What to do in Berlin

Top things to do in Berlin

You’ve probably seen how much I love Germany, for the least I have seen -Hamburg. But I also spent a weekend in Berlin, in October 2013.

There are many things to do in Berlin, such a large choice, due to all its history I would say. Berlin is a wonderful city, and I absolutely loved it. Here are some of the best things you can’t miss out when visiting Berlin.

Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)

The Brandenburg Gate is a majestic neoclassical triumph arch, dating from the 18th century, and which is one of Germany’s most visited landmark. It is Berlin’s icon, and it has had many roles throughout history. It has been a symbol of peace but also war and terror, because of WWII events. As of today and since 1989, it stands as a symbol of the reunification of Germany. This gate has often been a site for major historical events, as it is right near the Brandenburg Gate that John F. Kennedy gave his “I am a Berliner” speech and where Ronald Reagan affirmed America’s support to Berlin and its people.

–> I recommend that you go see it by night, as it looks even better when illuminated, and it will be less crowded.

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Hamburg Beach Bars

Beach bar hopping in Hamburg

Hamburg is probably the best city to claim itself as the home of the urban beach. Each year in April, tonnes of sand are imported to make create little seaside paradises all around Hamburg. Beach bars open their doors on May of each year as to welcome all the bar hoppers, doing it Hamburg-style.

Although you might not think at first of Hamburg as known for its beach bars, it can be explained. As you know, Hamburg is both a metropolitan city and a port city. Its residents have long been spending weekends on these city beaches, beside the Elbe River. These beach bars range from sophisticated to grunge, satisfying everyone’s tastes. Here is how your beach bar crawl could go:
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Hamburg sightseeing

Places to see in Hamburg

I haven’t been posting about Hamburg for a while now, so I want to talk about the best places to see in Hamburg.

Hamburg is a very rich city by its history and landscape. It has characteristics of big cities but it is also very green, which makes it a lovely place for pretty much everyone. The thing that I enjoyed the most in this city is all the spaces where you can just go to talk and walk and relax. I mean, the city has so much to offer that I could only advice anyone to take advantage of its resources!

Hamburg’s City Hall

The Hamburg Rathaus is the seat of the government of Hamburg and is located in the Altstadt (Old Town)  quarter in the city center near the central station. In front of its market-square there is the Rathausmarkt, used for events and festivals. The main shopping street, Mönkebergstraße connects the city hall with the central station, Hauptbahnhof. North of the Rathaus is the Binnenalter with the Jungfernstieg station and quay for the Alter ships. Jungfernstieg is the city’s foremost boulevard and an urban promenade in Hamburg. The city hall can be accessed by the S1, S2, S3 to the Jungfernstieg station or by the U3 at the Rathaus station.

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Picture 1: City Hall; Picture 2: Jungfernstieg: Picture 3: Alster lake

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Easter in Hamburg

Easter Fire

Its a bit of a late post as Easter is already over… but I still want to share with you my Easter experience in Hamburg.

So last week end, April 4th and 5th, was Easter week end. In Hamburg, this is called Osterfeuer.

Osterfeuer

Osterfeuer basically means easter fire, which is a long tradition in Hamburg and on the Elbe. It happens on the evening of Easter Saturday. This lightening of huge bonfires was originally a pagan tradition. It was said that the light and warmth of the fire were supposed to drive out the winter and ensure good harvest. Later, this tradition was adopted by the Christians.

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Reeperbahn

Hamburg’s Red Light District

Reeperbahn is a street in Hamburg’s St Pauli district, and is probably one of the best part of Hamburg, when it comes to partying. When you go there during the day, it is pretty much a normal street, with shops, bars, theaters, and cafes. However, you will see unconventional shops there: many many sex shops and strip clubs, brothels and a sex museum. Yes, that’s Reeperbahn!

When you go at night, be careful. Some rules:

  • Never go there alone, especially as a girl (I have been accosted by a few weird dudes).
  • Be sure you stay with your friends, as it can get very crowded.
  • Do not pay attention to the drunkies along the street, but stay away from them, they can be dangerous.
  • If you see suspicious women at clubs’ entries, do not worry, they are prostitutes, here to pick up men. Your male friends have great chances to be accosted 😉
  • If you have a problem, the police station is right there! Policemen patrol all night, so you are kind of safe.

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 Picture 1: Große Freiheit by night; Picture 2: A strip club

 
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Landungsbrücken

Hamburg’s Port

Oh dear Landungbrücken! I have spent so much time walking around the platforms, looking at the boats, little souvenir shops, and restaurants! That’s a place I love in Hamburg.

Landungsbrücken means landing bridges as the port is basically a floating dock with numerous bridges. There are many shipping boats, which you can see on the other side of the river, but also taxi/subway boats that can drive you to 3 stops around the Elbe, and from time to time you can see cruise boats (including the Queen Mary II !!).

There is a subway station to access it (Landungsbrücken). You arrive right at the port.

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Living in Hamburg

Not only focusing on places to visit, I thought that I would share my living experience in Hamburg.

One thing you need to know: Hamburg is a very international city, with many students coming to study, for internships, and to work. It is important to know that because of this, it makes the housing situation quite difficult.

Hostels

When I got my internship and had to be in Hamburg 10 days later, I searched for a room on websites such as wg-gesucht, where a lot of people put ads for vacant rooms. I remember that I contacted a bunch of people but ended up getting no answers back. So I went there anyway and stayed in hostels for 2 weeks.
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Hamburg

I had the chance, for my 6-month internship, to end up in Hamburg, Germany. It was my first time in Germany, and frankly I was not sure how it was going to be. Maybe that’s a French thing, but when we think Germany, we think of WWII. We see Germans as cold and their language as rude and aggressive. But I thought that Germany was surely more than that, and I could not judge people based on History without even trying to know them. So I took the opportunity!

I made a great decision by going there. Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, after Berlin. It is a beautiful city, with a huge port, and so many different districts that are worth visiting.

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