"FIFA came & went! But There's Still Lots To Do!" Top 5 Page for this destination Hamburg by ericaj.
Hamburg Travel Guide: 1,495 reviews and 3,537 photos
The city of the 5 Spires. An undiscovered gem of a European town that boast more canals than Italy's beloved Venice, Hamburg is a city of interesting contrasts. Conservative, but progressive, provencial, yet urban. Chicly attired, yet casually hip. Its' inhabitants are cool and curt, yet warm and engaging. There's enough European panache here to live out your usual Continental travel fantasy clichés, but enough vibrant imput from the incredible mix of immigrants ranging from Turkish to Thai, to feel like you're roaming the streets of any bustling western metropolis in the world from London to New York. Centrally located, in the thick of all things EU, it's the perfect city for travelers who want a taste of the West, the East, and everything in between at an urban pace, with a repspectful nod to provencial sensibilities.
Throughout the past 700 years or so the names and borders and types of government rule that comprise what we now know as Germany have changed so many times it's difficult to be cognizant of them all, unless you were a top notch student in your Advanced Placement World History class. That being said, it's interesting to note that there small pockets of Hamburg neighborhoods today that used to be territories of other European nations, some not becoming part of "Hamburg, Germany" itself until the early 20th century.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Hamburg has become Germany's second largest city (after Berlin). It has one of the unique distinctions of being both a city AND a state however, and still retains Germany's largest port, which has been the shipping lifeline to and from Northern Europe since approx. the mid 1100's. In addition to the usual paper, pharmaceutical, and raw materials, Hamburg's port receives the largest transhipment for coffee and tea in Europe. Hard to imagine, but even the British have to wait for their tea to arrive through the port of Hamburg before they can sit down to crumpets!
The city is called the Free and Hanseatic State (of Hamburg) due to it's membership in the Hanseatic League, a trade alliance that held the shipping and trade monopoly over all of Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea between the 13th and 17th centuries, quite similar to the hold Venice had over THE REST of the continent at that time. Though it's not exactly like the Venetian city literally built on the sea, it does (in my imagination) explain why there are so many canals in older parts of the city, as in those days they were necessary for trade. These days the canals in the more posh areas are dotted with cafés, restaurants (casual and upscale), old fashioned ice cream parlours, and a few small docks for canoe rentals. Warm summer days are few and far between in Hamburg (due to winds coming in from the Sea), so when it does manage to become sunny and break above 65°F, the canal and lake areas become the busiest places in town. People sail and catamaran on the Alster, canoe on the canals, and claim territory on any other waterfront spot they can find to enjoy their food, friends, and a few relaxed hours under the sun.
- Pros:All the excitement and urban comforts of London, Prague, and New York.
- Cons:Don't make shopping plans for Sunday, stores are closed. Better to substitute a coffee or museum date instead.... Besides, it'll probably be raining anyway.
- In a nutshell:The perfect mix of Europe- old and new....
Several times a year, Hamburg is shut down throughout various parts of the city to accommodate long distance sports... more travel advice
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