Germany: Whistlestop tour of Frankfurt, Berlin and Hamburg

Posted on February 12, 2011

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It’s 2011 and I’m back on the road. I’m now back based in the lovely city of Paris and the travels are commencing. Firstly, a whistle stop tour of Germany (well, part of it.)

Frankfurt is a hub in terms of logistics, with many trains and planes passing through, and also as a financial district. It’s a mix of high rise and beautiful old buildings and churches. Situated on the Rhine there are some nice parts to wander around.

I took a tip from The New York Times and ate at Holbein’s Restaurant (Holbeinstraße 1 60596 Frankfurt, Germany – 069 660566-66) which is part of a museum. It has high ceilings and is a mix of old building and new glass. In summer I imagine the terrace would be an easy please to while away an evening. The menu is a touch confusing with mains shown first. There is a good mix of plates but none were what I would consider to be German. I had a tasty beef carpaccio with Artichoke salad followed by seared sesame yellow fin tuna with Asian vegetables.  It’s not cheap, around 50 euros per person without wine but the meal was delicious.

Next stop was Berlin, on the Deutsche Bahn Ice train. Prompt comfortable and with wifi access, the 4 hours journey was a breeze.

I didn’t get out  and about nearly as much as I’d have liked in Berlin and despite staying in Mittel, a trendy area, I ended up on the wrong side with little around the hotel! I however find two good tips:
Cafe Einstein has two locations in Berlin. It serves a range of food and the Wiener Schnitzel with vegetables was delicious.
Also, a freind took me to a great restaurant which, as the name suggests, serves food associated with the Black Forest region. Scwarzwaldstuben serves hearty plates of food and a range of german beers. I got my sauerkraut fix whilst I was there and got to use my favourite German words: kartoffeln (potatoes). Dinner and drinks came to a very reasonable 25euros.

In Hamburg I found a couple of gems. The Sofitel hotel was reasonably priced and a wonderful place to stay. I didn’t want to leave the hotel. When I finally dragged myself out I was introduced to two good restaurants:

Die Bank has kept much of the old bank feel about it, with high ceilings and a formal feel, plus bank notes at every turn. It serves a range fo food which is fantastic, and not ridiculously expensive.

FicshMarkt near the harbour is tucked away and was a great  find. They have a real fish counter so you can see what you are about to order. The staff are friendly and the food was wholesome. Their daily special lunch for 15 euros, a bargain.

Schoenes Leben is in the old dock buildings – beautiful red stone buildings with high ceilings. Being by the water I had local fish, with German pickles, kartoffeln and senf sauce. A hearty lunch which seems to be the theme of my week.

And now for a bit on my new found learnings on Germany as a whole: Germany is federalised so there are many main cities. Berlin may be the capital in name, and is a wonderful city but there are ‘hubs’ in other places: Frankfurt is the financial and travel capital; Berlin doesn’t have much industry, it runs from public service and also a growing Arts and Culture scene; Hamburg is host to some of the most important media organizations and is situated around a major port (but be wary of the flights – connections can be terrible!)

Right, I’m off for some Sauerkraut and senf…

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Posted in: Germany