Hamburg, (Germany)

“Roman Treva”, “Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg”

Hamburg, Germany, July 2019

Again the finally well deserved time to come back to a city I have never returned since the first and only time 9 years ago, Hamburg. Why this long is easy to explain, basically being concentrated in visiting hundreds other cities across dozens of countries across the globe. In a lapse of 9 years I can easily count 90 countries and over 400 cities and places, most of which available here in my travel blog for anyone to enjoy a proper guide. No need to mention this is a great excuse for remaking this entire guide adding lots more to what was there already and bringing it a most up to day bump.

How a city can change in that many years is fascinating to be honest. Back then I remember a lot of cranes and construction going on. The second largest city in Germany was transforming and evolving itself, gentrification at its best and incredible projects coming out from the countless derelict areas around the former docks and factories. Restoring its heritage buildings while designing a proper 21st century city. Today, most of it is done, and new projects being drawn ever since. What has been a very industrial city, suffering from destruction during the WWII raids, the 1962 North Sea flooding, and then from the closure of dozens of factories, re-emerged  wealthier each time as a key tourist destination in Germany focusing in business, finance, media, research, education, science, arts and of course what it does best, a major shipping logistic and infrastructure.

Hamburg, together with its neighbouring trade alliance city of Lübeck merely 65 kilometres to the east marked at the brink of year 1241 the origin and core of the powerful Hanseatic League of trading cities; Lübeck itself becoming the capital of such vast network that extended all over the Baltic and benefiting Hamburg ever since in the riches and wealth from the trade.

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Ingolstadt, (Germany)

“The Illuminati City”, “The city of Audi”, “Setting of novel Frankenstein”

Ingolstadt, Germany, October 2017

Easily coming from our base in Nuremberg some 100km to the south we reach the historic city of Ingolstadt on our second day in this weekend after having spent a great day at the UNESCO listed city of Regensburg the day before. Both cities were our reason for returning to this region since we’ve already enjoyed in the past Nuremberg and nearby Bamberg. Now bearing some small cities, we can definitely say we’ve been everywhere important worth not just one, but more trips, therefore if any future trip around here, the base will have to be more south, in Munich, which although we’ve been many years ago, it’s been as such, many years, not even in my blog (as of October 2017 anyway). It won’t be too long time waiting until we start planning some trips there.

This city is way smaller than Regensburg, hence why we kept it for the last day before returning to Nuremberg airport later in the evening for the departure back to London. That gave us plenty of time to enjoy every sight and do everything we wanted to do here, and still, having some spare time in Nuremberg for a nice dinner and relaxing time.

Ingolstadt, same as Regensburg, is located along the Danube river, and it does actually form part of Munich’s metropolitan area. Some further key facts? Yes, there are many actually, but let’s keep to the ones majority of people will know about even if they would have never associated to this city. In the 18th century the Bavarian secret society of the Illuminati was founded, a society which goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power. Then who have never heard of the novel by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein? It is here where scientist Victor Frankenstein creates his monster at the Old Anatomy Building of the university (well, we know its’s fictional but based in a real existing place). And of course, home to automobile manufacturer Audi. (more…)

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Regensburg, (Germany)

“Celtic Radasbona”, “Roman Castra Regina”, “Free Imperial City”, “City by the Danube”

Regensburg, Germany, October 2017

After precisely a year since the first and only time I’ve flown to Nuremberg, I managed to grab an even better deal this time to the same place, however this time with a different plan: reaching the UNESCO listed city of Regensburg on Saturday, and nearby Ingolstadt on Sunday. Nuremberg it is therefore and without hesitation, the perfect base to reach these cities and the many others nearby as we did the year before, with Bamberg the highlight of that trip. It’s the major airport and transport hub in the region, and it will not, possibly, be the last time I get here in order to continue enjoying the many other sights and idyllic villages nearby.

