Barsbuttel - Hamburg - To France the Long Way - CycleBlaze

July 3, 2009

Barsbuttel - Hamburg

It's a short hop into the center of Hamburg. The route through the suburbs isn't particularly attractive but soon we are in the city and on a pretty bike path.

Setting out in Hamburg's suburbs
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I have been looking forward to my first visit in Hamburg and I have pictures in my mind of Hamburg's Alster, a big lake in the center of the city, sparkling in the sun and a harbor with ocean liners coming in on the Elbe from the North Sea. What I hadn't thought about was that most of Hamburg was destroyed in WWII and there's hardly an old building standing. This has made room for some very interesting new architecture but otherwise I feel it's a city that's not easy to take to on a short visit. One must dig a little deeper to discover its atmosphere and charm.

Mid-morning, the sun is shining and we are standing in front of the Alster - just as I had imagined it, the water is sparkling. We stroll around the center, get some first impressions and look for something to eat. On the Market Square in front of the townhall a Swabian festival is being held. We're in Hamburg but so what, it looks like good food and drink and we order Zwiebelkuchen, a kind of quiche, and Weinschorles, that's wine with fizzy water and very refreshing. I underestimated the amount of wine in the glas and the effect it would have on me at this time of day. We can check in at our hotel at 2 p.m and I dose the rest of the afternoon.

The Alster and the sun is shining
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We made it to Hamburg
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Hamburg's townhall
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Townhall Marketplace with tents for the Swabian Festival
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Before dinner we cycle to the historical Speicherstadt, Hamburg's newly renovated warehouse district, said to be the largest warehouse complex in the world. The once busy warehouse district of the Hamburg harbour is now a fashionable office and business neighborhood.

Newly renovated buildings of the Speicherstadt, a fashionalbe business or residential address
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Hamburg's Speicherstadt
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Hamburg's Speicherstadt
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The bombastic Bismark Monument, dedicated to Otto von Bismarck, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Prussia
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We stay another day to get to know the city a little better. We also want to plan the next legs of our trip which means plotting our course to Holland using Google maps and transferring the track to our GPS's.

The Chile-Haus (Chile House): built between 1922 and 1924, a representative example of the new north German brick-built architecture. The successful merchant Henry B. Sloman, who had it built, made his money through trade in potassium nitrate with Chile, thus its name.
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We observe that there are a lot of beggars and homeless in Hamburg, the city doesn't seem to have the flair characteristic of Berlin nor in the city center do you see the prosperity obvious in Munich. Our hotel is located near the train station, in a very mixed or integrated neighborhood. Regular hotels and bordellos are next to each other, well-dressed housewives on their way home from shopping and prostitutes have coffee in the same cafe, around the corner from our hotel is the well-known Thalia Theater, one of Germany's best, on the street below our window, hookers. A few minutes from our hotel is Hansaplatz, in the middle of the Turkish neighborhood, scene of an incredibly lively fruit and vegetable market, where at 5 p.m. everything is sold for a few cents the pound.

We have now covered about 1200 km on this trip and have been gone for five weeks, usually about the time we decide it's time to go home. We again feel the urge to return home, sleep in our own beds, see friends and family. Hamburg - Munich by train isn't a big deal. But no, we know we would soon regret having stopped so soon and the summer is just getting under way.

Today's ride: 15 km (9 miles)
Total: 1,154 km (717 miles)

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