Reminiscing about Aachen, Hamburg and Münster
When the opportunity arose for Gary and me to head back to Germany on a road trip, we jumped at the chance. Incredible architecture, fascinating history, friendly locals and an abundance of sausages. What more could you want?
So, in autumn 2019 we jumped in our car and caught Le Shuttle under the English Channel for another adventure. This time we were off to uncover the history and culture behind the cities of Aachen, Hamburg and Münster.
When we visited the Dom, we were given a one to one tour by a lady that had been married in the Cathedral. It felt such a privilege as this incredibly ornate and beautiful building is so ancient.
It was Charlemagne ‘Charles the Great’ that instructed for the original octagonal chapel to be constructed between 793 and 813. Charlemagne died in 814 and is buried in a golden shrine within the chapel.
Where to stay in Aachen
St. Lamberti Church
The Tower Keeper at St. Lamberti Church
The Tower Keeper at St Lamberti Church has been keeping the city of Münster safe for over 630 years. We were given the opportunity to visit the Tower Keeper. For the first time in over six centuries, the role is being undertaken by a lady, Martje Salje.
We climbed the 300 spiralling stone steps, and when we reached the top, it was magnificent and the night skyline across the city was breath-taking.
Following Martje out onto the top of the 246 feet (75 metres) tall tower was an incredible experience. Each evening, except Tuesday, Martje blows the horn from the top of the tower. In the direction of north, south and west at 9pm until midnight, every 30 minutes.
Unless there is anything untoward, Martje sounds the all-clear toot, and Münster can breathe a sigh of relief, that the city is free from fires or enemies beyond.
Where to stay in Münster
It’s a fantastic area to head to of an evening, as the sunsets and the evening light swathes across the historic warehouses it is delightful.
The Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
Where to stay in Hamburg
Aachen walking tour
Münster Rathaus & Hall of Peace
I highly recommend heading to the viewing gallery to enjoy the 360-degree view across Hamburg, the Landungsbrücken piers and the city’s port.
A visit to the viewing gallery is free, grab your ticket at the main entrance and hop on the world’s first arched escalator. The top segment of Elbphilharmonie is constructed entirely of glass.
Enjoy an evening cruise
Am Knipp – Aachen’s oldest Inn – 1698
St Nicholas Church and tower
St.-Nikolai-Kirche is an emotional and touching place to visit. Hamburg suffered extensively during WWII, and St Nicholas Church stands as a poignant symbol to this.
The only sections that remain are the tower, spire and crypt, within the crypt is a fascinating museum.
You are able to visit the top of the tower a lift has been installed and transports you 247 feet (75 metres) above, to a platform within the spire.
There are historic storyboards within the spire that follow the church’s history through time. The views from here are incredible too.
Each bronze character depicts the changing hands of money. Whether it’s a young girl receiving pocket money or a beggar pleading with a banker. All the while, the water feature is flowing in never-ending circles.
Keep a lookout for the interactive bronze Puppenbrunnen and the Hühnerdieb - ‘Chicken Thief’.
I’m sure there is a big kid inside everyone waiting to get out, if so, then head over to Miniatur Wunderland, in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt district.
I was going to refer to it as a model village, but it’s actually more of a city.
HafenCity Universität U-Bahn station
Things to do differently
One for next time
I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our Germany road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.
Points of Note
Low Emission Zone (LEZs), Autobahns and Tolls
Germany - Be aware that some German towns and cities have Low Emission Zones. Therefore, you will require a sticker for the windscreen of your car, to signify which category your car emissions fall into.
We found the following websites useful; also, you can apply online in advance for the sticker for €6 (2019). The Urban Access Regulations in Europe details all the European emission zones and the Senate Department for Environment is where you can purchase you Germany LEZ sticker.
When you drive along an autobahn in Germany, you may not even be aware that you are on one (they are not signposted). It’s not until you feel the vibration of a vehicle whisking past your window that you know you’ve arrived. I would like to highlight that in my opinion, German drivers are quite considerate.France - If you are driving from the UK you will undoubtedly be travelling across France. In France, you pay the tolls as you go, and I recommend using a credit card as it is a lot quicker and simpler passing through.
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