Travel to Hamburg, Germany – Episode 470

categories: europe travel

Hear about travel to Hamburg, Germany as the Amateur Traveler talks to Romy Mlinzk from about her hometown, the second largest port in Europe.


Romy recommends a visit to this second biggest city in Germany which is very different from the capital Berlin. “Hamburg has a lot of different things to offer. It’s close to the water. It has this maritime flair and it has more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice combined. You don’t feel like you’re in a big city.”

Hamburg used to be known more for its relight district. “A lot of things changed in Hamburg is now more like a fashion and media city so you have a lot of cool young people coming to the town.” She still does not recommend the red light district at night unless you like crowds and drunk young people.

What she recommends instead is the starting in the harbor where the ferries make up part of the city’s public transportation along the river Elba. Your day pass on the subway will work on the ferry as well. Romy recommends that the public ferry will give us some of the same views of the city as sightseeing cruises.

The old part of the harbor, Speicherstadt, is full of old brick warehouses that used to hold tea, coffee, and other goods. It is the historic part of the city when it was a member of the Hanseatic League. The area now has a number of museums including the Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg which is a miniature world with little cars, trains, and buildings. Visit during the week to avoid crowds. Roy says it is a great place to visit during days of “Hamburg sun” (rain).

You can also walk under the Elba from one side of the city to the other using the old Elba Tunnel. The descent down is in one of the old wooden elevators. One end of the tunnel has a sightseeing platform with views of the new city.

“Hamburg has a great singer-songwriter community.” She gives us some ideas on places to see some of the old clubs like where the Beatles got their start. There is a Beatles tour presented by a local musician.

See the city through the eyes of a local as we hear about museums and beautiful neighborhoods, cafes, and local cuisine.

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Show Notes

Romy Mlinzk
Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg (English)
Hanseatic League
Prinzenbar, Hamburg
Große Freiheit, St. Pauli, Hamburg
Beatles Tour
Altes Maedchen
Schanzenviertel shopping
Currywurst in Hamburg
Eimsbüttel (quarter)
StadtRAD Hamburg
Elbe Beach
Strandpauli (Yelp)
Ohlsdorf Cemetery
Ohlsdorf Cemetery (Wikipedia)
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
827th Hamburg Port Anniversary 2016
Hagenbeck Zoo
Hanseatic City of Lübeck – UNESCO World Heritage Centre
Lübeck Tourism
Visit Berlin
25 Hours Hotel
Hamburg Air BnB


I heard from Jonathan:

Dear Chris,

I have listened to about 50+ of your episodes during that last 4 months and it has been very enjoyable, educational and helpful, especially as our family of five (children ages 18, 15, 13) are about to embark upon a one year backpacking along the silk road traversing around 20+ countries starting in June 2015.

I notice that there has not been an episode specifically devoted to Kyrgyzstan. As part of our one year trip, we plan to travel through Kyrgyzstan doing some hiking and experiencing some community based eco-tourism. Perhaps after our time there in Aug 2015, we can share about our experience there, as well as sharing how it is like to travel there as a family with three teenagers.

For our one year trip, we plan to do couchsurfing/warmshowers and volunteering work with locals as much as we can to really understand the locals and their daily lives. We are using sites such as and WWOOF to find volunteering opportunities. We already have one set up in Mongolia and one in Kazakhstan and will volunteer at Mother Teresa’s order in Calcatta, India. If you think there might be some interest among families that like to travel through couchsurfing and/or volunteering, we are happy to share our experience as well.

After receiving so much from listening to your podcast, I hope that we can give something back in return through sharing of our experiences.

Jonathan, Annie, Olivia, Nathan, and Joani

I heard from Jennyfer:

Dear Chris

I just wanted to contact you to thank you for all the time and effort you put into the Amateur Traveler podcasts. My husband and I love to travel and I came across the podcasts a couple of years ago now. We live in Scotland,UK and have used them to plan a number of our trips to Europe and to the USA.

Most recently we celebrated my 40th birthday with a trip to Mumbai. We used the Reality Tours company mentioned in the recent podcast on Mumbai and had a truly fantastic experience.

I really just wanted to contact you to thank you all that you do and to encourage you to keep going. Your work is much appreciated all the way over here in Scotland!

