We didn’t have a lot of time in Hannover and as rain seemed to loom we decided that the best thing to do would be to jump on a guided bus tour as the leaflet claimed that it took in most of the major sights. We booked a few hours in advance at the Tourist Information Office opposite the main train station on Ernst-August-Platz and were advised of the start time and to meet in front of the office. When we arrived there were two coaches there and you could get on whichever you liked. It was a new and modern coach, highly comfortable yet not that great for sightseeing due to the position of the windows.
We were the only two English people on our coach, everyone else was German. As I can speak German I could translate for my partner but the guide insisted on giving an English translation of everything she’d said in German. Unfortunately the Germans on the bus were not very polite and continually spoke over this and the German commentary too making it difficult for me translate. When we could hear it the commentary was interesting and was presented as a good mix of facts, historic background and a little humour. I didn’t know that much about Hannover before I went but I had heard that it had been heavily bombed during the Second World War. So I wondered how come there were still so many old buildings around the city – the answer, I learned, is that the designs survived and the buildings were rebuilt exactly as they had been.
The first stop where we could get off was the New Town Hall which was an excellent place for first stop as there are, in the magnificent entrance hall, four models of how the city looked at different times in the past and you can appreciate how and why it developed as it did.
We then took in the Sculpture Mile, a long tree lined road dotted with exciting and interesting pieces of public art – alas there wasn’t time to mention all of it but it was a start. This was on the way to the Royal Gardens at Herrenhausen. The gardens were created by Sophia, Princess Palatine of the Rhine, who was Electress of Hannover from 1692 to 1714. Many of the visitors on our coach found this a great time for a toilet stop, a drink and an ice cream. We stayed here about thirty minutes, enough time to get an idea of the scale of the place, see the fountains, the grotto and the outdoor theatre as well as the Orangerie where some newly weds were having their official photographs taken. There’s quite a bit of walking here so some elderly passengers waited near the coach, perhaps it should have been stressed in advance that some walking was involved.
Back on board we took in some more sights including the lovely Art Deco former Liebnitz biscuits factory building, certainly something I was pleased to have seen but probably wouldn’t have got to if we hadn’t taken the tour. We passed the Maschsee, the popular manmade lake that locals flock to on summer weekends, though we didn’t stop there which I would have liked to have done. Instead we were dropped into town for a walking tour of the old Town – again totally rebuilt but brilliantly so. You wouldn’t have been able to tour this area by bus and it’s a partly cobbled area so again perhaps a word of warning is needed for less mobile tourists.
I’m not really a fan of guided tours but I must concede that this wasn’t bad. Priced at 15 € for adults for a two and a half hour trip with commentary and admission to the Royal Gardens seemed pretty reasonable to me. If you have more time, the weather is better and you have your walking shoes you could follow the red line tour instead which is obviously much cheaper (free if you just follow the line and don’t even buy the pamphlet).
There are concessions available – check here for details
March 28th to October 31st 2009 - daily
November 1st to December 31st 2009 - Saturdays