- You always need to have an umbrella with you. The weather here changes every 10 minutes, or at least that is what it feels like. Sometimes it can be really hot and later it may become too cold. So in August, for example, you can wear light clothes but should always combine them with a jacket or coat.
- Despite being a tourist and shopping destination, Hamburg’s shopping life ends at 8 pm. It is difficult to find places to buy food, medicine and other stuff after hours. The parks close early too.
- Speaking of parks — Hamburg is a very green city. You can find green areas everywhere and sometimes they are rather large. It took me an hour and an half to find the place for the water-and-light concerts inside Planten un Blomen (“Plants and Flowers”), an urban park that covers 47 hectares (I should have researched this on Wikipedia beforehand).
- No matter how much food you buy from a supermarket, they will not give you a free bag to put all your shopping in.
- Policemen here are very friendly. They are keen to help and show you exactly how to get somewhere, even if they just see you staring desperately at the city map in the underground station.
After spending two weeks in Hamburg or -- as it it sometimes called -- the Venice of the North, here are some of the things that surprised me about Germany's second-biggest city, from outsize parks to friendly policemen...