The 2004 Modellbahnmesse Trip Diary

As usual, I have written a summary of our trip to the 2004 Modellbahnmesse.  I have added pictures from Bill Young and Dudley Blank to my own.  Thanks, Bill and Dudley, for letting me share...

Saturday, October 30:  Although some of the group arrived a little later than planned, we all met up at the reception at the hotel in Bonn, Germany at 5:00 p.m.  I had arranged for the hotel to supply one of my favorite sparkling wines for the event, "Carsten's Special Cuvee", which seemed fitting...

Sunday, October 31:  While the ladies and non-train-fanatics of the group enjoyed a trip to a Renaissance Market and the Museum of the German Federal Republic, the train crazies boarded our ultra-modern bus (I had never been in a bus with two refrigerators before) for the trip to the Eisenbahnmuseum  Bochum-Dahlhausen.  Much to our delight, we witnessed a special excursion train headed out while we were there- a BR 38 pulling 60's and 70's era coaches, with a restored V100 pushing from the rear for good measure.  We toured the museum and grounds, and took a ride up the line in a restored Vismarer railbus.  Here are a few pictures from that museum.

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That's Bill Young in front of a BR53 freight locomotive.  Note the curious design of the water tower (the half-sphere surrounding the smokestack) in the rear of the picture.  

After our stop in Bochum-Dahlhausen, we continued to Gelsenkirchen to visit Der Deutschland Express, a large H.O. scale Marklin layout which features scenery from the North Sea to the Alps and all points in-between.   The group took a "behind-the-scenes" tour, learning much about the construction, set-up, control, and maintenance of the layout.  

Since Great Event Tours had visited this layout back in 2002, You can see more pictures from Bochum-Dahlhausen and Der Deutschland Express BY CLICKING HERE.

Monday, November 1: This day we were off on a cruise up the Rhine from Koblenz to St. Goarshausen to admire the view from the top of the Loreley rock. 

I caught this multi-system BR181 in Koblenz...

Bill took this shot from the top of the Loreley...

... and this shot from the ship.

The rail traffic on both sides of the Rhine made the cruise a delight for railfan and non-railfan alike.  Most of us sat below in the forward dining room, enjoying the view while sipping hot cocoa and enjoying apple strudel, and occasionally venturing on deck for a better look at the picturesque towns we passed.  At the top of the Loreley we enjoyed a fantastic lunch before heading down into St. Goarshausen and catching our train back to Bonn.

We arrived in the early evening, and many of us ventured into the pedestrian zone for dinner and window shopping (yes, the layout in the window of Puppenkönig was already up). 

Tuesday, November 2:  This was a great day for everyone!  The 'alternate event' was a visit to the palace Augustusburg followed by a trip to the picturesque town of Bad Münstereifel, a walled town from the middle ages with a downtown area almost entirely closed to automobiles.  The trail crazies were up and on their way at the crack of dawn, headed to Hamburg for a one-day trip to Miniatur-Wunderland.

Bill Young captured the beauty of Hamburg station perfectly!

Here is a small fraction of the MuWiLa layout as darkness falls (every twenty minutes)

Unbeknownst to the group, I had arranged a behind-the-scenes tour just for our group.  I strongly recommend this to anyone visiting this amazing layout.  The levels of technical know-how and ingenuity on everything you don't see is astounding.  The special tour is well worth the time and money, plus you get to cut in line at the entrance! 

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Those are a few snapshots of the layout.  Notice Bill in the lower left photo, using his monopod to get the "shot of a lifetime".  The last picture shows the monitors which allow control of the layout.  Think a video train is cool?  MiWuLa had model CARS which transmit video!

We took the train back to Bonn in the late afternoon, and we all agreed that the four hours we had to admire the layout was not nearly enough!  To anyone interested in seeing the biggest digital H.O. layout in the world, all I can say is GO!

Wednesday, November 3:  Today we took the whole group up to Wuppertal, stopping first at the highest railway bridge in Germany, the Müngstener Brücke.

We then hopped aboard a train to cross the bridge from above.  The engineer allowed us into the cab to film out the front of the train, and even slowed down as he crossed the bridge so we could admire the view!

This adventure was followed by a stop at Modellbahn Matschke, a very large shop on the town's outskirts.  The staff spoke excellent English, were well-stocked, and even shipped our items back to the states so we didn't have to pay the VAT or lug the items back with us!

Afterwards we headed into town, where Great Event Tours had arranged for a private ride on the Wuppertal elevated railway in the turn-of-the-century "Kaiser's Coach".  We ate delicious German waffles with cherry sauce and apple strudel while admiring the view below...

That's perennial GET customer Mike McEwen and group leader Carsten Ramcke climbing aboard up front, while the rest of the group boards in the rear


We headed back to Bonn, content with what had been an awesome day for bth the railfans and the rest of the group.

Thursday, November 4:  Today was Messe day, and while the rest of the group enjoyed a fully escorted tour of Cologne and a visit to the National Museum of Chocolate, the train bunch enjoyed the largest gathering of model train and accessory manufacturers in the world!

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My favorite picture is the simple spur (5th from the end).  The builder has really done a great job on the detail and colors.  It goes to show that sometimes less (trains) is more...

Friday, November 5:  We had a rather liesurely day this day, heading into the Siebengebirge (Seven Mountains Region) near Bonn, where we took a cog railway to the top to enjoy the view.  We spent some time in Königswinter, the town at the foot of the Siebengebirge, before heading back to Bonn.

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Our day wasn't yet over, however, since we were also invited to tour the pipe organ factory of Johannes Klais.  It was a fascinating 2-hour peek into this ancient craft...

Saturday, November 6:  This was our first (and only) rainy day, and thankfully it was only in the morning!  We took our private motorcoach to Aachen, where a stroll through the large pedestrian area was in order.  Some of us found our way to Modellbahn Hünerbein...

Yep, that's us, glued to the store window!  Dudley Blank is probably the only one not either in the store or at the window- he's taking the picture!

To round out the tour, we visited the Selfkantbahn, where our privately chartered narrow-gauge steam train awaited...


That's the happy group (with the group leader taking the photo)...

We returned to Bonn after a wonderful steam train ride along the Dutch border, and capped off the tour with our farewell dinner in Bonn.  It was the end to another wonderful and unique tour.

My thanks to everyone in the group who made this a most enjoyable trip.  A special thanks goes to Brigitte Ruether (third from the left) who helped out tremendously with the alternate program.  I look forward to seeing many of you in June for the Switzerland Treff Trip!

Until then...


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