You can do many things in one day in Hamburg. As I was traveling alone I decided to stay in Generator Hostel which is located next to the train station, one of the most beautiful buildings in Hamburg. Hostels provide company, but this time I did not meet anyone. However, the Germans from the north are very friendly and I found it easy to meet people in the places I visited. Since I didn’t have much time in the city and it was autumn (short days) I knew that I had to make the most of my stay.
Being Latina, I need to drink coffee to start my day. The first day I went to a cafe called MUTTERLAND Stammhaus. It was more like a deli full of delicious food produced in Germany. I was lucky, since this place is usually full, but I was seated right away. I ordered a coffee and a blackberry drink while checking the menu. In the end I opted for a quiche that was a healthy option, since it came with salad.
Another place for breakfast is Genusshelden. I was recommended to try Franzbrötchen which is traditional from Hamburg. It is made with flour, butter, yeast, sugar and cinnamon. It is served with coffee and is delicious. This restaurant is located inside a mall that had a Christmas shop and books hanging from the ceiling.
Walking down the ground floor brought back memories of my childhood, since they had a Steiff store. Outside they have a giant bear (my name means little bear) so I asked an Asian to take a picture of me. I have German descent and my parents brought us these stuffed animals when we were children.
A day in Hamburg
I arrived in Hamburg by train from Frankfurt when it was almost dark, therefore I saw little the first day. I walked to the Alster lakes where there was a protest of people from the Middle East. Then I went into a restaurant where I had a beer and ate a Wiener Schnitzel which is a typical German dish of breaded veal. It usually comes with a lemon, but this restaurant served it with a cranberry sauce. Then I met some local people in a bar. They gave me recommendations of places to visit on my day in Hamburg.
What do they do in Hamburg?
The city has a good public transport system, however I chose to walk. My first stop was in Chocoversum which is the chocolate museum in Hamburg. To me it has always seemed absurd that Europe is known for chocolate, without growing cocoa. They have a store that can be entered at no cost. All products are related to cocoa, but don’t think it’s just chocolate. You can find barbecue sauce, beer, butter, tea and beauty products. I walked around the store thinking about everything my country could do, since it does produce cocoa.
The tour lasts 90 minutes and is interactive, people can taste and even make their own chocolate. They explain the whole process to the visitors. I would have liked to do it, but I had already done a chocolate tour in Panama and Santo Domingo. Since I didn’t have much time in my day in Hamburg, I chose to skip this option.
St. Catherine’s Church (Katharinen)
My next stop on my day in Hamburg was a visit to a church. I was heading to Miniatur Wunderland and I got distracted watching some interesting buildings. St. Katharinen has many trees that frame the church with golden colors during fall. The churches in Europe have become tourist attractions. When I went they had an exhibition of sculptures designed by Gabriele von Lutzau. This German artist has a difficult past, since at 23 she was a flight attendant on a Lufthansa flight that was hijacked by four Palestinian terrorists. The event took five days from Palma de Mallorca to Mogadishu, Somalia. The captain was killed and she had to show courage. Her sculptures made with chainsaws and flamethrowers reflecting the scars of her past. They are tall with figures that look like angels or birds with wings pointing at the sky.
The church of St. Katharinen is one of the main Lutheran churches. It is the second oldest building in the city, dating from 1256. It was built using a Gothic style with a baroque roof. Since the 15th or 16th century it had an organ that was the most important in the city, but was destroyed in World War II. They were able to rebuild it in 2013 using photographs and a previous description.
The history of the St. Nicholas Church dates from the 12th century when Count Adolf III von Schauenburg founded a new town in Alster. Its citizens asked for a church and dedicated it to St. Nicholas who rescued sailors. The church had many changes over the years and came to accommodate 1,500 people. In 1842 there was a great fire in Hamburg that burned a third of the city in four days, including the church. A new church had to be designed and citizens made a collection to finance its construction. The Gothic cathedral in Cologne had just been completed and the locals thought that was the authentic Germanic style.
