Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A visit to Hamburg - the harbour and the 'Schanzenviertel'

Next morning we decided to skip the hotel breakfast and try some vegan breakfast options. Lena and Lutz from Laubfresser (every day vegan recipes) live in Hamburg and have tested vegan breakfasts in the city. So we thought it might be a good idea to miss out on the hotel breakfast. Mostly you pay a lot of money for food you can't eat as a vegan; especially in northern Germany where milk, cheese, and sausages are dominant for breakfast.

The first morning we went to Miller in St. Pauli quarter. Miller has a rustic pub-like atmosphere; the staff was friendly and we didn't have to wait too long for our food as Laubfresser had to. Maybe because we went there during a week-day.

C decided on a traditional German breakfast (the half of a patty served with it was actually warm!)

while I went for the more English version with baked beans and tofu sausages:

Although it was nothing I couldn't have done at home myself, it was quite nice and we really enjoyed our breakfast and our speciality teas.

Our bellies satisfied, we went for a harbour tour. Well, not really a costly tour in a fancy boat; we rather took the harbour ferry (line 62, the red one on the picture) which actually gives you a nice trip on the river Elbe along the different harbours and across the river to Finkenwerder while having some hot tea at one of the tables on deck. The interesting thing is that you don't have to pay a penny for it as long as you do have a day pass for Hamburg's transport system. And we had ... :)

This was the ferry:

So the harbour tour lets you enjoy Hamburg's fresh air ...

... and interesting views:

But another good thing about taking the regular ferry is that you can hop on and off as you please. This gives you the opportunity to explore some areas more intensively, like the area around the Dockland building. The prize-winning office building called 'Dockland' was built as a parallelogram on a specially filled up area of the Elbe river. If you walk up the 25 m of stairs on the north-side to the viewing platform, you have a nice panoramic view over the area.

Close to the Dockland building you can find the 'Elbe', no, not the river but a sculpture by Wieland Förster. It is supposed to symbolise the connection between Dresden and Hamburg because obviously you cannot only travel from Hamburg to Dresden on the A2 motorway, but also along the river Elbe (Top Gear should make a challenge with a speed boat...). It looks like a nude woman to me, but then I'm more into rock art anyways.

Since we were in Altona we thought it is about time to test another vegan restaurant. So we went to the Leaf.  On the way to Ottensen we admired Altona's quarter's bicycle art,

wondered whether the residents of Hamburg take their baths on the pavement:

and learned about Hamburg's political affinities:

At last we found the vegan restaurant:

We were too late for lunch and too early for dinner, so we opted for their vegan cakes in their nice restaurant.

The cakes looked so delicious that we couldn't stop ourselves and had a bite before I even could take out the camera. They were as yummy as they looked:

Both the 'Laubfresser' tried a cake at the 'Leaf', too, and were equally happy with it. So many people can't be wrong! If you ever go to Hamburg, you just have to go there and give it a try!

On our way back to the hotel we went to the Schanzenviertel, the location for Hamburgs alternative culture with a more student connected and cheaper bar scene than for example the 'Reeperbahn' area. The 'Rote Flora' is a left-winged occupied former theatre. But apart from politics it also organises cultural events, from flea markets to exhibitions.

Even the advertisements are left oriented :). Here is an advertisement for fritz-kola in the Schanzenviertel. It roughly says 'Only water cannons wake you up more'

Next time we explore more vegan food, go underground and nearly got C killed by archaeology.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Visit to Hamburg - First Impressions

The first thing I saw on my way to our hotel where I was supposed to meet up with C was the Michaelis Bridge which I had to cross on the way from the subway station  to the hotel in Neustadt.

Michaelis Bridge is famous for its love padlocks. Whether this custom originated in Italy or Serbia is not quite known; in any case there is a growing number of love locks with the name of the sweethearts on them. Today you can buy a lock at a locksmith who will engrave the names, dates, hearts etc. onto the lock, the lock is then affixed to the bridge and the key thrown into the river as a symbol for everlasting love.  

Otherwise the people of Hamburg, residents and tourists alike, enjoy sitting near the river-side for a cup of coffee or a nice meal.

