Of Gigs In Hamburg
Some myths about European cities could do with an upgrade. One of these has Hamburg labelled as an eminently professional destination associated with the work sector. While there is some truth to that, it would be a crass error to reduce Germany’s second largest city to the sole status of business haven. Indeed, under the hood of that metropolis, which forms its own federal state (it covers an area of 755 square kilometres), seethes a cultural scene which is well worth venturing into. This nerve centre of Germanic arts also boasts a highly prominent music scene.
Any fan of The Beatles knows that Hamburg is the place where the group hatched their plot to rise to stardom. There are even routes which take you to the spots trodden by the Fab Four. But, far from aiming to live off the past and beatlemania,Hamburg features a powerful network of concert halls with highly varied programmes, both in terms of live music and DJs eager to blast out any kind of sound. Hamburg is a cosmopolitan capital and this comes out in their open-mindedness about all artistic activity.
A tour of these live music clubs might start at III&70, a venue on Schulterblatt street which spotlights upcoming artists. From singer-songwriters to rock groups, electronic music and jam sessions (the most crowded nights of the week).III&70 also has a café famed for its generous breakfasts and an outdoor terrace with some fabulous table football.
Still in the Schulterblatt area, a short walk away we come to Kleiner Donner, the hub of Hamburg’s hip hop scene. While small, this basement locale packs a punch. Here, DJs and MCs eager to make their mark combine explosive scratches with freakish rhythms. This is one of the city’s coolest clubs – be sure to get there early at the weekend; otherwise you are likely to get shut out, as their capacity is rather limited.
Pressing on with the itinerary as far as Nobistor street, in the city centre, we stop off at Molotow, one of the most respected concert halls in Hamburg. Inaugurated in 1990, in the run-up to the times of alternative rock fever, such groups as The White Stripes and At The Drive -Inhave graced their stage. Their current offerings are headed by punk, as well as independent pop and rock bands. Like Kleiner Donner, this is a basement venue which acts as a pressure cooker when crowded. A hundred per cent rock and roll.
Let’s leave behind the “modern” styles and venture into the world of jazz and swing – the latter on the up and up of late. Indeed, Hamburg’s Cotton Club is a living history of live music in Germany. In fact, it is the oldest venue is in town devoted to jazz – in 2009 they celebrated their fiftieth anniversary. Located near Planten un Blomen, a park and botanical gardens in the heart of Hamburg – their own Central Park, to be sure – Cotton Club offers live music all days of the week. And, their gigs are reinforced by an exquisite array of house cocktails.
Another historic place of mandatory pilgrimage is Logo, sited next door to Universität Hamburg. Opened in 1974, its small stage was honoured by the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen, The Jayhawks, Peaches, Modest Mouse, Rammstein, Blink 182, Ben Folds Five, Dillinger Escape Plan, Phoenix and Oasis before their rise to stardom. Nowadays they feature established groups interspersed with upcoming talent touting to make a name for themselves in pop and rock. Logo also offers an appealing programme of tribute bands.
Fire up and discover Hamburg’s musical scene – book your Vueling here.
Text by Xavi Sánchez for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
A tour in Hamburg
The first thing that struck us at the Port of Hamburg and, apparently it’s really trendy at the moment, are the so-called beach parties. On the terraces and in the bars close to the port they have set up hammocks, palm trees and spread the floors with sand. All of thiswith a view to replicating, as far as the cold climate of this city will permit, the cafés of Ibiza and their sunsets. Chill-out lounges, mojitos and caipiriñas in bars such asHamburg del Mar (in St.-Pauli-Landungsbrücken/Parkdeck) or the HCBC.
One of Hamburg’s best attractions is its Fischmarkt, or the Hamburg Fish Market (at Große Elbstraße 137). This is a huge, bustling open-air market that is set up beside the historic covered fish market where they also hold concerts you can go to with the whole family. It will call for an early rise if you want to pick up the best produce, as it only opens on Sunday mornings between 0500 and 0900.
Wandering through the port you will come across the huge ‘City of Warehouses’ or Warehouse District of Hamburg, the Speicherstadt, with its cobbled streets, criss-crossed by canals and red brick buildings. It was built between 1883 and 1927 and in its early days it had one of the biggest warehouses in the world, where merchandise arriving from at the port was dealt with. Now you will find it home to restaurants and museums.
