Reeper­bahn,

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

I am a singer­song­writer and founder of the mu­si­cal Bea­t­les tour (hempelsmu­sic­tour.de). In my opin­ion, Ham­burg is the most beau­ti­ful city in Ger­many.

It has been my home for 20 years. One rea­son I came here was to study clas­si­cal piano; the other was to live some­where in­ti­mately con­nected with the Bea­t­les.

I’ve been a Beatle­ma­niac since my early teens and there is no place in the world where the Fab Four – or Five, as they were orig­i­nally – played more than in the city’s clubs.

And it all hap­pened in the old red light district, where you’ll find the old “sin mile”, the in­fa­mous

sur­rounded by a bo­hemian, vil­lage-like neigh­bour­hood full of cre­atives, cafés, shops restau­rants and bars. The at­mos­phere is re­laxed and con­vivial, yet re­mains the beat­ing heart of Ham­burg’s anti­estab­lish­ment iden­tity.

St Pauli is still where the mu­sic hap­pens. The most iconic ex­am­ples re­main the old rock ’n’ roll clubs where the Bea­t­les played, such as the and the

but “danc­ing tow­ers”, at the very be­gin­ning of the Reeper­bahn, you’ll find the stun­ning

At night, the ground-level doors open up, lead­ing you un­der­ground into a modern con­cert hall.

The area is also full of quaint restau­rants and street food joints. One of my favourite places Kun­sthalle is all wood­pan­elled walls and check­ered black-and-white floors, ex­hibit­ing old masters such as Lu­cas Cranach the Younger as well as 20th-cen­tury artists. Next door is a glass con­tem­po­rary gallery, show­cas­ing work by Andy Warhol, David Hock­ney and Tracey Emin. At the op­po­site end is the De­ich­torhallen, two his­toric for­mer fruit, veg­etable and flower mar­ket halls con­verted into ex­hi­bi­tion spa­ces for con­tem­po­rary art and pho­tog­ra­phy. The stark art hall fea­tures cut­ting-edge artists such as Gilbert & Ge­orge, Antony Gorm­ley to go be­fore a night out on the Reeper­bahn is the – def­i­nitely the best pizza in town.

It’s a bo­hemian place run by a real St Pauli char­ac­ter and mu­si­cian. If you pre­fer fine din­ing, book a ta­ble at the on Neuer Pfer­de­markt. Then make your way to venue is the

lo­cated by the River in the mid­dle of the har­bour. The con­cert hall ap­pears like a huge, il­lu­mi­nated ship about to take off.

Tick­ets are sold out un­til the end of next sum­mer and the ex­cite­ment shows no sign of end­ing. The lo­ca­tion is just amaz­ing and the sound is over­whelm­ing.

The most won­der­ful thing for me is that the stage is in the mid­dle of the au­di­ence, cre­at­ing an al­most camp­fire­like feel­ing. and Ge­org Baselitz, while ex­hi­bi­tions at the Haus der Pho­togra­phie range from Richard Ave­don, Martin Parr and Vi­viane Sassen. If time is lim­ited, I’d rec­om­mend the Kun­stverein Ham­burg, where famed Ger­man pho­tog­ra­pher Wolf­gang Till­mans has a solo show un­til Nov 12 dis­play­ing his art be­yond the cam­era. At the Kun­sthalle, an ex­hi­bi­tion called Art and Al­pha­bet un­til the end of this month ex­plores lan­guages and writ­ing sys­tems through var­i­ous art forms, from paint­ing to in­stal­la­tions.

A req­ui­site Bea­t­les tour was next on the agenda. The Fab Four played around 300 con­certs and spent more than 12,000 hours on stage here and John Len­non said: “I grew up in Ham­burg.” Mu­si­cian Ste­fanie Hem­pel, armed with a ukulele, led our group through the old red light district as she sang the songs the Bea­t­les per­formed in the clubs and strip joints of the Reeper­bahn and Grosse Frei­heit. “The Bea­t­les will be the Schu­berts and Schum­mans of the 20th-cen­tury,” Hem­pel quoted Leonard Bern­stein.

Back at the Elbphil­har­monie, I stepped on to the space­ship-like es­ca­la­tor and waited pa­tiently for two and a half min­utes to be beamed up through a white tun­nel stud­ded with thou­sands of glim­mer­ing discs. As I emerged on to an ob­ser­va­tion plat­form, a com­pelling vi­sion of the River Elbe and the sweep­ing water­front, fringed by cranes, came into view. The sun made its way down to the edge of the har­bour, cast­ing a white glow over the dark grey river. I couldn’t re­ally de­cide what kind of per­son I was, whether I was an Al­ster or an Elbe. Maybe, like the city, I was both.

Book tick­ets to the Elbphil­har­monie (00 49 40 357 666 66; elbphil­har­monie.com). Tick­ets for the In­ter­na­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val from April 27 – May 25 2018 are on sale from De­cem­ber; web­site as above

Ham­burg is Ger­many’s busiest sea­port and is pic­tured from the pop­u­lar ‘Beach Club’ Strand­pauli

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