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A Travel guide to Hamburg, Germany’s Second City

Last August I had the pleasure of flying to Germany for the first time when I was invited on a fantastic summer time press trip! I had met the wonderful Jessi Schmidt, the face of the Hamburg Tourism Team, at Traverse 2017 in London and we had a really great meeting where we talked all things travel, she introduced me to her city and I introduced her to my blog. We really hit it off after partying together at the Traverse closing event, but even so I was still pleasantly surprised when I was contacted by Jessi a few months later asking if I wanted to Come to Hamburg with her to explore her home city! It didn’t take too much to convince me and, naturally, I said yes! Despite never really knowing much about Hamburg or having it particularly high up on my bucket list, I have always wanted to visit Germany and so jumped at the chance to attend my third press trip of the year. Jessi had put together a fantastic itinerary for myself and 4 other bloggers over a weekend in August, and here’s what we got up to during our time there, and my top recommendations for Germany’s second city…

 

 

Visit the infamous Reeperbahn

 

 

Perhaps one of Hamburg’s best known areas, the Reeperbahn is a mile long street which is full of life and a must see during your visit. Despite it’s seedy reputation for sex, drugs and for being home to one of the biggest red light districts in Europe, the Reeperbahn looks totally ‘normal’ during the day time and is quite a striking area, but after dark it transforms into a neon jungle and comes alive at night. Located in the St Pauli district, and brimming with bars, cafes, shops and restaurants, the Reeperbahn is just a short metro ride from the city centre and attracts thousands of tourists year after year. We walked along the road after taking a street art tour and then went on to visit other areas in St Pauli. My favourite building on the Reeperbahn was this cleverly designed office block which really reminded me of the famous Dancing House in Prague! Can you see the similarities too?

 

 

 

Explore the historic shipyards

 

 

The first thing we saw on our first day in Hamburg was the impressive shipyards, which are probably the most famous area of the entire city, and the most historic too. Founded in 1189, the Port of Hamburg is the second busiest port in Europe, and nicknamed Germany’s Gateway to the World. It’s harbour occupies a large chunk of land and is sat on the River Elbe, just over 100km from the North Sea. As central Europe’s main port, the shipyards have played a major part in Germany’s maritime history and it’s strategic location has been a huge factor to its success. We actually walked up a mini hill opposite the port where we could get a good spot overlooking the harbour front, ready to watch the sunset over the shimmering waters below. Our tour guide gave us an insight into some of Hamburg’s maritime history, and the role the port had played over the centuries, and I found it really interesting and loved learning a little more about a city which is largely unknown to me.

 

 

Go stand up paddle boarding

 

 

So I know this isn’t your average city break activity, but when I’m on press trips I like to take part in all aspects of the itinerary and really like to challenge myself. I had never been stand up paddle boarding before and thought that was only done in the sea, so I was a little apprehensive about doing it on a cold river which looked just as uninviting as the Thames in London! It was a relatively warm day though and the sun was starting to break through the clouds, so after arriving at the super cool Supper Club Hamburg, I decided to get my bikini on, grab my oar and get out on the water! After a brief safety lesson the rest of the group and I had made our way out on our boards and onto the Outer Alster Lake, one of the tributaries of the Elbe River. We spent a couple of hours meandering around the lake, going under bridges and passing numerous Hamburg landmarks along the way. I found SUP’ing quite difficult at first, mainly because I was scared of falling in the dirty waters, but once I’d found my balance I soon started to relax and really enjoyed the experience – what a quirky, alternative way to discover a new city!

