Walking Tours and A Miniature World
January 16th, 2015
07:00 AM CET
Rathausmarkt, Hamburg, Germany
Cloistered under an awning as a light drizzle falls down on the square, I join other bleary eyed tourists as we check in for the free Sandemans walking tour . The guide is cheerful as always and brandishing the signature red umbrella. Soon we’re off and walking, our host starting by taking us through the somewhat sordid history of the space around us but then talking about the promising rebounds that Hamburg has made in the wake of its war-torn past. The city is the second wealthiest in Germany, just behind Berlin.
We walk down cobbled streets through a mix of many decades of different architecture. Soon, we arrive at the memorial to the reason why little of Hamburg remains from prior to WWII: St. Nicholas’ Church. Left as a ruin and memorial to the horrors of war, it was used as a target for Allied forces during the carpet-bombing of Hamburg towards the end of WWII. An estimated 40,000 civilians died during these bombings. It’s an extremely sobering place and the guide talks through it with great respect.
Lightening it up, we continue on to the Speicherstadt, Hamburg’s historic warehouse district. Dozens of warehouses line narrow canals and our guide talks us through the history of the merchant class and the extensive trading that came through this port city. At the end of the tour, our guide tips us off to some of the best and cheapest food in the city, nestled in a row house amongst the docks.
After the tour, myself and a few others from the tour head over to the restaurant and tuck into some currywurst and other dishes. After lunch, I decide to break off and head to one of the most curious but often-mentioned attractions in Hamburg; Miniatur Wunderland.
Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg, Germany
Tucked in an inconspicuous warehouse in the industrial district, Miniatur Wunderland is supposed to be the worlds largest model train set. This is a drastic understatement. Room after room is filled with more tiny cities, mountains and landscapes than I could have imagined. The level of detail is beyond what I could believe. The closer you look at this incredible art installation, the more you discover. Cheeky humor persists throughout, from coffee-worshipping office drones to a tiny row house porn set (pictures below!).
Additionally, new scenes are being added every day. It brought me back to that childlike sense of wonder, peeking into little windows and seeing what new surprises I could find. Several hours went by in a blink. In the gift shop I pick up a little miniature VW Bus to bring home to dad. The light is waning so I set off back to the hostel to wind down for the day and begin to plan the route from Hamburg to Berlin.