Last weekend, the people who organise the Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg, paid for me to go out there so I could write something about it. Usually when you go on one of these
free holidays press trips, you just get flown out there, go to whatever it is you're meant to be writing about, then are left alone to have fun with the rest of your time. Not on this one, though, we had a PACKED itinerary, full of Hamburg-related propaganda fun. Not that I'm complaining. It was nice to be in another country and do something other than eating stolen continental breakfast in my hotel room and trying to find an English TV channel to watch. But anyway, here's some stuff I saw, written in the format of a travel guide. Because I know that when I write for the readers of VICE, I write for the international jet set.
UNDERSTANDING HAMBURG When I first showed up, I had little to no useful knowledge of the city of Hamburg. Let alone any understanding of why I was actually there. But then the representative for the city that was showing us around said, "the reason you are here today is because of the musical Cats. This city had a lot of problems, nobody wished to visit here, but then Cats came here and changed everything. It's no longer dangerous to walk the streets." Maybe all the Eurozone needs to get back on the winning team is an extravagant production of Starlight Express?
My flight was arranged by the PR company, so I'm not 100% on the details. But if you were to go, I'm sure most major airlines fly there. There were also docks, so presumably you can get a boat (pictured above) there, too. I imagine Hamburg has a rich nautical tradition, which will appeal to VICE readers. GETTING AROUND
The PR people had a bus that drove us from place to place, so I never really got a chance to figure out how you'd get around otherwise. There was an underground system and, though I don't remember seeing any, I assume there were buses and cabs. Or you could always just walk. You're in a new place, you'll see some stuff. Like this hiiiiiiiilariously named nightclub I walked past. I would have missed it if I'd been on the underground.
This is public transport of a sort, though I think it only goes to the police station. How anyone would ever dare commit a crime in a city which takes law enforcement tips from
is beyond me. Crusties are brave I guess. THE MUSIC SCENE
As you guys are reading VICE, I know music is very important to you. Live Music especially. You'll be happy to know then that Hamburg has some Live Music. In fact, the main reason I was there was to go to the Reeperbahn Festival. Which is like a regular music festival, only A) in Germany and B) in the city centre. Which removes the two worst things from the festival equation; British people and camping.
Apparently the Beatles went to Hamburg a lot. One of them even died there (a fact which people seemed oddly proud of). One of the TWO Beatles related activities we did while there was a Beatles walking tour where the Ellen Page-y looking woman in the picture above took us to all of the Hamburg Beatles hotspots and sang Beatles covers on a ukulele while looking directly into our eyes. It was pretty brutal TBH. But if you like the Beatles enough to go on a Beatles walking tour, I'm sure you're also the kind of person who can make eye contact with a woman ukelele-ing "Help!" without laughing in her face. So go for it.
There was also some great black music around. If you're into that. WHAT TO DO
All of the stuff we did while there was organised by the Hamburg tourist board. And seemed to mostly be stuff that you wouldn't get to do as a run-of-the-mill tourist like yourself. This picture was taken at the top of a really tall building that was still under construction that we got a tour of. Come to Hamburg, see our exclusive building sites, enjoy our yellow Wellington boots in the blazing sunshine!
Oh, one thing I did that you can do is go see the local football team St. Pauli, who CNN called "soccer's coolest club". It was pretty cool.
It was cool enough for the St Pauli fans to throw around some traditional, chilled out, hand gestures.
Here's an interesting fact: Approximately 800% of buildings in Germany are squats. If you see one, don't try and take a picture of it. I got yelled at three seperate times by people for taking photos of their squat. I guess they must really really believe in private property.
WHERE TO STAY
I stayed at a place called Motel One. It was alright. Just a fairly standard chain hotel type thing. When you went into your room, the TV automatically started displaying a fish tank and playing chill-out music. That was pretty funny. WHAT TO EAT
Again, this was all sorted out by the PR people, so I'm not 100% sure where to recommend, they all kinda blurred into one. So, unfortunately, I'm unable to tell you which restaurant gave me this fortune cookie.
Again, I don't remember the name of the place I took this photo, but as you can see, both HIM and Leningrad Cowboys have eaten there. So it's definitely worth the trip.
To summarise: Visit Hamburg! It's a city of rich cultural herritage and its beers have pictures of strippers on them.