Regensburg was by far a long time in the wish list of places to go. In this occasion with a double good reason; basically enjoy the beautiful and historic old town, and getting onto another World Heritage Site listed place. Countless this year so far. To the people who know me, you know the deal, for these who recently follow me, I am a heavy collector of UNESCO sites, and at the same time my lifetime dream would be visiting every country in the world (properly visiting not just ticking “I’ve been there”), it is a lifetime dream to be in as many WHS as possible.

The city, although small, has a lot of sights and things to see and do. Miraculously it is one of the few cities in the country that survived almost untouched during the World War II, and as such, it’s one of the most complete, largest and best preserved medieval town in Germany and also one of the most visited attractions in the country. As the UNESCO refers to, it’s the largest medieval old town north of the Alps and so well preserved, dubbing it “Italy’s most northern city”.

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Wurzburg, (Germany)

“Herbipolis in medieval times”, “Finest Baroque palace in Europe”

Wurzburg, Germany, May 2017

One last place to visit for this long weekend taking the advantage of the Monday bank holiday in the UK, we left Wurzburg for the last, because it’s the largest of the cities (apart of Frankfurt of course, our base). In here you will need definitely much more time to enjoy and sightseeing, on top of the mandatory visit to the key highlights in the city, the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed Residence, and the Marienberg Fortress. Only with these two half of your overall time here will be taken. The rest is among the historic old town filled with countless churches in all architectural styles and beautiful palaces, houses and monument, despite the almost entire destruction of the city during the WWII air raids.

Like the unfortunate fate of countless cities in Germany, WWII took its toll and not only in death, but the mass destruction of everything standing. Wurzburg took only 17 minutes to be razed to the ground by the British. In the good note (for architecture), the city raised from the ashes with a great reconstruction, and it is today an important tourist destination included in many tours through Germany.

Wurzburg and this region of Franconia in Bavaria is one of the most important in wine producing in the country notoriously for dry white. If you have the chance why not to try some with your lunch, restaurants here are generally having a down to earth prices; and as a curiosity, it is home to the oldest pizzeria in Germany, from 1952. However when in Germany, it’s of course best to have nice sausages and fries instead. I cannot imagine any trip to the country and not having at least once a currywurst. Other than this, there is nothing else for now to be said in this brief introduction to the city. (more…)

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Heidelberg, Germany

“Mountain of Saints”, “Pearl on the Neckar River”

Heidelberg, Germany, May 2017

Almost 7 years have passed since the first and only time we’ve come here to the beautiful city of Heidelberg, and actually today was quite an unexpected return to be honest. I did not plan in coming here at all, however, because all of the previous cities we’ve been today were so small (Lorsch, Speyer and Maulbronn), and because the days now almost in June were lasting that long, so sunny and great weather, we could still benefit from some more daylight hours and enjoy a brief re-visit and nice dinner in this city, and let our other friends travelling together in this trip see more places.

I take the chance to remake this guide as well, as it was too old and quite short. One of the first ones released when I launched my travel blog live. I will only retain the travel map from the trip back in August 2010, showing another of our usual crazy trips packing as much as possible in a weekend where we came from Dusseldorf, reached Zurich in Switzerland, and stopped along the way for sightseeing Heidelberg which was in turn, the original plan that weekend. Zurich happened our of the blue decided in the go.

The city as small as it is (or might appear at first look), will shock you for the great amount of sights. Literally every building is of historical importance and beauty, not to mention the incredible views you will get from the banks of the river Neckar with the old bridge, city and the castle up in the hill. It is the 5th largest city in the region of Baden Wuttemberg, where Stuttgart is the capital. Not only you will find in Heidelberg this type of architecture, generally stone constructions and timber-framed traditional houses, but in the whole region on every village. Thankfully it was not as heavily destroyed during WWII as other regions and cities on the west of Germany were, meaning you can enjoy a complete Baroque style old town. (more…)

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Maulbronn, (Germany)

“Home to the first construction in Gothic style in Germany”

Maulbronn, Germany, May 2017

Our last city of the three we’ve planned for today (well, I planned and dragged all the 6 friends of us we travelled together); Maulbronn. But hey! what a great day we’ve spent so far, the best decision for a day trip from our base in Frankfurt to enjoy some of the nicest historic little cities and villages in these regions of Germany so famous for their many timber-framed houses, abbeys, cathedrals, nice food and good company. After all, any of these we’ve visited today are very small and near each other so no need for needing any further time, there is well enough on a same day to see them all, and even more in between.

