Germany Trip Post

Herzlich wilkommen! Guten tag! This is the first time I have written a travel blog, but as usual with my other passions in life, be it history, politics, international relations, or anything to do with knowing about the world in general, I hope to cherish some memories that I have collected here in Germany. As I am typing away on my hostel computer and my own, my comments for improvement about how I can improve would be greatly appreciated. I hope, as usual, you have an enjoyable read here 🙂

 

1) Berlin – 25th to 28th March 2013>History Paradise

 

 

 

[1] Statue near the Alte National Ancient Museum and the Berlin Dom.

The capital of Germany right smack bang centre of Europe. Here, I encountered many people locally and externally whether from Hannover, Sweden or the US. I found this different from the ones I have been on the sort of historical and globalised centre apart from its European counterparts in London and Paris respectively. It is one since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the true essence of the phrase “freedom of expression” is personified especially in the myriad graffiti that is scattered pretty much in every suburban area.

 

Being a passionate history enthusiast, I found the German infrastructure modern and imperial alike, equally as breathtaking. The Berlin Dom all the way to simpler statues around the Brandenburg Gate, commemorating the Danish and French military defeats to the Prussian Army in the late 19th century. This is primarily through the Victory Column or the Siegessause, coupled with the Bismarck, von Roon and Moltke statues and thereabouts, all showcasing the rich and golden age of the Prussian Empire under King Friedrich Wilhelm I and II (the Great).

 

Having been to Paris and Saint Petersburg previously during the summer, the Easter snowfall presents another side of Berlin, but as I discovered, can be as jaw-droppingly beautiful despite the lingering minor depression that encompanies the climate. In my opinion, the only way one can fully appreciate the panorama of the capital one needs to walk around. I cannot stress the importance of how everywhere you step is oozing history, something that visitors often miss travelling by shuttle buses on tours.

 

I also appreciated the diligence and strictness of the Germans, where everything is well-organised and exact within the society and transportation in general. Unlike Paris, not able to speak the national language is not a grave matter, as there should always be someone who is able to commute in English comfortably to you. That is quite important when you are finding the most secluded street in the city!

 

2) Hamburg – 29th to 31st March 2013>Mini Copenhagen>Nightlife heavyweight, history middle-weight

 

[2] Reconstruction area in around St Pauli, Hamburg.

 

[3] St Nicholas’ Church, Hamburg.

Boarding the train at 12.16pm to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, hoping the historical vibe wave continues to drift in the northern city!

 

I suppose the city is historical, but with Easter in the way, most shops are closed as a result. For me, it is very commercial of a city, with all top name brand shops every corner one can spread his eyes upon. Hamburg is not as historical for me as Berlin – particularly because past the Rathaus, endless churches, some museums and the romantic North Sea running into small dams and rivers, this is what I like to call a “young person’s city”, vibrant and illuminous, made for partying more so than sightseeing. Certainly, I cannot take anything away from the musical geniuses and literature history that have adorned the city of Hamburg like Heinrich Heine during the 18th and 19th centuries. Then again, as this is the second biggest German city, many things are commercialised, accommodating countless people allowing an inter-cultural society, whether it be German, Turkish, Asian or African.

 

Staying in the Saint Georg area has enabled me to reach many historical sites easily, but sometimes the Saint Pauli sexual and naughty reputation resonates a bit too hard in its cousin across the Hamburg neighbourhood, ultimately reminding me of a somewhat similar identity particularly infamous in Amsterdam.

 

One particular landmark that did slightly alter my perception whilst I was in Saint Paul, was the Saint Nicholas’ Church and the area surrounding it. It was destroyed in an inferno during the late 19th century, forcing many projects to try and revive the medieval church. However, the Second World War had seen many years of massacring innocent people and bombing of countless buildings by the Nazis and the Allies alike. This was significant, as with the pictures I have provided [2] [3], I have tried to emphasise how the old has been replaced by the new, in an attempt to rehabilitate the ancient and fragile man that is the city of Hamburg, not the Sick Man of Europe or Turkey, mate! In this way, Hamburg has a unique blend of medieval, early modern and contemporary, and made me more appreciative of the city despite having Berlin setting an incredibly high standard.

 

Leipzig – 1st to 3rd April 2013>GDR’s capital, Goethe and Bach’s commemoration city

 

[4] A statue commemorating the German great, Bach, near St Thomas’ Church in Leipzig.

