Let’s face it: the idea of visiting Hamburg in January is a bit cheeky and reckless.
But it was for a good cause: a meet-me-at-halfway weekend.
As part of my 2012 resolution I’ve asked myself to travel more, at least once per month around Europe, and to try to improve my working and social life ( still in progress, but I do see potential).
Oh, I’ve also asked myself to follow my heart.
So that’s the reference frame that brought me a frozen Friday night to Hamburg.
Two days are not enough to visit and enjoy a city, but quite enough to bite its personality, especially if, like Hamburg, it’s a Northern city in Winter: grey, hostile, suggestive.
Like Berlin, it is mostly reconstructed: from a big fire first, from the bombs during War after. I could feel how the city is now structured in many cubes-palaces along the city center. But it’s a city that keeps alive the pride of have being a resilient independent trade center: warehouses are immense and everywhere. Red bricks. Red bricks. Red bricks and ice that January.
The District along the canals and the harbour is fascinating, especially on a cold Saturday morning, because you can see the extension of those buildings and imagine how only one hundred years ago they were full of goods, ready to be dispatched across Germany and more. I recommend to visit “Warehouse District Coffee Roasters” because it’s a nice, warm, a bit touristy but crowded by citizens too, cafe’-patisserie where you can enjoy a drink or buy the coffee beans they import and roast directly there. And the place smells damn good too.
Not far away from the Warehouse district there is the modern neighbour of HafenCity, that with the snow and ice around us, maybe especially because of it, reminded me of a Scandinavian district, where every house is a high quality unique piece of design more than architecture. It’s a fascinating place, especially if you take a walk along the river in a misty fog. The silence there can be unbearable, same feeling I sometimes experience in Scandinavia.
I highly suggest to walk along the harbour on Sunday, meeting for every average family there, and breath the festive atmosphere. The path I walked was completely iced (mysteriously slippery where you thought it was safe) but it’s nice to see all those different boats hit and go the surface, the shops where there are take away food and postcard that shows a sunny summery Hamburg. Not far away there’s the fish market, that on Sunday early morning becomes the most hipster place in town, so trendy I barely listen to the clock alarm and stayed in bed to sleep. Sorry, my bad, next time I will head there, promise.
I might say I enjoyed that weekend, bar the bloody cold spitting-snow weather. Yes in Summer it would be maybe more enjoyable, but events are the protagonists of our days and we suck the best from them. At least, we try to.
The city itself is honest with you: it can give an idea of a German city, with a district for nightlife full of clubs and legal prostitution, a district with a remake of the golden ages, a modern area, a commercial one (strictly closed in the evening and Sundays) and a charismatic Football Stadium. I went to watch St. Pauli, the underdog ( reputed by every supporters across the globe) football team: if you like football, go there, to experience the family experience pack, where there are lots of kids screaming for the team and the food is tasty.
YES! A holy communion of goods made by the spirit of football. Amen. Auf geht’s.