2013/05/01: Arriving in Hamburg
Carsten and Jackie met us at the airport. We were in reasonable post-flight shape, Chris having managed to get us an upgrade thanks to his useful Million Miler status, but with four pairs of hands it was easy enough to heave boxed bikes and all onto first the train and then the bus. Later, while I had gone horizontal, Chris and Carsten assembled our bikes.
We met Carsten in Gansu Province, China, in April 2009. He too was riding from Southeast Asia to Europe, and was riding with Leon when we met. We travelling at first with both of them, with only Carsten, and later with just Leon as we moved across Western China. Carsten is in a different league to us as a cyclist. He completed the Paris-Brest-Paris brevet in 2011, and apart from being an amicable travelling companion, he also made a good windbreak across the open steppe.
It was good to see him again, and to meet Jackie. I have a memory of him chatting to her at length in German on his cell phone as he rode.
2013/05/02: 18 km — Bike Shop and Sightseeing
Our first stop was the recommended Die Luftpumpe bike shop for critical attention to our bikes which should have happened at home, but which had not. In addition to minor adjustments, I got a new rear wheel. My rim, after 30,000+ km, was not guaranteed to reach Nordkapp, and the hub was making ominous noises.
As we left the shop, Chris collected a red Orlieb pannier he assumed was mine, but which actually belonged to another customer. There was a moment’s embarrassment as we quickly returned it, realizing that we are in the land where over half the cyclists on local bike paths have Ortlieb bags. They’re made here, of course.
From the shop, we toured the city, met Carsten for lunch, stopped to take photos of old and new, and visited a map shop where we selected from three excellent cyclist-specific options for our route along the Baltic Coast of Germany.
2013/05/03: — A Riverside Walk
With Carsten and Jackie, we took the subway train westward out of the city. In our subway car was a group of men dressed in ersatz lime green lederhosen and ridiculous hats. They were middle-aged English yobs on what we assumed was a not atypical cross-channel outing, with the main purpose being to drink huge amounts of beer. Carsten said they were likely to get into serious trouble.
Upon leaving the train we descended steps that wound through lovely villas as they dropped to the bank of the Elbe. We walked eastward on a pathway that ran below imposing mansions, stopping for lunch at a café.
South across the river you can see extensive port facilities, as this is where cargo is transferred from huge ships used in the open oceans to smaller feeder ships used in the Baltic and on larger rivers. There is also an Air Bus factory on an island in the docklands, complete with its own airstrip.
Our return to Carsten and Jackie’s was by two ferries and a subway, all part of the city transit system.
2013/05/04: 7 km — To Market
We’re planning to ride to Lübeck tomorrow. As I write, Chris is sound asleep on the sofa. We went to the farmers’ market to buy sole that we’ll cook this evening, as well as salad ingredients.
We are revelling in the food here, and looking forward eagerly to roadside picnics of dense breads, cheese, cured ham and more. I’m sure the bakeries, with their tantalizing array of pastries and cakes, will also slow our progress.
This afternoon, we were taken on an eye-opening tour of the entertainment district. There are options for every taste and orientation. We leave most of the details to your imaginations, but we could not miss the sculpture that commemorates The Beatles making their breakthrough here.
See Hamburg photos.