If back in Lorsch the city was famous for its UNESCO listed Abbey, and then in Speyer, the UNESCO listed cathedral, here in Maulbronn there is also another World Heritage Site listed, the Cistercian monastery. Now as you see this is very clear and there is no any way around that this trip has been planned to visit all of these sites since we are fan number one for being at the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites as possible in the lifetime.

The city is, 70 kilometres southeast from Speyer our previous city we came from, is already in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, just 40 kilometres west of Stuttgart, the regional capital city, and altogether, 150 kilometres directly south from Frankfurt. The road system in Germany, world-wide known for being one of the best, and since speed does not matter when driving (not everywhere but in most of the motorways and sections), then reaching these places is just matter of few minutes drive. That’s another of the pluses that played in our favour saving us lots of time commuting and later returning to Frankfurt, our base. (more…)

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Speyer, (Germany)

“Roman Noviomagus, Civitas Nemetum”

Speyer, Germany, May 2017

The second city planned for today after visiting the neighbouring city of Lorsch on our day trip where we still have to do as last the city of Maulbronn; its Speyer. Let’s call this lunchtime in Speyer as we came in perfect time for this, and for enjoying the sightseeing on this rather small city. At 30 kilometres from Lorsch, or 100 south of Frankfurt, our base; it is another of the beautiful small cities near the ring of Frankfurt, and another of the many in the region listed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its marvellous Cathedral.

The city is within the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, neighbouring to Hesse which capital is Frankfurt. It is one of the country’s oldest cities, founded by the Roman and it’s like almost any city and village in this part of Germany full of timber-framed houses so traditional and typical. It’s a very charming place to visit, but not for overestimating the time. Few hours is well enough to see everything, and with few I would probably count with no more than 4 including some time for lunch and enjoying a coffee before moving onto the next city.

A region with countless places you can go one after another, it’s a great day out from the larger cities of Frankfurt of Stuttgart if any of these is your base. The best you could do is having a rental car and be free to go as your day goes, or on a defined tour as was our experience on this trip where I wanted to aim for some of the World Heritage Sites we’ve not been before. But other than this, there is not much more needed to say in this brief introduction to the city.

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Lorsch, (Germany)

“Greatest centre of Carolingian art”

Lorsch, Germany, May 2017

Our first city of the few planned on this long weekend taking advantage of the bank holiday in England and therefore coming to this region for 3 full days. At only 60 kilometres south of Frankfurt, our base, it was just matter of few minutes drive here and starting point for this day to some other cities later on farther south: Speyer and Maulbronn. Because all of them are small, very compact and so easy to visit, it makes a good idea to combine them all together in a same trip, especially if you have your own transportation as a rental car to get there and in between, however it is not mandatory, all three cities are very well connected one to another and to Frankfurt; and of course, with the larger cities of Heidelberg and Mannheim.

Driving there from Frankfurt we did also took the chance for sparing few minutes in Darmstadt to admire one of the greatest constructions from genius architect Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser, better known as simply Hundertwasser. This is the “Forest Spiral” (Waldspirale). That was a nice addition to the already large collection of his buildings we’ve visited, especially in Vienna, his hometown.

Lorsch importance resumes in its Carolingian Abbey, one of the most important of that era in the country, where most of the Carolingian kings of Germany were buried there. Nowadays lying in ruins bearing the main entrance hall and part of a small chapel, however even with this little remaining, it is listed a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. The tiny old town is to the west of the Abbey, only few streets centred around the timber-framed building of the old City Hall. It is a nice and relaxed walk through the cobblestone streets, but other than this there is nothing else to do nor see, and not much more of importance to say in this brief introduction to the city. Calculate 2 hours maximum here, and this is overestimating the time. (more…)

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