Sharjah: Right next to Dubai – and yet so different

WIf everything goes according to plan for Sharjah, then it will soon be able to drop its unofficial nickname “the unknown emirate”. Then it should be called “the previously unknown and now third best known sheikhdom after Dubai and Abu Dhabi”, especially since the United Arab Emirates consist of a total of seven emirates, four of which are much less known than Sharjah, namely Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Chaima and Umm al-Qaiwain.

If you have a driver and ask him where Dubai ends and Sharjah begins, he will likely point to an inconspicuous bridge after about ten minutes and say: “Here. Sharjah begins after this bridge! ”Then drive under the bridge and on the other side you won’t feel much of a difference.

But soon the streets narrow, you can see that the buildings are meaningfully related to each other and not just pounded out of the ground with a dramatic gesture. You see shops instead of flagship stores, yes, you even see people walking on sidewalks, pedestrians!

Sharjah (United Arab Emirates)

Source: WORLD infographic

In contrast to the centers of the two better known Emirates, Sharjah City, it turns out, is a city that actually works as such.

Differences to Dubai and Abu Dhabi

So it is more traditional than in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This also means that alcohol is not even sold in hotels in Sharjah. There are no nightclubs or bars either, no indoor ski slopes, no dinosaur roller coasters, and no houses that are roughly as high as those next door in Dubai.

An important commonality with Dubai and Abu Dhabi, however, is the precarious situation regarding human rights and laws (see below). Tourists in the Arab Emirates also have to fear draconian punishments for things that are fundamental rights in Europe. A stay can be particularly dangerous for homosexuals, women and unmarried people.

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What Sharjah does differently from the better-known Emirates is that the cultural tradition is cultivated here with a view to the future. You can afford museums on subjects such as art, history, calligraphy and Islamic civilization, 17 in number, which give the best overview of the time before the oil boom in the Persian Gulf.

Beautifully lit at night: a mosque in Sharjah City

Illuminated at night: Great Mosque in Sharjah City

Source: Getty Images / © Naufal MQ

Sharjah also hosts an annual book fair, the third largest in the world. In 2019, Unesco even named the city the “World Capital of the Book”.

However, the event did not bring the hoped-for encouragement, but international protests, because Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and other anti-Semitic hate speeches were also presented at the fair. So travelers should not be blinded by Sharja’s cultural painting.

The only luxury hotel in the Emirate

Other regular events include the Sharjah Biennale, the largest exhibition of contemporary art in the Arab world, and the Architecture Triennale. Most recently, she dealt with urbanism.

It goes well with that Sharjah is currently making a few urban corrections and tearing down ugly houses in order to build the new Heart of Sharjah district in the center. Interestingly enough, the idea behind the new buildings will be even older than those that were previously demolished.

Sharjah: stone phone booths

The cityscape is also characterized by stone telephone booths

Source: pa / Jürgen Schwe / Jürgen Schwenkenbecher

Architecturally, it should go back at least to the 1950s, i.e. the era before oil was found in the Emirates and the region became rich. The Heart of Sharjah is comparable to the reconstruction of the Berlin City Palace: At first glance, a historical shell that is to be used for exhibitions and gastronomy.

The heart of the project has so far been the “Al-Bait” ​​hotel (“the home”). The Emirate’s only luxury hotel was built around four existing historic houses, one of which was the residence of a pearl merchant, the other the Sharja’s first post office.

You have to imagine the “Al-Bait” as a collection of one and two-story buildings with narrow streets in between, a cream-colored mini-medina with 53 rooms and suites, which is ideally suited to getting lost. You are constantly standing in front of any doors that open to magical courtyards, to a historic bazaar that is no longer part of the hotel, or to another part of the “Heart of Sharjah” that has already been completed.

Sharjah reflects on the past

Outside the hotel, Mohammed has taken on the task of showing visitors the surroundings. He is in his early 30s, comes from Egypt and actually wanted to be a football player.

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That didn’t work, instead he went to Dubai to find his fortune in the tourism industry. Because he didn’t like Dubai anymore after a short time, he then looked for it in Sharjah. “Has more heart here,” he says, “is calmer.”

He is currently standing on the promenade in front of the hotel and is pointing to a dramatic building on the other side of the shore, the style of which is oriental-Wilhelmine: “This is the dish!”

Blue Souk in Sharjah: The architecture of the market built in 1978 is deliberately traditional

Blue Souk: The architecture of the market built in 1978 is deliberately traditional

Source: picture alliance / Udo Bernhart

And where does the next emirate begin? “Do you see the hotel over there?” Asks Mohammed, pointing to a massive building about two kilometers away. “Ajman begins shortly after,” the smallest of the seven Emirates.

Shortly before, in the “101 Café”, which sells Indian street food right on the water, there is a lot of activity, as well as on the other side of the street in the “Arabian Tea House”, a restaurant for Arabic specialties.

“The skyscraper up here,” says Mohammed, “that will be demolished soon.” The apartment blocks behind it would also disappear. “When you come back in five years, everything will be ready. Nice old, but new. ”Mohammed is happy.

While Dubai and Abu Dhabi are oriented towards a future that is not known whether it will ever happen, Sharjah focuses on a past that has long since passed. The third best known emirate has found its niche in the market.

Gigantic 3-D printer builds two-story house

By 2030, 25 percent of all new buildings in Dubai are to be created using 3D printing.

Source: WELT / Peter Haentjes

Tips and information

Getting there: Usually a flight to Dubai, from the airport it is ten minutes by taxi to Sharjah.

Accommodation: “Al Bait Sharjah” (, Double room with breakfast from 180 euros; “Four Points by Sheraton” (, Double room with breakfast from 60 euros.

Safety: The human rights situation in the United Arab Emirates is critical, and tourists can also face imprisonment. You should inform yourself well in advance (, punishable are, inter alia, extramarital sex (rape victims also face persecution), pregnancy without marriage, drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, public tenderness, criticism of Islam, photography (also by mobile phone) of public buildings, ports, palaces, bridges and more .

Information desk:

Participation in the trip was supported by “Al-Bait Sharjah”. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at


Australia: Adelaide – the hippest metropolitan village in the world

Whe should come to Adelaide and drink coffee. It is also difficult to find an ATM in the city center – there is a coffee shop on almost every corner. Not just any Starbucks store, but ultra-hip, individual and Instagram-style stores that offer coffee in all variations.

For example on Rundle Street, in the middle of the chessboard-like center. There, in a block of houses, are hiding three cafes, all of which are fully occupied at ten in the morning. In front of it, construction workers, students and pensioners crowd in line and order a “Long Black” or “Flat White”, the stronger version of the cappuccino invented by Australians.

The hip stores underpin Adelaide’s new image as the chilled city of Australia, where locals and tourists walk or ride the city on a free city bike. Most of the bike tours end in one of the countless parks that surround Adelaide’s city center.

The concept was brought to Adelaide from London

Amy Read, a woman in her mid-thirties who runs a thrift store on Frome Street, likes to do such extensive tours. The “Lion the Witch Vintage” shop is also a bar, where more drinks than shirts go over the counter, especially on weekends.

Amy Read lived in London for a few years; from there she also brought the shop-bar concept to her home town of Adelaide. “A few years ago, the business model would not have worked here. The residents of Adelaide were conservative and traditional. Now the mood has changed. No question, the city is becoming more colorful, cosmopolitan, exciting. “

Amy Read’s store is located in the city center, which with its right-angled streets looks like it was created on an architect’s drawing board. In fact, Adelaide was never a penal colony like Sydney or Melbourne, but was founded in 1835 as “Promised Land” for dreamers and happiness seekers from Europe.

Fishermans Warf Market in Adelaide (Australia)

For rummaging: This junk stand offers a colorful assortment at the Fisherman’s Wharf Market

Credit: Getty Images / Carolyn Hebbard

You can feel this entrepreneurial spirit again today. The fact that Amy Read was able to be so successful is due to her entrepreneurial spirit – and the “Renew Adelaide” initiative.

This city-funded association offers retailers with unusual ideas discounted or free retail space in the center. As a result, Adelaide looks a bit like Berlin-Kreuzberg or Brooklyn in New York in some corners.

The latest aid from “Renew Adelaide” was, for example, a shop that sells small houseplants in glass jars, a French patisserie and a jewelry manufacturer called “V The Label”.

