The city of Hamburg has a new campaign: All over town, posters state that you can see “The entire world in your city”. There is now a new tourism card for locals that gives you discounted admission prices for attractions in your home town, advertising international experiences (such as a Japanese garden or Scandinavian churches). I think that’s great given that many people won’t be able to leave Hamburg this summer. And they’re right, you can feel a bit like being abroad when you go to the right spots. I did just that last Sunday when my mom briefly stopped by (and even before that poster campaign kicked off!).
I am, luckily, somewhat surrounded by anglophiles: Anna who spent 2019 in Britian, A who is half British himself, my aunt and my mom who teach English. Put shortly, scones are always well received. When I heard more than once (on the internet, that is) that Lühmanns Teestube in the far west of Hamburg was the place to be for tea time, I decided that I should give it a try – with another anglophile, of course.
Blankenese, the part of town where Lühmanns is, is not exactly around the corner: It almost takes an hour by light rail. It is only of the wealthiest suburbs, their average income is three times as much as the rest of Hamburg. Three times! Maybe (probably?) because of the affluence, this part of town is also remarkably picturesque with its beautiful houses and parks right next to the river Elbe. There’s the famous “staircase quarter” through which you can take a lovely walk after enjoying your tea time.
But back to the actual point – a very British pleasure. When we arrived at Lühmanns, we were instantly charmed. The café is decorated with countless items that must come directly from the island: cups with the royal family, British classic literature, maps of Cornwall. The quaint furniture and the green walls really give you a cosy tea room feeling and the menu adds to the Britishness with its choices: Cornish cream tea, cakes and pies.
I am only waiting for the next opportunity to go there! Maybe it’s a good thing this café is so far from me. I would hang out there all the time if it was closer.
A got a brand new bike. It allowed me to discover a brand new side about him: his love for bike tours.
There are two kinds of people: those who consider biking a form of transportation and those who enjoy the ride regardless of destination. I am the former. A is the latter. How do you reconcile these two personalities?You plan a bike tour through a new area that ends somewhere I wanted to go anyway. Bonus: If you live in Hamburg, everything is flat.
So last weekend, I asked our friends Maria and Stefan (who by the way started a travel blog during Corona to which I contributed the name, Yuppies on Tour) if they wanted to join and they sure did. We started two hours late because of repeated rainshowers and just when we got out of the tour and had biked for six minutes, another heavy rain came down. Did this discourage my fellow bikers? Not at all. Everyone was super determined to go on this tour!
What I love about biking is that my orientation massively increases. In the last year, thanks to biking most places in Hamburg, I have gained knowledge of how streets intersect and how far things really are from each other. It’s almost embarrassing to admit for which routes I used to take the metro, only because I didn’t know the next stop was right around the corner. This bike tour helped with that, too. At first we biked a good while through our neighboring Hamburg districts. I now know how far Farmsen is from where I live and that I cannot make friends with someone in Rahlstedt (too far, sorry). A says that Hamburg districts are just like their own little villages, but different from other federal states, there is zero countryside between them. But they do often have their own very distinct character even if officially it’s one big city.
After biking through the districts, we finally came to the nature reserve through which we could bike – such a gem hidden away for us who live in the actual city. There, we made a stop for our picnic (cheese! hummus! knäckebröd!), not even sure if we had already crossed into the next federal state, Schleswig-Holstein (the pretty state, remember?)
After about two hours, we reached Ahrensburg, the city where real nice mansions line the alleys and even the train station looks good. I mean, which town has a good-looking train station?! Ahrensburg is much bigger than I thought with its 33,000 inhabitants and boasts a magnificent palace. (This is the part where I get to go to an interesting destination. Yes, many palaces these days!)
Because we had biked at a, well, leisurely pace we only arrived 40 minutes before the palace closed but we deemed it worth 8 euros admission fee to take a quick look anyway. You can even get married at the palace or host formal dinners, something I of course immediately picked up on, event planner that I am.
The palace was built in 1570 by Count Rantzau whose family lived there for seven generations until the Schimmelmann family took over. They were, as so often is the case in Schleswig-Holstein, associated with the Danish royal family. Schimmelmann was their treasurer. In 1932 they had to give up the palace “because of financial reasons”. Post-war-educated Germans that we are, we immediately speculated if Schimmelmann was Jewish and “financial reasons” were indeed other reasons. But further research did not indicate that, instead, it showed that he was a slave owner and generally not the nicest type of person. But nevertheless, he had an awesome crib:
We also briefly checked out the park (really, so nice!) and the pretty old trees (they were planted in 1765. Yep, that makes them older than the U.S.) but we had another destination we wanted to reach in time: the fruit orchard. As you might already know, picking strawberries myself is a recurring item on my bucket list for summers. When I found out last year that you can even pick your own raspberries in Hamburg, I was hooked. You have to go to Ahrensburg to do that, though, and last year I didn’t get around to it. So this year, with a 12-month-anticipation period, I was super thrilled when we biked onto the field in perfect weather to see loads and loads and loads of berries.