 

 

Attend a festival

 

 

Summer is always a great time for a city break, but August turned out to be a brilliant time to visit Hamburg as there were a number of different festivals on during the weekend we were there. On our first night we headed to the local fun fair, with tonnes of rides, an enormous ferris wheel, plenty of stalls and bars and home to the biggest portable rollercoaster in Europe! This place actually reminded me a lot of Winter Wonderland in London, just minus the Christmas theme, and the night ended with fireworks which was a great way to finish our first day. Our second night was spent at the famous Vogelball, an annual live music festival with funky stalls, pop up street food and quirky entertainment. Although the music wasn’t really my kinda thing, I embraced it and really enjoyed my time there, plus getting our hair and make up done beforehand was a real treat! Our last day ended with the ice cream festival, and we definitely saved the best til last! I bloody love ice cream and was running around like a big kid trying out as many different flavours as I possibly could, whilst learning all about how different ice cream is made, of course. There are many different festivals on in Hamburg throughout the summer, and I was lucky enough to experience three of them in my two nights there which really added to my trip.

 

 

Wander down by the water front

 

 

This area of Hamburg came as a total surprise to me and I had no idea it existed until our last day! After our itinerary had ended we had a few spare hours before our flight back to London and so a couple of the other bloggers and I took it upon ourselves to do one last bit of exploring before we headed home. We weren’t sure what we were looking for but knew that we wanted to find some good food and do a little sightseeing, so we were in luck when we found the water front with its array of gorgeous restaurants and pretty central square! We wandered over to the water front and sat down for lunch at one of the busy restaurants, admiring the enormous fountain which shot up into the sky, reminding me of the Jet D’Eau in Geneva. After lunch and a little exploring, we stumbled upon the gorgeous St Michael’s Church and the impressive Rathaus Building (City Hall) – I’ve included a photo of this at the bottom of the post as this place really caught my attention, and was one of my favourite things about this area.

 

 

Where to stay

 

 

We actually stayed a little out of the city, in the brand new Prizeotel Hotel which had not long opened. I really loved the style of the hotel, with it’s cutting edge design and futuristic/space theme, and the rooms were compact, cosy and perfect for what we needed. I did think it was quite far out of town though, as we had to get in taxis to get into the centre and couldn’t really walk to any local shops or bars, although there was a metro station about 10 minutes away which was well connected to the rest of the city. I think if I were to visit again I would definitely stay somewhere more central, perhaps towards the old town area where the Rathaus Building and water front was, as this was my favourite area of Hamburg.

 

 

Where to eat/drink

 

 

There are hundreds of places to eat and drink in Hamburg, namely the Reeperbahn and St Pauli districts if you’re looking for somewhere lively. On our first night we ate at a trendy Mexican restaurant in St Pauli but there were loads of places to choose from in the area. We had a little showaround of a few restaurants as part of our street art tour earlier on in the day and got a good feel for the place. Dinner for our second night was at the Vogelball festival and we just grabbed some street food, so I didn’t really try any typical German food during my time in Hamburg but I hope to do this on my return visit one day. The Fishmarket down at the harbour front is a must-see if you’re wanting to taste some of the freshest fish in the city, although this wasn’t really for me as I don’t eat fish, I heard great things about it – especially the live music which kicks off early in the morning!

 

Have you ever been to Hamburg before? What did you think of it? It’s quite a large city and not easy to get around on foot, so we used our Hamburg Cards to make use of the excellent public transport links, including the metro, buses and yellow taxis. I am hoping to return to Germany at some point this year as I have my eye on a Christmas Market break to Berlin in December, but I definitely need to see how my travel plans go for the rest of this year first! Big thanks again to Jessi and the Visit Hamburg Team for putting on a fantastic weekend and for looking after me during my time in the city.

NB. My flights, hotel, transport and activities were all sponsored by the Visit Hamburg Team as part of the Come to Hamburg initiative which invites bloggers, journalists and press members to experience Hamburg for the first time, but all thoughts and opinions are of course my own.

