This was my last week in Germany, so I wanted to make the most of it. I, along with three of the remaining students, David, Janie, and Kelly, had planned a trip to Hamburg the week before. We left Friday, 5 August, after class and rode a 3 hour bus to Hamburg.
Once we arrived at the bus station, we took a train to central Hamburg and unpacked our things in the apartment that we rented, then we started looking for things to do.
We were all hungry, so we took a train to Hamburg’s docking area near the location of fish market that occurs every Sunday morning. We walked down the street and scoped out the restaurants and bars, and decided to eat at a restaurant bar called JVA on the Reeperbahn. Since I was in Hamburg, it was only natural to order a hamburger. As well, I ordered an Astra Urtyp beer, as the Astra brewery was founded in Hamburg. There was nothing too special about the beer (other than the cool name), but the hamburger that I had was the best Hamburger that I have eaten. It served the name of Hamburg well.
After eating, the sun had gone down, and we walked around a bit more to see what may be going on around the area. We saw an amusement park with a huge ferris wheel not too far away from us, and walked towards it. We got on the ferris wheel and got to see a great view of Hamburg and the Elbe flowing through it.
Saturday, we went on a walking tour of the city and learned that the Beatles played their first show in the Indra club, which is on the Reeperbahn. The Reeperbahn is where the nightlife of Hamburg takes place. There are bars, clubs, sex bars, casinos, and a church with a sign posted outside stating that “there is nothing that is too much for Jesus to handle”.
That night, David, Janie, and I went to an Irish pub right outside of the red light district and had a good time. There was a live folk musician playing on the top floor, and a club in the basement. A large party of people dressed as different Nintendo characters also came in and made the place pretty lively. We got back late and slept for a good while. We unfortunately did not wake up in time to go to the fish market Sunday morning, which ended at 9:00.
Sunday, we checked out some of the tourist shops, ate at the Hard Rock café (which actually had free refills and ice in their drinks), and then went on a bus tour and rode to the other side of the Elbe to see the residential and shopping areas. Hamburg seems to be a beautiful place to life, although fairly expensive, especially in comparison to the cost of living in Berlin.
Soon enough, it was time to go back to Berlin, so we got on the bus and rode on our way.
Friday, the day before I was to board my return flight to Mississippi, Heide took me to eat at her favorite restaurant, Reinhard’s in Nikolaiviertel. I ordered a steak with sauce and a light beer, and she ordered fish, dark beer, and Sekt for both of us. While we were waiting for our food, Heide told me about the history of Nikolaiviertel. This area was one of the original areas of Berlin, and was founded in the early 1200s as a trade quarter. The area was mostly destroyed by Allied bombers during the second world war in an attempt to terrorize the German citizens, and had to be rebuilt afterwards.
As well, she told me more about how it was to live in East Berlin during the time of the GDR. She told me that, while no one made as much money as they do now, it was easier to live, and there was no great social divide between the rich and the poor, because nearly everyone was of a similar economic standing. She said that shortly after reunification between East and West Germany occurred in 1989, the currency of East Berlin was rendered useless, and the owners of nearly every industry in East Berlin went out of business. Hard times fell upon her and her children, and they had to hardly get by to make it with the amount of money that they had. Prices of everything went up, while getting a job to make money became far more difficult. Where her apartment previously cost her 150€ per month to live in, and stayed that way throughout the time of the GDR, today it costs her 650€ per month, and continually rises in cost as time goes on. It is an unfortunate situation, and there is not much being done to amend it, as it is simply the expected way of things now.
Our food arrived, and it was absolutely delicious. After we finished eating, we walked around the Museum Island, and then returned to the apartment.
That night, I went to an Irish pub near the Spree and listened to Sara’s band play with my friends from language class, Maria, Stijn, and Dario, and the other MSU students. Afterwards, Dario and I went to ://about blank, another club in Kreuzberg. Outside, there was some communist graffiti and left-wing propaganda plastered across the walls, such as “Refugees Welcome” and “Germany Must Die”. Inside, it was somewhat like Suicide Circus, but had slightly underwhelming music and fairly low-production in comparison.
Saturday, I was off to the airport to return home. Heide came with me and helped me carry my luggage. When we got to the airport, I thanked her for everything and gave her a hug goodbye.