The first time I set foot on Hamburg I told myself: I have to know it better. Hamburg is one of the few cities with which it’s love at first sight: it amazes you for the wonderful combination between ancient and modern, the old yet so young air you can breathe in everywhere. Tenacious traveler and pioneer as I am, I immediately started stalking the net in order to find something interesting I could do, and I chanced upon this very particular website (http://www.newhamburgtours.com/) in which the concept of “free guided tours” is praised: an initiative that amazingly surprised me and allowed me to know this town better. There are a lot of tours organized in European and non-European cities around the world, starting every day of the week at the same time. In Hamburg, the meeting point is the Rathaus, the magnificent town hall in Altstadt, around 11 a.m. Since the visit is available in different languages, the first thing the guides do is splitting visitors in different groups and, once they are ready to begin, they explain the “abc” of a free tour. It’s easy: a free tour consists of a 3-hour walk to discover the most famous, astonishing and typical places in town and everything comes free. You would wonder how they pay their bills… well, every guide is paid by the individual visitors who, if satisfied at the end of the tour, compliment personally by tipping him/her. I believe it to be a nice excuse to strive to maintain their high standard and a certain level of amusement so that visitors enjoy the whole visit. The Hamburg tour starts with a presentation on the city’s history and the happenings which are connected to it being a very important harbor; then visitors can get a closer look at the Rathaus; they visit St. Petri, St. Jacobi and St. Nikolai’s churches, the district which was contaminated by cholera in 1892, the famous Speicherstadt with its famous red-bricked buildings and its bridges. Then they move to Trostbrücke, the city’s medieval beating heart, and end up in Hafen (the harbor district) where some of the visitors perform in the legend of the bloody pirate Klaus Störtebeker.
A unique excursion, sprinkled with suggestions on things to do and see outside the tour which, for those who wish, closes with a tasty lunch in one of Hamburg’s oldest restaurants: the particularity of the place is that there are banknotes from all the values in the word hanged on the ceiling and very old pictures of Hamburg decorating the walls.
Following the pieces of advice received, you must pay a visit to St. Michaelis church, placed in the St.Pauli district, in which you can take the lift up to 106 metres and enjoy the charming view of the city and its surroundings. You can freely visit the church, structured as a theater, entirely made of wood and painted in white, with its splendid brass organ.
On your way back to Altstadt, my advice is to visit Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s “sin city”: a street full of erotic clubs, discos and casinos. At night, you will feel like you are in a Las Vegas in miniature. The particularity of the street? Free entrance in most of the clubs and very cheap drinks. Furthermore, right in the street center you can find “Beatlesplatz”, dedicated to the 5 Liverpudlians who lived and played here in the early 60’s.
Anything left to say? Sure there are plenty of other things to see but I guess this is quite a satisfying smattering. Spice it with a beer in one of Hamburg’s typical brewery and have fun!