We wandered Hamburg for hours, finding some beautiful architecture along the way. Close to ‘Central Station’, the Rathaus is designed (outside at least) in the neo-renaissance style. Epic, and really something to marvel at.
As it darkened we decided to head to the Harbour – the Port of Hamburg. I was not up on my Hamburg facts and history, so it took me by surprise to learn that it is the largest port in Germany and the third busiest in Europe.
Built primarily in the late 1880’s, it was impressive to look at and full of action. Markets and people, shopping, food and ships. Being hungry, we figured this was the best place to stop – at an interestingly decorated kiosk, selling something crepe-y. We were not disappointed, delicious!
Further walking brought us to Hamburg’s ‘Red Light’ district, where I very nearly lost my camera to a local prostitute. I was taking photos of everything – I especially love ‘seedy’ (and creepy, I love that too). I can’t say I didn’t know better, as now it was night time and I was in an area colourfully dusted with a smattering of strumpets, courtesans, trollops and hustlers.
I had been to Amsterdam, I knew better than to take photos that might even possibly include that of the aforementioned, but I was pushing my luck when the hand lashed out from my left, taking my camera. She yelled at me in German, flailing her closed fists. I replied in English (calmly) and with a very serious look on my face;
‘I am not taking pictures of you, I am Canadian – we have our own working girls in Canada!’
I stuck my hand out and widened my eyes, as the other girls gathered around. I could see her making her decision, squinting her eyes, looking me up and down. The moment of silence felt like forever, I am sure I didn’t breathe. She returned my camera and apologized;
‘Oh, Canadian. I am sorry…no trouble here’.
I thanked her and returned the apology. As I walked away feigning a calm attitude, nerves entirely rattled, palms and armpits sweaty, face and neck flushed (damn that give-away!), a young (or maybe it was just that he was short) man gave us free drink tickets to a local bar. Thank you! Again, serendipity, a drink was exactly what we needed!
So be careful when taking photos in any area that could be considered ‘Red Light’. Not only is it considered disrespectful, but you might not be able to talk your way out of losing your camera!
I can tell you, if she hadn’t simply given it back, I wouldn’t have fought her for it. She wasn’t a single entity, but part of a flock! Certainly my husband and I would have had our eyes pecked out – and would have ended up crawling back to our hostel broken and bleeding – without my camera anyway!