The gateway to the world and the unexpected and pleasant surprise
Hamburg surprised me and made me live a lot of contradictory feelings in just in a few days. The reason I say this is because the first thing I thought when I arrived in the city, was: “Hey, I thought I just left Amsterdam”. It was shocking to see the same style of small blocks of brick, with terraces in front of each apartment, white windows with flowerpots and paved streets, framed by trees. I was expecting a more German style than anything else.
I heard a lot about Hamburg, but for some reason I never added the city on my bucket list, as most tourists probably I wanted to visit just the capital of a country (Berlin in this case) and just tick off a country from my list. But, lately, I changed a lot my perspective on travel, I am happy to go back to a country I liked and to see a new city – observe the difference in culture from one region to another. I came to Hamburg, on a Thursday morning, and went straight to my hotel, because...well, some of us still have a full-time job outside blogging, but a flexible one, which is great, because I got to do my work from the amazing Tortue hotel. It’s a newly opened hotel, with one of the best Asian restaurant I’ve tried in Europe so far. It’s called Jin Gui and it was spectacular, the food and the ambiance!
But in the afternoon, I was free, therefore, I decided to just take a 5-10 minutes’ walk to Rathaus, the city hall of Hamburg, which I liked very much, because it has a lot of statues on top and a great beautiful and colored clock. The entrance has big columns and on the stairs you can see giant lions made out of marble. It’s an interesting building to see from the inside, but unfortunately, I got there a bit too late to do that.
Hamburg, a port city, and full of canals is incredibly fashionable with a lot of luxurious shops or restaurants full of fancy and well-dressed German locals. (If single, sit down in a café and scroll on Tinder for a few minutes, for sure you will get your personal and handsome local guide) I will tell you more about this in a different post.
First pit-stop – ISEMARKT, the fresh vegetable market.
Great way to start a Friday morning, right? This market, just a bit north of Hamburg, is under a functioning metro line, full of locals in search of fresh farmer products – every seller has its own production of – vegetables, or fruits, or cheese or meat…and believe me, the taste is excellent, I tried them all! The market is 1 kilometer long and it’s all you want if you decide to visit Hamburg, but to cook in your Airbnb.
Ok! I said I tasted all, right? Well, dear reader, I was hungry; having bits and pieces from each farmer doesn’t count as a proper meal! We, together with my fellow bloggers, had lunch at the Picnic by Bianc – a newly opened snack bar with a Mediterranean flavor. I had a Huhnchen, which is a basically chicken with baked potatoes garnished with some Mediterranean condiments.
Another pit-stop I did, was, of course, the port area. I easily got into a boat for an hour or so and took pictures of the most beautiful building ever - Elbphilharmonie, a glass building which was built on top of an old warehouse, made out of red bricks. I was one of the lucky ones to get inside the concert halls and walk around. Apparently, it’s built in such way that no matter where you sit in the room or how full or empty the room is, the sound will be heard in the same way and this is why is on top of the best philharmonic halls in the world. The building has an apartment complex as well, but I am definitely not getting my hands on one of those, as the whole building costed around 700 mil EUR…maybe I get the chance to sleep in one of the room of the hotel that you can find in the same building, how knows?!?! Honestly, I don’t care how much it costs, it’s impressive from inside and from outside as well. TIP – please go and visit the building, it’s free (you need a ticket for security reasons, but you don’t have to pay for it) The view from the top is incredibly beautiful (ok, ok, I hear you dear reader, I am biased in terms of top views – I love all of them)
One thing I really liked about Hamburg – the buildings! I can only say good things about this because everything looked super clean and well maintained. Walking around I got to see the most beautiful buildings I have ever imagined and what impressed me were the huge terraces and their orientation towards the river. The district is called Hafencity and I do not want to imagine how much rent costs in this area, given the fame of the city for the huge real estate prices.
The next day in Hamburg was an extremely exciting one. After a good and restful sleep, I started the day with a hearty breakfast at the Brasserie inside Tortue Hotel. Everything was delicious, I had to stop and take a few pictures of Instagram, but then…walking throughout the district of Deichstrasse, I saw the place with the oldest buildings and the most representative. Then I found out that here, at number 42, in one of the houses where a traditional tavern was now, it used to be a tobacco factory. Moreover, the fire in 1842 broke out here, which devastated the whole city.
The highlights in terms of food in Hamburg for me was definitely Rindermarkthalle. You can easily find on the left side of St Pauli, with a hipster touch but definitely the market will be something to try as it’s very easy to find tasty food.
Therefore, the first thing to try – finally the traditional food – franzbrötchen (a Hamburg version of cinnamon bun) and from there things only went better and better because we as travel bloggers had to opportunity to cook next to a 2 star Michelin chef – Mr. Thomas Martin from Louis by Thomas Martin restaurant. Thomas is a very funny guy, always trying to show you how you can make your food more delicious, and definitely bossy when it comes to eating. “you can take the pictures later, now eat, because it’s getting cold” he told me, while I was trying to get a shot of the food he prepared for us – a “veggie” stew with a salmon touch.
In general, I don’t have a specific destination when I visit, I just want to get lost on the streets of the city, just to see the places and usually, this is how I get to find my hidden gems. Of course, last but not least, an important detail I heard about the St Pauli neighborhood, it is considered the Red Light District of Hamburg, and I had to see with my own eyes the difference between the very commercial one in Amsterdam. It looks a bit shady, with a lot of prostitutes and pimps, and exactly as someone told me during my first night in Hamburg, an area for the sailors to spend a night of pleasure on land. Honestly, I didn’t feel unsafe, because, it’s a very lively part of Hamburg. Close by I managed to see a very authentic part of the city: lots of bars, young people and madness.
One thing I didn’t mention for this trip is the alcohol. OMG, you must try the Flamingo drink at Das Standard, a tiny restaurant in St Pauli. I loved it, it’s a mix of Mondino bitter, gin tonic, vermouth, rose water, squeeze lemon and orange peel.
I didn’t manage to see the Wunderland museum, probably next time, but I heard it’s so impressive that you must go and see it. In all honesty, it was recommended by a lot of people, even locals.
I know I missed a few very touristic places, but…I will see you again Hamburg!