Police, protests and tours, oh my! Welcome to Day 1 in Hamburg!
Well, that's actually in the wrong order. The day started blissfully with a walking tour around Hamburg (because FREE walking tours are LIFE and a great way to begin to understand the landscape of a city). A magical museum tour followed the walking tour, but then someone somewhere suddenly and drastically switched the radio channel...
You’ve just completed a walking tour; the sun is shining -- the day is lovely! You then take a tour at the most fascinating miniature museum ever (with free chocolate in tow), and then leaving the museum, you ask one of the staff members where you can find "the best hamburger in Hamburg” and then you head off in search of said hamburger. But once you exit the museum the streets are desolate — no one, like literally no one, is outside other than police officers. At that point, I began to think that my travel partner and I must’ve missed the memo about some midday curfew in Hamburg. So I asked one of the polizei ("police" in German) what was going on, and she gave some odd answer indicating that she didn’t know. Ummm okay?! So undeterred and surprisingly unfazed, off we went to find the "best hamburger in Hamburg"!
By the time we got aboveground from the Metro, all of our travel chill went out the window. We were not so warmly greeted a gazillion (and one!) police officers and army tanks. It was like we had stepped into an active conflict; however, there were tons of people in the streets too and they seemed to be conducting business as usual (as much as I could tell at the time, not knowing the city or pulse of the city), so we continued on this journey to find “the best hamburger in Hamburg.”
Eventually, after noticing boarded shops and what appeared to be protesters (in full gas masks and other protective gear, uh oh) it became clear that it was not a typical day, so I stopped to ask a woman how far we were from the restaurant we were in search of on this hamburger mission. In the middle of her response, a man appeared and offered to help. It literally seemed as if he appeared from nowhere; I thanked him but informed him that the woman was helping us. He was persistent and insisted that he be the one to help us get where we were going. I think at some point the woman just walked off and we were stuck with this man telling us where to go. In fact, he joked that eating hamburgers was rubbish and that we should join him at his favorite fish restaurant instead.
At this point, the foot traffic began to increase and the streets and sidewalks seemed filled with people and suddenly, we were shoulder to shoulder with protestors. It became clear that there was an active ongoing major protest happening in our midst and that our hamburger mission might’ve been a lost cause.
We were whisked off and away through the streets by this mysterious man, who helped us navigate the streets and even kept us from actively being stampeded by a group of running polizei - it was next level (and almost too much).
After getting a safe distance from the commotion, I asked some of the locals what the story was...their reply: "things are not steady, and Trump is here." This doesn't mean Trump was the cause of the protests, but it was clear that his presence in Hamburg (along with the G20) was unwelcome by many people there. Furthermore, I'll let the photos speak for themselves. (I'm just here to do honest reporting! - ha.)
I'll fast-forward (for all of you who thought this was a love story, it is...) and say that the fish restaurant was very good and the guy even treated us, and then, of course, asked to stay in touch (ooh).
Travel tip: check news, social media, and other local sources to be aware of the political climate in countries you're visiting. I later learned that the slogan of the protest was "Welcome to Hell," and in all seriousness, being caught in the middle of riots or protests, especially abroad, is no joke and can escalate quickly. I feel grateful to have made it out safely and, yes, to even have had the experience.
Stay safe and remember to love, love, love and see yaa soon!
♡ “God is always protecting me. Thank you God.” ♡