Town on an island: Lindau.

On the eastern side of the Lake Constance lies the beautiful city Lindau, right on an island on the lake. With a population of 25,132 it is fairly small, but a tourist spot nevertheless – probably THE tourist spot in the south of Germany. The historic town on the 0.68 square kilometre island can be reached either via a road-traffic bridge or a railway dam. The city is not only known for its architecture but also for various outdoor activities such as cycling, sailing, and swimming. Or one could also book an airship to fly over the city.

As it’s become a yearly summer tradition for me to travel to Austria’s West, a daytrip to our neighbour Germany was a great idea to do some exploring in a part that I haven’t been to yet. As Lindau is located next to the Austrian border in the West, my friend Julia and I decided to take an s-train from Bregenz and explore the beautiful island Lindau.

Brief historical overview

The city dates back to the year 882, so it’s over 1,000 years old. In former times Lindau translated into ‘island on which limetrees grow’, which is also the reason for the limetree as the city’s coat of arms. First there was a nunnery on the island, and only in the 11th century a market was established there, which also lead to Lindau becoming an Imperial Free City. Lindau was conquered by Napoleon and subsequently handed over to Austria. Already 3 years later it was given back to Bavaria. It has been growing ever since and became the tourist spot that it is now.

The lake

The Lake Constance – the third-largest freshwater lake of Europe with 540 square kilometres – is situated in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. 73 kilometres of the lake’s shores are located in Germany, 28 in Austria, and 72 in Switzerland. At its broadest point the lake measures 14 kilometres, and at places it’s up to 254 deep. The lake and its surrounding are important for the local tourist infrastructure, and cities located there are big hubs for the boating tourism. Many tourists decide to take one of the many tourists boat connecting one city to the other. The island of Lindau lies on the eastern shore of the Lake Constance (or Bodensee in German).

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The sights

Probably the most colourful building of the town is the Old Town Hall on Maximilianstrasse. The impressive Gothic building was erected in the 15th century and used to be the location for many historic moments. Even now the Old Town Hall is used for meetings of the town council and receptions of various kinds.

Built in 1508 on the wester point of the island and mainly used as a defence tower, the Powder Tower was turned into a storage for gunpowder towards the end of the 18th century. In the late 19th century the tower was then converted into a ‘place of lively convivality’, with a lounge area for guests, and can now be hired for meetings and celebrations.

Another impressive building located on the harbour promenade is the Mangturm Tower, standing 20 metres tall. Built in the 12th century as part of the city’s medieval fortifications, the name of the tower derives from the English word ‘mangle’ and refers to pressing machines used by cloth dyers. The tower lost its job as a lookout when the lighthouse was built in the 19th century.

The harbour entrance with its lion and the lighthouse are among the most famous landmarks on the Lake Constance. The New lighthouse in Lindau is the southernmost lighthouse in Germany. It is 33m tall and has a perimeter of 24 metres and was built from 1853 to 1856. It’s possible to climb the 139 steps to reach the top of the lighthouse for only €1.80, and inside the lighthouse there are all sorts of wall paintings and historical stories about the lighthouse. On the viewing platform one has a beautiful panoramic view over the harbour, the lake, and the city. The impressive statue of the Bavarian lion, standing 6 metres tall, was erected in 1856. Made out of sandstone and weighing 50 tonnes, the lion is watching over the lake, and rumour has it – the lion sometimes stands up to have a stretch ;)

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Old Town Hall

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Mangturm Tower

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Powder Tower

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The food

A place that we more or less stumbled upon which we ended up really liking was the 37° Kaffeebar Ladengeschäft. Not only is this a place where you can get coffee, decent vegetarian and vegan food and cool drinks, but also a place that sells interior pieces, books, and other peculiar things. The place is held in a retro-shabby chic atmosphere with fussy furnishing. They serve all sorts of refreshing lemonades and their tarte flambée is really delicious! It’s also possible to sit outside on a colourful arrangement of chairs and tables and enjoy the harbour view. It’s open Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 – 23:00.