Since I had some time left till C would arrive, I went to see the city hall which was rebuilt in the 19th century after the last one was destroyed by a fire. Dominant is the 112 m high tower:

Along the Renaissance-like façade 20 German kings and emperors, from Charlemagne to Franz II, are standing in niches. This is supposed to be Frederick I Barbarossa:

Justice is sitting on the side where the Senate of Hamburg is located. Obviously she is a bit biased, since she is not blindfolded which ought to symbolise the lack of prejudice demanded by justice (I'm not quite serious here, Justitia or Justice were depicted very differently through times, and I actually don't know the reason why they decided to depict her seeing).

In the market square in front of the city hall is a nice bronze model of the inner city:

When I caught up with C we decided to visit at least the most famous church in Hamburg: the Protestant church of St. Michaelis, affectionately called 'Michel' in German.

Although I didn't like the overall topic of this church, I thought a bit of ancestor worship can't hurt:

 It is at least a bit atmospheric:

The church was obsessed with depictions of the archangel Michel defeating God's adversary (which is not overly surprising since the church is devoted to St. Michael). You can see this scene on an offertory box, ...

at the main door, ...

and outside the church:

And the poor devil never even got a proper trial. To brighten up things I'll show you one of C's brilliant night photos, even though I haven't been at the harbour at night time:

Next time we have a vegan breakfast, getting political and explore the harbour.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A visit to Hamburg - the Helmsmuseum in Harburg

Sorry, there will be some archaeology in this entry, too :(

No sooner did I come back from Heilbronn than I left again for Hamburg. There was a lot on my to-do list, from museums to talks to vegan food. So I started the very evening after I settled in small hotel in the suburb of Hamburg, called Harburg where the archaeological museum is situated. The hotel is called 'Hotel zur Altstadt' which means something like 'Historic Town Hotel'.

and it was true, Harburg had a nice historic flair. Some of the houses near the hotel were built of clinker-brick and half-timber :

They also have a nice town hall from the 19th century:

And since I was lucky with the weather I could enjoy some early spring crocuses:

and some art in the town hall area (don't ask me about it's meaning):

But what I really wanted was to visit the museum and hear a talk by Lutz Kindler about Neanderthals in the cave of Balver which lies in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Being an archaeozoologist, he studied the faunal material from this cave and I think the most impressive part was that he demonstrated that a large part of the animals were not used for meat but had rather cut marks similar to bones of animals used by North American Indians to get the skin for clothing etc.

The next day I had a closer look at the museum and since some readers think archaeology is boring (!) I will rather show you something about the quite unusual manner of exhibiting those artefacts. The first thing was that the museum didn't have a chronological order but rather arranged things topological or thematically if you so want. Something I never quite liked. My introductionary seminar in archaeology was handled this way and at the time being I just had no idea about a more detailed chronology; so I thought it quite hard to compare mammoth huts and Iron Age houses. But well, each to his own.

The first floor was a very dark room with objects thrown between rocks on the floor. If you wanted to read the labels you had to crawl on the floor, preferably use your reading glasses and try to decode the numbers on the objects with the help of a booklet they gave you at the entrance. With the help of your glasses you could then read in the booklet about the object. I wish I had brought a torch!

The second floor had a modern concrete-and-wasted-space atmosphere:

In the midst of plastic ... 

... and pigs made from spam cans ...

... you could actually find some archaeological objects ... for example in the fridge ...

... together with spam cans of course. Neither the dry bones nor the spam can, however, have to be in the fridge stringently. Both can be safely kept at room temperature. Just in case you want to put a mandible in the fridge and there is no room left for your salad anymore.

The way to present the objects is, to say, at least unique:

Did I like it? No. Maybe I'm to old for this sh** (that was a movie quote, I'm never too old for a nice coprolite).

The special exhibition about the Hamburgian Ice Age was hosted in the near theatre and a bit more conventional. I'm not gonna show you Federmesser tools or burins, just some furry animals:

I especially loved this cave bear because it looked more like a wookie than a bear :)

Please join me again when I will explore Hamburg in more detail (without any archaeology that is).