Hamburg: behind the millionaire reputation
Hamburg ? it?s a free city, a big port city, a rich city, and a city that John Lennon once called home. (Yes, that John Lennon, of the Beatles fame). In fact, this is the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, one of Germany?s first free cities, the site of the second largest port in Europe, Germany?s second largest city and the city that most German Billionaires call home.

Not a bad dossier, huh? But if you think that?s all there is to it, then you need to scratch further under the surface of Hamburg?s austere fa?ade. Because it?s not just about stately facades, renovated shipping warehouses and outdoor escalators. You?ll soon find that there?s much more to this northern city than business, shipping, and millionaires. It?s also a city that has over 2,000 bridges, making it known as the Venice of Germany, and a city with a thriving nightlife (fascinating seediness included), rivalling even Berlin?s party fame and Amsterdam?s red light notoriety.

In fact, the contrast of Hamburg?s seemingly staid appearances is underlain with a seedier underbelly ? one that definitely tips Hamburg?s cool factor way above average. In Hamburg, you?ll find ambitious urban development projects in the old harbour area (Hafen City), quirky modern design among old brick warehouses belonging to an old industrial era, and the tawdry but fascinating St Pauli neighbourhood, home to the notorious Reeperbahn, red light area.

Hamburg has a quirky side that will leave you wondering what lies beneath the starched business collars of the hard working local Hamburgers. This marred perfectionism only makes Hamburg more fascinating, and justifies the time to explore her quirks, dents and defects.

What to see

For a port city, there?s no doubt that you?ll find some great sights near the salt breezes. The old port area, and the new digital city being developed at Hafen City are not to be missed. Then there are her three rivers (including the mighty mouth of the River Elbe), two artificial lakes and over 2,000 bridges. Try crossing all of those in a short stay!

The Altona Fischmarkt open on Sundays at ridiculously early hours (like all fish markets!), but to compensate for the early start, you?ll find a happening crowd, live music, the theatrics of the traders, sausages and socks, maybe livestock, bits and pieces. And of course, some of that fresh seafood that Hamburg is known for!

Hamburg is also known for some good shopping, great modern art galleries and that funky vibe. Find it around St Pauli by day, and in particular, the hip Schanzen district or Marktstrasse, the nearby emerging fashion block. If you?re here in Christmas, there are three colourful Christmas markets to choose from.

What to eat

For the third time, it?s a port city, so expect a healthy seafood offering. Apparently, with lots of variations on eel ? Aalsuppe (eel soup) Aalsuppe grun (eel soup with herbs) and R?ucheraal (smoked eel), to name a few! The food offering ranges from the chic and cutting edge to the simple tavern-style offerings typical of harbour towns.

For an example of the humble, the hamburger as you probably know it was named after the town, and most probably was derived from a local dish called Frikadelle. This is debateable ? the local ?original? isn?t even served on a bread roll, and is much larger and thicker. Try it yourself, and be the judge.

Where to party

Hamburg has a nightlife that rivals that of Berlin, with a great music scene and thumping clubs. And like all big cities, the scene is found at the city?s underbelly ? around the St Pauli area. You?ll find the clubs and bars jostling alongside the red light offerings, but won?t be disappointed by what?s on offer. Try Angie?s Nightclub, one of Hamburg?s top nighttime destinations offering great music and sometimes even spontaneous concerts?

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