Best wishes and thanks again



Chris: Amateur Traveler Episode 470, today the Amateur Traveler talks about the second biggest port in Europe. A former member of the Hanseatic League, a City of Bridges and the place where The Beatles got their first break as we go to Hamburg, Germany.

Chris: This episode of Amateur Traveler is sponsored by DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. These colorful guidebooks are filled with great information and are one of my favorite guidebooks. I have 25 of them right here on my bookshelf. There are more at


Chris: Welcome to the Amateur Traveler. I’m your host Chris Christensen. We’ll be talking more about our sponsor in a bit, but first, let’s talk about Hamburg.

I’d like to welcome to the show Romy Mlinzk who is coming to us from Maus spelled the German way. And Romy is a travel blogger from Germany in German, come to talk to us about Hamburg, Germany.

Romy, welcome to the show.

Romy: Hello, everybody.

Chris: [laughs] You’re just talking to me. There’s nobody else listening. Excellent.

Romy: Oh, maybe later.

Chris: Let’s put Hamburg on the map for people. We’re in the northern part of Germany.

Romy: That’s right. It’s really up in the north.

Chris: In what region? I don’t know the actual region name there.

Romy: It’s a city-state, so . . .

Chris: Okay.

Romy: . . . it’s Hamburg, just Hamburg.

Chris: Second biggest city in Germany, and the largest port in Germany.

Romy: Yeah, and the second largest port in Europe, so it’s quite a big city.

Chris: After Rotterdam?

Romy: After Rotterdam, yeah.

Chris: Okay, excellent.

Romy: That’s correct.

Chris: So why should someone go to Hamburg?

Romy: Because it’s totally different to the biggest city in Germany, Berlin, and Berlin is a booming city for tourism at the moment. Hamburg has a lot of different things to offer. It’s close to the water, you have this maritime flare, and you have more bridges than Venice and Amsterdam together. So it’s really fascinating walking down the streets, and the canals and between the river Elbe and the Alster, it’s another river, but it’s more like a lake in the city, so you have a lot of water sites and you don’t feel like in a big city. It’s more like relaxing, maritime flair, and nice people.

Chris: Now my impression, and tell me if I am just completely off base, is that if we were talking about Hamburg maybe 20 years ago, possibly even more recently than that. We’d be talking about more of a, I want to say industrial city, but commercial city, you know, known more for its red light district than it’s tourism, but that it’s changed quite a lot over the last few years, few decades. Am I on the right track?

Romy: You’re on the right track.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: That’s right. A lot of things changed, and now Hamburg is more like a fashion and media city. They have a lot of cool young people coming to the town and a lot of agencies, communication agencies, media agencies. They have to me and I think there’s more now of, yeah, the bigger part of the city than the red light district.

The red light district is very touristic at the moment and nothing really special anymore, in my opinion.

Chris: And you say, “Nothing really special anymore. ” It used to be special, but . . .

Romy: Yes.

Chris: . . . you don’t really recommend people go there now?

Romy: Yes, I recommend it, but not at night.

Chris: Okay. [laughs]

Romy: Have a look in the daylight and compare to the old charms, and to old photos and you see the difference. At night, it’s full of drunk tourists and drunk young people because it’s still cheap to be there . . .

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . at night for some drinks or to party, but it’s really crowded especially at the weekend. So you have problems to get from A to B within a couple of minutes because it’s so full of people and so crowded, so yeah, so much drunk people and you will not find local . . .

Chris: Okay. Let’s talk then about what you would recommend. So where would we start and how would we tackle Hamburg?

Romy: Hmm, where to start, there’s so much to see and so much to always cover. First of all we the harbor, the harbor is really a huge part of the city . . .

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . and you can’t miss it. There’s an [inaudible 00:04:41] port en. So it’s like, where all the ferries start and stop.

Chris: And the ferries are going out to some of the islands off the coast, or are these the ferries off to other countries?

Romy: Oh no, it’s just city ferries.

Chris: Okay. I guess I don’t have a good mental map of what the city looks like if you need so many ferries. So give me a little more of a description of that, of how the city is laid out then.

Romy: Okay, you have a huge part in the north of the river Elbe . . .