Opportunities like in Berlin shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall

Simplified licensing also contributed to the city’s upswing; 80 new bars have opened in the past ten years, and there is no end in sight to the boom. Because Adelaide benefits from the influx of young families and students in particular, who can no longer afford the massive increase in rents in Australia’s cities of over a million such as Sydney and Melbourne.

In Adelaide, on the other hand, they still have exactly those opportunities that made Berlin great in the years after the fall of the Wall, namely cheaper living space and enough space for creative ideas.

Adelaide (Australia): Opposite the town hall, an obelisk commemorates the landing of the first settlers in South Australia

Across from the town hall, an obelisk commemorates the landing of the first settlers in South Australia

Credit: Getty Images / Dale Allman Photography

Damian Foo also confirms this. He and his girlfriend moved from Sydney to Adelaide three years ago to open a “Kombucha Taproom”, a bar that has fermented green tea varieties.

“We just couldn’t stand it in Sydney anymore. Hardly anyone can afford the rents in the city center there, so you have to move to the periphery and accept extremely long journeys, ”says the entrepreneur, who sells his Kombucha bottles primarily online today. “Then we had children and we knew it was Adelaide’s time. It’s still reasonably cheap here, you can just try it out. ”

One of the best places to live in Australia

And indeed: If you walk through the center, you understand that there is hardly a better place to live in Australia. The city center is pedestrian and cyclist-friendly, there are many parks, good restaurants and cool bars; the “Pink Moon Saloon” is even considered one of the best cocktail bars in the country. In Adelaide, the world’s problems feel very far away.

Australia: Downtown Adelaide is cyclist-friendly - locals and tourists can hire bikes

Downtown Adelaide is cyclist-friendly – locals and tourists can hire bikes

Credit: pa / ofo bike / dpa

The South African writer J. M. Coetzee is one of those who deliberately chose the south of Australia. Which he obviously did not regret, because the verdict on his new adopted home is euphoric: “Is this paradise on earth? What does a person have to do to be allowed to live here? Does he have to die first? “

On the contrary, the quality of life in the city is enormous. You can feel this especially at the Central Market, one of the largest and most beautiful market halls on the continent, where almost all fruits that ripen anywhere on earth are available.

Beautiful beaches and a place of German origin

But that’s not all. Adelaide not only has fantastic food, a relaxed atmosphere, a green city center and interesting architecture. Since the city is located directly on the Saint-Vincent-Golf, it also has a number of beautiful beaches to offer, for example in Glenelg, a suburb ten kilometers from the center with a long promenade.

Australia: Pelicans also feel good on the beaches of Adelaide

Pelicans also feel at home on the beaches of Adelaide

Credit: Getty Images / Tais Policanti

While Glenelg is named after a British lord, Hahndorf, a town in the middle of the Adelaide Hills, was founded by German settlers. To this day, there is a Bavarian beer hall in Shahndorf that has Shnittys (schnitzel) on the menu, and nostalgic supermarkets that also sell many German products.

The Barossa Valley stretches approximately 70 kilometers northeast of Adelaide. With 10,000 hectares of vines and over 50 wineries where you can taste and buy wine, it is one of the largest wine-growing areas in the country – along with pretty villages that are reminiscent of sleepy US East Coast locations.

The first vines were planted here in 1847 by the German emigrant Johann Grampp, establishing one of the most successful wineries in Australia. In Tanunda, for example, you can try a Rockford Riesling and convince yourself that the Australian winemakers today produce top-quality wines that are exported all over the world.

Australia: In the evening, the restaurants and pubs of Adelaide fill up

In the evening, the restaurants and pubs of Adelaide fill up

Credit: Getty Images / Walter Bibikow

Beer and cocktails are preferred in Adelaide’s bars and pubs. For example in the “Ancient World”, an alternative club in the city center, which can be reached via a back yard and which was also supported by the “Renew Adelaide” initiative. The restaurant could easily keep up with trendy bars in Berlin-Kreuzberg. You sit on brown leather sofas; people drink, dance and talk a lot.

The hippest and most beautiful big city village

A middle-aged man introduces himself as Simon Walsh. He works as a Germanist at the University of Adelaide and proudly emerges as an Adelaide returnee. Born and raised in the city, he later lived in the United States for a long time.

“I was initially skeptical when I came back,” admits the 38-year-old. “But after a few days, I noticed how much Adelaide had changed for the better.” It was still a big city, says Walsh. “But the hippest and most beautiful big city village that I know.”

Only the violent bush fires of the past few months are currently spoiling the picture and would have depressed the mood, says Walsh. This year, the fires have raged particularly hard on Kangaroo Island, an island off the coast of South Australia.

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07/01/2020, Australia, Adelaide: A kangaroo stands during the bush fire in the Flinder Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island, southwest of Adelaide. The bushfires in Australia have already burned several million hectares of land. Photo: David Mariuz / AAP / dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Adalside himself was not affected, Walsh emphasizes: “On the map, Kangaroo Island and Adelaide are close together, but we are more than 200 kilometers apart as the crow flies. I hope a lot of tourists know that – and will come back. ”

Adelaide in Australia

Source: WORLD infographic

Tips and information

Getting there: For example, usually with Singapore Airlines or Qatar Airways to Adelaide. Australia has currently imposed an entry ban on all non-Australians due to the corona pandemic.

Stay: “Mayfair Hotel”, five-star hotel with a view of the Rundle Mall; Double rooms from 130 euros,; “Lake Hotel”, comfortable and located on the water, double rooms from 90 euros,; “The Playford Adelaide”, boutique hotel on the vibrant North Terrace, double rooms from 100 euros,

Mobility: In Adelaide there are free city bikes that can be borrowed free of charge at nine stations. Also free of charge are the bus lines Bee Line, which connects Adelaide’s center with Glenelg, and City Loop, which leads past the main train station, Central Market and other important points.

Information desk:

Participation in the trip was supported by the South Australian Tourism Commission. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at


Summer vacation: Despite Corona, school trips are well booked

Germany summer holidays

Despite Corona, youth trips are well booked

Alone on a long journey – millions of students and trainees across Germany are looking forward to it. At the beginning of the year, children’s and youth tour operators registered bookings growth – and despite the Corona crisis, there are hardly any cancellations.

| Reading time: 3 minutes

Bettina Seipp

For this reason you should under no circumstances cancel now

Summer time is the main holiday season. It is uncertain whether travel will be possible in view of the anti-corona measures. Politicians and tour operators have very different opinions.

GThe German schoolchildren have an endless vacation this year. Which is not only due to the Corona crisis, but also to the particularly early start of the summer vacation.

There is only three weeks between Whit Monday and June 22, when Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the first federal state to distribute school certificates; Hamburg, Berlin and Brandenburg followed shortly thereafter. In Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, the summer vacation starts at the end of July and extends into September. But whether and where the students can go is still open.

This is not because of the children’s and youth travel organizers – “We are currently busy busy forming travel groups, keeping holiday camps and camps up to date, recruiting and training supervisors,” says Juliane Körner, Managing Director of

Tour operators expect a clear signal from politicians

The fact that there is still a lot of uncertainty in the industry and among customers is “to blame for the politicians who still do not have a clear corona exit strategy”.

At the latest “at the beginning of June, or even better at the end of May”, the Dresden tour operator warns during the WELT conversation, “the federal and state governments must have decided whether they will relax the travel and contact restrictions. Both we children’s tour operators and the various camp operators need a clear signal from politics to be able to open the camps for the first holiday children on time in the fourth week of June. ”

As the bookings in February were already higher than in the previous year and there have been hardly any cancellations since then, “we have reached the minimum number of participants for a number of trips or are about to do so. We look forward to every further booking, which creates planning security for us, but also for the customers. Because we expect that the demand for youth travel will quickly exceed the offer as soon as the federal government gives the green light for summer travel. “

Worldwide travel warnings do not deter everyone

What if summer trips are not possible? – “If the federal and state requirements remain, the booked trips will be canceled free of charge,” says Juliane Körner.

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The competitors of, Call youth travel and GO youth travelwho also continue to accept bookings unchanged. Customers are “currently focusing on offers in Germany,” says Kristina Oehler from Ruf, the market leader for travel for children and young people, “although trips abroad can also be booked”.