 

 

August Newsletter

 

Hi guys,

Hope you’ve had an amazing summer, although it feels like it’s pretty much over now and Autumn is well and truly on its way! August has been yet another busy month with new trips, blog collabs and plenty of things happening in my personal life too. I’m a little sad that summer seems to be over now, but looking back I’ve had the most amazing few months and have been lucky enough to travel to lots of different places across Europe. as well as creating new opportunities for the blog a little closer to home too! If you follow me on social media you’ll know I’ve been here there and everywhere lately, so here’s how my August went…

 

I hopped over to Hamburg for the weekend

 

 

This was my big trip for the month, my first time in Germany and my third press trip of the year so far! After meeting the amazing Visit Hamburg team at Traverse this year – I told you it was the best travel conference on the planet- I was lucky enough to be invited to experience Germany’s second biggest city for myself. I flew out for a weekend of paddle boarding, sight seeing, festival going and ice cream tasting and had the most amazing few days with some fantastic fellow travel and lifestyle bloggers. My guide to Hamburg will be live on the blog soon and I’m so excited to share it with all of you! Big thanks to Jessi for organizing our trip – see you at WTM!

 

I made the national news & I’ve become an ambassador too

 

 

On a personal note, I achieved something rather amazing this month. For those of you that know me, or have been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I suffer with quite a serious medical condition that has affected me for the past six years. I don’t often write about it, but this month I became an ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation, the charity who have supported me with my prolactinoma diagnosis since I was 18. My story was noticed by the Press Association and was then shared on national newspapers such as The Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Sun, being shared over 1300 times and seen by a collective audience of over 5 million readers! A women’s health magazine has also asked to feature it, and there’s a chance my story may be aired on a US talk show in the coming weeks too! I’m enormously proud to have become ambassador for such an amazing charity, and I’m aiming to do everything I can to raise as much money and awareness as possible for this little known condition and organisation. I have some big plans coming up and am looking forward to sharing them on social soon… watch this space!

 

I had a day at the races

 

Race Days 🐎🎉👯☀️

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

You know me, I LOVE an excuse to get dressed up and have my hair and make up done, so when my sisters and best friend suggested a day out at Newbury Races it wasn’t hard for me to say yes. Oh and Olly Murs was performing the same day too, no biggy, I was completely sold; I LOVE HIM SO MUCH! We had the best time at the races that day, despite not winning an awful lot and queuing for what felt like forever for the portaloos. But the sun was shining, the Pimms was flowing and Olly was looking and sounding fineeeee. Can he just dance with me tonight please? Thanks babes.

 

I worked on numerous blog collaborations

 

 

August was probably the busiest month for me in terms of new blog collabs, and I felt so lucky to have so many new opportunities for my little space on the internet! The projects I worked on were also really interesting and varied, so offered something different for all of you lovely lot. From sandwich shop and boat trip reviews to a day out in my home city, I really threw myself into these new projects and couldn’t have been happier to work with some new clients. I also took part in a collab with my favourite brand on the planet –  WALT DISNEY WORLD! :O As the world’s biggest Disney fan I jumped at the chance to team up with Netflights to bring you the ultimate guide to dining at Disney, and here’s the finished project! Big thanks to all the companies I worked with on my collabs this month: The Hollybush, City Cruises, Oxford Castle, Netflights.

 

 

 

I spent the bank holiday weekend in Liverpool

 

One of the most famous places in the music world – the iconic Cavern Club 🎤🎤 #Liverpool #BeatlesWeek

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

I bloody love a bank holiday weekend, and even more so when I know I’m going away and get to spend it with my amazing family! I headed back up to Liverpool for the first time since January (it had been far too long) for a weekend of dinner and drinks with my nearest and dearest. Something very exciting happened too… We only went and booked a CRUISE!! My first ever cruise!! I’m excited/nervous about sea sickness but can’t wait to sail around the Med with 13 of my wonderful family members for my mums 50th and my granddads 80th next August! We’ll be flying from Dubrovnik then making our way to Valletta, Sicily, Kefalonia and Kotor before heading back to Dubrovnik for our final destination – any tips for these places or general advice for first time cruisers like me will be greatly received! We had a big dinner in Liverpool on the Saturday night before hitting the town for celebratory drinks too. On the Sunday we headed down to the Pier Head and the Albert Dock and took a wander round the summer stalls on the water front before heading over to Mathew Street and the famous Cavern Club as it was Beatles Week and I felt that love was all we needed to round off an amazing weekend in my second home city. <3