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . so it’s just the main area where the people live.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: And you have another part on the other side of the Elbe River and there’s a lot of industries, the main part of the harbor, so the industrial part of the harbor.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: But there are small districts where people still live. It’s a huge city, so you have to imagine 2 million people live in Hamburg . . .

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . all along the river so to say. And the ferry is going from the east to the west and from one side to the other side, so . . .

Chris: Got it, okay. So it’s part of the public transportation system in the city?

Romy: Exactly.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: Exactly, and that’s what this transportation system I would totally recommend because it’s part of the other populate transportation system, so you only need your day pass or your ticket . . .

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . for the normal subway, and you can hop on and hop off of the ferry as well and use it as a subway [inaudible 00:06:10] so to say and you don’t need to hire, or the more expensive ferry trips or no not trendy trips, how do you call it? So you can book trips to discover the river on your own [inaudible 00:06:28].

Chris: So sightseeing tours of the river?

Romy: Sightseeing tour, exactly.

Chris: But if you’re recommending the public ferry, will give us a lot of the same views, but at the price of the subway?

Romy: Exactly. It’s much cheaper.

Chris: Oh, okay, excellent. This is like going to New York City and taking the Staten Island ferry. Okay, got it. Trust me. [laughs]

Romy: Okay.

Chris: That wasn’t for you. That was addressed to our audience there, okay.

Romy: Okay.

Chris: Okay, so we’re starting, in fact, maybe we’re starting on one of the ferries and getting a view of the city maybe as we cross over the river. And then what are we doing next?

Romy: We have this weird part of the harbor. It’s called “Speicherstadt.” So it’s full of old buildings, brick buildings where tea, and coffee, and stuff like that were stored in the early harbor days. And now it’s a huge part of the city, is old house and a lot of museums are in it right now. And there are a lot of things, I guess, miniature wonderland.

So some people thought it would be a nice idea to have a miniature world within one of these old houses. So you can travel the world within one of the storages at the Speicherstadt. It’s really, really famous. It has little trains, and little airplanes, and cars, self-driving, and you can just discover Europe, and the Alps, and Hamburg, and everything else, so . . . you can go to . . .

Chris: So it sounds like one of those places that’s really touristy, but you’re saying, “Get over it. It’s still a fun thing to do.

Romy: Exactly, but not on Sunday or Saturday morning . . .

Chris: Got it, okay.

Romy: . . . that’s really crowded. But it’s fun, especially if the weather is not so good. Though sometimes it can happen with that Hamburg is rainy, we call it “the Hamburg sun.” so . . . because the . . .

Chris: The Hamburg sun is the rain. We’re in northern Germany where gray skies are not uncommon.

Romy: Really.

Chris: Okay, got it. And you mentioned this old part of the harbor here where we are. So this would have been one of the original Hanseatic cities, the trading cities around the Baltic and the North Sea. So it’s going back to that time too at the 1700s or something like that.

Romy: Or maybe a little bit later, but it’s part of the system and part of the identity of the Hanseatic cities, yeah, so . . .

Chris: Oh actually, I guessed wrong. It joins the Hanseatic League in 1189, so I put it way too late. Okay.

Romy: Okay, didn’t know it.

Chris: But a lot of the buildings are probably not from that far back, okay excellent.

Romy: What else can you do? You can go under the Elbe. That’s really special. They have an old tunnel. It’s the old Elbe Tunnel, and it’s do or used to get from one side to the other side, and it’s I guess 1 kilometer, 1.5 kilometers, I guess it’s less than a mile.

Chris: It’s a pedestrian tunnel or . . .

Romy: It’s now pedestrian and sometimes open for cars, but cars have to pay, pedestrians and bicycles not.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: So you can cross the Elbe and it’s full of all wood, wooden elevators. So you get into the elevator with your car or your bicycle, and then you get down, and drive out of it under the Elbe, and get back to the elevator on the other side. And as a pedestrian, you can choose the elevator too or you can walk down.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: And it’s really, really interesting architecture. I guess it’s from around 1900, 1905.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: Something like that, it’s more than 100 years old now. And it’s renovated and a very nice thing to get another view of the skyline. You come on the other side of the Elbe Tunnel. You have like a sightseeing platform . . .

Chris: Okay.

Romy: . . . and have a perfect view to the main city so to say with a skyline and with some new buildings, with the skyscrapers. It has some, but smaller ones than New York.

