With three days to explore a world of culinary delights and top sightseeing spots in Hamburg I couldn’t wait to get off the plane! I’d travelled with KLM from Leeds/Bradford connecting via Amsterdam and with direct flights available from both London and Manchester, the city is easy to reach for a short break from all parts of the UK.
My flight had arrived late evening so I spent my first night at Motel One conveniently situated just a 15 minute walk from the terminal building. It was my first time staying in a Motel One and I was suitably impressed. Don’t be put off with the name ‘motel’ as this Munich based budget design hotel group offers stylish interiors at affordable prices. Soon after checking in, I was settling in to my comfortable room for a good night’s sleep looking forward to the day ahead.
Waking up early, I tucked into the tasty breakfast buffet laid out in the lobby bar. Suitably refreshed, I collected my luggage and reached Jungfernstieg by U-Bahn in the heart the city in just 25 minutes. Walking up the subway steps out onto the grand promenade on the banks of the Alster, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it all was.
It felt as if I had been transported to Venice seeing the gleaming, white colonnades along the water’s edge. With elegant designer stores and inviting bars and restaurants I enjoyed my morning stroll.
Slightly further on, I came to the Mellin Passage, the oldest of Hamburg’s arcades and with its exquisite art-nouveau frescoes and stained glass it’s undoubtedly the most beautiful.
11.00 a.m. was fast approaching and time for the first of the day’s Alster boat trips starting from Jungfernstein (€18 for a one hour trip). There was a live commentary in German but I didn’t miss out as I was able to listen in English by scanning a QR code on my phone.
The lake cruise was very enjoyable as it was lovely to view the city from the perspective of the water. From the commentary, we learnt that the Alster was originally only a small river that flowed into the larger Elbe that was later damned to form a lake.
The cruise took us across the inner Alster and through the picturesque Lombardsbrûcke bridge which separates the inner and outer Alsters. The inner part of the lake is lined with imposing buildings and grand hotels whilst charming villas and parks surround the outer.
Towards the end of the cruise we passed through a narrow canal edged with desirable properties and large gardens sloping down to the water’s edge. If you have time, I’d recommend taking one of these boat trips as they offer good value for money and pre-booking is not required.
For lunch, I opted for a fish sandwich as I’d read that these freshly caught delicacies in rolls have long been the most popular snack in the city’s culinary heritage. I hopped back on the U-Bahn for the ten minute journey to Landungsbrücken in search for Brücke 10, a Hamburg institution.
The small cafe was easy to spot along the waterfront as it had a lengthy queue waiting to be served. Thankfully, the queue moved fast and I only had to wait a few minutes until it was my turn.
The selection included herring, mackerel, prawn and crab and my chosen peppered mackerel in a freshly baked crusty roll was delicious, washed down with a glass of local beer. Good value too as it all came to just under €10.
Refuelled, I headed to the Scandic Hamburg Emporio to check-in to my home for the next three nights. This large hotel lies only a ten minute walk from the Alster lake and I was soon taking the lift up to my Superior Plus room on the 8th floor. The lift was an experience in itself as it’s walls transform from deep blue in the basement, gradually lightening to the palest of blues on the top floor, imitating the depth of the ocean.
Rooms on the 7th and 8th floors are designated art rooms with works by various artists. I was booked into 811, with the wall above the bed adorned by the works of Clueso (more details on my art room can be found here.)
With a double height ceiling and floor to ceiling windows boasting spectacular city views, the room was light and airy. Alongside an extremely comfortable bed there was a complimentary minbar stocked with wine, beer, soft drinks, snacks and water. Not only that, but guests in this type of room get access to the ‘Living Room’ a business style lounge with even more complimentary drinks and snacks.
The hotel and its facilities were lovely but there was so much of Hamburg I wanted to see so I popped on my coat and made my first stop of the afternoon at the Coffee Museum Burg.(Standard entrance €5).
I’m a coffee lover so there was no way I going to miss a chance of visiting this unique museum as it’s located in the heart of Speicherstadt. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this district is the best known symbol of the maritime history of the Hanseatic city of Hamburg.
It was in these warehouses that coffee, tea and spices were originally stored. On entering the building, we were greeted by the aroma of freshly ground coffee setting the scene for our guided tour. Here we learnt about the cultivation, trade and roasting of coffee beans using old roasting equipment still in use today.
On display is a large collection of coffee related memorabilia from cups to pots and canisters of varying shapes and size. Cafetières, pour over filters, espresso, siphon and percolators were all on display together with the history of the famous German Melitta brand of coffeemakers and filter papers.
After our interesting tour, we popped into the museum cafe for cups of their freshly ground coffee along with a selection of freshly baked Franzbrötchen pastries. The coffee was very flavoursome and the local pastries delicious too!
This set us up nicely for an early evening guided walking tour of the Speicherstadt district which sits next to the modern, gleaming Hafen City. It was both an architectural and culinary treat as we made stops at Foodlab, a must-visit working space for foodies, start-ups and anyone involved in the food scene.
Here we had a tour of the co-working kitchen where we watched chefs at work and of the pop-up restaurant where upcoming restaurants can experiment and offer their menus to the public. I thought this was such a splendid idea with first rate facilities and if a pop-up event had been taking place during our stay, I would have been keen to experience it.
Our culinary tour of the district then led us to Hobenköök, a combined market hall and restaurant offering seasonal delights from around Hamburg. Top chef Thomas Sampi and his team offer culinary delicacies to be enjoyed from both the market stalls and restaurant. We enjoyed tastings of local cheese and wine in the convivial atmosphere of the hall before heading off to dinner with a difference close by.
We were so excited to be concluding our evening culinary walk with a dining experience at 100/200 Kitchen at the Elbbrücken. This two star Michelin restaurant is located on the third floor of an unassuming building and furnished in industrial chic style.
We were seated in the upper gallery where we had splendid views down onto the large open-style kitchen. The restaurant takes its name from a Molteni oven set to either 100 or 200 degrees centigrade and it’s on there that the chefs create their imaginative dishes.
With no actual menu, diners are served dishes linked to the seasons utilising the freshest produce locally available. Not quite knowing what to expect, dining at 100/200 was a feast for our senses from mouth-watering lobster through to a Brussels sprout and pumpkin tart for dessert.
It’s very different from other Michelin restaurants I’ve dined it with its casual vibe and relaxed atmosphere but it works well in the industrial surroundings. The perfect end to my first day in lovely Hamburg.
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