Ex­ploreHam­burg’s var­i­ous riches— from­choco­late to trade

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE | TRAVEL - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Ham­burg, Ger­many

For cen­turies, the port city­ofHam­burg was a pow­er­house in mar­itime trade. Th­ese days, Ger­many’s sec­ond­c­ity is still the coun­try’s main en­try point for ex­otic goods. But it is also a mag­net for food­ies, fans of the arts and folks who pre­fer to wan­der rather than pow­er­walk their way around a newdes­ti­na­tion.

At­trac­tions in­clude a choco­late mu­seum, a his­toric ware­house dis­trict and river boat rides. Just re­mem­ber, in­Ham­burg you are never far from the wa­ter — in­clud­ing the kind that falls from the sky, so go with the flow and carry an um­brella.

Feast your eyes

Maybe you want to start small. Re­ally small. In Ham­burg’s old ware­house dis­trict an in­door model rail­way called the Miniatur Wun­der­land stretches across two floors and takes visi­tors on a hu­mor­ous jour­ney around the world.

The ware­house dis­trict, or Spe­ich­er­stadt, was once a free port and its dis­tinc­tive red brick build­ings on tim­ber foun­da­tions helped the area gain UNESCO World Her­itage sta­tus in 2015. It is hardly a mu­seum though. The ware­houses are still used to store goods from around the globe and with a lit­tle pa­tience visi­tors can watch Per­sian car­pets and sacks of spices be­ing loaded and un­loaded us­ing old-fash­ioned pul­ley hoist sys­tems.

Ham­burg has a long tra­di­tion of ap­pre­ci­at­ing cof­fee. En­joy a good brew at one of sev­eral cof­fee roast­ers around town, in­clud­ing Nord Coast Cof­fee Roast­ery.

AtHam­burg’s choco­late mu­seum, Cho­cov­er­sum, learn about the ori­gins of choco­late, what makes a good bean and even try your hand at cre­at­ing a unique bar of your own. Tours dur­ing the week are in Ger­man but English-lan­guage tours are avail­able on week­ends.

A day on the wa­ter

Start ex­plor­ing mankind’s com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship with the sea on dry land at the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum in the ware­house dis­trict. It fea­tures repli­cas of an­cient ships, in­clud­ing a Phoeni­cian gal­ley and a Vik­ing dragon boat, as well as equip­ment that helped sailors nav­i­gate the seas be­fore GPS and satel­lite phones.

Oncey­ouar­eready­toset­sail—soto speak— walk or take a sub­way to the Lan­dungs­bruecken. Dur­ing the week, th­ese piers are used by com­muters trav­el­ing toHam­bur­gonpub­lic boats. Fo­ramod­est­fare,ho­pon­theNo62­for a ride down the river Elbe, pass­ing some of Ham­burg’s im­pres­sive mar­itime in­dus­try and not a few tow­er­ing cargo ships along the­way.

Step off at Neu­muehlen and head down­river past the charm­ing old sail­boats to the Oevel­goenne beach for pizza and a hoppy beer or cof­fee and cake at a river­side cafe or bar.

A night in town

The Reeper­bahn is Ham­burg’s no­to­ri­ous red light dis­trict. At night it trans­forms from a quiet street into a gaudy, neon-light af­fair filled with bars, live mu­sic venues and seedy entertainment. Near the Reeper­bahn light rail stop is a square ded­i­cated to the Bea­tles, who spent their jour­ney­man years in­Ham­burg.

For a less touristy and more fam­ily friendly evening, head to the Schanzen­vier­tel, a for­mer work­ing class dis­trict that be­came hip a few years ago. There’s cheap food aplenty and a thriv­ing bar cul­ture. Stern­schanze is the clos­est S-bahn stop.

From there, walk to one of Ham­burg’s best-known clubs at Feld­strasse 66. Do not worry, you can­not miss it. Known to the Nazis as Flak­turm IV, this mas­sive over-ground bunker was too dif­fi­cult to de­stroy after WorldWar II and so it was left stand­ing. Nowa­days it is home to me­dia com­pa­nies and the club Uebel und Ge­faehrlich — which roughly trans­lates asNasty and Danger­ous.

Ify­ouare­outall night, greet the­day at Ham­burg’s leg­endary Al­tona fish mar­ket. Business starts at 5 am from April toOc­to­ber. In­win­ter the­mar­ket open­sat 7am. Dono­tar­rive too late as stalls shut­ter around 9:30 am.

Grand burg­ers and cul­ture

For cen­turies, Ham­burg was dom­i­nated by a tight-knit rul­ing class known as the “first families”, whose mem­bers had ac­quired a su­pe­rior form of cit­i­zen­ship that made them Gross­buerger — “grand burg­ers”. With the ti­tle came lu­cra­tive eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal rights that they used to amass great for­tunes and shape the city in­ways that can still be seen in­Ham­burg’s cen­ter with its Venice-like ar­cades and bridges, fancy shop­ping streets and lake­side prom­e­nade. From the un­der­ground stop Rathaus, take a stroll past the im­pos­ing town hall to­ward the Bin­nenal­ster, or In­ner Al­ster, a reser­voir in­side the old city perime­ters.

For a bit of high art, head to the un­der­ground stop Jungfern­stieg and take the U1 two stops to Ste­in­strasse. From there it is a short walk to one of Europe’s largest con­tem­po­rary arts cen­ters. The De­ich­torhallen, sit­u­ated in two for­mer mar­ket halls built in late art nou­veau style, host sev­eral simultaneous art and pho­tog­ra­phy ex­hi­bi­tions.

For a grand fi­nale, end your trip at the Elbphil­har­monie con­cert hall. Com­pleted six years be­hind sched­ule and at 10 times the orig­i­nal price, this bil­lion-dol­lar venue is due to start host­ing concerts be­gin­ning Jan 11. If you can­not nab tick­ets it is worth vis­it­ing for the ar­chi­tec­ture, which fea­tures a wave-shaped roof, stun­ning glass fa­cades and a panoramic viewof the har­bor.


Ships pass by the Elbphil­har­monie build­ing at the Ham­burg har­bor. For cen­turies, the Ger­man port city was a pow­er­house in mar­itime trade.

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