Coffee with a local in Hamburg

Tuesday, 17 January 2012 4:59 PM

So, you’ve brought me to your favourite bar – tell me about it.
We’re at the Atlantic Hotel Bar, the Atlantic is a 5-star hotel to the right of the Alster Lake, in the middle of the city. It’s located behind the main train station and wherever you are coming from, the walk here is very beautiful. During my days as a student, we painted one wall of the bar with traditional Hamburg fishing boats.

Mmm... this is good, what are we drinking?
Alsterwasser, or Alster Lake water, it’s the traditional Hamburg drink, which consists of north German light beer and sparkling lemonade. It’s great on a hot day and one of the cheapest drinks, even in a 5-star hotel! Or if you’d prefer something non-alcoholic you could try dunkelbier or dark beer, which Germans say is good for pregnant women, it’s also a traditional sweet treat for children.

What are your favourite local dishes?
Labskaus, it’s the Hamburg speciality and traditional high seas fare, consisting of mashed fish and potatoes mixed with corned beef and served with pickles and fried eggs.

And where would you suggest I go to find these?
There are a lot of good restaurants that serve labskaus, the best ones are in the Jungfernstieg area, the main shopping street in the city. There are also some good restaurants in the basement of the Gaensemarkt (Goose Market), opposite the Opera House and in the business district behind Moenkebergstrasse Street.

The sky is blue and the sun is shining, what’s the best thing to do on a day like today?
Take a ferry trip on the Alster Lake to see locals on the public lawns and the villas at the farther end of the lake. You could also take a boat ride through the fleets or canals or a harbour boat-tour. On these you will see yacht building wharfs and old sailing ships.

And if it rains?
You should definitely head to the museums. My favourite is the Kunsthalle, which showcases a fantastic private Chinese art collection owned by the Swiss ambassador to Beijing. The museum also has a delightful turn-of-the-century coffee shop in the basement. Other good city museums include the Train Museum, the Post Museum or the Tea Museum.

If there’s one thing I should do while I’m here, what is it?
Go to the Welkom Hoeft cafe in Hamburg Wedel, at the mouth of the Elbe River. Every incoming and outgoing ship passes through this area and each one is greeted by a welcome in their language, accompanied by their national anthem.

Give me a local tip that other tourists wouldn’t usually know...
Head to Kramer amts Stuben, a tiny little medieval dead-end lane behind the famous Michel Church, the street has some great little architectural gems. Also the church’s steeple is the first point of the city that seafarers saw when they arrived into Hamburg and it has become a symbol of homecoming.

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