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Where to next? Any particular cultural things you would recommend, museums, places where we can hear music? What is Hamburg known for?

Romy: Hamburg has a good senior songwriter community.

Chris: Hmm.

Romy: If you get to Hamburg, you can go to the museums, of course, yeah. There’s the Maritime Museum and you can go to totally different museums, but I guess the music scene is much more interesting.

Chris: Okay. And what’s our entrance to the music scene? Where would you recommend we go?

Romy: Okay. Then we have to go back to red light district now. At the [inaudible 00:12:33].

Chris: You were the one who told me we shouldn’t go, so . . .

Romy: Yeah, yeah, not as a sightseeing scene.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: But if you’re really like good music, the river bands still has the old clubs, or some of the old clubs, where The Beatles . . .

Chris: Right, sure, mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . in the 60s and you can book a really nice Beatles tour to discover more of the places The Beatles met each other and played and where they start their career, because Hamburg was the original city where they start their career. You know, at Liverpool.

Chris: Right, or at least where they started to take off, yeah.

Romy: Yeah, exactly.

Chris: Playing every single night for quite a while.

Romy: Exactly, and there’s a Beatles tour from a German musician. She is singing a lot, a lot of older songs and a lot of The Beatles songs during the tour. So this is quite fun.

Chris: What’s the name of that tour?

Romy: It’s just “The Beatles Tour.”

Chris: Just The Beatles Tour, okay.

Romy: Just lookup Beatles Tour, Hamburg you will find it.

Chris: Okay, excellent.

Romy: And there are some nice little clubs still around, so you can’t go wrong with it.

Chris: Such as, you’re favorite little club would be . . .

Romy: It’s the Mojo Club.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: The Mojo Club, it’s a renewed club under the Reeperbahn No. 1, so it’s downstairs the Dancing Towers. Dancing Towers is a new, famous skyscraper built, right, I guess, from Norman Foster.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: So outside there are some doors to go downstairs to the Mojo Club and nice little place, yeah.

Chris: Okay. Excellent. Where to next? Where do the locals hang out on the weekends?

Romy: Oh, that’s the Transen Shuttle. The Transen district, Transen Shuttle was alternative district in the 70s and 80s where all the pounds and subculture people hang out there.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: And now it’s totally turning into the new “transey” area, but you have a lot of cafés and bars and you can sit outside in the sun, and . . .

Chris: When there’s sun.

Romy: When there’s sun, exactly, [laughs] but . . .

Chris: In the Hamburg sun.

Romy: Not really Hamburg sun. That’s really interesting, a lot of people say in Hamburg is really rain, but at the end, we have less rain than Munich.

Chris: Oh, interesting.

Romy: Yeah, no one knows, but most people have this intonation, even in Germany, that if there’s sun, more sun, go to the Transen District. Get a galáo, café latté or milk coffee, how do you call it? But a lot of Portuguese-ian or cafés are there.

Chris: Oh, interesting.

Romy: So you’ve got galáo, it’s a Portuguese-ian version of the café latté.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: And, yeah, you will meet definitely a lot of locals, some musicians, artists, agency people hanging around.

Chris: And if we were interested in connecting with the art scene, is that where we would find galleries or where would we go for that?

Romy: You will find galleries, but also little designer shops . . .

Chris: Okay.

Romy: . . . second hand shops. It’s an interesting mixture of new and old alternatives and modern, so yeah, you’ll find galleries, but you will also find alternative people still fighting . . .

Chris: So . . .

Romy: . . . fighting or against captives. I’m sorry.

Chris: So since this was where the counterculture was, you’re saying if there’s a protest or something like that, it’s more likely still to be in this neighborhood.

Romy: Sometimes, yeah.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: Especially 1st of May . . .

Chris: Sure.

Romy: . . . usually Berlin and Hamburg saying on 1st May is, “Have a party with the police.”

Chris: Have a party with the police? I think I might skip that one, but . . .

Romy: Yeah, okay, [inaudible 00:16:38].

Chris: And you were talking about cafés and restaurants, is there something particularly, I mean, I think that people probably think they’re going to get a hamburger in Hamburg, but I don’t know that that’s really what Hamburg is known for. What should we get at a restaurant to experience Hamburg?

