10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Hamburg, Germany

Back in November, my partner and I traveled to Hamburg to celebrate my parents’ wedding anniversary as well as my stepfather’s birthday. No, my parents don’t live in Germany. They live in Norway. We just figured it would be more fun to celebrate that way – by visiting a new destination together, all four of us.

We visited the kinky Christmas market as well as all the normal ones, got drunk for free (sponsored) in the middle of the day while tasting beer at Winter Beer Day and enjoyed the view over the city from the Elbphilharmonie while streaming live on Periscope. Live streaming is only recommended if you’re thick-skinned, as I’ve never been trolled this hard in my entire online life.

With the exception of internet trolls telling me to go eff myself, while live streaming and that one incident where one of my travel companions ripped their pants (they wanted to remain anonymous) and was left with a French opening for the rest of the day, everything went as smooth as butter. Hamburg was a lot more interesting than I’d expected it to be!

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Here are 10 reasons why you should visit Hamburg

  1. Stroll along the streets of the iconic Warehouse District (Speicherstadt). This is the largest warehouse district in the world where the buildings stand on timber-pile foundations.
  2. Visit Krameramtsstuben – the historic buildings on Krayenkamp, in the Neustadt district. Take a few pictures of the charming buildings, buy yourself a little souvenir from one of the shops and most importantly, book a table at the Krameramtsstuben Restaurant.  The restaurant was recommended to me by other bloggers, and also by a friend of the family. Hands down, the best food I had in Hamburg! DSC_0995 (2).JPG
  3. Enjoy the spectacular view over the city from the Elbphilharmonie (the philharmonic). The fact that I got to watch the sunset while I was up there, was the icing on the cake! And if you like jazz, you’ll have another great reason to visit the Elbphilharmonie. Get tickets to the Elbjazz Festival (June 2nd-3rd)! DSC_0999 (3).JPG
  4. Party it up in the St. Pauli neighborhood and spice up your love life with little souvenirs from the many sexy stores on the infamous Reeperbahn (Red Light District). Check out the Reeperbahn Festival (music festival) in September and the kinky Christmas market in November/December!
  5. Visit the Planten un Blomen park and make sure to catch the spectacular water light show when the evening falls. I’ll have to return to Hamburg and see this myself – and maybe enjoy a nice little picnic while I’m in the park!
  6. Visit the Miniatur Wunderland – the largest model railway in the world and one of the most successful exhibitions in Northern Germany. This is good fun for the entire family!
  7. Visit the Sommerdom fun fair from July 28th to August 27th, and the Winterdom in November/December. Not much of a thrill ride person? No problem!  The fun fair works great as yet another excuse to just hang around and drink German beer (as if you needed an excuse to do that). DSC_0954 (2).JPG
  8. Are you part of the LGBT-community – or a friend and supporter? Wear something fun and celebrate diversity at Hamburg Pride (July 28th – August 06th).
  9. Visit the Hamburg port and have a meal or a drink at one of the many bars and restaurants in the area. Interested in the history of the port? Visit the Hafenmuseum!DSC_0932 (2).JPG
  10. Do you like boat trips? There are many suggested sightseeing cruises on the Alster lake to choose from. Maybe you’d like to go on a romantic evening cruise, or a trip through Hamburg’s history, a glide past the most beautiful villas in Hamburg or just a one hour shoreline cruise. Visit Alster Touristik for more information.

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Hercules’ butt, German humor and lots and lots of food (Kassel, Germany)

Sometimes, I stumble upon somewhat unknown cities completely by default. Other times, I visit the unknown because someone else discovers a completely random place on Google and decide they want to go there for some reason and take me with them. This time I ended up in Kassel in Germany. And the person who brought me there, was my mother.

Because of recent events here in France (and lots of people being paranoid about it), and because flights to Norway are quite expensive, my mother and I figured we’d meet somewhere in the middle to catch up and spend time together. That somewhere usually ends up being Germany. Because nothing says family reunion quite like bratwurst and beer. Am I right?

One Thursday morning in mid-March, I got out of bed at stupid o’clock and got on a train to Mannheim from Paris, before it was even light outside. Mannheim has a Dunkin’ Donuts at its train station. That’s about the only thing I learned about that city, as it’s the only place I went to hang out while waiting for my connecting train. Not because I’m a huge fan of donuts or anything. I like them, but I usually tend to avoid them. They’re too addictive and would leave my body looking like an actual stack of donuts. That would become my body type, I swear. I guess I just needed that one fix, that day. I needed the calorie-bomb that is a glazed donut, so I could sit down and look at it with nostalgia in my eyes, while reminiscing about the year when I was a “legal alien” in Florida and spent all my money on fast food.

