Culture, Lüneburg

Since I already visited Munich in July this year, I knew I would not be making it down for Oktoberfest. Luckily, Lüneburg hosts an Oktoberfest of their own each year.

Löwenbrau Beer Tent

After receiving a Dirndl last year from Marco’s father and his girlfriend for Christmas, I was excited to finally have a chance to wear it out for the first time. Unfortunately, Marco does not own any Lederhosen. However, he did wear a checkered collared shirt, which is what men traditionally wear with their Lederhosen.

Wearing a Dirndl at the Lüneburg Oktoberfest
For one weekend each September, Lüneburg holds a proper Bavarian Oktoberfest on the city’s main fair grounds, known as the Sülzwiesen. The fest includes a beer tent with enough seating for 2,000 people.
Second stage at the Lüneburg Oktoberfest
To be completely honest, I did not see much of the fairgrounds at all, with the exception of a few rides and food stalls that I walked by as I headed to the beer tent. My friends and I went around 9 p.m. on Saturday evening, so the tent was already at capacity when we arrived. Luckily, we only had to wait about five minutes until we were let in.
Inside the tent, there were two stages. The main stage (pictured below) had a traditional German band from Franconia (Franken), which is a region within Bavaria. The other stage (pictured above) had a cover band that played a mixture of classic rock and modern pop songs.
Band from Franken at the Lüneburg Oktoberfest
Only in Germany do bands have cup holders that can hold a Maß of beer attached to their microphone stands.
Main stage at the Lüneburg Oktoberfest
Overall, I had a really great time at the Lüneburg Oktoberfest and cannot remember why Marco and I took this picture towards the end of the night…
Fun at Lüneburg Oktoberfest
With hundreds of Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the U.S. and Germany, you definitely do not have to be in Munich to have a great time at Oktoberfest. So, why question for you is:
Have you ever been to an Oktoberfest? Where was it?
Lüneburg, Travel

Lauenburg an der Elbe

When the German boyfriend and I left the apartment last Sunday, we didn’t plan to go on a sightseeing trip. Rather, we were hoping to find some new summer clothes in Hamburg since it was a Verkaufsoffener Sonntag, meaning that all of the shops were open.

Unfortunately, the shopping trip turned out to be an overwhelming failure, and after about 3 hours, we started driving back home with nothing but 3 pairs of socks. To make matters worse, we realized that the entrance to the Autobahn was closed.

So, we were reading the road signs, trying to find a different way home, when we saw a sign for Lauenburg.

“You know, I always wanted to visit Lauenburg,” Marco said.

“Okay, let’s go.”

The sign said it was only 21 km away, so we decided to turn our unsucessful shopping trip into a fun little excursion to the history city of Lauenburg.

After parking, we walked over a bridge, and I snapped this picture of the street below:

Lauenburg street
Lauenburg is a historic city that was founded in 1182 and currently has a population of about 12,000. The city is located directly on the river Elbe in Schleswig-Holstein. 

After walking over the bridge, the first building we came across was the castle tower (Schlossturm). Unfortunately, the castle itself burnt down in 1616, and all of the other parts have since been destroyed. However, the historic tower remains.

Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of the outside, but we did walk up a a few flights of very narrow stairs to the top of the tower.
Stairs in Lauenburg castle tower
Stairs in Lauenburg castle tower
bells in Lauenburg castle tower

view from Lauenburg castle tower
view from Lauenburg castle tower
They say that it is possible to see as far as Lüneburg, which is 25 km southwest, on a clear day. 
In the center of the tower is a floor with small prison cells, each of which looked like this: 
prison cell in Lauenburger Schlossturm
Then, after leaving the tower, we took a trail towards the city center. 
Lauenburg landscape
The Maria-Magdalenen Church, which was built in the 13th century, is by far the most recognizable building in Lauenburg’s skyline. Take a peek back up to the pictures we took from the tower, and you will immediately see it. Here is the church up close:
Maria-Magdalenen Church
Since it was quite a hot day, we finished off our city tour by relaxing next to the Elbe.
River Elbe
Elbe Lauenburg

So, what was supposed to be a Sunday of shopping turned into a spontaneous city trip. Although it was not planned, our two hour city tour was actually very nice, and Marco and I have both fallen just a little bit in love with Lauenburg. For anyone that lives in the area, I highly suggest checking it out.

