You can’t travel all the time… You don’t have to. At least not if you live in Hamburg. To satisfy your wanderlust a subway ride or a few minutes by bike is usually enough. A „staycation“ in Hamburg is a fine thing, and an affordable one as well. No traffic jams, no flight delays. After all, there are plenty of places in Hamburg where holiday feelings are the order of the day. Here are my tips for the best inner city destinations…
TEXT & PHOTOS: SUSANNE KRIEG
On the Sundeck
Just sit down and enjoy, watch the ducks and rowers and do nothing else – except maybe have a cold beer and eat the best Flammkuchen you can find in Hamburg’s south… Where is the best place for this? If you ask me – it’s the beer garden „Zum Anleger“, which hides behind the Vogelhüttendeich at the Ernst-August Canal in Wilhelmsburg! PS: A canoe rental is also part of this deckchair paradise.
Hanami: The beauty of the blossoming cherry tree
Spring is the best time to travel to Japan. The fastest way leads to Hamburg’s city lake Alster, because from April on all the cherrie trees are blossoming like in the land of the rising sun. There are about 5000 pink beauties by now. Since 1968, the Japanese community has planted one for every Japanese living in Hamburg and organizes a cherry blossom festival every year in May to thank the city for its hospitality. The festival’s highlight is the most magnificent firework of the year. But even in the weeks before and after you should get some take-away Sushi and Sake and celebrate Hanami, the beauty of the cherry blossom – probably the greatest little time-out of the year.
Why Hamburg has a Scandinavian touch
If the German-Danish War had never occurred in 1864, the district of Altona would probably still be Denmark’s second largest city after Copenhagen. The border line can still be found today, for example, at Schulterblatt in the Sternschanze, where you see stones embedded in the ground with an „A“ (Altona = Danish and back then a foreign country) and „H“ (for Hamburg). In many places you will discover more traces of the Danish past: There is the secret path from the street Kleiner Schäferkamp to the stop of the U3, which is called „Dänenweg“; an old gravestone in the Wohlers Park (formerly a cemetery), with the words „Militair-Gravsted for den tidligere Danske Garnison i Altona“ written on it; the customs house with the Danish flag in Klopstockstraße; „Struenseestraße“, named after the secret lover of the Danish queen, who began his career as a doctor in Altona and is played in „A Royal Affair“ by Mads Mikkelsen:
But our Scandinavian heritage is most noticeable in the many, old, mostly smaller houses with colourful facades, predominantly found in Altona and Ottensen – which is why I sometimes feel like being on a city trip to Copenhagen – my second favourite city after Hamburg…
→ LOCATION: Altona / Ottensen I Google-Maps
Feet in the sand, beer in your hand…
… and the honking cruise ships in view! When you sit at the river Elbe in the evening, for example at the Strandperle Bar, you sometimes ask yourself who is more to be envied – the cruise ship passengers waving graciously from their balconies as their ship glides through the Elbe to set sail for Spitsbergen or across the Atlantic? Or the Hamburgers sitting by the water with a beer, politely waving back… The answer is clear. Who needs a cramped cabin on a – sorry – floating silo when you can also sit on the fine sandy beaches of Övelgönne, one of Hamburg’s prettiest parts?
→ LOCATION: Elbe Beach I Google Maps
42 meters high, red and white stripes (uh, before the sprayers arrived), a white steel lantern house: so it stands at the river Elbe, the Blankenese lighthouse. For me, lighthouses have always been the epitome of holidays by the sea. Luckily, as a local Hamburger I don’t have to travel to any coast to see them. I simply get on my bike and drive a few kilometres out to Blankenese to receive some holiday signals…
→ LOCATION: Strandweg I Google Maps
Those summers of your youth…
The smell of sunscreen, fries and sausage is in the air. The clattering of ping pong balls on the table, occasionally loud splashing and yelling from a catapult ass-bomb slide. The outdoor swimming pool in Finkenwerder reminds me of the pools I went to in my childhood. The only thing I didn’t get at my village was a view of big ships passing by… Today I have exactly this at a public pool on the banks of the river Elbe in Finkenwerder. You wan’t find SPA luxury here – why this outdoor pool is perhaps not as crowded as, say, the Kaifu in Eimsbüttel (a disctrict in the centre). Another important advantage: You don’t have to compete with all the well-trained astral bodies and instagram models in mini bikinis. Everything here is pleasantly unpretentious. The short ferry trip from Landungsbrücken to Finkenwerder (from where it is just a stone’s throw to the pool) will lready put you into the right holiday mood …
The Carribean of St. Pauli
Up on the Pinnasberg, artists have created an alternative Caribbean dream for Hamburg. The art and socio-political project in St. Pauli’s Antonipark was realized in summer 2005 after a long tug-of-war. With its plastic palm trees and undulating lawns, „Park Fiction“ has since become an urban recreational destination where you can watch ships, cranes and basketball players. And someone will always bring along a ghetto blaster for the right soundtrack..
And if it should be a little cruise, I recommend Frau Hedi’s Tanzkaffee. What sounds like filter coffee and cream cake is the exact opposite. When this barge leaves the ponton, it’s great fun: disco balls glitter, beer is ready and happy crazy people dance to loud music from bad loudspeakers. Sixties Soul, Hula Punk, Serbian brass music, Finnish Tango, Gypsy Swing, Latin Helicopter Soul or Shoegazer Pop – this is the sound to which the Hedi (and sometimes her sister ship Claudia) sails through the harbour of Hamburg, past dry docks, cranes, tankers, and Elbphilharmonie. By the time the diesel dust hits your nose, you hold on to your drink and the only thought passing through your head is: Well, sometimes the good is just damn near!