When studying German in high school, we were told that the dialect we were learning was “high German”, referring to the speaking style of the north, specifically Hamburg. It is fascinating to discover how much variety of dialect exists in this ancient language. But Hamburg was the city where I had the easiest time understanding what was said around me thereafter.
My first visit to Hamburg was on business, as the city is similar in stature among German publishers as New York is for the United States. My first visit inspired me to return at a later date to savor the city’s culture from a tourist’s perspective.
Hamburg rivals Berlin in terms of museums even though it has a smaller population than the capital. Also, because of the relative density of Hamburg’s downtown district, it feels like a larger city than it is as well. The city center is clustered around a massive town hall that includes a restaurant. (It is customary in many German towns that there is a rathskeller or pub in the town halls!)
What I found charming about the history of Hamburg was streets named for historic places, like a bridge built by an old mill from hundreds of years before, preserved the presence of that history with the street name and a placard to explain the significance of the place.
Being one of the largest ports in Germany of course makes it a fantastic spectacle when the seafood market opens in the early mornings shouting out bids for their fresh catch among the din of a thronged market of passers-by.
Near the port is a large series of inlets lined with tall brick buildings house the warehouse district called Speicherstadt. Here is where the opulent new opera house stands imposingly on the banks of the Elbe river.
One of the tourist delights I’d recommend, beyond its amazing art museums, is the miniature wonderland where artists recreate facsimile cities in miniature scale. This exhibit spans several floors of one of the port buildings. You can take a quick glimpse of some of the towns, which have easily recognizable landscape elements and buildings.
There is even a miniature Hamburg, where you can get a lay of the land before you set out on your hike across the city. A few tour pictures can be seen here or videos from the miniature world replete with working airport seen here.
If you are an enthusiast of anthropology, I highly recommend their MARKK museum of art and culture as well with an excellent array of masks, instruments and artifacts from Africa and Asia.
Follow @Leapingaround on Twitter: twitter.com/leapingaround
Follow Christopher on Pocket