Windy and wet is a good way of describing Hamburg. However, the banks of the Außenalster are a perfect place to spend a sunny day admiring the swans, sail boats, and beautiful villas. Few places are more astonishing than the wharfs when there's an autumn storm: waves, trawlers, huge cargo ships... Hamburg is truly a northern city. It boasts more bridges than Venice and its port district is brand new, complete with beach clubs, superb museums, captivating theatres, upmarket restaurants, and numerous shopping streets.
The residents of Hamburg call it the 'prettiest shopping street in the word'. It may be a bit of an overstatement, but this recently renovated district is nonetheless quite surprising: pedestrian streets have replaced the car-crammed roads, but sadly, there are still a few too many shops in the neighbourhood. In summer, street parties are the norm. Don't forget to visit Cafe Alex in Alsterpavillon. Formerly a haunt for the intellectual elite, it has now become popular with the suburban population visiting the city centre. The view from the terrace remains as impressive as always though!
The Kunsthalle is one of Germany's biggest museums. It gives visitors the opportunity to admire the work of old masters, such as the 'Wandelaltar' by Bertram von Minder (Meister Bertram), as well as modern classics, including major works by Max Liebermann, Pablo Picasso, and Emil Nolde. Meanwhile, in the 'Galerie der Gegenwart', a cube-shaped building designed by Oswald Mathias Ungers, you'll find work by Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons, and Georg Baselitz. The 'Hubertus-Wald-Forum' houses smaller, temporary exhibitions.
To think about
There are car parks close to the Elbufer, such as the one near the fish market or in the Övelgönne neighbourhood, which is covered and seems perfectly safe. However, the water level can rise rapidly and without warning, and the police don't always arrive in enough time to tow your car away to safety. So don't leave it unattended for too long and follow the safety warnings!
Pedestrians, watch out! Cyclists take great pleasure in zooming past unsuspecting pedestrians without a word of warning. Comments: In Hamburg, adult cyclists are also allowed to cycle on the pavement and do so freely without paying much attention to pedestrians. Drivers too should be careful, as cyclists are allowed to use one-way streets to go both ways.
The Kowalke family's restaurant is so popular amongst the local in-crowd that Rüdiger, the chef, has himself become somewhat of a local celebrity. More to the point though, the fish here is excellent. Ask for a table by the window and arrive by ferry, operated by the Hadag-Fähre 62 company (Dockland).
To bring back
The recently renovated Malzfabrik, located at the fish market (Fischmarkt), holds seven floors of designer boutiques. It's an incredible place to spend a rainy day, where you can buy everything from an Alessi coffee pot to a lamp by local designer Tobias Grau. On weekends and exhibition days, the child care centre is free.