There were more foodie treats in store for us to experience during our Hamburg city break with a morning visit to Chocoversum, the city’s chocolate museum. It’s located in the Kontorhaus district with the nearest U-Bahn station being Meßberg on the U1 Line. We joined one of their 90 minute chocolate tours which are offered in both German and English. Standard admission €21 at the door or €15 if booked in advance.
Our guided tour began with each of us being given a wafer biscuit as we passed through the entrance barrier.
All was revealed as we entered the first room as there we found an enormous chocolate fountain where we were invited to get our first taste of the German Hachez chocolate brand which tasted smooth and delicious. The gigantic chocolate fountain contained a whopping 90 litres of this creamy delight standing 1.43 metres high.
The tour then focused on the equatorial parts of the world where cocoa beans grow with Brazil and Ecuador in South America, Ghana and the Ivory Coast in Africa and Indonesia in Asia being the largest producers. Our guide then took us on a journey through the museum all the way from the cocoa plantations to the Port of Hamburg warehouses in Speicherstadt where the beans are stored.
It was then time to try our hands at creating our own chocolate bars in the preparation room. After selecting milk or dark chocolate to work with (I opted for dark), we poured the thick melted chocolate into a clear plastic mould then set to work decorating it with up to three of the varied toppings available.
I chose crumbled amoretti biscuits and chocolate sprinkles to add to my bar. We were then asked to give the completed bar a few taps on the table to remove the surplus and then to write our names on the edge of the plastic mould. As our tour commenced at 10.30 a.m. we placed our creations in the fridge marked 30, leaving them to set whilst we continued the tour.
We’d learnt about the countries in which the beans grow and next it was time for us to discover how they are processed from opening up the large cocoa pods to revealing the beans inside. We all tasted a raw cocoa bean which was quite bitter and not at all like chocolate.
Each stage of the chocolate making process was demonstrated but it wasn’t until the roasting and crushing stages where the chocolate nibs are produced that the beans started to taste of chocolate. The process continued with the milling stage where the cocoa nibs are ground into a mixture of cocoa bean and cocoa butter and our spoonful of this tasted smooth and creamy.
Kneading then takes up to seven days with the tempering process making the chocolate hard and glossy. This is followed by the final moulding and packaging and on completion we were handed out some of the small wrapped chocolate squares to nibble.
Finally, our own creations were returned to us and we packed these ourselves in cellophane and added gold ties which made them look quite professional. Taking the guided tour had been both educational and fun but I would describe Chocoversum more of an ‘experience’ than a museum.
On leaving, we went over to view the Chilehaus building close by. This impressive 1920’s brick building was designed by Fritz Höger and commissioned by the shipping magnate Henry B. Sloman who made his fortune selling saltpetre from Chile. Constructed using 4.8 million bricks and designed to resemble a ship’s bow it is now UNESCO World Heritage listed and currently utilised as offices.
It was then time for some lunch and what better way to warm up than with steaming bowls of soup so we headed to Deich Jung’s, a small cafe specialising in homemade soups and stews using traditional family recipes containing no additives or preservatives. My pea soup was delicious and very filling and my companion’s chilli stew went down a treat too.
Suitably nourished, I spent the afternoon at nearby Miniatur Wunderland, home to the world’s largest model railway and miniature airport. (Standard admission €20). I think I’d saved my favourite attraction to the end as it’s a place I’d long wanted to visit.
Arranged over three floors in one of the historic warehouses of the Speicherstadt district I was transported into a miniature world not only of Hamburg landmarks but of other parts of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, the USA and even South America.
With almost 10 miles of track and more than 1,000 trains, the attention to detail is incredible with such things as tiny writing on vehicles and individual blades of grass. The setting changes every 15 minutes from day to night-time when tiny apartment windows become illuminated and street lamps and car headlights are switched on.
As if the enchanting model railway exhibition wasn’t enough there’s also an impressive miniature airport which features 45 different planes from an A380 to a Cessna.
As if by magic the aircraft are pushed back by tugs and then taxi to the runway by themselves before accelerating and taking off.
The aircraft fly through a flap in the wall and with their flashing lights and engine turbine sounds are very realistic. A visit to Miniatur Wunderland will bring out the inner child in us all and is an amazing experience for young and old alike.
On leaving there, I still had time to visit the landmark Elbphilharmonie concert hall as it was nearby. This stunning building sits on top of a 1960’s brick warehouse and having viewed it the previous day from the harbour cruise, it creates the impression of a large liner setting sail.
I didn’t have time to attend a concert but instead joined the queue at the ticket kiosk to obtain a free ticket to go up to the Plaza viewing platform. It’s accessed by one of the world’s longest escalators with the viewing area encircling the entire building offering spectacular panoramas across the Elbe, canals and Hamburg skyline.
It was the perfect way to conclude my visit to Hamburg and I’d adored everything. From the city’s culinary highlights to the UNESCO Speicherstadt, top cultural attractions and elegant shopping arcades, Hamburg has it all and makes for a perfect city break.
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During my visit I was a guest of Visit Hamburg and as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.