11 Feb Highlights of Hamburg: Part 1
Oh, hey, hi, remember me? I took a bit of an unintentional hiatus there, whoops.
Between the dark nights, getting the flu and generally feeling like I couldn’t step foot outside due to snow warnings, about 80% of my free time in January is a big blur of Netflix and left over Christmas chocolate.
Needless to say, I’m so ready for winter to end now. I’m already starting to feel more motivated by the fact it’s light for half an hour after I leave work. Spring is starting to wrestle winter and I can’t wait for those long, daylight-filled evenings.
This year though, we returned for the third time to one of my fav countries, GERMANY. After seeing Berlin and Munich, I’d been intrigued by Hamburg for a while. It’s one of those rising tourist spots that hasn’t become super popular yet, like Cologne (another place on my list).
We had a whole four days to spend in Hamburg, the perfect amount of time (I think) to really get a feel for a place. Here are a few of the highlights –
Abaton Bistro & Cinema
FOOD was the primary concern after throwing our bags into the hotel room. Tbh, food is pretty much my primary concern at any given moment when on a trip away. Yeah, and most of the time while at home too. When stepping foot on foreign lands though, the prospect of food is just that little bit more exciting.
Our hotel, The Mercure, was kinda on the edges of the city centre, certainly within walking distance but also just far enough outside that it was noticeably quieter once it hit around 6 or 7. Not that Hamburg ever felt like a sprawling metropolis or anything, mind you. After a tiring day of travel however, we weren’t too keen on venturing far from the hotel so we strolled the nearby streets until we found our interest piqued by a cute lil bistro/cinema combo, Abaton.
I’ve encountered independent cinemas with restaurants in Vienna and Budapest. The one in Budapest actually had a cute little jewellery shop inside too. They’re a good place to visit to get a sense of the local arts scene. Again though, food was the aim so we hit up the bistro section first. Abaton bistro had a pretty varied menu incorporating German cuisine and European favourites. I was drawn to the Abaton Spaghetti – sliced German sausage, anchovies, capers, spring onions and soo much Parmesan. I’m not a big spaghetti person but this eclectic dish turned out to be super tasty.
After dinner we went for a cocktail at nearby Roxie cocktail bar (can’t say no to half price cocktails…). At this point it was only about half seven. Scott was extremely tired due to working through the night and then getting on a flight that morning. I couldn’t really justify going back to the hotel yet and I didn’t want to keep Scott up so I decided to go on a bit of an adventure on my own. I was so intrigued by Abaton I went back to see a film!
The language barrier didn’t prove a problem because as it turns out many cinemas in Germany show films in English with German subtitles or vice versa. I would have liked to have seen a German film but there weren’t any on until quite late so Downsizing was my only choice. By no means a spectacular film or anything but a bit of light watching. It was refreshing to just take myself to the movies in the middle of Hamburg. Evening activities on holiday can sometimes feel quite limited to hitting up the local bar scene – I enjoyed doing something a bit different.
Exploring the City
We woke up refreshed and ready to explore. One of my favourite parts of being abroad is just walking around and taking it all in. Being a bit of a flâneur, if you will. Which is nice since it costs absolutely nothing. A couple of coffee breaks are required amid all the exploring though obviously. And Hamburg has a quite a selection of coffee shops.
Our first flavour of Hamburg was one of a very large, diverse city. It is Germany’s second largest city after all. As we strolled through the city streets, through different districts, there was a pretty marked difference as the traditional Gothic architecture of the parliament building, the Rathaus and the industrialised bridges, warehouses and red brick buildings of Wandrahm Fleet in Speicherstadt. The Speicherstadt area felt a bit like an industrial, considerably colder Venice with all its bridges connecting the streets together.
According to our travel research, it seemed no trip to Hamburg was complete without a trip to Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg’s very own museum of miniature railways. Yeah, random, I know. As it turned out the miniature railways were just one aspect of the museum, Miniatur Wunderland has entire cities in miniature and the level of detail is quite something to behold.
You’re eased into the miniatur magic in the first exhibition. This shows the industrialisation and advancements of the world through a small patch of land represented in a number of different miniature models throughout each century.
THEN, in the next exhibition, Rome is in front of you… in miniature. There’s just so much to take in. So many scenes between tiny people in tiny streets with tiny cars etc. It feels as though you can’t do it justice unless you take it all in but it’s just so detailed. There’s all the tiny people and tiny buildings, then there’s the trains going by and then gradually the room will start to go dark. So many lights within the miniature buildings illuminate as the miniature worlds with their own timezones turn to night.
Rome was the first mini city we encountered, in the rooms that followed we saw miniature snow covered Switzerland, miniature Germany, miniature Las Vegas, miniature Hamburg, miniature Sweden and many others in between. In one room there was an airport with a plane that actually took off.
There was something very soothing in being engrossed by these tiny worlds. I think it indulges a childlike delight we have probably all felt at one point from crafting out own mini worlds as kids with toys.
At 30 euro, tickets are a bit on the steep side. But you could get hours of entertainment and joy just taking in the little worlds that have been so carefully crafted and arranged. It felt as though no tiny person or creature was the same. I don’t know much German but I know the word for small, kleiner and I heard it repeated, in wonder, so many times.
Keep an eye out for highlights of Hamburg part 2.
Have you been to Hamburg? What were your highlights?