Boarding the train at 10.51am to Leipzig, after another rough night I encountered and affronted from my hostel mates – bunch of noisy drunkards they were! But anyway, I am excited to go to East Germany, a rather less common travel destination within the country by foreigners to say the ‘Big Four’: Berlin, Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt.

 

Here in Leipzig, we clearly see a city that has been in the German Democratic Republic, quite a controversial name for the Communist or Eastern part of Germany during the Cold War. There are many buildings that are destroyed, whilst pegging the way for renovation like in Hamburg as well. It is a lot smaller of a city compared to my other two cities I have been in, but in its justice, the excitement and ambiance it lacks compared to Hamburg, it makes up with remarkable history. This is the city where Goethe and Bach are commemorated as two artistic geniuses for their contributions in the Romanticist and musical era. Beside this, there are many 17th to 19th century authentic German architecture that really impresses the naked eye – whether it were the countless museums and little alleyways, the Old and New Town Halls, the different Protestant or Reformist churches – particularly St Nicholas’ Church (yes, you guessed it again!)…it almost feels like you are there in itself, until you reach to different restaurants, shops and buildings that drag you out into globalisation, internationalism, urbanisation and modernity.

 

Little trip to Weimar – 3rd April>The little gem

 

[5] Traditional German building in Weimar.

 

Another little hidden treasure that not many people travel to when they think of Germany as a tourist destination. Here is where Goethe and Bach spread their influences as artistic greats, and also where many counts and dukes like Karl August, Grand Duke of of Saxe-Weimar were trying to lure music and artistic greats with large sums of money. Again, like Leipzig, many of the buildings were preserved and picture-perfect, almost resembling many postcards I have been shown from Vienna (not that I have been there). Although it is even more compact than Leipzig, I definitely recommend you if you are a history enthusiast like me, to visit this little town off the outskirts of Leipzig. You could easily imagine Goethe walking down or Bach thinking in one of the buildings for inspiration…

 

In conclusion, I personally felt Berlin was by far the most interesting and vibrant city out of the four cities or towns I have been to. This is particularly because it exuberates a young feel to it, whilst always providing the visitor with history. Certainly, like how Francois I, Henri IV and Charles de Gaulle are remembered in France for their tiredless contributions to France’s rich history, Friedrich Wilhelm and Otto von Bismarck equal their status as virtuous figureheads. Here is where I met many Germans, who were easily able to converse in English to help me when I was most frustrated and lost in my tracks. Another thing I enjoyed a lot about Berlin was the quality of German food that was readily available to me, especially many different variations of sausage and mash with some type of gravy.

 

It must be said, Hamburg cannot even be compared to Berlin or even Leipzig as a travel destination. Perhaps it was because of how my experience was smothered greatly by my hostel mates, and the fact that it was more of a commercial and globalised hub than a historical city for travelling. I personally would recommend those who prefer shopping and to have fun to travel to Hamburg. For history, conversely, you might want to consider the other German cities or towns. But that is just me.

 

This leads me subsequently on to Leipzig and Weimar. They are, in my opinion, two very underrated destinations in Germany. As aforementioned, the ‘Big Four’ are the usual places of travel – many buzzwords or stereotypes when you think everything German would be beer, castles, blondes, the recent fascist history, sausages, schnitzel, sauerkraut… However, if one broadens out that aspect, we encounter a place of sympathetic and honest people, who have a deep rooted, internal-looking culture that always wanted to glorify the country itself amongst the provinces and other European countries. It does not matter whether it was in the arts, Realpolitik, music or simply food, Germany always finds a way to make you enjoy it so long as you are deeply connected with the history and cultural roots themselves. Certainly, it helped to see friends and hostel-mates from all over the world, which made my experience a lot more enjoyable in general. I hope to be back soon enough, travelling more in the Western region of the country. Anyway, it is soon me travelling back, and would be quite some time until my next proper blog. I hope you enjoyed your read here, and till then! All the best from your respective blogger, Seb. As in colloquial German, ciao! 🙂

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jubilantjonathon
    Apr 04, 2013 @ 09:01:46

    Great post! Makes me want to revisit Germany and all the fantastic places I seem to have missed!
    Safe travels.

    Reply

  2. sebr835
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:44:51

    Cheers mate, feels nice having good reception.
    Yes, it’s beautiful.
    All the best yourself!

    Reply

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