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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Eindhoven, (Netherlands)

“Eeind: last, hove: land”, “Last hoves on the land of Woensel”

Eindhoven, Netherlands, April 2019

Completing the weekend after visiting Antwerp the day before, we return to where we flew into and from where we would depart later on in the evening, Eindhoven. Although this is not my first time here, but possibly the third or so, that was many years ago anyway hence not much I can remember. On the bright side, this is now the perfect occasion to finally have a travel guide written about this city and ready for anyone of you willing to travel here and get some first hand information about.

Although a small and still quite industrial city, it is turning into the 21st century and beyond with great projects all across its boundaries. Being in the sectors of banking and financial, technology, industry and housing. Lets not forget Eindhoven really developed and thrived with the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. It is when it truly expanded and kicked off to become one of the key cities in the world in the production of electronics especially after the foundation of Philips, first producing light bulbs then expanding to plenty other sectors that we basically cannot live without something Philips in our lives.

Another world-wide known company that established towards the end of the 1920’s decade is DAF, the nowadays car and truck manufacturing giant. Unfortunately, the city was not spared during the WWII raids, and it suffered badly to the point that the reconstruction that followed did not restored the buildings but instead, cleared and made way for a new rearranging of streets and planning, and so the new buildings in place. (more…)

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Antwerp, (Belgium)

“Gallo-Roman Antverpia”, “The Diamond Capital of the World”

Antwerp, Belgium, May 2010

It’s great to travel back to cities and places when long time elapse in between the visits, and especially if that is to one of the greatest cities in terms of history, architecture and sights. To me, this is the third time here. If the first was the shortest as all I had was few hours interconnecting buses on way from Brussels to Amsterdam with the second time way longer than before; now this is the longest I’ve been hence covering deeply every sight and corner of the city. A great chance as well to now completely revamp this travel guide, rewriting and reviewing most of it.

Antwerp is the second largest city in Belgium after its capital Brussels, and with difference, also the second in elegance and richness. While Ghent and Bruges are incredibly beautiful places, these are first smaller, and secondly, like taken out of a fairy-tale. Antwerp in the other hand is grand and one can feel how powerful it once was.

Its port remains second in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world. It is merely 25 kilometers to the North Sea along the Westerschelde estuary of the River Scheldt that cross the city. One of the most important trading cities in the 16th century especially during the Spanish rule when it was the sugar capital of Europe after such commodity was coming from the colonies; cinnamon and pepper from Portugal and plenty others, translating in rivers of wealth and countless merchants coming to the city, and earning the Spanish crown seven times more revenues than the Americas.

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Innsbruck, (Austria)

“Roman Oenipons”, “Inn Bridge”

Innsbruck, Austria, March 2019

It’s been a long while to return to one of the less visited countries I’ve been in Europe, although I can proudly say I’ve been to some of the greatest cities of course with Vienna and Salzburg, and smaller Bregenz, the westernmost city of Austria right by the Lake Constance. Not many places nevertheless, and still missing to reach Linz, Klagenfurt and Graz hopefully in the near future at other trips.

While it’s the 5th largest city in the country, majority of tourism are winter visitors coming to what’s known one of the best sky resorts in Europe, the largest in the Alps. Within a short distance to the city centre you have great sky stations and circuits of any kind. So while the winter months is peak season for Innsbruck, during the the summer months it was way more laid back and quiet. Both seasons offer a totally different view of the city and its surroundings. One the snowy postcard-perfect view of the Alps, the other the green and rocks of the mighty mountains.

A vibrant city full of history and culture, capital of Tyrol since 1429 which gained its further push and importance after emperor Maximilian I moved the imperial court to Innsbruck in the 1490s. Churches, palaces and grand buildings, gardens and statues were built and there standing today even considering some destruction after the WWII raids. (more…)

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Grenoble, (France)

“The Capital of the Alps“, “Gallic Cularo”

Grenoble, France, March 2019

It’s been a while since one of these quick and short day trips, simply go and back in the same day with nothing else than a camera. However, for Grenoble this works perfectly since the medium to small size and sights are good enough for a day. Any longer and I could not image this being in the same city to be honest, although there is way much more of course, especially considering how near you are from one of the greatest cities in France, Lyon.

Considering the great flight offer, it was too tempting not grabbing it and just go. That was a good decision! Fair enough people do not usually come here merely for sightseeing the city, but instead for the great sky resorts everywhere within minutes from downtown, and of course, the spectacular views of the mighty Alps towering at the backdrop of the city.

From a modest city founded by the Gallic, then a small Roman settlement and garrison to one of the leading cities in Europe in high-tech industries, but still preserving a heritage from its past, once the largest manufacturer of gloves in Europe. Quite small nowadays however orientated to a high end market.

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Reims, (France)

“Roman Durocortorum”, “The home of Champagne”

Reims, France, June 2018

While this was another trip to Luxembourg, the occasion for it was reaching the beautiful city of Reims not too far away. The truth is that you are nearer if flying to Paris, however the cost to get there already in June was double than Luxembourg, not to mention the hotel, no matter if Paris or Reims, however as we’ve been doing for the past years with this destination, getting a nice deal with British Airways on a flight+hotel package was the best decision once again in all means. Not only the great flight times and a great hotel, but also the location of the city in between so many other places to visit at easy reach.

Reims, one of the most historic and important cities in France come not only for being the capital of champagne, yes the world famous drink and name of the region, but from its past. Since a key Roman establishment in the middle of the crossroads leading towards the west of the empire, to become the place where most of the kings of France have been crowned for centuries at the nowadays, UNESCO World Heritage listed Cathedral. Yet the city is much more with the countless sights, historic churches, palaces and beautiful architecture in the many squares and streets. It is also a really great destination for some good shopping, and of course a thriving nightlife. Restaurants, bars and pubs are all over the historic core, with very lively nights.

It was for a while in the wish-list radar, now happy to finally accomplish the trip and slowly, visiting more and more places in this great country with so much to see and do where somehow there’s still so many more cities waiting in the list. The only trouble in getting to most of the remaining are the limited flights or travel connections for being able to manage in a weekend. (more…)

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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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