Day 1. Our first look at Hamburg

After taking a connecting flight to Heathrow from Leeds/Bradford Airport, we had a second short BA flight into Hamburg.  I had not visited Germany for many years and it was to be my first visit to this northern city.   Transferring into the city centre was very easy as trains connect the airport with Hamburg Hof station.  Glancing at our map, we walked the short distance to our hotel, the Baseler Hof  standing proud on the Esplanade.  It’s a beautiful, old hotel with elegant furnishings and attentive staff.

After settling into our room, we found an attractive cafe for some lunch before heading out to explore the city.  It was an icy cold February afternoon but the sun was shining.  The main square is dominated by the majestic City Hall (Hamburg Rathaus), built between 1886 and 1897 with its impressive architecture it dominates the city centre.

Binnenalster, Hamburg
Nearby we came to the elegant Arkaden, a series of historic arcades inspired by Venetian architecture and lit in the fading afternoon light by ornate wrought iron lamps, its now the home to designer stores and exclusive retailers.  The pathway leads along canal paths where former warehouses have been renovated into stylish waterfront apartments.
We continued exploring the city centre and were impressed with its style and sophistication.    A beer hall was offering mulled wine so we stepped inside and warmed ourselves in front of a roaring fire with glasses of the warm liquor.   Filled with a warm glow we returned to our hotel along the Binnenalster, the smaller of the two artificial lakes formed from the River Alster.    After a rest in the hotel and pre dinner drinks it was off for dinner in a traditional ‘beer house’ a few streets away.  I felt compelled to try the local delicacy, a pork schnitzel which was so enormous I hardly knew where to begin!


Day 2. Exploring Hamburg

Breakfast at our hotel
Breakfast in our hotel was excellent, as well as the usual cooked dishes, fruit and pastries, a chef was on hand to prepare fresh waffles for us topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream.  I couldn’t resist the temptation of returning for more, as they tasted delicious, so a brisk walk was necessary to walk off these excesses.

The Maritime Museum
We strolled along the banks of the Alster until we reached the Maritime Museum.  This large museum is housed in a former rubber storage warehouse and is spread over 9 floors.  There’s something for everyone with an interest in sailing, ships and history but with so many galleries to view, we selected just a few of those that interested us the most.  The district along the canal side here has been regenerated in recent years with stylish apartments some in refurbished warehouses and others new build.

Europa Passage Mall
Hamburg has been a major European port for more than 800 years and we enjoyed a pleasant stroll watching ships sail close to the shore and on the quayside viewing huge container ships unloading their cargo.  Overlooking the port there are several bars and cafes so we had warming mugs of hot chocolate to warm us on this icy morning.

Part of the afternoon was spent in Stadt Park , a large urban park with walking trails, a small lake which was frozen and being used as an ice skating rink and a large beer garden / cafe.

Stadt Park
Before heading back to the hotel we looked in some of the stores, visiting the Europa Passage mall, Nivea Haus (a huge shop selling nothing but Nivea related products) and many smaller specialist stores.

Day 3. Our final day in Hamburg

Our hotel on The Esplanade
After being tempted to eating rather too many waffles for breakfast, a long walk seemed to be the answer so we headed to the lake front in the centre of town.  This is the Alster, the central point alongside the harbour pier and main shopping centre.  We had walked along here yesterday, so today we crossed the bridge dividing the two lakes to the smaller Aussenalster.  Away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre it’s much more tranquil here, but just as scenic.  We followed a 7km walking trail round the lake which took us about two hours, excluding a coffee stop at one of the many lakeside cafes along the way.

The Alster pier
On this icy cold February morning there were plenty of people about, keep fit enthusiasts jogging along, cyclists and families enjoying a Sunday morning stroll.   There were lovely views to be had both of the natural beauty of the lake and also of the Hamburg skyline with its famous spires and towers.  Our walk took us alongside beautiful old white villas and smart neighbourhoods, it was a perfect way to end our weekend in this German city.

The frozen Aussenalster
After returning to our hotel to collect our bags, we took the train back to the airport for our return flight back to London Heathrow airport.

For a short  European break,  Hamburg has lots to offer for both city and nature lovers.  It’s a very clean, safe city and is definitely worthy of a weekend away.

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