It's 10:3o and I had an especially bad day with the babies (I did learn that the vacuum cleaner drowns out incessant whining and screaming. My apartment has never been so dust free....) Soon I will go to bed, but as I came to turn off my computer, for some reason, I started thinking about Hamburg.
Besides Berlin, Hamburg is the only other city in Germany I would consider living. Munich is outrageously expensive and not particularly interesting. Leipzig and Dresden are both pretty but Leipzig is too small and Dresden is somehow depressing. Hannover is a total and complete bore. But Hamburg? Hamburg has my heart.
In 2005, before the start of the World Cup, I taught English to the German Railway employees of each of these cities. A pretty sweet job really: well paid, hotel and train ticket included, three days in a different place. My ex-boyfriend watched my parrots while I taught during the day and took pictures and hung out by myself at night (theater, bars, movies, you name it) in these different places.
Hamburg, like I said, was by far the best. With around a million inhabitants, it is also a large city (though Berlin is three times that.) The city is on the Elbe river and has a lot of water and a lot of posh villas. But it also does have some fabulous urban grit. Namely, the Reeperbahn (where the Beatles got their start), the red light district formerly for sailors. To Americans, the place is undoubtedly incredibly risque, with buildings you walk through to pick out your favorite prostitute (sorry ladies, no admittance for you!) Still, even if that's not quite your style, the area has a lot to offer in terms of nightlife.
On the less positive note, I've heard through the grapevine that, since they are further up north, Hamburgers (yes, they are called that!)are even MORE closed off than Berliners. Pretty much the only chance you have of becoming friends with a native is if you went to grade school with them....Then again, this is heresay, so maybe it's not quite true.
Here are some photographs I took of Hamburg in 2005. May they inspire you to book a trip to the town and have some fun. ;)