13.02.2009 - 13.02.2009 5 °C
So, we escape the hedonistic clutches of Berlin and shoot three hours north to the beautiful port of Hamburg, all grand stone buildings, a bustling port, and very, very expensive neighbourhoods.
Oh, and snow.
Yes, I know I mentioned snow before, but on my first morning in Hamburg, it was BUCKETING down. Can snow bucket? Who cares, I'm Australian, I'm allowed. The snow was falling hard, and was fresh, so absolutely everything was covered in a fine layer of perfectly white, pure snow. I was amazed at how it covers even the tiniest twig, and the trees just look so magestic. And because the snow kept the suburbs inside, it looked like the outer suburbs of Hamburg were just frozen in time, like out of a fairytale or something.
Of course,the fairytale thing was broken by the fact that it was bitterly cold, snowing, and occasionally raining, but I don't mind that so much these days. Do I sound like I'm used to the climate yet?
We take the Metro into Spiecherstadt (Warehouse district) which is both the city centre, and a main attraction. Hamburg has man-made canals that run kilometres into the city, directly between the warehouses that are used to load the ships - the effect is such that the Spiecherstadt looks kinda like I would imagine Venice to look like, although perhaps a little bit more practical than romantic, but very shoon (German for beautiful) nonetheless.
One of the warehouses in the area is in fact no longer a warehouse, but is the world's premier destination for model train nerds. Oh yes - I went to ModelleBahn (Model World?) - over two hundred square metres of painstakingly hand-crafted replicas of cities around the world. And I really do mean PAINSTAKINGLY. Lets see - tens of thousands of individually programmed trains, cars and various city events run by a huge server farm to interweave perfectly. A fully functional day/evening/night/morning system, so you can observe all the cities at various times of day, complete with a change in activity within the city during those times. Everything was absoltely perfect - I mean, in one area there's a replica of a subway, and at the subway is a tiny display showing the schedule for the next train - you know, like one of the screens when you're standing at a train statinon wondering when the next train is going to arrive. Except here, they've ripped a 2cm diameter screen from an MP3 player, made a 30 sec movie to run on it showing train times, and installed it into the model. Insane! Nerdy, very nerdy - but totally awesome.
Anyway, lots of wandering around the city, eating, drinking and taking silly photos, as we seem to be want to do. It was snowing all day, so perhaps we'll get a chance to go on the cruise before we leave Hamburg, as apparently that's the real way to see the city. Will let you know!