Hamburg Hop

Saturday: a smooth journey to the airport (Central Trains on time for once), easy check-in and on-time flight to Lübeck. I nearly missed the Hamburg bus at Lübeck because there was no sight of my bag on the carousel. Finally I did a circuit and spied it in the center of the carousel, abandoned and unloved having been knocked off by a big bruiser of a suitcase, no douBt. Risking Teutonic wrath, I hopped over the belt and back again to effect a rescue, and was about third last onto the bus.

The Novum Hotel was easy to find, just 5 minutes from the ZOB, and right in one of the red light districts. The hotel was very respectable, though, with 24 hour reception and video entryphone for the front door. My single was just off reception, and was modern and clean and comfortable – and basic! I dropped my things and went off to find Baumann’s Bierbar for a plate of Gruenkohl groaning with smoked sausage and ham and 0.4 litre of local Pilsner. I thought I should make the most of my first night so took the S-Bahn to Reeperbahn and strolled (well dashed – it was bitterly bitterly cold all weekend) along the eponymous street to St Pauli. Um, yes. Well the hookers dragging at my coat merely increased the rate of my dash! Neon signs, hookers, freezing cold. Reeperbahn done.

There followed the first of two broken, sweaty, horrible nights as my cold broke with a fever. I think I shoud probably have stayed at home. 🙁

Determined to make the most of it, on Sunday after a late breakfast (a decent German buffet) I wandered through the Christmas markets to the Rathaus. All very pretty, and at least 50% of the stalls were selling seasonal foodstuffs for consumption on the spot or over the festive season. But the stuff on the remaining stalls really didn’t get my juices flowing, not that I’m very good at shopping to start with.

Next stop the photography musem, Deichtorhallen – Haus der Photographie where the main attraction was a great exhibition of works and writings by Hubert Fichte and photographs by Leonore Mau. A side exhibition of portraits by Barbara Klem, including wonderful black-and-white shots of Simone de Beauvoir, Andy Warhol, Madonna, Simon Rattle and Alfred Hitchcock amongst many others, was also very good.

I took lunch in the very smart Fillet of Soul café / restaurant attached to the museum, plumping for Schwarzwurzelsuppe after establishing that Schwarzwurzel is something like dirty asparagus! I now discover that the English translation is black salsify – I don’t know if that helps!

Back to the hotel for a rest, before sampling the delights of the Dragon Sauna, details omitted! Finally a reasonable Italian Dinner before a ridiculously early bedtime, which didn’t do me as much good as I hoped since I was so restless.

Monday: A free harbour tour by hopping on and of the river busses, included in my Hamburg Card. The port is really busy, with barges, container ships small and large, and floating dry docks directly opposite the Landungsbrücken. En route to lunch I passed the St Nikolai Spire, Hamburg’s equivalent of Coventry’s old cathedral. Very stark and moving in the winter light. For lunch I found the Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht, and had a lovely glass of dark beer to accompany a plate of grünkohl with much better sausage and gammon than Saturday’s.

A little more shopping completed my Hamburg highlights before taking the train to Lübeck for a half hour. The city looks worthy of more attention than I could give it, but at least I had time to buy some marzipan before taking the bus out to the airport. Which is basic. The staff at the bar in the waiting lounge were having an argument about the float, and managed to cash up about four times without acknowledging the presence of a single customer. Sigh. Ah well, it was soon be time to board my flight home. As usual I missed a train at Stansted by the skin of my teeth, especially annoying as I would have caught it if I’d made the right choice (instead of the left one) and taken the escalators rather than the ramp!

1 Comment »

  1. Graham Said,

    December 2, 2005 @ 2:41 pm

    It seems you had a very naughty weekend in my absence, what with your cold and runnig through freezing hamburg pursued by hookers. Hmm… I think I’ll need to keep a closer eye on you

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