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The bottom line

Lindau might not be the biggest or most spectacular city, but it kinda cast a spell over me. I felt very comfortable in the city despite all the tourists strolling around. It is such a cute, small island with great architecture and a picturesque view over the Lake Constance. What I especially liked about the island were the many opportunities one has to actually go ‘into’ the lake to take a swim or to just put a toe or the feet into the water. I’ve encountered many lakes where it has almost been impossible to actually come close to them without paying or be encountered by private beaches, but not Lindau!

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Adventure in Germany: Berlin.

I went on a little trip to Germany, which I previously mentioned in my last blogpost. I didn’t want to squeeze everything into one single post, as it would have been beyond my personal content limit, I decided to tell you about my time in Berlin in a separate post. In addition, my stay in Berlin was different to the the one in Hamburg as I got to meet my lovely friends from exchange again! Yay to Australia-Germany-Austria Reunion! :)

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TV tower

The day of arrival doesn’t really count as day 1 as Carina and I only checked-in, ate burgers at the restaurant next door and had a relaxed evening. So on our proper first day we met my Australian friend Courtney at the hostel and went straight to a bakery to get coffee & breakfast & to catch up a bit. Then we headed over to the German Historical Museum and spent a couple of hours walking around in the huge exhibition on… German history. It was very fascinating – especially for people interested in World War II and its aftermath.

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Berlin Cathedral

After that we headed back to the hostel to meet the rest of the crew – Lisa from Germany and her boyfriend Christoph :) Unfortunately, Carina’s health wasn’t the best so she stayed at the hostel for the remaining day. The rest went out for delicious and relatively cheap burritos at Dolores and spent our evening at the Christmas Market at Alexanderplatz.

As Lisa’s boyfriend has to have at least on piece of cake per day, we went to a nice place and had a few pieces each. Actually, we only ordered two “taster” plates, where there was supposed to be an assortment of small pieces so you can try a few different cakes, but every piece was the size of a normal piece of cake. So we had 8 pieces for 4 persons. Way too much cake! But delicious and worth the money (and kind of cheap because of the size and everything). In the evening we went on a Pub Crawl to see a few different pubs and just have fun.

On day 2 Carina was finally feeling a bit better again, we all had breakfast and went to the Brandenburger Gate and the Reichstag. The architecture around the Platz der Republik was really impressive!

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Reichstag

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Selfie in front of the Brandeburg Gate *

While traveling during exchange we enjoyed going on free Walking Tours and I’ve continued doing so on other city trips as well as I think it is:
a. a good way to see nice places of the city,
b. you get to hear nice stories about the buildings/places (not the usual historical stuff, but real people-stuff),
c. you sometimes get to know people,
d. you can ask the tour guide to give you pieces of advice on where to have lunch/dinner/whatever that are not known to tourists, and
e. you can pay whichever amount you want or even give them nothing in case you were unsatisfied with the tour.
Besides, you can always leave the tour whenever you want to.

On our three hour walking tour (which was Sandemans New Berlin Free Tour) we got to see the Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s Bunker, Gendarmenmarkt and many more. We saw very beautiful, very thought-provoking buildings.

Unfortunately, the weather was not the best, it was very windy and very very very cold :( However, the tour was really interesting and we got to see many interesting places.12351192_10208311586377312_743306115_nAfter our tour we had dinner at an Italian place, went to Potsdamer Platz to have a look at this Christmas market and enjoyed a cup of Glühwein.IMG_3223

Berlin was full of Christmas decorations as well! Beautiful but slightly too much for my taste :D

On our last day in Berlin we had an enormous breakfast at a place near the East Side Gallery. It was definitely worth our money, but unfortunately, I forgot the name of the place :( IMG_3227.jpgAfter stuffing our bellies with delicious breakfast treats, we went to the East Side Galleries to find out that it was being renovated at the moment, so most of the ‘gallery’ was behind barriers :( However, we still got a few nice shots and got to see interesting & beautiful art.IMG_3230

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IMG_3248We also went to KaDeWe – the biggest department store in Europe – to look at all the expensive and non-affordable stuff ;) Later, Carina and I went back to Alexander Platz to have a last look at the Christmas market there, while the rest of the gang went to the DDR museum. We met later again at our hostel where we had to say goodbye to everyone as Courtney had to catch her train, Lisa and her boyfriend a bus, Carina and I a plane.

