Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Second Look at Hamburg

At the end of November, I went to Hamburg with some new friends that I have made in Denmark.  I wrote a post about it, but really, I felt like I didn't have anything to say because I had spent most of my weekend there in various shopping locations--indoor and out.  Not that there was anything wrong with that trip, but I came home feeling like I had been to a city, but hadn't seen what the city was 'really like' (I know that's impossible to do in a weekend--I lived in DC for 6 months and was only beginning to see what it was really like) .  Around Easter weekend, Ed had a few days off of work and the dog kennel thankfully had an opening so we decided to go back to Hamburg for a couple nights.   

Before moving to Denmark, I doubt I had ever thought to myself "I would love to visit Hamburg"  While it is the 2nd largest city in Germany, it doesn't have the any big tourist attraction that an American would want to see--i.e. it's not a Paris, London or Amsterdam (maybe this is different for someone who has grown up in Europe and I am sorry if you are an American that has Hamburg at the top of your 'must see before I die' list! ). Anyway,  Ed is a huge fan of TripAdvisor so he spend several hours searching for the best hotel and what we could do in the city while we were there since it is not the season of Christmas Markets and Glühwein.  The number one thing to do in Hamburg according to TA is a museum called Mini Wonderland (watch the video if you have time! it's awesome!)  Well, we couldn't deny the fact that it was the top tourist attraction so we booked our time slot and set out Friday morning to see this giant Mini world.  Once arriving, I could totally see why this thing got such amazing reviews.  Unfortunately it was Easter weekend so it was packed! 

The lights would go down every 15 minutes or so and then it would 'be night' in the whole area.  Of course Las Vegas was in the America section

 It was fun to look at all the tiny little people and what they were doing. Some were doing perfectly normal things, while others, not so much!  Men cutting down trees that fall onto a house, a parking lot gate closing on the hood of a car....I think one could spend hours here if there were not the crowds of people!  When and if we go back, we will probably pick a middle of the week day in hopes of there being a few less people to contend with for rail space to peek at the sights.
 Our favorite part was the airport.  All the planes in this picture will eventually taxi to the runway and take off.  Others will land and take an empty gate.  I took a video of it but it really didn't turn out well so I will just let you watch the video on the Mini Wonderland website to see the planes in action.

 Mini Wonderland is near the water and several of Ed's colleagues recommended taking a boat tour through the loading docks of the port to see all the giant cargo ships up close.  We found only 1 tour company that offered the tour in English and we were there just in time so we set sail to see Europe's 2nd largest shipping port after Rotterdam in the Netherlands.  While taking pictures, it seemed like the pictures could convey the massiveness of each of the cargo ships but upon returning home and looking through the pictures, I realized that pictures did not do the size of the ships any justice!
View of the port from near the boardwalk

Mærsk, the Danish shipping company

I think this is a Chinese company.  The tour guide said it would take a boat of this size 21 days to sail from the North Sea to Hong Kong

 While we were going by, containers were being loaded and unloaded from the ships.  Our household goods sailed across the Atlantic on a ship like this.  After seeing all the hundreds...thousands of containers, we were kind of amazed that we ever saw our couch and dining table again.  It's amazing that they can keep track of all these moving boxes.

A South Korean company

Neat view through the lane of ships
I had to add this last picture because the boat we were sailing on was about the size of the small boat in this picture. Not a big size difference or anything :)
Our last big stop of the day was to climb the tower of St. Machaelis Church.  I think walking up to the top of tall structures with narrow stairs and stone walls is quickly becoming my favorite thing to do in Europe.  I'm trying to convince Ed that it is a good idea to visit Florence when I'm 7 or 8 months pregnant and walk/climb to the top of the Duomo. He doesn't seem convinced though....

 This only took us about 12 minutes though--wasn't too bad.  I've been using the elliptical or 'cross-trainer' as the Danes call it everyday for about 30 minutes but even that can't prevent huffing and puffing after 12 straight minutes of stair stepping.  The views from the top gave a neat perspective of the cities layout though so the climb was worth it. 
Port, St. Pauli and the infamous Reeperbahn in this direction (I don't think I actually wrote about the event that made the Reeperbahn infamous in my mind but it was interesting to say the least! )

The city center to the left side of the picture (Rathaus is the tower with green roof)

Warehouse district (with Mini wonderland) in the brick buildings in the background

And a few more pictures that both Ed and I took earlier in the morning.
Rathaus in the spring. Last time I was here, Santa Claus was flying over the square in his sleigh being followed by a strange plastic cloud with a seat for an angel who was along for the ride (I didn't get it either-I'll just include a blurry picture to show you)
Okay, now for a few pictures from Ed's camera (after my Santa Claus rabbit trail) and then I will close this picture-filled look at Hamburg!
Lake near our hotel- The George.  Great hotel, by the way. Nice rooms, fast check-in, underground parking garage.

Spring Daffodils in the morning

Kuchen, breakfast of champions- and coffee--real coffee for me :)  Obviously not all the time but I was on vacation!

Notice the banks of this waterway--it rises and falls with the tide despite being around 100 km from the North Sea

Mini Wonderland

Plane taking off--ignore the phone in hand.  They couldn't be avoided

Looking down the boardwalk (i guess the boardwalk isn't in the picture but this is where the water meets the land

Ed's favorite thing. He took a video but it's not on Facebook so I guess I can't share it here

I will never forget sunglasses again.  I'm like a mole in the sun after living in Denmark for a winter (notice the bell--what Ed has taken to calling my stomach.  I'm worried about the names if this size is considered a 'bell'!)

St. Michaelis from afar
At the entrance of St. Michaelis


  1. Mini Wonderland looks fantastic- so does the rest of Hamburg! I've noticed you can always tell the Americans here (England) because we're the only ones wearing sunglasses on white-cloud days!

  2. Have only used Hamburg for train changing and the airport so far...we REALLY have to get down there soon, especially after reading this. The boat tour sounds awesome (and for the record...I am European and never had Hamburg anywhere on my places to visit before I die either ;))

    1. Don't wait till the winter to go! It was definitely better to see it in the spring--summer would probably be even better. I'm glad to hear that even Europeans don't have Hamburg on their 'must see before i die' list!

    2. What is the company you used for the harbour tour? Contemplating going next weekend and would love to do the tour.

      And btw: how are plans for Florence going? ;) I spent a month in that area around 3 years ago and loved it! Do NOT forget to visit Siena was my absolute favourite place.

    3. I cannot remember the companies name now. It was the only one that offered a tour in English and it left around noon. If you go down to the area with all the tour boats and ask, someone will point you in the right direction (I'd think) our map of the city also included all the sightseeing to be done in hamburg and that was where we saw one company had a tour in English.