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A sandy part of the lake. Photo credit: Freizeit Esslingen
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Aileswasensee

When summer finally rolls around, I, like everyone, like to head to the ocean. In Germany, ocean is scarce and one has to go to the very north of the country to get sandy beaches.

Instead of driving for 7 hours or so, we decided to head to a lake, about 37 minutes from home.

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I still call Australia home

I know, a post on a weekend? Does this mean I won’t be posting on Monday? Of course not…I just wanted to wish everyone a happy Australia Day.

Being in Germany for over 2.5 years now doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about Australian traditions. Last year I introduced Michael and his family to Lamingtons but this year we have invited all of our new neighbours over for cake and tea so it’ll be a little more German but we’ll still be celebrating the day!

Have a great one! I’ll be here amongst the snow that has not yet melted, dreaming of warm weather and a barbie at the beach!

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Lüneburg and Surroundings

Lüneburg Town Center

Lüneburg Town Center

So we had a great short stay in Bonn and a lovely day trip to Cologne but all too soon we had to be on our way again and this time it was a long drive. It took us around 5 hours to our next stop: Lüneburg.

This was to be our base for the next 4 days and we definitely used our time well. It’s summer here so it was pretty hot with temperatures around 28 – 30C and over. Unfortunately we had chosen an apartment on the top floor of a house, right under the roof so we were kind of boiling at night. But as a small consolation we also had a modern, newly renovated apartment with our own kitchen and a small balcony…and a ceiling fan.

The walk into Lüneburg was comfortable if a little long, but we tried it once and then decided that it was still worth it if we just drove in and paid a little for parking. After all, it was still much cheaper than in Stuttgart. On one occasion we were so surprised at how low the fee was that we had to take a picture. The man beside us was very surprised and had to wonder what we found so exciting. His comment? He found it already too expensive in Lüneburg. A matter of perspective, I guess.

Lüneburg: The slow decline of the buildings

Lüneburg: The slow decline of the buildings

Lüneburg is located just under Hamburg and is a beautiful, quaint little town that was once prised for its salt. It has a charming ‘old town’ that lies above a salt dome that helped the town to prosper. However, this boom in economy has left its mark on the town, with many of its buildings sinking and facades tilting. The salt was mined to so an extent that many buildings had to be demolished, which is quite sad considering how beautiful many of the buildings are in the Lüneburg ‘Altstadt’. Mining ceased in 1980 because it was no longer profitable, and nowadays only small amounts are extracted for the nearby salt baths.

We went swimming at the SaLü, a large salt bath in the town and it was a relaxing experience. We drove there in the early morning (around 10am) and paid for 2 hours but were allowed to stay for four. We never made it to four hours but still, it was a great experience. There was water gymnastics in the outdoors pool with the elderly and of course, we joined in. There is a wave pool, a relax pool and spas as well as a pool for kids with an indoor water slide, all filled with salty water.

The Ostsee (Baltic Sea) was not too far from Lüneburg and for me, missing the ocean and the beach, it was a must-see. Stupidly, it was the start of the school holidays and we decided to drive on a Saturday. The 1.5 hour journey turned into a 3.5 hour drive but still, it was worth it. The only thing that I found astounding was that not only do you have to pay for a ‘beach chair’ (they look pretty comfy though, and are great if it’s very windy) if you want one, but everyone who goes to the beach has to pay for entry! Entry to sit on the sand? Next time I will wait til I go back to Australia and go to any beach and be able to sit anywhere without paying any fees.

Exploring Lübeck

Exploring Lübeck. Photo credit: Michael Friz

On the way back, we also stopped by Lübeck for lunch and a quick visit to the city. It’s a nice little city with a whole lot of churches.

Winter in Miniatur Wunderland

Winter in Miniatur Wunderland. Photo credit: Michael Friz

From Lüneburg it’s a short trip to Hamburg with the train. We left Lüneburg at around 8:30 in the morning and 35 minutes later we had arrived in Hamburg, the second largest city in Germany and the second largest port in Europe. Our main interest in going to Hamburg was to see the Miniatur Wunderland. If you’ve never heard of this, definitely google it and watch a short video about it. It really is a wonderland and we spent 3 hours there, but I’m sure you could spend a whole day checking out all that they’ve created. A large team work hard to rebuild landmarks and cities in miniature form with real traffic and simulated accidents on the roads. It really is amazing and sometimes quirky as they’ve tried to make it as realistic as possible. In the introduction video they mention it too, they have plenty of little people in the act of lovemaking and parts of the electric work is exposed and even there they’ve made little electricians to put around the wiring. They really have paid a lot of attention to detail and there’s also a new airport where airplanes take off and land. Worth the trip to Hamburg!

Other than that we walked around the city and saw a few of the sights, but I didn’t find Hamburg all that interesting. Still, I would go back any time to see the Miniatur Wunderland.

Our adventures in the countryside are coming up next! For now, it’s back to real life.