One can easily get to Luebeck from Hamburg by train; the journey takes less than an hour. The moment you walk outside the train station, you find yourself in a fairy tale. Today’s Luebeck is a large city with a great port. But somehow, all the charm of the old town is preserved. I fell in love with the imposing Town Gate which dates back to the 15th century. The old cathedral dates back to the twelfth century; it can be seen from practically anywhere in the city. The lovely Rathaus was built in the 16th century. Many houses date back to the Middle Ages; one gets a uniform impression of quaint red-brick or red-stone buildings shaped like gingerbread, with an occasional street of multicolored little houses standing wall-to-wall. There is a lot of greenery all around, even in winter. One can walk along the streets, stopping often to admire an old church, a lovely house or an old pharmacy located in the same building these last five hundred years. Near a café called Kartoffelkeller there is a statue of an imp; one of his toes shines like gold: presumably, one has to rub it for luck. There is an old water-tower; one can climb on top, see the old machinery, and enjoy the panoramic view of the city. There are cozy cafes and restaurants tucked into a pretty yard near the Rathaus, or nestling into an ancient corner. Naturally there are lots of bakeries and souvenir shops everywhere.
However, one of the main attractions, together with the amazing architecture, is something else. Walking around, one seems to get a whiff of some very pleasant sweet stuff. Once you enter a specialized shop, you know what it is: the smell of fresh marzipan. Luebeck boasts to be its inventor. The legend goes, during a siege in a war of the Middle Ages, the town was left with nothing but flour and sugar. The citizens mixed them up with water, and thus marzipan was born. Today, they produce marzipan everything: animals, flowers, hearts, houses, traditionally shaped sweets… A typical little package shows two plump little pigs facing each other; they are a symbol of good luck. One should definitely buy those for one’s own family, and as nice gifts for friends. Tomatoes, bananas, cucumbers, berries, apples, pears, cherries made of marzipan and wrapped up individually make an original present for anyone. The one difficulty a visitor has in a shop is, the problem of restraining oneself from buying up absolutely everything!