Hamburg – it’s a city rich in German history and full of hidden gems, including the secret celebrity hangout called Cuneo.
My first thoughts while driving to my distant relative’s new home in Hamburg was how little I knew about this historic city.
Considering my husband’s German heritage and having family that live in the north of Germany, I knew little, other than Hamburg is a major shipping port for that region.
I soon discovered that Hamburg is a modern city steeped in history! After unpacking our bags, we were ready to explore. Since we were staying on the outskirts of Hamburg we decided to use the U-Bahn to make our way into the city center. The U-Bahn is a rapid transit system being part underground and above the ground. It is very easy to use even for those of us who are not fluent in the German language and the Germans are very fluent in English having learned in school from an early age, so you can always ask someone for help.
We started our day in the main square and were impressed by the Hamburg Rathaus. Constructed from 1886 to 1897, the city hall still houses its original governmental functions with the office of the First Mayor of Hamburg and the meeting rooms for Hamburg’s Parliament and Senate.
My husband and I strolled down to the old wharf area where we saw revamped buildings that had once held stores and grain, transformed into modern restaurants, bars and coffee houses. We treated ourselves to delicious waffles topped with strawberries and cream. Would you believe we followed that up with a cup of Australian coffee from Skybury. How random finding our favorite blend from North Queensland in Hamburg!
Our next stop was to another old warehouse that holds a wonderful collection of miniatures called Minatur Wunderland. For adults and children, this place is fascinating. Plan to spend many hours or even a whole day seeing all of the displays. The work and the detail that has gone into the minatures is astounding. You really do have to see it for yourself to appreciate the vast collection that it is. It really is a child’s wonderland and I can say it really was for us too! You may have a hard time getting your children to leave!
We walked to St. Michael’s Church where we had a birdseye view of Hamburg from the top. The Church is a landmark of the city and a fine example of Baroque architecture. St Michaels is one of five Lutheran churches in the city. The church is dedicated to Michael the Archangel. There is a large bronze statue at the main entrance of Michael conquering the devil.
Deciding we needed to find somewhere for lunch, we discovered the oldest restaurant in Hamburg across the road, that is still trading called the “Old Commercial Room” to have traditional German fare. Since 1795 traditional German fare has been served up to everyone from celebrities, locals and travelers from around the world.
Late afternoon as the sun started to go down, we boarded a cruise that took in the sights of Hamburg from the water and wound its way along the many canals. We learned that Hamburg actually has more canals than Venice. We saw picturesque homes, lush gardens, tiny little holiday houses and people gently rowing along the canals enjoying the peace and serenity as the last of the sun’s rays disappeared. It was so relaxing having a drink as we motored along resting our tired feet after walking the streets of Hamburg.
Now that night had fallen, we certainly wanted to see the night life of Hamburg. A friend had recommended a restaurant that is frequented by celebrities and locals in the know. You would never guess that this unassuming sign over the door set into a maroon colored wall on the edge of the red light district would be the stand out experience that we always remember. We had opened the door and stepped into Cuneo.
Our relatives were apprehensive as to what was behind the door under the neon Cuneo sign. We stepped in tentatively and were greeted with some very loud and welcoming cheers. This is a very successful fifth generation restaurant.
The place was packed with families with children, couples and groups all enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of this fabulous Italian restaurant. The décor was rich with deep burgundy walls just like the outside of the building. Crisp white table cloths adorned every table ready for the splashes that always end up on them while having a delicious pasta dish. Eclectic art filled the walls at Cuneo and while it was a very busy night and the tables are quite close together, it only added to the boisterous atmosphere!
My relative was beside herself with excitement when she saw a famous German singer sitting at the table behind us — she and her husband had recently enjoyed one of his concerts and so we played his CD in the car on the way home.
Whatever you choose off the menu, at Cuneo it will be good! It was authentic and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience there.
You can’t visit Hamburg and miss walking through the Reeperbahn. This is one of the two main area’s where the night life is and a walk through the red light district is always an education, not for the faint hearted. We walked down to where the Beatles had honed their skills many years before. The Beatles played their first night in Hamburg at the Indra Club on August 17, 1960. There is a museum and the iron artwork are reminders of their early days of fame.
We loved our time in Hamburg. This was only a small portion of what there is to see and do. Till we see you again Hamburg Auf Weidersein!
For more information when planning a trip to Hamburg, visit www.hamburg.de.