Travel: 48 Hours in Hamburg

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GERMANY'S liveliest seaport gave the Beatles their big break and the world one of its favourite foods when it put a beef patty in a bun and everyone called it a hamburger. The city of Hamburg is cosmopolitan, lively, stylish... and just a little bit naughty. Here's how ROBIN GAULDIE made the most of a short break....


HEAD for the St Pauli district on Hamburg's waterfront. It's no longer the rough and ready assortment of seamen's dives it was when the Beatles bought their first black leather jackets here, but it's still the centre of the city's rock and roll nightlife.

A red light still shines over the sleaze of the Reeperbahn where ladies of the night beckon from behind plate-glass windows. If you need more titillation, check out the slightly more tasteful Erotic Art Museum (Bernhard- Nocht-Str 69, open 10am to 2am).

Be sure to buy a Hamburg Card (pounds 5 per day or pounds 10 a weekend at the airport or hotels and stations) for free public transport and free admission or reduced prices to most of the city's museums and attractions.

Avoid the more garish tourist traps and head for Christiansen's (Pinnasberg 60, between St Pauli and Fischmarkt), a classic Hamburg bar with great beer; China Lounge (Nobistor 14) a trendy disco that looks as if it was styled by Fu Manchu, or Rubin (Grosse Freiheit 10,), St Pauli's most stylish club. There are plenty of restaurants where you can get a three-course meal for pounds 10 to pounds 15.



CLIMB to the top of St Michael's Church tower, symbol of Hamburg, for a view of the city from the viewing platform 82 metres up Don't worry - there's a lift. Admission is pounds 1.50.

Then take a stroll through the upmarket shopping arcades around the city centre. Hamburg has more than a dozen traffic-free shopping areas - and 150 street cafes. Top shopping streets and arcades include Neuer Wall - a mile of luxury stores - along with Jungfernstieg and the dinky Levantehaus mall. Spoil yourself, as Hamburgers do, with a glass of sekt (sparkling wine), a plate of lobster or a dollop of caviar at one of the stand-up seafood lunch bars in the Hanse-Viertel (Hanseatic Quarter), definitely the finest of the typical Hamburg passages. If you're on a tight budget, go for rollmop herring and a schooner of fine Hamburg beer. …