Hamburg on the house

German waterfront

Hamburg on the house

The 1.7 million inhabitants of the second largest city of Germany are called Hamburgers. They don’t mind, rather it bestows pride in them to proclaim their home, the port city of Hamburg, as the origin of one of the planet’s most accepted food item.

The story goes that during the late 18th century, hungry sailors arriving at their shores were served with a grilled meat patty, placed between two pieces of bun bread.
 They used to call it “hamburger”, which over time has been globally branded as a short and simple meal.

Unconventional haunt

In the touristy circuit, Hamburg dots as an offbeat destination.

It has the world famous port, one of biggest in Europe.

Her waterways are inviting and the architectural line-up is eye catching.

And if you love having fun, there are not many cities like Hamburg.

The nightlife here matches up with Amsterdam and keep night owls enjoying till early hours in the morning.

“Water makes Hamburg special, so the best way to start exploring the city is by going on a harbour cruise,” advised my hotel concierge, and I followed her instruction.

It provided first-time visitors like me a good understanding of the evolution of this ultramodern settlement.

Edging on River Elbe, trade through Hamburg for centuries has made the city wealthy enough to become one of the richest metropolitan areas of European Union.

The docks have also witnessed large people movement.
 After the two world wars, millions of Europeans voyaged to the newer world from here, giving the city its other name, “The Getaway to the World”.

While water faring, I came across everything from historic vessels and giant container ships to maritime memorials, romantic piers and a stunning architectural silhouette of old and new, dominated by tall spires of Hamburg’s several churches.  

In Hamburg, life is surrounded by water.

The Elbe criss-crosses through the city, splitting into waterways that streams like Venetian canals between handsome buildings, many of which serve as offices, residences and museums.

Hamburg also boasts a beautiful picturesque lake, which forms the showpiece of the city-centre and the nearby residential suburbs.

It’s undoubtedly a delight to follow the links of the waterways with the wide expanses of the Elbe by boat or trundling through the cobblestone streets.

Post-war makeover

The city was almost reduced to rubbles by allied-force bombing during the World War II, but in the last six decades, it has reshaped well to emerge as an ultramodern destination.

Though the city has been rebuilt elaborately, history has been preserved at significant quarters, for example, at the city-centre where life buzzes around the imposing City Hall which remains as one of the few completely preserved buildings of historicism in Hamburg. 

There are historic churches nearby, most significant being the St Nikolai Church, famous for its towering steeple, once recognised as the tallest in the world.

The edifice burnt down to its wall, during the war in 1943, and its remnants today serve as a memorial for the victims of war.

However, Hamburg’s signature building is the baroque styled St Michael Church.  A visit to Hamburg isn’t complete without a visit to Reeperbahn.

It’s the city’s most famous and exciting thoroughfare that gets alive only after sun down when Hamburgers, joined by thousands of visitors, storm into this quarter to party.

The neon-lit signs of the establishments, the loud music from the bars, the aroma of grilling sausages from wayside stalls and the cheering and jeering of the crowd creates a magical atmosphere. 

In the early sixties, a bunch of young rock singers from England regularly performed at various night clubs in Reeperbahn.

They were actually pretty good and it was their top notch singing performance at the sleazy clubs that gave them the initial break to earn credibility, become famous and to be known as Beatles in future.

Reeperbahn hasn’t forgotten about them.

There is a Beatle’s Memorial, featuring stainless steel statues erected on a paved area which is always filled with their aficionada. 

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