Wanderung 32

Drifting down the Donau; Edging up the Elbe

March - April 2017


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March 31: Budapest, Hungary to Hamburg, Germany

After a final breakfast with Debbie, Rob, Linda, and Jerry, we bid them all adieu and set off in a taxi for the airport, which turned out to be quite a ways out of Pest. But just before we left the Tor, the self-closing mechanism on the door to our cabin crushed the tip of my left hand ring finger. It hurt a lot but I kept cold water on it for a while and then put ice on it for the drive to the airport, which relieved the pain considerably. Our flight to Hamburg was from 12:15-1:50 on Germanwings, a no-frills budget airline where absolutely everything costs extra. Nevertheless, the stewardess did have anough sympathy to give me a couple ice cubes for my finger, and I had just barely enough legroom, so the short flight was bearable.

Once in Hamburg we took the S1 train from the basement of the airport terminal to Ohlsdorf and the Best Western Armedia hotel there, had a quick snack and a much longer nap, and then took the bus over to see Heinke and Gustl. Fortunately, Heinke was pain free and riding a bicycle again, which was almost miraculous after breaking a vertebrae in her back a few weeks back and having it glued back together! So we chatted, had Abendessen, and retrieved Monika's repaired camera (Thank you, Heinke!) before heading back to our hotel for the night. We had to try to figure out which of our clothes to wash, and then which subset of those we would attempt to take with on our bike trip or store in Hamburg. Space in our saddlebags will be more cramped now that I have to take a CPAP machine with me, so those choices were more difficult. And so to bed.


April 1: Hamburg, Germany

After breakfast at the bakery across from the hotel, we took the train and bus over to Heinke and Gustl, where Monika washed all our dirty laundry and hung it out to dry on their back terrace. Heinke und Gustl went for a walk with us to their favorite duck pond, although the ducks were not there at the moment.

We all chatted during lunch, but then the two of us went downtown. At the Hauptbahnhof we took some pictures of signs, to guide Lois and Beth when they come in July to go to Kiel for a Baltic cruise like the one we did with Linda and Jerry during Wanderung 31. But we also wanted to shop at Karstadt, a traditional department store where we often find some surprising bargains. This time, Monika picked up a nice blouse and bread knife in their basement sale section, and up in the dishware section I found the same bowls that fit our white dishes, so we bought two more of those. Due to having a weekend and warm, sunny weather, the streets of downtown Hamburg were filled with people milling about, eating, shopping, and watching various street performers such as musicians and acrobats, which created a very pleasant ambiance.

Returning for the afternoon Kaffeetrinken, we dragged our ebikes out of the basement, pumped up the tires, and mounted both my saddlebags on my bike and a new basket in front of Monika's bike. Then we stuffed our laundry into the saddle bags, and rode back to the hotel, locking the bikes in the underground parking garage.

We walked out to purchase some rolls with meat and eggs for dinner, and I took that chance to see if the CPAP case would fit in the top compartment of my bike saddlebags and it did, which was a relief because I was otherwise unsure how I could fit it in.


April 2: Hamburg, Germany

After breakfast at the bakery across the way, we walked over to Heinke and Gustl, taking a path through the main cemetery in Ohlsdorf. Although it is a true cemetery, many of the older graves have rather poignant statues on them, and we always seem to find new statues that emotionally move us.

Heinke showed us the Easter eggs she had decorated in previous years. Then Gustl drove us all over to the cemetery in Altona where Monika's parents are buried. There we paid our respects and helped cleaned up their grave site, a task that Heinke and Gustl otherwise undertake to do regularly. Afterwards, I just walked around the small cemetery for a bit, as all the grave sites are different and some of them are very thoroughly decorated in memoriam of the deceased relative.

We then walked down to the Elbe through a small park where kids were playing since the weather was sunny and warm. I enjoyed seeing an old WWII bomb shelter bunker that had been renovated as an old folks home, complete with beautiful view of the Elbe, and, of course, those really, really thick sturdy outside walls! Monika always enjoys seeing how something ugly but useful like an old bunker can be given new life.

Heinke and Monika fixed a traditional German lunch of asparagus, ham, and potatoes, and then we relaxed together for a couple hours before Detlef came over for Kaffeetrinken. We talked nonstop through that, with Detlef relating both his business experiences and sailing adventures, and he is quite a story-teller! Afterwards, Detlef kindly dropped us off back at our hotel. We read a bit together and then turned in early, as the next day we faced the task of shifting ourselves and our bikes over to Haffkrug on the Baltic coast. There we planned to spend several days practicing our bicycling skills before setting out on our bike trip up the Elbe River.

Copyright 2017 by R. W. Holt and E. M. Holt


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