Cycle Tour Odense-Hamburg
Day 3: Hamburg
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Added on 04 May 2014
on 08 Jul 2014
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by Ottocolor on 04 May 2014
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, Hamburg, DE (13 m NHN)
, Hamburg, DE (27 m NHN)
30 Apr 2014
Sunny in the morning, later more clouds, overcast and a few trickles of rain. Mild temperatures (15-16°C) and a light wind from the East.
Very diverse! Bike paths and pedestrian streets (in Germany you are allowed to ride in the shopping streets for pedestrians!) to Altona Station. From there a path through a park down to Altona Balcony (viewpoint of the harbour) and a wide edge strip down to the river Elbe. Here begins a very good, but difficult path to follow (without GPS!) along the river. A stretch (in Övelgönne) with a nicely concrete tiled walkway between houses and gardens, then again a bike path with changing surface to Blankenese and further on to Wedel, where it ends. I went up through the city (with steep incline) and down to the Elbe again at Schlau ferry station. Ferry across the river to Lühe/Grünendeich. Here in heavy traffic, then a very special, extremely bumpy and narrow bike path on the dike along the river Lühe. Later along the highway on a still very bumpy bike path through Jork and Königreich (!) to Nincop. Very heavy traffic on the road. Here on a minor road towards the river again and on a nice, new, EVEN bike path along the heavily trafficed road along the Airbus aircraft factory into Finkenwerder. Here along the newly built flood wall and up on the dike around the Köhlfleet. Now began the journey on cumbersome, but absolutely necessary cycle paths (excessive traffic, lots of trucks) through Hamburg's major port. At first, down to the ferry in Waltershof with a short crossing to Neuhof. From here trails all the way to the Old Elbe Tunnel on Steinwerder, but with some dangerous crossings and a somewhat cumbersome crossing of a railway track through narrow gates. In the tunnel I went up and down in the person elevator and in the tunnel itself one bikes on the car track, as long as there are no cars coming. At the St. Pauli-side of the tunnel on a bike path along the Elbe to Speicherstadt with the new Elbe philharmony. From here on the 'pavement' ( you may also bike on the sidewalk in Germany!) along the water. Then on a newly built, very well marked with red color, bike path along big roads all the way to Central Station. I takes a lot of time to cross the many crossings with traffic lights. I try some more bike lanes, also along the Alster, to Mundsburg and Uhlenhorst, but I turn back to the central station. The locals go fast on the narrow, uneven paths. City stress also on the bike paths! Eventually, however, quite calmly on a separate bike path along the reailway tracks to the main station. Thank you for that ! Very special day of cycling!
Slope Gradient Distribution
My very special Hamburg-excursion planned on gpsies.com.
When the alarm clock wakes me at seven my roommates are still sleeping I quickly pack everything together and sneak out. Today's first goal is the train station in Altona, partly to eat breakfast, partly to inquire about the panniers, I left on the train from Munich in March. It was only a short trip there, and I immediately found a bakery that also sold coffee. My panniers I could forget all about, I was told, if they had not found them after my inquiry on the web. Well, I'd buy me a new pair of panniers at the equipment store Globetrotter here in Hamburg, but not until later that day. When I came out of the station, I had lots of trouble reading the GPS display, in which way it had to be turned for my desired route down Museum Street to the river Elbe. It must have looked strange, as I stumbled around, but I eventually I found it and rolled down quietly between beautiful houses from the turn of the century. At a spectacular fountain with centaurs, a large fish and mermaids in a park I stopped. This was the so-called Stuhlmann well, named after the architect. I was now in the center of the once independent city of Altona. In fact it was first incorporated in Hamburg in 1938, when the Nazis adopted the Law on Greater Hamburg. Before 1864, it was Danish as part of Holstein. The city was then known as liberal and tolerant and a stronghold for the Enlightenment and from here came the doctor Struensee, who gave rise to quite a stir in royal Copenhagen, when he bacme King Christian VII's personal physician, and later he almost committed a coup d'etat. From here run the tracks for Denmark's first railway, to Kiel, although most Danes believe it is Copenhagen - Roskilde. Holstein was a very progressive province at the time. The railway station was situated where the town hall later came to be before they built the current shopping Station. Now I was soon down at the Elbe, or rather far above it on the so-called Altona balcony. The shore is very steep here, and there was a fine view of the huge harbour.
