Hamburg is Germany’s northerly darling that’s a gateway to the world as a major international port. It accesses the North Sea via the Elbe River and rivals Venice with its web of canals and waterways. More than 15,000 ships from over 100 countries pass through Hamburg each year. The city-state also has a lake (Alster, divided into inner and outer parts), massive shipping and ship building industries, and maritime culture from water “buses” to a weekly fish market. This explains why Hamburg is Germany’s second most populated city after Berlin and has more consulates than almost any city in the world.
Discovery is a dream rooted in nature … who knew Heligoland archipelago north of Germany had such stunning cliffs and fluffy cows! This once Frisian then Danish hideaway was taken over by the British in 1814, which ceded it to Germany in 1890 in exchange for Zanzibar and other African territories. The Germans used Heligoland as a naval base during both World Wars and as a tourism spot in between. Today it a site for navigation, wind-energy production and scientific research, namely orinthology.
Beach, wind and fire sum up the Canary Islands of Spain from La Palma to Fuerteventura. Made from fire, these islands all have a fiery temperament. Mother Nature creates and destroys parts of them like a symphony. Stunning beaches and wind for sports are her gifts in between movements.
Lanzarote, the most volcanic island in Spain’s Canary archipelago, is comprised entirely of volcanoes ranging from 15 million to 300 years old. The newer landscape was largely created by a volcanic eruption in the 1730s that covered it with lava and ash, expanding it several square kilometers and destroying villages. Today, this eruption is frozen in time, giving life to a black “moonscape” of craters and bizarre shapes with streaks of red, orange and yellow. Driving across this island brought “Thelma and Louise” back to life as well.
Contrary to popular belief, Spain’s Canary Islands west of Western Sahara do not take their name from birds, rather dogs. While the songbirds were named after the Canary Islands, the latter was derived the Latin term Insula Canaria, meaning “Island of the Dogs.” Ironically, these windswept islands, notably the kitesurfing hub Fuerteventura, will transport you away from the “dog eat dog” world and make you sing like canaries.
Ibiza in Spain’s Balearic Islands is the European party place with world-class DJs but it is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site as a hub of biodiversity, history and culture. This natural reserve, archeological site and pioneer in art and gastronomy will be music to your ears. Rock on!
Spending a summer in London was one of the best things I ever did. This metropolis, including the City of London and 32 boroughs, has a neighborhood feel and everything you can and cannot imagine.
Aside from being politically neutral, staying out of the EU and being one of the world’s most expensive countries, Switzerland is perhaps best known for its quality of life and natural beauty. Much of this revolves around water as I discovered during several trips as a “Swiss miss.”
Iceland is a Nordic country-island in northwestern Europe known as the “land of fire and ice.” With 200 volcanoes and 600 hot springs, no wonder geothermal and hydroelectric energy allow it to have 99.96 percent renewable energy. That’s good news for glaciers.
Did you know there are 32 special territories of the 27 EU member states? They are divided into three categories: nine outermost region territories like the Canary Islands that are part of the EU but have derogations from some EU laws with locations outside of mainland Europe; 10 special cases that are part of the EU with ad hoc provisions to EU law; and 13 other countries and territories (OCT) that are not part of the EU but cooperate with it. Except Greenlanders, OCT nationals are not EU citizens.