Romy: Okay, there’s a really cool place if you like meat. It’s called Bullerei.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: B-U-L-L-E-R-A-I? It’s close to the subway station off Transen District and it’s a cool place with a lot of good, good meat, really good meat. And you’ll find the typical German currywurst in it . . .

Chris: Okay, mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . but on a higher level. So if you really want to spend some money . . .

Chris: And I love that we’re talking about something with curry in it as being typical German, but it is these days. It wouldn’t have . . .

Romy: It’s currywurst.

Chris: . . . been 50 years ago or so, but yeah, absolutely, okay.

Romy: Sounds weird, but it’s a sausage . . .

Chris: Right.

Romy: . . . and it was some curry, and ketchup, and stuff like that. It’s really a German thing now.

Chris: Oh, I’ve been taken to eat currywurst by tourism boards in Germany. Yeah, it is very much a German thing now.

Romy: And there’s still some fights between the western part of Germany, Hamburg and Berlin . . .

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . who invented this dish, and I’m not sure who’s right or wrong, but Hamburg has a good currywurst, I promise.

Okay, and next to the Bullerei, there’s a nice coffee place called Elbgold. It’s a rosterei. Is it right?

Chris: Mm-hmm. I know what you’re saying, yeah.

Romy: The coffee beans they are freshly made . . .

Chris: Right, mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . freshly made at this place. And it’s called Elbgold, so the Elbgold is everywhere so to say and Elbgold is one of the best coffee places in town, and it’s not so far away from this new place from there, and try the Indian coffee. It’s really good.

Chris: Okay. And where’s the prettiest part in Hamburg? If I said, “You were standing in the prettiest part,” where are you standing, what are you looking at?

Romy: Everything’s beautiful. Hamburg is, it’s not like Berlin as I told you before.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: Hamburg is a really wealthy city, so a lot of money was in the city for ages now and they have really, really nice, old houses from the beginning of the 20th century.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: So yeah, everything is beautiful. So, but I recommend I guess, [inaudible 00:19:13] is full of these old houses . . .

Chris: Uh-huh.

Romy: . . . and no bums or and no modern architecture . . .

Chris: Wasn’t this near the port probably?

[inaudible 00:19:24]

Romy: Near there, it’s a little bit from . . .

Chris: Yeah, so where is that area?

Romy: It is more in the northwest of the city.

Chris: Got it.

Romy: But close to the city center. It’s not so far away. I guess a lot of things you can do, yeah, within walking distance. So [inaudible 00:19:43] is within the walking distance, for me, I’m not sure about your Americans.

Chris: I’m going to walk five miles today, so don’t count me out.

Romy: Okay. But there’s a lot of subways, buses, you have a lot of car rental, you can rent bikes, stuff like that, so it’s easy to get there.

Chris: Okay. And what do you recommend for getting around? Usually where it’s a big city like that we don’t recommend renting a car, but getting around with public transportation and your own two feet. What would you recommend for Hamburg?

Romy: They have a good bike rental system . . .

Chris: Oh, okay.

Romy: . . . it’s from the Deutsche Bahn.

Chris: Mm-hmm, the German railroad system.

Romy: [inaudible 00:20: 24] yeah. You don’t know it maybe but they have a lot of bikes in the city, and they have different stations. And you only need an app on your smartphone.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: And you log into, you have to set up an account and then you login to your account on a, go to the app, and then you can drive half an hour for free . . .

Chris: Oh, excellent.

Romy: . . . and half an hour is more than enough to get from A to B, and to see most the city, and I guess it’s eight Euros a day or nine Euros a day.

Chris: Oh, that’s pretty good, yeah.

Romy: It’s real good and they are in a good condition so the Deutsche Bahn is taking care of the bikes. And you’ll find a lot of stations, and the app shows you the next station where to rent a bike or to give it back, easy like that.

Chris: Excellent. Now I’ve been to Germany before. I haven’t been to Hamburg, but I’ve been to Berlin, and D?sseldorf and a lot of the cities. What’s going to surprise me when I come to Hamburg?

Romy: Beaches.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: Hamburg has beaches. So there’s a famous Elbe beach where a lot of locals hang out and have some barbeque in the evening, meet some friends, bring some beer.

