A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
So I went to Hamburg a couple of weeks ago!
And I was very kindly invited by Hamburg Marketing, to join them on a press trip.
I so need to go again!
To be clear, Berlin will always be my first (1st) love so nothing is going to take that away.
Not anywhere in Germany.
But it’s nice to see the competition!
Now the thing is, I’ve been to Hamburg many times, but I’ve never been to Hamburg as a tourist!
Why is that, you might ask?
To be honest, I simply don’t know!
It could be that Hamburg is so close by, that one always thinks, “I’ll go there later!”
It could be that Hamburg is an inter-city hub, so I’m always changing trains, and passing through Hamburg!
It could be that most of the time, I’m on a business trip. And short of having a quick drink, one doesn’t really have time to dally, as time is money people!
I wanted to change this.
If you recall, almost a year ago, I went to the International Trade Fair in Berlin, otherwise known as ITB Berlin, and met up with some of the marketing people of Hamburg.
You could say, that we actually met on Twitter, ‘cos a British blogger – Eat Shoot Sleep Travel asked me about the traditional Fish Market in Hamburg, and I didn’t know!
The fellows at Hamburg.com saw this, reached out and said,”Hey! Come to Hamburg. See for yourself!”
Now the funny thing is.
I don’t like to travel in December.
It’s my birthday month, and my “rest” time.
It’s also the festive season.
And when I say festive. I mean the German Christmas Market daaarling!
However, I had a tiny wndow where I could travel so I reached out to my Hamburg contact, thinking I’ll probably be there in about 6 weeks, and she told me that they could add me in at very short notice.
Very short notice indeed.
I was escstatic.
Thanks so much Hamburg Marketing!
However, once I confirmed it, a very important client also contacted me, so I ended up arriving one day earlier than the other participants, and leaving earlier too.
It would have been ideal, but my hotel had lost the press package that should have been waiting for me, and by the time I had contacted everyone to find out where it was, all the tourist sights had closed!
I never did find my press package, but that’s a story for another day!
Where to start?
Hamburg really isn’t that big, so follow my footsteps and don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk too!
Hamburg, otherwise known as the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, is the second-largest city in Germany, and has a population of about 1.8 million people!
Just so you know, Berlin, with a population of just 3.55 million people, is the federal capital, and the largest city in Germany!
And let me tell you, it doesn’t even feel like a city…!
Hamburg lies in a very strategic position with Continental Europe to the South and the Nordic States to the North. The North Sea is to the West and the Baltic Sea is to the North-East.
Hamburg stretches out on the River Elbe, has many small islands and lakes, and borders the states of Schleswig-Holstein with lovely places like Lübeck and Lower Saxony.
Hamburg is the type of city that I respect because like Berlin, Manchester and London, it’s a City State and has existed since the time of the Holy Roman Empire!
Hamburg is also a member of the medieval Hanseatic League, a World Heritage UNESCO site, with signs of wealth and glory all over the region. Of course, during the Great Fire of Hamburg, and during the Second World War, the importance of the harbour made it an important target, such that many parts of the city, was destroyed.
During the 13th – 16th century, Hamburg was considered second only to the port and city of Lübeck, as a central trading hub for sea-borne trade.
With the discovery of the Americas and the emerging transatlantic trade, Hamburg exceeded all other German ports, and became the main Central European hub for freight travel, transatlantic passengers and from 1871, the principal port of trade in Germany!
Hamburg, like Liverpool leads to the sea, and it’s waterside – the river Elbe – is so placed that Hamburg has the second largest port in Europe, the oldest Stock Exchange in Germany, and is the seat of Berenberg Bank – Germany’s oldest private bank, and the second oldest bank in the world!
It’s famous for being one of Europe’s most well-known entertainment districts, otherwise known as the St. Pauli Reeperbahn Quarter, and is also proud of the fact that Hamburg introduced The Beatles to the world!
In fact, Hamburg boasts the city with the wealthiest Germans, and the most millionaires in the country!
The Hamburg Harbour is so important that the district is actually called HafenCity.
Hafen means harbour.
I don’t know about you, but I find this type of stuff enormously impressive!
TAKE ME THERE?
You know how much I love trains.
They’re just so comfortable and full of ease. And if you’re on the European Continent, it’s the easiest and sometimes, cheapest way to travel.
If you’re coming from North Europe, South Europe, Britain or anywhere over the water, I recommend flying!
I went to Hamburg from Berlin. And since this was a press trip, a train was booked on my behalf.
If you’re anywhere in Germany, it’s quite easy to use the Deutsche Bahn – German Trains by either booking from 6 months ahead on the long-distance train Sparpreis Aktion Saver Fare ticket from €19.90. Or by using the ICE – InterCity Express trains Sparpreis Saver Fare ticket across Germany, costing as little as €29.90!
And the wonderful part?
Children and grandchildren aged 15 and under, travel for free, as long as you include them when booking your ticket.
But don’t forget, if you’re in Germany already, or planning to travel to Eastern Europe by train, DO NOT buy the Eurail train pass. There is simply no need, as the tickets are far cheaper if you book them on the Deutsche Bahn website. And as for Eastern Europe, tickets go for peanuts, if you book them on their own train websites too!
If you need any help with booking trains, contact me for a European travel consultancy, and I’ll book them for you. Do that here!
You really couldn’t get any better than that!
IS IT GOING TO BE CROWDED?
I didn’t think so.
I suppose, it depends when you go!
Hamburg is a really nice city, but I don’t see it as an OMG-we-have-just-got-to-go-visit-Hamburg type of place!
Not yet anyway.
It’s too far North for a start!
WHAT IS HAMBURG REALLY LIKE?
