Hamburg, Lübeck, and the Ostsee!
by Heidi Obermeyer
Moin moin! Or “Good Morning” from Northern Germany. I’ve still got a bit more to post about the Paris trip, but I decided it was time for a break from all that Frenchy stuff in order to talk about the trip I took up to Hamburg with Erik to see some of our German relatives. I had visited them before in the summer of 2009 and had a wonderful time, so I was really excited to get back to Hamburg and Northern Germany for a change from Bavaria. Hamburg is a serious port city and has a much more international and modern feel than Munich. It’s more industrial, but in a successful and not overwhelming way- there’s a lot of money in the city and it’s been put to good use in numerous gorgeous examples of more modern German architecture and design. Hamburg is quite close to Denmark, and getting to Scandinavia and the U.K. is really easy from the city too, giving it a very international feel and a Scandinavian influence that sometimes exposes itself unexpectedly.
We had amazing weather for the majority of the weekend, and even on the slightly cloudy day that we went to the Ostsee and Lübeck everything cleared up in the end. Here’s a picture from the shore of the Elbe river where we got ice cream one day:
It’s cool how these huge cranes and shipping containers are all over the place, but it somehow doesn’t feel as grimey as you would expect. I love that Hamburg has some hip areas very remeniscent of parts of Berlin with lots of graffiti, local shops, interesting food, and flea markets (which we visited the Saturday that we were there), which Munich is sorely lacking. Sometimes a city needs a little bit of grunge to be interesting! Here’s the Hamburg Rathaus, which is quite beautiful and a nice example of the more port-like feel that many buildings in Hamburg have.
We went to dinner one night in the part of the city where there’s still a few rows of the really old houses that used to be quite common along the water. There’s all kinds of interesting bridges and neat little waterways everywhere! According to Wikipedia, there’s more bridges and waterways here than even Venice or Amsterdam! See kids? Germany always wins.
This is one row of waterfront buildings that is still preserved and lookin’ good. It’s quite interesting to just wander this area and check out the buildings as you cross bridge after bridge.
Here’s another picturesque view in a side street near the same old buildings pictured above…
We also walked by Saint Nicholas’ Church, which was bombed to smithereens during World War II. The people of Hamburg decided to leave the ruins as a memorial to the tragedy of war. The church was even the tallest building in the world for a brief period in the late 1800’s. It’s incredible to visit sites around Germany and see the scope of the destruction from all that bombing. This photo doesn’t really do the site justice, but here you can see the tallest part of the church, which remains standing, and where the more building-like part once stood.
This time around I was in Hamburg for a Sunday, which meant I had the opportunity to go to the Hamburger Fischmarkt! The Fischmarkt (or Fish Market) started out as all the fishermen selling their catches super early in the morning along the Elbe, but has since evolved into a ton of different booths selling all sorts of stuff, including candy, fruit baskets, and flowers for 10-20 euros. The guys running these trucks are absolutely hilarious to watch, and they put together everything in front of you while yelling out information about their wares, which is usually pretty funny. Example at the fruit stand: “Echte Deutsche Apfeln aus Holland!”, or “Real German apples from Holland!” It’s definitely good for a chuckle and you can get some great deals. The only part of the Fischmarkt that hasn’t changed since the old days of seafood selling is that the market starts and ends EARLY- vendors are told to close up shop at 9:30 am! That means that you need to arrive early (everything opens up at about 5 am if you’re interested) in order to have time to wander around. Understandably, only my aunt and I were up for the crack-of-dawn wake-up call, which was totally worth it. I loved it! Here’s a picture of a Dutch flower vendor:
After we got back from the Fischmarkt, it was time for a day trip! It’s so nice to have access to a car- even though public transportation in Germany is excellent, there’s just some stuff that’s much easier with an automobile. I had never been up to the extreme North in Germany to the Baltic or North Seas, so we decided to head up to the Ostsee (Baltic Sea in English) for the day. It was sunny, clear, and pretty empty since most of the crowds usually come to hang out on the beach in summer. What a beautiful place!
It’s so pleasant to just be able to get outside and walk for a while, and it was nice to be on a beach again for the first time since I was in North Carolina last summer, even if there wasn’t going to be any swimming. The water was really calm (and therefore clear) so the colors were amazing.
Here’s a pretty funny picture of Erik and I hanging out on the boardwalk that we walked to:
For lunch we went to a dock area and had some amazingly fresh fried fish with Kartoffelsalat (or potato salad) for lunch. It was a huge serving and absolutely delicious, which the seagulls who were hanging out waiting for leftovers certainly must have known.
This was a legitimate little fishing port, so there were some old fishermen coming in and a bunch little huts spread all around the mini harbor selling the day’s catch.
From our stop at the Ostsee we continued onto Lübeck, a medium-sized port town with a solid number of surviving medeval buildings. Lübeck is also the home of Niederegger Mazipan, which is the marzipan you’ve probably eaten if you’ve ever bought nice marizpan before in the States or in Germany. We saw all kinds of stuff made out of marzipan (including a variety of fruits, an eel, and the bust of the company’s founder) and got the chance to get some treats too! Walking around the city was really interesting and there were a ton of cool architectural details all over the place.
It’s really fun to note the differences in churches between Northern Germany and Bavaria/Austria. The North tends to be much more geometric and pointy. Hehe!
We also went into Saint Mary’s cathedral, a Gothic church built mostly from brick. Construction started in the 1200’s, and today the chuch has a really whimsical look as some of the enormous brick support structures have a slight curvature to them.
It’s pretty amazing to go into these buildings and think about how many people have passed through those doors before you over the course of hundreds of years! I like the more simple decor in Gothic churches versus the sometimes overly elaborate Baroque style that you see in many of the churches in Munich.
Just another view of the brick columns in the church:
I thoroughly enjoyed our time in Hamburg. Northern Germany has a lot to offer, and Hamburg in particular is a really wonderful city with friendly people and interesting stuff to visit! It’s Germany with a splash of international influence, without the overwhelming and sometimes dreary sprawl that you get in Berlin. I always have a wonderful time there and definitely recommend it if you’d like a taste of more modern Germany.