Chris: And this is on the north shore of the Elbe?

Romy: The north shore of the Elbe but more the west of the city, so . . .

Chris: Okay, so north shore of the Elbe but west of the city, got it.

Romy: Exactly. So if you don’t want to go to the Elbe beach, because it’s a little bit outside of the city center.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: There are beach clubs in the city center, so famous beach club is Beach Pauli.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: Strand Pauli in German. It’s really close to the old Elbe Tunnel I mentioned before. So you come back Elbe Tunnel, go to the Strand Pauli, get some cocktails, enjoy the wind, and smell the river, and see the big cruise ships and everything else. It’s really amazing.

Chris: Okay, and it’s beach club’s who are renting a chair or something like that for the time that we’re there.

Romy: It’s like an outdoor restaurant . . .

Chris: Yeah, yeah.

Romy: . . . or an outdoor bar, so you have some chairs and some sand.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: It’s really like, to be on beach but, yeah, it’s not really the beach.

Chris: Okay, well in . . .

Romy: You can get some really good cuss words.

Chris: And since you’re talking about beach clubs, I have to ask, what’s the best time of the year to come to Hamburg? What’s your favorite season there?

Romy: Definitely May to September.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: It can be really hot . . .

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . in the summer, so 30, 35 degrees. But May, like today, I guess 20, 20 degrees.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: Celsius not Fahrenheit

Chris: No, I got that. [laughs]

Romy: So at the moment, a lot of flowers are coming up and it’s really, really beautiful, really colorful. So Hamburg is full of parks and Hamburg has a cemetery. It’s the largest park cemetery in the world.

Chris: A cemetery?

Romy: So it has more than . . . yeah.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: With graves and stuff like that.

Chris: Yep, that’s right. I gotcha.

Romy: Okay. It’s world’s largest park like cemetery and there are two bus lines . . .

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . going through it. And it don’t feel like holy place. It’s more like really a park, relaxing. You can walk for ages. And it’s full of old trees and flowers and yeah, it’s really a beautiful place. If you like to have time on your own and just walk and enjoy the nature, this is the perfect place within the city.

Chris: Okay, where’s the city changing the most right now. We talked about this city changing over the years. What’s the newest area that’s really undergoing change?

Romy: The Hafencity, it’s harbor city in English.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: It’s an old part of the harbor, which is not used as harbor or industrial harbor . . .

Chris: Okay.

Romy: . . . parts anymore, so they restructured it and now . . .

Chris: So warehouses are turning into other things.

Romy: Exactly, there are a lot of new built houses and modern architecture, find where a lot of small places to sit and restaurants are coming up. Maybe you heard about the Elbphilharmonie.

Chris: I did not.

Romy: This is a new icon. The new icon, you must see it. I can send you a photo maybe.

Chris: Okay. The new icon of the city.

Romy: It’s a philharmonic house or philharmonie . . .

Chris: Oh, okay, a [inaudible 00:25:15] house.

Romy: . . . a ruby of Japanese. But it’s not open yet so, we had some problems with the construction company.

Chris: So this is Hamburg’s version of the Sydney Opera House being built on the river?

Romy: Oh, kind of, yes.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: Kind of. People will see it from every place in the city, I guess. Because it was an old building where they store a lot of things and only . . .

Chris: Oh, okay.

Romy: . . . the basement of this building is used as a philharmonie basement, I guess so to say. And then they build up like a ship thing, so if you see the Elbphilharmonie it reminds you of a ship. A big like, ship.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: A huge ship, and like waves on the water and you have a lot of glass on the outside. It has reflections of the water, of the river, because it’s really close to the water.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: And it will not only be a philharmonie house or an opera house, there will be restaurants in it, some penthouses, a garage for all the cars.

Chris: Okay, excellent.

Romy: Yeah, no one is really happy with it because . . .

Chris: They weren’t happy with the Eiffel Tower at first either, so you might get used to it.

Romy: And it costs a lot of money and . . .

Chris: Well, there is that. Now we talked about what season to come, is there a particular day or a festival that you really ought to be in Hamburg on that day?

Romy: In May, you have the harbor birthday.

Chris: Yeah.

