Expat Tales: Enjoying open-minded Hamburg

Rebecca Young likes by the town hall, the Hamburg Rathaus.
REBECCA YOUNG

Rebecca Young likes by the town hall, the Hamburg Rathaus.

Wellingtonian Rebecca Young loves the diversity, relaxed lifestyle and natural attractions of Hamburg. 

What inspired your move, and how long have you been there?

I recently moved to Hamburg for work and was inspired by the open culture, relaxed lifestyle, attractive landscape and proximity to Europe.

What do you do there? 

I work for an innovation fund in a large technology company and I'm enthusiastically attending evening classes at a German language school.

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Canoeing along the river is a great way to explore in summer.
REBECCA YOUNG

Canoeing along the river is a great way to explore in summer.

What are the greatest advantages to living there?

The people of Hamburg are very friendly and welcome diversity. It's great to be close to rivers and the sea and it has all the benefits of a large city without feeling over populated, with a high standard of living for residents. 

Disadvantages?

German is a difficult language to learn. All official documentation tends to be in German, such as registering your address, setting up a bank account, rental agreements and work contracts. In addition, it can be difficult to find suitable housing.

How expensive is it compared to New Zealand? How much is a beer? 

Hamburg is about 15 per cent less expensive than NZ. A beer costs €3 - €4 (NZ$4 - NZ$6), but can be more expensive in popular bars.

The Elbphilharmonie (or Elphi) is one of the largest and most acoustically advanced convert halls in the world.
REBECCA YOUNG

The Elbphilharmonie (or Elphi) is one of the largest and most acoustically advanced convert halls in the world.

What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy running along the Elbe river, savouring a glass of Riesling next to the Alster Lake and making the most of the sunshine by going for a picnic at the Stadtpark. It's also interesting to explore the different neighbourhoods as each one has unique characteristics - you can go canoeing or stand-up paddle boarding along the canals of Winterhude and take the stairs around Blankenese.

What's the local delicacy and would you recommend eating it?

A traditional local delicacy is labskaus, which is pureed corned beef, beetroot, potatoes and onion, served with a fried egg on top. It tastes better than it sounds and looks - I recommend trying it. My favourite local delicacy is franzbrotchen, which is a pastry filled with cinnamon and sugar. It looks like a flattened croissant and tastes delicious! 

Easiest way to get around?

Cycling is the easiest way to get around and the city has a bike hire system called StadtRAD. The unified one-ticket system for public transport makes travelling around the city quick and affordable on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, buses and ferries. Car sharing is a popular alternative for locals and tourists instead of a buying or renting a car or calling a taxi. It allows fast and flexible access to a car and you pay only for the time you actually use it.

What's the shopping like?

Good There are many high street and luxury brands, but also some amazing boutiques and flea markets to explore in different areas. There are very few malls and more commonly open shopping streets.  

Hamburg, Germany's largest port, is called the country's "Gateway to the World".
REBECCA YOUNG

Hamburg, Germany's largest port, is called the country's "Gateway to the World".

Best after-dark activity?

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St Pauli is the red light district of Hamburg and the Reeperbahn is where the Beatles used to play. A quieter evening activity, is to watch the Park Planten un Blomen's fountain show. 

Best time of year to visit?

In May and June. It's warm, very green and there are lots of outdoor activities. 

What are the top three things you recommend for visitors?

Enjoy the view from the Elbphilharmonie, a concert hall in the HafenCity quarter, Take the ferry from Landungsbrucke to Finkenwerder and get out at OvelgOnne and enjoy the beach. Visit Hamburg Fischmarkt (Grosse Elbstrasse) which starts very early on Sunday morning. It's a fish market that originated in 1703. There are live bands, animated vendors and street food.

Besides family and friends, what do you miss most about home?

I miss NZ beaches! The beaches at home have soft sand, water for swimming and are much less crowded than beaches in Europe. 

How easy is it for you to get back to NZ?

Flights from Hamburg to Auckland are between 25 and 35 hours and tend to be expensive. The fastest route is going on two flights, with a stopover in Dubai.

For Kiwis looking to move there, which industries are seeking fresh talent?

Germans have a strong affinity for Kiwis and there may be opportunities in a range of industries depending on your skills. Germany is currently experiencing a shortage of qualified engineers and IT specialists, as well as health specialists. 

If you know an expat who wants to share inside knowledge of their home away from home, email travel@stuff.co.nz with Expat in the subject line.

 - Stuff

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