I was in Hamburg for 2.5 days and it’s definitely a city that I would like to visit again.
I found Hamburg to be very pleasant.
Some people think that they can compare it to Berlin.
I don’t think so!
It’s very different.
Certainly, the Altona-Altstadt or Old Town is most beautiful, and the Schanzenviertel Quarter has “edge,” but Hamburg is a place that you can take your parents to, and they won’t be shocked.
Unless they go to the Reeperbahn.
I DON’T SPEAK GERMAN!
You’ll find that a lot of of young people speak English.
‘Better than yourself sometimes!
And French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic. Most of the major languages really.
AM I GOING TO LIVE IN A HUT?
I’M ON A BUDGET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
There are plenty of hostels to be had.
And since it’s Germany, the standard will always be high, and you’ll have a good time.
Since I was on a press trip, I didn’t need to worry about this.
Book the best hostels in Hamburg here!
I’M LOOKING FOR A BIT MORE LUXURY, IS THERE SOMETHING FOR ME?
As I told you previously, I arrived earlier than the other press hacks.
And let me tell you, even though this wouldn’t be my first (1st) press trip, but effectively, my fourth (4th), I always feel a little nervous about the sleeping arrangements.
I always do of course, but still, I constantly worry, and it brings me out in a sweat since nobody actually tells you!
And because I arrived one day (1) day before the others, I was placed in a grown-up more corporate-like hotel called the Scandic Hamburg Emporio, while the others were in a young-ish boutique hotel called the Fritz im Pyjama Hotel.
At first, I was a little disappointed not to be placed in the same hotel as everyone else, but when I saw my room at the Scandic Hamburg Emporio, I soon forgot all about it!
The wonderful thing about this hotel was not only the location being right next door to the Laeiszhalle Concert Hall – the home of the Symphoniker Hamburg and the Philharmoniker Hamburg, a five (5) minute walk from the famous Gänsemarkt Square, but also the view from my huge wall-to-wall window, was pretty fantastic.
It suited me just fine.
More details next week!
Book Scandic Hamburg Emporio, the Fritz im Pyjama Hotel, or your own Hamburg Hotel here!
WHAT ABOUT TRANSPORT POSSIBILITIES?
Hamburg has plenty of variety in trains, trams, buses, and bikes.
I used the overground and underground trains, as well as the tram. Hamburg isn’t as big as Berlin, so public transport was very easy to use.
I was given the Hamburg Card which made unlimited travel on public transport around the city so much easier, included discounts at more than 150 tourist attractions, which proved very useful in my spare time! You can get your Hamburg Card here.
As well as the Hamburg Official Digital travel guide App. Free of charge!
You won’t get lost…!
Try a Hamburger Labskaus!
What’s a labskaus? I’ll tell you next week!
I like Hamburg.
It’s a wealthy waterside city.
WOULD I COME AGAIN?
This article is part-sponsored, and even though I was invited on this trip as a guest of Hamburg Marketing, Visit Hamburg, Deutsche Bahn and the Scandic Hamburg Emporio Hotel, all opinions and the good times that I had in Hamburg, are my very own!
I went on a press trip to Hamburg. Watch out for more details next week!
I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about my visit to Belgium later in the season!
I’ll be at the Press Conference of the exhibition: Eduardo Paolozzi. Lots of Pictures – Lots of Fun, organized by the Whitechapel Gallery, London, in collaboration with one of my favourite art galleries – the Berlinische Galerie, otherwise known as the Museum of Modern Art! Taking place in Berlin, on the 8th of February, 2018. Admission is free of charge to the public from 18:00 on the day!
I’ll be at the Medientournee of Atout France – the France Tourism Development Agency, taking place on the 8th of February, 2018. I’m going to be quite busy that day!
I’ll be at the UK Germany 2018 Launch Party on Valentine’s Day – on the 14th of February, 2018. Tickets are free of charge, so if you’re in Berlin, join the party!
I’ll be at Berlin’s most famous film festival – The 68th showing of the Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, taking place between 15th – 25th February, 2018. Everyone’s most excited! Tickets are on sale from 12.02.18.
I’ll be at the ITB Berlin or the Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin – the world’s leading travel trade show, taking place between 7th – 11th March, 2018. You can buy tickets here.
Save the Date!
I’ll be there. Will you?
If you’re not in Berlin in February, then where the hell are you?
February is going to be great!
See you next week!
Watch this space!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!
I really need to come back to Germany. I’ve only ever been to Stuttgart and surrounding countryside 4 years ago visiting a friend. It was a great trip, but there’s a lot more to see!! Love that opening picture too of the rope leading to the boat!!!
Thanks so much Jason! Yep! You really do. 😉 Stuttgart is great of course, but Germany is a huge country (by European standards.) Haw! Haw!
Yeah, I do like my waters!!! 😀
Hamburg seems exceptional and definitely worth exploring city. This is an excellent introduction and an awesome read, Vic!:)
Thanks so much Agness!
Yep! Hamburg was pretty interesting. I liked it so much, that I’m going back again in a few weeks! 😀
Looking forward to reading more about your experiences there, Vic! 🙂
Thanks very much Agness! It’ll be out before the weekend! 😉
It’s not what l pictured. It’s quite stunning! Looks like l have to add that to my list :-). I’m not even sure why l never considered it. Berlin gets all the love and therefore that’s what most people, include me think when l hear Germany. Thanks for the introduction. It’s definitely worth visiting in my book now :-).
Thanks very much KemKem!
Isn’t Hamburg just! Honestly, I have never considered it either, and I only live a few hours away. It’s always been a “change trains” hub since the German grandparents live in North Germany! Time to shake things up! 😀
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