So, where were we? Oh yes, somewhere along the Willy Brandt Strasse and on our way to the Hafen City, a new development area of Hamburg where there were several places of interest. First, we have to cross the road by means of the Cremonbruecke which strangely has escalators going down but steps going up. Never mind, we’re all for building our appetites – or maybe, still working off the rather huge breakfast we’d enjoyed this morning.
Cremon is a street which dates back to the 13th century port and around here are the oldest buildings, many still in use. Actually, we’ve booked a table for dinner in a restaurant nearby this evening, but for now, we’ll just get a feel for the place and carry on towards the waterfront.
Actually, looking a little more closely down there, we spot the new Elbphilharmonie construction which sadly isn’t going to be ready for quite some time but which looks spectacular from what we’ve read.
Oh, and looking back from where we came, there is the tower of the Nikolaikirche, which offered the viewpoint from the top. It’s easy to see why it created such a stir when it was constructed, isn’t it?
A few steps further and we’re by the water, in an area of the city which reminds us of Liverpool – warehouses, a few boats here and there and quite a bit of modern development.
They’re touting for business on the small harbour boats, offering tours of the warehouse district and of the wider harbour, but we have plans already, because we’ve just spotted a sign on the building opposite. The Miniatur Wunderland was recommended to us by our friends and had also featured on Michael Portillo’s programme recently – we’d been told that, however hokey it sounded, it was worth a visit. So visit it we will!
We cross the waterway to get to it, growling about the silly locks which are all over the bridge as we go.
Reaching the entrance, I am bewildered. We’ve spent the whole morning in a more or less empty city and here, suddenly we are besieged by crowds of people who seem to have appeared from nowhere. Come on – let’s not hang about with the smokers, but go straight inside and see what’s what. We climbed the five flights of stairs inside the warehouse and eventually reached the entrance.
We were greeted by a young woman who asks if we had tickets. Well, no…we’d intended to buy them here, of course. At this point, we were herded into an empty room which quickly filled with people, standing around, waiting…for what? Eventually, when the room was more or less full, the young woman came in, closed the door behind her and proceeded to explain in pretty unrelenting German that there were no tickets available, that the earliest tickets were for 12.30pm (it was now 11am) and those would entail a 30 minute wait. If we wanted, we could buy tickets for this evening, which would have no wait at all, or come back another time when it was less busy.
Such a complex ticketing system clearly baffled the natives too – it wasn’t just us – and most people shuffled off with a harrumph, which is exactly what we did! We’d wasted fifteen minutes hanging around here and didn’t intend to waste a moment longer, so we went back down the stairs and out into the fresh air. What to do now?
The answer lay a little further along the street, where a small visitor centre explained the Hafen City concept with some excellent displays and a large model.
The Hafen City is the island with the terracotta coloured buildings on, there in the distance. The terracotta church left of centre is the ugly church we’d passed first thing this morning, and the curved structures were the Chilehaus and surrounding area.
There was a small cafe here too, so as well as giving us a chance to get our bearings, to work out the city and the environs, it was good to take a small break. Though we hadn’t walked that far, we hadn’t really stopped since we started, if you get my drift.
It was a good chance to plan our next move as well. How about the Maritime Museum, just up the road, then?
Off we set, through the modern development where a few old ships were moored. The wind is pretty brisk around the water, though, so we wrapped up warm and didn’t hang about.
Still not so many people around – it feels quite strange. How many of these apartment blocks are occupied, we wondered? Would it feel different on a workday?
One small “box” is actually a visitor centre for the Elbphilharmonie and a woman is giving a lecture to a group of people. We creep around the back and take a peek up in the “cockpit” where there was a model of the main auditorium. It’ll be nice when it’s finished
Actually, it’ll be like this when it’s finished – quite unusual layout and a multipurpose auditorium with very carefully designed seating.
But come along, having decided we’ll go to the museum, let’s get there, shall we?
We pass the statue of Klaus Stoertebecke and cross the bridge to the museum entrance.
It’s a fine old building, isn’t it?
We decide to begin on floor 9 and work our way down through the exhibits, so jump in the lift and get out on the top floor. This is what we see.
Can you see what it is?
A little closer.
I think this room contains a model of every ship there ever was. Each one is carefully labelled, arranged according to country of registration and beautifully, impeccably ordered.
There are rows upon rows of them, tiny tiny little things for the most part.
The men in my family are in seventh heaven!
Actually, I find it quite interesting too and set out to look for my three favourite Nassau-registered ships though sadly, they appear to be missing. Shame.
So I wander about and marvel at the precision, even where there are numerous variations on a theme, whilst my Hero and his boy gasp at the sight of some aircraft carrier or other.
There’s an interesting display of how the models are constructed, too and once again, the precision and accuracy is faultless. No wonder this is such an amazing collection.
But of course, it’s time to move on eventually, and working our way down through the floors we are fascinated by the wealth of information contained in this unassuming place. There are great displays about undersea exploration and oil drilling.
There are displays about passenger ships and liners – here is a mock up of a suite on Sea Cloud, a modern cruise ship.
Sometimes, whilst the men went off to investigate naval history or something, I took the chance to rest my feet and do a little people watching. That’s as fascinating for me!
Of course, where they came across something which they felt I should see, they came to let me know – like this display about Grand Admiral Tirpitz, whose figure stood alongside his “decorations”
When awarded a new one, Edward suggested he might say, “just put it on the pile”!
I always enjoy learning a little about the individuals, so this picture of KapitaenLeutnant Weddingen and his fiancee prompted me to find out who he was and what he did.
The display of military headgear caught someone’s eye too. Always one for a fancy hat, Edward would have given his eye teeth for that little number with the gold insignia, I can tell you!
Nearing the ground floor, the displays of uniforms were fascinating, and in particular I was glad to see that the “Marinehelferinnen” (Auxiliary Naval Women) were “traditionally built”!
No room for arguments here, don’t you agree?
We exited through the gift shop, resisting all kinds of model ship temptation and retraced our steps back through the Hafen City.
The small, original buildings which remain amongst the new builds give a clue to how it might have been some years ago and reminded me a lot of the town docks in Hull, where my Grandad worked in a small Customs house amongst the waterways and warehouses, much like this one.
Soon, we reached the end of the development and stood in front of the River Elbe.
Looking back, there was the Elbphilharmonie and the rest of the Hafen City. The clouds were gathering and there was an icy blast off the water, so we didn’t hang around.
Instead, we kept on walking, past a bunch of tugs which could join my collection of “Tugs of the World” – yes, really, I have a Flickr set
Originally we’d intended to take one of the harbour tours this afternoon, maybe catch a ferry boat over the river or something, but as it was chilly and we’d enjoyed the museum so much, we simply kept on going, aiming for the tower, there to the right of the picture.
By the Landungsbruecken, in the St Pauli area, there was just one more thing which interested us. It was to be found under the dome there at the end of the path.
The Elbtunnel, a masterpiece of engineering and well worth a visit, we thought. Come on though, I’m not walking down when there’s a sign there for a lift!
Sure enough, down there is a tunnel under the river.
Ok. Seen it. Been there.
Time to catch the lift back up again and make our way back to the hotel. Enthusiasm and our enjoyment of being here tempted us to walk back to the city centre, but weary feet and a drop or two of cold rain led us to the U bahn station.
In no time at all, we were back. That was easier than walking, wasn’t it!?
This evening, we’ll eat at Deichgraf and then tomorrow, we have a very early start. Well, two of us have (One of us fancies a sleep in and a late breakfast) To find out what takes us out at 6.30am on a Sunday morning in early January, you’ll need to wait till tomorrow. I hope it’s worth getting up for!