Kiri and


Little people in Hamburg

May 17th, 2014 (by Steve)

The open road. A stretch of autobahn with no speed limit. No restrictions. You can almost feel the wind in your hair. Apart from the fact that you’re in a 24 year old motorhome who is already aerodynamically lacking without opening any windows. And thus, we found ourselves pootling along at 90kph, being overtaken by cars going literally twice as fast. We did manage to hit 100kph at one point, going slightly downhill with a back-wind, but that obviously scared Bertha as she started trembling. We eased off.

From Osnabrück, we didn’t want to go straight to Hamburg, so we meandered around a little, taking in the German way of life. In the rain. Let’s say the highlights on the way to Hamburg were:

  • A strategic dinner of beans on toast (chosen because it would produce the least condensation of any hot meal; we couldn’t open the vents due to the rain)
  • An awesome double rainbow in Oldenburg – I know that it’s just raindrops refracting light to split it into its component colours, but rainbows still really excite and amaze me.
  • A request for an interview from a finance company (we politely declined, as we don’t want to be inadvertently endorsing a company or product we know nothing about)
  • Browsing the web using Lynx and the “view-source:” in Chrome to use less bandwidth

As we were living through these thrilling events, we passed the 4 week mark of this second leg and chose to mark it by having a brief confab about progress and a rough route plan. Kiri’s conclusion was that we needed to “get a wriggle on”. I got excited, then realised that she meant we needed to travel longer distances each day.


So, Hamburg. Why did we choose to go to Hamburg? Our route through Germany has largely been dictated by the concept of umweltzones; low emission zones. As you can imagine, Bertha is not the most efficient vehicle and therefore her punishment is that she’s not allowed inside many of the cities in Germany, so Hannover was out of the question, as was Bremen… but Hamburg doesn’t have a low emission zone (we guess because it’s an industrial hub), so we headed there. Upon arrival, we parked up and wandered to the Miniatur Wunderland. Now we’re little people. We like other little people. Therefore, the prospect of seeing a little model world with lots of people excited us. Jason and Julie had raved about it, so we knew it would be worthwhile. And we weren’t disappointed.

We got there 2.5 hours before it shut for the day, thinking that this would be plenty of time to see everything; after all, it’s just a model railway with a few added extras, right? Wrong. It’s not possible to fully describe in words the level of detail that has gone into this model world. It’s impressive at both the micro and macro levels and it’s most definitely not just about the trains. There’s a fully functional airport with planes that take off and land, there’s a music festival with hundreds of miniature fans, all doing different things, there’s a petrol station with a price board that reflects the current price of fuel and there are hundreds of little cameo scenes; bank heists, inappropriate activities in bushes, murder scenes etc. Oh, and the whole thing cycles between day and night every 15 minutes, where the headlights, brake lights and indicators on every vehicle come into their own. The whole thing is controlled from a command room that wouldn’t look out of place as a city traffic control centre. We saw about half of it in 2.5 hours and definitely intend to return at some point.


Yesterday we decided the best way to view the full-sized city of Hamburg would be to do a free walking tour (like we’d done in Amsterdam). Our guide this time had a very different style to the passionate and charismatic Robbert, but he was extremely knowledgeable and informative in talking through the history of his city. He spoke particularly sensitively about the city and its place within World War 2, drawing special attention to stumbling stones and speaking highly of the anti-war memorial of St. Nikolai church; a church that’s part of Coventry Cathedral’s cross of nails network.

The merchants’ quarter formed part of the tour, as did a church with an organ played by Bach and the new harbour development, featuring the under-construction symphony hall. But most interestingly (maybe a slight exaggeration!), we found out that in the early days of the city, it was the brewers who basically ran Hamburg, due to their pioneering use of a “secret” ingredient in the brewing process. Hops. Well, the first brewing of beer with hops may have started in Germany, but so far on the “beer loop” of our tour (as this second leg has been named by Pig and Porter), Belgium is still winning in terms of taste.


With the Holsten Stark and Astra Urtyp sampled, we felt we’d had a good taste of Hamburg, so it was time to hit the road once again. Now this was the point in the second loop that we were going to head north into Scandinavia, but sadly we’ve realised that time and budget wouldn’t stretch to that. So, as a compromise, we set sail for Lübeck, to stay at the motorhome point in the IKEA car park! Ah, Sweden!

All posts about Germany

Homeward bound

Barefoot in the Black Forest

Ups and downs in Bavaria

Melting in Munich

Fußball und Achterbahnen

Just another brick in the wall

Speeding in the sunshine

Little people in Hamburg

Currywurst with a side of pondering

3 Responses

Hi Kiri and Steve,

So you made it to the Fatherland! Glad you’re back on the road. We have 4 months until we set sail and can’t wait to go! If you’re in the mood for more rural surroundings, the lueneburger heide in Niedersachsen is a lovely area for kicking back and relaxing in the great outdoors. Not sure if you have bikes with you but there are some good biking routes around there too. The stellplaetze cost between 6 and 9 euros for 24 hrs.

Happy travels and maybe we’ll see you on your way back through northern Germany…! 🙂

I am so glad you enjoyed miniatur wonderland – we loved it there!

Keep truckin’

Ju & Jay

Hi fellow travellers 🙂 Ju + Jay; we wouldn’t have gone to Miniatur Wunderland if it wasn’t for your recommendation, so thank you – we intend to return at some point when we have more time on our hands 🙂

Pete, Sue + Powell, great to hear that you’re hitting the road soon. Thanks for the recommendation about Niedersachen; sadly we’ve passed through there already and we’re nearly at the Polish border… we’ll try to keep you posted on when we plan to return through Germany.

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