"In the footsteps of . . . Schnabelewopski?!" Hamburg by Nemorino

Hamburg Travel Guide: 1,527 reviews and 3,619 photos

If I had put my mind to it, I’m sure I could have found some distinguished and worthy historical personage to tour Hamburg “in the footsteps” of.

But the fact of the matter is that when I am in Hamburg I tend to loiter around (or loiter about, as our British friends would say) in the manner of an undistinguished, impoverished young Polish aristocrat called Schnabelewopski – or “von Schnabelewopski”, as he called himself in Germany, though that is actually a tautology since the –ski at the end of his name already means “von”.

In English that would be “from”, which is logical since on the first page of his memoirs he lets on that he was born on the first of April (note the date) of the year 1795 in a town in Poland called Schnabelewops, which as you might have guessed is not in the VirtualTourist database.

Actually Schnabelewopski wasn’t even a real person, just a fictional character invented by the German author Heinrich Heine (1797-1856). The reason this fictional Schnabelewopski left his fictional home town of Schnabelewops was that his fictional parents wanted him to go to Leiden, in the Netherlands, to study theology.

Unfortunately to get from Poland to the Netherlands he had to go through Germany (no cheap flights in those days), and when Schnabelewopski got to Hamburg he liked it so much that he stayed for half a year. “I must confess that during that semester I occupied myself more with worldly things than with divine things.”

Hamburg at that time had 80,000 inhabitants, according to Schnabelewopski, or “maybe closer to 100,000; I don’t know exactly, even though I spent entire days walking along the streets observing the people. But I’m sure I overlooked some of the men, considering that the women absorbed most of my attention.”

He said the women in Hamburg were not thin, but rather somewhat corpulent, “some of them adorably beautiful and often with a certain affluent sensuality which by no means displeased me. Although in matters of romantic love they are not notably enthusiastic, and although they have little knowledge of the great passions of the heart, this is not their fault, but the fault of the little god Amor, who sometimes spans the sharpest arrows of love in his bow but then out of wickedness or clumsiness shoots them much too low and instead of hitting the hearts of the Hamburg ladies only hits their stomachs.” (My translation.)

Now, nearly two centuries later, Hamburg has over 1.8 million inhabitants and two bicycle sharing systems, StadtRAD and NextBike.

Because Schnabelewopski lived (well, he didn’t, but never mind) several decades before the invention of the bicycle, it’s no wonder the women were rather corpulent in his day, at least the well-off ones. Today the ladies tend to stay in shape by cycling, jogging, swimming, rowing, playing volleyball and table tennis, going to the gym or at least going a bit easy on the Labskaus.

I’m not at all sure Schnabelewopski would approve of the way they look today. Rubens wouldn’t, that’s for sure.

First review: The Hamburg State Opera

  • Last visit to Hamburg: Aug 2011
  • Intro Updated Jun 9, 2013
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Reviews (30)

Comments (18)

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Oct 5, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    The Hamburg Central Station looks impressive. Park Fiction is such a cleaver design and its good to know neighborhoods are willing to fight for a park. We need more of them. I think its lovely to know those are still honoring the Fire Storm Monument. Excellent page!

  • Oleg_D.'s Profile Photo
    Jul 10, 2014 at 1:59 AM

    Thank you for good virtual tour!

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Jul 10, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      Oleg, thanks for your ratings and comments on my Hamburg tips. I'm glad you enjoyed the virtual tour.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Sep 2, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    Don, I really like you opening photo! Lot's of imposing building's in Hamburg. It sounds like this is one city doing everything they can to make cycling more appealing1

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Sep 5, 2013 at 9:24 AM

      Dee, thanks for your ratings and comments on my Hamburg page. I'm glad you like the opening photo.

  • traveldave's Profile Photo
    Apr 29, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    When I was in Germany, we passed through Hamburg on our way to another destination. I always wished we had had the time to visit the city, as there appears to be a lot to see and do.

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Apr 30, 2013 at 12:08 AM

      David, thanks for your your ratings and comment on my Hamburg page. My visits to Hamburg have been mostly for business and/or the opera, so there is still a lot more I haven't seen yet.

  • alancollins's Profile Photo
    Feb 26, 2013 at 6:20 AM

    I like the photo of your fish dinner at the restaurant only because I do a similar with Lin. It is a joke between us where I take a photo before of something delicious I have purchased and after then shots of the empty plate.

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Feb 27, 2013 at 12:46 AM

      Alan, thanks for finding and rating my Hamburg tips. I think that is the only time I have taken a picture of my food at a restaurant. In fact I don’t write restaurant tips very often since I am not very knowledgeable about that sort of thing. On my Paris page, for example, I have 254 tips so far, but none of them are about restaurants.

  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
    May 18, 2012 at 2:58 AM

    Hi Don
    I enjoyed my virtual meander through Hamburg! We visit fairly often, as my favourite in law (formidable Bossy Aunt Helga) lives here, but as is so often the case when you're visiting family, I don't feel we've explored the city properly.
    The fire storm monument is certainly something I'll be seeking out next time - but I hope that I haven't been on VT long enough to start photographing plates of food (tsk, tsk!) ;)

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    May 13, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    Just caught your new tip....one way to know where you have visited before is to comment...Yes?......................
    Now I am looking again as we now plan to be there....

    A few pictures of bicycles..... I am following the next review...even better with the titles....only problem I am back on netbook and it is slow...computer problem week...back on PC now!


  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    Thank you Don for bringing back memory about my short visit in Hamburg in 2000. I liked a review about a monument in memory of a fire-bomb attack which destroyed Hamburg and started fire-storm. Great to see wonderful re-built Hamburg now...

  • johngayton's Profile Photo
    Mar 21, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    Great page Don and as you know we definitely share a similar photographic interest LOL ;-) Catch you in Bergamo.

  • kokoryko's Profile Photo
    Mar 4, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Hamburg must be a very interesting city for guys, Don: from a quick statistics with your cyclists photographs, there are about 85% women (young, in general!), 12% men an 3% kids! I am considering moving there immediately! :) ) ) ) ) What would Schnabalawopski have done discovering all these cyclists?
    It is a beautiful page and arriving with you in Altona, I was expecting a tour on the Elbe banks in the Wim Wenders style (movie: der Amerikanishe Freund) which impressed me so much long ago. Next time?


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