The route turned me down a steep harbour street down to the shore proper, where a nice bike path began. At one point it was suspended where I could wheel my bike along a paved path. You may not ride a bicycle here. But then one could better enjoy the nice little houses with lots of ornaments to the right and the gardens on the left. Behind them there were views of the Elbe and the harbour. Really a lot of atmosphere here, and spring flowers bloomed beautifully. There were even already rhododendrons in bloom. In April ! But spring came early this year, and because of the steep bank behind the houses and the location on the south-facing slope, there was certainly very good conditions for flowers here. After the walk I was now down at the river again. There were several pieces of fine sandy beach. How good the water is, is questionable, but it was green and lush everywhere. At one point I saw a very long staircase up the slope. It was called ladder to heaven, and it really seemed to disappear into the invisible, so long was it. Soon the houses thinned out and by the marina at Teufelsbrück the coastal plain with beaches and trees grew slightly wider.
I approached now the elegant residential suburb of Blankenese, formerly also part of the town of Altona. Here the very richest "Hamburgers" live in large villas up the Elbe steep north shore. They are connected to each other by stairs, but an ingenious system of blind alleys make people able to have their big car into their own garage. Most houses are white and shine along in the sun. I stayed down by the water and cycled along the narrow coastal road, where I took a picture of the super beautiful seaside hotel. All oozed wealth here and it takes a larger salary than mine to check in here, but I do not need that. What I did need was lunch, so when I saw a nice fish restaurant with seating at tables and benches on the very beach, I parked my bike and went down there. The waitress was just starting to open her business, so she asked for some time before she was ready. Fine with me, it was great to sit in the sun and it was very quiet here. And shortly after I had a beer and a roll with rollmops in front of me, a North German specialty in the form of a boiled herring, usually rolled up, hence the name, but here it lay flat on the bread. It was delicious. Afterwards I went for a short walk on the beach and up the lighthouse observation deck. Here was a fine view across the river Elbe, and I could clearly see the big Airbus aircraft manufacturer on the other side. I'd look at it on the way back to Hamburg. But now I had better get out to Schulau and the ferry across the Elbe.
Soon I crossed the city border, where Hamburg, which of course has the status of a state in Germany, ends and Schleswig-Holstein begins. Here ended the coastal path and I cycled now steeply up towards the town of Wedel. That is, I had to wheel my bike up the steepest part, because the lowest gear on the rear after all did not work. Too bad. Wedel seemed a lot more ordinary than its upscale neighbour of Blankenese and I hurried down to the Elbe again, as there was an attraction here, I would not miss. And I knew that the ferry across the Elbe departed at 1 pm, so there was no time to waste. Then it was annoying to have to run around a power plant, located on the very river bank, but eventually I was down and put the bike aside. The attraction was the so-called ship greeting service at the ferry Inn at Schulau. Here, they have arranged something very German, namely a greeting service, performed by former captains in full uniform with neatly ironed white shirts with proper distinctions. Every time a ship of a certain size sails into or out of the Elbe, the greeting-captain on duty says respectively welcome or farewell to the ship's captain over the loudspeaker, and then he plays the national anthem of the country, where the ship is registered. Only in Germany, I suppose! Today's greeting-captain was thankfully kind and had the time and inclination to explain to me the procedure. Via a computer screen with gps he was aware of when a ship was apporaching, so the ships never took him aback, so to speak. When I asked if this was the only service of its kind in Germany, he grew upset as other places had allegedly the audacity to organize similar but far worse services, such as in Rendsburg on the Kiel-canal, where I had been the day before, but they were all far more random and careless, the captain told. The worst was a ship greeting service at Stade on the other side of the Elbe, where they reportedly told people utter nonsense about the ships. He had heard they said, a particular ship had once been a rocket and this kind of hopeless fabrication. No, this was the only proper ship greeting installations throughout Germany. When I asked if there was a ship coming, he replied in about half an hour. It fit just fine, as shortly after the ferry would leave so I would be able to hear the greeting. And indeed, when I was on board the ferry that more seemed like an excursion boat, a big container ship came sailing along from within Hamburg. And immediately the Liberian flag went to the top of the mast outside the Ferry Inn and the captain said 'have a good trip and welcome back to Hamburg on another occasion' in his microphone so that everyone in the ferry inn's large outdoor seating area and we on board the ferry could hear it. And then the Liberian national anthem was blaring out all over. I was perceptibly impressed. This was just damn good.
