Germany // Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein //


Though just 30km north of Schleswig, the commercial port of FLENSBURG is centuries apart in atmosphere. Pressed hard against the border of former owner Denmark, the “southernmost town of Scandinavia” is shaped by the deep-water port through which it has prospered; first as property of the Danish Crown – for centuries Flensburg outranked Copenhagen – then the German; it was claimed by Prussia in 1864, then threw in its lot officially in a plebiscite in 1920. Labels of cult local brew Flensburger Pilsner, with their royal Danish lions and merchant ship, sum up the history as succinctly as any icon. The trading past is also evident in the warehouse courtyards that burrow behind street-fronts, relics from an eighteenth-century rum trade founded on raw spirit imported from the Danish West Indies (now the US Virgin Islands).

Notwithstanding these pockets and the yuppification of wharves on the east bank, Flensburg has few airs or graces. It is a typical small port: knockabout, straightforward and host to a weekend pub-club scene fuelled by the local brew. Everything of interest in Flensburg is in the Altstadt on the west bank of the Flensburger Förde harbour.

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