On the train from Mannheim to Kassel, I sat next to a guy who had loud, cheesy early 2000’s euro dance music leaking out of his headphones. He was tall, had blonde spiky hair and wore a kitschy t-shirt and was the perfect stereotype of a German techno raver from that era. I hadn’t seen anything like that in years.

In Kassel – a city located on the Fulda River in northern Hesse – my mother was already waiting for me at the train station. She even brought me flowers. Daffodils, in case you were wondering. Based on her summer dress and ballet flats versus my warm sweater, scarf and jacket, it was easy to tell who’s the optimist and who’s the pessimist in the family. The sun was shining, but it was not at all warm. I was happy to be wrapped up in layers of wool, denim and faux leather.

Our mother-daughter reunion was celebrated with a bottle of wine and a nice meal at a classy little restaurant called Die Truffelschweine. This was also the perfect occasion to share some wonderful news with my mother. No, I’m not getting married, and I’m definitely not having a baby. Instead, my boyfriend and I are planning to move away from Paris and start a new life and a new business in the south. My mother was excited about the news and offered to continue the celebration at our hotel – with more wine, obviously!

We were staying at a hotel called Hotel Schweizer Hof , which is close to the train station and also fairly close to the main tourist attraction of the city; the beautiful Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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The park is Europe’s largest hillside park, a project that started in 1696 and took 150 years to complete. On top of the highest point sits the Hercules-monument, from which a cascade of water plunges to the gardens far below. However, when we visited the park, the fountain was under construction so the water was shut off, and we couldn’t get close to sir Hercules due to the construction work. I only managed to take a sneaky picture of his butt, from below. Probably the only time I’ll ever photograph a butt from that angle.

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When we first arrived at the entrance of the park,  we knew there’d be steep hills and a lot of walking. We just didn’t realize how out of shape we were. My mother blamed it on age. I blamed it on all those hours spent napping on the couch, when I should have been out running, cycling or juicing in the kitchen.

We wanted to see Wilhelmshöhe Castle, and we did. From afar. To see the castle up close, we’d have to walk up an additional hill, and we weren’t in the mood for bonus rounds. Which is also the reason why we didn’t visit the beautiful Löwenburg Castle, which I highly regret now. We completely forgot about that one and only realized that we hadn’t yet seen it, when we were at the top of the hill admiring Hercules’ butt. And the view. With legs feeling like jelly and with pain in muscles I didn’t know I had, even walking to the bus stop to get back to the hotel was a nightmare. Guess I’ll have to return to Kassel and see the Löwenburg Castle another time!

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The involuntary workout session had left us feeling hungry and thirsty. I chugged a bottle of Aloe Vera water and shared a pretzel and some biscuits (from Streiter Bäckerei) with my mother, just to keep us going until we found a place to go out for dinner. If only we hadn’t gotten lost, looking for the bus stop. For some reason, hardly anyone in Kassel speak any English at all. Or maybe they do, and just don’t want to. I asked a guy for directions to the bus stop, and he told us to go the complete opposite direction from where it really was. I had a similar experience at the central train station the same day, when asking the people at the information desk which tram to take to the city center. After one hour of searching in all the wrong places, we found the bus stop.

By then, all I could think about was dinner. And cocktails. The trendy restaurant denkMAHL provided me with all of that…but we had only an hour and a half to finish our meal and get out, as the table was already reserved for later guests.

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The next day was spent shopping for skincare products, as it’s way cheaper in Germany than back home in Norway or here in France. I have acne-prone, oily skin and end up looking like a greasy pepperoni pizza if I don’t get the right treatment. Trust me, that’s not a good look!

Sadly, none of the products I purchased worked particularly well. I also bought some new shirts for my boyfriend…but they all turned out to be too small for him. I told him to go on a diet and try again. A joke that was not very well received. Ouch.

And what is a shopping-spree without a coffee break? I don’t know about you, but I sure need my daily cup of caffeine delight. We found a place called Coffee Store, which is a spacious coffee shop where you can buy coffee beans to take home, or you can sit down with a friend, your laptop or a good book and enjoy a high quality cup of coffee in a nice environment.

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That evening, our plan was to eat traditional German food….but, as usual, things didn’t go according to plan. Our top three options were all fully booked.  I was disappointed and my mother was starting to lose her patience. Which is bad, really bad. Because when that happens, hell breaks loose. We both started freaking out, as if we were running around looking for shelter from a bomb that was about to explode. I was freaking out because I didn’t want my mother to turn into a monster, and she was freaking out because..well..she was transitioning.