Romy: So it’s two weeks ago, the harbor birthday, 825 years of first labored or something like that. At the end of August, there’s the Alster Festival. So around the Alster, the other river of Hamburg, there are a lot of little shops, and artists, and fireworks. It’s a one-weekend festival just around the Alster to just cover artists from Hamburg and to grab some street foods, and just have fun, enjoy the fireworks. It’s really beautiful.

Chris: Excellent, so anything else, we should see in the city and then any recommendations for just what we should do just outside of Hamburg?

Romy: Did I recommend the Hagenbeck’s? No, I didn’t.

Chris: I don’t believe you did.

Romy: Hagenbeck’s is a zoo, but it’s a private zoo and you have the chance to buy some food and feed the elephants, for example.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: And they have a lovely aquarium. It’s really new. And it’s like a small zoo, but really, really lovely, because it’s a private zoo it’s not supported by the state, so everything is brought from people who give money and pay the entry fee. It’s really lovely and it’s quite fun for families.

Chris: Excellent.

Romy: Especially feeding the elephants, of course.

Chris: And then while we’re in Hamburg, are there side trips that you would recommend?

Romy: A side trip to Newburgh is . . .

Chris: The UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Romy: Exactly. It’s only 45 minutes by train . . .

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . or 30 to 40 minutes by car. It’s the UNESCO World Heritage Site, or the nearest UNESCO World Heritage Site to Hamburg. And it’s an old town, hanseatic flare.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: You can see and learn the hanseatic history in it.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: Because the old town is really like in the old days, and a lot of old ships are on the river and yeah, you feel brought to 100 years ago with modern people in it. It’s really lovely.

Chris: Excellent, in fact, we’re probably getting a picture of what Hamburg would have been centuries ago before it continued to grow and be the big commercial port.

Romy: Exactly.

Chris: Excellent.

Romy: So another side trip . . .

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . is of course, Berlin.

Chris: Well, sure.

Romy: You have a fast train track to Berlin, but you only have 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to Berlin, and the train is approximately at 250 kilometers per hour, so it’s really fast. It’s one of the fastest tracks in Germany.

Chris: Excellent.

Romy: One track is faster, it’s from Cologne to Frankfurt with 300 kilometers per hour. So if you really like to drive fast and sit back and relax . . .

Chris: Oh, if you like to drive fast, Germany is the right place to go in any way.

Romy: Anywhere, yeah. So by car it’s 3 hours, by train it’s 1 hour 40. So Berlin is a recommendation, but I guess, if you only have a week and Hamburg has so much to offer one day to Berlin is much, yeah. It’s too less time.

Chris: Excellent. Before we go, to wrap this up anything else we should know before we go to Hamburg? And then I’ve got three more questions for you, best money saving tip for Hamburg?

Romy: Hamburg is not a cheap city.

Chris: Uh-huh.

Romy: But if you want to have a nice hotel with a good design, but not on a five star level you go to the Prizeotel.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: It’s designed from a famous New York designer, I forgot his name right now . . .

Chris: Okay.

Romy: But The Prizeotel is more like a three star hotel, but the design is really cool. And it’s a new hotel close to the main station, so I would recommend The Prizeotel with that in it.

Chris: Okay. With a Z in it, so Priz . . .

Romy: The last letter in the alphabet.

Chris: . . . the last letter’s a Z, yes. It’s Z in American English and Zed in British English.

Romy: Oh, okay. Yeah, and if you have to spend more money, or if you can spend more money, the 25hours Hotel in the Hafencity is a cool place to stay, especially for younger Americans, I guess. It’s very [inaudible 00:31:23], and Hafencity is a new, upcoming, booming district. I thought about it before and these two hotels I really love and I really recommend for a stay in Hamburg. But I’m not sure one week can be really expensive, so we have a huge B&B scene . . .

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: . . . where you will find a lot of apartments and rooms we are a B&B as well. So maybe if you are traveling on a budget then a B&B would be a perfect solution. If you have more money, go to 25hours Hotel.

Chris: Excellent, last three questions. One thing that makes you really laugh and say, “Only in Hamburg.”

Romy: Only in Hamburg everyone will say, “Moring, or moring, moring to you” instead of hi or hello, or . . .

Chris: Okay.

Romy: . . . good morning.

Chris: This I did not know.

Romy: But moring is a term you will use in the morning, in the evening, in the afternoon, every time, so it’s like, “Hi.”

