I’m no seasoned traveller (yet! I don’t even go on THAT many holidays to my dismay…) but I know Manchester and now I know Hamburg, and I have to say, there really isn’t much between the two of them. Sure, there are the obvious differences like, um, you walk around Hamburg and everything’s in the German language and you walk around Manchester and everyone speaks like they used to be in The Stone Roses, that sort of thing. But a lot of their fundamentals are basically the same and if I were to move from Manchester to Hamburg tomorrow, there would be a couple of little things that would make the city feel like my former home.
1. Dismal weather conditions
Okay, I know this is fairly negative one to open with, but the first thing I remember thinking when I was packing for Hamburg and looked up what the weather was going to be like was “Oh, so, it’s basically what Manchester is like right now…” and I packed the exact same kind of things I wear to work everyday. Turns out, when I was researching for this blog, it’s weather is quite similar to Manchester’s climate every other season of the year. It’s funny because everyone thinks of a German winter, immediately thinks of snow and reaches for the thermals, but Hamburg never really gets German cold, just a familiar Manchester wind and drizzle combo…
2. Excellent Public Transport
It’s true. In recent years, Manchester’s metrolink network has become really quite excellent. You can basically go wherever you want around the Greater Manchester area quite easily and it’s just growing and growing. Where you can’t quite reach by tram, you can catch a bus (and, since all of the bus companies have started getting really competitive with each other, a lot of buses are £1 to wherever you want to go!). Hamburg sports a similar standard of rail network, the S-bahn and the U-bahn (though would you expect anything less from the Germans?). Yeah, you’ve no idea what Jungfernsteig means, but that doesn’t matter, you can still very easily buy a ticket from one of the machines on the platform, look at the very handy map, and get on a tram which shouts out your stop at the right time. Easy peasy, and a God send in the aforementioned dismal weather conditions.
3. Their respective country’s ‘second city’
Though Hamburg is probably not as well known as Munich or maybe Frankfurt or Dusseldorf, it’s actually the second largest city in Germany and therefore the Manchester to Berlin’s London. We’re not going to get into the “well, actually, Birmingham is England’s second city because blah blah blah…” Look, Manchester is the third most visited UK city after London and Edinburgh, it’s the second largest urban area in England, the Brummy accent was recently named the most annoying accent in England, and it’s just BETTER. END OF.
4. Lack of ‘pretty buildings’
We’ve both got churches, and yeah a fairly old Town Hall that is probably the ‘main’ building in both cities (I think I’ve just found N.6…) but you can’t very much say that the city has a lot of sites that would be referred to as ‘pretty’ or many things to photograph like you would Big Ben or the London Eye. For starters, both cities have a very industrial past and their architecture reflects this. They are both home to former docks and Manchester had a big textile industry once upon a time. Everything just looks a bit grey. But hey, that’s no bad thing, we don’t prance around with our beautifully carved stone cathedrals and our many statues of very important and historic people that represent important and historic events. Manchester has a statue of Abraham Lincoln for no apparent reason and Hamburg has such horrendous copper cut outs of The Beatles in it’s Red Light District that you can’t even really see them and will easily walk right past them no matter how hard you’re looking. Deal with it.
5. Very Liveable
In 2012, Hamburg ranked was 17th for liveability in 2012 and I think it was something like 20th last year. That’s really not bad when you think about all of the cities there are in the world! It might be partly to do with the lack of tourists. Both Manchester and Hamburg seem to attract tourists, but not in annoying large amounts, so they are both pretty big cities with lots to do but they still have a bit of a ‘local’ feel. And no, I could not find Manchester on the list of ‘most liveable’ cities. The list didn’t go down that far. But you know what, I live here and I can personally vouch it’s a pretty damn liveable place.
Have any of my readers been to both Hamburg and Manchester? Did you notice any similarities or differences?