While I had an incredible week exploring different towns in Schleswig-Holstein during my solo day-trips around the region, I was excited for Friday. Brian’s work conference was over, and instead of using the day to travel home, we used it as one of two days to explore the region together.
I had mapped out the different cities I wanted to explore and walked Brian though the list to see which ones he wanted me to do on my own and which ones he wanted to experience. He didn’t have strong feelings about it, so I made an executive decision on Kiel and Luneburg, both nice day trips from Hamburg that we could do our final Friday and Saturday.
It was an hour and a half train ride to Kiel so we left fairly early so I could take Brian to my standing chocolate muffin and cappuccino stand at the station and then hop on an early train.
It was a little dreary outside but we were able to sit across from each other by the window and watch the scenery go by as we caught up on how the week had gone.
Although we talk about it all the time, this was only my second time tagging along on one of his work trips. So far they’ve both been to international destinations I’ve already visited so it’s been a great opportunity for me to do the things that are always ‘tier two’ on the list the first time you go– places that are farther away or that you simply can’t get to with the time you have.
While I’m comfortable traveling solo, the downside is missing the opportunity to share the experiences with him. I was excited to show him some of my pictures and talk him through some of my discoveries from the week as we glided north to Kiel.
I was also excited to map out for him the list of things I had researched for us to do in Kiel, many of which had WWII ties that I knew he would enjoy.
- U-Boat U 995
- Laboe Naval Memorial
- Bulker Leuchtturm (lighthouse)
- Flandernbunker (WWII bunker)
We arrived in Kiel on time and immediately walked to a nearby visitor information center for a city map and to ask how we could best get to our destinations. The nice gentleman working the center started talking us through the list and my face, and heart, began to fall.
Somehow my amazing list was not actually things to do in Kiel, it was things to do *near* Kiel, and by near, I mean a 45 min. car or taxi ride away, and in some instances a boat ride was faster. I was crestfallen. Beyond the list I’d pulled together of things I thought would interest Brian, I hadn’t had time to really look up much else. I have no idea how I missed the actual proximity of these sites to downtown Kiel, but I sure did.
Our first thought was whether it made sense to try and rent a car to see any of the destinations. After looking into how we would get the car, what times things opened, what time we needed to be back to catch the last train to Hamburg, etc. it simply didn’t make sense. On a nice day the bunker would have been feasible–an hour walk– but the sun was still battling to get through the clouds and every so often it would rain.
We decided to put my list aside and rethink our day, starting instead with the walking map from the information center. Kiel is a rather modern city–there aren’t as many historical sites or an old town like some of the other places I had visited. Still, we found the Asmus Bremer Square, near one of the first pedestrian shopping zones in Germany, which features a statue of former mayor Asmus Bremer, and then made our way to the Rathaus.
During the summer you can climb up into the tour for panoramic views of the harbor and surrounding area, but the city hall was functioning and there were tons of people there waiting for appointments when we walked in. A security guard told us the tower was under construction and wouldn’t be open until the summer season, so we headed on our way.
We passed the Opera House and Hiroshima Park on our way around Kleiner Kiel, a large lake in the middle of the city. There were tons of ducks and geese along the shore, and as we passed the Courthouse, which was a beautiful building, we finally had a little sun and some nice views across the lake to the city hall.
Crossing the bridge to the next square we saw St. Nikolai Church, which was reconstructed in the 1940s after having been damaged in the war, and then wandered over to the Franciscan Kiel Monastery, which was the founding place of the city in 1233. It was one of my favorite spots in the city– peaceful and quiet. After peeking in the monastery we wrapped around the water, walking back by the remains of the 1695 Kiel Castle (which I wouldn’t have even noticed had it not been for our map) and the City and Maritime Museum, which unfortunately wasn’t open.
We were back at the main square and had concluded our walking tour, however it was only 11 a.m. I couldn’t help feeling disappointed–my day trip had turned into a half-day trip, and nothing along the tour was open for us to even explore the few things we were interested in downtown. We aren’t into shopping so the downtown shopping district wasn’t especially appealing, but I couldn’t see just returning to Hamburg, where it looked like the weather was also crummy.
We decided to grab lunch at the Kieler Bauerei, which was a local brewery and restaurant I had found during my original research. The rain was starting to pick up so it was the perfect time to duck inside for lunch.
After weighing our options we decided to throw our original thinking out the window, return to the train station and see if we could hop on a train to Lubeck. I’d had such a great day there solo and thought Brian might enjoy spending a few hours there as well.
We walked back through the middle of town, arrived at the train station just in time to hop on a small regional train south, and made our way to Lubeck.
The train ride ended up being an adventure unto itself. We were on a small regional train that made stop after stop along the way, which extended our ride into the early afternoon.
When we boarded, we were followed on my a large group of school children who had all just purchased ice cream prior to boarding. They were hollering, sticky and dripping melting ice cream everywhere. One kid’s cone toppled over on to his seat making a complete mess–there simply weren’t enough adults to keep up with the commotion.
It did appear the weather was improving as we headed south, and I felt better when we arrived in Lubeck to a little sunshine. I took Brian back downtown to the Holstentor Gate, and along the water to a booth where they were selling tickets for boat rides.
We bought tickets for the next tour, which didn’t leave for about 30 minutes, and spent our downtime exploring some of the nearby alleyways and shops, including the Lubeck Museum of Theater Puppets. We didn’t really have time to go in but we were able to see a few things through the window and I loved the dragon hanging above their door.
We headed back to the water and boarded our boat, sitting up on a platform at the back of the boat so we were in the open air and could take pictures.
On a nicer day this would have been a great idea, but the clouds had started rolling in again, the motor was right behind us so it was a little aromatic and loud, and it actually started to get a little cold the longer we sat.
It was relaxing, however, and I got to see the city from a different perspective–entirely different places and things than what I was able to experience in my day walking throughout the historic old town.
By the end of our ride the clouds and rain had completely rolled in. I felt so bad–I’d had mostly lovely weather during my solo day trips while Brian was at his conference, and I felt like everything was going wrong on the first day he and I had together!
He’s the best travel companion and takes in all in stride–I know I need to just accept things outside my control and adjust, but I really wanted it to be a nice day and for him to have a good time.
It was late afternoon and while we weren’t ready for dinner after our heavy lunch, I did want to take Brian one last place before we headed back to Hamburg.
We walked to the town square to J.G. Niederegger and upstairs to the marzipan salon. We had no idea what we were doing but somehow managed to point to the desserts we wanted to try and order some drinks. Soon we were seated, drinks and desserts in hand, and they were delicious.
Not at all how I had set out a day in Kiel (or a return to Lubeck!), but an adventure none the less!
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