So what do you do when you have a best friend residing in Portugal who you fancy meeting up with for a weekend? Go on a mini-break of course! As I’d already been to Portugal and we both wanted to venture somewhere new we picked Hamburg (great for my 30 Before 30 Challenge as I’d never been to Germany). Flights were okay priced and apparently there is a good amount to see over a weekend…they weren’t wrong!
What followed was a weekend full of exploration, catchups, Bratwurst and beer! Here’s a wee breakdown of our itinerary:
Everyone had always told me how friendly the Germans are, I experienced this as soon as I landed whilst trying (rather unsuccessfully!) to buy a ticket from the airport to the Central Station. I didn’t even look around trying to find help, some guy instantly recognised I was struggling and asked if I needed assistance…humankind at it’s best 😊
We both landed in Hamburg in the evening so obviously the first thing on the agenda was to eat, drink and catch up on the latest life news…I waited for my friendling to arrive in the hotel bar with a glass of Riesling in one hand and my guide book in the other. Once she made an appearance and freshened up we headed to the St Georg district and after a wee search up and down Lange Reihe for late night eats we settled on O’Pote; a nice Italian where we tucked into Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli, and Spaghetti Carbonara, accompanied with a nice carafe of Pinot Grigio. Come midnight and we wander back to the hotel for a big nights sleep.
First things first, we head to Hamburgs equivalent of Oxford Street as it was a tad chilly out and I needed some more layers! We tucked into breakfast baps and coffee at Dat Backhus before making our way to the Town Hall, Rathaus.
Whilst in this central area we come across some kind of festival, where there were many, many people dressed up in somewhat medieval and fantasy style outfits…
The St. Nikolai Memorial was next on the agenda. The church was rebuilt after being destroyed by air raids in 1943, and it is also now covered in scaffolding however the views are somewhat (extremely) limited due to this ongoing construction work. Nonetheless we took the lift up 76 metres to check it out anyway, and as we bought a combo ticket we were able to visit the crypt based museum afterwards which showed us just how disastrous the air strikes in Hamburg were.
As we left it started snowing and in true big kid style we jumped up and down to celebrate before beginning our walk to Speicherstadt (Warehouse District) and stopping for a quick Chai Latte at Barossa, where we most definitely made use of the radiators to heat up our hats and gloves! Whilst thawing out the Germany guide made another appearance (Lonely Planet, thank you!) where we read that should we want tickets to the Miniatur Wunderland (which we most definitely did – its the largest model railway in the world – you’d be mad to miss it!) we should book in advance on weekends and during holidays – oopsie! Thankfully when we popped in to see what the deal was the next day still had a few gaps so we grabbed our tickets and went on our merry way towards to docks.
As much of Hamburg’s history is steeped in the fact its a busy port town we wanted to explore the harbour and the docks and there is no better way than taking to the water so we opted for a tour via Rainer Abicht. Despite the commentary being in German (fail) we enjoyed seeing all the GIANT ships up close!
At dusk we headed back to hotel to shower and warm up then change for dinner and drinks in the St Pauli district. We decided to head to the ‘strip’ of Hamburg, Reeperbahn, but after two minutes in this neon light nightmare we hit the side streets and found the lovely skyline bar 20 Up @ Empire Riverside Hotel.
After a tasty glass of Malbec the staff pointed us in direction of Blocbrau for a dinner of Schnitzel, Herring and in-house brewed beer plus the bonus of live music.
We got thrown out a closing time so jumped on the subway back to the hotel bar for another drink before bed, and tried to find out about the festival we came across earlier in the day but to no avail.
The start of Sunday what somewhat lazy as we just couldn’t get our lazy butts out of bed before 10am but once we did we headed towards Lange Reihe again for breakfast. Both being big fans of brunch we tried to look for something along this trend, however I’m not quite sure Hamburg does brunch just yet (they totally should) so we opted for breakfast baps again along with coffee at Stadt Bäckerei.
Our tickets for Miniatur Wunderland were valid for entry between for 1230 and 1330 so post breakfast we head back to Speicherstadt and work our way round what can only be described as one of the most fascinating museums I have ever been to. The pictures below won’t do it justice but it is a start at least…
A quick bratwurst and a shandy later we speedily walked back to the hotel, picked up our bags, said our goodbyes and I jumped on a train to airport.
All in all a wonderful weekend of food, drink, attractions and catch ups. Germany did not disappoint in the slightest and I’ve already started planning a German train/road trip in my head already – shhhh don’t tell CLB!