When Christmas is coming, the first thing people think about when you ask them where they intend to go do some proper Christmas shopping is either England or Germany. The latter was our destination. Hamburg to be exact.
We briefly visited Hamburg before during a previous trip, and felt we had to come back for some more exploring. Courtesy of easyJet and with some lovely girls from Talkies, Prêt-a-Pregnant and Your Little Black Book, we embarked on our flight on Sunday evening.
This flight has the same duration as a flight to London: 45 minutes. Hamburg is a popular business destination and part of the regular easyJet flight route from Amsterdam (6 flights a day), but we were about to discover the city in all its festive glory.
The hotel we stayed was the Barceló (Ferdinandstrasse 15), settled in the city center and within walking distance of the shopping districts Neuer Walle and Möckerbergstrasse, plus nearby the Aster and the floating Christmas tree in the middle. A comfy hotel and ideal for the business traveler. The room showed some similarity to the one we stayed in at the Nhow in Rotterdam but a tad cosier. It was spacious, with a king size bed and an array of pillows to choose from.
After a full breakfast (we love well filled breakfast buffet’s!), we gathered in the lobby to meet our guide for a street art tour. Hamburg is -just like Berlin- well known for its street art, which is mostly an outcome of political struggles. We got some insights about the ‘gentrification’ and the toilet brushes as a symbol of activism. We actually noticed some still hanging on a balcony across the Rote Flora. This venue used to be a theater but was squatted in the 80’s and now serves several cultural purposes. It still looks very neglected from the outside, and some homeless seem to have found shelter on the front porch. Not very appealing to us, so we continued our walk to find a wall displaying several pieces from different popular street artists around the corner. Not quite surprised that the well known ones origin from Berlin.
Since it was cold and rainy, we decided to quit the tour earlier and have a warm drink. Next stop was Brücke 10, a fish snack bar overlooking Hafencity, where we would meet our next guide Tomas. A friendly guy who has a vast knowledge of his city, but also understands that a group of lifestyle editors are not very interested in detailed reports of architecture and politics. After lunch (North Sea shrimp sandwiches or different kinds of herring), we strolled towards a newer part of Hafencity and stopped by a concept store -The Optimistic Project (Überseeboulevard 2) – and the 25 hours hotel (Überseeallee 5). A very cool and eclectic design hotel, including a shop and a popular restaurant: Heimat Kitchen + Bar.
Before heading back to our own hotel, it was time to do some shopping, but we first stopped at the Christmas market on the shores of the Aster for some glühwein and Bratwurst as our dinner at Bullerei was planned at 20:45 pm.
Two girls and I ended up for a shopping spree at Monki (it was Super Sale…oops) and worrying about how we were going to fit our purchases in the suitcase (tip: take a bigger suitcase if you plan to do some shopping), with still one hour left to relax and prep for dinner.
There was a second Christmas market on the planning though, the St Pauli Weihnachtsmarkt. This one was by night and way more cosy than the first! A bit more flickering lights, strange items on sale (dildo’s? St Pauli is near the old Red Light District) and the best comfort food and drinks: hot coco, more glühwein, more Bratwursten and Sauerkraut with Ham! We didn’t really care if we would have dinner a mere hour later, this was part of the experience and would help us warm up!
We caught a cab just in time to arrive at a fully packed Bullerei (Lagerstrasse 34 b). I had dinner there previously, but that was at the Deli. Tonight we were seated in the restaurant and getting spoiled by the chef! Followed a 5 course dinner (incl. appetizers) and a chat with owner Tim Mälzer. A cool guy (and former TV Chef) who believes food should not be too complicated: serve quality and originality, but on an accessible level.
Feeling (and maybe even looking like) a beer barrel after so much food, we were ready for a good night sleep. We would have a few hours to ourselves before lunch and I quickly went to the Adidas store to score some Stan Smiths.
The lunch venue was in a business district where you’ll find lots of lunch and coffee places: the Wexstrasse. Our destination ‘Zum Spätzle‘ (Wexstrasse 31) was very tiny and serves a German specialty, yet not from Hamburg origin. ‘Spätzle’ are something in between regular pasta and gnocchi, and served with different seasonings. I choose the Italian oriented seasoning and was happy that I did. Pesto, arugula, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes always make me happy.
After lunch we were supposed to visit the Ottensen district, a leftover of the Danish immigrants in the Altona borough, with a cool vibe and crafty shops, but we did not have enough time. We concluded our visit to Hamburg with a stroll through the Karolienenviertel -a few streets with vintage shops, small designer ateliers and alternative bars- and a hot coco at Elbgold Coffee Roasters (Lagerstrasse 34 c).
Again there’s a lot left to explore in Hamburg, so we’ll be back!