The unglamorous side of living in a motorhome is emptying waste, and refilling fresh water. It’s even less fun when you’re in a camp ground, queued up with other campers taking their time to do the same. It feels like such a waste of time, but it’s a necessary task in a motorhome.
It was a long day of driving today. It felt like we didn’t really see much of The Netherlands, but there wasn’t that much that interested either of us. I briefly considered Harlem, but wasn’t motivated enough for the minor detour.
It was surprisingly hot today, with strong dry winds like a hair dryer. It was just our luck that the winds were blowing towards our direction of travel, making progress a little slower than it needed to be.
I’ve been finding the mattress a little hard on my bed, and wanted to get a memory-foam topper to give my shoulders some rest. I saw the sign for Ikea, and went to go investigate. It’s amazing how they all feel the same – Australia, Japan, Netherlands. They had mattress toppers, but not exactly what I was looking for. I was actually a little surprised that they have the same cheap and nasty (though guiltily delicious) food after the checkout counter. I couldn’t believe that you could buy a (small) hotdog for only €0.50. It won’t win awards, and I have no idea the quality, but with enough sauce and pickles, it was quite tasty – even if it did take three to fill me up.
The driving continued, and eventually we were in Country #14, Germany!
To break the driving up, we decided to stop in little Bremer. I hadn’t heard of the town, but Risa was familiar with a nursery rhyme about the Musicians of Bremer. I had to look it up, but it’s Brothers Grimm fairy tale of four farmyard animals that had reached the end of their useful lives, and decided to march to Bremen to become musicians. Misdirection – they never make it to Bremer, instead stopping to live in an abandoned farmhouse along the way.
Although we’d been driving all day, we didn’t arrive until 7PM. The skies were now darkening, and the wind was picking up, making temperatures far more pleasant for walking around in. There wasn’t much I wanted to see, just the main square surrounding the town hall, as well as some of the smaller alleys that used to be the houses of various craftspeople.
The town hall, and the twin-towered cathedral were surprisingly attractive. Both of us were surprised at the scale, and the detail, of these buildings. Of course, as we’d arrived so late, we had to be satisfied with viewing them from the outside.
It took us some time, but we eventually found the small statue of the Musicians of Bremer. And, it was just in time, as the lightening started to light the sky, moments before thunder echoed through the streets.
We started to pick up our pace, and jogged back towards the car, via a beautiful small pedestrian area. We wished we could have seen the area better, but we preferred to be dry inside our car, so the jog changed to a sprint, just as the rain started to thump down.
We made it to a small town mid-way between Bremer and Hamburg, in a strange grassy area between Lidl and Aldi. It was quiet, clean and free, so we didn’t have too many complaints.
It was a beautiful drive this morning from the small town we’d spent the night in. We were passing by beautiful old barns, along tree-lined boulevards and luscious green fields. It was also bucketing down rain, quashing any thoughts of walking around to snap a quick photo – not that there were many opportunistic places to stop.
Using the park4free application, which I’m starting to really love, we found a free park in a car park near a church. We hadn’t decided if we were going to spend the night or not, but it was nice to have the option available to us if we needed. It was a short walk to a nearby U-bahn station, and an even shorter ride into the centre of town.
Rather than head straight to the centre, we took a slight detour to the hipster-ish area along the Schanzenstrasse. It felt so different to the nice quiet and leafy area we’d parked in. One of the first things I noticed, other than two cheeky youths begging for money using a cup and a fishing rod, was a McDonalds that had temporary wooden panels installed in the windows. At first, I thought it was just a really run down McDonalds, but I eventually realised that it was likely smashed as a part of the G20 protests that took place here two weeks earlier. There were dozens of other shopfronts that either had wooden boarding installed, or still had fractured panes of glass.
We came to this area at the recommendation of a friend, suggesting areas to find interesting street art. We did our best to wander around, down smaller alleys, but we didn’t find a great deal of interesting artwork. We did however find more and more signs of the G20 protests that took place.
The other area our friend had suggested was Karolineviertel, which was only a short walk away. On the way, we noticed a few cool three-dimensional pieces of artwork. I didn’t realise at first that they were by the same artist. I wish I’d payed more attention and looked for further pieces of their art. Push
It felt much trendier in this area, and a little more gentrified. The artwork grew in scale and quality, some of which covered entire buildings.