The ferry crossing lasted nearly half an hour, but the boat did not just cross, but docked a good bit further out the Elbe at the village of Lühe by the mouth of the river of the same name. We sailed past an uninhabited island in the middle of the river. There are a lot of those, and most are nature reserves, where you may not go ashore, except if you are a bird or a seal, but this one had a school camp on it, so it was only temporarily uninhabitated. In Lühe there was a cafe on the pontoon where we got off the boat, so I had two mugs of coffee and a slice of homemade cake. Then I rolled up the dike. I was now in Altes Land, or dat Ole Land (the ferry had that name too). This means 'the old country', but it also means lowlands. Holland actually means the same. The attraction over here are enormous orchards, mainly apple and cherry trees, which are supposed to be in bloom at this time of year. In Germany, where everything is arranged to perfection, the fruit tree-flowering is an event attracting many visitors each year. But this year spring came unusually early, so the first fruit trees I saw when I rolled southward on a dike, were already almost completely faded. Well, it had come here for the bloom, so argh. But the sweet lady in the cafe at the ferry port had already told me. An the weekend after they would have a great fruit flower festival in the main town of Jork. The lady said they were probably going to glue the flowers onto the trees again, haha. So nature played a trick on me. But the small towns behind the dike were cozy with beautiful houses and very well maintained. I rode on a hugely bumpy bike path on top of a dike, while cars rushed by at the bottom. It was now afternoon rush hour, amplified by the fact that there was a public holiday tomorrow, namely 1 May (in Germany they keep Labour Day holy) and it seemed as if everyone just wanted to rush home from work in order to prepare for the day off. In the main town of the Altes Land, the very long stretched Jork, was crammed with cars, so luckily there was a bike path. But, as so often it was poorly maintained and I had to be very careful of the many driveways and intersections. But I still enjoyed riding through Jork. It seemed very rich, and obviously the growing of fruit bears credit for it. After Jork several villages followed, with lots of faded fruit trees in betweeen. One of them was called Königreich, so I almost felt at home here in 'Kingdom'. But the cars were now really annoying, and many sped too fast, so it was great to see the magenta line on my GPS display turn me off the main road down to the river Elbe. Here the cars formed a long queue in the opposite direction, but I did not notice them. Soon I was out on a large bypass with a posh newly tarmaced bike path. Soon the aircraft manufacturing plant came into sight. Before I crossed the old arm of the southern Elbe, which now is a lake in a nature reserve. After they had dug a new mouth of the southern Elbe into the northern Elbe, called the Köhlbrand, the old one was allowed to become pure nature. However, this was on the other side of the road. Over here industry ruled and nowhere more evident than at the aircraft manufacturer of Airbus, one of Europe's largest private sector jobs. There was a viewing platform from which you could see over the huge area with many giant hangars and assembly halls. Along with Toulouse in France, Hamburg is the main production site of the European aircraft giant, Boeing's worst competitor. The company had been allowed a dramatic expansion by filling up a good part of a bulge in the Elbe, named the Mühlenberger Loch. It is home to a lot of jobs, so nature had to do with the nature reserve on the other side of the bypass. And certainly the plant means a lot of prestige for the city's politicians, because here they hand out the huge A-380 aircraft. It was not visible now, only the incredibly ugly freight plane Beluga was to be seen. There were curious people on the viewing platform presumably waiting for the Beluga to take off, as there was a loud hiss coming from its engines. I had no intention of seeing this, so I rolled down on the bike path along the high road and was soon in the former fishing village of Finkenwerder. Here I wanted to trace some of the old fishermen's atmosphere, but by no means did I succeed. It was a busy suburb, packed with people and cars until the navigation unit again saved me and led me up onto the dike which was here fortified by a low wall, you could see over. It was built to protect the Finkenwerder inhabitants from the Elbe flood. Again it was nice to cycle around the town, and now began Hamburg's giant port area to dominate the picture. And it was easy enough to follow the route of the navigation unit. It led me along cycle paths where I felt safe. On the road large trucks sped crisscrossing, so I was really happy with my new gps here. Although it occasionally led me through some very small paths with gates, and I did not read the route well enough, so I got to turn around a few times, such as when there was a ramp up a bridge or a dam and it was unclear whether I was going up or stay down. Slowly but steadily, over bridges and underneath highways, I approached the ferry across the Köhlbrand.