Chris: Oh, okay.

Romy: So can use it in Hamburg through the day and through the night.

Chris: I did not know that.

Romy: Yeah, it’s something special from Hamburg or North Germany so everyone else is like to say, “Oh morning is only ‘hello’ and ‘good morning.'” In Hamburg, you say it the whole day.

Chris: Okay. Finish this sentence, “You really know you’re in Hamburg when, what?”

Romy: When you smell the water.

Chris: Oh, okay. And is that a good smell? [laughs]

Romy: Yes, yes.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: Good fishy smell and then you know you have to drink some beer and get a fish roll.

Chris: Okay, excellent. And last question, if you had to summarize Hamburg in just three words, what three words would you use?

Romy: Water is really good. It’s the only city with such a huge water area and the people are really connected to the waters.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Romy: [foreign word].

Chris: Okay, stylish.

Romy: Stylish, yeah.

Chris: Uh-huh.

Romy: People are really wealthy and do a lot of sports. You see a lot of people jogging around the Alster every morning.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: So this is a nice place to see locals running.

Chris: Okay.

Romy: And meet locals maybe.

Chris: And only one more, what’s your third one?

Romy: Modern.

Chris: Okay, excellent. Now Romy, your blog is in German, but if somebody can read German where can they read more about your travel writing.

Romy: You can read me on every single social media channel and on and everything in social media is snoopsmaus, so S-N-O-O-P-S-M-A-U-S.

Chris: Excellent, and if we read German what was the most interesting article you’ve written recently?

Romy: Recently I published an article about Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia, Canada. It was a lot of nice photos. It’s like post cards in a blog post.

Chris: Excellent.

Romy: If you like nice photos come to my blog.

Chris: Thanks so much for coming on Amateur Traveler and sharing with us the love of your city.

Romy: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

Chris: I had an interesting email from the Sue family recently who wrote and said, “Dear Chris, I have listened to about 50 of your episodes during the last 5 months. And it has been very enjoyable, educational, and helpful. Especially as our family of 5, children ages 18, 15, and 13 are about to embark on a one year backpacking along the Silk Road traversing about 20 plus countries starting in June of 2015.” Sounds like quite an adventure and as they get further along, maybe we’ll have them on the show. But in any case, good luck and have fun.

Jennifer has also been getting some use from Amateur Traveler. “I just wanted to contact you and thank you for all the time and effort you put into the Amateur Traveler podcasts. My husband and I love to travel, and I came across the podcasts a couple years ago now. We live in Scotland, and have used them to plan a number of our trips to Europe and to the US. Most recently, we celebrated my 40th birthday with a trip to Mumbai. We used Reality Tours Company mentioned in a recent podcast on Mumbai and had a truly fantastic experience. I really just wanted to contact you and thank you for all that you do, to encourage you to keep going. Your work is much appreciated all the way over here in Scotland.”

So thanks Jennifer and I was encouraged by your email. It reminds me that July 2, here of 2015 will be the 10 year anniversary of the Amateur Traveler. We’ve been helping people plan trips for almost 10 years. Currently I don’t have a special show planned, but I am hoping to have a special announcement.

But I would love to hear your stories of how you’ve used the Amateur Traveler over the last 10 years and where we have taken you.

With that, we’re going to end this episode of the Amateur Traveler. If you have any questions, send an email to host at or better yet, leave a comment on this episode at

The transcript of this episode is sponsored by JayWay Travel, experts in Eastern European travel and will go up on the site in about a month.

You can find me on Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram at Chris2x.

And as always, thanks so much for listening.

Transcription sponsored by JayWay Travel, specialists in Central & Eastern Europe custom tours.

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

3 Responses to “Travel to Hamburg, Germany – Episode 470”

Izy Berry


Great Post Chris!! thanks for all the details you really give me all the idea very clear

Pat Bunyard


Just listened to Hamburg podcast, just a few days after returning from there? still loved to hear of new places for when I return. I would add Harry’s Hafenbasar found in a refurbished crane ship at the port. Fantastic collection of art and artifacts collected by Harry, a local bar owner who asked sailors to bring him something from their travelers. Result is everything from shrunken heads to African and Asian masks.



thanks Pat, sound slike fun

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