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Highlights of Hamburg

A canal in Hamburg, called the Venice of the North because of its many canals. Photo by Roberto Kai Hegeler

A canal in Hamburg, called the Venice of the North because of its many canals. Photo by Roberto Kai Hegeler

Considered by many Germans to be the most beautiful city in Germany, Hamburg is also called the “Venice of the North” for its many waterways. It has over 2,300 bridges, more than any other city in the world.

Just a 1.5-hour train ride from Berlin, it’s worth a visit to see this charming city that has rebuilt itself beautifully after suffering mass destruction in WWII.

Here are just a few highlights.

• Take a free guided bicycle tour with HafenCity Hamburg GmbH. Europe’s largest inner-city development, HafenCity is located on the Elbe River and is being transformed into a live, work, play community. Check out the progress on the long-delayed $1 billion concert hall for the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, now scheduled to open in 2017.

• Sail or cruise on Alster Lake. This scenic lake is right in downtown Hamburg, with beautiful views of the city from the water.

• Take a Beatles tour. Hamburg is where the Beatles honed their musical skills by playing in clubs here from 1960 to 1962. See where they first appeared as The Beatles as you stroll around the Reeperbahn, a center of Hamburg’s infamous red light district where I was shocked to see elderly women shackin’ their stuff from 2nd-story windows.

• Stroll down its streets and through its shopping arcades. Named a 2011 European Green Capital, Hamburg has more than 100 parks, beautiful tree-lined streets and plans to link 27 square miles of green space around the city. Don’t miss the Alsterarkaden, arched shopping arcades built in the 1840s along the Alsterfleet canal.

For more information, visit www.hamburg-travel.com

This article appears in the spring 2015 issue of Travelgirl magazine.

My Lunch with Samantha Brown

Travel Channel host Samantha Brown

Travel Channel host Samantha Brown

And to think I almost didn’t go.
travelgirl editor Stephanie Oswald emailed me last fall about having lunch with Travel Channel darling Samantha Brown while she was in town filming a weekend in Atlanta.

Overwhelmed by deadlines and having only a marginal knowledge of who she was – I know, I know! – I almost declined but thought better of it.

It may be a sorry admission to make, as a travel writer, but the only travel show I’ve ever watched is Anthony Bourdain, whom I adore from a distance. I’d be terrified to actually meet him as I know I’d totally wind wind up eating fried marinated monkey guts and doing arsenic shots and wake up in a yert with no knowledge of where my shoes went.

So before our lunch I watched a few of her shows and was impressed by her easy style, coverage of a destination and her cute clothes.

Stephanie and I showed up at Buckhead Diner and waited to meet with Samantha and her publicist Marjorie Hall, who soon showed up in a stretch limo. Uh oh, I thought – we’re in for a pretentious diva-style event with the fancy NYC girls. Continue reading