Typical German City
Hamburg's a big city and has a few big city problems, but it's not even one of Germany's most dangerous places and Germany is one of the safest countries in the world. You probably won't run into much trouble here unless you go looking for it. There are some dodgy parts, especially the Reeperbahn and a few areas near the main train station. The Reeperbahn in particular had a rough feel to it, and was populated by some very odd characters. But that's to be expected.
Guidance on photography in churches: Homer's Rules
Visiting churches is one of the absolute highlights of a trip to Europe, and provides a fascinating insight into the most powerful influencethat has shaped European cultures of the past couple of millenia.
Unlike some other religions - where access to places of worship may be restricted to members of that religious group or a specific gender - the vast majority of Christian churches will allow tourists to visit at most times, including routine services (although some may charge an admission fee for doing so, and access may be denied for private events such as weddings and funerals). However, tourists should realise that most churches are still active places of worship, and so visitors need to exhibit a certain sensitivity to display respect to the culture and avoid giving offence to people at prayer.
The following guidelines are based on wonderful advice offered by Homer (homaned) - who does this for a living - in a forum response, and although specifically written for Christian places of worship, would apply equally to places of worship for other religions
So, here is a general list of do's and don'ts for people wishing to photograph during a church service:
READ THE SIGNS
If photography is not permitted - because, for example, it may damage paint on delicate murals - this will usually be indicated by a pictogram of a camera with a red line through it. Under most circumstances, you can assume that photography will be allowed (unless otherwise indicated), but may not be permitted during services. If in doubt, ask for clarification - this shows respect and will very seldom be met with anything other than a helpful response.
TURN OFF YOUR FLASH!
Every camera on the market has a button on it which will turn off the flash. The number one most alarming and distracting thing that can happen during a liturgy, and one which will even get you kicked out of some churches, is the bright flash that goes off when you take a picture. Not only is it distracting, but it usually makes the picture turn out dark, because your camera's flash only has about a 10-15' range. Turn off the flash, and hold the camera up against your eye, using the viewfinder, and you will likely get a better picture (and you definitely won't have any red-eye problems!).
DON'T MOVE AROUND ALL OVER THE PLACE! (UNLESS YOU HAVE PERMISSION)
Instead of walking all over down the main aisle and in front of everybody, pick a good place from which to take a picture at the beginning of the liturgy, and stay there. Unless you're a professional photographer with practice at stealthily moving during liturgies, you're a distraction, and you're being disrespectful. Even if you're a pro, try to stick to one out-of-the-way place, and use a zoom lens and zoom in to get pictures. Walking in front of people is a surefire way to distract and disrespect and closing in on priests or other celebrants just to capitalise on a photo opportunity is offensive.
TURN OFF THE CAMERA'S SOUND!
Every camera has some way to mute all its 'cute' beeps and clicking noises. If you press a button, and hear a beep, or if you take a picture and hear an obnoxious shutter clicking sound, you need to turn off those sounds (the muting option is usually in one of the menus). Along with the flashing, it's an obvious sign that someone is taking pictures and not showing much respect for those trying to pay attention to the liturgy.
TURN OFF THE 'FOCUS ASSIST' LIGHT!
If your camera can't focus without the little laser-light that shines in everyone's eyes before your camera takes a picture, then don't use your camera. You have to turn that light off! It is very distracting to be watching a lector or priest, and see a little red dot or lines pop up on his face all of the sudden. It's as if some rifleman is making his mark! Turn the light off (again, look in the menus for the option to turn off the 'AF assist' or 'focus assist' light). If you can't turn it off, put a piece of duct tape or some other opaque material over the area where the light is, so the light won't shine on someone.
TURN OFF THE CAMERA'S LCD!
You should never use the LCD to compose your shots anyways; just put your eye up to the viewfinder, and that will not only not distract, it will also steady your camera against your face, making for a better picture (especially if you don't have the flash on). And if you must review the pictures you've taken, hold the camera in front of you, down low, so people behind you don't notice the big, bright LCD display on your camera
CERTAIN PARTS OF THE CEREMONY ARE PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE
The consecration (blessing) of the eucharist (bread and wine) and distribution of communion to the congregation are considered to be particularly sacred parts of the service, and it is offensive to photograph these activities.
The main thing is to try to be respectful of the culture and of other people present at the service. Don't distract. And, if you are asked to not take pictures, or if there's a sign saying 'no photography allowed,' then don't take pictures. You can always ask a priest's permission before the liturgy, but if he says 'No,' put away your camera and enjoy the freedom you have to focus on the privilege of being able to share an experience with people who consider these religious rituals core to their culture and identity, rather than focusing on your camera's LCD!
