So we continued onwards, eventually winding up standing right outside Hannover’s extremely picturesque town hall, an old building that seems to have been one of the few to escape the destruction of the Second World War. With the weather – which seemed to be always bordering on freezing – apparently worsening, we decided to head inside and check out what was going on.
This I have to say – if you’re stuck in Hannover and not sure what to do for an hour or two, without doubt a trip to the town hall is well worth it. The place is all very ‘grand’, but more than that, it’s all completely open – if you don’t mind doing a bit of exploring by yourself. In our case, we wandered inside, looked around the displays of Hannover through the ages that they have filling the central atrium, and after that, we wandered up the grand central staircase and took in the rest of the building. To be honest, we could have stayed a few hours here just wandering around but decided to carry on and wound up at the entrance to the ‘lookout’. For a small amount (â‚¬2.50 if I remember correctly), you can go right up to the top of the building and look out across Hannover. Admittedly, I’ve done so many ‘observation’ attractions like the CN tower in Toronto and so on, that I wasn’t really excited in any way, but we decided considering the bargain price that it was, to go for it.
First things first, if you’re doing it yourself – go on a quiet day. A Tuesday afternoon should do the trick. Because as we’d come to discover, the first elevator we took actually brings you to more of a queuing area, where we queued for upwards of 40 minutes, with the rain lightly beating down on us. The reason of course, is that being such an old building and having originally been more than likely not designed to accommodate an elevator of any sort, the lift that they do have to bring you the rest of the way takes no more than 6 people, which is basically one healthy-sized family or tour group.
The lift itself however, deserves a special mention. While we didn’t initially note its ‘special feature’, it actually has a glass bottom and top, so you can either look up at how much of the journey is left to go, or you can look down and see how far you’d probably fall were the glass to crack and disintegrate beneath your feet all of a sudden. Not only that, but it also has a slightly disorientating tilt to it; I presume because the lift has been added retrospectively to the building, the only place it could be added was inside a narrow, off-vertical chimney shaft. So, when you start off in the journey, the whole lift is sort of tilting strangely in the direction of the entrance, making you feel like you might fall back out of it again until the doors close. Then, as the journey progresses, it starts to shift the other way, so that by the end of the journey, you quite literally fall out of the lift when the doors on the opposite side open. Quite bizarre.
By now it was really a very cold day, and the thought of ascending all the steps to the very top of the tower, when you could feel the wind rushing through the place, wasn’t a very exciting proposition. The view though, was something spectacular – one of the things that’s annoyed me so much about observation towers in the past has always been how it doesn’t feel very ‘real’ because of the windows and/or fencing and/or construction supports in the way. Here however, you can stand right outside the tower, facing into the wind and looking down on all of Hannover if you so wish. Even though the sky was grey and the whole place looked a little sad, the view was unbelievable and it was definitely worth the paltry â‚¬2.50.
Getting back down from the tower was, unfortunately, also a slow process because of the queue of the same people we’d been waiting behind to get up in the first place, now standing in front of us once again to return back to terra firma. The red line from there sort of degraded a little we felt, taking us back to the main railway station quite shortly afterwards.
After a busy day’s touring, we spend the evening at a Greek restaurant, which was delicious, before repairing back to the Ibis for a bedtime beer. Something which had been puzzling us during our stay with the Ibis was the bathroom however – the building was quite old, and I presumed by looking around that it wasn’t part of a giant ‘prefab’ construction. But the bathroom had the strangest pod-like qualities to it – firstly, it was shaped like a quarter of a circle; then, compared to the bedroom which was all very solid and well-built, the bathroom was strangely very modern and of a mostly plastic construction. Think of an airplane toilet and you have the idea (or see the picture, right). I know it’s worrying, but we must have easily spent an hour or more wondering had the toilet only been added lately or why it looked so out of place (even though it was perfectly fine). In fact, I’m still wondering – thoughts on a postcard please.
Sunday though, meant it was time for us to return back to Frankfurt for another week of hard work – before we get to plan our next escape!