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Hamburg

 

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The Rathaus Hamburg - Party Central

On the river Elbe, an hour by train from the Baltic coast, and three hours by bus from Berlin, Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, and despite what the people in Berlin say, still the best party town in Germany.

From North Central Germany, both Holland and Denmark are close enough that a weekend away is not a problem, you can also fly to most parts of Northern Europe within the hour, and Southern Germany and Munich is only a short flight away.


Language

German – of course, but many people do speak English, Hamburg is very much an Anglophile city, right down to the English day at the Polo club!.

 

Money

The Euro, as with most other European towns and cities, autobank machines accept UK high street withdrawal cards.

Nothing is known about opening a local bank account, but German authorities of all types seem to be overly obsessed with knowing everything about you, I have been told that in Germany if you move to the other side of the street you have to re-register your car! So I was not prepared to go through the intrusion that opening a bank account would bring.

Stick to your local UK autobank cards and pay the international withdrawal fee.

 

Transport

The U-Bahn, the S-Bahn, busses,and a speciality of Hamburg, the water bus on the Alster and the Elbe, all of which can be used on the same ticket. A monthly 2 zone ticket can be bought from the central station (Huptbahnhof) for 58 Euro, get a map showing the zones, and buy only the ones you need to travel to.

There are numerous taxi companies easiest way to get a cab is to go to one of the U-bhan stations, or if you out for dinner & drinks get the restaurant or bar to call one for you. Prices are reasonable with approx 15 Euro for a 20 min journey late at night, if it’s before the U-bhan shuts the train is cheaper, but late at night the public transport system can be much slower, the U-Bahn in particular is much less frequent after 21:00 and stops completely at 12:30 – 01:00 most nights.

Hamburg airport is 20 miles from the city centre and cost approx 20-25 Euro to any of the larger hotels on the banks of the Alster.

If your taking your own car or motorcycle, the standard rules apply for driving in a European country, tool kit, warning triangles, check you insurance cover, finding parking is a nightmare either at you hotel / apartment or at the office, use the public transport it works. If you do take your own car be aware that most sections of the autobahns are now restricted to 130km per hour… yes I know most people ignore it! But the fines can be heavy and the German police are starting to lose their sense of humour about it.

 

Accommodation

Furnished accommodation is available and plentiful. A furnished apartment costs in the region of 800 to 2400 Euro per month, depending of the level of service required and the number of rooms (Bedroom/s + Living). In recent times rents have come down a bit. Some employers provide accommodation as part of the overall package, for numerous reasons this is the way to go if at all possible, this is a cost to the company of usually 45-65 Euro per day. Most of the apartments in Hamburg are serviced as well, with a cleaner being included in the price. However it’s always better to ask.

When renting an apartment in Hamburg try and include the cost of utilities in the price, it’s worth paying a little extra, 20 Euro or so, to forego the problems of paying bills at the end of each month.

 

Medical Assistance

Standard E101 reciprocal agreement on treatment, medical facilities are excellent, you will be expected to pay a cash deposit, approx 50 Euro, before treatment commences, as long as you're conscious of course! Don’t worry you will get the majority of the deposit back.

 

Food

Everything you could ask for and probably more, the Germans love eating and drinking.

There are some excellent Michelin star restaurants in the city, along with a famous chain of steak houses that serves very good basic food, heavy on the red meat, yum! The sausage in a bun vendors do a roaring trade just about everywhere, quality is very good, at a low enough price it’s not worth using the big American fast-food chains.

Beer is the national drink in Germany, most Germans believe that beer is liquid bread and see nothing wrong in drinking enough of the stuff to truly annoy most of the “nanny” governments around Europe. Brewed to the old purity laws it has only 3 maybe 4 ingredients, and is probably better for you in small doses than any fizzy drink available.

There are numerous supermarkets, which are very well stocked with a wide variety of produce, the lower end of the market sells food of a surprisingly good quality while keeping the prices very low. As an example a good quality beer in a 500ml bottle will cost 1.5 Euro plus deposit, while a good bottle of wine can cost as little as 4-5 Euro.

 

Entertainment

Where to start, the Reeperbhan on the weekend caters for just about any taste, there are literally thousands of small bars scattered all over the city, you must try the Fishmarkt on Sunday mornings between 06:00 and noon, free entry and live music for those who don’t want to go home when the bars close on Saturday night!

During the lighter months, April to October, there will generally be some sort of festival happening every weekend, the Rathause Square is constantly under canvas with various parties, exhibitions and beer / wine festivals, and try and make it down to the harbour for the “Harbour Birthday” and “Love Festival” and of course the “Astra Beer Music Day”, this list goes on and on, the information desk at Huptbhanhoff can give you more details.

Most of the people you work with will be able to give you pointers to the local places, if you stay within the centre of the city you’ll never be more than a few minutes walk from a cosy pub or a full on late night venue.

The Irish bars in the city are excellent value for money, and show live big-screen sports throughout the year. Full fried breakfast for that Saturday morning feeling, always welcome.

There are some very good gyms in the city, the one opposite the main rail station is very popular with ex-pats, but again in Hamburg you’ll never be too far from a place to work out. There is a dedicated ladies gym at the Mundsberg U-Bhan station, its approx 10 mins on the U-bhan from Huptbhanhoff, and the prices are low enough to sign up for short periods of time.

There is one English language cinema in Winterhude, but it’s easy enough to join a video store, you’ll need your passport and an address, DVD has been a boon to people who only speak English.

 

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Last modified: May 01, 2011