I’ve been totally MIA the past few weeks, those who have been following me on Instagram will have seen all the fun things I’ve been up to, but sadly a lack of wifi has put all blogging on hold and has even meant replying to emails has been near-impossible. I can assure you guys, I’ve been making up for it by filling my time with lots of exciting adventures that I will be sharing with you all now that we’ve managed a temporary fix to the wifi issues and I can finally get back to a proper blogging schedule. May has been a great month for Hamburg, the weather has been incredible and every weekend has been a public holiday with either three or four days off! The other weekend was a four day weekend for the city, celebrating the Hafengeburtstag, the port harbour’s 829th birthday!Apparently it is considered the world’s biggest port festival and celebrates the founding of the huge hanseatic port back in 1189 – how better to celebrate than by welcoming over 300 ships from across the world?! Everything from luxury cruise ships, navy ships, museum vessels, historic tall ships and sailing boats, to yachts, tug boats and waterway police boats filled the Elbe. Coming from King’s Lynn, in Norfolk, I know all about the hanseatic heritage of my own town so it was lovely to see another major port celebrate it’s own history in this way. For those growing up in Hamburg, locals spent every year growing up at the festival, so for my boyfriend and his friends it was rather less exciting, but for me, it was a pretty amazing sight to see the riverbanks filled with pop-up bars, stalls, entertainment, live river shows and much more. Thoughout the four day weekend, visitors could enjoy sailing regattas, dragon boat races, search and rescue exercise, museum exhibitions, live music, cruises for kids and even pirate shows!We arrived early afternoon on the Saturday and caught one of the search and rescue exercises which was pretty epic to watch, they basically blew up a boat and mimicked what could happen at sea in a crisis, with smoke billowing from the boat and fake explosions. Then as some people dived off the boat, emergency services were sent in via boat and helicopter to save them. All this was going on with a captive audience alongside the waters edge, while the bar above was already filled with rowdy onlookers clutching a beer. I was told that a good number of the people at the festival actually are visitors to the area and many locals choose to leave the city during the festival to avoid the crowds. Normally I’m not a big fan of the more touristy events due to the crowds, but you have to admit, things are often popular for a reason and we had the most fun that day.
Walking the length of the Landungsbrücken, we wound our way through the crowds among the many bars, amusement rides and food stalls spotting pirate ships, pirate bars and pirate games – I’m a big fan of the pirate obsession. The stalls offered all the German favourites of smoked fish, potatoes and currywurst, plus all the sweet treats you can imagine including crepes and churros. You could barely take more than a few steps without passing a bar serving everything from cocktails and beer, to Aperol Spritz and even a vodka fountain. After we reached the end, we decided to turn around and walk back toward St Pauli where there were several bars and parties we wanted to check out. St Pauli is such a fantastic area, so full of life, vibrant characters and colour – I’d probably compare it to Camden in London – and it’s a great place to go party. I’ll be honest and say while we looked at apartments there, I’m so glad we didn’t actually choose to live there as I much prefer going there to meet friends and then heading home after. I’ll do a separate post about St Pauli and the bars there.We went back to the Hafengeburtstag on the Sunday night after we had been at a mini festival in Rothernburgsort and couldn’t resist taking our friends back to the St Pauli street parties we had found the previous night. The music was amazing, everything from heavy bass to 80’s classics on the same street overlooking the harbour. The street was filled with stalls selling food and drink and the crowd was amazing, everyone was there for a good party. On the whole, the event was amazing and I had the best weekend celebrating the port harbour birthday. If you’re visiting the second weekend of May, I recommend planning it into your trip and making the most of the carnival atmosphere.
And because I’ve had a LOT of messages about these amazing trousers – they’re from H&M but I haven’t managed to find them online, Pretty Little Thing do some similar ones online here. Top is also H&M and jacket is old ASOS – find current styles online here.
Have you been to the Hafengeburgstag – what did you think? Do you like touristy events or do you prefer to avoid them?