For many travelers, Germany has been synonymous with lederhosen, biergartens, and bratwurst. However, we discovered an entirely different German experience during our weekend trip to the second largest city, Hamburg. In Hamburg, we were greeted by a cosmopolitan, waterfront city filled with diverse attractions. The city has a maritime culture that feels almost Scandinavian, and the streets are lined with historic red-brick architecture and modern cityscapes.
Famous of being one of the largest ports (and third largest in Europe), Hamburg is situated on the Elbe and the North Sea. In fact, it is nicknamed the “Venice of the North” for its numerous picturesque canals. The water is never far away and you can feel the ocean breezes throughout the city. Hamburg is also filled with architectural gems, some of which were recently designated with UNESCO World Heritage status. With so much to see and experience in Hamburg, we knew we had to be there.
Here's how to tour Hamburg:
To get to Hamburg, we took the DB train from Berlin, which runs about every half hour. Tickets start at €20 (about $23) and the train includes a cafe cart. You can also take the Flixbus, a comfortable bus service that starts at $5.99. The transit time is about 2 hours from Berlin, which makes it a great weekend destination.
We stayed at the Generator Hostel, which is conveniently located adjacent to the DB train station. They offer spacious communal spaces such as a business area, lounge, and bar as well as a variety of types of accommodation including private and shared rooms, starting at around $50 USD.
Where to Eat:
Since Hamburg is situated on the water, the cuisine includes delicious seafood dishes. Our favorite is Carls Brasserie, located right outside of the Elbphilharmonie - the perfect place to enjoy lunch or dinner before seeing a performance.
1. Hamburg Maritime Museum -
Located in the HafenCity, the Maritime Museum offers exhibits on Hamburg's ship building and port history. Explore the HafenCity neighborhood surrounding the museum, which is the largest urban redevelopment centre in Europe.
2. Chilehaus -
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, this building is an architectural icon of the city known for its expressionist architecture. The sharp angles of the building's facade are reminiscent of New York’s "Flatiron" building.
3. Elbphilharmonie -
The icon of the city, the Elbphilharmonie was built in 2017 . The exterior glass design includes resembles a hoisted sail. The interior features a curved escalator that leads through an "iPad" looking tunnel to a viewing platform with 360 degree views of Hamburg's harbor, old town, and new city.
4. Historic Architecture -
While many buildings in Hamburg are done in modern design, you can find plenty of unique historic treasures. For example, check out the interior of the Chilehaus which contains vintage details, including a never-ending stairwell and a revolving open-door elevator called a paternoster.
5. Biking the City
Hamburg is a huge city at 292 square miles, so the ideal way to get around is via Hamburg's efficient bike program. The red bikes are located throughout the city and maintained via the Deutsche Bahn. Rent a bike for a half hour for free, perfect for getting from point A-to-B, or for a full day for 12 Euros. Best of all, it comes with a bike lock and is managed via an app.
The largest warehouse complex in the world and UNESCO site, Speicherstadt appears to float on the water. It was built atop the islands of the Elbe and contains a seemingly endless network of brick structures connected by bridges. This architectural monument is one of my favorites to photograph in the city.
Our guide Tomas offers tours in German or English. To book a tour, visit his site.
We hope that you get to visit Hamburg soon. It truly is one of the most beautiful and photogenic cities in Germany. What are your favorite places in Hamburg? Comment below!
Cartagena is one of Colombia's most vibrant cities, located along the Caribbean coast. The city is an hour flight from Bogota, and 30 degrees warmer and 100x more colorful. As soon as we landed, we were greeted by tropical humidity and rain.
We drove along a scenic coastal road with the Caribbean Sea right outside the window and epic cumulous clouds along the horizon. The beach was packed with tourists and locals alike, many oblivious to the rain as they continued their beach activities. To our left was the Old Town, a UNESCO site noted for the historic fortress walls that span blocks, if not miles. Ahead, we saw towering clusters of glass skyscrapers which reminded me of Hong Kong on the beach. Cartagena is a city of contrasts, excitement, and culture and we couldn't wait to dive in and explore.
