Discovering the Hanseatic City of Lübeck

My Chinese mother-in-law is gone now, she just left a few hours ago from Hamburg Airport and life goes on its normal path once again. This week was pretty busy as we had some little sightseeing tours in different cities around here which started with Kiel last week. The next stop on our sightseeing list was Lübeck, another port city in this state and roughly 45 min driving distance away from my hometown. I have been there before only for swimming competitions and once long time ago during a school trip and thus I had to check myself what to visit before going there.

Nice cafes are all over the place

Lübeck or the Hanseatic City of Lübeck is the second largest city in the state of Schleswig-Holstein and has around 200.000 inhabitants. It got its Hanseatic title back in the day and was known as the “Queen of the Hanseatic League” during the 14th century. Even though the city suffered also a lot during the air raids during the second World War there is still very much of the historic center left. Lübeck is also home to Niederegger. I know, many people outside of Europe are not the biggest fans of Marzipan and especially Asians have a dislike for it however for most people here it is just wonderful.

Lübeck recreated with Marzipan!

Enough of all the background info and lets start with our little trip around the city. We had luck with the weather as it wasn’t so hot anymore as the previous days and a little breeze from the ocean kept the air nicely fresh. After some confusing ride through the city (thanks to the GPS device slowly failing me…) we arrived at a parking garage and we could start our sightseeing tour. Okay, we actually headed straight to the restaurant I had picked out as it was already past noon and our stomachs were growling. Our destination was the restaurant “Kartoffer Keller” (Potato Celler) which had a variety of different dishes made out of, guess what, potatoes! The restaurant itself is located in the historic vault of the old Heiligen-Geist-Hospital (somehting like Holy-Spirit-Hospital). It looked pretty impressive in my opinion especially as I havent been before in a restaurant located in a vault. I have only read about them such as Leipzig’s Auerbachs Keller featured on Henry Lee’s blog Fotoeins. I surely enjoyed my meal which was of course with potatoes (grilled potatoes) with egg, some unknown vegetables (all vegetables are unknown to me, I just call them the green stuff) and a steak, more than enough for me. The women however are not really fond of German food so they did not enjoy it so much. Nathan was a real hero and after he finished his own baby food he helped to empty his mother’s plate, he surely does love German food!

Part of the Kartoffel Keller

After this was survived we started our sightseeing tour/ shopping tour. Sightseeing in a way that we went through the historic city center and took some nice pictures and shopping as the entire city center is filled with stores those two women just had to visit. This gave me the chance to go around on my own with the camera. Lübeck certainly offers a lot of opportunities to take pictures however I faced the dilemma of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of photo opportunities that I gave up after a while and headed back in search of my family.  Somehow this short shopping time was enough for them and they were ready to head back home but I decided to have a stop at St. Mary’s Church. This I did as MIL is a very religious person so I thought it might be interesting to take a look inside. However once we were inside and MIL realized that the entry fee was 2 Euros she didn’t want to go inside anymore. The entrance fee is basically there to finance the restauration work as this church got some years on its back and needs constant fixing as any other old building does but MIL did not really comprehend this and was asking my wife non-stop why there would be an entrance fee for a church…

Another part of the town hall
Another part of the town hall

Though the day seemed pretty short in Lübeck we did in fact spent nearly half day there and the only reason to head back home was because Nathan’s dinner time was approaching. I certainly hope to go to Lübeck with my wife again in the near future as there is still so much I want to discover in the historical city center. One thing became clear during this trip: No more German food for the two women!

What do you think about entrance fees in historical buildings such as churches and what is your opinion about German food?

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29 thoughts on “Discovering the Hanseatic City of Lübeck”

  1. That can’t really be marzipan?? Wow!

    As for entrance fees for historic churches, etc… I understand the need for upkeep and the additional burden us tourists bring… however prefer when it is a voluntary yet visible suggestion like at the National Picture Gallery in London.

    An alternate I’ve seen is differential fees – typically in India there is the ‘national’ i.e. Indian rate (say Rs 25 / $0.40) and the ‘international’ i.e. foreigners fees ($25 / Rs 1,585). Those who can prove they are truly local can get in free on certain days – like for prayers at the mosque within the Taj Mahal complex on Friday.

    As for German food? Gotta be honest I’m not a meat eater so most is lost on me! 😉

    1. I am a meat eater through and through. I just love some juicy steaks or delicous meat BBQ 🙂
      The problem with the church restauration or any other buildings in Germany is that the government is not funding it anymore. I think the “Frauenkirche” in Dresden which was completly destroyed during WWII was nearly entirely funded by private people in the 90s, the government only gave some first millions..
      But yes, the entrance fee should be voluntary as the fee just scares of many people like my mother-in-law 🙂

      1. Hahaha! Sounds like my partner on the meat front. 🙂 He had a blast touring Germany a few years ago – even small towns – loved the food.

        Since the beef ban in Bombay, as soon as he leaves the state, the first thing he orders is steak! On our recent trip, the last few days in England it was beef for lunch and dinner!!

        I do appreciate the voluntary option – don’t even mind if the donation box has a suggested minimum. Or there is any literature that points out current charitable donation options and priorities. However mandatory entrance fees for a church seems… well… a bit crass even though I do appreciate the challenges without government or sufficient church / local community funding for repairs.

      2. As most big old churches here this one is also a Lutheran church as well, the church is pretty damn poor here 🙂
        In case this church would be catholic there wouldnt be any entrance fee and everything would be in perfect condition (yes, the catholic church got too much money it seems:) )
        Beef for lunch and dinner? I am all in!

