I will be going to Berlin in October and was contemplating a train trip up there. My ancestors sailed out of Hamburg in the 1850s. I have done no reading yet so was just tossing this question out there. TIA!
If you want to follow a bit in the footsteps of your grandparents go and visit the Ballinstadt museum. It's been beautifully restored and has some of the most complete emigration records in Europe as a searchable data base. www.ballinstadt.net I really liked some of the standards every visitor to Hamburg is supposed to do: * climb up the tower of St Michel church for great views * take a tour of the harbour (either with guide or the harbour bus as a very cheap alternative) * go up to Blankenese and walk along the shore of the river Elbe * Speicherstadt You could start your reading on these websites to get some more ideas: http://english.hamburg.de/tourist-information/ http://www.hamburg-tourism.de/en/sightseeing/ Something different to do to get into the mood: watch a few movies by one of Germany's best young film directors: Fatih Akin grew up in Hamburg and set most of his films at least in part in Hamburg - usually in the grittier areas of town. I like * In July a comedy, half of it is set in Hamburg, the other half is a road trip through Europe ending in Istanbul * Head-on a drama and a rather violent love story, half is set in Hamburg, the other half in Turkey (mostly Istanbul) * Soul Kitchen
a comedy, entirely set in Hamburg Soul Kitchen is his most recent movie and I was able to borrow it from our local library just a week ago - and LOVED it. The other ones might take a bit more digging to find.
Oh THANK YOU so much Beatrix! What wonderful information. Thanks again, it's much appreciated.
Hamburg is probably my favorite German city. It has a look and feel that is distinct from south of the country. Here's some things of note (not including those already mentioned): - the area around the Binnenalster is one of the most scenic city-scapes on the continent, particularly when viewed from the north side. Between here and the Rathaus is also one of the main upscale shopping districts of the city. - the Kunsthalle has a pretty good collection of Romantic era paintings, including some of the most well known works of Caspar David Friedrich. - If you're into boats and ships at all, the International Maritime Museum is HUGE. I planned on spending maybe an hour in here, I think I ended up spending about four. - The before-mentioned Rathaus is larger and more elaborate than many countries' national parliament buildings. - The main reason I traveled here didn't disappoint: Miniatur Wunderland, the world's largest model railroad display. -The bombed out remains of St. Nicholas' church were a stark reminder to me that there is no such thing as a "good war". - And then, of course, there's the infamous Reeperbahn. Not exactly everybody's cup of tea...
Thanks Tom for mentioning the "Nikolaikirche" (St Nicholas). I don't think it's very well known as a tourist destination but it really touched me.
We just had a few hours to spend in Hamburg so took one of the half-day bus tours (Stadtrundfahrt: double decker red bus). It was well worth it. We liked what we saw very much and would love to have an opportunity to return to Hamburg for a longer stay.
I also recommend seeing the ruins of the St. Nicholas church. HafenCity (Harbor City) is a cool area, with lots of contemporary architecture, including the Hamburg Symphony building, the top of which was designed to look like waves. Talk a walk along the Binnenalster and part of the Aussenalster, and do take a boat tour if you have time. I wish we had done this but when I was there last summer, it was so hot that we didn't have the energy to do a lot.
Thank you all. I am so glad I asked...some excellent information. I can't wait to go! Are there any regional foods there that are special to Hamburg I should try? THANKS AGAIN.
Jill, I heartily endorse the suggestions made by the above posters. Hamburg is definitely worth going to; it's the Kulturzentrum (culture center) of North Germany. In case you have time for seeing any other cities/towns in Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg is the departing point, the same for Mecklenburg, such as Schwerin. It's much closer from Hamburg than reaching it from Berlin.
Here is a good article about typical Hamburg food: http://english.cuisimonde.com/cuisinesofeurope/centraleurope/germancuisine/cuisineofhamburg.php My favourite is the dessert "Rote Gruetze" and it's also my husband's favourite German dish even though as a typical Canadian he can't pronounce the name ;-) With its large harbour Hamburg has been one of the most important trade centres in Europe since the middle ages. And so it has a very international flair which you can see in the cuisine offered in town as well. I was visiting with friends during my last trip there so we didn't go out to restaurants much. But the one I'd like to recommend is Ti Breizh with very authentic Breton cuisine, i.e. crepes and galettes (buckwheat pancakes). www.tibreizh.de Other than that I hung out more on "Lange Reihe", a street full of great cafes and independent shops - the centre of gay life in Hamburg. Cafe Gnosa is great for a leisurly breakfast or cake all day long. I had their "nordisches Fruehstueck", a modern take on traditional Hamburg fare as a breakfast platter. And no, you don't have to be gay to enjoy yourself there (I'm not and felt very safe on the street day or night). www.gnosa.de/indexEng.html
Hamburg eateries seem to have much more fish on the menu than in the south of Germany. Nearly every menu has some kind of "maatje" (pickled herring slices, I think...) on offer. The food also makes more use of cream and dill than southern Germany. I forget what it was called, but I ate something that was VERY different from the food you typically see in the south of Germany. It was a bowl of purreed beets with maatjes, gerkins and topped with a fried egg. I didn't know exactly what to expect when I ordered it (I don't know the German word for "beet", I ordered it for the maatjes). In the low light of the restaurant, when it arrived, I thought I had accidently ordered a bowl of raw ground beef! The only reference I saw to the internationally famous "Hamburger" was the American version sold at fast food restaurants. You see the word "Hamburger" on the menu everywhere, but it's used as an adjective, not a noun.
I think the dish Tom refers to is Labskaus. The German word for beets is "rote Beete" (rot=red). Here is a picture:
Yup, that would be it exactly. You can really see the resemblance to raw ground beef in the picture.
Wow...interesting picture! I'm sure it's better than it looks? I will try anything and everything. I had kokorec in Turkey (intestines with hot pepper, a street food). Thanks again guys. I CAN'T WAIT TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jill, You have got the right attitude going to Hamburg and North Germany !!
I also want to go to Hamburg on my next trip, does anyone have suggestions for hotels?
I stayed at Hotel Basseler Hof, which is just around the corner from the Binnenalster. The room was about average, but the breakfast spread was excellent. It's also the place where I ate the meal referenced above.
Dammit, I want to go NOW. Yes, Fred, going with the flow is so important. I love eating all the regional stuff. The crappier looking, the better. My first trip to Europe was with a Rick tour and at the end of the G.A.S.P. tour, I won a special award for 1) eating the stinkiest cheeses everywhere and 2) for inadvertantly stealing a bicycle. What a great time!
Jill, One example of Hamburger Spezialitäten is eel soup, a dish that Hamburg is famous for. Hamburg Hauptbahnhof is one of the best train stations to eat at in Germany given its variety and choice in my view. John - As for accomodations in Hamburg, if you're looking for someting with a bit of luxury, two hotels I find fit that: Hotel Fürst Bismarck on Kirchenallee, right across from the train station...good price for a 3 star. I stayed here in 2009. The other is Hotel Graf Moltke, parallel to Fürst Bismarck, at the corner, a bit cheaper too, but also a 3 star.
Thanks Fred. I was reading this week about all the seafood there...oh, can't wait. Good hotel tip also.