Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Cool in Hamburg

I should be giving you an idea of some of the many things I've been up to lately.  It hasn't all been moping around and feeling ill, but I realise this blog might have rather given the impression that it has.  Rest assured I have done some great things which I have enjoyed a lot.

For instance, after Rhodes,  I went to the German city of Hamburg.   In a way it was my first visit.  I say "in a way" because actually, I spent 18 months living really near Hamburg as a kid.  I learned to sing  "Auf der Lüneburger Heide"  (although not exactly the same as this bloke - different hat, for a start))  I ate Makronen at Christmas and I went to the Domfest in the Spring.  But I don't remember the city itself - which would have been very different in my childhood from what it is now, anyhow.

So it was all new to me, really, and I'd like to tell you about the place where I stayed, which was unlike anywhere I'd been before.  It was called Superbude St Pauli and it calls itself a hotel-hostel.  I had no idea what a hotel-hostel is, but it turned out (predictably perhaps) to be a bit of hotel and a bit of hostel.

At first I thought it was pure hostel, and a grotty one at that, right in the middle of Hamburg's Graffitiville

and a grim looking exterior  it had (below) - I think it used to be a factory. 

and the entrance isn't exactly prepossessing. You either take that slow red lift, or climb up some tatty concrete stairs.

Then you get inside and it starts to make more sense. The walls are bright yellow, and there's a big lobby where you can hang out, get snacks and drinks, play on the computer or read the magazines provided - mostly about trainers or skateboarding fashion, it's true, and also in German - but it's bright and spacious with room to socialise and it's really very welcoming....

The decor suggests that the place has all been put together on a shoestring, using recycled materials, but take a closer look and it quickly becomes obvious that lots of money has gone into it. Sure, some of the armchairs below appear to be made out of old wheelbarrows ...

They are even as uncomfortable as sitting in real wheelbarrows would be, since there is no room for a normal human rear end in them. But look again and try to imagine them as real wheelbarrows, you'll see that no real wheelbarrow was ever that shape.  No, these hard, uncomfortable chairs were specially made. They're Art. .

So were the magazine racks thoughtfully placed next to the toilets - that's not a real flip flop nailed to the wall. It's a bit of interior decor.  

And the furnishings in the room isn't really made of recycled wood. And the phrase written in large letters opposite our bed was rather elegantly spread over the grey wall, and when I followed it up I learned about some interesting music  I hadn't encountered before.(click to hear)

The washbasins and taps in the bathrooms are expensive and elegant.  There are beautiful fresh flowers on the long tables at breakfast.

And organic juices. And everything very, very clean.

I was puzzling about what it all meant when in a flash of inspiration, I realised that the Superbude St. Pauli is very, very cool.   Trust me not to recognise coolness when I see it!    

I decided I really liked it, and not just because the more I looked the cooler it seemed.  .Actually, when I went out to explore, I realised the area around was very cool too.  True, it was graffiti-covered and scruffy but it too was full of organic shops and music and interesting restaurants, grand old buildings painted up crazy, and home made constructions catching the eye...

I notice that Tripadvisor and give Superbude St. Pauli top marks. It costs about the same as a regular Ibis or Holiday Inn, but I'd choose it any time.    Take a look at its entertaining website here.

I will probably write more about Hamburg, but next post, I hope to tell you about some of the things I've been doing closer to home.


  1. What a fun place :) I see what you mean about it not feeling terribly welcoming from the outside, though!

    I haven't been to Hamburg - in fact I haven't seen very much of Germany, it's somewhere we'd like to spend more time.

  2. I don't think 'cool' is me somehow...but I really enjoyed the chap took me back years to listening to the Kellergeister (expat Germans of a certain age) singing traditional songs...and a few more controversial ones when the wine was flowing.

  3. Looks good and interesting in a different sort of way ..nice to see a bit of colour. Mind you if you are twenty something maybe sitting in a wheelbarrow is cool .. but I fear I may get wedged in there and suffer a form of builders bum.
    Better I stick with the old and fuddy duddy comfy sofa's!
    Vicky x

  4. That Hamburg hostel initially seemed rather hostile, but the more you described it the better it sounded. It's wonderfully unique!

