Hamburg and Lüneburg


This week I read in a Swiss newspaper that Hamburg will be the European city to visit in 2015. I already knew this in 2014 because I went there this fall :).


When I first got back from my long around-the-world trip, I found it really hard to accept reality. That I was back home and for the first time in at least four years, I did not know when I would be able to travel the next time and where to. Therefore I was really glad that a friend from NZ was currently working in Hamburg and sparked the idea in me to visit him up there. Plus, I killed two birds with one stone because I could finally visit my relatives in the nearby city Lüneburg, whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. After that trip up north, I was much more relaxed about returning home, since I realized that no matter where I am, I could always go to an unknown place and do something fun. Just maybe not for 9 months straight.


I took the ‘Deutsche Bahn’ from Basel to Lüneburg and was really lucky that although they were striking every other day that week, my trains were always unaffected. Lüneburg is an incredibly cute and pretty town with old stone houses, red roofs and restaurants along a river. In some lanes I felt like I was in Harry Potter’s Hogsmade. I climbed the water tower with my aunt and uncle, from where we had a great view and we went to the salt museum, which was very interesting. They also took me on a field trip to East Germany. The old borders are still marked with signs and panels with pictures to remind the awful history during and after WWII. Most impressive however was to speak to my relatives and other people who had actually lived there during that time and had to flee or couldn’t flee. It was better than any history lesson at school or any blockbuster movie.


From Lüneburg, I took the metro to Hamburg. It seemed to me that Hamburg is a city of many facets. There is the big port where you can watch the huge container ships, the Speicherstadt with the channels that run between the big buildings. The old town with beautiful churches and the town hall, lakes with swans (people from Hamburg love swans, I learned this on the fun Sandman’s free walking tour), famous St. Pauli and the Reeperbahn quarter and my favorite place, the huge botanical garden Planten und Blomen. You already have to love this place because of its funny old German name. Unfortunately, in fall, everything was a bit dry and dying but still, I could imagine how awesome this would be in spring and summer. The kids were still enjoying the awesome playground which made me wish to be younger again too. Perhaps I’ll have to go back there in 2015 after all, or if not in another year, to see the park during summer. Then, they also have a fountain show which is supposed to be really good. Plus, this time, I also missed the fish market and I didn’t see a musical. Two other things for which Hamburg is famous. So you see, there is a lot to visit. I’ll be back for sure.



Berner Zwibeliärit


Every year on the fourth Monday in November there is a huge farmers market in the city of Berne, Switzerland. People take the trains from all over Switzerland to visit this market in the beautiful alleys of Berne and on the square in front of the government building. So far, I’ve never made it there, although my parents and grandparents always brought back pretty arrangements made out of onions. Yes, onions. That’s what the whole market is about. Onions and a little garlic.This year, I had to see for myself, why these two things are able to attract such a huge crowed despite the harsh winter weather year after year.


The vendors start setting up their stands in the middle of the night, so that the market can open at 5am. You wouldn’t assume that people would get up at this early hour when it’s cold and dark to go buy onions. But apparently it’s all about this event because people from 18 and upwards were already there when the market opened up. When we got there at 7am the alleys between the booths were so full with people that we had no other choice but to go with the flow.I saw why you had to come before sunrise. The atmosphere was very warm and had a magical Christmas feeling about it with all the lights that were hanging on the stands. After sunrise, this feeling would be lost and be replaced with children (and grown-ups) who were throwing confetti at passersby. So really, if you want to avoid confetti in your underwear, you have to come early. In addition, this gives you a reason to drink Glühwein for breakfast and eat onion pie and candy. Everybody was standing around in groups having a good time in this relaxed mood. This atmosphere alone is worthwhile of going there.Plus, it’s amazing to see, what you can do with onions. It doesn’t get boring to look at all the different stands. And people buy them too. Some booths were completely sold out by 11am. It will be a pity to tear these beautiful braided onion ornaments apart to use them for cooking. Luckily, you can always come back next year 🙂


I would go again too if work ever permits it. The ornaments are pretty and make good presents and the atmosphere opens the season of all the cute Christmas Markets we have in Europe in December.