Harboring Visions of Hamburg

Hamburg is a handsome city, Germany’s second largest, where blustery maritime weather lends a distinctive feeling.

Begin touring at the imposing Renaissance revival Rathaus (City Hall) which covers a city block, looking far more ancient than its 1886 cornerstone indicates. An inexpensive 40-minute tour includes a look at Parliament when in session and guides the visitor through some of the 647 impressive and gracious rooms.

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Hamburg: Germany’s Mirror on the North Sea

hamburgJust off Rathaus Square, ring the doorbell beside the big, black door where you see the silver sign by the lion statue, Bar de Paris. Inside, pull up a stool in this tiny place, order a hand-crafted cocktail and soak up the atmosphere in one of the world’s best bars. Do go now…it’s been five years and the word is getting out. Bartender Owner Joerg-Meyer is recommending the gin-basil smash.

Especially pretty when illuminated by night, Germany’s second-largest city reflects upon itself like a watery mirror. Lake Binnenalster right at its center positioned on the Elbe River, is criss-crossed by waterways and canals. Hamburg has earned the nickname (along with Amsterdam, Stockholm and Bruges), “Venice of the North.”

Contemporary design hotels popping up are focusing around the old Speicherstadt (warehouse district) and HafenCity (old docks). Many tourists find their way here
due to its proximity to Reeperbahn, the adult entertainment district. Also, watch for updates regarding the July 2013 sale of the former InterContinental.

Big name five-star hotels include Four Seasons, Méridien, Marriott, Park Hyatt, Kempinski, Radisson and the stately Vier Jahreszeiten, now operated by Fairmont. It is “a grand hotel with a great heart,” a comment left by a senior contributor to TripAdvisor — precisely the kind of comment that management seeks.

Inside the property, Restaurant Haerlin with neutral toned interiors and furnishings renovated in summer 2013, where a two-star dining experience awaits.Find yet another two-star at Süllberg Seven Seas; its location provides the very best possible reason for a short journey along the Elbe at sunset. No surprise to know that the number of Michelin starred restaurants in Hamburg runs second only to Berlin, and that furthermore, Germany is second only to France in the Guide Michelin.

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