A handmade travel guide: Northern Germany – Hamburg
There’s a lot of water in Hamburg: the Elbe river and the Alster river. The Hamburg harbour in the Elbe river is Europe’s third largest harbour from which containers travel all around the world, including one that carried my 12 tiny moving boxes in which I had packed my whole life and shipped it to Canada in 2012.
Part of the harbour is called Hafencity (“harbourcity”), it’s a new area with lots of fancy buildings and the infamous Elbphilharmonie, a super stylish opera building that is still under construction and will have cost €789 million by the time it’s opened – it was supposed to be done by 2010 with a cost of €241 million.
Right next to the Hafencity you will find the Speicherstadt, a warehouse district from the late 1800s which stands solely on oak logs and is the largest of its kind in world. Lots of these old buildings have been turned into entertainment spaces like the Hamburg dungeon. The two that I can recommend highly are the Miniaturwunderlandand Dialog im Dunkeln. The miniature wonderland is , the world’s largest model railway (there seem to be a lot of the world’s largest things in Hamburg!) and super cool, even if you’re not a geek. The idea of Dialog im Dunkeln (dialogue in the dark) is that blind people guide you through completely darkened rooms which are transformed into everyday situation. The roles are reversed and it’s a wonderful experience that makes you admire how visually impaired people master everyday life.
Last but not least there are the St. Pauli Landungsbrücken, here you can hop on a harbour cruise, a cruise around the world or just enjoy a “Fischbrötchen” (seriously the best: a bun with fish).
If you’re lucky and the weather is as gorgeous as it was last September, you can walk along the Alste river, stop at the Alsterperle and drink some Alsterwasser (literally: “water from the Alster river” but be careful it really is beer mixed with lemonade).
Then you might hop on a subway train and make your way to the Schanzenpark (get off at the stop “Sternschanze”, cross the street and you’re there) for some people watching and picnicking. From here you can start your handmade/indie-designer shopping spree!
The streets with the best shops are Schanzenstraße, Susannenstraße, Kampstraße, Schulterblatt and Marktstraße. Everytime I’m in Hamburg I stroll along Marktstraße and visit the vintage, second-hand, cute, pretty and freaky boutiques there. If you’re here on a Saturday, you might even catch the flea market.
Here comes a quick list of my absolute and always favourite boutiques:
- La vie est belle – here you’ll find the most gorgeous dresses and accessories
- Schiffermanns friends – the Hamburg location of the fantastic brand Blutsgeschwister
- Baretta – funky clothing for men and women
- SU – amazing European labels and funky clothes
There are lots of cute cafes and restaurants around so you’ll have lots of options for a shopping break. Should you still be fit enough for a night out, check out the Reeperbahn. It’s Hamburg red light and party district. Don’t be offended if one of the girls with fanny packs tried to hit on your guy – they’re prostitutes, it’s perfectly legal and it’s kinda their job to hit on men. When I go out with my girls, we like to bar-hop, from pub to club, from punk to rock’n’roll. Here’s a route that I can recommend (if I remember correctly, things do get a bit blurry towards the end): Ex-sparr – Cobra Bar – Hasenschaukel – Bei Rosi and last but not least a burger at the Kleine Pause.
If you’re more into cultural events, there are tons of brilliant theatres and art galleries around. If you don’t speak German, don’t fret, just go to the English Theatre! My favourite art museum is the Kunsthalle, Germany’s largest art museum (yet another one of those “the largest”).
Have you ever been to Hamburg? What can you recommend? I’m looking forward to your comments!
With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,