In partnership with Danish railways
March 3, 2016
Two weeks ago, I received an email from DSB (Danish railways) asking if I would be interested in taking the train to Hamburg to photograph the city for them. Discovering new cities and doing so with a camera around my neck is pretty much my favourite thing to do for work, so I jumped at the opportunity. Just a few days later I found myself on the Central Station boarding the train to Hamburg. I didn't really know much about Hamburg, but this elegant German city up north soft but steadily won me over day by day.
A busy old port, Hamburg is a charming mix of raw and industrial combined with wealth and grandeur. I found the city, often referred to as 'the Venice of the North' with its canals very diverse. The Berlin-like colourful and somewhat 'trashy' neighbourhoods gives you one impression, whilst the more classic architecture of the city centre combined with the characteristic brick houses offers an entirely different one. Given the proximity to Copenhagen (as well as reasonable tickets to get here, by train and airplane alike) I honestly don't understand why I haven't visited before.
On my first day, I spent a few hours exploring the neighbourhoods Sternschanze and Karolinenviertel located just north of Hamburg's well-known Sankt Pauli. These areas came up a lot in my research, and supposedly, they are the hippest in town. Honestly, I found them a bit boring and quickly discovered other areas much more to my liking. I stayed at the beautiful Hotel Ameron in Speicherstadt, which was the perfect place to explore the city from close to the city centre. This historic warehouse district in the Hamburg harbour is extremely charming with canals, bridges and strictly red-bricked houses. Just a few minutes walk from the hotel I came across Nord Coast, a lovely café with a view to the canals and a seriously delicious poached egg with avocado on sourdough bread. From Speicherstadt, I had easy access to Große Elbstraße around the old fish markets by the harbour, which was a cool area with a few restaurants and cafés; much like the old Meat Packing District of Copenhagen (or NYC) but still less developed and invaded by hipsters.
Other neighbourhoods I really liked were Eimsbüttel in the Northwestern part of the city and Rothenbaum east of it. Part residential, part cosy cafes and cool shops, I spent hours just walking around these areas, popping in for waffles at Salon Wechsel Dich in Rothenbaum, enjoying a French lunch at Eclair au Café and some Scandinavian interior inspiration at LYS Vintage and the smaller but lovely Human Empire Shop; all in Eimsbüttel. Some of the time, I went determined for specific locations I wanted to photograph (such as the charming houses by the canal on Nikolaifleet, pictured above, and the famous Peterstraße in Neustadt, pictured below), and the rest of the time, I just went in whichever direction seemed like the best option. Luckily, Hamburg is of modest size, and two days here will leave you with a good look of most of the city.
Hamburg definitely made a great impression on me, and this first visit will not be my last. Irony has it that just a few weeks before this job offer ticked in, I tried persuading my better half to go here for a weekend — because I had never been, and because I desperately needed to get away for a little while (as desperate as one can be when talking about the luxury of traveling and discovering new places). And above all because of the distance and traveling expenses, that alone seemed like a great excuse to take a weekend trip here. Hopping on a train from Copenhagen won't set you back more than an average restaurant dinner in the city will, and even though I had imagined the about five hour journey to feel like forever, the hours flew by and I arrived in the centre of Hamburg with just a few minutes to my hotel. It doesn't get much easier than that!
— I was invited to Hamburg by DSB, and I have received payment for the destination photography assignment —