The Port of Hamburg is undergoing big changes. In one huge area still under development, a key urban planning programme has been designed to rebuild the zone, called HafenCity and where they are building homes and offices. Rising above all these buildings will be the Elbphilharmonie, the impressiveElba Philharmonic that is expected to be inaugurated in 2014. On top of one of the old port warehouses they are building what looks like a glass crown that will be home to a concert hall with room for more than 2,000 spectators.
We were told that Hamburg has two brands of beer made in the city. One of these is the Astra beer which is made in St Pauli and which is easily recognisable thanks to its logo of a red heart which is also a port symbol. The other beer made in the city is Holsten which is produced in the district of Altona-Nord.
We really liked these 3 places for eating out:
1. Bullerei with its pleasant terrace and a healthy mid-week menu.
2. Fischhandel with its high, shared tables in Colonnaden street offers one cheap, balanced plate of food which is what everyone asks for and only costs 6.50 €. You place your order inside and they let you know when it’s ready by ringing a bell. We had a huge bowl of fussini with vegetables, wild mushrooms and a good portion of fish that tasted heavenly. When you finish eating, everyone takes their plates back inside which means they save waiting at tables in order for them to keep the prices down.
3. Gröninger Privatbrauerei serves typical Bavarian dishes: huge ham knuckles, cold cuts such as leberkäse, the traditional sauerkraut (pickled cabbage salad) or bratkartoffeln (sautéed potatoes). Prepare to loosen your belt as their portions are enormous. And the place is very warm and picturesque with enormous wooden tables to rub shoulders with other diners.
Without a doubt, the most famous street in Hamburg is the Reeperbahn in Sankt Pauli with its sex shops, strip clubs and all sorts of bars. It was here that the Beatles launched their career in 1960. They played their first concert at the Indra Club but the place where they really started to make a name for themselves was at the Star Club. The place no longer exists but there is a plaque that commemorates their presence in the city. Here’s a link to the whole route that remembers the period the Liverpool boys spent in Hamburg.
Also very well-known for its football team, the FC St Pauli is much loved by all Hamburgers and has a pirate skull for its logo. You can buy t-shirts and all sorts of gadgets at the FC St Pauli shop beside the football stadium or at another, more central shop on the Reeperbahn itself at No. 63-65.
Außenalster is one of the man-made lakes that forms the River Alster in the heart of the city. It is one of the favourite places to enjoy a sunny day and the meeting place for residents of Hamburg where they go to do different sports and activities.
Why not take a trip to Hamburg? Have a look at our flights here!
Two hours in Hamburg
By Marlys and Michael Easy Hiker
Let’s be totally honest about this: The best thing about Deutsche Bahn’s Across-the-Country 1-day rail pass (the “Quer-durchs-Land” ticket or QdL for short) is that it’s very cheap. 48 Euros for two people on any regional train in Germany: that’s an unbeatable offer.
Journeys take a little longer than on the fast IC trains, that much is for certain, and their trajectories may be slightly more convoluted, but that can be a benefit, too.
Recently, on our way back from a hike in the Mecklenburger Seenplatte, for example, we took the opportunity to break up what would otherwise have been a very long train journey to make a two-hour stop in Hamburg. Two hours in Hamburg are not a lot for such a big city, Germany’s largest after Berlin, but we had been there several times and knew where to go. In the end, we were surprised how many of the city’s main sites we were able to cover.
From the central train station, head straight (down Mönckebergstraße) for the so-called Binnenalster, Hamburg’s poshest mile. Along its banks, you can find some of Germany’s biggest private banks, most expensive hotels and fanciest restaurants.
The huge and opulent building on the artifical lake’s southern shore is Hamburg’s City Hall, built in the 19th century with the era’s typical sense for flash and grandeur.
Walk down past the Alsterfleet canal, underneath the Alsterarkaden colonnades, before turning right on Stadthausbrücke and heading for St Michael’s Church, Hamburg’s main landmark since it was built in the 17th century – famous not least because it was the first building of the city that many of her visitors, coming from the sea, were able to spot in the distance.
The church may look rather austere from the outside, but the interiors are as tacky as a West End theatre. (Entrance is free, but you are encouraged to donate €2 when you leave. Alternatively, you can squeeze by the burly lady who guards the exit door. Best to wait, probably, for one of the other tourists to distract her with a question – that’s what I did, anyway.)
The street on the right hand side of the church, by the way, leads you straight to St Pauli – Reeperbahn, Star Club and all that. (Unfortunately, we had no time for that.)
