Germany’s port city is in style with fashion travellers
HAMBURG – The guide on the double-decker tour bus picked up a microphone and told her captured audience: “Less than 100 km from the North Sea, our city is Europe’s second largest inland port.”
Riding through its streets I learned that Hamburg – picturesquely situated near the River Elbe, two Alster lakes and countless canals – has more bridges than Venice, is home base to around 400 merchant vessels and is where the Beatles’ international career began.
“We’re approaching Neuer Wall, Hamburg’s top fashion address,” continued the guide.
I quickly scanned the street: Escada, Hermes, Montblanc (its home is Hamburg).
“It’s our Fifth Avenue,” I heard as I stepped from the bus for sightseeing – along the aisles.
“Don’t miss Akris – it’s different,” advised a local fashionista of this high-brow street. Classic lace creations in its window were in the 2,000-euro ($3,000 Cdn.) range. Moving along I spotted a cotton/sequin skirt (569 euros or $840 Cdn.) at Unger, and heard the chirping of birds when I walked through its door. Jil Sander’s boutique was not to be missed (she’s a local).
From Neuer Wall I made the short walk to Jungfernstieg (running along the center city’s Binnenalster lake, it’s one of Europe’s best strolls).
First stop: Tee Gschwendner – a teashop featuring teapots, teacups, even jams. But connoisseurs come for the around-the-world tea selection (100 grams, 3-euro range – $4.50 Cdn).
Next I visited Gerry Weber for my first purchase: signature sunglasses (39 euros – $57 Cdn).
In celebration of my new shades, I headed to the top floor of Alsterhaus – Hamburg’s biggest department store – for lunch (buffet, 9 euros – $13.50 Cdn). Its view of the lake is among the best.
Continuing along Jungfernstieg I window-shopped at Prange, a shoe store carrying special occasion (at special prices) men’s and women’s footwear. Only four doors further Prange Duo, the store’s less expensive version, warranted my attention.
The triangle formed by Neuer Wall, Jungfernstieg and Gansemarkt showcases numerous glass-covered shopping passage arcades (for which Hamburg shopping is noted) that give pedestrians a weather-protected thoroughfare.
In Hanse-Viertel arcade I discovered Vento Norte de Alegria and its enormous collection of bathrobes (100 euro – $150 – range). Then there was Giselle Hamburg – it’s a one-of-a-kind women’s clothing boutique in Galleria arcade.
Within this triangle corridor is ABC Strasse. The presence of Chanel gave me a clue as to the area’s exclusivity. Donaldson sold anything “Mickey Mouse,” Antiques B.C. Blume specialized in silver tea sets.
Called “the high-volume department store scene,” Monckebergstrasse (“Mo” to locals) was a mile of merchandise. It’s home to Sport Karstadt (it sports a roof-top ice-skating rink) and Gortz – both the largest stores of their kind in Europe.
Upon walking through the door of Reuker HP, owner Hans Peter Reuker greeted me. His clothing was featured in the front of the store, his sewing machine and ironing board were visible in the back and his clothing was reasonable.
Remember, Hamburg’s stores are closed on Sundays.