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April 9, 2020, Austria, Sankt Gilgen: A jetty at Lake Wolfgang is empty. From mid-May, restaurants and hotels are expected to reopen. The Austrian government has adopted numerous measures and laws to contain the corona virus. Photo: Barbara Gindl / APA / dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

There are adolescents who are not deterred by the Foreign Office’s worldwide travel warning: “Young people tick differently, Corona is for them today and now, and there is still a long way to go for summer.” However, the Foreign Office’s travel warning should remain , the organizers would have to cancel the trips abroad.

How do you protect children from the corona virus?

Oehler is optimistic about summer travel within Germany, and like Juliane Körner, she believes that the number of bookings will increase quickly once the Corona requirements are relaxed. Because in the meantime, “some parents are driven by pure fear of how to bridge the holiday, for example because they have already tapped their holiday account to look after the little ones and the grandparents cannot help in the foreseeable future”.

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The question remains how the organizers want to protect children and young people traveling alone from being infected with the corona virus? – “The way schools are doing it now. If there are no infections in the classrooms and schoolyards in the next few days, we will do the same; the schools are our blueprint, so to speak, ”says Lena Eggers from GO Jugendreisen. And of course all organizers would adhere to the required hygiene and distance requirements.

According to the BundesForum, almost 15 million children and adolescents between the ages of three and 26 are usually traveling outside their family association every year, with 75 percent of these trips taking place domestically.

This is what future travel could look like

Trips abroad still seem far away. If the positive trend in infection numbers continues, vacations could become possible again. However, only under strict rules.

Source: WELT / Katharina Kuhnert


Hiking in the countryside: lonely on the way in German forests

AJust wander through nature – this longing is ancient. In the Romantic period and later, Ludwig Tieck, Joseph von Eichendorff and Heinrich Heine were already enthusiastic about the unique “forest solitude”. Today, between (pausing) overtourism, Instagram lemmings and the all-encompassing corona pandemic, the desire for a wild green idyll far away from the crowds is more topical than ever.

At the moment you should limit yourself to forest walks in the living area. For the time after the restrictions, tours in these five national parks and nature regions are available, which we have put together for you. There is a good chance that strollers will hardly meet anyone else.

Lower Saxony: In the jungle of the southern heath

Lüneburg Heath, you think of purple areas as far as the eye can see. The natural wonder attracts coaches every year from August during the heather season – and steals the show from the less famous beauties of the region.

Forests in Germany

Source: WORLD infographic

Fortunately, because hardly anyone knows of one of the most extensive forest areas in Germany: the Lüßwald. In the Südheide nature park, this mixed forest extends over 7,500 hectares east of the municipality of Unterlüß.

Ancient forest structures survived forever – royal ban forest was already here in the 13th century. An area of ​​over 30 hectares has been particularly strictly protected as a natural forest reserve since 1973. Over a hundred years old oaks, beeches and spruces are left to their own devices.

Not just heather: The Lüßwald in the Lüneburg Heath has been protected since 1973

Not just heather: The Lüßwald in the Lüneburg Heath has been protected since 1973

Source: Maike Grunwald

To protect nature, you can experience this wilderness on a nearly 15-kilometer circular trail “The primeval forest in Lüß”, which leads along but not into it. Away from the large heath areas, you often meet almost no human soul even in high season.

The shy black stork that breeds here also likes this. Even wolf, lynx and wildcat roam here – the proof of all three rarities is, according to a report by the federal government for the environment and nature conservation, “probably unique in Germany so far”.

Lynxes also roam through the Südheide Nature Park

Lynxes also roam through the Südheide Nature Park

Credit: Getty Images / Philip Dumas

Another treasure of the southern heath is also worth seeing: the green world of the Heidebachs Lutter and its spring areas. This nature reserve looks almost like a small German Amazon, also because of the biodiversity: 160 rare animals and plants live here, including the last intact river pearl mussel stocks in Central Europe.

A bumpy bike path opens up the lonely wilderness, where with luck you can see kingfish flashing blue while fishing – and then occasionally heather flowers.

Info: such as

Brandenburg: Wild Elbe valley meadows of the Prignitz

Cycling on the dike, hiking through the dunes – you don’t have to drive to the sea to do this. In the Prignitz, one of the most sparsely populated regions in Germany, you can do that and sing Schumann as loudly and incorrectly as you want without anyone hearing it (except for a few sea eagles and beavers).

Exactly halfway between Hamburg and Berlin, where the German-German border used to be, nature remained pristine and untouched – the “Green Belt”. The Unesco River Basin Biosphere Reserve has been protecting a diverse wilderness since 1997.

Naturally curved shores, lovely riparian forests, bogs, heath, meadows, backwaters and woody hinterland form a wonderful mosaic. In the Elbtalaue river landscape biosphere reserve, there are many hundred-year-old oak trees at half-timbered courtyards behind the Elbe dyke.

Liebenthaler wildlings live in herds and are settled for landscape maintenance

Liebenthaler wildlings live in herds and are settled for landscape maintenance

Credit: picture alliance / dpa

Old flood meadows have been reopened on the Elbe valley in Lenzen. Now you can see gray and white wild horses grazing, these Liebenthaler wildlings live in herds and are settled for landscape maintenance.

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Half an hour’s bike ride along the Elbe, just in Mecklenburg, opposites meet – the Elbe valley dunes near Klein Schmölen with their dry sands, from which almost buried pines peek, and the wet meadows of the old course of the Löcknitz.

On the hiking trail around Europe’s largest inland dune, boards provide information about their strange inhabitants such as the ant lion, the grasshopper, the wasteland snail, but also magnificent butterflies such as the swallowtail and the mother of pearl. In the lush green of the Löcknitz, otters and lapwings also feel at home.


Thuringia: Germany’s largest deciduous forest

Tree giants, over 600 years old, tower up. Young trees sprout on clearing areas of long-gone GDR times. In May, wild garlic rolls out its white carpet of flowers on the forest floor and exudes a garlic aroma, in October the gold sea of ​​beech leaves glows, patterned with the autumn colors of 30 other deciduous tree species. The rare European wildcat leads its secret life almost invisibly in the undergrowth.

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The Hainich, a mountain range in Thuringia, is a magical world. With a good 13,000 hectares, it is the largest contiguous deciduous forest in Germany. Nature could develop undisturbed on old military training areas, before the turnaround restricted area.

Today, 7,500 hectares are designated as a national park, which comprises the largest useless deciduous forest area in our country. Here you can walk for hours without meeting other people. Because although the landscape is part of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage of beech forests and old beech forests, it is still an insider tip – and a record holder in its scope.

Thuringia: With a good 13,000 hectares, the Hainich is the largest contiguous deciduous forest in Germany

Thuringia: With a good 13,000 hectares, the Hainich is the largest contiguous deciduous forest in Germany

Credit: picture alliance / imageBROKER

Comparatively well-known excursion destinations are the treetop path, the national park center and the wildcat project in Hütscheroda, where you can see the shy animals in a show enclosure (if you feel like it).

During the corona closure of these attractions, the hiking trails also became silent here. You can learn a lot about these forest dwellers from the wildcat path, a seven-kilometer circular hiking trail, not only on information boards, but with luck you can also see lynxes – the path leads past their enclosure.

It gets really lonely on the longer tours deep in the forest, for example on the Saugrabenweg. The ten-kilometer round shows how nature regains its empire. Rose and sloe bushes overgrow former shooting ranges, young ash forest merges into seasoned mixed forest, old trees and dead wood provide living space for beetles and birds.

You hike through the wildcat territory (stay on the paths!), Past orchards and the Graurode desert, a settlement that was abandoned in the 14th century. Nature has recaptured them.


Bavaria: As a cross-border commuter in the Franconian Forest

“Outside. With us”. The slogan hits it, in the Franconian Forest you are really far from the shot. It stretches over 120,000 hectares from the Main to the Green Belt of the former German-German border, where nature was able to develop for a long time.

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Almost the entire area (100,000 hectares) is protected as the Franconian Forest Nature Park. The motto is away from mass tourism; on the 32 new day and half-day hikes “FrankenwaldSteigla” you can find your way alone.

