The lively German port city of Hamburg remains a popular weekend break – and of course it wouldn’t be complete without watching Hamburger SV in action!
Colin Dunn recently paid a visit to the Volksparkstadion – here is his report.
Getting to Hamburg
“I really couldn’t have picked better flight times myself, with the outward leg at 6.55pm on Friday evening and the return at 10.10pm on Sunday, allowing plenty of scope for beer, football and sightseeing or, to paraphrase, the perfect weekend.
Getting from Hamburg airport to the Central Station, (Hauptbahnhof), couldn’t be easier. Just exit passport control and turn immediately right, following the concourse to the end where the S1 (green line) will take you directly there in a little under 15 minutes. My hotel was a mere five minute walk from the station and, after a hectic day, I was content to settle for a couple of pints in the hotel bar where the barmaid was more than happy to talk football, hoping that I would bring her side good luck the following day.
Hamburg city tour
A bright and early start on Saturday saw a repeat of the short walk to central station where the city tours depart regularly for just 15 euros. It was advertised as a 90-minute journey but took nearer to two hours and was a goldmine of useful information for a Hamburg virgin who wanted to get his bearings.
Situated on the river Elbe, Hamburg is the second biggest city in Germany with 1.7 million inhabitants and has more bridges inside its city limits than any other city in the world, as well as having more canals than Amsterdam and Venice combined.
The tour took in major attractions such as HafenCity, the Speicherstadt, the Reeperbahn, the Alster, St. Michaelis church, the city centre, the stunning Town Hall, Jungfernstieg and the Port of Hamburg.
It was time for the match and I was looking forward to visiting the Volksparkstadion. I wasn’t in the least disappointed because it is a rarity among modern stadia in that it has both character and atmosphere. Although it is a relatively new build the fans have customised the home end with graffiti to put their mark on it, and it is a well laid out and easy to navigate palace of football. I would certainly have it in my top ten stadia.
My seat was directly behind the goal and a newly resurgent Hamburg took an early lead on 13 minutes, only for Köln to equalise in the 25th minute. The game ebbed and flowed and, with about five minutes to go, Louis Holtby scored a goal which was subsequently disallowed. However, deep into injury time Holtby again popped up to steer in a winner, leading to absolute bedlam in the home end and a shower of beer covering yours truly.
There were plenty of offers from friendly locals to join them in further post-match celebrations in a few of the HSV friendly pubs in the Reeperbahn.
This is an edited version of a feature that first appeared in Football Weekends magazine, the fan’s guide for great trips in Europe and the UK. Visit www.footballweekends.co.uk for more details.