  5. It looks like my kind of place too. I love hostels, so a cross between with a focus on the artistic and unconventional would really appeal to me. Thanks for the tip, Jenny!

  6. I loved your cause I would love to travel to Germany some day. I speak the language and at my previous school had a German club. I loved your photos, too. Many thanks.

    1. Sorry, my comment was full of typos. Apologies, I normally check and edit but I guess I forgot to do it this time. I meant to say that "I loved your post because...". :-)

      Have a great weekend.

  7. I am jealous! I lived in Germany twice, but I have never visited Hamburg. It's on my list.

  8. What a great find. I will be sure to tell my children and a few other people I know who travel to Europe about this place. They are all young and would love it.

  9. Hi Jenny

    Superbude St Paul in Hamburg sounds fascinating. I love it and thank you for this information. It has been more than 20 years since I visited Hamburg.

    Have a great week

    Helen xx

  10. I've never been to Hamburg. Mrs. C. grew up in Germany and she has a hankering to see it again so we probably will one of these days.

  11. This looks like a lot of fun! I always fear traveling in Germany because of the expense, but I guess the good part is that you can stay in relatively cheaper situations and still have a very good time. Thanks.

    This is Manicddaily - - but I am writing on an iPad which wants me to use an old blogger address. k.

  12. Sounds like a fun and interesting area. Anyone can stay at a Holiday Inn anytime -- to have a find like that is what makes travel special.

    I might have to try that flip-flop idea in the bathroom at the cottage! Great idea!

  13. Jenny, one more thing -- thank you so much for your very kind and helpful comments on The Marmelade Gypsy. All the support means far more than you can know. Or maybe you do.

  14. I'm not sure it would be my cup of tea really but it does look fascinating. I'm a bore when it comes to furnishings etc. Glass and Chrome are more my thing. :D I've never been to Germany, it sounds interesting.

  15. Jenny,
    I liked the photo with tulips: There are interesting shelves and lighting above.
    And the flip flop for newspapers is geniusly!

  16. What a wonderful place - the best surprised often lurk behind grim walls!

  17. Places like that are much better than your standard chain, too. They have room to be part of the city without having to conform to corporate headquarters' ideas of how things "should" be.

  18. What an adventure! Thanks for posting

  19. I don't think the Superbude is quite my sort of cool or my sort of taste. For a start I wonder just how comfortable those chairs and benches are! But never having been to Hamburg, I couldn't suggest any alternative. I'm heading for some very comfortable but probably not very cool hotels on America's West Coast in the autumn!

  20. I wonder how many people never get past the forboding exterior. It does sound really interesting. I like that it challenges your perceptions and makes you think. It sounds like an intersting neighborhood, too.

  21. Character! It has oodles of character! ;)
    I would miss "cool", too.

  22. Curious is all, I am struck by the truck seat, finally, an interesting city Hamburg. Many greetings.

  23. I'm so glad you ended up liking the hotel/hostel. I admit I might have been a bit apprehensive at first, too. Proves you can't judge a book by its cover!

    I grew up in the southern part of Germany; the only time I visited Hamburg was for a one-day stay on my way to Copenhagen to get married.

  24. It actually looks very super-cool to me too! How fun to discover places like this, especially when you least expect it:)

  25. Very interesting. I rather like the older buildings and if it is cleaned up the city vibe could be fun.
    I think this could be a great way to re-populate a wasted, unused part of the city.

    cheers, parsnip

  26. oh wow...what a wicked cool the use of the wheelbarrow...i might try that...and the flip the creativeness...and all the! i love graffiti....

  27. Visually interesting...was your bed comfortable? That is my number one concern away from home...

  28. What a find. I love stumbling across gems like this.

  29. Jenny, thank you so muh for uch a kind and wonderful comment. You are right -- shingles is quite awful. But one can only hope the pain will end soon. And you are also right in that I have a home where I like very much being, wonderful friends and a terrific partner in Rick, who will help me during the hardest times. A very bad blip in the radar, but a blip none the same, and your wishes and encouragement mean so very much.