 

And then wandered around Gloucester on bank holiday Monday

 

 

We came back a little early from Liverpool so decided to make the most of the bank holiday sunshine and have a day out in nearby Gloucester, which is just an hours drive from our home in Oxfordshire. We were sooo lucky with the weather and spent the day wandering around the city, watching a charity rugby game and exploring the historic dockyards. We also admired the beautiful Gloucester Cathedral, one of the Harry Potter film locations, which looked even more stunning in the August sunshine. Sadly we couldn’t go inside as film crews were on site filming the new Mary Queen of Scots blockbuster (I might have attempted to spot Margot Robbie and David Tennant through the stained glass windows) but I will definitely return soon to try and catch a glimpse of the inside of this beautiful building!

 

Pheeeeewww I told you I’d had a busy month! I’ve loved every minute and have had so much fun over the past few weeks but, I’m not gonna lie, I’m feeling exhausted lately and really want to just chill out over the next couple of weeks! I don’t have long until I’m off on my next trip though – I’m inter-railing around part of Europe for 10 days and I am SO EXCITED. I’ll be heading to Warsaw, Prague (again), Salzburg and Ljubljana so please send any blogs/recommendations/city guides my way – I need lots of tips for some last minute planning!

Love Jess x

 

July Newsletter

 

 

Hey everyone,

We’re at the end of yet another busy month which means it’s NEWSLETTER TIME! July has been a bit crazy for me, and I’ve fitted so much in to the past few weeks that I’m feeling slightly frazzled, but in a really good way. I’ve been on a couple of press trips, I’ve been working my bum off at my part time job and I’ve been spending time with people who mean the most to me. I’ve also thrown my heart and soul into my blog this month; it’s had a complete revamp and is now totally self hosted, and I’ve also landed a couple of new freelance writing jobs – yay!! It’s been a busy few weeks, so here’s how my July went…

 

I spent a week in Switzerland

 

 

Let’s kick this off with the most exciting news from this month… I’ve just got back from spending a week in Switzerland and it was honestly one of the most incredible places I’ve ever visited! I, along with four other bloggers, (Hannah, Hayley, Elaisha and Allison) flew to Geneva to explore for a day before hopping on a train to Sion and then ending up in the ski resort of Nendaz where our accommodation was waiting for us. We stayed in a luxurious chalet with gorgeous mountain views and spent seven days mountain hiking, spa indulging and cheese making whilst discovering everything else that Nendaz had to offer. I would never have thought to go to a ski resort for a summer holiday, but this trip changed all my perceptions and I genuinely had the most wonderful time exploring a brand new country with four brand new friends. I’ll be posting content of my trip over the coming weeks, but, in the meantime, you can catch up with my photos by checking out my Instagram page. A big thank you to Travelopo and Nendaz Tourisme for sponsoring our fantastic trip!

 

My blog has had a makeover

 

My blog has had a makeover – come check it out!

 

I’m sooo pleased to be able to tell you that my blog is now totally self hosted! I have wanted to make the transition for so long, but have never really known where to start or how to go about it. Luckily, one of my old school friends (thanks George!!) was able to help me so I’ve finally made that move and am really happy with the results! The site looks virtually the same, there’s just been a few menu/theme/layout changes and I’ve neatened the footers and sidebars up a little. I’ve still got a few changes I want to make, but I have so much new content I want to share with you and I want to get that live first before I focus on niggly site things. I’m super pleased with the new site and hope you like it – please do let me know what you think as I would LOVE to hear your feedback!

 

I wrote a little life update

 

 

Given that we are now more than halfway through 2017 (how did THAT happen?!) I thought I’d use July as a midway point for my personal life and start reflecting on how my year has gone so far. You might remember that I wrote my New Years Resolutions post back in January, and in my newest update I discussed how I was getting on with those resolutions… Most of them are going really well, but some of them aren’t and I realised that that’s okay. It’s okay that I’m not smashing every goal I’ve set myself because it’s normal not to achieve every expectation, and it’s good to have more goals to aim for, and other things to tick off in future. How are you getting on with your 2017 resolutions, if you even made them in the first place? Would love to know how you’re doing!

