For the last day of the exhibition, we decided to skip the morning session, having fully explored the booths. Thus we opted for a slightly later breakfast of pastries from a bakery in Gansemarkt. I had normal butter croissant, while Dad had pain aux chocolate and a danish pastry for my mum. Coffee was Nespresso complimentary from the hotel as usual. Visitors do note that in Hamburg most shops (even the supermarkets) are closed on sundays. The luxury boutiques along Neuer Wall is no exception. Thus the streets are extremely quiet and it was then that we decided to explore the suburbs of Hamburg. The plan was to take a bus and just head to the last station before returning on the same bus. Growing up in Singapore means the notion that Singapore has one of the best public transport systems in the world. That was until I discovered the public transport in Hamburg. It seems that all the bus stops in Hamburg has lists of the destinations covered by each bus number. Services was also as regular as Singapore’s. The best thing was how comfortable it was to get on board the bus. Ample seating at both subway and bus meant comfort for all the passengers. One might argue that Hamburg has a much smaller population. That is true, but it just serves to show that Singapore’s public transport is far from first-world with its overcrowded buses and trains at peak hours. The population of Singapore is under-served by the public transport! What’s more interesting is the fact that prices of automobiles in Germany is less than half of what it costs in Singapore.
Anyway back to the main point of travelling to the suburbs of Hamburg. Our little trip takes us to the district of St. Pauli which in the day is a district like any other, but at night is filled with pubs and strip clubs which is to be expected for a liberal city like Hamburg. However. unlike many cities, residential areas in Hamburg seems vast and is covered by greens. The suburbs provides a great place to live for families and the quiet scenes is perhaps why I noticed a large proportion of senior citizens. We boarded bus number 3 from St. Pauli to head to Schenefelder Platz which is on the northwestern end of the city. For the return trip, we took a bus that dropped us off at Rathausmarkt since we figured it would be convenient to get a bite over there. Back at the Rathausmarkt, there are 2 small eateries selling currywurst and kebabs. We had kebabs in wraps for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the Binnenalster.
By mid-afternoon, we returned to the hotel and since my Dad had wanted to try the authentic German pork knuckles, I enquired from the conciergie of a Bavarian restaurant in the vicinity. As luck would have it, one of Munich’s famous restaurant Hofbräu-München has one branch along Esplanade which is a short walk from our hotel. For an Asian serving, one should order one set of pork knuckles to share as one order per person is just way too filling. The pork knuckles were good, though I wouldn’t call them any more spectacular than the ones I have tasted in Singapore. Since we were halfway across Esplanade, the name of the road, in my opinion, could be due to the magnificent view of Hamburg that can be observed from Lombardsbrücke which is a sort of a bridge that spans across the small inlet that joins the Binnenalster and the Außenalster. From the bridge, one could get a wonderful panorama of the city centre buildings facing the waterfront with the fountain in the centre. In addtion, the spires of the city’s main Lutheran churches like St. Nikolai, St. Petri and the Rathaus can be seen rising amongst the city blocks. It is one of the sights that I would say truly define this beautiful quaint waterfront city!
Through my 4 days in Hamburg, I found the city to be undergoing a slow transformation of sorts through new developments along the southern waterfront, and yet manages to retain a traditional classic charm around the Rathausmarkt. In addition I found the residents to be helpful, friendly and full of charm. The city also provides one with an inner sense of calm and security, which is unlike those offered by larger and more crowded metropolitan areas. Little wonder then that some of the wealthiest Germans chose this city as a place of residence.
However, for all the beauty it has, it lacks that dynamism and ‘wow’ factor! Perhaps it is the small town feel it gives in the low-lying buildings or the lazy sundays it has, it disappoints in some areas. For those seeking a solitude retreat though, I totally recommend this city and do find the time to walk around the Binnenalster and explore its main churches scattered around the city. Because for all its little failings, it shines in its spectacular own way that ensures I had a lot of good memories in this little maritime city.
Must visit in Hamburg: Rathausmarkt to really soak in the splendour of Hamburg’s rich maritime history through its City Hall architecture. Beside the Binnenaltster is just a 5 minutes walk from there.