Instead, we turn left out of the church, past the modern offices of Gruner & Jahr, one of Germany’s largest publishing houses, in the direction of the harbour, one of the ten largest in the world.
Turn left to head for the Speicherstadt (“warehouse town”), my favourite part of Hamburg and one of Europe’s greatest works of 19th century architectural engineering, grand and graceful at the same time, a cross between Venice and London’s old docklands. The buildings were all warehouses once, of course, but are today mainly occupied by theatre companies, museums and tourist attractions such as the “Hamburg Dungeon”.
I could easily have spent the rest of the day walking from canal to canal, but there was no time. Instead, we took the subway train back to the city centre (if you have a Länderticket or a QdL Ticket, you are also free to use subways and S-Bahn trains) and had just about enough time for a quiet cup of coffee outside in the April sun on Mönckebergstraße, the city’s main shopping street, 5 minutes away from the central train station.
By Marlys and Michael Easy Hiker
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The Beatles Route around Hamburg
Hamburg is the city where John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best first started out, where they met and made their first recording. By walking through the streets of Hamburg, you can find numerous references to the time they spent in the city.
The time spent by the Beatles in Hamburg spans a period from August 1960 to December 1962. Back then, the city was the third largest port in the world and a bad reputation hung over it like a dark cloud. It was known as a city of vice, crime and prostitution. There’s no wonder why the parents of the English teenagers at the time did everything they could to convince them not to go.
Their first performance was at the el Indra club. The place has almost kept the same name but is now called “Indra, where the Beatles played first”. Find it at 64 Große Freiheit. A plaque by the door commemorates that event on 17 August 1960. Because nobody had heard of The Beatles back then, no record remains of their time at the venue.
When Indra had to close due to complaints from the neighbours, the Beatles moved on to playing at theTop Ten Club.Feeling very put out, the owner of Indra reported Harrison to the police (who was a minor at the time) and he was deported. One week later it was the turn of McCartney and Best to be deported for starting a fire after burning a condom in their room.
The city has also paid its own unique tribute to the time spent here by the Beatles with the Beatles Platz, a city square, but circular, meant to represent a vinyl record and where you’ll find statues of the five Beatles, including Stuart Sutcliffe who died on 10 April 1962 from a brain haemorrhage. On the floor of this square are inscribed the titles of some of the most successful singles released by the Beatles.
The musical career of the Beatles began here in St. Pauli. The composer, songwriter, orchestra conductor and producer from Hamburg, Bert Kaempfert *16.10.1923 +21.06.1980 and the music editor and lawyer from Hamburg Alfred K. Schacht *23.01.1916 +23.10.1990 discovered this band of young musicians at the Top-Ten-Club: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Tony Sheridan. They signed them up and, on 22 and 23 June 1961, the first vinyl recordings of the Beatles were released: MY BONNIE . THE SAINTS . WHY . CRY FOR SHADOW . AIN’T SHE SWEET…
Another of the venues where the Beatles performed during their time in Hamburg is the Star Club, also on Große Freiheit, and only a few metres from Beatles Platz. The place is no longer there but a plaque remains to commemorate the passage of the boys from Liverpool. It’s a little hard to find because you have to turn down one of the side streets leading off the main road.
The Star Club helped lift the band to stardom and was where the young group began to shine.
One day, back in 1960, five young musicians from Liverpool walked out on stage here at “Kaiserkeller” on Großen Freiheit. They were still young and rather rough around the edges, but Pete Best, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Stuart Sutcliffe would soon become world famous as the Beatles. Sutcliffe died in 1962 and Ringo Starr took over from Pete Best in the same year. At the TOP-TEN club and STARCLUB, the Beatles were able to set out on a career path that would never be repeated.
The plaque was presented on 23 February 1990 to celebrate a party held here to remember those early performances by the group 30 years before.
Purely by chance, we headed over to Zwick at 1 Millerntorplatz for a hamburger. This place forms part of a chain of rock bars in Hamburg. Inside, they have a collection of very interesting photographs and posters featuring the Beatles. They play live music at Zwick and the place is decorated with a whole host of guitars in all shapes and sizes hung on the walls and in display cases.
Beatlemania was around until only very recently. The Hamburg Beatles Museum, with its thousand pieces and memories spread throughout the five-story building, closed at the end of June due to falling visitor numbers.
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