After street parties, rock clubs and a wonderful evening at the amazing Elbphilharmonie on Sunday night (read about that here), it was time to explore the less-musical side of the city. The beautiful Alster Lakes can be reached by bike, electric scooters, or by the city’s new chic lift service (Moia). To the north of the lakes is an area surrounded by upscale housing, private jetties for small boats and mournful weeping willows, tumbling down into emerald algae-tinted canal water. A far cry from the hum of St. Pauli’s streets. Though the picture shifts from concrete grey to deep, watery green, you’re still never far away from Hamburg’s graffiti artists, who tattoo canal walls from seemingly impossible angles.
You can traverse these canals and lakes with the help of companies like Bobby Reich’s boat rental, whose stoic owner sits waiting for custom in the bright August sun. It’s cheap, if not overly cheerful. If you’re feeling less actively inclined, you can make your way down the river on a harbour boat tour.
With our rowing-tired arms, we hopped back on our scooters and made our way to the city centre to partake in some good, old fashioned tourism. Miniatur Wunderland is Hamburg’s most well-known tourist attraction, featuring tiny, twee models of Hamburg, Rome and the fictional town calledKnuffingen. This strange museum’s delights can be found in every detail and sees an average visitation time of three or more hours; the mulling throngs around us quietly pouring over the tiny figures and their static lives. It really is a case of the more you look the more you see in Miniatur Wunderland. A small Superman races to save a car falling off a cliff, whilst a scaled-down Mount Vesuvius bubbles and gurgles in the distance. If you’re coming to Hamburg, you should really brave the crowds and check out this tiny institution—it’s truly amazing.
After spending more than four hours searching for the hidden stories of Wunderland, we found ourselves drifting back towards the quickly darkening streets of St. Pauli for a spot of jazz. Hamburg’s Cotton Club (so named for the legendary Harlem club) bustles with life every night of the week, serving up live music and drinks throughout the evening. On this particular night, Gigsoup were treated to boogie-woogie maestro, Guy Weller on the piano. Chugging through a selection of fastpaced covers including ‘Go Johnny’ and Muddy Waters‘ ‘I Got My Mojo Working’. After a nightcap of Weller energy, we headed back to our cosy Superbude hostel, ready for another day in this surprising little city.