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Alexander Platz

Berlin is a beautiful city, I definitely want to go there again (when it’s a bit warmer maybe?!). I also recommend anyone to go on a free walking tour and to have a look at the German Historical Museum, to learn more about Germany’s history. I really enjoyed my time in Berlin with my friends from exchange. :)

* Credits: Courtney Bergersen

Adventure in Germany: Hamburg.

Last week I went to Germany to have a little Erasmus-reunion with an Australian and a German friend. One of my friends from my exchange semester got the opportunity to work in Germany for a few weeks and another friend is living in Germany, so we all decided to meet up in Berlin. Carina has also never been there, so she came along as well :) As the best way for us to go to Berlin was by taking a bus via Hamburg, Carina and I stayed in Hamburg for a couple of days before meeting the rest of the gang in Berlin.

Our adventure started off with a >1h delay of our bus in Copenhagen. It was early in the morning and we had to wait in the cold outside. Yay. We could have gotten coffee instead, but you never know… However, we safely arrived in Hamburg and after checking-in at our hostel, we went straight to the Christmas markets and strolled around in the city centre.

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Christmas market at Rathausplatz

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Christmas market at Jungfernstieg

You could see all the people enjoying themselves. The markets were really really beautiful, even though a creepy Santa was apparently reading stories in a sledge over our heads (it sounded more like he was telling scary stories, but whatever). The whole city was decorated in Christmas lights (sometimes they went a little bit overboard with them though).

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Speicherstadt

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Pure excitement (or not) *

On the second day we explored the city itself. We spent a lot of time wandering around in the HafenCity quarter, especially in the Speicherstadt. This warehouse district is the largest one in the world, and has quite recently been awarded as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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After spending a lot of time in this district, we walked along the river to get to the Landungsbrücken (St.Pauli Piers), a landing place in the port of Hamburg. However, we were rather unimpressed by the buildings of the Landungsbrücken :D The port itself was very impressive, though.

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Landungsbrücken

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As we’ve been walking around for hours we were pretty hungry and cold, so we sat down in a cafe and had a cup of hot chocolate and a delicious bagel. Oh how I’ve missed this. Just sitting in a good bakery, with a delicious sandwich (in my case a bagel) with cheese, salad, cucumber and pumpkin seeds. Besides, finally being able to know how much something costs was great. I am still not accustomed to the different currency in Copenhagen and can never tell if something is ridiculously overpriced or just Copenhagen-expensive :D

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Jungfernstieg

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On the Lombardsbrücke

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Christmas tree!

After the break we walked around for a bit, went across the Lombardsbrücke, where we had a nice view over the Jungfernstieg and Hamburg in general, we did a little bit of Christmas shopping and had Raclettebrot/Bratwurst & Heidelbeerglühwein (Blueberry Mulled Wine) at the Christmas market at the Rathausplatz.

We also went to the Christmas market at St.Pauli and had a look at the Reeperbahn, but as it was a Wednesday night, there wasn’t much going on there :D

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Decoration at the main train station

On our last day in Hamburg, we only had breakfast at an Italian place on Mönckebergstraße. As both Carina and I were not feeling very good, we didn’t do much else than going shopping for a bit (everything’s so much cheaper in Germany!). The only exciting thing we did that day was trying Crêpe with Kinderschokolade. Very interesting choice. Later in the afternoon we took a bus to Berlin… So stay tuned, you’ll read more about the Berlin adventure in the next blogpost ;)

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Hamburg was a lovely city, too bad we could only spend 2.5 days there. We were amazed by all the Christmas lights, the whole place was just full of them. As you’ve read above, we spent a lot of time exploring various Christmas markets. I really felt the Christmas spirit there and can’t wait for Christmas to arrive :)

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* Credits: Carina Wiesinger