I’d recommend you to head to the area around “Sternschanze” and “Feldstraße”, where you can find a lot of nice cafés, restaurants and shops owned by independent artists and designers. The flea market at “Feldstraße” is an especially lovely place you shouldn’t miss on your trip. Open from 8 until 4, you can find some really nice little treasures. Next to the flea market you can find my favourite bookstore, “Cohen & Dobernigg”. My friends would always get annoyed with me; once we would have walked over the threshold, there would be no chance they will get me outside for at least the next half an hour. It’s a small independent bookstore with a very specific book selection; there you can find books about art, design, typography and of course a very well chosen area with fiction, both in English and German.
A real nice tradition I miss while living in the Netherlands is meeting up with friends for brunch. “Café May” is my favourite place in Hamburg for a relaxed Sunday brunch. They offer a wonderful all-you-can-eat brunch for only 6 euros. Located right next to the Reeperbahn, you can still see the traces the night life has left, which, in combination with the old sofas and tables, give this place a special aura. My friends and I would barely bring ourselves to leave this cosy place; we could spend the whole day there, chatting and playing Scrabble.
After fighting against the “gezelligheid” of this place, we would go for a walk to the harbour and take the ship to the beach. At the harbour, you should be careful which boat you get on. Lots of them try to sell incredibly expensive harbour boat trips, but actually you can just take the ship 62 to “Finkenwerder”, which is even included in your day-pass metro ticket. Get out in “Övelgönne” and have a little wander around the beach and get yourself a hot chocolate or coffee at the beach bars “Strandkiosk” or “Strandperle”.
Did you know that Hamburg has 2300 bridges; more than Amsterdam, Venice and London together? I have to admit, I didn’t. But Wikipedia wouldn’t lie, would it? You should specifically check out the “Kennedybridge” between the Alster, Hamburg’s huge lake which is located in the middle of the city, and all the bridges you can find around the “Speicherstadt” next to the harbour.
These are the most important things I would never miss out on a trip to Hamburg. Tomorrow, I have to say “Tschüss” again, but I hope you liked my little homage to the best city of Germany. And if you decide to follow my recommendation, say “Moin” to Hamburg from me, okay?