And that’s how we ended up at a Cuban restaurant that day (Havana). Good food, amazing cocktails but not quite what we had in mind when we made plans to go out for traditional German cuisine that evening.

Markthalle, Kassel’s market hall, was the first thing on the agenda for the following day. Visiting market halls is one of my favorite things to do when traveling. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I am obsessed with food. I live to eat, I don’t eat to live. And that’s why Markthalle became such a high priority to me. And I’m glad I went, because I got to try some delicious chocolate flavored egg liqueur (say what?!), handmade chocolates and the most amazing bread ever.

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Another day, another coffee break. This time at a traditional German cafe instead of a modern hipster kinda place. You know, those cafes with old fashioned furniture, strong coffee and cakes too pretty to eat and too large to fit in your mouth (we skipped the cake).

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We started to run out of things to do and the weather had gone from light sprinkles to heavy showers, so we didn’t exactly feel like hanging out outside. At least there’s always the possibility to visit museums and art galleries. Such as Caricatura – a gallery dedicated to comic strips and caricatures. Although I don’t speak that much German, I understand quite a lot when I read it. Honestly, reading German comic strips was something I thought I’d never do. Germans aren’t exactly famous for being the funniest bunch of people out there. But they are. The comic strips were mostly kind of dark, crude, sarcastic and politically incorrect. Which is exactly my kind of humor!

For our last dinner, we wanted to splurge on something fancy. Fancier than what we’d been to the first day. Just because we knew it would be kind of long until next time we see each other again. Busy schedules, busy travels, living in different countries, it ain’t easy. Our last meal together at Gutshof was terrific. We both went for the veggie options and shared a bottle of red wine.

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Although we didn’t end up having any bratwurst nor beer;

Cheers to us, to the future, to Kassel!

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Photos below are from Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

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And here’s from the City Hall

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Why Karlsruhe (Germany) is the perfect short break

In collaboration with Karlsruhe Tourismus – thank you for sponsoring my Karlsruhe Card!

Kalrsruhe. My mother can’t spell it right, I can’t pronounce it right (I think). Some people don’t know where it is, others go there only to change to/from connecting trains – and a lot of people go there because it’s conveniently located on the border to France (40 minutes by train from Strasbourg, 2 hours and 30 minutes from Paris), and it’s not far from cities like Stuttgart (36 minutes by train) or Frankfurt (1 hour by train). 

I was supposed to be one of those people who would get off a train in Karlsruhe, use their public bathrooms, buy a cup of coffee and hang around the train station until my connecting train to Paris would arrive. But my curiosity was too strong to resist the urge to spend a night there instead. No, not at the train station (although that would’ve made an interesting story). I did book a hotel room. A pretty decent one too.

Here’s a guide to what to do/see and where to eat/drink in Karlsruhe.

And my personal experience.

 

So, First… My story

I had just spent three days nurturing the mother-daughter relationship with my mom, while visiting a city called Kassel (more on that in a later post). As much as I love spending time with my mother, I also love my alone-time. In fact, I love my alone-time so much people sometimes worry about me and think I have a problem. Maybe it’s because I don’t look like a stereotypical loner? Maybe I talk too loud to be a stereotypical introvert? I don’t know. Either way, I was ridiculously excited about my 24 hour solo trip to Karlsruhe. I had never explored anywhere in Germany completely on my own, before. I was ready for this!

To get in the right mood for all things German, I made a Rammstein-playlist on Spotify and spent the entire train journey rocking out to “Ich will”, “Du hast” and other classics.

Two hours later, I had arrived. Just across the street from the train station, there’s the Karlsruhe Zoo. I would have loved to visit the zoo immediately, but my luggage was three times heavier than normal, after my mother had filled it clothes, books and food – like she always does. That’s one of the perks of living far away from the family. Gifts.

By the time I’d made it to Karlsruhe, I had completely forgotten which hotel I had booked, what kind of facilities they offered and where it was located compared to the train station. I only remembered I’d found a great deal on Booking.com – and the reviews were great. I don’t even think I noticed while making the reservation, that it was in fact a really nice 4-star hotel (Hotel Santo). Now that’s a pleasant surprise for a goldfish like myself!

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As I had less than 24 hours to discover everything I wanted to see in Karlsruhe, I didn’t wanna spend more time than necessary in my room. Turns out you can’t visit museums in Karlsruhe on Mondays, and some are even closed on Tuesdays. And when was I there? Yeah, you guessed right. On a Monday and Tuesday.  So, I did a lot of research, studied the city map and the public transportation timetable, took notes, created a schedule – and within twenty minutes, I was out and ready to start exploring.