Another quick U-Bahn into the centre of town to see the Town Hall (Rathaus), but were momentarily distracted by a giant fountain.
The town hall is every bit as grand as described. It was once again larger and grander than I expected. I’m loving the oxidised green rooves, but it’s still novel after all the time we’ve spent in southern Europe.
Taking the advice of friends (and our guidebook), we pre-purchased tickets to visit the Miniatur Wunderland. The earliest we could when I booked last night was 5:30PM. We hadn’t seen much of Hamburg, but other than the harbour, there wasn’t too much more I wanted to see.
It was a short walk to the Miniatur Wunderland from the centre of town, taking us past some enormous and beautiful old brick buildings.
The Miniatur Wunderland was probably one of the best attractions that I have seen so far on our travels, and we were there until they closed just before midnight. If they weren’t closing, and we had of stopped for a proper meal and a rest, we could have stayed much longer. I took hundreds (seriously) of photographs, so it’ll get its own blog post – here.
It was nearly midnight once we left Miniatur Wunderland. Through a stroke of amazing fortune, the rains had been and gone, and we walked out into a cool and clear evening, with wet shiny footpaths. We powered through the evening, stopping only for a quick snack of some fried potato – again. I had been curious to see what the fuss was about the Reaperbahn, but it was a little too far to walk, and too late to get home on public transport.
We walked back to the town office, where there was an enormous outdoor cinema, screening Taxi Driver of all things. I love that movie, and if it wasn’t midnight, and if I wasn’t exhausted, and if public transport would have gotten me home, I’d have pulled up a chair and stayed to watch it again. Instead, we grabbed some wurst and returned back to our van a little around 1AM to sleep. I remembered again just how different this trip is to our one around Australia, where we were finished sightseeing by 6PM most nights, and relaxing in bed watching TV by 8PM.
It was yet another late night, which has been happening a lot recently. I don’t know if it was co-incidental, but I was feeling pretty unwell and generally lethargic. I also noticed that my wrist was incredibly painful, and the only thing I could put it down to was six hours of rather intense photography – though, I’d have thought that I’d be in reasonable shape after the last four months of daily photography.
Staying in Hamburg overnight gave us a second chance to catch some of the things we’d been interested in doing yesterday, but was clearly being ambitious with time. We headed straight to the harbour area to check out the enormous docks, as well as eat some famous fish sandwiches.
I’m sure it was no coincidence, but Risa and I both saved the same restaurant to try the fish sandwich from – Brucke 10. We managed to find a park on the street a short walk away. This short walk was fortuitous, as we had to pass by an interesting little beach bar that seemed to be built using reclaimed materials – and with a prime view of the Hamburg shipping docks, with all their glorious cranes. This was only part sarcastic, I was actually quite interested in seeing the large dock area, even if it’s quite an eyesore.
It was pretty easy to find Brucke 10, as it was the only place with a queue for food. The was a menu in German, which neither of us had any idea about. Fortunately they had food in the window for us to point to, but unfortunately it didn’t have any prices on them. They only accepted cash, of which I had very little on me. Risa ambitiously ordered a smoked salmon sandwich AND one filled with Norwegian prawns, which happened to be €11, and was quickly put back in the display cabinet. I went for a much more modestly priced crumbed and fried fishcake-thing, which I assume was made using some type of white fish. I’m not a seafood lover, but even I will admit, they were both good – the bun was the weak link in this ‘meal’.
We were parked a short distance from Reaperbahn, so we thought we’d tick that one off, too. I knew that it wouldn’t be very interesting to see during the day, but thought it was better than nothing. I was right, it wasn’t very interesting during the day, There were plenty of seedy bars, as well as small red light districts. The difference between the red light districts here and Amsterdam were it forbidding access to women (and minors), which makes it seem less of a tourist attraction. I’d heard that this is rather strictly enforced, and women can be verbally abused for entering.
The other thing we saw was the other site damaged from the rioting and protesting of the G20 summit. I was curious after seeing the damage yesterday, and read that the estimate was €40M worth of damage. At first that figure didn’t sound that terrible, but that was because I’m used to hearing enormous sums after natural disasters – this was human caused, and probably not entirely necessary to their cause.
I had mixed feelings about Hamburg. I’ve heard a few friends sing the praises of this town, and I could see fragments of an interesting town. But at the same time, there wasn’t much that really drew us to really like the city.
Onwards, on a long journey through to Legoland in Denmark!