I eat raspberries every morning for breakfast but I usually only eat the frozen ones as fresh ones are ridiculously expensive and go bad within a day. (I don’t understand why, what do they to them in the stores?) After picking for twenty minutes, I had a supply for more than a week that was much cheaper than in the supermarket and also kept for days without molding. Success on all fronts!
But of course we didn’t stop there. The orchard also has strawberries and because we’re late in the strawberry season, they late variety called “Malwina” was ripe. Stefan was flabbergasted with this strawberry. “It’s huge! It’s so sweet! This is sick!” he kept exclaiming as he and Maria gathered what must have been four or five kilos.
We were surprised to find it was 7 pm by the time we were done berry picking. Didn’t we just leave the house and start our tour? A and I had decided from the beginning that we would take the train home but our fellow bikers were more ambitious: they biked all the way home. We parted ways and biked to Bargteheide, a small town where the train stops. You’d think it’s just an unimpressive bedroom community but biking through I saw several interesting second hand fashion boutiques and a bulk stores! The most extraordinary feature of Bargteheide for me was the water parting:
The rain that falls on this side, it says, flows with the rivers Elbe and Alster and to the North sea, the rain on the other side runs in the river Trave into the Baltic Sea. While I understand this is natural, I still found seeing the actual site fascinating.
Am I sad Corona limits us in terms of traveling to far places where many friends reside? Oh, yes. But microadventures make up for a lot!
You must think I am never home. That’s not true! I am home all week days as I still work (today is my last work day though!) and I have been home for weeks on end due to Corona. Especially since it was very uncertain what would be allowed in the summer, I tried and still try to plan smaller outings. In this particularly strange time, I feel even more grateful to be living in Hamburg now. The sea is so close and the surroundings of the city are just so nice! My aunt calls Schleswig-Holstein, the state where she lives and that is bordering Hamburg, the most beautiful federal state, and I am starting to agree. (Sometimes I feel bad for Lower Saxony, my former home state, for liking Schleswig-Holstein.)
Before we left Hamburg, we went to the mall in the Northern part of town because A needed a new phone. Also, because it was Fourth of July and going to a temple of consumerism seemed like a decent way of celebrating America. This was a very interesting experience for me personally. I’ve noticed that in the last five years or so my ability to process malls and stores has decreased by, I don’t know, 100 procent?! I just can’t take in all the things going on there. At the same time, I’m still fascinated with it and I want to look at all the stores, but it also stresses me out. This mall has 240 stores and almost 40,000 shoppers daily. Daily! I spent 40 minutes there and spent 30 euros on stationery so for me this is also a place to burn money very quickly.
We continued to Heiligenhafen, our actual destination, where we were offered even more opportunity to celebrate Fourth of July: They had a diner! A real American diner! Well, it’s debatable how real it was. It was not run by Americans and the food was very good.
We did walk around in the little town that literally translated is Holyharbor but the weather really wasn’t ideal. At least I got to use the rain jacket my mom handed down to me a while ago! Because it was so rainy, we took advantage of the musical offer the church made. A free organ and trumpet concert was happening on Saturday night and when they started playing, I thought the Queen would now make her regal entrance, so festive was it. The churches in that areas are also built in a very special way with these “steps” of the roofs that usually only the hanseatic houses have (I think. I don’t know much about Northern Germany architecture.)
The next morning, the weather got a little better and we drove to one of the biggest German islands, Fehmarn, which is located right opposite Holyharbor. We actually had wanted to go there but it was impossible to find accomodation. Guess what, everyone wants to go to the domestic holiday destinations now…
Fehmarn is very different from the islands I am used to. When we entered, I was amazed that there are large roads, big supermarkets and several small towns. I’ve mostly been to the East Frisian Islands (you can walk around those in a half day and there are no cars allowed) or the Stockholm archipelago. Fehmarn is nothing like that!
It even has several museums. Okay, those aren’t very extensive collections, but still. We chose to go to the Search and Rescue boat.
We have a German Maritime Search and Rescue Service that operates entirely on membership fees, private donations and legacies. I find this remarkable and also a little scary because this service is obviously very needed: only this year already, I’ve heard several reports about people in very critical situations at sea in Germany. A few years ago, two rappers made a song about the Search and Rescue Service to raise funds for them:
Our last stop was the huge bench they put by one of the beaches. From there we watched the kitesurfers for a good while before we headed home. It takes less than two hours to go to Fehmarn. Did I mention I really enjoy living in the North? In a few years, they will complete the Fehmarn-Belt-Tunnel. Then, a train will go directly and super fast from Hamburg to Copenhagen and Sweden. I can’t wait!