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First stop; the zoo (Zoologischer Stadtgarten). I got there late in the afternoon, an hour and a half before closing time, which turned out to be just enough time for my first ever solo trip to a zoo. I photographed all the lovely animals – and happened to disturb a red panda during his dinner. He gave me a mean look. As if he was trying to tell me something along the lines of “if I catch you taking another picture of me eating, I’ll shove that camera up where the sun don’t shine”. Something like that. At least the cheeky sea lion I photographed, didn’t seem to be bothered at all.

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I turned out to be one of those people that theme park employees hate. The ones who hang around until closing time and still don’t get that “we’re closing” means that they’re closing and you should get your fat butt out of there, like five minutes ago. Slightly embarrassed, I power walked my way to the nearest exit.

My stomach was growling. I realized I had barely eaten anything all day. All I wanted was a juicy veggie burger accompanied by fries and mayonnaise. And I knew exactly where to get that.

For a good variety of cool bars and restaurants – and for your ultimate shopping spree, take the tram to Europaplatz, and voila – you’re in the heart of the city center (and right next to Post Galerie Shopping Center). As I was facing the mall, all I could think was “Should I enter the mall just for a little sneak peak? A little bit of window shopping? Maybe even buy a little something to take home?”

My weak personality couldn’t resist the temptation.

The first thing I noticed when I entered this former post office converted into a mall (except from it being a post office converted into a mall) was the large amount of French people – especially teenagers and women in their twenties – carrying enormous shopping bags from Primark and TK Maxx while scouting for even greater deals in even cheaper stores (yes, I eavesdropped on their conversations).

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As I had my own French guy waiting for me at home, I thought it’d be kind of a sin if I didn’t join in on the discount shopping and bring him a souvenir. So I bought him a pajama and lots of chocolate – because deep down we’re both still children and enjoy spending time in our pajamas while stuffing our faces with chocolate and candy.

My stomach was screaming for food by this time. Luckily, the restaurant (Bratar) was just a short walk away from the mall. I found it, but I had no idea where the entrance was. I found a door that didn’t at all look like it was the main entrance, but I entered anyway. The room was completely empty and led to another room – which turned out to be the main room. And the main entrance was right there, too. For some reason I’d somehow managed to miss it. I found an empty table and sat down – without using the mannerism that I usually use when going to a restaurant….such as waiting for a waiter to find me a free table. The staff looked confused, but didn’t say anything. It took a while before they eventually handed me a menu – probably because they had been wondering what on earth I was doing, entering the restaurant from out of nowhere and grabbing a table without even asking. And to make things worse, I decided to speak only German to them but had trouble understanding what they said whenever they asked me a follow-up question. So, I told them to repeat everything. Multiple times…only so I could say something that made absolutely no sense and was completely irrelevant to what they were asking. Awkward. Unlike my German language skills, the food was good!

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Before returning to my room, I decided to grab a drink in the cocktail bar at my hotel. Not because I’m one of those girls who like to put on their darkest red lipstick and little black dress and sit at the bar and flirt with strange men, while sipping a cosmopolitan and looking all mysterious and edgy. No. I’m that awkward girl who doesn’t want to be noticed. You know, the one who hides in the corner, takes pictures of her drink, eats all the snacks and secretly wants to ask for more olives but is too shy to do so. The girl who becomes red like a tomato once someone looks in her direction. That’s me.

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My hotel happened to have an excellent cocktail bar (Santo’s Cocktailbar) and it seems to be very popular among locals as well as tourists and guests at the hotel. They had the largest selection of cocktails I’d ever seen, and everything looked delicious and elegantly presented. It took me an eternity to figure out what to order. I ended up with a cherry margarita.

Tuesday morning, my alarm woke me up at stupid o’clock. I wanted to get up early and seize the day, but neither my mind nor my body was feeling the enthusiasm. But as a blogger, I know the importance of getting up early in order to have time to do everything, photograph everything and make the most of my time before returning to the train station to go home to Paris.

After a large breakfast, I was definitely feeling better. On Tuesdays, there is a farmer’s market starting at 7:30 am at Gutenbergplatz, which seemed like a good way to start the day. Although the  market turned out to be a lot smaller than I’d expected, it was nice. Next time I’m in Karlsruhe, I might just book an apartment instead of a hotel. Then I’ll definitely return to the market and buy me some of that yummy cheese and fresh fruits and vegetables!

