Ok, so I didn't actually have a hamburger in Hamburg. I did however (have insane truffle fries), enjoy the city a whole lot more than I was anticipating.
Germany is one of those countries I have always intended to explore more, but it somehow lost out to Scandinavia and Italy every single time I went to plan a trip (really. can you blame a girl)! Then I decided to leave London to move back to Australia... so like any (in)sane person, I went and filled up my last two months living in Europe with 5 trips, because obviously I'll never be able to visit Europe again, ha!
Hamburg is not the most obvious choice when you think your time in Europe is up, but the Elbphilharmonie had only recently opened and like the archinerd I am, I was desperate to see it. When you're an archinerd, it can be difficult to find a suitable travel companion... Weirdly, not everyone wants to stare at a building for hours on end, discussing the finer details, construction methods, and whether or not it was delivered on time and on budget! Luckily for me, I found a kindred spirit in an old uni friend (somewhat unlucky for her, now that I live in Melbourne, sorry Ange).
I went to Hamburg to see a building (crazy, I know) and ended up being charmed by HH, despite almost freezing my face off. The city has a Scandi vibe to it, due to its proximity, which is probably why I loved it so much. If you have any Hamburg tips or are heading there soon, I'd love to hear from you! L x
After a long love affair with Airbnb, I've recently become a boutique hotel convert, especially when the cost difference isn't always that much. Located a little bit out of the city, Gastwerk Hotel is a converted old gas plant with lovely loft style large rooms and a pretty brick facade. Oh and they give you turndown chocolates. I love chocolate (I'm eating chocolate as I write this).
ARCHITECTURE & SIGHTS
The Elbphilharmonie was delivered years late and way over budget, but the vision was carried through and it's a stunning piece of architecture. We went to Hamburg to see this building and it certainly did not disappoint. Designed by one of my favourite firms, Herzog and de Meuron, the original brick structure was a warehouse for cocoa beans (yes, chocolate) and the new wave topped glass structure is its perfect foil. I took so many photos (and spent so many hours looking around inside or at it ) that there'll be a separate architecture post up soon!
If you're planning to see a show in the main concert hall (I would HIGHLY recommend you do, regardless of the music programme) then book as far in advance as possible, as the tickets are in hot demand. If you don't manage to nab a ticket online, a handful of tickets are released on the day, 90 minutes or so before a show starts. You will need to queue at the ticket office (down the tunnel to the right of the main escalators) to get a number before hopefully being allocated a ticket. Be warned, there is no apparent logic to this queue, and no one really has any idea what is going on... but wait it out, it is well worth it.
Even if you don't see a show, the Elphilharmonie Plaza cannot be missed. Tickets to the Plaza are free, but if you're running a tight schedule, book your tickets in advance online for 2 Euro, as the timeslots book out. If you're an archinerd and like your photography sans people, daytime is your best bet and check the show times as it's quietest during a show.
If Herzog and de Meuron didn't get their inspiration for the Elphilharmonie's entry from the Elbtunnel then the similarities are scarily coincidental. The Old Elbe Tunnel or the St. Pauli Elbe Tunnel was an engineering marvel when it opened in 1911 and it's still pretty amazing today. Walk over from St. Pauli on the northern bank to the theatre precinct and if you don't feel like making the walk under the Elbe to get back, the ferry is super quick (literally, we almost lost our footing and phones overboard whilst trying to take photos on the upper deck!).
Being a port city, the Canals and Lake Alster are hard to miss. The canals around the Speicherstadt, the world's largest contiguous warehouse complex, literally stopped us in our tracks (even though we couldn't feel our hands from the cold and were desperate for a hot cup of coffee).
Sternschanze is an area that I wish we were able to explore more, with lots of interesting boutiques, bars, and restaurants. It shall have to wait for my next visit to Hamburg!
FOOD & DRINK
So much of our time in Hamburg was spent admiring the Elbphilharmonie and queuing up for tickets, that we didn't get to experience as much of the food as we would have liked. I've got you covered for coffee, breakfast, and snacks though!
Klippkroog was our first stop for brunch as it came highly recommended. It's a cute spot in Altona with various continental plates for breakfast... just don't be in a rush, because the service is on the slow side.
Finding good coffee is a non-negotiable and Milch Feinkost certainly delivers that, along with one of the cutest shopfronts ever. It's small and cosy, and if you're lucky, you'll get to share your table with some cute local puppies (and their friendly humans).
Nord Coast Coffee Roastery must be one of the busiest places for brunch in Hamburg on a weekend. The coffee is delicious and the waffles are a fan favourite. If you see a free table - POUNCE.
A fellow food lover friend of mine tipped me off to the truffle fries at Atelier F. Truffle and fried potato; how could I say no?! The perfect afternoon snack; grab a spot overlooking the canal so you can indulge in one of my favourite pastimes: people watching.
The area around the Jungfernstieg is the prime shopping district, and with Hamburg being one of the richest cities in Europe, there are lots of designer wares to be admired, if not purchased (fortunately for me, the ACNE jacket of my dreams was one size too big, otherwise I would have experienced a serious financial dilemma).
Uzwei is an "editorial store" in a similar mould to Colette or Dover Street Market, with creative visual merchandising and cleverly curated merchandise.