Amsterdam is truly unlike any other city. Often described as the city of sin, it is only sinful of being beautiful. Each canal is unique and extraordinary in its own way. You'll find buildings that are centuries old, bikes, chocolates, bikes, parks, bikes, museums, bikes, sinful shops, bikes, and have I mentioned bikes yet? The city has more bikes than inhabitants! Anyways, here are just a few of the many faces you'll find in Amsterdam. Enjoy!
Hamburg, Germany is a vastly underrated city. Historic and modern it meets all of your traveling needs and then some. Maybe I was just in love because it feels so much like fall there and England is just kind of getting dreary without all of the wonderful things fall has to offer. Suffice it to say that Hamburg is a perfect fall get away with beautiful trees, old warehouses, tall churches, good food, and great shopping. Here are 6 things I loved about Hamburg that you'll love too!
You have to try the food. Just pick something, even if you don’t know what it is. This is the best way to get to know a local culture. I suggest a warm bretzel (pretzel) or the Rhabarberschorle (rhubarb soda, trust me, it’s good and I don’t like soda). Sternschanze has great eateries where you can get falafels, curry or baked potatoes. I suggest Kumpir König for all those vegetarians. This baked potato bar will meet all of your needs and warm you up on a brisk fall day.
St. Michaelis Church
Stop by the St. Michaelis Church and climb the stairs to the top. You could take the elevator, but you probably need to burn some calories from the chocolate croissant you ate for breakfast so opt for the stairs. You also get to see the bells up close in person when you take this route. While you’re there go down into the crypt where over 100 people are said to be buried.
Stroll down the harbor of this historic and modern port city to the Alter Elbtunnel where you can walk beneath the Elbe River. Take the stairs a few flights down, through the river, back up, and turn around to see the skyline. A helpful guide will point out all of the important spires and statues that are scattered throughout the city.
Walk by the canals in the warehouse district (which is the largest in the world might I add). Lined with red brick buildings that date back to the late 1800s and plenty of bridges this is a beautiful walk in the early evening. This is also where you will find the Hamburg Dungeons, Miniature Wonderland, and tickets to the theatre (if you have money to spend on those things).
Bike Ride Around Alster Lake
If you have a little bit of free time and some energy rent a Stadtrad bike (they’re the red ones dotted throughout the city) and take a ride around the lake. Be on the lookout for rowers, extravagant houses, and stunning views. There is no better way to see this city than biking. There are dedicated bike lanes on sidewalks so you can feel safe without riding beside cars. Hamburg is also quite big and a bike is a much more efficient means of transportation than walking or trying to figure out the buses.
Rathaus (City Hall)
Grab a coffee and pretzel from Nur Heir and then check out the City Hall starting from the back. It’s right by Alster Lake and you can take a free(!) self-guided tour of the ornately decorated rooms. Check out the front plaza as well and then shop till you drop at the countless stores in the surrounding area. I suggest stopping by the Neuhaus Chocolate store for a few sweet treats. It looks more expensive than it is and the chocolates (and the service) are some of the best I’ve ever had.
How do you like Hamburg? Any suggestions on other places I should visit?
Covent Garden is a beautiful market a short walk from Big Ben and the river. I discovered a few pleasant (and unpleasant) surprises on my visit.
1. STORES, STORES & MORE STORES
Covent Garden is not only home to handcrafted goods, but to some of the world's favorite luxury items as well. If this is what you're looking for (and can afford it) then you'll love it. If you were expecting a larger range of market stalls (like I was) then you'll be disappointed. London has a lot of areas to visit, but you'll never run out of places to shop.
2. CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY
October isn't even over and they are already preparing for Christmas. These gorgeous ornaments are have already been hung from the North Hall ceiling and the Christmas tree is out front waiting to be decorated. Some stalls are selling Christmas wares as well. So don't feel like you have to wait until December to experience Christmas in London.
3. NEAL'S YARD IS AROUND THE CORNER
Neal's Yard and Neal's Yard Dairy are a five minute walk from Covent Garden. This small, colorful square is a quiet hiding spot when you're ready to get away from all of the stores. There's not much there except for health food stores and hair salons, but it IS rather lovely.
4. STANFORD'S BOOKSTORE
You'll find multiple Waterstones in the Covent Garden and 7 Dials area, but make sure you stop into Stanford's bookstore. They have a a variety of books and unique gifts. Check out the ground floor dedicated to travel books, maps, and globes. It is a traveler's paradise. While you're in the area make sure to stop by the Moleskine store too (now THATS paradise).
5. PATISSERIE VALERIE
Everyone talks about Monmouth Coffee Company in Covent Garden and Monmouth is good, but make sure you stop by Patisserie Valerie for breakfast or an afternoon snack. The barista actually enjoys making foam designs in coffees (she told me so herself) that we all love. They have amazing croissants (I suggest the almond one) and many other treats. They also serve meals so feel free to stop by and stay for a little while.
What are your favorite places in Covent Garden or London?