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Moving on to Karlsruhe Palace. This gorgeous yellow palace is probably the most well known building in Karlsruhe – and is home to the Badisches Landesmuseum (Baden State Museum). I strolled along the palace courtyard and did the entire walk around the garden – which is huge. I wasn’t sure what to do next or where to exit, and I ended up taking an exit that lead me to the Majolika Keramik Manufaktur. Majolica is Italian tin-glazed pottery and from what I’d seen online, it looked pretty cool and modern.

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The place seemed quite empty, the door to the museum was closed and the only person in sight was some delivery guy who had just arrived with his truck. I asked him if he spoke English. He didn’t. I tried to ask him in German if the museum was open, but I had no idea what “open” is in German, so I made some weird hand gestures and repeated the word ‘open’ several times. He pointed at an open door to something that looked like a shop.

There was a lady at the counter. She was too busy talking on the phone to even notice I was there. She looked strict and kind of scary, so I didn’t wanna bother her with my questions. I assumed I had walked into the gallery part of the majolica manufacturer and I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to take photos or not, but I did it anyway. The selfie-taking chimp and the three bold lipsticks were too good to miss out on.

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Since no one had paid any attention to me at all while I was there, I was left feeling kind of embarrassed. As if I had sneaked into someone’s house or something.

Next on my list was Turmberg, a 256 meter high hill and Turmberg funicular railway – the landmark of Durlach. There were two ways to get to the top of the hill; the historical railway and the stairs, also known as “the witches’ steps”. That nickname alone was enough to put me off from taking the stairs. No-uh. Ain’t doing it. Besides, I was looking forward to taking the railway up the hill.

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…That was, until I was welcomed by a closed door and the timetable. So, apparently the railway was closed on weekdays – until April 1st. In other words, if you happen to be there on a Tuesday in March, you better get your butt moving up the witches’ stairs or get out of there.

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I hate feeling like a quitter, so I took the stairs. Slow and easy. Granny style. I didn’t wanna exhaust myself before I was even halfway to the top, so I figured nice and slow was the way to go. By the time I had made it to the top, I was so exhausted I was literally gasping for air, like a fish on land. My polyester top and red faux leather jacket was the worst combination of fabrics imaginable, and I was sweating like a pig.

What comes up, must go down, I thought to myself before taking the stairs back down to where I started. As annoying as the witches’ steps were, at least I’d end up with buns of steel after all this effort.

I spent some time hanging out in Durlach before heading back to the city center for lunch. I saw the remains of the ancient ruins of Karlsburg Castle, visited the Schlossgarten (Royal Park) and ran for shelter to the nearest coffee shop as soon as it started raining. One cup of coffee later and I was ready to face the rain again. The tram stop was only one block away, but even one block feels like ten kilometers when you have to run like crazy to avoid getting soaked.

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The tram took me kind of close to the restaurant I wanted to visit; My Heart Beats Vegan. Kind of close was not close enough, when wandering around with no umbrella in the rain. When I entered the restaurant I looked like I had gone for a swim with my clothes on. I felt like people were staring at me, but they probably weren’t. And if they were, they were probably just thinking “Holy sh… Let’s get an Uber. I don’t wanna end up like that”.

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As I was feeling kind of cold, there was nothing on the menu that tempted me more than the tomato and basil soup. A nice, warm soup. Accompanied by an ice cold iced tea…

That was the last thing I had time to do before returning to the hotel to pick up my luggage. Thank you Karlsruhe. Those 24 hours were enjoyable. Next time, I’ll make sure I’m not there on a Monday or a Tuesday – or in March!

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What else is there to do in Karlsruhe?

  1. Visit the classic State Art Gallery (Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe)
  2. Or the modern ZKM Center for Art and Media (ZKM.de)
  3. Feed your brain with useful facts at the State Museum of Natural History (Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde)
  4. When you’re done feeding your brain, feed your stomach with upper regional cuisine (Oberländer Weinstube), regional slow food (Eigenart), steakhouse (DOM) or something from trendy Vaca Verde.
  5. Thirsty? Have a drink with the cool crowd at Guts & Glory, on the rooftop at KINGKARL or with the sophisticated crowd at KofferRaum.
  6. More of a beer person? Check out one of following breweries; Vogelbräu , Hoepfnerbräu or Brauhaus 2.0.
  7. Got a sweet tooth? Have some chocolate at Zuckerbecker or a yummy pastry from Patisserie Ludwig.
  8. Stroll along Südliche Waldstrasse or Kaiserstrasse. Shop, relax, enjoy!