    I was thinking of you today and know this is the first mother's day without your own mum. I hope it was a day of sweet remembrance and not too much sorrow, although it has taken me many years not to experience that. Sending hugs across the sea.

  30. It sounds like a fascinating place to visit Jenny. It must be fun to find places like this with unexpected surprises - Dave

  31. I was wondering what to do with an old wheelbarrow. Thank you for a glimpse of yet another fascinating place.

  32. It's so nice to see comments pop up on the screen.......thank you. And thank you Jeanie for taking time to write - peoples' kindness and thoughtfulness is one of the wonderful things about blogging.

    Actually, e, my bed WAS comfortable. They spent the money where it mattered in that place. The shower was lovely and hot too!

    Looking forward to hearing about your West Coast trip, Nick. Are you going to blog about it?

    Yes, Joe, cool is as cool does in the case of this place..... I suppose there are different sorts. This is "funky cool" I guess......

    Haha! love the idea of wheelbarrow bum! :D

  33. oh wow...what an interesting place! My college son is in Switzerland now and last week Beligum next week Rome. I am in the same place as always..central pennsylvania!! so love seeing your photos and reading your adventures!

  34. It's good you had a whale of a good time(I borrowed your expression!) at Superbude.
    Not only this "funky cool" place arouses your curiosity as you get to know the details but also offers you satisfactory and comfortable seems worth staying.

  35. There’s something very (new) German about this place.
    All the old details are there, cleanliness, attention to detail, efficiency, comfort, but all dressed up as ‘cool’ and ‘art’.

    Sanitised grunge? I’d probably feel very comfortable there.

    Glad to hear you’re feeling more like yourself.

  36. Hi Jenny. It would certainly be a novelty to stay at the Superbude. Not so sure if it would be my cup of tea though.

    Sorry to hear you haven't been well. I didn't even know you had returned to blogging. I have a confession to make. After Blogger, in it's wisdom, deleted all my blog followers I tried to include everyone in a new blog roll. I thought I had included everyone - unfortunately I missed your blog. I am trying to make amends :O)

  37. Thanks for "returning" Valerie - it's such a pain when the system deletes things!Yes, Friko, I thought it seemed very "German" too but I don't like making too many generalisations about someone else's national characteristics because it's so easy to get it wrong. - but never mind, as a German, you have said it for me. There's so much interesting creative stuff in Germany and I certainly felt that the scruffiness of the surrounding area was making some kind of a statement about the immaculate cleanliness of elsewhere in Hamburg.

    Rachel, it would be interesting to read your take on Germany. You get around to so many fascinating places!

    Helen, I like hearing these songs too partly because they remind me of hearing them in childhood, but also because they're a sort of national thing - they mean a lot. I have a suspicion they might be a pretty right wing thing in Germany but I am not familiar enough with the culture to know for sure. But never mind, if they are - I still enjoy hearing them.
    Yes, Jon, I felt slightly intimidated at first but got to completely appreciate the casual atmosphere.
    Cuban, now I see you have a gift for languages too. Your blog shows you to be a pretty international person. I am envious!

  38. It looks great! I stayed in my first hostel ever in Sarajevo and while it wasn't as cool as this, I'd definitely consider a hostel again. I'm really keen on visiting Hamburg one day. I think I'll like its gritty urban landscapes and doesn't it have canals too?

  39. I was laughing at this discovery of "cool" via uncomfortable wheelbarrows and all! Particularly since my older siblings had stories of wheeling each other around in the neighborhood wheelbarrow when they were kids. (It didn't sound comfortable either, and they would push either meanly into it.) Goodness knows why there was a wheelbarrow in the first place. We weren't on a farm. We were in university campus housing!

    The decor is certainly artsy cool. The giant spool table sounds like the table my husband and his college room mates made out of an industrial cable spool (without the cables). But they were just being poor students who scrounged around the dumps, not artsy interior decorators! Anyway, I agree with you. I'd book myself there anytime rather than at a generic hotel. Would love to visit Hamburg someday!



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