In 1874 it was completed, being the tallest building in the world. Its needle served as a reference for night air attacks of the British bomber fleet during World War II. Operation Gomorrah threw 18,000 tons of bombs causing a fire storm. Hamburg became a volcano, with hurricane winds that killed about 34,000 people. St. Nicholas Church suffered damage but could easily have been rebuilt. However, on this occasion the citizens decided that there were more important priorities. Since 1987 a foundation manages the place, which had deteriorated over the years. The remaining tower serves as a reminder of the past. For a cost of 5 euros you can climb the bell tower and appreciate beautiful panoramic views. A museum in the basement tells the dark history of the city.
Elbphilharmonie or Elphi, as it is popularly known, is the building that most attracts attention in Hamburg. This concert hall is located in HafenCity on the Grasbrook peninsula of the Elbe River. A glass building was built on top of an old cellar that looks like a wave or an iceberg. Hamburg does not have many tall buildings, therefore, with only 108 meters or 354 feet this is the tallest inhabited. It has 26 floors including 8 that are inside the brick part. The Westin Hamburg Hotel has 244 rooms between floors 9 and 20. It can be seen from many angles throughout the city.
Its construction had to be completed in 2010 at a cost of €241, however it finished in 2016 at a cost of €866 million. I was surprised to learn that these things also happen in developed countries. Anyone can go visit Elbphilharmonie without paying. They will give you a ticket and you go up some long white stairs until you reach the main floor where the observation deck is located. On top of the brick building there is a corridor that borders the entire glass part, providing beautiful views of the city. The breeze is quite strong and feels cold. If you want to go to a concert you can book it on their website. There are options at no cost but most have reasonable prices.
Cruise the Elbe River
One of the things they recommended me to do on my day in Hamburg was to take a cruise on the Elbe River. I walked about 15 minutes from Elbphilharmonie to the Landungsbrücken docks. The best ferry line to take is number 62 which goes Finkenwerder. It was a red ferry that had a poster promoting the Pretty Woman musical. I wasn’t sure how to pay, so I consulted a German who, without speaking my language, guided me to the machine. After depositing a few euros I got my ticket. Anyway, nobody checks and is part of Hamburg’s public transport, so you don’t have to pay extra if you bought a day pass.
I am sure that in the summer the top of the ferry must be completely full. However, I went in the fall and it was cold. The brave only lasted until sunset. The cruise to Finkenwerder took about 30 minutes, passing through beautiful buildings, beaches and docks. On the way back it was dark so I fell asleep until I reached the exit.
I left Miniatur Wunderland last since I preferred to take advantage of the little light I had in my day in Hamburg. This miniature world has extended schedules that can go from 7 a.m. until 1 a.m. depending on the day. Before going you should check the schedule on their website and buy your ticket, otherwise you may have to wait a while. This attraction is one of the most popular in Hamburg, which makes you understand that we are all big children. At the entrance they ask you your nationality to have a count.
Most of the worlds in Miniatur Wunderland are European. Of course, Hamburg is one of the biggest worlds. Switzerland, my other country, also has a world with trains and ski resorts. Other places you can see are Venice, Rome, Monaco, The Vatican, Austria, Germany and Scandinavia. At the moment, only the United States is represented out of all the Americas, but they are working on models for South America, Central America and the Caribbean. The funny thing is that the days go by in 15 minutes changing from night to day. The lights in the place adapt to the schedule, as do the things that happen in the worlds.
When I left I was very hungry. I did a search for options in Trip Advisor and opted for The Dining RooM located in the Fraser Suites Hotel. The restaurant was quite new and that’s why it didn’t have many reviews, but they were all excellent. I loved the place as soon as I entered, since I felt it had been transported in the 1920s. It has a vintage look, from the chairs to the gold and the feathers. I ordered a carpaccio and a pasta with truffles as a main course with a glass of white wine. It was the perfect way to end my day in Hamburg.