 

I went speed-boating across the Thames

 

 

At the start of the month I was invited by the wonderful team at Thames Rockets to hop on a speedboat across the Thames for a whirlwind tour of London. I was lucky enough to choose one of the hottest days of the month and took my sister with me along for the ride. We both had a brilliant time seeing the sights and hitting top speeds as we jetted across the river, so I’d recommend the Thames Rockets speed boating tours to anyone looking for a fun filled day out in our gorgeous capital city. I’m also running a giveaway and am offering you the chance to WIN 2x tickets to hop on board with the Thames Rockets team – all you have to do is follow me and Thames Rockets on Twitter, and RT my pinned tweet, it couldn’t be simpler… Good luck!

 

I explored the best of London on foot

 

 

After jetting across the Thames, my sister and I fancied a stroll along the river to see all the London landmarks from a different angle, and so we decided to walk from Westminster to Tower Bridge. It took us a good few hours to complete the walk, and we saw so many famous landmarks including the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard to name but a few. I’ve walked this route many times before, but it was so lovely in the sunshine and we really took our time, marvelling at the sights and taking hundreds photos along the way!

I think that’s everything for July, I feel as if I don’t know whether I’m coming or going lately, but its because I have so much on over the next few weeks and have already had a busy month! August looks set to be just as crazy, with some new collabs lined up as well as another press trip, this time to Germany with the wonderful team at Visit Hamburg – I fly on Friday morning from Heathrow and I am SO excited! Have you got any Hamburg tips for me? Send them over!

Love Jess x

 

 

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Wanderlust Wednesday: Top 10 European City Breaks

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my new Wanderlust Wednesday feature.. with summer fast approaching the time will soon come for me to venture abroad for my next European city break. I’m really in to booking busy sight seeing weekends away as opposed to week long beach holidays and I want to fit in as many trips as I can over the next few years! Im currently trying to book a break away during our next UK bank holiday which falls at the end of August but I have no idea where to go! So with the help of some brilliant fellow travel bloggers (pics credited below) I thought I’d compile a wanderlust list to give me some inspiration! Here goes…

1) Rome, Italy

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Image courtesy of Emily Pearson of A Befuddled Life

Top of my list and for very good reason, Rome is the place I am absolutely desperate to visit as soon as physically possible! I’ve always loved the thought of exploring the historic coliseums’, visiting the religious Vatican area and consuming copious amounts of Gelato – authentic Italian ice cream-yum! I’ve wanted to make a wish at The Trevi Fountain and walk down the Spanish Steps ever since I was a little girl so The Eternal City is definitely calling my name!

2) Copenhagen, Denmark

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This image & my feature image of The Little Mermaid statue are both courtesy of Shelly Borga of Norway to Nowhere

The capital city lies in the heart of Scandinavia and boasts many exquisite landmarks and popular tourist attractions whilst having a very laidback feel. Home to Denmark’s Parliament and Royal Family, this city is by far the largest in the country. I’ve always wanted to go to Copenhagen to visit The Little Mermaid statue as everyone knows how much of a Disney geek/storybook fan I am! The picturesque Nyhavn Harbor and breathtaking Tivoli Gardens also look amazing places to visit. Although quite expensive this city break is definitely on my next go-to list for the summer!

3) Budapest, Hungary

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Image courtesy of Tangerine Trubiano of A Travelogue by Brock & Tanj

The capital of Hungary is split into two districts; Buda and Pest, hence the name, and is bisected via the River Danube. Home to The Hungarian Parliament Building, many museums and galleries and the largest thermal water system in the world, Budapest is a cultural paradise not to be missed! I’m so tempted to book a trip there this August and experience everything that this beautiful city has to offer.. prices are super cheap out there as well so that’s another reason it features high up on this list.. watch this space!