Homer's Rules ... Homer rules!
Lost passport and wallet
Even in the poshest part of town, protect your belongings as you would when in the dodgiest part of town.
It appears that my wallet was pickpocketed in the nicest part of the city (on the Neuer Wall).
Essential to carry traveller's checks and to have a copy of your passport. Also, very important to go to the nearest police station to tell them. the police offcials I encountered were very cordial and helpful. They will give you a piece of paper that tells the whole story which is really good to have when you replace your passport as well as for the border control when leaving the country.
There is NO more emergency U.S. passports issued in Hamburg. Fastest to go to Berlin U.S. consulate. ****Please refer to my Hamburg "General Tips" for further info and also go to my Berlin hotel tips for this contingency.****Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
No real dangers
If you ask me there are no real dangers or risk in Hamburg. I would say it is pretty secure if you do not do any unreasonable things. Of cause you should watch your purse when there are crowds (Reeperbahn, etc.) but I am not afraid of going anywhere (and I am a small person;-) Of course I won't take the darkest road and won't go to the parks in the dark - but that's normal, I think.
A Word About Prostitution
As many people may have already heard, prostitution and other elements of the sex trade are a legalized industry in Germany.
In Hamburg, it is a normal occurance for natives and tourists alike to explore the Reeperbahn without so much as giving a second glance to the band of girls who "solicit" for their profession... on the corner of the St, Pauli Police station, actually. Oddly, the "Reeperbahn Girls " are such a "non-event" at the corner of Spielbundsplatz, they recognize all of the Musical Theatre staff and performers, and restaurant people, and it's the oddest thing in the world to see everyone from either side just exchanging evening pleasantries simply out of good manners...
That being said, with the picture of relative "normalcy" I've tried to create for you above, most horrifying is that there's a new and dangerous element arriving on Germany's doorstep regarding prostitution: with the World Cup coming and the borders of Germany being very lax at the moment, apparently there is an influx of illegal alien pimps trafficking girls from poor Asian and Eastern European countries. These people are here illegally, working without the permits , health insurance, and medical clearance required to engage in Germany's sex trade, not to mention the fact that the women are unwilling participants trafficked and sold under human bondage as slaves.
In short, though it might peak your curosity to consider trying it, keep in mind that more than ever, for summer 2006, the dangers of prostitution in Germany are two-fold: to begin with, the person that approaches you offering a service may be an underage girl sold from Slovenia or Thailand, and essentially a slave, and second, being that they're not an "approved" sex worker for the State, you are putting your health, and possibly your life at risk....Related to:
- Gay and Lesbian
Being that the time to the World Cup is presently among us, I thought it best to remind some our international visitors of the rather bizaare phenomenon of "Football Hooligans" that's been brewing in Germany for several years now.
Traditionally the concept of "football hooligans" was something limited to skirmishes we would see on British tv soccer matches. The practice has moved across the English Channel to the EU in full effect. On match days in Hamburg, there often are groups of loud mouthed, overly inebriated punk rockers heading to and from the games looking for trouble. Skirmishes are usually restricted to game areas, but stations in the subway stops Reeperbahn, St. Pauli, Altona Bahnhof, and a few others always feel a little more intimidating than usual even if only for the presence of alcohol and loud game-war cries. With the arrival of the World cup, the over imbibing isn't restricted to the alterative crowd either, as in recent game weeks I've seen very conservative looking, smartly dressed guys in subway stations, singing and slurring at the top of their lungs with drunken faces red like tomatoes. Again, I don't think anyone is in real danger , but you should be warned that ALOT of people might very be drunk and loud to boot.
If you happen to end up in the middle of these scenarios, just ignore them, you should be fine. Hamburg police come out in FULL FORCE on game days in case people get out of control in the stations. They monitor the crowds in full riot gear, with prisoner transport vans waiting for violent troublemakers. Considering they do this for NORMAL games, imagine how they've planned for The Cup. I just want to familiarize 1st time visitors with the idea they might initially be overwhelmed by the panhandlers, menacing mohawkers, drunk 30 somethings, and incessant game-war songs during their rides to and from the games.Related to:
- Family Travel
Dont give your adress & e-mail to these people
When you leave Hamburg Hauptbahnhof you will see a great Porsche-sportscar and you will find cards that you may fill out for a lottery in order to win this lovely car at the end of the year.
You have to fill out your full name, adress, telephone-number, birthdate...