 

More photos from my trip (below)

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Why Christmas Markets in Cologne, Germany are simply magical

This year I’ve visited quite a few different Christmas markets. Lovely Christmas markets – by all means – but maybe a bit too much in a short matter of time..so much that I was starting to feel like I’d overdosed on Christmas and worried about coming down with the worst hangover ever. I didn’t want to be the Grinch, but sometimes too much feels like too much. On top of everything, I had caught a cold which made the idea of traveling to visit yet another Christmas market seem rather exhausting.

That was until I went to Cologne in Germany this week.

Spellbound by the charm and the authenticity of the markets located in this wonderful city, I had regained my Christmas spirit and tossed away my inner Grinch.

Each of these six markets has its unique style. Although the one in front of Cathedral Kölner Dom is the most well known of the city’s Christmas markets, there is absolutely no reason for you not to check out the others as well. You’ll be missing out on a simply magical experience!

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The marine themed market by the harbor looks amazing as darkness falls and lights illuminate the bridge connecting the two parts of the market separated by the river Rhine.

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The market by the Cathedral has a layer of little Christmas lights installed above all the stalls – enchanting little lights that make you feel like you’re gazing at a beautiful starry night sky.

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The Old Town market (Heimat der Heinzel) has a spectacular ice rink and lovely decorations, just enough to get you into the Holiday spirit and head to the bar for a glühwein or an eierpunsch – last one being my favorite hot beverage in Germany (hot eggnog).

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Then there’s the market that – in my opinion – is the most romantic one. With illuminated hearts decorating the trees, a cute little Ferris wheel turning in a strangely high speed for an attraction like this and plenty of cute little shops, how can you not fall in love with the market – or AT the market (the atmosphere is there, so why not?).

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The other two markets were lovely as well. I ate well (perhaps a bit too much at times), I drank well, I was in good company with my partner and his family, we laughed, we bought cute little gifts, we sang, we smiled.

Thank you Cologne – Thank you Germany. Thank you for getting me into the Holiday Spirit. I’ll see you again, next year!

Until then, let these photos inspire you.

Photos from the market by the harbor

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Photos from Neumarkt (the market of the angels)

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Photos from the Old Town market (Heimat der Heinzel)

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…and the romantic one right next to that market

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Photos from the Nikolausdorf market

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And let’s not forget the market by the Kölner Dom

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The traditional or the kinky? Christmas Markets in Hamburg, Germany

Ah, Christmas markets. Lovely decorations everywhere, nostalgic music playing in the background – and a valid excuse to walk around snacking and drinking punch in the middle of the day. If there’s a country that knows how to do Christmas markets properly, it’s Germany. Lucky as I am, I already went to (some of) the ones in Hamburg last weekend and early this week. And believe me – there’s a market for every taste. There’s one for those who love fun fairs, plenty for those who like to keep it more traditional and there’s even a steamy one for the kinky crowd!

Winter Dom is an annual fun fair (there’s actually a Spring Dom and a Summer Dom too) – and the biggest one in Northern Germany. My partner and I, kind of found it by coincidence while on our way to the “Santa Pauli” market – and I’m glad we did. We had just eaten a large meal so riding roller coasters and other fast rides was not very tempting, nor did we want to buy anything to snack on (yet), but the Winter Dom is definitely the place to be for the thrill-seekers who love roller coasters (yes, one of them has multiple loops). You can also go ice skating or visit a haunted house or ride the ferris wheel. All I wanted was to take in all the sights and stroll along, hand in hand with my significant other. I couldn’t stop smiling. The nostalgia, the Christmas magic – I needed this.

Dates: 04.11.16 – 04.12.16

Where: Heiligengeistfeld, St. Pauli (U3 subway to St. Pauli or Feldstrasse

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Santa Pauli – we wish you a kinky Christmas? Welcome to the sexiest Christmas market in Germany, located on the Reeperbahn – the city’s red light district. This one’s is for those who want to buy a special gift for their special someone and keep it their special little secret. Or maybe you don’t want to be secretive about it. I’m not gonna judge. Would you like a striptease? Enter Santa Pauli’s strip tent. If you want to avoid all of that but still want to hang out at the market, then don’t worry. There are plenty of regular Christmas shops and places to grab a drink or something to eat there too.

Dates: 17.11.16 – 23.12.16

Where: Spielbudenplatz (U3 subway to St. Pauli)

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On almost every corner between St Pauli and Rathaus, there’s a small Christmas market where you can buy yourself a snack or a hot beverage. I went with apple and cinnamon punch and chocolate covered marshmallow cookies (photo below).