4) Berlin, Germany

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Image courtesy of Tangerine Trubiano of A Travelogue by Brock & Tanj

Famed for its large involvement in both world wars, Berlin offers a wealth of culture and history with plenty to do both in the summer and winter months. Well known attractions include The Brandenburg Gate, The Reichstag Building, Checkpoint Charlie and The Berlin Wall. I’d love to visit during December to experience their fantastic Christmas markets but have been told it gets bitterly cold with temperatures as low as minus 18 degrees.. thermals at the ready!

5) Lisbon, Portugal

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Image courtesy of Maaike Van Kuijk of A Travellous World

A quirky alternative to Barcelona/Madrid, the coastal capital of Portugal offers a mix of a busy sightseeing break with a more relaxed beach style holiday. I’m always on the go when I do city breaks as I like to pack as much in as I can and never get a chance to relax, so the allure of a beach in the same city appeals to me a lot! Main points of interest include the beautiful Sao Jorge Castle, Lisbon Cathedral, the zoo and the oceanarium.

6) Bruges, Belgium

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Image courtesy of my good friend Stephanie Lett

This chocolate box capital in North West Belgium looks like something out of a fairy tale and I’ve been wanting to visit for years! Full of medieval buildings, winding canals and cobbled streets, the city offers tonnes of beautiful history as well as the best beer and waffles you’ll ever taste! What’s more, you can even get there via high speed Eurostar Train from London in just a couple of hours which is incredibly convenient and takes all the hassle out of flying.. there really is no excuse not to visit this beautiful city. Like Berlin, I’d love to visit Bruges at Christmas time to see the hundreds of little markets that take over the city centre.

7) Madrid, Spain

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Image courtesy of  Henar Gomez of Wanderwings

I’ve been going to Spain most years throughout my life and have visited a total of nine times so far! Spain is the perfect holiday destination for us Brits; sun, sea and sangria all within a two hour flight.. what more could we ask for?! The country boasts many beautiful beach resorts as well as plenty of interesting cities including Valencia, Marbella, Leon & Malaga and I’ve already been to Barcelona so would love to head over to Madrid to see how the two compare! Famous attractions include The Royal Palace (the largest in western Europe), Madrid Cathedral and The Bernabeu Football Stadium.

8) Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Image courtesy of Maaike Van Kuijk of A Travellous World

Best known for its colourful nightlife, elaborate canal system and artistic heritage, Amsterdam is the cultural capital of The Netherlands. Famous attractions include Anne Frank’s House, The Van Gogh Museum and The Royal Palace. In addition, The Red Light District is notorious amongst tourists with stag weekends a plenty so best to avoid this area if, like me, you’re looking for a more relaxed and cultural weekend break!

9) Venice, Italy

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Image courtesy of Sarah Gallo of The Five Foot Traveler

Perhaps the most romantic place in the world (along with Paris) is the stunning Italian city of Venice. Criss crossed with canals and pretty bridges, Venice is one of the largest pedestrian only areas in the world. I’d love to go here to experience the romance, although I think I need to find myself a boyfriend first!! This is probably one for my bucket list that I’ll definitely visit later on in life when I’m happy and settled.

10) Vienna, Austria

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Image courtesy of Menorca Chaturvedi of Europe Diaries

The enchanting city of Vienna, the capital of Austria, is well known as one of the most musical cities in the world, and was once home to the likes of Mozart & Beethoven. There are many museums, galleries and gothic Cathedrals to explore, or why not take a cruise down the River Danube for a more relaxed experience. I think I’d tie in a trip to Vienna with a weekend in Budapest and do the two at the same time, rather than booking two separate trips as the countries are quite close together.

All of the above cities are places I definitely want to visit soon so I’ve got lots of planning to do, but I think my top three are next on my immediate hit list. I’ll be researching each place in more detail before making my final decision, but I will of course let you all know once I’ve booked up… watch this space!

Love Jess x