After arriving to Hamburg on Friday and taking a day to walk around the city a bit and take our first shots at the local food and drink, we regrouped for an official city outing on Saturday. We targeted a few locations that seemed intriguing, but we were able to bounce around and stop anywhere we wanted by the end of the day after mastering the subway system. The Germans are definitely on to something with their public transport, at least in Hamburg and in their rail service. The subways were clean, timely, and not once did we have a ticket checked.
We first visited the enormous gothic St. Nicholas' Church in the middle of Hamburg. It has an incredibly long history, but is preserved in it's current form as a memorial to victims of persecution in Germany during WWII. This is fitting because apparently it was allied bombing that brought it to it's current state of (maintained) ruin. Once the tallest building in the world, it provided the main target for bombs dropped from planes above, which killed 35,000 people and destroyed most of the city. It was haunting more than anything else. We have wondered how Germany views it's own history and the plaques and explanations at St. Nikolai's shed some light on the complicated awareness within its culture of being both victim and persecutor. It was hard not to leave feeling drained and frightened of the increasing intolerance that persists in pockets of America. In a bad economy, with a downtrodden and uninformed populace, Hitler stoked fear of an easily-targeted Other, got support from the country's elite, and democracy fell. That progression was laid out very clearly at the memorial, and it was unnerving to stand in the church's shell considering the implications. We hope to see Dachau on our way down to Switzerland, though hope is the wrong word for it. We are here, and we should see it. Anyways, on with the pictures.
|Perhaps this will not show well on the web, but this summary captured a somber take on the destruction.|
|The Church spire, the only part that survived the bombing. The thing loomed. We walked two blocks away before getting a clear camera shot.|
|A view from the spire, looking at the Rathaus, which is the term for the governmental building.|
|Again, this may not carry over well through the web (a picture of a picture), but this is roughly the same view after the bombing raids.|
|This was a sculpture at the base of the spire, called The Ordeal.|
|By a Hamburg sculptor, the bricks in the base were from the concentration camp located immediately outside Hamburg|
|The inscription at the bottom of The Ordeal.|
We walked around dazed for a bit and then got on the train and went to a bar that makes their own beer and drank and sat. For the exact opposite kind of exploration, we then went to St. Pauli, the region of Hamburg known most for it's wild party scene and music culture. Good lord. This place was insane. It is not only the center of clubs, bars and performance spaces, but it also holds EXTENSIVE adult entertainment offerings, ranging from pornography being displayed in the streets to Hamburg's regulated, legalized Red Light district. The guidebook said it would make Vegas look like the Vatican and that was somewhat of an understatement. We went by during the day, stopping at a few noteworthy bars along the way, and then returned later at night to see a Canadian rock band play at the Indra; the club that gave the Beatles their start. We rocked out and had a drink and it was glorious.
|We'll estimate that 95% of those signs were selling some kind of vice.|
|Again, a madhouse. Note that the far-right sign says "Cruising: Dark & Playrooms; Jail & Slingrooms" We're not sure what any of that means, but we'll bet our guesses were spot on.|
|How can one not air guitar at this place?|
|We walked back along Hamburg's bustling harbor.|