The Köhlbrand is dominated by the elegant cable-stayed bridge that lets the big ships pass to and from the port of Harburg, Hamburg's southern suburb. But since it is a motorway, bicycles and pedestrians are sailed across the river by a harbor ferry, operated by the municipal corporation Hadag. I wondered if I should sail right into the centre of Hamburg or just cross the river and continue my trip through the harbor area. I chose the latter, because there was still time. I just had to be the main station at 7.28 pm. So after the short ferry ride, which turned out to be free, I continued the harbour tour by bike. Now my goal was the old tunnel under the Elbe from Steinwerder to St. Pauli docks in Hamburg's city center. And the navigation unit carried me safely there. Here is the big shipyard Blohm & Voss, which specializes in the repair of cruise ships. Therefore, it is not unusual to see the great ocean liners in Hamburg. It's probably high noon for the greeting-captains out at Schulau. But today there were no sailing giants in sight, so I dived under the Elbe in the person elevator. It carries also bicycles down while cars have their own elevator. Well down in the depths, you go through the tunnel on a very narrow road, while there is a sidewalk for pedestrians. There were some bikes down there, but fortunately no cars, and I was hoisted up again by the elevator on the other side. The tunnel is a technical masterpiece and 111 years old. It is mostly used by port workers, the capacity is too small for cars on a larger scale. This is done by the new tunnel under the Elbe River to the west carrying the highway leading through to Flensburg. So it is closed to bicycles. On this side of the harbour the relaxed atmosphere because of the upcoming holiday was noticeable. So I adapted myself and rode quietly in an easterly direction towards the Speicherstadt/Hafencity.
Speicherstadt is Hamburg's old harbour warehouse town. The old buildings, all five-story warehouse buildings in red bricks have long since been replaced by large concrete silos further out in the harbour and the old have in recent years been converted into a variety of cultural offerings. It is of course also within comfortable walking distance from the center. Out here is the now famous Miniatur Wunderland, a huge model railway in several floors with themes from a number of countries. I have visited it with both my sons. An amazing level of detail is its greatest asset. This time, I looked at the big and new attraction here in what is now renamed Hafencity, namely the Elbe Philharmonic. It uses an old warehouse as a kind of foundation and rises entire 110 m above the Elbe waters at the tip of the old emperor's quay, where te emperors yacht docked in the old days. The idea was to build a great concert hall, but it turned out much more than that. And much, much more expensive. In fact, the costs ran so high that the Philharmonic is today considered a huge scandal in line with the airport in Berlin. Originally it was intended to cost the city of Hamburg in the neighborhood of 77 million euro. And it was planned to open several years ago. The result was approx. ten times as expensive for the city and it will not be finished until 2016 at the earliest. Moreover its architecture is also of great debate among the 'hamburgers'. I understand them well, as it really does not mingle in among the old warehouses. One reason for the rise in the prices lies that beneath the Philharmonic, in the construction of a subway station. It was demanded by the fire authorities, as, in the event of a fire, the concert guests could not evacuate quickly enough as the Philharmonic is surrounded by water on three sides. This station was too expensive and it was only built as an emergency station just in case a quick evacuation. So guests still have to wald across the bridges into town in order to take the U-Bahn. I saw several posters announcing concerts in the semi-final concert hall, certainly for entrance fees. Likewise, they held guided tours with the same noble purposes. Ah yes, waste of public tax money at a very high level.
Now I had to leave the port to make it to the Globetrotter store where I would buy panniers. But at Deichtorplatz I went wrong with my gps and I lost a lot of time. I had plotted the route wrong and should just have cycled straight on, but I crossed the very busy square twice using a lot of traffic light pedestrian crossings. One must stick to the cycle paths that are found in abundant numbers here in Hamburg city center. But traffic lights take time and it was a little late before I was at the railway station. Still, I made an attempt to make it out to Globetrotter in the district of Barmbek. Also because I wanted to test the city cycling with my new gps. But it failed a few times, and I cycled incorrectly several times. Crazy! And very many bikes rode fast along the big lake Aussen-Alster. There were also many pedestrians who rested here in the good weather and packed well on the bike paths. Then came the modern Mundsburger Damm with a super two-way cycle track where I sped up. But when it suddenly ended and I still had a mile to Globetrotter, I gave up. I would not have had enough time to buy the bags and get back to the main train station in time. It was the last good connection to Denmark for today, so I had to catch the train. I did, fortunately. Then I had to order the panniers on the web. At the station, I even managed to have a sausage and a beer before the departure of the train, but then I also had to rush down to the platform not without bumping into a drunk who dropped his bag of beer bottles in the collision. Well. honestly! But it had been a great day in Hamburg, full of attractions. And by midnight I was well home after changing trains in Flensburg and Kolding.