Lucie Wolner - 2013-01-12
Hamburg cultivates a taste for non-conformism and alternative trends. Art, culture, fashion, gastronomy: Germany’s second city has a great deal to offer tourists in search of new experiences. Join us for a journey to the heart of Schanze and Karolinenviertel, the city’s liveliest quarters.
In the heart of Sankt Pauli and very near the Reeperbahn - a street known the world over for its sex shops and strip-tease joints, the Schanzeviertel and Karolinenviertel quarters are (also) great for going out and about. Fashion is the main draw, but it isn’t rare to see black flags emblazoned with a skull and crossbones at neighbourhood windows: it’s the unofficial emblem of the local football club, the FC Sankt Pauli. It seems the flags honour a 14th century pirate named Störtebecker, believed (by some) to be a sort of Robin Hood of the North Sea. Jolly Roger is highly symbolic of the spirit that permeates the quarter. Sankt Pauli is the first team in Germany to have eradicated racism, homophobia and sexism; it’s also one of the rare teams to have been saved from bankruptcy by its fans. In short, St. Pauli incarnates the identity of Schanze and Karolinenviertel.
You can, of course, enjoy these neighbourhoods without loving football. At weekends in Schanze, as it’s called here, fashion icons get together on Schulterblatt Street at one of the many cafés with terraces. Just opposite, the Rote Flora (a building that looks abandoned) is an autonomous culture centre where political meetings are held. Further on, Bullerei has become the restaurant to try during a visit. One side is a brasserie where you can wash down your hamburger with a Fritz Cola (the local, alternative take on Coca-Cola); the other is a restaurant where meat has pride of place. After a meal, you might have a cup of coffee at Elbgold Kaffee next door, a café where the different blends’ aromas and flavours will transport you from Africa to Latin America. Tea time, the cakes at Herr Max, in a former dairy, will make anyone with a sweet tooth melt with pleasure.
A few short steps from Schanze, in Karoviertel, as it is also known, a convivial flea market is held Saturdays until 4 p.m. in the shadow of a bunker over thirty metres high. The Hanseplatte music shop features labels and groups from Hamburg. For fashion, Marktstrasse is the place to go. Many boutiques, such as Garment, have their ateliers here. Fashion plates will prefer Herr von Eden for classic suits. Purists will head for YBDPT, a boutique created by fashion and graphic designers. There are also quite a few second-hand shops where any number of little treasures await discovery.
Out on the town: