The Cruise Days in Hamburg
24 people found this feature helpful
I arrived in the city of Hamburg in September 2019 during the Cruise Days event. It was a very long time since my last visit, nearly 25 years ago, but my memory of the old town, the harbour, the river, the inner lake and all city attractions and landmarks were still fresh in my head. I always remembered Hamburg as a city of contrast, incorporating an urban historical metropolis blended in nature, surrounded by waterways, connecting docks and canals, landscaped with the tranquility of parks. The city has a lively vibe with a mix of Romanesque, Renaissance and modern architecture, with an array of traditional German cafés and restaurants, boutique stores and luxury shops in its vibrant shopping streets and megastores.
Hamburg is blessed with the Elbe River, flowing
from the North Sea through the heart of the city, zigzagging within a large
number of canals. Hamburg still stands as a major port city in the north of
Europe, not only embarking cargo boats, but also welcoming massive cruise ships,
carrying thousands of passengers.
As I strolled along the harbor, my memory
was refreshed with new images. The harbour and surrounding area was no longer
just a place full of sailors, boat workers, fishermen and the movement of heavy
cargo, but it was also a vibrant setting buzzing with culture, art and music. It
was only 18 minutes walking distance from my hotel, Premier Inn, to reach the Norderelbe
(Northern Elbe) river flowing through the Port of
I was standing on the western part of HafenCity,
in the heart of a new regeneration project located in Hamburg-Mitte district. This
new urban development established on the Island of Grasbrook has transformed
part of the old port of Hamburg to an upscale residential area and business
centre with shops, cafes and restaurants along the Elbe River.
The setting of HafenCity reminds me of the development
and regenration of the Docklands in London, Isle of Dogs. Unlike London
Docklands, despite significant reductions in the importance of maritime trade
through free ports in Europe, Hamburg’s port has still kept its old heritage alive
and active in a new modern quarter. HafenCity incorporates the Speicherstadt, one of the largest historical warehouses in
Europe, built of red brick, a UNESCO world heritage site, registered in 2015.
One of the iconic landmarks of HafenCity is the
Elbphilharmonie, a modern concert hall with an advanced acoustic system. The modern
glass building resembles a quartz crystal, with a height of 108 meters standing
on top of an old warehouse. I took a curved escalator, in an 82-meter long
tunnel, from the ground floor to reach the viewing deck on the 8th
floor at the bottom of the glass structure. The observation platform circles around
the building giving observers 360-degree views of Elbe River, the port, docks,
canals and highlights of the city of Hamburg.
At the top of the Elbphilharmonie Plaza, I
could see the cruise ships mooring on one side of the Elbe River and cargo
containers loaded on the other side of the river along docks. I was curious to
learn more about the transformation of the Hamburg Harbor, and to explore more details
about the working environment inside the port. The Discovery Dock just
opposite the Elbphilharmonie is an interactive museum, exhibiting the life and
activities in and around Hamburg port. My visit to Discovery Dock
was very informative and interactive. I experienced the different aspects of
activities in the port such as loading, offloading, customs and other logistics,
using monitors and interactive systems. The museum provides projections and 3D
models to display the past and the present of Hamburg port. There are several
stands with an interactive video of experts and stations equipped with VR
headsets to load shipping containers virtually.
In the evening, we had dinner at Tobias
Strauch restaurant on the waterfront opposite the Maritime Museum in
Magdeburger Hafen. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the waterfront restaurant and the
taste of a variety of Mediterranean starters and a delicious marinated fish
fillet. After dinner, we took a boat just outside the restaurant. It was a dark
night, navigating in the canals under moonlight. It was an amazing experience to
cross the quiet docks through high rise warehouses on both sides covered
in a magical blue light. The installation settings were created
under an art project called, ‘Blue Port Hamburg’, by the artist Michael Batz. The
Hamburg harbour and city’s beautiful landmarks were illuminated in blue after
dusk for ten days during the Cruise Days event.
We passed the docks and crossed under bridges, viewing
the new converted hotels, residential apartments and office blocks, until we reached
the Elbe River. We continued our navigation past small and large boats; and
massive cruise ships, wondering for some time in the middle of the river. We
ended our nightly tour on the bank of the Elbe River.
For more information about Hamburg visit www.hamburg-travel.com
To see more of Reza’s images of Hamburg go towww.amirinia.com/germany
Images and story © Mohammed Reza Amirinia
24 people found this feature helpful