Volkswagen trumps Hannover (or does it?)
While I was planning my trip, a major consideration was car museums. I’ve been to the Ferrari museum in Maranello and it was an experience of a lifetime. So while planning my itinerary, I had to see the birthplace of Volkswagen: Wolfsburg. As it was close enough, I decided to make my stopover in Hannover.
Now I should mention that Hannover does not advertise well – I mean, compared to other cities, this one looked rather dull on paper. Then again, for one night I didn’t really care so I could see an hour or two of the city after my adventure in Wolfsburg.
The plan was to stop in Hannover and drop off my bag in a locker before I could head off to Wolfsburg. For the most part, I actually stuck to the plan (yes, this is a noteworthy feat). The only challenge was the link between my reading and basic math skills. See, I would figure out that I locked my stuff up in a (very) short term locker only after I actually locked it. These lockers are €3 for two hours and once you open it, the session expires (large locker price, seeing that my backpack was about 7mm too big to fit through the ridiculously narrow door of the small locker). After about a five minute extremely intense inner battle, and some very basic calcualtions, I decided to go back and move my bag to a 24 hour locker – at €5 this made sense.
With about a 15 minute delay (official reported cause: baggage delays) I caught the next train to Wolfsburg. Literally. I had two minutes to get to the platform. My neighbour was a very nice German girl – well, we spoke a full 10 words. Her English was about as good as my German, so I could gather she lived in Berlin and that she was heading home. For the rest we pretty much smiled a lot, and tried to nod at the one or two words that we could figure out.
I can tell you a bit about the history, but I am convinced if you are reading a blog, you know how to Google, so I will not be boring you with that. Just in short, this is where the VW Beetle was born. Where evil genius (a.k.a. Adolf Hitler) met automotive engineering (connecting a name to this is a bit more complicated, so I leave it there) this iconic car was created: the “People’s car”.
Today, Wolfsburg is a bit more than just a Volkswagen factory. It is home to the Phaeno Science Center, which is quite an imposing building just as you exit the station.
You can also find the VW Autostadt here. After some careful research and reading a lot of reviews, it seems like this is more a place to visit when you collect your newly acquired Volkswagen. Seeing that I already paid my train ticket, I figured buying a car would be an unnecessary expense (also perhaps an unaffordable one). So I decided my visit would be spent in the AutoMuseum Volkswagen.
Being a little bit stingy, and slightly disobedient towards my GPS, I ended up walking the long way around. I would say it was the scenic route, but honestly I cannot lie to you like that. Basically I can now tell you where to go to rent a car if you ever need one in Wolfsburg. However, after about 1.8km and some very uneventful sightseeing I finally reached the museum.
It needed its own heading. It was that awesome. Yes, perhaps it is due to years of being influenced by my car-enthusiast brothers. Whichever way, this was worth every moment (and the €6 entrance) and I spent almost three hours here. There are various models of the beetle and the microbus, several engines and a section that looks like Friday night at the drag races.*
*Drag races: in my frame of reference this is a Friday night event (referred to as “drags”) about 40km from my home. It involves fast cars, loud music, some drinking and quite often a braai (for anyone not familiar with the term – you would probably call it a BBQ).
The museum also boasts with some race car models, some more recent Volkswagen models and a whole collection of vintage bicycles. Not entirely sure where the bicycles fit in, but it was still pretty awesome to see. Inbetween the cats and bicycles there are small displays of things like old headlamps, engines and factory models.
Back in Hannover I got my bag from the lockers and headed out of the station to find a tram. Between the ticket attendant and myself we agreed that it would be best to buy two day tickets (if anyone needs a day ticket, you can have the second one which is not yet validated). By this time I was quite exhausted, but the day would not be complete without getting lost once more. I couldn’t find where he directed me to and ended up walking to the next station. Still, it was worth it to take the tram to the B&B.
With the idea that Hannover was not the most interesting stop, I ended up taking a nap first before heading out. Sadly Hannover is a bit misrepresented. I picked a direction and started walking and as far as I went I saw beautiful places. Even more importantly, this place had an amazing atmosphere. Everywhere people where outside having a drink or sitting and chatting with friends.
I ended up having an iced coffee and a super tasty sandwich at Teestübchen – a cafe that has tables and lawnchairs packed out on the Ballhofplatz.
To conclude (based on my title, I suppose this is necessary)
If you judge Wolfsburg on what I saw alone, it would be unfair. But even just that, I really liked the city. Considering the museum alone – off course I loved it!!!
However, Hannover was a pleasant surprise and I would most definitely visit again. Personally I think I prefer it over Hamburg.
Some facts about my stay
- Days: 1
- Budget: €105 (for accommodation, food, sightseeing and a locker).
- Actually spent: about €75
- B&B: Hotel Schwarzer Bär. A basic room with a shared bathroom, but still very comfortable. They have a wonderful breakfast and it is accross the road from the tram stop.
- Distance travelled so far: about 680km
Next up: Cologne
Ps. I will check all the photos once I am back home and if necessary I will replace them with better ones. While I was uploading photos to my phone tonight (through my super cool new USB connector) I accidentally formatted the SD card with the first week and a half of my trip. Don’t ask how it happened – it is a very long story resulting in a “I’m not really sure”. Turns out the “super cool” connector and my extreme technological ineptitude was a very bad combination. So I will try to recover those, but for the mean time the photos on my phone will have to do.