For example on the Grenzer-Weg: Where the death strip used to separate Thuringia and Upper Franconia, you can now stroll through various landscape forms along the Muschwitz and Krötensee nature reserves to the Rennsteig below the Kulm, where a mixed deciduous forest has been preserved.

Franconian Forest in Bavaria: Walkers on the Kolonnenweg

Franconian Forest: Walkers on the Kolonnenweg

Source: Andreas Hub / laif / FRANKENWALD TOURISMUS

The Fischbachweg on natural paths through spruce forests with a view of Lauenstein Castle is also beautiful – the medieval hilltop castle, surrounded by eerie legends, is a fairytale sight.

You can also see them from the Wetzsteinmacher-Weg, which also follows the old inner-German border, from the Geierhorstweg you get to the Ratzeberg with its views of the Thuringian Slate Mountains – and over undulating greenery.

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Those who prefer to explore the Franconian Forest on a mountain bike will find nine signposted tours – or put together their own route with a tour planner on the website. Trekking sites are new, where – what is otherwise generally forbidden in the forest – you can pitch your tent in the wild to be woken up by birdsong in the morning.


Baden-Württemberg: In the deepest Black Forest

Being in the best company, namely your own, can also be done in the Black Forest. Although it is one of the most popular holiday regions in the country, there are almost 24,000 kilometers of signposted hiking trails in Germany’s largest low mountain range. And even if almost everyone knows the tourist locations on Titisee and Schluchsee, you will often find yourself almost alone in nature just a few steps away.

This can even happen during a hike in the spectacular Ravenna Gorge. Because the Black Forest herds of tourists come in the coach and get stuck on the cuckoo clocks that are on sale at hotspots such as the Hofgut Sternen in bulk (the stations of the travel groups from Asia and around the world are currently and for a while still the quietest places ).

Black Forest: hiking on the torrent in the Ravenna Gorge

Black Forest: hiking on the torrent in the Ravenna Gorge

Credit: pa / imageBROKER / Alexander Schnurer

If you are looking for forest solitude in the Black Forest beyond the known destinations, you can dive into the wild Schwarzatal. Here, on the rugged heaps of the Schwarza, the jungle of tomorrow grows: lumberjacks have been banned since 1970, fallen trees remain.

With 428 hectares, the Black Forest is the largest spell forest in the Black Forest today. The Rappenfelsensteig leads through narrow paths, past chamois heaps, trees of all ages and rushing torrents. In places steep and adventurous is a Kraxel hike on the Zweribach to the hidden waterfalls.

In the Northern Black Forest you can even trudge across country in the Alb Valley on Germany’s first cross-country trail. From May, the trekking spots could be opened again, where you can camp in the wilderness. They are only accessible on foot, there is at least a compost toilet and a fireplace, nothing else – except for a lot of nature.


The secret life of the trees

Peter Wohlleben is a forester, best-selling author and now also tells impressive stories about our forests on the big screen. Scientific knowledge is combined with spectacular natural film sequences.

This text is from the WELT AM SONNTAG. We are happy to deliver them to your home regularly.

WELT AM SONNTAG from April 19, 2020



New Zealand: On the island of the smallest penguins in the world

Ddozens of moss-covered steps lead to the Ackers Point Lighthouse. Drizzle and wind make the ascent difficult. From the viewing platform in the east of Stewart Island you should have the best chance at dusk to see the bluish pygmy penguins.

A local had given me the tip the previous evening in the hostel. Once at the top, I have a beautiful view of the sea, but there is no trace of the pygmy penguins. Pass minute by minute. The wind gets stronger and with it the waves. I’m waiting.

The smallest penguins in the world are only around 35 centimeters tall. They swim and dive all day looking for fish on the coast of the New Zealand island. They are small, but perfect swimmers with up to seven kilometers an hour.

Stewart Island in New Zealand: pygmy penguins looking for fish

Excellent swimmers: pygmy penguins looking for fish

Credit: picture alliance / dpa / blickwin

They usually come back from the sea at nightfall. But you have to be patient when watching birds. Ian Miller had told that on a short tour. The guide took me across the island as soon as I arrived, where a good 97 percent of the area has been protected since 2002.

The island is still an insider tip in New Zealand

Stewart Island, the Maori call it Rakiura, is hardly inhabited. The only settlement is Oban with just 600 inhabitants. New Zealand’s third largest island is mountainous and overgrown.

Birds live here that do not exist anywhere else in the world, almost everywhere there is primary forest. This is an original forest that has been spared human influence: a wilderness.

Stewart Island: New Zealand's third largest island is densely overgrown

Stewart Island: New Zealand’s third largest island is densely overgrown

Credit: Getty Images / Craig Pershouse

Even if the number of tourists has increased to 55,000 from year to year, this island is still an insider tip. Located in the very south of the South Island of New Zealand, nature lovers will find plenty of opportunities here to immerse themselves in nature.

Submerge, that’s it. Maybe the pygmy penguins don’t swim on the surface in this swell? But do you have to show up at some point?

Where to see pygmy penguins on Stewart Island

As my eyes search the rocks, I spot a New Zealand fur seal. He lay down to rest on a rocky outcrop. I hadn’t seen him the whole time. I proudly point out another hiker to the chubby mammal. Ideal way to start a conversation.

As a thank you for my discovery, he reveals where I can see many pygmy penguins that evening: at the port of Oban. They are not shy, pragmatic, sometimes even breed under houses and adopt nesting boxes.

I hurry back to town. Although I run through the forest so quickly, I see a forest parrot and several Tui birds on the way: These black-and-blue feathered honey eaters have a white tuft of feathers on their necks.

I need only 25 minutes for the almost three kilometers. Arrived at the port, I immediately see two large diesel tanks that the hiker had described. They should be right behind it. Very idyllic.

Great white sharks are considered natural enemies of the penguins

And indeed: A dark blue pygmy penguin is just arriving, groping out of the water and waddling up a rock. His plumage shimmers in the light of the harbor lighting. It disappears in a crevice. But two more are already in sight and are coming on.

After a whole day of hunting in the sea, the approximately 40 centimeters small birds have to feed the young animals and then sleep well. They have nothing to fear in narrow holes in the ground and crevices.

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Their natural enemies are New Zealand sea lions and fur seals. The fur seal at Ackers Point earlier and I probably shared the same longing. Good thing we were disappointed.

Great white sharks are also considered natural enemies of the pygmy penguins. There are said to be a few of them around Stewart Island. However, the numbers have dropped after cage diving and therefore the feeding of marine animals off Stewart Island have been abolished.

Looking for a kiwi at night

It is now pitch black. It’s still raining. Just a little bit stronger again and the wind didn’t let up either. On Main Road I meet the nature guide Ian Herbert and a small group of other night owls.

You are looking for kiwi fruit. New Zealand’s national animal had no fear of natural enemies for many centuries – until humans came. After the first Maori arrived from Australia from New Zealand, kiwis were mainly hunted as food.

Stewart Island in New Zealand: The chance of seeing a Southern Blue Kiwi is greatest at night

The best chance of seeing a Southern Striped Kiwi is at night

Credit: pa / imageBROKER / Terry Whittaker / FLPA

The first European settlers exacerbated the problem. They brought in – often involuntarily – rats, martens, dogs and cats, which caused a drastic decline in the kiwi population. Today, kiwis have died out in many places in New Zealand.

About 15,000 of the flightless birds are still at home on Stewart Island. That is about a quarter of the total population. Therefore, you have a good chance of seeing the animals during a night hike. And this is where my path takes me after I have almost forgotten the time of the little penguins.

This type of kiwi is very special

Hardly anyone knows the kiwis on Stewart Island as well as Ian Herbert. The New Zealander has been bird stalking night after night for more than 20 years. During the day he is currently supervising a doctoral student who is researching the Southern Streifenkiwi on Stewart Island. Because this type of kiwi is very special.

Because of the southern location, the nights in summer are short. The nocturnal animal would not have enough time to eat. That is why the striped kiwis of the island are active during the day.

“However, the chances of seeing the animals are greater at night,” says Ian. But today everything seems different. “The strong wind prevents us from hearing the kiwis,” he explains. Neither the rustling in the thicket, nor their calls, whistling “Ke-weee, Ke-weee” with which they mark the boundaries of the areas, we will be able to perceive.

The search for the kiwifruit begins. At just 15 kilometers an hour, he drives through the area with his bus. He hardly has his eyes on the street. They roam left and right in search of New Zealand’s national bird.