Welcome to Cartagena!
Top places to photograph in Cartagena:
1. Bocagrande - The modern metropolis, filled with hotels, beaches, and restaurants.
2. Isla Baru - The beach getaway, 40 minutes by car from Cartagena.
3. Cartagena Old City - Colorful doors, old walls, and cobblestone streets.
4. Catedral De Santa Catalina De Alejandria
5. Cartagena Old Town - The Old City is walkable and filled with Spanish beautifully preserved colonial architecture.
6. Castillo San Felipe de Barajas - The old city walls span the perimeter of Cartagena and offer amazing views of the city.
The castillo is one of the best places to photograph and enjoy the ocean views.
7. Plaza de San Pedro Claver - Historic plaza filled with Spanish architecture.
8. Calle San Andres - Beautiful street filled with colorful flags.
9. Musica - A trip to Cartagena is not complete without music and dance! If you hang out in the Old City long enough, you are bound to encounter talented musicians and dancers.
10. Street Art - Cartagena is filled with street art around the city. The best way to see it is via the Biking Tour.
What is your favorite thing to see in Cartagena? Comment below!
In our second trip to South America, we visited Colombia's stunning cosmopolitan capital city of Bogotá. The city is home to many artistic treasures, diverse landscapes, a rich political history, colorful neighborhoods. In addition, it is a great time to visit Colombia as they were recently listed as "Country of the Year" by the Economist in 2016 for their historic peace agreement, and named the world's happiest country. After our trip to Bogota, it's easy to see why.
Bogota is home to over 8 million people with an altitude of 8,500+ feet (higher than Denver!). It is surrounded by beautiful mountain typography and offers an enjoyable temperate climate (a perfect 70 degrees during our stay in late May). Many of the city's sights are easy to visit by foot. We explore the city via the Beyond Colombia Free Walking Tour which meets at 10am outside the Museo del Oro. The tour gives an excellent overview of the city's highlights and history.
Behind the scenes travel vlog of Bogota:
Here are the top 5 things to see in Bogota:
1. Museo del Oro -
One of the most popular museums in Bogota, the Gold Museum attracts over 500,000 visitors per year. The museum is filled with pre-Colombian gold treasures, ranging from jewelry, masks, to intricate artifacts. Much of the art was destroyed and turned into riches during the Spanish colonial expeditions, so it is amazing to see that these pieces survived.
2. Street Art -
Bogota is one of the top cities in the world for street art, some of which span entire building blocks. Walk through La Candelaria District to view some on your own or take the street art tour, which will show some of the best art in town.
3. Botero Museum -
The Botero Museum is a free museum in Bogota that features the works of iconic Colombian artist Fernando Botero. His works are easily identifiable because of the large figures that he depicted in painting and sculpture, which Botero explained were a play on proportions. Throughout Latin America, you will find many Botero works on display in city plazas which are considered a status symbol.
Grounds of the Botero Museum:
4. La Candelaria District -
This area is considered the historic old town and is filled with beautifully preserved architecture, colorful buildings, churches, and unique bars and restaurants. The district is a delightful place to walk around, photograph, and enjoy the local cuisine.
Pops of color in the streets - local merchants sell everything from tropical fruits, hats, desserts, to jewelry.
5. Monserrate -
Walk or take the aerial tram to the top of Monserrate for the most stunning view of Bogota. We took the tram, which offered a scenic view up the mountain. The hilltop rises about 10,341 ft above sea level and is considered a pilgrimage destination as well as a tourist attraction. At the top, you will find the Monserrate Monastery, a restaurant, and sidewalks filled with shops. It is the perfect place to capture the sunset over Bogota.
Monastery at the top of Monserrate:
View from the top of Monserrate - perfect place to capture the city from above:
We hope that you get a chance to visit Bogota, it truly is one of the most breathtaking cities in South America.
What are your favorite places in Bogota? Comment below!
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.