Home, in my opinion, is a feeling as much as it is a place: a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, a sense of belonging. That was Hamburg, for me. Germany’s second-largest city – and Europe’s third-biggest port – has a heck of a lot going for it, and the fact that it isn’t (yet, at least) a tourist honeypot is a serious plus in my books.
With 2018 drawing to a close and a couple of days of annual leave still to use up, Laurence and I headed over to Northern Germany for a long weekend, dividing our time between fairy tale-esque Bremen and industrial Hamburg. Admittedly, Bremen wasn’t really on my radar until we plugged various dates into Ryanair’s Fare Finder, and discovered that we could fly into Bremen and out of Hamburg for a little over £25 each, and thereby see two places, albeit briefly, in one trip.
Much like Hiroshima, Nuremberg is a city that – through no fault of its own – remains intrinsically linked to the horrors of the Second World War. Gastronomic specialities such as lebkuchen (a soft gingerbready treat, somewhere between a biscuit and a cake in texture) and bratwurst reign supreme in the old town, with dozens of stalls and shops claiming to have the cream of the crop. A mere six kilometres away lie the Nazi Party Rally Grounds; once a malignant growth, today a benign tumour testifying to the unprecedented rise of fascism which began in Nuremberg over eighty years ago.
While other towns and cities across Germany were razed to the ground during World War Two, one lesser-known town in the heart of Upper Franconia escaped unscathed. Even under perpetually grey skies, Bamberg is a beauty. Labyrinthine cobbled streets were lined with original medieval buildings; wrought iron signs hung above bakeries and pubs (located, more often than not, side by side, according to tradition); flags fluttered in the breeze. With classes over and invigilating sessions few and far between, I finally had the time to take Simone up on her invitation to visit her in Bamberg.