A couple of years ago we passed Hamburg driving north on the autobahn. Little did we know that behind all the containers there is a really lovely city.
What strikes us when we walk around the city is how different the districts are. From old and worn to new and polished. From crowded to quiet. From high fashion to bohemian. And everywhere there are trees and greenery. The bird song seems to pursue us.
Whether you like it or not, soon or later you’ll end up here. Say Hamburg and Reeperbahn is what comes to people’s mind. Stag parties and hen nights, guys on a weekend trip, curious people, all out for a good time. It’s busy under the neon lights of both innocent and not so innocent activities. Cheap and fast food, plenty of alcohol and girls with stockings and high heels. If you continue to Herbertstrasse you will see that neither women nor men under the age of 18 have access. Either way, this is not really the place where you want to hang out, is it? Hamburg is so much more!
North of the Reeperbahn we find our base. It’s like stepping back to a Grünerløkka (a district in Oslo) in the mid-nineties. Versatile, lively, relaxed and a little rough around the edges. Fortunately, you don’t have to walk far from the Reeperbahn before the atmosphere is completely different. Cosy cafes, small restaurants and bars take over. Where people chill over a coffee, a beer or smoke a sheesha pipe with fruit tobacco. Here are small, exciting shops, impressive street art and not least a dose of football. A short distance away is the Millerntor Stadium, St. Pauli’s football arena, something we hear one night when out in the streets. For a while we wonder if Liverpool FC is visiting, because of the loud singing of ‘You’ll never walk alone’.
People smile, we smile and all the time we hear the birds chirping in the trees. It’s nice to wake up every morning to the birds singing.
As our hotel is just along the street, we head up to this area as well. Karolinenviertel is an up and coming area where young creative people have moved in to a previously rundown district. It has small delightful shops, cafes and a large market that can satisfy your need for old vinyl records, jewellry, electronics, clothes, bags and shoes, new and old, to mention a few. In the evenings there are concerts here and several microbreweries have appeared. We take a coffee at the market before we walk to the city centre.
The Elbe flows through Hamburg, providing a fresh breeze and the feeling of being by the sea. It winds its way through the city, with areas regarded as a kind of Venice where it flows between the old factory buildings.
If you cross the river using Elbtunnel, you will get an interesting experience as well. You take the elevator (or stairs) down underground. There are two smaller elevators for pedestrians and cyclists, with two larger ones that accommodate vehicles. Down below, pedestrians keep to the right. Those on wheels travel in the middle. Now over 100 years old, the tunnel is 426m long and approximately 24m deep. When on the other side, take the elevator to the surface again. On the south side there’s not that much to see, so head back to the river (just follow the people). There is a viewpoint that provides a great perspective from the city’s southern side. Here there is also the opportunity to buy refreshments.
A good mix of modern buildings and old factory premises. The crown jewel of the area is Elbphilharmonie that rises out of the river Elbe. New architecture has been built on the top of the old factories and you can walk around the building enjoying the view over Hamburg. It is free to take the 80 meter long escalator up, where you will find souvenirs, food and drinks too.
The district may appear as a bit sterile, but we find cosy cafes here too. There are several exciting museums, including the popular Miniature Museum. We skipped this on such a hot and delightful day. Instead we took a trip to the:
The sun is shining and it is very hot outside. A pity to go indoors, but we need a little break from the sun. At the Prototype Museum you will find, as the name infers, a collection of prototype cars, mainly Volkswagen and Porsche, but also Audi and a few others. Those who didn’t have the means to participate in F1 or other large events, put their efforts into smaller race meetings instead, with cars they built themselves, often having a boat or motorcycle engine. Do not forget to try the Porsche simulator.
This street name appeared several times before we went to Hamburg, so we’ll take a look. What has Lange Reihe to offer? We don’t mind walking there along the water from the Rathausmarkt and the busy shopping areas, past the Aussenalster lake and into this quiet place. Since it’s a hot day, the first thing we do is to sit down with something cold to drink. Café Koppel is located in a building with several art galleries and has a lovely patio in the backyard, away from the street. The street of Lange Reihe is sleepy when we return to it. It’s not the most exciting street but the atmosphere is cosy. We find a couple of interesting stops (i.e. shopping) before heading west again.
We meander through the streets on our way ‘home’. Soon we find ourselves in the sun by the river, where a guy is playing drums. A hen party passes by. They pull some beers from a bag and sit down to enjoy. The rhythms, the sun, life.
Hamburg. We walk along the promenade by the river. Summarize the short time we have been here. Joe is overwhelmed by the number of tourists who actually come here. Hamburg is popular! Both of us are positively surprised by how much green there is here and how easy it is to get around, either on foot or two wheels.
For us, Hamburg is a short flight away. Don’t be surprised if you see Soletraveller in Hamburg again!