Europe in a Flash! Part 2

Christmas in Hamburg

For years now we have had homestay students in Australia and one of them was from Hamburg, Germany. As a 16-year-old girl Maike came to stay with us for a year and now as a 21 year old she was going to be our host during our visit to Hamburg!  She is studying Psychology, has a drivers licence and is in a serious relationship. In other words – a grown up! We had the loveliest weekend and I was impressed with and inspired by the person she had become.

Maike, Marijke and Zoe enjoying 'Gluhwein'
Maike, Marijke and Zoe enjoying ‘Gluhwein’

One of the attractions of wintery Hamburg are the Christmas markets all over the centre. They create a ‘fairy tale’ style atmosphere and have all kind of local specialisations on offer. One of my all time favourites is ‘mulled wine’ or ‘Gluhwein’ and it is one of the best things to enjoy when it is cold outside.

According to Maike another must when in Hamburg, is a Fish Brotchen, available from the weekly Sunday market along the harbour of Hamburg. Popular amongst the locals and tourists but maybe fish is not everyone’s cup of tea for breakfast..!

A market stand with a variety of 'Fish Brotchen'
A market stand with a variety of ‘Fish Brotchen’

We had a wander along the harbour and warmed up in a nice cafe where I managed to get the barista to make an ‘Australian standard” coffee much to the embarrassment of Zoe. Keith and I fancied going to a gallery and Maike recommended the “Hall of Photography’ at the Deichtor Hallen where we saw an exhibition of a photographer called Sarah Moon. She is an English/ French model who turned photographer and worked for Cacharel, Dior and Comme des Garcons. She is famous for influencing the socalled ‘Mood Photography’.

Hamburg ‘off the beaten track’

Maike showed us Hamburg from a ‘local’ point of view and took us to some hidden gems such as Blankenese and Sternschanze that are slightly of the beaten track.

Blankenese, Hamburg
One of the little alleys in Blankenese, Hamburg

Blankenese is originally a fishing village on the river Elbe but in 1938 it was merged with Hamburg. The steep hillside residences boast many tiny, pedestrian-only streets and 4,864 stairs. We explored the small town and decided to walk along the river to the next ferry stop that would bring us back to the centre. The weather was good with gorgeous light and the route very scenic.

Walking along the Elbe
Walking along the Elbe

Sternschanze is a bit grunchy, alternative and has a lot of graffiti. It is a former working class district with a lot of charm that has turned into a bit of a ‘trendy’ and lively area with cafes, bars, restaurants and shops and the best authentic Portuguese tarts!

A shoe shop also selling wine. My kind of thing!
Scarpovino, a shoe shop also selling wine. My kind of thing!

We finally got to meet Maike’s parents who took us to one of their favourite restaurants – funnily a French eatery called Ti Breizh serving traditional crepes. It is a ‘Creperie Bretonne’ located in an old merchant house from 1700 along canal ‘ Nikolai Fleet’.

We left Hamburg fulfilled and I felt grateful for a wonderful relationship that has evolved from a homestay family – student relationship a number of years ago.

From Hamburg we would be heading to UK where we would meet our oldest daughter Yasmin at Heathrow airport. She could not take time off work back in Australia until a couple of days before Christmas. I hadn’t seen her since the beginning of November so I was looking forward to catching up with her in London.

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