When you head for the open road this summer, consider driving north to Lübeck, Germany. Situated 41 miles northeast of Hamburg near the Baltic Sea, it is a city rich in history.
However, something far more mundane attracted us to the area. We were in search of marzipan. Being avid fans of the “Gilmore Girls” TV show, we recalled the episode where Emily and Richard Gilmore returned from Europe bearing gifts of a confectionary delight. Legend reveals that marzipan originated in Lübeck, so naturally we set off to sample some from the source. It definitely has a unique taste, and is something you have to try for yourself. Unfortunately, we had to agree with the TV characters, Rory and Lorelei, that marzipan, even chocolate-covered, must be an acquired taste. It was not what we expected.
Besides marzipan, we found Lübeck to be rich with many architectural wonders, especially in the Old Town where five monumental churches with towers stretching toward the heavens. There are townhouses with red brick facades and lovely, high gables line the many lanes.
***image1***The city itself is enclosed within ancient walls that once had four massive gates. The Holstentor (gate), is supposed to be a museum but was closed during our visit. A pedestrian shopping zone begins at the amazing Town Hall, which is still in use today. Kids can visit the Puppetry Museum and Shop that has a fascinating array of puppets, old and new, to marvel at and to buy.
Another appeal is the beach, located in Travemünde, a northern neighborhood. We went to the strand where there is a sandy beach, a boardwalk, and wicker-covered, lounge chairs for rent where you can watch the ships head out to sea. There is a casino in the area to try your luck.
Just north of Travemünde, on the Brodten shore, you’ll find a restaurant named Herrmanshöhe that sits on a 65-foot bluff overlooking the Bay of Lübeck. There is a path from there leading down to the beach, but it is a good half-hour walk.
We also saw signs for Priwall, which is a peninsula easily reached by passenger or car ferry. According to the information office, Priwall has many holiday activities, and great sand dunes.
From now through Sept. 4, the fourth annual Sand Sculpture Festival is held in Sculpture Park on Priwall beach in Travemünde from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and until midnight Fridays and Sundays. This year, 75 international carvers are participating in the festival, transforming 9,000 tons of sand into masterpieces. The display is fabulous, some reaching up to 40 feet high. The sand creations take four weeks to build. You can check out www.sandworld.de to view some of the artwork from previous years.
If the sun and sand don’t interest you, then check out the ice world where the creations are frozen instead of sandy from Dec. 9 to Jan. 29.
Another draw to Lübeck and Travemünde on the Baltic Sea, is the sailing events each summer. This July marked the 116th year for the Travemünde Sailing Week, which is touted as the second biggest sailing venue in the world, and runs now through Sept. 4. If you miss that, there is always the Baltic Sail from Aug. 25 to 28.
Finally, if you would like to soak up some culture, there are two notable events in the Lübeck area in the coming months. From now through Aug. 28, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival is going on with more than 100 classical concerts performed at various locations. Visit the German-only Web site at www.shmf.de for details.
The Duckstein Festival takes place downtown through Sunday, featuring artwork and culinary creations.
So, if you are not intimidated by the six-hour car ride, and are looking for some family fun, point your car north to Lübeck to explore what the area has to offer.