HAMBURG HIGHLIGHTS

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Day 2 in Hamburg.  Another 17 miles walked today, since you ask.

I’m sure I’d have had more fun in the Reeperbahn on my own.  You know, exploring rustic old pubs and hunting down rare beers like Holsten.

But on the Monday we had to do the family thing of trudging round the centre in the pouring rain.  Hamburg really is like a giant Macclesfield when it comes to weather. At least the streets are clean, and noticeably lacking in the dog mess that blights many Northern European cities.

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Mrs RM and her sore foot were less than impressed by my frequent stops to take photos of 1980s Brazilians. Or perhaps a 5th Century BC Greek.

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But this is no Berlin, lacking street art and much sign of independent enterprise around the Rathaus.  That would come later in Sternschanze.

By the time the slowcoaches had got out of the Metro station it was time for lunch. After trying, unsuccessfully, to nab some free food from the food courts at the Kaisergaleries, like you can at Selfridges, we settled for the inevitable new-build brewpub by the canal.

If you’ve been to a brewpub in Berlin or Dortmund or Leipzig you’ll recognise the Jo. Albrecht format; shiny brewing vessels and all tables set for schnitzel eating.

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Another unfiltered Pale for me, a frankly wondrous “Craft Beer” for Mrs RM, who declared it “like Brew Dog“. 90% of beers are “like Brew Dog” to Mrs RM.

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She’d have had a second beer, but you know how hard it is getting a beer when you’re not allowed to go up to the bar in a German pub. No complaints about quality or value here, though. Or anywhere in Hamburg.

Oddly, Mrs RM skipped the climb the 544 steps to the top of St Peter’s for views like this;

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Less stretching than Cologne, harder than Ulm,  it’s a calf stretcher for the ages. The pre-war graffiti is just as compelling, one visitor seeming to make trips up the tower 40 years apart.

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Back down in the nave, a cheery Church official told me how much he enjoyed Cambridge when he visited in 1981 (when it was all Greene King and Tolly, I nearly ventured).  I told him how much we enjoyed his pubs and sausages, which may have lost something in the translation but made him smile.

Central Hamburg is fairly unexceptional in the rain, dampening the appeal of the giant lakes and parks.  The Chilehaus is an extraordinary piece of 1920s Expressionism though, Hamburg’s answer to Berlin’s Hackesche Höfe.

Pretty much devoid of pubs, too. The few drinking spaces in the centre are (understandably) fairly modern bars like the Marinhof.

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I was drawn in by the Augustiner, which hadn’t travelled well but was cold.

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I got the sense that folk come in to the centre to work, and go home to their suburbs to drink (mainly in pizzerias).  There’s certainly no central strip to match Dusseldorf or Cologne here.

The star attraction for me was the area of urban regeneration labelled Hafen City, which will appeal to fans of the newer City of London and abstract art.

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The walk down Deichstrasse to the redeveloped Port is as good as old Hamburg gets, a string of authentic looking restaurants reminiscent of Narrow Street in Limehouse.

Which leads you to the absolute Hamburg Highlight. Minatur Wunderland. It’s a model railway.

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Acknowledgement – Adventures.com

Which is like saying that Scafell is a hill.  I’m no railway fan, but this was an extraordinary immersive experience, a miniature world that shocked you with the level of detail as day turns to night.  Look out for Area 51. An absolute must.

Elsewhere, I found superb coffee at £2 (and a euro at McDonalds) in a number of good cafes, providing some relief after Denmark.

We tipped up in Hamburg the day Donald left.  I never noticed the riots until we walked down the smart residential streets from Reeperbahn back to Altona.

Unless it was street art. You never know these days.

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