No trip to Europe would be complete without a stop in Germany. But to decide where to visit in Germany is hard because the country is full of interesting surprises. From a cultural standpoint, the art and history are unique, beginning with the Goethe House in Frankfurt, to the Sprengel Museum in Hanover and the Art Mile in Hamburg. Artists such as Picasso, Max Ernst and even Botticelli grace the walls throughout Germany. The cities encourage art study too, featuring museum night once a year that offers tourists and locals alike a chance to visit the museums until 2:00 a.m.
I began my trip in Frankfurt, which is a crisp, clean city known for the many contrasts it offers the traveler. Tradition and modernity abound and it is here you will find more skyscrapers than any other German city. There are also a plethora of museums in the city, many well-known throughout Europe for their architectural design. Famous Viennese architect Hans Hollein designed the Museum of Modern Art and it is shaped like a piece of cake and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in Frankfurt, his house being one of the most popular stops in the city.
Another side trip while in the Frankfurt area is the Eberbach Monastery. The monastery was settled between 1116 and 1131 and the abbey was built in 1136. For the past 800 years wine has been produced here as well so enjoy a wine tasting when you visit.
The monastery is old and haunting, reminiscent of hundreds of years of history and the many people who have come and gone through its doors. You can have dinner at Eberbach so make this a stop on your trip and try the typical German dish of boiled beef with “Frankfurter Green Herb Sauce” and steamed potatoes.
My second city visit was to Hanover, a small, but fascinating city. Highlights include the Museum of History, the Kestner Museum and the Rain Forest House. The Rain Forest House is especially interesting with plants and animals existing in their own environment under a glass dome.
In addition, if you get the chance, visit the restaurant Gondel and attend the vaudeville performance at the Georgepalast Vaudefille.
In Hamburg I stayed in the hippest hotel in Europe, called SIDE. SIDE is known worldwide and rightly so as it is perfect for the hip crowd. There is a spa, a restaurant and a bar called Fusion that fills up on the weekends.
The lounge on the 8th floor rises high above the rooftops of Hamburg offering a perfect glimpse of the entire city. The hotel is also perfectly located near the Opera House, theaters, shops, the train station and the business district. If you are in Hamburg, this is where you must stay.
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Hamburg has a fair share of museums, and the Art Mile walking tour is worth an afternoon. Begin at the edge of the port with the Deichtorhallen, filled with exhibits ranging from Andy Warhol to a sculpture by Richard Serra. The Kunsthalle offers exhibits that highlight work from the 1300s to 17th century Dutch paintings to early 20th century work by artists such as Beckmann, Liebermann and Corinth.
Hamburg is 60 miles from the Northern Sea estuary of the river Elbe. It is an exciting and thriving city, especially for the younger traveler looking for nightlife, after all the famous St. Pauli entertainment district is located here. Outdoor activities abound and in the heart of the city lies Alster Lake where you can spend time in nature. In fact, Hamburg is the greenest city in Germany with 25 parks and many miles of walking paths.
A visit to the public gardens of the Ohlsdorf Cemetery should be on your list. It is one of the largest cemeteries in the world with a complicated system of streets and grand horticultural impressions.
In Frankfurt stop at a traditional apple wine pub in the Sachsenhausen district. Apple wine is a low-alcohol drink that is said to have been popular in Germany as far back as the time of Charlemagne, 1200 years ago.
In Hamburg, visit the Red Fire Ship on Sunday morning for brunch and then enjoy the jazz music below deck.
Lufthansa is the way to travel to Germany no matter where your departure city is located.
Where to Stay
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Doc Cheng’s restaurant at Raffles Hotel is an excellent meal so save one night for dinner and order the Tandoori grilled beef fillet with orange-tarragon sauce. Oh, and for dessert don’t pass up the coconut-rum creme brulee.