A female is standing in a clearing

Ian parks the car in front of Lee Bay. This is where the three-day Rakiura Track starts, a hiking trail that is one of New Zealand’s most impressive hiking trails and leads through the huge nature reserve.

We walk hundreds of meters across wet meadows, past bushes and trees. No bird in sight. We should use flashlights in the forest. They are covered with red foil. “Because kiwis hate three things: cell phone ringtones, cameras and blue light,” he explains.

The red film on my flashlight creates a soft red light. The kiwis cannot see that. For them it is still pitch black and for us it will be safer on the forest floor.

Almost an hour passes before we leave the forest. I gave up hope when Ian suddenly asked us to turn off our lamps and stand still.

We finally see a kiwi in a clearing. The female moves like a chicken, constantly pecking on the floor. We have five to six minutes to watch it. Then the wind turns, it senses us and quickly disappears in the bushes to its peers.

Steven Hille is for his blog worldwide.

The research on Stewart Island was supported by the New Zealand Southland Regional Development Agency. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at


Stranded in Guatemala

A family in Germany broke all tents to live their dream: a road trip from Canada to Patagonia. In Central America, however, the corona virus provides a compulsory break – weeks follow between fear and hope. .

Brazil: As a beginner in the Amazon jungle camp

I.In the flickering light of the slowly fading campfire, the shadow of the poisonous spine on the scorpion’s tail appears to be larger than it is. Still, that’s not a little guy.

Drawn by the light and the warmth of the flames, a curious, ten-centimeter-long body crawls over the half-decayed leaves of the jungle floor under my hammock. The nocturnal creatures of the jungle now seem to be meeting at a campfire party.

The hairy buddy of the barbed animal that is now rushing past looks damn like a tarantula. Although they are not dangerous to people, I wonder if his extremely toxic nephew, Phoneutria nigriventer from the family of the Brazilian wandering spiders, also lurking somewhere. Because instead of spinning nets, they prefer to search the jungle floor for food.

There is cooing, whistling, screaming, roaring and knocking around us. The male cicadas are the shrillest. To impress the female, they roar louder than a motorcycle at over ninety decibels.

Add to that a tree frog concert with a symphony of rustling and clattering leaves, and the cacophony is complete. Welcome to our Brazilian night camp.

Caution is advised in the Amazon jungle

Here on the Amazon, the jungle is wild, untamed, a sparkling organism in which everything seems to be connected. Here people are not rulers, but visitors.

Humility is appropriate, caution is required. Anyone who thinks that they can simply walk in here risks body and soul. The choice of illustrious ways to die in the rainforest is large.

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Author Stefan Beutelsbacher with Jorge Ney

Guide Samuel Basilio knows the jungle like no other. As a scout in the Brazilian army, he was stationed continuously in the middle of this forest for two years, depending on what he found to survive in the wild.

And how to survive, he knows as a descendant of the second generation from two indigenous peoples: the Baré tribe on his father’s side and the Baniwa people on his mother’s side.

A neoclassical opera in Manaus

It seems centuries since we left Manaus, the capital of the Amazon, the largest of the 26 Brazilian provinces, the day before yesterday. For comparison: The province of Amazonas is as large as France, Germany and Spain combined. Germany fits in here 4.4 times.

Nevertheless, the area is sparsely populated, only four million people live here, half of them in Manaus. During the rubber boom from about 1880 the city became very rich. When the rubber price fell significantly from 1910, the city also went down.

Brazil: The neoclassical opera building testifies to the splendor of times past in Manaus

The neoclassical opera building testifies to the splendor of times past in Manaus

Credit: Getty Images / Francisco Aragão

Manaus looks unreal. A mega city full of ugly, colossal concrete colossi with a few preserved jewels from the heyday. Like the neoclassical opera “Teatro Amazonas” from 1896.

It is considered the eccentric high point of the rubber barons. Much of the construction material was imported, including marble from Carrara in Italy.

What a location for a city of millions: in the middle of the humid jungle, on the banks of the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimões, which unite near Manaus to the Amazon. A spectacle called “Encontro das Águas”, Portuguese for “encounter water”. The warm blue-black water of the Rio Negro flows together with the cooler sand-colored water of the Rio Solimões over a width of six kilometers.

Arrival by plane or by boat

The best way to travel to Manaus is by plane or boat. The road network is dilapidated. The paths are often overgrown or completely washed away in the rainy season.

The distances are also enormous. The distance from Rio de Janeiro to Manaus is over 4300 kilometers. This corresponds to the straight line from Berlin to the North Pole.

Manaus is our stopover on the way to Vanessa Marino and Leo Principe, about 140 kilometers north of Manaus in the municipality of Presidente Figueiredo.

Vanessa, originally from Venezuela, and the French-Italian conservationist and photographer Leo bought over 270 hectares of land here a few years ago. They built their house there, where they live with their three children and Vanessa’s mother.

They also built a guest house on the site. They welcome visitors on a small scale and convey the beauty of the rainforest to them.

In the rainforest of Brazil: The author sits on a branch at a height of 45 meters while the sun disappears behind the horizon

The author sits on a branch at a height of 45 meters while the sun disappears behind the horizon

Source: Malte Clavin

From the veranda of the guest house, lying in a hammock, I look at the primary rainforest, close my eyes and listen. My ear perceives spotted guanas that the Brazilians have baptized according to the sounds they make: Aracuã. Howler monkeys set in from the left, then parrot cries and other birds and insects unknown to me.

The roof of the jungle turns purple from the flowers between the white mist. Fragrances of fresh rot, earth, leaves and humus permeate my nose. The smell of fertility. It is almost unreal, this view of the purple trees, this view of an untouched planet.

Fascinated by the rainforest in Brazil

Leo Principe lost his heart to the Amazon and everything that lives and blooms there forty years ago. “In 1989 I was the captain of a luxury sailing yacht. We sailed across the Amazon for a while. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of nature and decided to go back, ”Principe says.

In the following decades, he documented large parts of the flora and fauna of the Amazon. He published his work in photo books and international magazines.

60 percent of the biodiversity of the Amazon region can be found in the tree tops. Principe developed a technique to climb the forest giants of the rainforest and take pictures there. His goal: to make people aware of the wealth of this area, which is not called the green lung of the earth for nothing.

Why the battle for the rainforest is getting more brutal

Indigenous environmental activist Paulino Guajajara was shot. As a so-called “guardian of the forest” he had campaigned for the protection of trees in the Amazon region.

Credit: WELT / Mick Locher

“After I met Vanessa in 1998, we traveled through Brazil in a motorhome for a year,” says Principe. A journey that led to a new phase in her life.

“We wanted to learn more about ecological building, clean energy, sustainable ways of dealing with the jungle. For us, nature conservation is a philosophy of life. We want to pass on all of the knowledge we have gathered and implemented in our country to our children and guests. ”

Leo and Vanessa Principe teach their children, 18-year-old Geo, 17-year-old Kinan and 12-year-old Kena themselves, but only if they actively request it. Most of the time, the children choose how they spend their day. That seems to be working. Geo is now learning Japanese, his fifth language.

Learn from the knowledge of the indigenous people

Leo Principe is fascinated by the agricultural techniques of ancient civilizations, especially Terra Preta.

“Terra Preta is a very fertile black soil that covers ten percent of the Amazon basin. This soil is very fertile and hardly leaches out. It has been used here for over two and a half thousand years. You make it by making charcoal from certain plants and then mixing it with the existing soil. ”

Terra Preta acts like a water and nutrient-containing sponge: it promotes the formation of microorganisms and the release of humic substances. This ensures a long-term nutrient supply to the soil.

A powder sharpens the senses

“Would you like to try it?” Principe waves me over and gives me a kind of bamboo straw with two ends. He opens a small box and takes out a brown powder with his thumb and index finger.

“This is how the Indians clean their caves,” he explains with a finger on his nose and a mischievous smile. “I’ll show you that.” He rubs the powder into one end of the straw and then puts the straw in his mouth. He leads the other end into one of his nostrils. Then he blows. His face grimaces.

Now he hands me the bamboo straw. I feed the stalk with powder and blow it into my nose. A sharp flash flashes through my head, tears fill my eyes. “Well. Now blow your nose. ”Then my head is drastically empty, feels twice as big, and my nasal cavities smell three times as intense.