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Historic Christmas market on Rathausmarkt opened on Monday – and of course we were there to check it out! This market was my favorite one in Hamburg. The perfect place to go shopping for traditional Christmas ornaments and decorations and a great place to spend time with your friends, family or your partner. Have a drink or five, enjoy a nice warm meal or a sweet treat and enjoy the celebration of this wonderful holiday. Thank you Hamburg, thank you for this joyful experience!

Dates: 21.11.16 – 23.12.16

Where: Rathausmarkt (U3 subway to Rathaus)

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Winter Beer Day – Celebrating beer in Hamburg, Germany

One of the first things that come to mind when I think of Germany is beer. Without a doubt. Thanks to Oktoberfest, we all have this image of Germans being a festive crowd who will drink you under the table any day. Which they probably would, given the challenge.

But the German beer culture is so much more than that. And I was soon to discover exactly how sophisticated the industry is, and how passionate the craftsmen are about their products. As a blogger who already happened to be in the right part of Germany that weekend, I was invited to the Winter Beer Day – an annual event that takes place in Hamburg, more specifically: Altes Mädchen, Lagerstrasse 28B, 20357 Hamburg.                The event is hosted by Altes Mädchen and Craft Beer Day – and you don’t have to wait until December next year for the next upcoming event, because there’s also a Summer Beer Day!

As I entered the event – ready to celebrate German beers – I was given a beer glass and the opportunity to wander around and speak to any representative from any brewery and taste whatever I wanted to taste and ask whatever questions I wanted to ask about the different beers – and about the breweries they came from.

First one up was a Golden Pale Ale from Berlin based SuperFreunde – definitely a beer for those who enjoy a bitter aftertaste (40 international bitterness units). “What is the mildest or most subtle one you have?” I asked one of the brewers. He laughed and said “None of our beers are really mild. This one’s the mildest”. The beer I tasted was perhaps a bit too masculine for little me, but I’m happy I got to try it as the beer was of high quality and definitely something I’d recommend to people who love Pale Ales!

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A Danish microbrewery was the next one that caught my attention. The brewery Fanø Bryghus is located on Fanø island which is part of the Wadden Sea National Parks, a UNESCO heritage site. My inner nomad is itching to embark on a road trip through Denmark, and will without a doubt visit Fanø when that time comes. “Can I try your Christmas beer?” I asked the owner – in Norwegian. He replied in Danish and poured me some Julebryg, which had a hint of coffee and cinnamon flavor and had been brewed for four weeks – with vanilla beans in the barrel! I loved it and asked to try another one. He offered me one called “Beer Geek Slumber Party” which was a Belgian style strong beer (11%). It didn’t taste strong at all, and I’m certain that one pint of that would be enough to get me wasted without even realizing it. “We also have a beer that’s brewed with oysters”, he said. I didn’t try it, as I’m allergic to shellfish. My partner did, and his words were “it’s kind of good, but it’s strange”. Now I’m definitely curious about visiting Fanø to see how this strange oyster beer is made”!

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I took a short break from drinking alcohol and had a taste of root beer from local brewers HobbyBrau before moving on to something quite unusual from Pirate Brew Berlin. These guys collaborate with local producers, and with their motto being “brewing it social” you’ll most certainly find elements of unique ingredients in all their different beers. I tried their chili flavored one, made with chili from a local producer. Interesting idea, interesting taste!

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Moving on to Ratsherrn – the brewery I initially got in touch with, as I wanted to visit the brewery and write a post about it. And here I was, tasting their beer at an amazing beer tasting event instead. I wanted to try the Pumpkin beer, which is made with the same ingredients used to make pumpkin pie. For someone who loves everything pumpkin, this one was definitely a big thumbs up. Their winter ale called Lumberjack was quite nice as well.

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All these impressions had made me somewhat tipsy. No, that’s an understatement. I was starting to feel lightly drunk and I needed a break. And a burger. And sweet potato fries with a whole lot of mayo on the side. The food truck offered all of that – and it was exactly what I needed in order to be able to continue this enjoyable quest of tasting beers without having to deal with any consequences.

Wildwuchs Brauwerk – another brewery from Hamburg, offered me a beer called Alt Kanzler Rauch Bier, which translates to “Old chancellor smoked beer”. This is a humorous way to honor Helmut Schmidt and his chain smoking-habit.

Hopper Brau – also from Hamburg, offered me a beer called “Weizheit” (which was a wheat IPA brewed in a cognac barrel for four weeks) before moving on to the dark side, to “Dunkle Macht” meaning Dark Force. With a name and a label like that, how can you go wrong?

