A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
– Lao Tzu
1000 miles into our trip, so this quote seems appropriate.
1000 miles into our travels and since Gent, we have travelled through The Netherlands, visited Amsterdam, stopped in Hamburg and are now in Copenhagen. Essentially, there has been a lot of driving! We have tried to avoid motorways for bits of it, because motorway driving is motorway driving no matter what country you are in, and have hit some of the smaller roads, like the costal roads around the Netherlands.
Gent (or Ghent depending on which map you consult!)
A lovely old town, lots of historical sites, canals and churches! We didn’t see a huge amount of Gent to be honest, we only had a couple of hours there, so we wandered around and saw what we saw!
Whilst wearing the most inappropriate beach wear (me in jeans and trainers and Sam in a hoodie) we stopped off for lunch by the beach. The beaches are stunning; huge, clean, white, sandy expanses with beach huts for hire and play areas for all.
Amsterdam was, as expected, rather stunning. Canals with quaint bridges, little alleyways with markets and boutique shops, and of course, a lot of hen and stag dos in residence. The food is divine (I particularly recommend the pancakes) and the opportunities for cycling throughout the Netherlands are just beyond compare. I was also able to visit Anne Frank’s house – which left me emotionally exhausted – but was, beyond anything else in Amsterdam, the most humbling and incredible experience.
Oh the autobahn, how we loved you… once we realised we were on it. We drove for about 20 minutes before realising that we were allowed to go faster due to there being no speed limit. It did make our travel through Germany much quicker, but I still wanted the roads to be almost futuristic, not just a dual carriageway without a speed limit! To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot from Hamburg, it just seemed like a good stopping point between Amsterdam and Copenhagen, but it turned out to be a fantastic city.
I shall probably rave about the Miniatur Wunderland for years to come, but it is totally worth it. If you are ever in Hamburg, you have to visit – and make sure you put aside a good few hours! The world’s largest miniature railway is far better than it sounds. I have to be honest, Sam was far more enthusiastic about visiting here than I was, but I’m glad he was so insistent.
It wasn’t about the railway – although that was pretty incredible – it was about the settings that have been made (and are being added to every year) for the trains to travel through. From miniature Hamburg – with a working model of Hamburg airport complete with regular plane take off and landings, to a miniature (but still 6m tall) version of the Matterhorn in Switzerland – with a Lindt factory that dispenses Lindt chocolate. A tiny version of Las Vegas and other areas of the USA, and a pint-sized Scandinavia await. Italy is in the process of being built, and the UK is expected for completion in 2020.
There are so many things to spot as you wanter around – from bears on mountain tops, to medieval festivals, climbers, skiers, unicorns, fair grounds, zoos, the occasional truck break down – with emergency vehicles coming to the rescue (the cars move too), penguins, and even a tiny version of Romeo and Juliet.
There are scenes showing how areas changed throughout the centuries and others showing how things changed due to the divide of the Berlin Wall. The whole place is astonishing. We spent over 4 hours wandering through it all. And would definitely go back again as there is so much more to see.
From the Miniatur Wunderland, we walked along the river and found our selves visiting a Russian Submarine – because why not. Visiting a sub is one thing, but the idea of staying in it for any period of time is just insane. The thing is tiny!
If you could visit anywhere in Europe, where would it be? Why do you want to travel there?