  2. It’s true: I never liked Marzipan as a kid and product of Canada. I head over to Germany, try the Lübecker Marzipan, and I go: woah, this is pretty good. Now? I will not say ‘no’ to marzipan, especially Niederegger Marzipan. 😉

  3. Looks like a lovely city to visit! We need to get ourselves back to Germany 🙂 We enjoy German food but it can be quite “rich and heavy” for anyone who may not be used to it.

    And with entrance fees… we are happy to pay if they are reasonable. Sometimes we are not happy to pay but we do anyway because we want to see inside.

    We can completely see your MILs point of view though. It does seem absurd to pay just to look inside. But that is the nature of the travelling and the upkeep of some of these building, right?!

    1. The entrance fee was to get inside, entering the vaults and I think also to climb the tower + some guides 🙂
      Yes, German food can be rather rich and heavy as back in the day lunch was the main meal and needed to fill you up for the rest of the day 🙂

  4. Wow. That marzipan creation. It looks amazing. I’m one of those people who don’t mind marzipan, actually like it a lot but it’s quite hard to find here in Australia.

    I can understand why your MIL and wife couldn’t finish the potato dishes. After all, potato can be very filling and it is a staple food like rice, so eat quite a lot of that you can feel full quickly. Either Nathan was really hungry, has a big stomach or really liked the food.

    Haha at the photo of MIL and Nathan. Nathan looks so happy in this photo like he forgot MIL was there (or maybe they are getting along). Even MIL doesn’t seem to mind the devil 😀

    As for the church fee, I’ve got mixed feelings about that one. Religious and sacred places like that are usually places that welcome everyone, but then again, maintaining the facade and interiors of these places don’t come cheap I’m guessing.

    1. Potatoes are these days the staple food in Germany but this only developed a 100/150 years ago or so 🙂
      I wonder what the staple food was before!
      These huge old monumental churches need a lot of upkeep. I read somewhere that the roof alone is several million Euros and the German Lutheran chruch (nearly all churches in North Germany are Lutheran) is a pretty poor one compared to the Catholic church which is the richest religious organisation in the world (one bishops seat in Germany alone got assets well over 4 billion Euros!!! and there are many seats here…)
      Anyways, Nathan didnt mind his granny so much anymore in the end but still tried to escape from her as often as possible 🙂

      1. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post on staple food at some point. Should be exciting when the time comes 😉

        Didn’t know that was how wealth is around the churches in North Germany. Very interesting yet many of them still are around.

        I think it’s MIL’s mission to make sure Nathan never escapes her gaze when she is out with him 🙂

  5. I would have loved to have seen Lubeck. The rich history! And when my family and I went to Austria, we LOVED the food. Now I would imagine German food is similar. Those two women you were with must be certified crazy. 😛 And as far as the church fee, that doesn’t bother me as much as toilet fees – I’ve had to get used to them. Chances are though that someone will keep the door open for you and vice versa; we’re so bad!

    1. Yes the food in Austria is similar than in Germany as it all belonged back in the day to the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations/ they are all the same 🙂
      I dont mind when the fees are small like in the church with just 2 Euros and I always gladly pay a toilet fee when the toilets are clean (so unlike China where each toilet is a place from hell…)

  6. I understand why you want to return. The architecture of the place looks amazing, especially the arches of the city hall and all the other beautiful buildings.

    I would love to dine on German food any day. Potatoes and steak sound like a real treat right now. And as for the entrance fees, I don’t really mind them as long as they are reasonable.

    BTW, Nathan and MIL seems to be enjoying taking a pic with the devil!

    1. I just love this old architecture here and Lübeck’s historical center got 2005 an UNSECO spot as well 🙂
      I hope next year to travel to another city here in middle Germany which is completly a UNESCO site, nearly the entire city is still in the condition like back in the good old days of the 1500’s

  7. I quite enjoy German food myself. I had Schweinebraten mit Kartoffelknödel ind Krautsalat when visiting friends in Munich and thought it was delicious. Not too sure about the currywurst though… :p

    1. Currywurst is basically a tradition already here. I was never a big fan of it but from time to time it is pretty good to fill up your stomach quickly. Most cities even got some “gourmet currywurst places” with different levels of spices (my wife cant take the top spice levels at all and she is pretty good usually with chilly and such)!

    1. Yes, Chinese do not really like it I guess. My in-laws were shocked when I ate a whole “marzipan bread”. They were even more confused after they got to know what the ingredients are, barely any different then the sweets created in their province, just a bit different flavor 🙂

  8. Did I hear a sigh of relief, or are you already missing her? I love marzipan, but I find the German kind a bit too sweet. I prefer the Danish version from Anthon Berg:)

  9. 2 euros is ok, I would not mind it as I agree that they need a lot of money just to keep the place from falling down. However St Paul in London was 14 pounds if I remember correctly, and Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was 12 euros the last time I went. That is a rip-off, sorry. At least in Barcelona they have the excuse that they didn’t finish the construction yet, but what is your excuse, St Paul?

    Re: German food, I love potatoes so I guess I’m fine with it haha. But what about your wife? She lives in Germany and she doesn’t eat German food? :/

      1. Uhm, I can see how this could be a problem in the future :/ Is there nothing she likes from German food? Maybe, I don’t know, steak or something like that? So you could do at least German food once a week… Or pasta, salad, pizza or other “Western” things…

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