Thursday, November 14, 2013

In Pictures: St. Pauli

Entrance to the famous "Herbertstrasse." The sign reads:-entry for those under 18 and women forbidden"
St. Pauli is the quarter between mine and the Altstadt. Home to the infamous red light district and the Reeperbahn, it's the party center of Hamburg, full of bars, clubs, and seedier establishments, it's also the center of prostitution here.

Prostitution is legal, and the ladies both cluster on a specific corner (right in front of the local police precinct!) and solicit. They're required to check in and check out each evening. I go running down the Reeperbahn many weeknights, and it's not uncommon for a slow walking man in front of me to be pulled off to the side by a blonde woman in skinny jeans and a puffy vest wearing a fanny pack and a bulky ID badge (seems to be their unofficial uniform).

The Reeperbahn is actually quite safe, particularly during the week, and it's not uncommon to see families with small children drinking juice and hot cocoa at the outdoor bars (not that that's a practice I endorse!). There are some cafes and souvenir shops, as well as St. Pauli Fussball gear (the cult-favorite soccer team is headquartered there). On game days, the whole district is flooded with fans sporting the skull and crossbones logo. Pauli (as the team is known) is famous for its counter-cultural beginnings, it's strong anti-racism, anti-nazi stance, and for its unique fan base.

The Reeperbahn certainly sounds allarming to English speakers (it's pronounced "raper-bawn") but the name has nothing to do with rape. Or anything even remotely related to its current reputation. There are Reeperbahns in most port cities, actually. The name comes from the rope-makers who needed long, straight streets near the harbor to braid their ropes. Over time, the enterprising rope-makers were replaced with, uh, other enterprises.

I bike along the street to get to and from church and the Altstadt, and during the day it is still full of tourists and beggars, but it lacks the mystery and excitement it has at night.
The Reeperbahn is home to TONS of fast food -from KFC to Pizza Hut and beyond, it's one of the only places to find "American" food in Hamburg.
Entrance to the famous "Die Grosse Freiheit" (the big freedom) a street off the Reeperbahn
The classic red lights...
Tribute statues, celebrating the Beatles!
The infamous "Herbertstrasse" (the one women aren't allowed in) during the day. The gates were open, so my friend M and I went in. It was absolutely deserted.


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