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Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg

A number of my Blog-Friends have posted about Miniatur Wunderland, but I didn’t know it existed the first time I visited Hamburg. I wish I had known, because it’s awesome and I want to go back sometime.  The place is so incredibly detailed, there’s no way I saw absolutely everything.  I’ll give you some examples…

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The exhibit is broken into sections.  There’s a Hamburg section, an America section, a Scandinavia section, Bavaria, Switzerland, and a large portion for the fictional town of Knuffingen.  One of the most amazing parts is the Knuffingen airport, a large and completely automatic airport with planes landing and taxiing to the gate every few minutes.   Oh, and every fifteen minutes, “night” falls and the lights change.

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I took some video of one of the landings, because it was amazing.

There are also lots of smaller things happening.  While I was there, this plane caught fire and tiny fire trucks raced over two it for about ten minutes…

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The imaginative people who put the exhibit together aren’t shy about nudity either.

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Speaking of the people behind the exhibit, they have a fairly sophisticated control system.  Their monitoring area is in the exhibition area, which has got to be incredibly distracting:

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…and they’re building new sections.  I’ll have to come back in a few years when England is built.  This section is going to be Italy!

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There were fires in other parts of Knuffingen, but the firemen were ready to roll!

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The core of Miniatur Wunderland is that it’s got automated model trains.  Miniatur Wunderland is the world’s largest model train, in fact, with more than 12,000 meters of track.

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There are lots of tiny jokes embedded throughout the Wunderland.  For example, this kid has tossed his shirt in the bushes and he’s running, naked and free!

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…while across the meadow, a pedophile watches him with binoculars.  Kind of creepy, but also a little bit funny.

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Meanwhile, in a giant field of flowers, another couple gets it on.

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The fair was also incredibly detailed, with a half dozen moving rides.  The ferris wheel, the spinny thing next to it, the bungee jump, and more, were all in motion.

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The sports stadium in the Hamburg section had a game on.

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One of the buildings in the Hamburg section opened up, and a tiny orchestra was playing-  the various pieces of the orchestra were moving.

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Meanwhile, in Scandinavia, weird shit is happening.  I don’t know if there’s a real place that looks like this.  It wouldn’t surprise me, though.

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Some of my favorite things were just little tiny gags that you might miss if you go through the Wunderland too fast.  Here, we see a mole who has been busted by the Polizei for digging a hole in the park.

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…and cows wearing scuba gear.  Seriously.

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Master criminals at work!

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…and in the America section, Area 51 has a Stargate!  (And little green dudes playing basketball!)

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When the Wunderland chooses to duplicate a real building, they do an amazing job of it.  Here’s tiny Miami Beach.

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… and here’s tiny Las Vegas.

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The Grand Canyon.

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They’re amazing at buildings, but I don’t think they really understand America’s relationship with sports.   The baseball player ready to hit the pigskin thrown by the football player while an elderly couple and a flamenco dancer look on is pretty confusing.

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The Wunderland makes up for that weirdness with lots of incredibly detailed tableaus.  Here’s a very intricately detailed concert.

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They’ve really thought of everything… the tiny concertgoing people even get a row of tiny porta-potties!

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…and in the crowd of that concert, I found more adventurous cows!  These two seem to be wearing shower caps.  Maybe it’s the scuba diving cows from earlier…

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There are also some exhibits near the cafe and restrooms of certain time periods in Germany.  Here’s the day that the Berlin Wall came down in 1989:

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…and here’s the bombed out city at the end of World War II.

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Have you ever been to Miniatur Wunderland?  What was your favorite part?

August Break: Tourism

I’m on an August Break from my regular blogging schedule. Here’s today’s pictures.

Regensburg is fairly popular with tourists.  Besides having a first rate Dom and a great Stone Bridge that has been in use since the Crusades. We’re also on the Donau river, and the river tour boats like to stop here, so it’s not uncommon to see tour groups in the Altstadt on weekends.

There’s also this, the city tour.  I went on it once-  It was interesting, but not the sort of thing I’d bother doing over again.  It’s fun to see this winding its way through the city on weekends though- if you hang out for a while, you’ll see it two or three times in a day.

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Have you ever been a tourist in your own city?

 

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One Week In The UK, Part One: London

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

Ever since I was eleven years old, I’ve wanted to see London.    My fascination with the city started when I would come home after school, running from the bus stop to catch the second half of the day’s broadcast of Dangermouse on Nickelodeon.  For the uninitiated, Dangermouse is the world’s greatest secret agent, a mouse in a white jumpsuit with an eye patch.  His assistant, Penfold, is a hamster in a tiny blue suit.   The link above is part of an episode.  To date, Dangermouse is still my favorite cartoon.

As I grew older, the UK criss-crossed my personal pop culture landscape.  Many movies I loved were filmed, in part, in Pinewood Studios about twenty miles outside of the city.  Here’s a very short and in no way complete list:  Superman and Superman II, the original Harryhausen Clash of the Titans, Pink Floyd: The Wall, Legend, the James Bond movies, Little Shop of Horrors, Aliens, the first two Hellraiser movies,  the 1989 Batman, The Fifth Element, Stardust, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (the single finest movie adaptation of a stage musical ever made), and The Dark Knight.  Granted, most of these didn’t showcase London, but they were made there, and in my brain, that counts.  Sweeney Todd has an entire song just about London, though.

I read every Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy book as it came out.  Tom Baker was my Doctor until 2005.  I watch Love Actually at least once a year.  A hefty portion of my regular television viewing comes out of the BBC.  My favorite living author is British.