...in very small writing you may read as well there :
Yes, I would like to get more infos about lifestyle and media by telephone or mail...(Ja, ich wünsche mir telefonisch und schriftlich weitere informationen rund um die Themen Lifestyle und Medien...)
b.t.w. they say that the winner is drawn already, it is one of the birthdates, that you have to fill out...I guess it will be very easy to "let disappear" the few cards with the correct birthday and pretend nobody has won...
and the only winner will be DVK GmbH, D-20095 Hamburg - a company that I cannot find in any directory and all of their aim seems to be to collect adresses and sell them...
well sorted according to birthdates and with written permission to phone them anytime...Related to:
- Family Travel
When we visited in July 2005 I fouind that much of the city was under construction, especially the area around the Binnenalster and Jungfernstieg.
This is just a warning to prevent disappointment - just be prepared to see scaffolding and cranes in that area, but do enjoy it anyway!
Don't go by bicycle!
Hamburg is a city, which hates bicycles! I used my bike in Hannover for about 20 years with no problems. I really forgot how to mend a bike! Now in Hamburg I have already about 10 times in 10 months fixed the flat tirer!
Beside that, the bicycles paths are always in bad conditions, cars are parking there, where you want to bike.
Now my bike with again a flat tire is parking in my living room and waiting to be fixed! Don't aske me whether I like Hamburg or not!
Arriving in Hamburg
When I got in Hamburg, at 6AM, with no money, no cigarettes, no speaking deutshe (except Danke and 'you speak english?' - I don't know how to write it, but I pronounced it like this: Sprékenzy english?!!!), I was looking very bad: I took the bus from Amsterdam at 8PM, the bus was stopped by German's militaries at 2:30AM, to check if we had not any drugs in our luggages. Very bad experience, I was angry. And no one had anything.
Anyway, I arrived at 6Am in Hamburg's coach station, and I didn't know where I was. I had the experience of this part of the city : this is the bad area of Hamburg. Many (very young)prostitutes, and pimps, and men asking me to go with them in exchange of money!!!
I was very surprised of that for the bus had no toilet and I didn't wash myself for 2 days!
Finally, the money exchange shop opened, I went in, went out, got cigarettes and called my dad's girlfriend, who seemed a little worried to know I was there.
I turned a corner and saw I was just beside a mall!!
I took a taxi (all Mercedes!) and went to my dad's girlfriend's...
Lighters at German airports
Yesterday, I was travelling through Hamburg Lubeck airport, and found the security staff to be extremely diligent. No problem with that.
What did faze me somewhat, however, was when I emptied my pockets to go through the metal detector, and was told that I could not take my Zippo lighter on the plane and that it should have been in my checked baggage. I had never heard of this before, and there was certainly nothing on the airport posters to suggest it.
As you can see from the photo, it is engraved with my name and is of great sentimental value. I was very reluctant to throw it in thte bin. Eventually, the security man removed the middle (i'e. the working parts) and gave me back the cover.
When I enquired he said that disposable gas lighters were OK but not petrol ones. I have traveled with a Zippo before without any problems.
I am not sure if this is purely a German regulation, or even one at this particular airport, but be aware, and save yourself any hassle.
Close to the Sternschanze U and S-Bahn stop there is this park which is told to be a bit dangerous, expecially at night, with drunk people and drug addicts. I didn't go there at all, so I cannot confirm this thing, but anyway it's not a great place to visit!
Hotel too much confortable
Hamburg is a nice city, you can go around a see a lot of nice place like square, street... really like in a normal city..
...but if you go in the hotel with everything free for you... you can do that just using TV
Do not pay attention to the...
Do not pay attention to the others about warnings in Hamburg. In general it is one of the safest cities. I lived there for 14 years and any major city in the US is far more dangers. BTW I now live in NYC. Common sense applies like every other city.
The Reperbahn (red light area) is the most happening area. It is almost like being in Amsterdam. BTW Hamburg is the greenest and wealthiest city in Europe.
NEVER give any money to anyone...
NEVER give any money to anyone one Reeperbahn who needs change -- you'll never see it again. Esp. in St.Pauli with lots of marihuana dealers and small thiefs people will try to rip you off.
If the backstreets get too dark and spooky, be sure you're not alone, or at least try to make an impression as if you knew your way around. DON'T behave like a typical tourist. If you find yourself someplace that you're not sure about, keep on walking to the next mainstreet, and don't react to anyone trying to halt you that doesn't look like a tourist himself.
New, very well facilitated, luxury hotel. The toillet / bathroom together is almost as big as the...more
Vier Jahreszeiten One of the most expensive in Hamburg, situated on the Binnenalster right in the...more
The Hotel Atlantic is one of the best hotels in Hamburg and it's situated next to the Alster which...more
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