And for the culmination of our trip: a visit to the Miniature Wünderland!!
Up at the bright early time of 6:15, so we could be out on the streets of the city by 7:15, for an arrival at Miniature Wünderland by 8:00.
We made it with ten minutes to spare.
At 8:00 we were in!
I was introduced to The Miniature Wünderland by the jeweler who sold me Turquoise’s engagement ring two and a half years ago. He showed me some video clips of the place and from then on, I knew I wanted to visit.
I’m a very fortunate guy that my wife enjoys going to see all of the railroad exhibits with me. Even seems to like them!
When we walked into the first room of exhibits, I knew we were looking at multiple dioramas, but it took some looking to realize what they were, since all signage was in German.
There were eight displays showing the Hamburg Region at different periods in time, starting with around 800 AD, running through WWII. They were really fascinating to see, with the swampy river shores and primitive fortresses, castles and bridges, industrial build up. They had scenes representative of the period, too, like a scene from the late 1930s showing Nazi troop assemblies, but without the swastikas, since it is still illegal to display them in the country.
The next set was really fascinating, too. They depicted a border crossing between East and West Germany between 1945, right after the war, up to 1989 when the Berlin Wall was torn down. From the historical perspective, it brought to life what it must have been like to live in Berlin during that era.
And then, into the belly of the beast!!
The displays at the Wünderland are broken up by region for the most part. There are layouts for Switzerland, Austria, Scandinavia, two parts of Germany and America. And then there is the city of Hamburg.
There are cars and trucks and, of course, running trains. A functional airport, with planes taking off and landing! And a spaceport with a launchable space shuttle!
There are craggy mountains and river carved valleys. Inlets with real water for cruise ships to traverse. And a cruise ship to traverse them!
There are thousands of buildings. Apartments and houses, churches and castles. Factories. Houses. Concert and sports venues.
Festivals and carnivals. Sporting events.
And in all of it, there are people. Some 300,000 of them! People sleeping, shopping, bathing, playing sports, even one dead guy at the bottom of a creek. People in traditional and modern clothes, casual clothes and no clothes.
We spent six hours looking at the exhibits. And we only called it a day because our feet were getting tired and we we were hungry.
Much to our surprise, there is actually a cafeteria at the venue. And it is extremely reasonably priced, as are their souvenirs!
There is so much to take in that it could take weeks to really see it all. And even then, I’m sure you’d find something new every time you visited!!
Coming to Hamburg to see the Miniature Wünderland was completely worth the expense of getting to Hamburg and staying there. Granted, we probably spent as much on food while were there as we did on lodging and transportation, since we minimized those by being in Europe and using points for the hotel, but if we were to do it again, and I do hope we do, I’d actually be willing to save for that trip alone!!
I recommend the place to everyone who loves trains and models and has a good sense of wonder. It is most definitely a wonderland of epic, if epically miniature, proportion!!
After the Miniature Wünderland, we decided to head back to St. Michael’s, the church that we passed by in the late afternoon of the previous day. The weather was much better, sunny, but with a slight chill to the air, especially near the water. Perfect to see the city from the observation deck!
As it was of the Lutheran denomination, the church was quite different than many we’d seen. For one, it was very bright, with clear glass, instead of stained glass windows. The inside was painted in pure white with many gold accents.
The crypt was different, too. For one, it was one very large room with many multiple columns supporting the floor above. It was very cool.
Once through the crypt and the church, we headed up to the top of the tower, which sits at about 100 meters above the ground.
What a view!!! Having never seen Hamburg before, we only had the Miniature Wünderland version to compare it with and you’d be surprised how many landmarks we were able to identify because of that!!
After seeing the city from above, we headed back to ground level to make our way back to the hotel and a second night’s dinner at ‘Schiffer Börse’.
The dinner was as amazing as the night before. Both of us had the weinerschnizel and I tried out their weizen alcohol-free beer. All of it was fantastic!
Once dinner was finished, we headed back to the Reichshof to finalize our packing for the big trip home!