“In the jungle you need all your senses,” explains Principe, “a stuffy nose can be a handicap. You solve the problem with this secret recipe. “

In the jungle, the jaguar is the king

Principe’s words go through my head as we later hike through the rainforest and look for a good place to camp. Leader Samuel shows us the way. With his machete he occasionally chops off plants that block our way.

Brazil: Nobody has to die of thirst in the jungle, because plants store large amounts of water

Nobody has to die of thirst in the jungle, because plants store large amounts of water

Source: Malte Clavin

Suddenly he stops and pulls up his palm. Slowly, almost scary, he moves his head in all directions and sniffs the air. He whispers: “Can you smell it?”

I also sniff the air, but get no further than damp earth, rotting plants and pollen from tropical flowers. Samuel nods north. Then he whispers: “Jaguar.”

Suddenly I am as awake as after the powder shot in the nose and look around suddenly. Jaguars have a habit of jumping on their prey from behind to incapacitate them with a bite in the head. Yesterday Samuel told me that a member of his family had been attacked and kidnapped by the night hunter.

I hear something rustle and flinch. But Samuel relaxes, I conclude from his attitude that the danger is well averted.

“When my family member disappeared, we didn’t try to kill the jaguar for revenge,” he says. “So we killed a wild boar and a capybara and offered them to the jaguar – in exchange for the bones of our relatives. We respect the jaguar. In the jungle, he’s the king. “

Fish on the grill, monkeys on the trees

We return to our base camp. Only a few hours earlier there was a clear plain here. Now we are in the middle of a fully functional jungle camp. The remaining part of our group, together with Vanessa, Leo and their children, hung hammocks between Ipé trees and provided each mat with a natural rain roof made of two layers of huge philodendron leaves.

In the center of the camp is a barbecue table made of wooden posts, picked up from the jungle floor. An orange fire shines underneath. Two giant tambaqui fish are roasting on the table. Samuel distributes palm leaves as plates and wooden spoons, which he has just cut out from fallen branches.

My travel companions sleep in their hammocks, I doze and watch Samuel watch. An hour ago we ate the two tambaqui, very fatty fish. They feed on nuts and tree fruits that grow along the Amazon River. Has my tongue ever tasted more delicious fish? The memory negates.

Samuel’s powerful lamp illuminates the treetops. It rustles up there. Curiously I climb out of my hammock and carefully put one foot in front of the other so as not to step on scorpions or other animals and approach Samuel. What happens up there

“Night monkeys,” he whispers, “I keep them at a distance with the light. They are curious and are drawn to the fire. A larger group could even attack us. These little beasts have sharp teeth that they use to throw you on the neck. ”

I wait for a mischievous smile, which exposes the last sentence as a joke. Vain. My eyes stare through the dark foliage and see nothing. The flashlight doesn’t help either.

My untrained senses cannot perceive subtle, jungle-specific movements and noises like Samuel can. With Samuel on guard and accompanied by the swing of my hammock, I slowly drift off into the realm of dreams.

Our hike back to the lodge takes about two hours. There we rinse off the jungle dirt in the outdoor showers and then devour an energy charge for the next caper: mango juice and bowls with fresh açai, a mixture of muesli, Cuia squash and bananas, topped with dried coconut slices.


Source: WORLD infographic

Tips and information

Getting there: Usually KLM / Gol Air or LATAM Airlines fly to Manaus (via São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro).

Travel time: Rain falls in the Amazon basin all year round, but only one to two hours a day in the dry season. Best time to travel: June to October.

Jungle tours: Amazon Emotions offers multi-day experience packages with jungle trekking and survival training, three days from the equivalent of 470 euros, Tours with a private guide and the possibility to sleep in the forest

Information desk:


Rotterdam: In the water taxi to personal highlights of the city

DGetting to Rotterdam can be an experience even on a pitch-dark evening with pouring rain. You approach across the South Holland plain and suddenly there is this skyline: one skyscraper next to the other, thousands of lights.

We pass a luminous salad bowl, “de Kuip”, the stadium of Feyenoord Rotterdam. Then continue towards the city center. Cranes tower everywhere, construction is taking place everywhere. Water comes into view, port facilities. It keeps pounding outside.

And suddenly a huge, brightly lit hull appears. The steamer rises elegantly and majestically at the quay wall. This is how the “Titanic” must have worked. However, this luxury liner here is called like the city: “Rotterdam”.

A luxury liner became a spectacular hotel

From 1959 the steamship ran for the Holland-America line between Rotterdam and New York. Today it is arguably the most spectacular hotel in the Dutch port city. After an expensive renovation in Wilhelmshaven, the ship looks as it did in its heyday – inside and out.

After a comprehensive renovation at a shipyard in Wilhelmshaven in the port of her hometown, the “Rotterdam” has anchored permanently

Source: dpa-tmn

The restaurants in different price ranges are usually filled every evening. The only difference is that now no more sea travelers stay in the cabins, but Rotterdam visitors. On warm days, even the sun terrace with swimming pool is open again.

The next morning an SMS: “Goedemorgen! We are sitting on the main deck. See you soon, Ch & M. ”That stands for Chiem van Houweninge and his wife Marina de Vos.

Perfect city guides: Chiem van Houweninge and his wife, the screenwriter Marina de Vos, in front of the “Rotterdam”

Source: dpa-tmn

Chiem is an old acquaintance. And in Germany, many still remember his role as Dutch investigator Hänschen alongside Horst Schimanski, embodied by Götz George. He himself wrote six “Tatort” and “Schimanski” episodes, some of which even played in his hometown Rotterdam.

Can you ask for a better city guide? At most his wife, she knows Rotterdam inside out, was born and raised in the city center.

The water taxi races across the Nieuwe Maas

Marina wrote down her and Chiem’s ​​favorite places on a piece of paper – it’s a pretty long list. “There are so many great places,” she enthuses. “What do we start with?” The two advise for a while, then Chiem says: “Come on, let’s just go.” Driving? “Yes, drive. With the water taxi! “

Chiem walks through a passage in the ship, which he knows best because he wrote a novel about it. A door opens and we stand outside on the side of the steamer facing the water. There is a small jetty here and the yellow water taxi is already rocking on the waves.

Water taxi in Rotterdam: The metropolis in the Netherlands can be explored by boat

Water taxi in Rotterdam: The metropolis is easy to explore by boat

Source: dpa-tmn

The small speed boat whizzes across the Nieuwe Maas, a foothill of the Rhine, at a frantic pace. The broad stream divides Rotterdam in half. The journey is an enormous pleasure and at the same time everyday life for the residents of the city. Because water is omnipresent here, the boat taxi has become a normal form of transport.

The water of the Nieuwe Maas is so clean that a colony of seals and gray seals has settled at the mouth of the sea. They are lounging on an artificial island in the sun while huge container ships pass by. The animal idyll cannot hide the fact that the port – it is the largest in Europe – accounts for 17 percent of the total CO2ndEmissions of the Netherlands.

Rotterdam sets standards with modern architecture

Now we’re shooting past the high-rise silhouette. You won’t find pointed-gabled houses, as are so typical for Holland, here. “Rotterdam was bombed during the war,” says Chiem while driving. It was on May 14, 1940, when German bombers destroyed the center. “After that, a large part of the city was rebuilt.”

But unlike many bombed-out cities in Germany that were hastily rebuilt after the war, Rotterdam reinvented itself architecturally: in the 1980s, houses grew up on trees – Piet Blom’s cube apartments.

In the 90s, the architect duo Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos connected north and south with the swan-like Erasmus Bridge, the last crossing of the Rhine before the North Sea.

And in this century the star architect and native Rotterdam Rem Koolhaas created the “Vertical city”: Three interconnected towers, each with 44 floors, which look like toy blocks. It is the largest building in the Netherlands. It almost seems as if Rotterdam, the old seat of the Holland-America line, wants to reflect New York on the other side of the Atlantic.

Lower rents attract people from Amsterdam

“Rotterdam has always been a hard working city,” says Chiem. “There used to be nothing going on here after ten in the evening, but that has changed completely.” There are restaurants, theater, culture.

