You’re either an Elbe river or an Alster lake kind of person,” said Lydia, a geborene Hamburgerin, or a local born and raised in Hamburg, who I met on a bridge in HafenCity.
The maritime city is defined by the ebb and flow of water. The Elbe, the city’s industrial shipping artery, is an immense tidal river that courses into the North Sea. On my visit, the second largest harbour in Europe seemed endless, with rows and rows of vessels from all corners of the globe, locks, canals and titanic cranes that from afar look like characters straight out of Transformers.
Then, emerging from the banks of the river like a glacier, was the glass-panelled Elbphilharmonie, the city’s new concert hall designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron.