We woke up in Germany and were served breakfast in our little cabin. Before long, we had arrived in Hamburg. It’s really a very convenient way to travel. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect from Hamburg. It was a city that Cristen really wanted to visit because of its ties to the Beatles. And to be honest again, I wasn’t really looking forward to Hamburg at first and even tried to convince Cristen to nix it from our itinerary. But it was a top priority for her, so I started doing some research for the point of interest cheatsheet and got more and more excited about it. There was lots to see and do there. I started feeling bad that we really only had one full day.
Of course, the first thing we did when we got off the train was look for our hotel, the Hotel am Holstenwall. It was on the other side of the huge Planten un Blomen Park (which, btw, is an awesome name for a park, amiright?) from the St. Pauli U-bahn stop, so we decided to cut through. Unfortunately, it was a repeat of when I tried to cut through Central Park on my last visit to New York City. But this time, I was carrying a 30-pound backpack and a 10-pound camera bag and Cristen was pulling her huge suitcase. Despite the beautiful morning, I could have done without the extended walk in the park. Since we were there quite early, we couldn’t check into our room just yet, so we dropped off our luggage and headed out to see the city.
We decided to start our adventures with a walk along the canal. We had also heard about a ferry ride that was free with our Hamburg card, so we thought that would be a nice way to see the city.
It was actually quite chilly on the deck of the ferry because of the wind and it was a little too crowded to take photos, so we went underneath and just enjoyed the ride. I loved the houses along the canal. They were bright and colorful. Even though I loved the charming villages in France, a lof of the ones we saw were made from the same pinkish stone and they depended on the beautiful flowers for pops of color. Germany seemed more willing to play around with color on their buildings.
After the ferry, we headed to Deichstrasse, a street with historic buildings dating from the 14th Century. Hamburg was the target for a lot of Allied bombing during World War II, so it’s amazing that some of these beautiful historic areas survived.
We were hoping to get something to eat along Deichstrasse, but since it was Sunday, the restaurants were all closed. We had to walk across the bridge to the Speicherstadt neighborhood (old warehouse district) where lots of tourist attractions are to get some lunch.
We both had veggieburgers in Hamburg, and I don’t regret it. It was delicious. Next on the agenda – the Rathaus in the center of town. Something else that I really loved about Hamburg is that many of their U-bahn lines have above-ground sections. When we were in London and Paris, I was telling Cristen that even though the subways are convenient, I missed being able to see the sights while riding around and that I planned on figuring out the bus systems the next time I went traveling. The U-bahn in Hamburg (and later, Berlin) was a great compromise for the convenience of a subway with actually getting to see the town.
Do you want to know my big regret about Hamburg, though? I am still so disappointed every time I think about it. We didn’t get to see this:
Oh man… can you even imagine how amazing that would have been? I kept imagining the poignant love song for Adrienne and the triumphal ballad for running up the stairs. I’ll have to see if there’s a soundtrack.
The Hamburg Rathaus was simply beautiful.
The whole area there was full of life. There was lots of shopping and people eating at cafes and feeding some swans.
I had read that Hamburg has one of the best museums for 19th Century art, so of course we wanted to visit the Kunsthalle Museum. It was over by the train station, so we got off the stop and walked across the street to the museum. I was a little confused because on our tourist map, the museum looked round and the museum we found was your typical rectangular building. But it did say Kunsthalle, so we walked inside and paid our fee. It had kind of a strange smell, actually, and the exhibits weren’t quite what we expected for one of the finest collections of 19th Century art. Here’s a sample.
It was while I was waiting for Cristen at the gift shop and checking out the map again that I realized our mistake. We were at the Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe. The Kunsthalle was on the opposite side of the train station. We almost didn’t go because the Kunst and Gewerbe was so disappointing, but it wasn’t a far walk. And we did pass by the Beiber Haus.
And there it was – just as round as it was in the map. And it definitely supports the claim of one of the finest collections. Something that was so great about the museum was that it was large enough that it contained a lot of wonderful pieces, but it didn’t feel overwhelming like the Louvre or the Metropolitan. I’ll just quickly share with you some of my favorite pieces from the museum.
There were some beautiful paintings by Casper David Friederich. I’ve always loved the quiet moodiness of his pieces.
I was unfamiliar with Wilhelm Liebl before seeing two of his pieces at the museum. This was one of my favorites. I liked the mix of patters, but mostly, I loved the detail in the hands and books.
Here is another portrait by Leibl of the Countess Rosine Treuberg. She has a rather penetrating stare, right?
Here’s one of the galleries at the Kunsthalle Museum.
And some more favorites.
There was an Edvard Munch exhibit at the Tate Modern when we were in London, but we didn’t want to pay the extra fee to see it. It couldn’t have had anything much better than these.
Another artist who was unfamiliar to me was Emil Nolde, but he might be a new favorite.
I love running into paintings that I’ve studied in Art History classes. It’s amazing how I have forgotten most of what I learned in most of my classes, but when I see a painting that I studied, I remember almost everything about it. It’s like coming across an old friend.
After the museum, it was definitely late enough for us to check into our hotel room, so we headed back toward the park. We had wondered what kind of room we would find because we weren’t quite sure what to expect from the hotel. It was kind of hard to read what type of place it would be based on the lobby. It seemed nice enough, though, but we were expecting something tiny. Imagine our surprise when we walked into this:
It was a two-story room with our beds on the first floor and a lounge area up top. And then it had this amazing bathroom with a huge shower and a jetted tub and double sinks. And they had Haribo gummi bears on our bed for us. I think I was just overly tired from not sleeping well on the train and all of the physical exertion of traveling for 10 days, but I loved it so much that I started to cry and laugh just a little. We called it the Dollhouse because it was so adorable. We put our stuff away and took advantage of the wifi to check email. I called my family. It was just so fun to relax up in the lounge area. But Cristen reminded me that the Beatles sites we were planning to see were in the Reeperbahn area (the neighborhood known for erotic clubs and sex shops) and maybe it would be better for us to visit before it got too dark.
We were disappointed to find that Beatlesmania — an awesomely cheesy looking museum — had closed a few months before our visit. But there was still the Beatles-platz with a memorial to the Fab Four and some clubs where they first played. The Beatles-platz was right off the Reeperbahn U-bahn stop. And wow… it was… not quite what I expected.
And you could tell that immediately that we were in the Reeperbahn.
We walked down the street to see some of the clubs where the Beatles played. It reminded me of Bourbon Street, and if there was one thing about Bourbon Street that I loved, it was all the neon signs.
I mean, even the toilets were all lit up.
We ate dinner at a Vegetarian/Vegan friendly restaurant that was completely delicious, but mostly, I was so excited to be able to order one of my favorite drinks. When I was in Austria, I loved Mezzo Mix. In Northern Germany, it’s called Spezi and it’s basically Coke and Orange soda all mixed together. I adore it! And I was able to order it in a half liter. Heaven!
I had so many places still on my list that we weren’t able to visit. We had booked a later train to Berlin the next morning because I was hoping we’d be able to squeeze something in, but Monday morning was rainy and after a long breakfast at the hotel, we just decided to head to the train station. So even though Hamburg wasn’t necessarily top of my list before we went on the trip, it ended up being pretty great.