“In the meantime, a lot of people are moving from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, also because the prices here are still reasonably affordable. It is really a city on the rise. I am proud of Rotterdam. “

Arrival at the “Hotel New York”, the former headquarters of the Holland America Line from 1901. It is located at the top of the Wilhelmina Bridge. From here, countless families, especially from Eastern Europe, emigrated to the United States over the decades.

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When it opened in 1993, the hotel was still standing on a sandy promontory. Skyscrapers now tower over it and make it seem dainty in comparison.

Rotterdam is constantly changing. And although the second largest city in the Netherlands has no more than 650,000 inhabitants, it now has the appearance of a metropolis.

The “Hotel New York” was once the main administrative headquarters of the Holland-America Line – and now looks like it has fallen out of time in the middle of high-rise buildings

Source: dpa-tmn

Chiem combines many memories with the “Hotel New York”. His friend Götz George lived here when they were shooting in Rotterdam. At one point Chiem drew incredulous looks from the guests at lunch in the restaurant; he had forgotten to take off his pistol holster with the “service weapon” before eating.

A tunnel for cyclists only

Opposite the hotel, in the city’s former red light district, is the Fenix ​​Food Factory, the alternative market hall. Chiem and Marina like it better than the brightly colored new market hall in the city center – a gigantic food market that looks spectacular, but is overpriced in their eyes. Chiem has a Dutch stroopwafel, in German: syrup waffle.

And now? Just get back into the water taxi. Chiem and Marina definitely want to show something unusual: an almost 80-year-old tunnel under the Nieuwe Maas only for cyclists. There is probably only something like that in Holland.

The cyclist tunnel under the Nieuwe Maas is completely tiled and is therefore also called the “largest bathroom in the Netherlands”

Source: dpa-tmn

You get down into the tunnel via a wooden escalator, on which you simply place your bike next to yourself. The cogs of the stairs groan and rumble, it smells of lubricating oil. The tunnel – there is also one for pedestrians – is tiled over the full length of over a kilometer, which is why it is also called “the longest bathroom in the Netherlands”.

After the museum to the sailing ships in Veerhaven

Then we get in the car and off we go across the Erasmus Bridge to the museum district with the Boijmans Van Beuningen. There is a magical picture of Rembrandt’s son Titus doing his homework. A whale skeleton from the Natural History Museum peeks through the window.

On to the couple’s absolute favorite place, which has been together for 50 years and is now like a freshly in love in front of the old sailing ships in Veerhaven. Rotterdam still looks like it did before the bombing.

“And now I have an appetite for cheese,” Chiem announces. His favorite specialty shop is the “Kaashoeve” in the pedestrian zone Oude Binnenweg. Huge cheeses are cut by Takuhi Cekem in no time with a special wire.

In the extension of the street, the Nieuwe Binnenweg, is Chiem’s ​​barber “Schorem”, where everything looks like it did in the 1950s. In the course of this business model, the motto also applies to barbers: dogs allowed, women not.

After the cheese, Chiem and Marina are hungry for more. One option would now be one of the many good Indonesian restaurants. But Chiem finds his favorite place even better: “Bierhandel De Pijp” from 1898, a quaint traditional pub with a lot of praised and yet inexpensive cuisine.

At the end there is the pulsating nightlife, the Witte de Withstraat with its countless pubs, cafés and restaurants. What an unforgettable day! Rotterdam always surprises and delights even its residents.

Tips and information

Getting there: Usually, for example with Transavia, Eurowings or KLM to Schiphol / Amsterdam, from there by train to Rotterdam Central Station. You travel from Cologne with the ICE in three hours, with a change in Utrecht, to Rotterdam (

Accommodation: “Hotel New York” in the former headquarters of the Holland-America Line with authentic decoration and a view of the skyline, double rooms from 120 euros, The “Rotterdam” is one of the highlights of the port city as a museum ship – and as a hotel ship with 254 cabins one of the best in Europe, cabin from 80 euros, Alternatively: “CityHub Rotterdam”, original capsule hotel in the center, night from 36 euros,

Information desk:


Art deco in India: Mumbai easily takes on Miami

Z.u It feels strange at the beginning. Residential towers are almost swallowed up by the gray smog. A ball of rattling auto rickshaws clogs the street, nothing works anymore. Their horns mix with the Bollywood pop from the car radio. Welcome to Mumbai, India’s “City of Dreams”. At first glance, anything but a dream destination.

And the second? Maybe yes. Because all of a sudden the chaos clears. A turret with a bright red roof rises between the rows of houses; next to it are elegantly curved balconies and cast iron grilles, ornate verandas and windows that rise up like fountains frozen in ice.

At Bombay, as many residents of Mumbai call their home to this day, most people think of Bollywood’s dream factory. And immeasurable poverty that lives right next to immeasurable wealth. The city of millions on the west coast is often just a stopover for travelers before they take the train trip to Goa’s palm beaches or sail further south in Kerala through the backwaters.

Mumbai can easily compete with Miami

Tourists usually only take the most famous sights in Mumbai: the Gateway of India, for example, this 26-meter-high triumphal arch, next to it the legendary “Taj Mahal Palace Hotel”; the neo-Gothic train station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or the cave temples on the upstream Elephanta Island.

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India: Mumbai Central Station is one of the most splendid legacies of British colonial rule

However, only a few know: Mumbai is also an art deco metropolis – angular, geometric, a mix of reinforced concrete and red agra sandstone, wood and cast iron, marble, glass blocks and porthole windows. It can easily compete with Miami, the best-known Art Deco city, since Mumbai offers the second largest number of Art Deco buildings worldwide.

These modernist residential buildings, hotels, cinemas and office buildings also tell a hopeful and daring story that began around 1930 and was long forgotten. It sounds like jazz music and plays in hotel ballrooms and bars, where an emerging Indian middle class dreamed of independence.

India’s cultural and commercial metropolis has never lost its hunger for progress. One only has to concentrate more on the walks through the architectural heritage due to the uninterrupted Mumbai symphony of horns and engine noise in order to still feel the “Bombay spirit”.

Art Deco in the south of the city

The best way to explore the unique Art Deco houses in southern Mumbai is along the palm-fringed green area of ​​Oval Maidan and the promenade Marine Drive. “This is extremely beautiful, you can watch it for hours. We call it the eyebrow queen, ”says Atul Kumar.

The architectural activist points to a streamlined building. The 15 “eyebrows” are semicircular window projections that stand out happily due to their green paint in contrast to the yellow of the facade.

Piano keys on the facade: the Art Deco Liberty cinema in Mumbai (India)

Piano keys on the facade: the Liberty Art Deco cinema

Source: Alexandra Eul

The neighboring houses are called “Moonlight”, “Sunshine” and “Palm Court”, designed with imaginative window grilles, magnificent marble and teak entrances as well as colorful terrazzo floors.

Students uncover hidden architectural treasures

Atul Kumar actually works in finance, but art deco is his passion. It is part of a citizens’ initiative that, together with the conservation architect Abha N. Lambah, fought to ensure that Mumbai’s unique architectural combination became a World Heritage Site: In the second half of the 19th century, the public buildings were built in the Victorian-Gothic style, at the beginning of the 20th The Art Deco buildings were added in the 19th century. The “spectacular ensemble” has been added to the World Heritage List, according to Unesco’s statement.

Atul Kumar is now running a second project: together with two architects and a designer, he tracks down other Art Deco buildings all over Mumbai and documents the finds 651 buildings have now been entered on an interactive map. “And we’re not even halfway through,” says Kumar happily.

In the meantime, he also goes to schools: The classes go through the metropolis as “deco detectives” and search for hidden architectural treasures. They have already found three more.

You can register for the guided tours that Kumar and his team offer along the Oval Maidan at the weekend on the Art Deco Mumbai website. However, the tours are currently suspended due to the corona pandemic.

Expression of the striving for a modern India

In the past, when Mumbai was still standing on seven islands, the Arabian Sea was still here. But an ambitious land reclamation measure was followed by a construction boom in the 1930s to meet the demands of the growing middle and upper classes.

It was young Indian architects who built the first Art Deco houses on the Oval Maidan under strict conditions from the British, inspired by their studies in Europe. The Indian “deco masters” created their very own style here, enriched with traditional and mythological motifs from India and Egypt – which is why there is often talk of Indo-Deco.

