Hamburg – City of Culture and Cake:
I was invited by the lovely people at cometohamburg.com to visit the city so I could write about its many attractions. It’s a wealthy and powerful place with a strong sense of identity that’s not trading on its past to justify the present. In my first post, I looked at Hamburg’s maritime heritage which ranges from the extraordinary port area to the world class International Maritime Museum with a fish roll (Fischbrötchen) or two thrown in for good measure. But in this post I will be looking at some of the city’s cultural attractions as well as focussing on….cake…
One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the stunning Elbphilharmonie, a brand new concert hall sitting on the River Elb in the HafenCity (Harbour City) quarter of Hamburg. It hadn’t yet opened for concerts when I was there but there was access to the Plaza area via the stylishly contemporary Westin Hotel for some fantastic views of the city and to get a sense of the building’s interior.
I’m sure this Hokusai wave of a building will become a tourist magnet and a symbol of the modern Hamburg, redefining the city in the world’s eyes just as The Guggenheim Museum has reframed Bilbao.
I wasn’t going to be denied my classical music fix so I visited the elegant Laeiszhalle to hear the fantastic Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie (German Chamber Philharmonic) play an enthralling programme of Mozart, Schoenberg and Beethoven. I do hope this more traditional setting for classical music keeps its audience as the hall is designed for those sounds.
For art lovers, the Kunsthalle is a must see. It is a major international gallery with a wide-ranging collection.
I loved the extraordinary early romantic landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich as well as some exquisite Munch paintings. There was a fascinating Surrealism exhibition when I visited with many items from the collection of top British surrealist Roland Penrose. For contemporary gallery lovers, Helium Cowboy and Vera Munro are also well worth a visit.
After a hard day of cultural consumption a trip to the scenic Speicherstadt Unesco world heritage site for a cup of coffee at the Speicherstadt Kaffeerösterei is just the ticket. You can see and smell the coffee beans being roasted
Hamburg residents are known affectionately as Fischköppe (fish heads) but they are clearly also passionate about their cakes and the apple and cherry cakes at the Kaffeerösterei are well worth the trip.
For a feel of the old Hamburg head to Fred’s Schlemmereck; it’s a bar in the bohemian St. Pauli district (where the Beatles used to play) which you can just imagine full of old sea-salts supping on their beers. It’s also the spiritual home of the St. Pauli chapter of the Turbojugend, fans of the Scandinavian death punk band Turbonegro, but don’t let that put you off visiting – they are quite friendly!
My final Hamburg cake experience was at the buzzy Heimatküche restaurant in the 25 Hours hotel. I was invited there for dinner and had a warming bowl of Chestnut cream soup, an excellent plate of fish and chips with homemade tartare sauce as well as great bread and butter and a fresh citrusy glass of 2015 Schwanberg Grüner Veltleiner, Weinkellerei Aignet, Kremstal, Austria.
But the highlight for me was a slice of ring cake with plums and walnut ice-cream. Delicious! Hamburg is really worth a visit and makes a refreshing change from the usual destinations. It’s a working city that is self-confident, friendly, easy to get around and with lots for the visitor to experience.
Thinking of visiting? Why not pin this post for later…
Fact Box: Adrian York stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel in Hamburg. A stylishly redeveloped water tower dating from 1865 with a great breakfast and a metro station over the road!
Mövenpick Hotel Hamburg.Sternschanze 6 | 20357 Hamburg | Germany
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