When was the last time you went on a spontaneous day trip?

Lüneburg

While enjoying the beautiful weather last weekend, a surprise thunderstorm hit. The sky opened up and poured down rain for a solid 30 minutes. And when the sun came back out, so did something else…

Snails.
Lots…
…and lots of snails.
There were little snails…
…and big snails.
Brown snails…

…and blue snails.
Hungry snails…
…and flexible snails.
Snails with smaller snails attached to their backs…
…and, as they are known in German, naked snails (Nacktschnecke).

The clothed ones make for much better pictures, however.

Are there snails where you live?
Lüneburg

The German boyfriend and I finally made it out to Lüneburg’s Christmas Market today!

I really love German Christmas Markets. They are definitely my favorite part of spending the holidays in this country. So although we are leaving for Nuremberg tomorrow, where the biggest Christmas Market in all of Germany is, I still wanted to see Lüneburg’s this season.

So here is our little walk through Lüneburg’s Christmas Market in pictures.

Lüneburg street to Christmas market

Lüneburg Christmas market stall
Lüneburg lebkuchen hearts
Lüneburg Christmas train ride
Schmalzkuchen at Lüneburg Christmas Market
Eating Schmalzkuchen at Lüneburg Christmas Market
Lüneburg Christmas Market
Merry Christmas!
Frohe Weihnachten!
Lüneburg

Stalls at the Medieval Christmas Market in Lüneburg (Historischer Christmarkt Lüneburg)Known here in Lüneburg as the Historischer Christmarkt, this is a special Christmas market that takes place for just one weekend each year. Since neither the German boyfriend or I had ever been, we decided to stop by on Saturday evening.

Unlike a traditional German Christmas market, which has wooden huts draped in Christmas lights, the Medieval Christmas market attempts to remain authentic to the Renaissance style. This means no electric lights, traditional clothing, and handmade goods.

While this may sound sweet, we weren’t really impressed. It was basically just a dark and dreary market with sparse points of candlelight.

There was one upside, however: the bratwurst cost one euro less than at the regular Christmas market in Lüneburg.

Eating a bratwurst at the Lüneburg Medieval Christmas market
I have attended Lüneburg’s Renaissance festival in the summer, however, and it is a lot of fun. I just think that this style of market just isn’t nearly as fun when mixed with the wet and cold Lüneburg weather.
What do you think: Do you like this Medieval style, or do you prefer the traditional German Christmas markets?

Lüneburg, Travel

On the last day of July, Marco and I went into Lüneburg to take a picture for the HGTV House Hunters International Globe Traveler competition. I explained what the globe traveler competition is before in an earlier blog post — but basically, all you have to do is take a picture somewhere abroad with the House Hunters International bandana.

Here is the picture that Marco took of me. I am standing on a bridge overlooking the Ilmenau River in an area of Lüneburg known as “am Stintmarkt (stint market).” During the Middle Ages, stint (also known as smelt, which is a kind of fish) was frequently traded here. Today this area is full of bars and restaurants.

Lüneburg, Studying in Germany

I studied abroad in Lüneburg for the Fall semester of my senior year of college in 2011. After studying German for about 4 years, I knew I wanted to go to Germany, and my school was only affiliated with programs to Lüneburg or Berlin. Now you may ask yourself: Why would you choose Lüneburg, city of 70,000 people, to Berlin, full of history, culture, and Germany’s capital!?

The answer: $10,000

Although my reason for choosing to study in Lüneburg was purely monetary, it has turned out to be one of the most influential decisions I have made in my life.

The best part about studying in Lüneburg as an American through the USAC program is how truly immersed in German culture you can become. At Loyola University Chicago, most students choose to study abroad in Rome. They studied at an American university in a foreign city, which meant living, studying, and hanging out with almost exclusively other American students. This is not the experience that I was looking for when I made my decision to study abroad.

I chose to live in student housing for Leuphana, and I was housed in a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with 2 German men. This meant that from day one I was truly immersed in the culture and language, giving me no safety net.  Although I obviously still had most of my classes with all of the other American students and hung out with them throughout most of the day, I was still heavily immersed in the culture and language.

Through these experiences, I have realized what is truly important to me, found amazing new friends, and met the love of my life. So now, although my boyfriend will be the first to say that Lüneburg is an incredibly dull city to live in, I still believe that it is a truly great city to study in.