Friday, 18 November 2011

Speyer Technik Museum

It was a quick, "Let's head down to Speyer this weekend?" and just like that, we packed some bags into the car and headed south towards Speyer. I just returned from a business trip to Gothenburg, Sweden yesterday, and now I am heading to Speyer.

Apart from the nice historical centre of Speyer, there is another reason for heading to Speyer. Planes, trains and automobils. The Speyer Technik Museum was mentioned to us by a friend about 9 months ago, and after reading about it on the internet, it was one of the place for us to go.

The drive from Cologne was about 3 hours, with some stops here and there. When we arrived, we were a bit taken back by a full size Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet that is up in the sky. It was literally put on some pylons and is about 15meters up in the air.

Our two kids eyes became bigger and bigger as we got close to the museum. We found a car park and entered the museum. Once we are in, the whole place is packed with old cars, planes, old steam locomotives, planes, old motor bikes, and oh, did I mentioned planes. 

Many of the planes on display were either suspended over our heads by steel cables (inside display) or placed upon pylons (outside display). The planes that were displayed outside are usually the larger planes. A stair well usually is available for the inside of the planes to be entered. However, most of the interiors of the planes were gutted, and only the shell remain. The cockpit is also locked behind the original door, or a fenced off via a large piece of perspex.

The planes were from various dates, most of them were post second world war. There were also several replicas of flight instruments from the Leonardo da Vinci days.

The other main attraction at this museum is the real space shuttle on display. Well, it is the Russian version, the Buran. I am not sure if it actually made it into space, Wikipedia mentioned that Buran was only in space for 3 hours.

Did I mentioned that this museum also has a maritime section? Well, there is a great collection of boats, rescue boats, tugs, hydrofoils and an old soviet submarine. Yep, an old submarine from the Soviets. It was quite eerie to climb down the hatch for a look inside the submarine. It was my first time inside a submarine. I was not claustrophobic, but I could imagine some submariners going insane being cramped up for weeks upon weeks. Life can't be easy for those folks.

The kids also climbed into the submarine. This is the only item on display where the insides did not suffer much renovations. There were buttons, switches, taps, dials, lights, doors and gizmos for the kids (and me) to push, turn, shout into and to stomp on. It was quite an amazing experience.

The museum also has a IMAX 3D theatre. We did not go for this as our children were a little too young for it.

If you are planning to go there as well, one word of warning. We did not see many little girls around the museum compound as we walked around. It was mostly boys and their parents, running around, looking at all the different planes, trains and automobils. It is very much a place for boys to get amount the machinery. Definitely, toys for the boys (big and small).

This the updated museum. The original Technik Museum is in Sinsheim, which is still exhibiting. This Sinsheim museum have the two versions on the Concorde (the Aeroflot version and the British Airways/Air France version), a large display of F1 cars and planes.

We will have to get the original museum one day. 

Thursday, 10 November 2011

WEBMU 2011, what a blast!

The WEBMU weekend came with much anticipation. After much planning, debate, polling, discussion and planning (yes, the planning was quite thorough), it finally started. I was not able to make the Friday night dinner at the Cologne's tex mex, but I heard that the mood was good and the conversations were fantastic.

On Saturday, we splited into two groups. A bunch of us brave the cold and the heights, and headed into the DOM cathederal. The other group stayed on the ground and did a tour of the city. Although I have lived in the area ever since I arrived in Germany (2009),  I have never been on a tour of the DOM, although I have been inside the DOM many times. The tour gives a different perspective on the DOM.

The tour is a climb into the upper layer of the DOM. 

There are things that you can see up here that you can only really appreciate from down on the floor.

The tour was led by a very knowledgable fellow, and he did his best to explan that various facts about the DOM. One of the fun facts he mentioned was the carvings near the top of the DOM are not only of kings, queens and religious items, chickens and football players were also carved in as well!

The DOM tour did not go to one of the two tallest spires at the front, but we did climbed the tallest point at the rear of the DOM, which gave us an incredible view of the city of Cologne.

After the DOM tour, the two groups joined together, visited one of the many churches, and broke bread. It was at a delicious Turkish restaurant at Heumarkt. Excellent choice. It was here that I truly understand why WEBMU is such a great event. As Cliff1976 mentioned to me, "it is the people that attends the WEBMU that makes it", the event such as the DOM tour or the city tour is almost secondary.

I had a chance to talk to CNHeidelberg, German Gems and Snooker in Berlin. It was really fascinating to understand their motiviation on what they blog and what brough them to Germany. Their tales are quite engaging.

We had a free time for the afternoon, after which the dinner was planned at the Paeffgen brauhaus in the Belgium quarter of Cologne. I had a Haxe, and it arrived with a rousing cheer from the party. Our waiter did his job well by keeping the Kolsch flowing nicely.

The annual tradition of the TQEQE (The Queer Expatriot's Queer Experience) was led by Adam into one of the many great bars in the Bermuda Triangle (Cologne Gay district). 

The Sunday was the farewell brunch at Cafe Litchenberg in Neumarkt. It was casual, and late enough for those recovering from the TQEQE. It also gave everyone a chance to say their goodbyes before next year. 

Frau Dietz did an exhaustive post on the event. This post has all the attendees.

German Gems wrote a post on it.

Cliff1976 did a photo post of the event.

Zurika did a excellent post on the event. Great photos, really capture the ambience.

I just want to thank Cliff1976 for being driver for this wonderful event, and the ResidentOnEarth and Fultile Diatribes on their hard work for organising it with me.

If you are expat living in Germany and write a blog, come and join in the banter next year. Head over to and sign up for more information.

By the way, sorry for the lack of photos as I forgot to bring the camera along and only had my phone do the photo snapping.