Wednesday, August 10, 2011

City in a Day: Lübeck and Travemünde

The last Saturday before finals we had a group field trip to Lübeck and its beach, Travemünde. Lübeck is known for being the home of Niederegger, a famous maker of marzipan. This place alone is worth visiting if you're a fan of the almond paste; there's a delicious-looking bakery and restaurant inside the (very crowded) store.
Window display, made completely out of marzipan.
It was actually really good marzipan. Smooth, sweet and mellow compared with the marzipan I've had before. I recommend bypassing the marzipan-in-chocolate stuff and getting something of pure marzipan because dark chocolate can overwhelm the taste a bit.

Now Lübeck is situated on an island and it used to be that you could only go in or out via one of its gates. Only one remains:
If you've been in Europe, you might also notice that this gate appear on newer German 2 euro coins.
Yes, they're leaning. You'll find that most things in Lübeck lean or have shifted. We were shown one street where the street itself has risen by several meters over the last centuries. The houses on this street have no (original) doors at street-level, but you can look down through grates and see the originals 10 feet (ish) under street level.

The city has a lot of churches, six or seven, but the one I was interested in was St. Katherine's Church, a former monastery. Alas, there were not actually any pictures of St. Katherine inside. It did have this, however:
I have no idea what is going on, but it is awesome.
Please let the skull be real. Please.

One of the most interesting things are the teeny-tiny streets. I don't mean normal European-alley tiny, I mean tiny.
Pictured: a street.
Remember, Lübeck is on an island, so when the city filled up, there was literally no place to continue building. Their solution was to build in the previously-private courtyards of houses, then essentially tunnel through so people could actually reach the new buildings. So you have four-foot-tall tunnels that are official streets.

Travemünde is a twenty-minute train ride from Lübeck, and had surprisingly nice weather. There were a lot of people at the beach and in the water--it wasn't any colder than Myrtle Beach, SC, actually.

 Sadly, since the day had started off cold and cloudy, none of use brought swim suits. Curse you, northern Germany and your fickle weather!
Next-best thing: seeing how deep you can loose your feet in the sand before you lose your balance and/or run away shrieking from a dead jellyfish. Not that I would know anything about that.

The week we were there was apparently the week of a festival or something. The boardwalk had a ton of vendors (mostly for drinks), there were ships and boats everywhere (including a pirate ship!) and lots of live music.

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