My point is that I was predisposed to love London even before I ever dreamed of traveling there.  And I did, of course-  dream of traveling there.  When I finally got my passport back in 1996, it was with the intention of making it to London.    I was just waiting for money, time off, and someone to travel with.

As I gained more seniority at Mr. Company, the money became less of a constraint, and the time off became easier to come by.  I was still waiting for a travel buddy though, but it never quite worked out.    Meanwhile, I went to other places.  I traveled widely in my own country, visited Canada, and spent two weeks in Hong Kong for work.   Then in late 2010, my life reached “Do-Over” status-  I found myself single again and temporarily without an apartment of my own.  In that time of upheaval, I made a promise to myself that I would reach London before my fortieth birthday.

Fast forward to April of this year.  I’d been in Germany for a scant five months, and I saw a link on Facebook to a Neil Gaiman post.  The surviving cast members of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio shows were doing a live touring version of the radio shows. Neil himself would be the voice of The Book in the Edinburgh, Scotland show on the 21st of July.  Twenty minutes after I read the post, I had already purchased tickets.    Thirty minutes after I read the post, I had compared the dates of the Olympics to the date of the show, verified that the week leading up to that event was a full week before the crowded Olympics began, and requested my vacation time.    The trip formed from that point forward.

On Saturday, 14 July, I flew into Heathrow Airport, with an Oyster Card, a LondonPass, and a very basic travel framework locked in.  I had a ticket for the London production of Wicked on Tuesday.  I had a rail ticket to go from King’s Cross Station in London to Waverley Station in Edinburgh by rail on Friday.  I had the aforementioned HHG Live ticket, and airfare to go from Edinburgh back to Munich the following Sunday.  And finally, I had a list of things I wanted to see, based on a lifetime of absorbing the UK into my soul like so much mercury on the skin.  I had a terrific time, and I took nearly a thousand photographs.  I’m only going to share about two dozen of them here.

Photos and such are behind this More tag

11 The Nine

Easter Weekend In Prague

Easter weekend is a four-day weekend here, because the Friday before and the Monday after are public holidays in Bavaria and much of Europe.  Not wanting to waste a long weekend, I went to Prague.

Some notes before the pictures and story:

  • The Hotel Victoria is pretty convenient to the tram lines, and the room was surprisingly nice for the low rates.
  • Never again will I use an ALEX (Arriva Länderbahn Express) train to go anywhere.  It was not a happy experience, either to or from Prague.  We were treated like cattle on the way there.  Give me a DB train any day.
  • Inside Prague, where tourism is huge, we didn’t have any trouble even though neither of us speak Czech.  There was plenty of English.  Except on the aforementioned ALEX trains.
  • The entire weekend, from rail to hotel to food and attractions, was actually very affordable.  I just wish the weather had been a little bit better…
  • While there are thirty-four pictures in this post, there are over 240 in my SmugMug gallery from Prague.  Feel free to click through that if you like.

On with the pictures and story!

There’s a lot of images here. Click to see more!

First Day.

My first few days here have been a rush of Getting Stuff Done, coupled with occasionally sleeping.  I posted before that I got in on Saturday, but what you can’t tell from the post is that shortly after I wrote that entry, I passed out and slept for more than twelve hours.

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When I woke up, it was Sunday and I had time to explore the city a bit.  I first walked over to Sam Kullman’s Diner which is an American style of diner, all neon and chrome.  The website shows a location that’s even physically styled like an American diner, but the Regensburg location isn’t quite as obvious. If I hadn’t been on foot, I might not have spotted it at all, even though I was actively looking for it.

Still, the food was a nice breakfasty start to my Sunday.  From there I walked through the old city a little bit.

Stone BridgeRegensberg has a lot of tourism, as it turns out.  First of all, there’s a lot of very, very, VERY old architecture here.  There’s an Old Stone Bridge that was built by the Romans, and which still gets foot traffic.  There’s a lot of industry here-  there’s a BMW factory nearby (that’s Bavarian Motor Works… I forgot entirely that BMW is a Bavarian brand until I got here.)  Siemens has a major presence here.  There’s a massive company called Krones which I had never heard of until this week, but they make parts for other factories, and they have a huge employmee base here.  There’s also a university which is the bane of my existence while apartment hunting- it turns out that they had a higher number of students than ever this year because of a recent change to their enrollment rules, so a lot of the good apartments have been scooped up by students in the weeks and months just before I got here.

The CathedralI digress, however- I was talking about Sunday and my walk through the touristy bits.  The Old Stone Bridge, and the really impressive Cathedral in the old city are both really impressive to see.  I also went to a historical museum, the Museen der Stadt Regensburg,” which had artifacts from the middle ages- architecture, stained glass, stonework, paintings.  I walked into the museum originally because I was still a fair distance from the hotel and I really had to use a restroom, but I’m glad I stayed and walked through the museum after.  I’ll have to go back some time in the future when I understand enough German to read the labels on everything.

Speaking of the loo, one of the random differences that I love about this place is that restrooms are often marked as WC, which as fans of any BBC Brit-com will know, is short for “Water Closet.”

Murphy's LawThe latter part of Sunday, I walked further into the old city to visit an Irish pub called Murphy’s Law.  A Strongbow and a shepherd’s pie made a perfect dinner for my first full day in my new city.  I’m fond of telling people that the best meal I had during the entirety of a two week trip to Hong Kong in 2008 was at an Irish pub.  What can I say? I like Irish food.  And drink.

Due to a flaky hotel WiFi connection, this took much, much longer than I had intended to write up, so I’ll stop here.