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wendy17 Feb 12th, 2014 05:03 AM

Hamburg vs. Harz Mountains
We, a family with two young boys (4 and 6) are arriving in Berlin and driving ultimately to the Cologne area. We have acquaintances in Hamburg who have offered up their apartment to us, so free accommodation is obviously appealing. I have been to Germany numerous times, but this is my husband's first trip. I find the Harz Mountains appealing and more young family friendly.

We will have a rental car and the trip from Berlin to Hamburg seems like a bit, especially if there is traffic.

What I am asking, finally, is if anyone familiar with Hamburg can get me excited about the area and what to do there for a few days. I'd love to see Luebeck, but that adds another hour on a day trip.

Thank you!!!

Huggy Feb 12th, 2014 05:45 AM

While it has been awhile since I have been in Hamburg and Lubeck and I enjoyed my time spent there. I visited the Harz mountain area for Christmas markets in early December, 2013. It is a drive of about 3 plus hours from Berlin airport. In that area (in close proximity) you have wonderful towns such as Goslar, Hameln, Gottingen ,Wernigerode, etc.

Your boys would especially enjoy Hameln (Grimm Brothers Fairy tales) and Braunlage, where you can board the steam driven train to the top of the Brocken. It has been a long time since I was six, but a day on a train pulled by a steam locomotive sure beats a day sightseeing in a city.

wendy17 Feb 12th, 2014 12:30 PM

The Brockenzug is a big draw for sure!!! Thanks for the reply!

lavandula Feb 12th, 2014 02:04 PM

I like both but I think the Harz Mountains is a little more interesting for kids; it's an area famous for its witches and you can buy witch dolls on broomsticks as souvenirs. Hameln is a good suggestion (although it's not Harz), and in that area you could also look at Quedlinburg, Göttingen, Duderstadt, Wolfenbüttel, Goslar. All these towns / cities have a lot of Fachwerk (half-timbered houses). In winter you can ski in Braunlage, and as you note above, there is a steam train. Also Volkswagen is nearby, at Wolfsburg, so if your boys are interested in car manufacturing, that's another maybe.

You might think of preparing your boys by reading some of Grimm's tales and then following the Deutsche Märchenstrasse (German Fairy-Tale Route), which intersects with the area. Here are some of the towns and a link to information about the stories: http://www.deutsche-maerchenstrasse....ry-tale-route/ There are some really old castles in the area around Kassel (Trendelburg, Sababurg) which might be of some interest.

Hamburg is great but I think many of its pleasures are adult ones such as fine dining. However, if you kids like ports and huge boats, that might be something of interest for them there (Hafen City). If you were to combine Hamburg with Bremen you would then connect up with the Märchenstrasse again - the story of the Bremer Stadtmusikanten, the Bremer Town Musicians, who are four animals depicted in a statue there (another Grimm's tale). If you grab both feet of the donkey, the legend says you will return to Bremen. Bremen is quite pretty, with the Schnoor district, the Roland and the Ratshaus.


wendy17 Feb 12th, 2014 02:26 PM

Thank you! That is my gut-feeling on Hamburg too. The free accommodations are hard to pass up, as this is supposed to be a "budget" trip. I love the Maerchenstrasse idea. My boys speak German and we have the stories at home. Silly me, never thought to connect the two!

And we live in San Diego, so boats and ports are something we see almost daily.

lavandula Feb 12th, 2014 02:35 PM

I might also let you know - we travelled quite a bit with our daughter In Germany before she was school age (mostly for work commitments with a holiday tacked on), and the things that captured her imagination were not the fabulous architecture, but small details like the fact that we gave her a children's magazine with a toy stuck to the front of it on the plane, or going on a bike ride on the back of Daddy's bike (forget that she was somewhere special). But I have no doubt that some of her experiences were formative - she now has a few shreds of German vocabulary, knows German cartoons from TV (we do get foreign DVDs for her) and knows that you drive on the other side of the road from us (we are Australian). We found it a good thing to make her a 'memory book' of the places we visited that we thought would have some impact (such as photos of the life-size models of German cartoon characters from the streets of Erfurt), so that the experiences would continue to have resonance.

We also stay mostly in apartments where possible - makes meal times much easier.


lavandula Feb 12th, 2014 02:41 PM

If your lads already speak German then half the battle is won - KIKA (children's channel) is a blessing. Your younger one will love Kikaninchen and Tom und die Erdbeermarmeladenbutterbrot (very repetitive, perfect for learning language)!


lavandula Feb 12th, 2014 02:48 PM

For Tom:


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