But above all, their modern buildings held a message to the colonial masters. Opposite, a few meters away on the other side of the Oval Maidan, the British had erected Victorian-Gothic symbols of their colonial power that were visible from afar for decades: the Bombay High Court, the university or the 85 meter high Rajabai Clock Tower in the style of Big Ben .

The contrast couldn’t be greater. “There was an effort for a modern India, for a free society. The first signs of this were evident in the new architecture. Freedom came later, however, ”says Atul Kumar. In 1947, the year of Indian independence.

Enthusiasm for films attracted people to the cinema

It was the same time that Mumbai’s elite lifestyle was fashionable. Enthusiasm for films attracted people to the new Art Deco film palaces such as the Regal Cinema in Colaba, Mumbai’s very first Art Deco building, or the imposing Eros Cinema in Churchgate.

Female figure in a niche: the Goodwill cinema on Grant Road in Mumbai (India)

A female figure in a niche: the Goodwill cinema on Grant Road

Source: The Image Bank Unreleased / Getty Images

The building resembles a wedding cake because it rises in rows topped by a tower. Or the Liberty Cinema in Marine Lines. Cinema films are still shown on the shelves and in the Liberty; a visit is definitely worthwhile.

At that time, the people of Mumbai were “caught” by their enthusiasm for “the streamlined, jazz-like style of Art Deco”, wrote the Indian author Naresh Fernandes in his book “Taj Mahal Foxtrot” (only in English).

Jazz conquered the ballrooms of the hotels

At the same time, jazz music conquered the city’s hotel ballrooms, especially in the “Taj Mahal Palace Hotel”. In the 1930s, the first African-American jazz musicians played in big bands and inspired Indian musicians to adapt their fast-paced swing.

Mumbai soon had its own jazz stars such as Goa-born Antonio Xavier Vaz aka Chic Chocolate, who is considered the “Indian Louis Armstrong”. Or the jazz trumpeter Frank Fernand, who was looking for ways to give “western” jazz an Indian touch.

“At its peak, jazz seemed to perfectly embody the spirit of Bombay,” writes Naresh Fernandes. “A slightly wild port city that knew that a melody sounds much better if there is room for instruments with very different timbre and sound.” But, Fernandes continues, “this era is over.”

Jazz in India: cool sessions are the order of the day in Mumbai's clubs and lounges

Everything jazzed: cool sessions are announced in Mumbai’s clubs and lounges

Credit: mauritius images / Dinodia Photo

Not quite. There are still shops where Bombay’s jazz spirit can be felt. Every Saturday from 10pm there is, for example, “Late Night Jazz” in the lounge restaurant “Veranda” in Bandra, with changing gigs, at least that was before the Corona crisis.

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Further to the sea, right on Marine Drive, lined with Art Deco buildings, there are regular jazz concerts in the Tata Theater of the National Center for the Performing Arts – as well as the annual “NCPA International Jazz Festival”.

And in some bars and cafes like “Rodeo Drive” or “Bandra Vibes” couples are spinning on the dance floor. When asked why they love to dance to swing music, the answer is often: “I feel so free!”

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Tips and information

Getting there: For example, usually with Lufthansa or Air India non-stop from Frankfurt.

Accommodation: “Taj Mahal Palace” is considered the best address (, from 307 euros per double room. The neighboring “Hotel Harbor View” is an art deco hotel, from 101 euros per double room (

Art Deco Tours: Architectural walk “Gothic & Art Deco”, Five Senses Tours, from 46 euros,; Art deco tours of one and a half hours on weekends, from 35 euros,

Other tips:

The author is one of several media ambassadors India-Germany of the Robert Bosch Foundation, she has been reporting from Mumbai for two months.

This text is from the WELT AM SONNTAG. We would be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

WELT AM SONNTAG from March 22, 2020

Source: World on Sunday


Belgium: How bubonic plague disappeared in Wallonia

The Wallonia region

Montan industry – this term, often associated with waste dumps and pollution, has long stood in the way of Walloon tourism. Those who traveled to Belgium traveled to Dutch-speaking Flanders and the North Sea; The highly industrialized, mostly French-speaking half of the country south of the capital Brussels, however, was avoided by many travelers.

At most, the Ardennes attracted visitors as the site of the World War. However, with the end of mining, industrial tourism developed around Charleroi, which has been strongly supported by Unesco since the turn of the millennium, placing the four hard coal mines and four historical boat lifts on the Canal du Center on the world heritage list.

In recent years, the Notre-Dame of Tournai and historical buildings in Mons, Binche, Thuin, Tournai have been added. This means that there are 19 World Heritage Sites in Hainaut alone – one of five Walloon provinces.

Wallonia in Belgium

Source: Infographic The World

The wooded south of Belgium, which is crossed by canals and rivers, is also scenic. Incidentally, French is not the official language in the easternmost part of Wallonia: German has always been spoken in Eastern Belgium, around Eupen and St. Vieth.

Spectacle in memory of the bubonic plague

All of Mons is looking forward to June 7 when the bones of Sainte Waudru (St. Waltraud) are driven through the city – as it did in 1349 when the bubonic plague ruled Wallonia. At that time, the plague miraculously disappeared after the procession.

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Since then, every year in honor of Waltraud – she was regent in the 7th century and later abbess of the region – on Trinity Sunday Ducasse de Mons. The multi-day spectacle, accompanied by parades, is part of the intangible world heritage.

Will the saint also help fight Corona? Mons seems to be hoping that the city is vehemently opposing the provincial governor’s plans to cancel the festival.

Tour with a boat on the Rubicon

The guides call the guillotine the lowest point in the caves of Remouchamps: visitors must bow their heads in order not to toast.

If you enter the caves, the “longest underground trip in Belgium, maybe even the world” awaits you, according to the Walloon Tourist Office. Half of the 1500 meter tour is done by boat on the cave river called Rubikon.

Wallonia in Belgium: A visitor to the Remouchamps caves

Credit: Getty / EyeEm / Kester Looser

The boat lift is unique in the world

The “Land of Genius” is the name of the adventure course through the Strépy-Thieu boat lift near Mons. This is no exaggeration, because the huge steel rope elevator, with the help of which ships weighing up to 3000 tons are hoisted 73 meters, is unique in the world.

Each of the two troughs weighs 8,000 tons, is 112 meters long, eight meters deep and hangs on 144 steel cables. The machine room with the steel rope threads is part of the tour. On Sundays, from May to August, visitors can pass the elevator by ship (

The Strépy-Thieu boat lift near Mons in Wallonia (Belgium)

Credit: PA / imageBROKER / Jochen Tack

Beer from Belgium is a World Heritage Site

Of the 250 Belgian breweries, only six are allowed to bear the Trappist seal – Chimay from the Notre-Dame de Scourmont monastery in the Walloon province of Hainaut is the best-known brew of the Cistercian order.

A great success, because the yeast responsible for the typical beer taste, which provides notes of orange, coriander, nutmeg, raisin and caramel, was only cultivated in the 1940s. In 2016, Belgium’s beer was added to the list of intangible world cultural heritage.

Water sports on the lake

The Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure covers 6.17 square kilometers; the four-kilometer chain of lakes is the largest in Wallonia. In the 1970s, dammed with dams for energy production, the five lakes are now a popular destination for bikers, anglers, kayakers, divers and windsurfers. The “Ironlakes Triathlon” is to be held here on September 19 and 20 (

Memory of the battle in the Ardennes

For the US Army, the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944, with 20,000 deaths, was the bloodiest in the Second World War. The battle for Bastogne was particularly lossy. A museum opened in 2014 belongs to the culture of remembrance in the Walloon city (photo); it also offers tours to cemeteries and bunkers (

War museum in Bastogne, Wallonia (Belgium)

Credit: PA / imageBROKER / J. De Meester

The quote

“Many families are interested in our cycling and hiking offers, day tourists are more interested in the sights”

According to the Eupen tourist information office, the German-speaking region of East Belgium in the Liège province of Wallonia has had increasing visitor numbers since 2012 – to just under 190,000 last year. The German-speaking community comprises nine municipalities with around 80,000 inhabitants; it is the smallest of Belgium’s three political communities.

Whimsical, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional customer series here.

This text is from the WELT AM SONNTAG. We would be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.

WELT AM SONNTAG from April 5, 2020