In the morning, we had a walking tour of the city of Hamburg, strolling in the beautiful courtyards and the luxury shopping streets, reaching the highlights of the city such as St Nicholas Cathedral, Hamburg Town Hall and the Kontorhaus district. We also visited Miniatur Wunderland and the International Maritime Museum.
In the evening, we took the metro to St Pauli Landungsbrücken (St. Pauli Piers. A large crowd was already gathered there in preparation to enjoy the Grand Hamburg Cruise Days Parade and fireworks. We had the dinner invitation in The Blockbräu brew house in a prime room at the top floor to taste German cuisine while watching the procession of large cruise ships along the Elbe River. The restaurant was full of people, celebrating the occasion. Music was in the air and a live band played for the guests all night. I enjoyed my fresh orange juice, the fresh fish fillet and delicious apple crumble dessert.
I had very good views of the Elbe River behind windows inside the Blockbräu restaurant. The Blockbräu stands where the first pier was built in 1839 at the edge of the harbour. The current converted brew house is a historical site, built of sand-colored tuff stone in 1907, the largest terminal and landing place for ships in thePort of Hamburg.
I went to the roof terrace of Blockbräu, a vantage point to get a better view of the parade. The large wide terrace was very crowded, seated people eating and drinking and some standing on the edge overlooking the river. I managed to find a good spot to take photos. It was very exciting to experience those dramatic moments, witnessing the huge ships from popular cruise companies passing by, sounding loud fog-horns as a salute to indicate their presence to naval authorities and the large number of spectators. After sunset, the blue light illuminated the port with very bright reflections in the sky, atop the buildings and over the boats.
As the night got darker and darker, the cruise ships slowly started their parade and navigated again in front of the gathered crowd on the bank of the Elbe River heading towards the sea. The biggest highlight of the Cruise Days began with splendid fireworks. It was a spectacularly colourful event combining fire, light and music for over 30 minutes. There were different kinds of fireworks from each cruise ship.
The Cruise Days takes place every two years on the bank of the Elbe River, transforming the port of Hamburg to an atmospheric cruise oriented event. There were protests against the Cruise Days event by some environmentalist groups who were trying to raise awareness about pollution. However, the 7th edition of the Cruise Days event in September 2019 was another great success for the Hanseatic city of Hamburg.
I began my third day in Hamburg, excited about an adventurous program. It was a sunny day with a refreshing breeze in the air, perfect for cycling around the city. There are plenty of options to go cycling in Hamburg and its city centre, around the Alster Lake, in the city parks, around Harbour and HafenCity, along the Elbe River through riverside landscapes or heading to the countryside. You could either hire a bike to discover the city or join a guided tour.
A group of us walked from our hotel to St. Pauli in Hamburg-Mitte borough on the right bank of the Elbe River. Our guide helped us to setup our bikes before setting off for our guided tour. We took the route leading to the Elbe River. The guide stopped at certain locations to describe the location and scenery. We stopped briefly by the Hamburg Fish Market and continued our journey along the converted warehouses and newly built residential buildings and office blocks. Our next stop was the museum harbour at Övelgönne, housing several historical ships. We continued cycling and reached the sandy Elbe beach in Övelgönne. We couldn’t cycle through the beach. We got off our bikes and walked along a beautiful narrow riverside path, parallel to the beach, passing by some old traditional houses covered by flowers and hanging flower baskets.
We continued our journey along the river. It was spectacular scenery to watch the port and cargo ships on the other side of the river. We cycled through a park to finish our cycling tour by Elbchaussee. There was a small harbour with a few boats. We could have continued cycling along the river but it was lunchtime. It was delightful to taste the seafood in Dübelsbrücker kajüt, a fish restaurant in Teufelsbrück, located on a houseboat.
The Cruise Days was a good reason to visit Hamburg. But the City of Hamburg is always open to embrace tourists and visitors throughout the year. I would love to return to Hamburg and explore many other hidden parts of the city.
For more info about Hamburg visit https://www.hamburg-travel.com/
To see more of Reza’s images of Hamburg go towww.amirinia.com/germany
Images and story © Mohammed Reza Amirinia