|Talk about a "soft landing"! After 12 days on the ocean, our friend, Brita, was at the dock in Hamburg to pick us up at 7:00 a.m. She took us to her home in Poppenbüttel (how's that for a perfect German name?) in the Northwest of the city, fed us fresh, homemade Apfel Kuchen and then led us on a walk through the woods and along the Alster River. She shopped for dinner so we took great delight in listening to the exchanges in German - then she introduced us to a great German tradition: Italian Eiscreme. This is not a scoop of vanilla in a cone but a concoction of ice cream, whipped cream, fruit, and liquer served in a large stemmed bowl.
Our motor home was held up at the docks until the next day so we had a field trip taking the train and a ferry to get back to the docks to pick her up. We thanked our lucky stars that we had an assertive, German speaking guide to help us through the process - that and finding a place in Hamburg to refill the propane tank and to gas up. There was no problems using our current propane fitting.
Since we were ready to hit the road, we could relax for the next day. We took our bikes and headed down the Alster River about 20 Km from Poppenbüttel to downtown Hamburg. The river is very narrow (about 40 feet across) but take the population of Hamburg (3 Million), the fact it was a hot, sunny Saturday, and the German's love of the outdoors and water - and you have chaos: on the bike path with thousands of people cycling, roller blading, pushing baby carriages; and on the river with up hundreds of canoes, kayaks, gondolas, etc. vying for space. We learned to keep on guard every minute of the trip though the bike lanes are well marked and separate from the pedestrian lanes. In these northern European cities, the cyclist is king so you have a much greater sense of comfort than you do riding at home. The ride was beautiful despite the traffic - the path is through the forest and the river is lined with wonderful old homes with lawns and gardens rolling down toward the water. Hamburg is known as "Little Venice" and apparently has more canals and bridges than Venice has. When we got to the Alster Lake, the people who were not on the river were sailing on the lake - hundreds and hundreds of sail boats, each seeming to have about 20 square feet to sail in! We happened upon Alster Fest at the lake so the remaining 1 million citizens were sitting on the grass around the lake listening to rock music and imbibing from the dozens of stands selling alcoholic beverages around the lake.
It is a beautiful old city full of red brick warehouses, parks, and both the Elbe and the Alster Rivers - apologies for the lack of photos but when we rode into town it took us 3 hours and by the time we arrived, it was time to head home.