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About friends, Cruise Days and food in Hamburg

by Véronique and Mike

16 September 2015 • The first nights we stayed at the 25Hours Hotel Number One in the upcoming neighbourhood Altona. Again, it was not new for Mike. He loves the brand. And so do I actually. In 2014 we visited 25Hours Bikini in Berlin, together with other bloggers. When arriving in the Hamburg hotel I felt straight at home. I loved all the fun touches in the room and the lobby, such as an iPod docking station, the Freitag bag that is there free to use whenever you want, the bikes & MINI, readily available to use. At the entrance there are water bottles and little maps for if you want to have a run. In case you wonder, we did run one morning in the beautiful surroundings of the hotel. The staff is friendly and easy-going and there is an Airstream selling burgers (also veggie) right in front of the hotel. This all sounds kind of great right? 

It were busy days with the fairs and the beautiful program that Hamburg Tourism proposed, but as always we made time for two very important things in our life: friends and eating. The first evening we went for dinner with Marco Stampehl in a Vietnamese restaurant, Cooko, nothing fancy but amazing flavours, followed by drinks in Gazoline Bar. So good to meet you Marco!

The cruise fair was interesting, some inspiring presentations and meeting old & new friends. The venue was near the Planten und Blomen park so we could have a glimpse of this wonderful green oasis in the city. For lunch we escaped the Messehallen and found our happiness in KOCH KONTOR, a bookstore with a kitchen and a daily menu. 

We were happy to meet our friend Bart at the Seatrade fair and that he joined us for dinner at Syrian restaurant Saliba! Oh boy, if you visit Hamburg don’t forget to visit this gem. We went for the complete Mazza surprise menu. I can honestly say that we do eat a lot, but even we were not able to finish all those wonderful plates that were displayed in front of us.  

The next morning we went for breakfast near our hotel. Hamburg really is a heaven for foodies whether you love meat, fish, veggies or have decided to go vegan all the way. In Bio Dito, an organic restaurant I went for the vegan breakfast and Mike for the bircher muesli. We had deadlines to catch, so we worked in the hotel, a perfect work place if you ask us. The Airstream selling burgers in front of the hotel seduced Mike. I went discovering the neighbourhood. Altona is great. The former factories have been changed into offices and shops. Near the hotel you can find the small Bahrenpark where youngsters hang out around the lake and workers from the offices around enjoy their lunch. 

We took the subway to St. Pauli. The S- and U-bahn are excellent and easy.

The old fishermen neighbourhood has a rough vibe. The Reeperbahn is filled with sex clubs, casinos and homeless people. In the adjoining streets on the other hand you find nice cafés and creative shops. I saw the dancing towers and thought to myself that this building overlooking the Reeperbahn maybe housed a rooftop terrace. My intuition did not steer me wrong. On top of the building you can find CLOUDS. You literally lean on windows showcasing the streets under you. 

A bit later we joined some journalists and Matthias Beer from Hamburg Marketing GmbH in the EAST HOTEL, a trendy hotel near the Reeperbahn. It was a beautiful evening so we walked to the Landungsbrücken with its many floating docks where we joined the party in the HARD ROCK CAFÉ. From the terrace we enjoyed a great view on the river Elbe, the many ships sailing by, the controversial Elbphilharmonie in the distance and more important the sunset. Ah, it never gets boring. 

When spending time in such a lively city you understand we wanted to do as much as possible in the short time there. So after the party we walked to the nearby Hafen hotel. In the adjacent tower there is also a rooftop bar: the Tower Bar, though less spectacular than the Clouds bar. It’s kind of an expensive one but fair enough you do have a nice view over Hamburg and the harbour. The fanciest skyline bar is said to be located in the fancy riverside empire hotel; 20up. I did not bring my heels that evening (and I’m glad I did not have to walk on them the whole evening) so we keep that one for a next visit.

The next morning we were on a quest for the perfect breakfast place. Mike often gets tired with me, keeping on looking for THE place. I can keep on going forever. I was happy to find Knuth, a cosy café where hip mums and ditto kids go for their daily caffeine (the mums that is) and young creatives work on their newest project on their Apple computer. This café has really understood what it needs to cater for everybody. Their options include gluten free, veggie, vegan but of course there is also plenty choice for our meat loving friends. 

After that Mike went off to the fair and I staid in town to discover a bit more of this interesting city. It was Friday, which means market time near Altona station. A bunch of local vendors presenting their best produce. Walking to the waterfront is always one of my priorities. In a city as Hamburg this is not really a hard thing to do. The Elbe being so present.  On the Altonaer Balkon, overlooking the Elbe and the container port with 27 meters I admired the Maritim statue by Gerhard Brandes joined by a just married couple. I continued my walk through the silent park. I love how green this city is. 

Cause of the Cruise Days the whole promenade was filled with market stalls and pavilions presenting the best of the cruise lines. The wonderful fish market building was being transformed for one or other VIP event. A bit further I stumbled across Strandpauli. Those who regularly read our blog, know already how much we love those creative initiatives with and industrial edge where you can relax in the middle of the city. If there is sand, even better. I ordered a coffee and installed myself in one of the beach chairs looking at the busy activities in the harbour.

There was so much going on in Hamburg that I did not know where to go first. At the Reeperbahn there was a Foodtruck festival, another thing I love. Not hungry yet I just soaked up the atmosphere and made sure to check every food cart to see what they had to offer. On the other side of the road I wandered around the side streets. May is one other cosy place to sit with coffee and where you probably can enjoy one of the cheapest breakfasts in town while chilling in one of their many sofas. Later on there was lunch in Kraweel, another nice café in St. Pauli with wonderful food. 

In the evening we met up with Mike’s good friend Barbara and her son. She took us on a wonderful walk through the woods of Waldpark Falkenstein. From there we walked the whole way down (and afterwards back up) to the Falkenstein Ufer. The sun was slowly going down and the light was magnificent. We had dinner with Barbara, her husband Christian and Ben in the beautiful golf club where Ben had just played golf. 

On Saturday we had to say goodbye to our wonderful hotel to change to yet another fabulous 25Hours one, in Hafencity this time. 

After breakfast (they do have a nice buffet) it was time to meet up with Matthias, the other journalists and bloggers to visit Mein Schiff 4. Mike will write more about this visit. Fact is that we enjoyed our time on board a lot. Communication Manager Godja was the perfect guide to discover the new TUI flagship. 

On Saturday evening there was the cruise parade. Place of meeting was once again the Hard Rock Café. We expected it to be crowded but the truth was that we were lucky. Mike could easily install his tripod and was able to take wonderful pictures of the ship parade starring AIDA Bella, Mein Schiff 4 and Europa. Not to forget the accompanying fireworks. It was late and we were getting tired. After all we (unfortunately) are not 20 anymore so we made our way back to the hotel. By foot. And yes it was a long walk, but a nice one. 

The next day the sun showed its smiley face so we decided to head to Strandpauli after breakfast. Mike hadn’t been yet and it was the perfect place to enjoy our last moments in Hamburg.

Houston we have a problem. Mike was already in love with the city and I might have fallen heads over heals in love too. Hamburg thank you for being so wonderful and being so welcoming. You mind if we come back soon?

Text: Véronique

Photos: Mike & Véronique

hamburg.de/tourist-information/

www.hamburgcruisedays.de