Highlanders in Hamburg 1 - The indoor-outdoor day
I've been thinking about whether to turn our trip to Miniatur Wunderland into a Little Trekkers post, or not, for a long time. 3 months to be accurate - ever since our Hamburg trip last October. After all, Minatur Wunderland is all indoors, so surely that cannot be, by definition, a Little Trekker adventure?
After much mulling over though I decided it MUST be a blog post - we had so much fun, and it felt like world travel in a few hours, walking around small villages in Italy, watching the eruption of Mount Vesuvius even, gazing into the Grand Canyon, strolling around a German Biergarten, witnessing a fire in a city ... and we even made it to Austria, where I have not been for years.
So what is Miniatur Wunderland you will wonder by now? It is a huge model landscape in Hamburg in Germany. 15,400 metres of railtrack in a landscape of 1,490 m2 - which is situated in a 6,800 m2 indoor space. You can visit the German region of Harz, the fictitious city of Knuffingen (with its International airport), the Alps and Austria, Hamburg, the US, Scandinavia, Switzerland, and Italy. The exhibit includes 1,040 trains and 10,000 carriages, more than 100,000 trees, and over 250,000 human figurines.
We had seen a video on the internet some years ago and decided to visit one day, but it took until a few months ago when a friend moved to Hamburg to actually manage and go. We had arrived Thursday afternoon and Friday early morning we were out on a quest to explore the little wondrous land. The various landscapes are on several floors and when we arrived it was fortunately not too busy yet, so we had a chance to look at some of the fascinating details without having to jostle for space. I do admit that when we first entered I had my doubts that it was possible to happily spend some HOURS there - I'm notorious for getting easily bored in museums, but what I had not realised was that it was the details that drew you in.
All the little miniature humans (and animals) are carefully crafted and are actually doing things - they are engaged in conversations with others, or walking with purpose, or looking at things, or chasing a shopping trolley gone astray or running after kids ... once you start looking carefully you forget about time and just observe.
Of course there are lots of big and impressive events too. Trains are thundering past, lorries deliver, cable cars go up and down mountains. One of the main attractions and busiest parts is the airport where you can see aircraft land, take off, taxi to their positions. There is a live departure and arrivals board and it all feels very real, not the least because day and night changes regularly and you develop a real sense of time passing.
During the morning more and more people arrive and it starts to get trickier to really get a good sight of everything. Some patience, and determination, and the odd elbow were required. I can imagine that for British tourists, used to orderly queues, this must be challenging. Around mid-day it certainly was no longer a place for those with claustrophobic tendencies (or worried to lose the children in the crowd).
A nice cafe helped up to keep up the energy and unsurprisingly after a couple of hours our feet actually started to hurt, as if we had been actually tramping through several parts of Germany, via a detour to several other countries.
Into our fourth hour we started to flag and if it had not been for wanting to see the new model of Mount Vesuvius erupt, in the dark, we would have probably drawn a line. But it was worth patiently making our way around Italy for a good view of this spectacular event.
After that we decided to call it a day. Miniatur Wunderland is set to expand and create models of even more countries, including France, Africa and Australia, until 2020. So we hope to return one day. Hopefully via a detour to a similar attraction, Grand Maket Rossiya in St Petersburg, the world's second largest model layout.
Oh yes, and I should mention it was a pleasant 'outdoor' adventure as we stayed dry on a rainy day in Hamburg!
About the Author
About Me & Mine
Monika (an Austrian in Scotland), Stewart (a true Highlander) and Corwin (8), plus 2 dogs and 5 cats. We live on a woodland croft in the parish of Assynt, in the far North West Highlands of Scotland.
Favourite place in the world:
Home - we are lucky to have mountains and beaches on our doorstep and Scotland generally; but we also love the mountains in my native Austria and have a soft spot for California, where we spent our honeymoon.
Favourite things to do outdoors:
Explovering (our personal term for exploring and discovering) mountains, lochs and beaches, camping, foraging, star gazing, Geocaching, developing our already wonderful woodlands into a magic place to share with family, friends and neighbours and fishing.