A Hamburger with all the trimmings

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April 13th 2017
Published: April 18th 2018
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Germany is a powerful nation for sure, and as if their economic standing is not strong enough, their manufacturing output is just another piece of evidence that pretty much all things German are usually built to last, and the Hanseatic city of Hamburg, Germany's second-largest urban zone, is evidence of this staying power. Established many moons ago as a port city, Hamburg is the hub of Germany's media and the country's premiermost harbour city, and perhaps owing no small debt to its history of overseas trade, is also Germany's wealthiest city per capita. Along with the main bulk of Germany's chief cities, the transportation network is so comprehensive that barely a single prominent node on a Hamburg city map is not within easy reach of either a tube station or an S-bahn station (overground faster urban train). Getting around the city is therefore a breeze, and the purchase of a Hamburg card will eradicate the need to keep paying for each individual journey, as much as provide a few welcome discounts on museum admissions. For my money, it is in the realm of museums in which Hamburg comes into its own, as this city scrapes higher echolons on the museum front, with an interactive hands-on approach to the nature of the museum in question's theme. To illustrate this point, consider the delights of the city's chocolate museum, Chocoversum, which allows visitors not only the privilege of a 90-minute long guided tour, but also the chance to create their very own bar of chocolate, as well as sampling sessions along the way, and the various stages which constitute the production of chocolate from cocoa bean to wrapped end product. Similarly, the worthwhile spice museum is an opportunity to come into contact with the whole range of spices in a kind of 'smell, feel and taste' kind of realm, and the range of spice-related goods for sale will ensure that your every spice-related personal need is catered for. A highly unique museum experience in Hamburg comes in the shape of a tour through the entire length of a moored Russian submarine (U-boot museum), where portholes, controls, wires, dials and internal mechanisms will surround you in such a way that only those who suffer from claustrophobia will object to. The pinnacle of Hamburg's museums, as far as popularity is concerned, is the majestic joy of a place known as 'Miniatur Wunderland', and holds the title of being the world's largest indoor model railway. To view this masterpiece is a privilege so joy-inflected that kids and adults alike appear to gape in awe at the extent and sheer attention to detail of the recreation of railways set in backdrops of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the USA. Shopping in Hamburg is fairly extensive, though gigantic malls are not the order of the day here, rather independent stores sewn together with malls on a smaller scale, and the occasional specialist store, of which the famed 'Nivea House' is a prime example. Nightlife appears to be well represented from the bars and clubs to the more culturally-skewed theatre and opera culture, and the buildings which host those shows are artistic statements within themselves. Perhaps the most iconic and highly-revered single building in Hamburg is the grandoise town hall which is flanked by a square and some waterside developments of note. A special mention also should go to the Chile House, an architectural gem of a place with a history attached to it which hints at the city's status as an open gateway for all manner of trade routes which brought prosperity into the city. The Reeperbahn might have shrugged off its dubious image of being too sleazy, and now comes across as a colourful and enjoyable place to stroll around, with the added significance of being the location of the Beatles groundbreaking run of consecutive concerts which put them on the musical map to begin with. Another district worth a look in is the Schanzen district, with a commendable selection of shops and eateries, and if you ever need to wind down, be sure to make for the city park known as 'Planten un Blomen', where nature reveals a few of its features to a satisfying extent. This was Hamburg, and it packed the kind of punch you might associate with a city with a pretty 'complete' identity about it - where business mixes with pleasure, and then some!


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