Things I Like / Travel

Where the bricks glitter and the hospitality is golden

From the land of inside EU politics to the former seat of the Hanseatic empire… our group of 19 fellows broke into three parts today, with six of us landing in Lübeck while the others went to either Berlin or Copenhagen.

I will admit here that I was jealous at first of my colleagues going to Berlin and Copenhagen. The Berlin-goers got to participate in history – watching Barack Obama speak in front of the Brandenberg Gate. The Copenhagen travelers get to go to Copenhagen. What can I say other than I have been completely obsessed with Denmark and in particular Copenhagen for at least a year. For several reasons and they sound like Borgen , The Killing and The Bridge.

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But all mild envy quickly evaporated once we alighted upon Lübeck. The city is breathtakingly gorgeous and from moment one at Hamburg airport, we’ve been greeted and treated with immense and completely gracious hospitality. I mentioned on Twitter, it’s like Germany was giving us a great big hug. I mean it. It feels very good to feel so welcome.

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Our Lübeck sojourn began with a tour of the city; which, by the way, is shaped like a flounder. The architecture here is brick Gothic, which is also distinguished by the black salt glaze used on the bricks. The buildings sparkle from the salt. It bears mentioning that using salt in these bricks, which was quite literally as valuable as gold (because it preserved food before refrigeration), was as ostentatious as it comes for the Middle Ages.

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As I type, a sultry thunderstorm crackles over Lübeck. We’ve had a sumptuous dinner with a media mogul cum politician and we’re looking at a very full day tomorrow that includes a visit to Kiel and the Baltic shore.

I leave you with this to tickle your imagination: from the airport onward in Germany, I’ve noticed the fulsomely blooming elderflower. Elderflowers make the best flavored syrups. I can’t stop thinking about it. And to give you a sense of possibilities, imagine yourself spooning this into your parched mouth on the banks of the Trave river after a day of sightseeing in Lübeck. I’ll join you.

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