Last week Robin and I spent some time wandering around Hamburg. Three years ago when I was in the city, I played tourist and did a walking tour to see the main sights. I would highly suggest doing it with Sandeman’s New Europe as it was super awesome and you learn lots about the city, like how after the city burnt to the ground (twice) it is now law to not construct a building higher than a fireman’s ladder. This time around however, it was more of a local’s tour as we were visiting Robin’s sister, her husband, and their little one, so they gave us great tips for seeing another side of Hamburg!
An area that I highly suggest is Sternschanze which has an awesome collection of alternative art, bars, and eateries. Just wandering around the area with a coffee is a great way to spend a day, but make sure you have a camera with you because there’s lots of graffiti art worthy of a few snaps. There were times when I thought I was back in Berlin! If you’re going to head anywhere in this neighbourhood, head straight for Rote Flora and the park right beside it. A little off the beaten path, it’s a great place to get some piece and quiet while enjoying some awesome art – and have a comfy place to relax!
However, if you’re in Hamburg and it’s a wonderfully sunny day, take the ferry over to the Elbstrand and enjoy some sand between your toes. This area is a great example of how Hamburg fully embraces its industrial side – a great change from most major cities that like to hide these areas as much as possible. Along the footpath from the ferry terminal to the beach, you can see the old houses that the captains used to live in while spending time on shore, as well as indulge in one of the many restaurants or cafés that have popped up along it. If you feel like eating some local cuisine, grab a Matjasbrötchen and an Alsterwasser and you’ll have yourself a good day.
Before we said goodbye to Hamburg, Robin and I made our way back to the port to get better acquainted with the industrial area of the city. Unfortunately we were on a bit of a time schedule so we hopped onto a German boat tour, but lucky for me I had my Übersetzer to keep me in the loop.
We first passed by the Fischmarkt which has lots of food stalls and stores. Apparently one day an overzealous gentleman from a bachelor party decided it would be a good time to go for a swim in the river. Unfortunately for him it was low tide and he ended up with two broken ankles! Around that area there are also some old breweries that has been turned into apartments which have an awesome view along with some great cafés nearby!
Hamburg still has a big shipping industry as more than 3 million containers are transported via marine vessel each year. Our tour took us through many of the locks, displaying different boats of various shapes and sizes. The highlight was the MASSIVE Yang Ming, a boat from Hong Kong that is currently docked in Hamburg. To give you an idea of just how big, one full propeller rotation moves the boat 9m forward, and it takes 8km for the boat to come to a complete stop when at full speed. With a capacity of 13,500 shipping containers, if you see it coming, get out of the way!
During the tour, we also passed by the Elbphilharmonie with its recognizable wave-like roof, a concert hall that is currently under construction. With the base of an old warehouse and the top an entirely new construction from Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Muron, it will be a new iconic piece in Hamburg’s skyline. It is set to be opened early 2017, with construction ending late next year.
Despite the fact that I couldn’t understand everything (and that it’s hard to keep up the translating when the captain just keeps talking and talking), a harbour tour is great to see the sights and get a better feel for the city. The shipping industry has been pivotal to Hamburg flourishing as a city, and you can tell just how proud locals are of their city by the tone of their voice and the emphasis they have while talking about it. So get out, do a tour, and enjoy what this beautiful port city has to offer!