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Love for metal and vikings brought me to Wacken Brauerei – whose motto is “Beer of the Gods”. I asked them what their bestseller is and they told me they don’t have a bestseller yet, as they only just started in July. I wish them all the best of luck for the future and I’m glad I got to taste their smoked porter called Surtr and their Nordic strong ale Walküren Schluck.

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Obviously the breweries I didn’t get around to taste beer from, deserve an honorable mention too! I’ll check out their beer on a later date – whether it’s at an event like this one, a visit to the brewery or maybe I’ll even find their products in a bar or a beer shop somewhere? Check out Kehrwieder Kreativbrauerei , Fräulein Brauer , Welde Braumanufaktur , Stone Brewing , Ugly Duck Brewing Co. , Elav Brewery Italy , Blockbräu , Bierfabrik Berlin , Circle 8 Brewery , Hops & Barley .

Before leaving the Winter Beer Day, I wanted to go to the events’ first workshop (out of five). Claus Winther from Fanø Bryghus (the Danish one) told the story of his brewery, talked about the challenges of running a microbrewery in Denmark and answered questions from the public. And obviously we all got to taste some beer as well!

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I left Winter Beer Day feeling educated, satisfied and slightly drunk. I’ve taken notes and added some favorites to my list and will look out for them next time I go beer shopping. And I’ll make sure to schedule in a visit to Summer Beer Day next year. Will you be there too?

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(this was a complimentary visit, but all opinions remain my own)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spontaneous Trip to Trier, Germany

One of the things I love the most about road trips is the freedom to be spontaneous. The freedom to spend more time in one place – or leave earlier than expected to go somewhere completely different instead. Or just add an extra day if going home seems a bit too soon. Am I ever ready to go home from a road trip? No.

One of those road trips led me to Germany, to a city called Trier (or Treves, if you prefer its former name).

We were on the road, my boyfriend and I, on our way from Luxembourg to France. Our trunk was full of Belgian fruit beers and six different dipping sauces for fries – the result of a trip to a supermarket in Belgium, a couple of days earlier. As much as I love beer, fries and dipping sauces, I didn’t feel completely satisfied. I wanted more. I wanted German candy. And German chocolate. Or just an excuse to go to Germany to satisfy my need for adventures. The nearest city that seemed interesting based on a quick search on Google, was Trier. And boy was it interesting!

Before getting our fix of Ritter Sport and Haribo, we decided to check out the city and its tourist attractions. The High Cathedral of Saint Peter and the Church of Our Lady (Liebfrauenkirche) were the first monuments we went to explore. The cathedral, a Roman Catholic church, is the oldest cathedral in Germany. The Church of Our Lady is, along with the Cathedral of Magdeburg, the earliest Gothic church in Germany and is located next to the Trier Dom.

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We moved on to the Hauptmarkt, where my partner decided it was time for lunch – more specifically, a curry wurst (Bratwurst hot-dog with curry ketchup). I’m not much of a hot-dog eater, so I skipped lunch to save space for what I already knew would be a heavy meal – at the traditional German restaurant we were planning to visit later that day.

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We wanted to visit the Imperial Roman Baths (Kaiserthermen), but decided not to – as there was too much renovation work going on and the entrance fee was kind of high (considering the fact that we  wouldn’t be able to see much anyway). We took a few photos from afar and were satisfied with that. I guess I’ll have to come back in the future and visit the ruins properly after the renovation work is completely finished.

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Another historical piece found in Trier is the Porta Nigra, a large Roman city gate. Today, it is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. The gate is designated as part of the Roman monuments – which, along with the High Cathedral of Saint Peter and Church of Our Lady – are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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While on our way to see the Roman Baths, we came across another gorgeous site; the Electoral Palace (Kurfurstliches Palais) – a gorgeous rococo building from 1615.

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After a few hours of walking around exploring this lovely city in the Moselle region (which is a region of amazing white wine, FYI), my belly started rumbling and begging me to feed it. I’m never one to disagree with my belly, so my partner and I agreed to look for a good restaurant somewhere nearby, where we could both enjoy a big, fat meal and celebrate this nice little spontaneous day trip.

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Hello, Zum Domstein ! What a great dinner it was. My significant other ordered a wiener schnitzel. A classic choice. And me, I channeled my inner grandma and ordered meat loaf. Accompanied by a pint of banana beer, because banana beer is simply amazing.

We parked our car right next to a supermarket, which gave us immediate access to buy as much as we could carry of those sweet, delicious Haribo sweets and Ritter Sport chocolates. What a great way to end an already lovely day.

Thank you Trier, for the unexpected as well as the expected.