The Dutch city that was the summer capital of Europe

Nijmegen. This small but vibrant city, located in the eastern part of the Netherlands close to the German border, has a couple of uncommon claims to fame.

It is the oldest city in the Netherlands and is more than 2,000 years old.

It was carpet bombed during World War II, meaning relatively few buildings more than 50 years old still remain.

And it is the self-described “summer capital of Europe.”

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Nijmegen is located at the bend of the river Waal. As with most Dutch cities, cycling is a popular mode of transportation.

Continue reading “The Dutch city that was the summer capital of Europe”

Geography lessons, gentrification and unexploded ordinances: a weekend in Aarhus

After more than a year away from Denmark, I took a weekend trip away from Hamburg to visit my friends in Aarhus.

Aarhus has changed, and it hasn’t. After a 4-and-a-half hour train ride due north, I found myself downtown in a city which I had once called my home. It was a surreal feeling, with everything at once so strange and so familiar.

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Downtown Aarhus. The gray clock tower in the middle is City Hall.

The EU has designated Aarhus the European Capital of Culture for the calendar year 2017, which means the city will be organizing a series of cultural events in order to draw visitors and make a name for itself.

According to Wikipedia, Preparing a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for the city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city’s image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale.

You know what another word for “urban regeneration” is? Gentrification. And the gentrification was hard to miss.

Continue reading “Geography lessons, gentrification and unexploded ordinances: a weekend in Aarhus”

Ferry rides across the Elbe, or the poor man’s harbor boat tour

One of Hamburg’s most popular tourist attractions is the array of boat tours exploring the city’s various waterways. Between the Alster, a large lake in the middle of the city, the Elbe, one of Germany’s three major rivers, and the various canals criss-crossing the city center, there is certainly plenty of water to explore.

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Looking across the river Elbe towards downtown Hamburg, as seen from the “Theater am Hafen” (Theater in the Harbor).

Instead of booking a formal boat tour, which can set you behind €15-21, there is another option to get in a boat out on the water, and it’s basically free: ride a ferry. Continue reading “Ferry rides across the Elbe, or the poor man’s harbor boat tour”

Exploring Hamburg’s harbor

I signed up for a mailing list last semester to get updates on university-sponsored excursions throughout the city. I didn’t really expect anything to come of it, but one week an advertisement for an Alternative Harbor Tour caught my eye.

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Experience one of the largest harbors in the world – the Port of Hamburg, also known as the “Gates to the World.” This is no ordinary harbor tour. It will lead you through canals with rusty wharfs and along the state of the art, powerful container facilities, where the warehouse walls and steel scaffolding store the harbor’s treasures: Oriental carpets, southern fruits, coffee and cocoa beans. They are the treasures of the old colonial powers as well as the modern globalization. The containers hide their contents, making the movement of goods invisible. It’s a tour that reveals a new side of the harbor – who wins and who loses in this period of globalization. We look forward to your participation! Continue reading “Exploring Hamburg’s harbor”

Lübeck: the City of Seven Spires

Move over, Lüneburg – I’ve got a new favorite medieval city in northern Germany, and it goes by the name of Lübeck.

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The city’s most iconic building, the Holstentor, is the gate through which all visitors had to pass before entering the city walls. No, my photography isn’t that bad – the towers are actually leaning (which is forgivable seeing as it was first built in 1464). The city’s tourism office claims this building is one of the most iconic images in Germany, up there with the Brandenburg Gate and the Cologne Cathedral.

Like Lüneburg, Lübeck is a picturesque, old-fashioned small town that was once the capital of the Hanseatic League. Both are full of sagging, 500-year-old brick buildings lining curvy cobblestone streets. Both are a short train ride away from Hamburg and make an excellent day trip if you’re staying in Hamburg. Continue reading “Lübeck: the City of Seven Spires”