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Guide to Lubeck Germany

Unique points.Lubeck is a charming Hanseatic city, surrounded by a canal and a river. It has plenty of parks trees and open spaces.

The best known symbol of the city is the Holtesten gate, built in 1477. Unfortuntately the gate was covered in scaffolding during my visit in June 2005, so I didn't get any photos! The town hall (Rathaus) was first constructed in 1230, it is regarded as one of the oldest and most magnificent buildings in Germany. The whole of the old town is now a UNESCO world heritage site.

The old town is quite compact and can easily be covered by foot. Lubeck is known as the home of marizpan. The story goes that during a siege the city ran out of flour and they ground down nuts as a substitute! You can visit the neaby Baltic coastal resort of Travemunde, nicknamed Lubeck's "lovely daughter", walk along the prom, take a dip in the sea, visit a fish restaurant. It is easy to reach Lubeck with Ryanair flights to Blankensee airport from Prestwick, Standsted, Shannon, Milan, Pisa and Skavsta.History.Lubeck was the cornerstone of the Hanseatic League, a trading alliance between cities in Northern Europe, to protect trade.

The League endured for three centries. Lubeck was the most important town in the Baltc basin by the end of the Middle Ages. However by the late 16th century the League began to disintergrate. The city is nickmaned the "City of Seven Spires". The cathedral is believed to be the oldest building in Lubeck, it was founded in 1137. It was badly damged in air raids during the Second World War, and was not fully renovated until 1982.

The bells which fell during the raid have been left untouched as a reminder of the destruction of war. The salt warehouses, now retail space, were crucial to the city's ecomony. Salt was known as "white gold" as it the only means of preserving food. Lubeck was still a "free city" when it refused to allow Hitler to speak there during his election campaign.

Hitler revoked this privilege once he came to power.What to see and do.The old town is very pleasant just for wandering around. Every so often you will happen upon one of alleyways off a road with terraces of pretty cottages. These were originally built behind the merchants town houses as accommodation for the workers.

Most of them have now been refurbished and converted into houses for the elderly. You are welcome to go into the alleys during the day to look around, as long as you are respectful of the residents.There are lots of green spaces to walk around. I especially liked the Muhlenteich, a tranquil piece of water with great view over to the cathedral. There are paths round almost all the peripherary of the old town.The old town is surrounded by the Elbe-Lubeck canal and the Trave River.

You can take boat trips round the port from the jetties at Obertrave, Wall Peninsula and the Untertrave. You can also take a trip on the Wakenitz from Muhlerbrucke to Rothebhausen.Thomas Mann, the German author, was born and spent the early part of his life in Lubeck. One of his best known novels, "The Buddenbrooks", helped him to win a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929. It is the story of the downfall of a bourgeois family over several generations.

It was Mann's first novel published when he was 25. The so called "Buddenbrooks House" was the home of Mann's grandparents but it was portrayed as the home of the Buddenbrooks in the novel. Some of the rooms in the house have been decorated as described in the novel.

Lubeck hosts various markets during the year. The Christmas market is held in Koberg Square from 21 November to 23 December. The Anno Dazumal Market is held in the town hall square during May. Stall holders dress in traditional custom and you can watch them practising traditional crafts.

It is like a journey back through time.For marzipan lovers, a visit to the Cafe Neideregger is a must. Neideregger have been making marzipan since 1806 using a secret recipe, with as little sugar as possible added, to preserve the almond aroma and taste.

They serve all types of marzipan delicacies and you can choose from 300 products in their shop. There is a museum on the second floor, charting in the company's history.The Duckstein Festival is held from 5 - 14 August on the banks of the River Travel.

There are a variety of outdoor street performances - music, comedy etc.Lubeck has several interesting museums. The Museum of Nature and the Environment, Muhlendamm 1 -3, tel 0451 1224121, has ten million year old whale fossils. The St Anne Museum, St Annen Strasse 15, tel 0451 1224134, is a former Augustian convent dating from the early 16th century. It has a collection of ecclesiastical art and late Medieval carved altar pieces.

The Puppet Museum, Petersgrube 4 - 5, tel 451 178626, houses one of the largest collections in the world of 18th and 19th century puppets and puppet theatre equipment. The Holsten Gate houses the Museum of Local History. During September the Museums have some late opening nights, until midnight.Travemunde, the coastal resort, can be reached by boat trip up to Trave River from Lubeck, by train or by bus numbers 30 and 31. The Travemunde Sailing Week is held from 22 - 31 July.

It is the second largest sailing event in the world with around 3000 sailors from 16 countries taking part. There are fireworks and a family party in Brugmann Gardens. Sand World runs from 8 July - September 4. This is a display of sand scupltures up to 15 metres high. There is a prom which you can cycle or walk along.

The beach is dotted with the characteristic beach chairs, which offer plenty of wind cover.Day Trips.There are regular train/bus to nearby cities. I really liked Wismar, east of Lubeck.

It is also a Hanseatic town. It has a large town square with a medieval water pumping station, built in Dutch renaissence style. Along the port, fish is freshly smoked on board boats. There are stalls selling snacks, mainly fish sandwiches and several restaurants and cafes. Schwerin is also very beautiful, surrounded by lakes.

Where to stay.Excelsior Hotel, this three star hotel is located just outside the old town, close to the bus and railway stations. I stayed at this hotel for one night in June 2005. The rooms are comfortable and the buffet breakfast is good.

Rates for a double room are 78 - 108 euros, a single room is 60 - 80 euros. The Excelsior has a 3 day special which includes two nights bed and breakfast, two four-course meals (you can choose lunch or dinner), a city tour, a visit to the Cafe Neideregger and admission to the Puppet Museum. This package costs 142 euros per person, based on two sharing, 174 euros in a single room.The two star Baltic Hotel is located just outside the old town, close to the bus and railway stations. A double roomcosts from 61 - 67 euros per night, a single room from 33 - 37 euros per night.Where to eat.

Wullenwever, Beckergrube 71, tel 0451 704333, is run by the Peterman family. it is located in a 16th century house. There are several set menus, starting at 35 euros per person or you can dine a la carte.Restaurant Toledo, Krahenstrasse 25, tel 451 7098111, is a Spanish/Mediterranean restaurant.

They serve a buffet on Friday and Saturday evening with an extensive choice at only 11.5 euros per person. I liked this restaurant because I could see what I was choosing at the buffet. I didn't understand most of tne menus in Germany beyond chicken and pork. I do like some fish but never knew what all the kinds of fish on the menu were and didn't want to order something I couldn't eat.

.Karen Bryan is a UK based independent travel consultant and writer, specialising in less well known destinations in Europe. Her website is Europe a la Carte: http://www.europealacarte.co.uk.

By: Karen Bryan

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