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”

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”

Easter with the Anarchists (and some tourist stuff too)

Hey there! Long time no blog… I know, I know, I’m bad. Well, to make up for my lack of activity over the past couple of months, I’m going to write you a blog post with LOTS of pictures…

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See, here’s a picture already! That guy’s backpack says “FCK NZS” – a popular slogan here in Hamburg.

I spent Easter weekend in a rather non-traditional fashion this year: at an anarchist street festival. While Americans were out hiding eggs, Christians were going to church, normal Hamburgers were enjoying bonfires on the beach and Swedes were hanging colorful feathers on trees, the Hamburg neighborhood of Sternschanze was throwing a block party/street festival/demonstration. Continue reading “Easter with the Anarchists (and some tourist stuff too)”

The little town of Lüneburg: Hamburg’s best day trip

Just 20km south of Hamburg’s bustling downtown and industrial river ports lies the little town of Lüneburg, a city frozen in time.

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The Lüneburg harbor.

It’s easy to forget the city of Hamburg is much older than the second world war, because outside of a few restored churches, not many buildings from the pre-war era remain. Lüneburg, on the other hand, escaped the brunt of the bombs in both wars, and periods of affluence followed by poverty in the city’s history lead to beautiful houses being constructed, then preserved, as there was no money to tear them down and build anew. The result is like a step back into the middle ages. Continue reading “The little town of Lüneburg: Hamburg’s best day trip”

Living in the shadow of World War II

For most Americans, World War II is nothing but a distant history lesson. As the people who lived through it slowly die out, it doesn’t really seem to exist outside of textbooks, tombstones, and the occasional war movie.

But for Germans, memories of the war are a daily reality and cannot be escaped.

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Square of the Deported Jews – your daily reminder that the Holocaust happened. This is located near Dammtor Station in Hamburg, where thousands of Jews were packed into trains and were sent to camps which almost inevitably lead to their deaths.

Continue reading “Living in the shadow of World War II”