We had a whirlwind trip to Ohio for my best friend’s wedding, grabbed brunch with our families the next morning, and then caught our flight to Hamburg, Germany. Brian has an annual work conference there, and this time I was able to tag along.
It’s only the second time I’ve traveled with him for work and much like last time, I planned a ton to do by myself while he was busy at his conference.
This was my fourth time in Germany, but this was my first time in the Schleswig-Holstein region. I couldn’t wait to explore the cities in the northern part of the country.
We arrived in Hamburg early Sunday morning and dropped our bags off at our hotel since we were too early for check in. Afterward we set out to make the most of our first day in Hamburg.
Our first stop was the Fischmarkt, which is a Sunday morning market along the Elbe river. I originally thought it was as its name suggests– a fish market– but it’s actually a very large market with vendors selling everything from fish to produce to goods to candy to coffee. It was incredibly busy and challenging to make our way through the packed corridors as we wound our way through the open air portion of the market.
Although it was relatively early in the morning, we were thrown off by the time change and ready to eat something substantial. We decided to try the fischbroetchen, which is a herring sandwich with onions, pickles and a white sauce, as well as a fried fish sandwich. (I preferred the fried fish sandwich.) We stood along the water and shared both of them before continuing along the stalls to a beautiful brick building on the water.
There was live music pouring out of the building and when we went inside, we were surprised to see the place completely alive with people! There was a band performing at one end of the building up on a stage, and the rest was an open beer garden–people eating, drinking, talking and singing and dancing along with the rock music– all at about 9-10 a.m.!
We stayed to listen for a while–the band was quite good–and then made our way outside to see the building from one of the piers. It was refreshing to step away from the crowds so we decided to move on from the market and explore some of the other buildings along the Elbe.
Brian had walked along the water during his last trip to this particular conference and pointed out some of the restaurants he had visited as we made our way along the water.
There are piers running all along the bank, known as the St. Pauli Landungsbrucken, which are full of restaurants, shops and places to secure boat tours. The tour boats we lined up along the inside of the piers and ranged in size and shape, depending on whether you wanted to explore the Alster canals or the whole port.
I popped in the Hard Rock to get my new pin, and then we wandered around until we found the entrance to the St. Pauli Elbtunnel. This pedestrian tunnel opened in 1911 and allowed workers to get from one bank to the other. The number of workers had gotten to the point that they overwhelmed the ferry services, and the employers were tired of their workers not arriving at work when the weather shut down the ferry services altogether. It was the first tunnel of its kind on the continent and is still used daily for foot and bicycle traffic.
There are large lifts as well as spiraling stairs to get down to the tunnel itself from the beautiful rotunda along the north bank of the Elbe. The tunnel runs 80 feet under the water and about 1,400 feet across the river to the Steinwerder district. We set out on foot, admiring the artwork along the walls on our way.
The sky was still gray and cloudy, but we had nice views across to the skyline along the bank we had just departed.
After sitting on a bench and admiring the view for a while, we journeyed back across the tunnel to continue making our way east along the river. We turned inland and headed toward an open park area stretching out before the Church of St. Michael.
There were people walking about and families playing in the grass as we made our way to the church, which was already buzzing with tourists, including a group that had just exited a large bus. We hustled to the entrance and purchased our tickets to go inside.
Although it feels old, the church is relatively new– built in the early 1900s. The first two churches built on the site were each destroyed.
It was beautiful and so clean and white inside–I couldn’t think of another church we’ve visited that was similar. There were three pipe organs in the nave, and we stood for a while just looking up and around.
We were also able to climb up in the tower for incredible views of Hamburg. The clock tower is one of the tallest buildings in Hamburg’s city center and you can see it from most places in all directions (notice you can see it clearly in the last picture I posted from when we were across the Elbe Tunnel!).
The weather started to clear and we could actually see quite a ways toward the water and north toward our hotel.
Our lack of sleep was really taking hold as we left the church, but I wanted to power through the early afternoon, making the most of our time until we were able to check-in at our hotel.
We walked toward the Speicherstadt, which is a 100+ year old warehouse district dissected by the Alster canals, and crossed over one of the many bridges as we headed toward the beautiful red brick buildings.
We had great views of the river, elevated metro and skyline along the northern shore and found a little cafe near the water to grab lunch– currywurst and frites for me with a delicious banana-flavored Hefeweizen! We ate and drank slowly, trying to keep each other awake and watching all of the people passing by.
Our last stop of the day was the nearby Miniatur Wunderland museum, which was incredible. It’s worthy of its own blog post.
It was a full day of exploring on very little sleep, but we were so happy to have arrived in one piece and to begin our week-long adventure in Schleswig-Holstein.