Monthly Archives: June 2019

Moin, Moin, Hamburg: Exploring Northern delights

Oh Hamburg meine Perle – Oh Hamburg my pearl
Du wunderschöne Stadt – you utterly beautiful city
Du bist mein zu Haus – you are my home
Du bist mein Leben – you are my life
Bist die Stadt auf die ich kann – you are the city that gets me
Auf die ich kann – that gets me

Oh yes, Hamburg, you are loved by many. Despite your often grumpy skies, your famously reserved way of being and your sometimes impossible attitude (housing market, I am looking at you!) you are a power to be reckoned with, a glorious, wild yet sophisticated city that deserves to be seen, celebrated and cherished.

German singer Lotto King Karl, born and bread in Hamburg, is just one of your many admirers, as can be witnessed above by taking in the chorus of his iconic anthem to the Northern port-city with the telling name “Hamburg meine Perle – Hamburg my pearl”.


Germany´s second-biggest city is a place of countless canals, of willows along waterways and of oftentimes chilly, yet cosmopolitan people, a city with an intriguing and long history full of deep dramas and untold tales of bravery, and a city that draws visitors with its abundance of beautiful lush parks, world-class museums, spectacular musicals and, of course, its exorbitant, wild and raunchy nightlife.

Hamburg also happens to be the city I was born in on an early spring morning sometime in the decade of questionable fashion choices, and the city I´ve lived in the longest from the seven cities I´ve lived in up till now. All in all, it´s definitely a place I can quietly whisper a lot of stories into your ear about: funny ones, sad ones, exciting ones, and forbidden ones. But hey, we gotta start somewhere, right? So let me tell you about my favorite places to meander in, dream about and have deep belly-laughs with when in Hamburg-town!

First, I´ll treat you to an entree of delightful things to experience while visiting the so-called “Tor zur Welt” (door to the world) today – and to a fabulous main course and mouthwatering desert in a few weeks. Sounds good? Then “los gehts” (let´s do this)!

The entree – die Vorspeise: Watery relaxation à la Hamburg

Hamburg´s essence is deeply connected with its two rivers: the Elbe river, the main waterway that connects the city to the North sea, and the Alster lakes, central spots for Hamburg beings to walk around, bike around or sail, row and paddle on.

What better way then to start dipping your toes into Hamburg´s true watery essence than to explore everything that these two mischivious water ladies have to offer? Let´s focus on the mighty Elbe river for now.

Shenenigans on and around the Elbe river

Without further ado, let me introduce you to a piece of the Elbe lady´s story – because what else defines a powerful woman like her better than her equally as powerful story! Put simply, it´s thanks to the Elbe´s mighty ways that Hamburg is the economic powerhouse it is today.

The Elbe river hosts Hamburg´s impressive port.
Image by klaushh from Pixabay

Located at about 100 km from the North Sea, the Elbe has been Hamburg´s gateway to the world since the days of the Hanseatic League, a clever commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Northwestern and Central Europe formed in the late 1100´s (yep, that´s how old hunky Hamburg is!) So yeah, Hamburg decided early on that it wanted to be a multicultural and worldly hub, back when that was not even a thing for most places. As would be expected, such a trendsetter has a lot of cool things to offer – such as

Cruising the Elbe river for next-to-nothing

Take an HVV- ferry from the Landungsbrücken Piers at the harbor and you´ll get to mingle with locals on this regular public transport mode of transportation. For the price of peanuts, HVV- ferries take visitors to the industrial port as well as the picturesque Elbe river beaches and the famous musical theatres on the south bank – keen on the Lion King musical, anyone?

Enjoying Hamburg´s urban beach-setting

Mingle with locals at urban beach hangouts

Pack a picnic, get off at Elbe beach if the weather allows and make a leisurely day of it. While you´re at it, make sure to check out the trendy urban beach club “Strandperle” close to the Övelgönne ferry stop! When living in Hamburg. I used to absolutely love hanging out at the other beach clubs close to the port, such as Hamburg City Beach Club, fancy Lago Bay, Hamburg del Mar, and the more laid-back StrandPauli. Have a “Rhabarberschorle” (rhubarb lemonade) or an “Astra” (Hamburg beer) while you are there and indulge in some good old people-and river-watching.

Venture underground at the Old Elbe Tunnel

If you are a fan of out-of-the-ordinary experiences, you´ll love exploring the old Elbe tunnel. Constructed in 1911, it prides itself in being the first river tunnel on the whole European continent and a true standout of civil engineering. Hop underground for a quick and cool photo session or explore the tunnel on foot or by bicycle.

The Elbtunnel at night, image by Chris Frenzel from Pixabay

Head there on weekends, when the tunnel is closed to traffic, and do consider exploring up-and-coming neighborhood Wilhelmsburg on the other side of the tunnel.

View trendy Wilhelmsburg from a former bunker

In Wilhelmsburg, you´ll be able to enjoy a young, urban vibe, picturesque river nature and cozy pubs and restaurants. Hop on bus line 13, which bears the intriguing name “Wilde 13“(the wild 13) and allows you to check out all the major sights of Hamburg´s largest hood. For a little something different, visit the “Energiebunker“, a former WWII bunker that now serves as a power plant, dispatching renewable enery en masse. Here, you can enjoy the stunning view over Wilhelmsburg that the bunker´s cafe, located at 30 metres height, has to offer.

