A Sea of Lights in Hamburg’s Advent

In England, everything is permitted that is not expressly prohibited. In Germany, everything is forbidden that is not expressly permitted. And in Austria everything is allowed that is forbidden, because in our country there are usually two signs on a door: "Do not enter!" and "Mind the step!" What does this have to do with our trip to Hamburg? Despite the lockdown imposed on 22 November, one could travel (vaccinated or recovered) at any time. So there was no legal basis for not making the short trip that had been booked long before.

I would never have thought it possible how much effort the people of Hamburg put into making their city shine like Christmas. Even shopping centres, almost always and everywhere temples of bad taste, were overwhelmingly, but never overloaded, decorated. The main railway station welcomed its guests with a sensational Christmas bauble in addition to light decorations. The Levantehaus was so enchantingly decorated that the visit can easily be described as a highlight of the trip. The market "Weißerzauber Jungfernstieg" had neither a special range of goods nor did it spread a Christmas atmosphere (The uninterrupted continuous sound system with the bilingual announcement about the obligation to wear a mask and distance rules clearly served to drive away visitors.), but from the opposite side of the street it looked fantastically beautiful in its dress of lights. Overall, Hamburg’s Christmas markets encouraged less shopping than strolling/lingering. They were all individually designed: A sea of lights at Rathausplatz, fairytale figures around St. Petri, crispy houses at Gänsemarkt or elves in Bergedorf. They all served good mulled wine and in Bergedorf there was delicious fish and seafood. It was particularly noticeable that there were far fewer people in the evening than during the day. (A real relief, considering what usually happens after dark at Vienna’s Christmas markets). Perhaps it was due to the separate areas for gastronomy that had been introduced because of Corona. In any case, it was pleasant to stroll along the stalls. We would have loved to visit the Christmas market "Hafenzauber" at the Landungsbrücken. Now I know from experience that "near" in northern Germany does not necessarily mean "close to", but this Christmas market must be really far away. We spent two evenings trying to find it and failed miserably. Instead, we took an evening walk along the Elbepromenade, where hardly any people were to be seen at this time of year.

During Advent, Hamburg presents itself less as the pearl of the north than as a metropolis of light and is definitely worth a visit.


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