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| Cunard Queen Mary 2 2019
Crossing to Hamburg and City Tour
There are three Cruise Terminals in Hamburg. The QM2 docked at the Steinwerder Terminal, on the opposite side of the Norderelbe river to the other cruise terminals which we know. The system for baggage handling at the cruise terminal was good and luggage was neatly lined up in the right place and even matching suitcases had been put together. It was so different to our last experience at Vancouver. On arrival it was raining, and the dock area was impossible for walking. We could not see the centre and there was no sign of public transport. It was estimated 25 to 35 minutes by taxi to the Hauptbahnhof Railway Station.
Our ticket included a panoramic city tour and transfer so we would arrive at the airport at 1500; perfect for our 1705 BA flight. We used the BA app and had already completed Check-in, seat selection and had only had hand-baggage. If we had been closer to the city and the weather was good then we had planned to miss the transfer and explore on our own. Instead we took the free Tour and Transfer which was much better than we had feared.
The Old Town was settled in 400 and established itself as a market town.In 1321 Hamburg became a member of the Hanseatic League and became a Free Imperial City in 1510. The Stock Market dates from 1588. It joined the German Confederation in 1815 and was soon described as a Free and Hanseatic City. In spite of massive damage in the Great Fire in 1842 the city continued to flourish. The city has many canals and wharfs for transferring goods. Leaving the ship we noticed many new roads and a lot of construction work since our last visit in 2014 when the QE was docked closer to the centre. We presume the QM2 is too deep drafted or too large for the other cruise terminals; she always seems to dock in container areas.
Our guide spoke excellent English and was very knowledgable and helpful. The first part of the city we recognised was the Hafen City area which has one of the other two cruise terminals. The port is one of the largest in the world. There was a glimpse of the Maritime Museum before reaching the Speicherstadt warehouse quarter, established in 1885, with its rows of redbrick Neo-Gothic buildings built on oak piles. They are not all used as warehouses now but we saw a lot of carpet warehouses displaying their products as well as coffee, tea and spice warehouses. Halssen & Lyon are celebrating 140 years as tea traders. The area comprises rows of warehouses fronting on to harbours, canals and narrow streets, and some still use traditional winches to move products. We saw the Deutsches Zollmuseum (customs museum) building and crossed the Wandrahmsfleet canal. The area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. Suddenly ahead was the distinctive Modern Herzog & de Meuron-designed Elbphilarmonie concert hall. Only completed in 2016 it is on top of the red-brick Kaispeicher warehouse and stands 108metres high.
Then the tour continued over the NiederBaumBrucke bridge, with a glimpse of the Binnen Hafen boat harbour on the right. Next there is a glimpse of the Cap San Diego freighter and then the 3-master Rickmer Rickmers classic boat, built in 1896, which is a permanent museum near the Landungsbrucken. In 2014 we ate at the Block Brau pub here on the waterfront. It is next to a clock tower and to the entrance for the Alter Elbtunel which people can walk through. Continuing along the waterfront, which would be a pleasant stroll, there is the Altona Fish market then the Altona Cruise Terminal. The dockland office building just beyond is shaped like the prow of a ship: it is rhomboid. After passing the fishing harbour there was a turning back along Klopstockstrasse towards the fish market. Altona has lots of small green areas and our higher road went along Altonaer Balcon which has views. In one park there was a sculpture representing 3 fishermen which we rushed quickly past. On the other side of the coach we glimpsed the Rathaus Altona. It was built in 1896-98 on the site of the first Altona railway station. It is a square with 4 sides with a central courtyard but the main entrance was on the opposite side.
Soon after we turned along the Peper-mohlenbek and then right onto the Reeperbahn redlight and theatre district. In the morning the exotic shops, cafes, and pubs were quiet. The Davidwache Police Station is next to the St Pauli Theatre which was the start of a row of theatres. Then we were too close to properly see the Tanzende Turme which is a tall landmark building designed to appear to be a dancing couple. With imagination the two parts of the building are like entwined legs.
There were more green spaces to reach the Zeighausmarkt, passing the English church, and then the highlight of the morning was to visit St Michaelis church. There has been a church on the site since 1649 but this building was built in 1907-1912. The tower is 132 metres and there is a viewing platform at 82 metres which can be reached by climbing 452 steps. Outside is a large statue of Martin Luther. Above the entrance is Archangel Michael defeating the devil. Inside, the church balconies are curved. The Altar is in Neo-Baroque style. There are several organs of which the one above the entrance door is by Steinmeyer and has 6,665 pipes. The font, made in 1763, has 3 angels and is made of marble. From here it is only a short walk to Krameramtswohnungen, a historic 17th century narrow street with 2 storey half-timbered houses. The fire in 1842 destroyed much of Hamburg, then there was more destruction during WWII. This street is one of the few original ones remaining, and instead of being houses for widows it now has souvenir shops.
Again the tour followed more parkland including the area called Planten un Blomen to reach the Bahnhof Dammtor on our way to the Inner and Outer Alster Lake. We passed the pub of the HofBrauHaus Munchen and our guide compared Bavarian and Hamburger pubs. It would soon be the Oktoberfest. Built in 1903 in Art Nouveau style the Bahnhof Dammtor is a beautiful train station. Just beyond, on the corner facing the lake, is the new Fontenay Hotel, opened in 2018 on the site of the demolished InterContinental Hotel. Our tour first went along the west side of the lake so we could admire the large expensive houses, then we drove along the southern edge to reach the east side of the lake. Here were the Kunsthalle Museum, the Hotel Atlantic and the HAPAG Lloyd building. The oneway system was difficult and this route enabled the coach to go to the Hauptbahnhof so that some people with early flights could get off and catch the train to the airport.
The town centre is compact and we soon returned to the Jungfernstieg Boulevard, an expensive fashionable shopping area along the south edge of the lake, with international brands and arcades. The coach stopped just around the corner so we could visit the Town Hall. It was free to look inside and there were an interesting set of posters explaining the changes to the area and future construction plans. There was then spare time for exploration (or lunch) until 1400 when must rejoin the coach to go directly to the airport.
We walked past the canal locks and through the Alster Arcades to admire the Inner Alster Lake and its fountain, then returned. Just time for a detour to see the Old Post, built in 1847, and the 1980s Hanse Viertel shopping mall with its modern glass dome and its rows of bells. Crossing the square in front of the Town Hall we found an old bridge, Trostbrucke, dating from 1881, with statues of Saint Ansgar and Count Adolph III facing each other, depicting the Old Town and the New Town. It was near the Old Bank Hall built in 1903, and the tidal canal water was controlled by another lock.
Ahead there were ruins, and these were of the church of St Nikolai, very similar to the old Coventry cathedral and also bombed in WWII. It has one of the tallest church spires in Hamburg. There is a vast open space, a crypt and a lift to climb the tower, but we were too short of time. Coventry cathedral had gifted them one of its crosses made of nails, to express common aims that there should be no more wars. There are more historic streets in the area but not enough time to explore. Our coach was parked next to the church of St Petri, and there was just enough time to visit the ice-cream shop opposite.
The outskirts of Hamburg were pleasant and we quickly arrived at the airport. We had enjoyed the brief reminder of the old city of Hamburg and made the promise to come back again for a longer visit. But not in the winter.