One of Wilhelmsburg´s surprising sights, the windmill Johanna.
Image by Spudaitis from Pixabay

Hamburg being the cosmopolitan home to over 1.8 million people it is has so much to offer that it would probably take me hundreds of articles to cover them…but I hope this serves you as a delicious little entree to the endless meal-options that the port-city has to offer! Now it´s your turn: Have you ever been to Hamburg, or to other places in Germany? What did you like best about it, and what surprised you most?

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Decoding Saint-Remy-de-Provence´s magnetism

Saint-Remy- de-Provence… some words need to be savored, softly spoken out loud and pronounced gently to explore their special brand of magic. Let the syllables tenderly roll from your tongue, and you might start to get a feel for the allures of this vibrant little town that has been enticing artists, world-citizens, and bon-vivants for centuries.

Saint-Remy: A Provencale town like no other

Located at the foot of the Alpilles National Park mountain range,  Saint Remy offers the kind of soul-healing glory that only 300 days of sunshine per year can convey. It seduces its visitors’ palates with dozens of restaurants offering exquisite cuisine based on local products, and surprises them with quirky art offerings and quaint art galleries located throughout the narrow streets of the historic center. St Remy is truly the poster child for that unfathomable, typical Provencal je-ne-sais-quoi country town-charm.

Throughout the centuries, famous faces have been drawn to St. Remy like sexy bees to live-giving honey, and notable stars like Nobel prize winner Albert Schweitzer, who was interned here in 1918, have graced the French country town par excellence with their presence. Marie Gasquet, Provencale novelist and queen of the Felibrige, a literary and cultural association created to defend and promote the Provencal/ Occitane language and literature, was born here. Also, ethereal princess Caroline de Monaco chose St. Remy as a refuge for herself and her children after the tragic passing of her second husband Stefano Casiraghi.

The charms of the Provencal countryside even managed to entrap some talented musicians lately –  pretty hardcore fellows if you ask me, who would almost certainly never cross your mind when thinking of this laid-back location. Any guesses? Alright, alright, I´ll spill the beans: Only this year, world-renowned Heavy-Metal-Band Rammstein picked St. Remy as their studio-location to record their latest album here. They might be cuddlier than their tough exterior leads on, after all!

A treat for art-lovers: Follow in Van-Goghs´footsteps

St. Remy´s magnetism does not only work its magic on expressive heavy-metal-men, though. Simply make up your own mind while strolling along the picturesque boulevards under the shade of the ancient plane trees, feeling the mistral-wind blowing against the side of your face and the warmth of the sun on your skin. By the way (pun intended), have you spotted any Van-Gogh-route-stops yet?

These stops are hard to miss, really! At several places in and around town, the signposts make reference to places that super-famous ear-cutter and inspired artist Vincent Van Gogh frequented while in town. The Dutch expressionist spent a year at the psychiatric hospital of St.Paul-de-Mausole in 1889. He created many of his most acclaimed works there, and he also found inspiration among the town´s beautiful olive gardens and cypresses, in the rugged Alpilles mountains and smack in the middle of the village.

A treat for lovers of the otherwordly: Pass by Nostradamus´birthhouse

Another hot spot, in this case for history lovers and astrology-aficionados, has to be Nostradamus´(Dec 14th, 1503- July 2nd, 1566) birthplace. I have to confess: I got really, really excited about this one! The house really doesn´t look like much, but knowing that those walls housed legendary seer, doctor and astrologer Michel de Nostredame was enough for me to feel kinda awe-struck. While the walls didn´t give away too many secrets, my imagination wandered off to construe how the life of this extraordinary being must have looked and felt like.


Like many doctors in medieval times, Nostradamus was a trained astrologer who incorporated astrology into the healing arts in order to aid in diagnosis, prognosis and even treatment. He worked mostly with the plague-stricken and published yearly almanacs – our friend Wikipedia clarifies that this is an annual calendar containing important dates and statistical information such as astronomical data and tide tables.

The latter propelled his rise to fame during his lifetime, and his much-referred to prophecies only furthered his popularity. He managed to become a household-name for more than 450 years! Michel definitely outdid his 17 (!!!) siblings there! Curious abut what the big deal regarding his supposed psychic powers is? Take a peek here and be prepared to be dazzled.

A treat for everyone: French restaurants to revere

If you feel peckish after that much history, you´ll be spoilt for choice when in Saint-Remy-de-Provence! For a delicious French meal-experience, head to “Toute Epoque”, a typical French restaurant which offers fixed menus in the evenings. Alternatively, enjoy yummy buckwheat or dessert crepes and refreshing house cider at the charming little restaurant “La Celtie”. Or just let yourself be drawn into one of the many other lovely eateries in this quintessential French town.

What about you, dear reader? Have you ever been to Southern France? And if not, do you feel drawn to visit a particular place, town or area there? As always, I would love to hear from you!

Handy information part:

  • Where is this town? Saint Remy de Provence is located about 20 km south of Avignon and just north of the gorgeous Alpilles mountain range. It´s easily accessible by the TGV (France´s high-speed-train), with the train station  20 km away from town. The closest airports are situated in papal-palace-place Avignon, noisy yet noble Nimes and messy, marvelous Marseille.
  • To find the Van-Gogh-route stops, simply stroll along town or go prepared by checking out the according website here.
  • Nostradamous birthplace is located on Rue Hoche 6, Saint Remy de Provence, Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France. As far as I know, you can´t head inside – still fun to marvel at the famous seer´s provenance!
  • For mouthwatering French cuisine, try the Toute Epoque restaurant, located on 21 Place de la Republique, 13210 Saint-Remy-de-Provence, or cozy La Celtie at 9 rue du 8 Mai 1945, 13210 Saint-Remy-de-Provence.

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

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