December 2, 2020

Hamburg (July 5 – July 7)

Continuing the adventure that started in Singapore, stopped in Copenhagen, and now in Hamburg, Germany…

After arriving, Pat and I went to our hotel, Centro Hotel Boutique 56, across the street from the station; Jenny’s family had and hour to look around before boarding a train to Berlin and the start of their adventure, traveling through Europe.

Our room at the hotel was at the front, facing the station. No air conditioning, so the windows had to be left open all night. Less than ideal, as the street noise (cars, police and the restaurant below our window) PLUS no lift!

Ever stop somewhere where you probably shouldn’t have? Although we had wanted to visit Hamburg to see the Miniatur Wunderland, this was not when we should have done it. The city was preparing for the G20 meeting the coming weekend.

Our friends, Jim and Mary Jane, had visited the Miniatur Wunderland, a couple of years ago and recommended it to us. This is a fantastic model train – bills itself as the largest model railroad in the world. I have no problem believing them! As the brochure points out, there are:

  • 1,040 locomotives
  • 280 moving cars and trucks
  • 385,000 lights
  • 260,000 figurines
  • flight simulation of Knuffingen Airport
  • 15,400 meters of track (9.6 miles)
  • controlled by 50 computers
  • 9 areas
Make sure to click on these photos to see a larger version and all their details:

One of the best areas is the airport, with planes taking off and landing, ground vehicles moving around, including fire-fighting equipment rushing to a crashed plane.

After a couple of hours watching trains, we left to walk to the fish market. Unfortunately the stalls had already closes so the only things still open were restaurants.

On the way back toward our hotel, we passed through an area where preparations were underway to protest the G20. All along the area between the fish market and the train station we saw large groups of police and military (some convoys of police had over 20 cars). Some businesses along our route were boarding up their windows. All day, and most of the night, we heard sirens.

By the time we ventured out for dinner the streets were eerily empty of cars. Like the scene in an apocalypse movie. Pat picked up a “Welcome to Hell” poster and I thought for sure out photos were taken and added to a database somewhere. Gulp!

At the recommendation of Jim’s sister, we ate dinner at the Old Commercial Room, across from St. Michaelis church, which we had visited earlier in the afternoon. We were glad for the recommendation. The food was excellent and with the G20 disruption we were able to get a good table immediately – not a busy night for them.

Below are a couple of photos, taken while we walked around.

Then next morning, our train to Paris (via Cologne) was supposed to leave at 07:00. When we arrived, there were large groups of police patrolling the building and the platforms. Many of them were carrying automatic weapons; all wore bullet-proof vests and helmets. Not exactly something that makes anyone feel comfortable – we could easily become “collateral damage”.


Our train did not arrive at our platform on time – it was nearly 2 hours late because of delays in other cities while the police checked boarding passengers headed to Hamburg. Any German train that is late by more than 90 minutes is cause for a ticket price refund. We have submitted the paperwork – we’ll see.

Because of the delays leaving Hamburg, we arrived in Cologne, several hours late and missed our connection to Paris. The next scheduled train to Paris would not get us to Gare du Nord until after midnight. This meant we would not get to meet our AirBnB hosts and get instructions about their place.

In order to arrive in Paris at a more reasonable time, we caught a train to Brussels, and then on to Paris, arriving in Paris about 7:30 PM – still too late to meet our hosts.

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