Friday, April 21: End of the Bicycle Trip-->the Train back to Hamburg
When the sun came up, we got dressed and went out again to the Back Factory for breakfast. Monika had the idea of buying extra sandwiches when we had breakfast there that morning, so we bought an extra two salami and one egg Broetchen to take along on the train trip. Then we returned to the hotel, packed up, checked out, and retrieved our bicycles from the "Fahrrad Box".
Since Judson was heading to Hamburg to be with relatives, we had cut short our bike trip in Magdeburg and headed back to Hamburg to be with everyone too. Stopping our trip in Magdeburg also made sense as we had just ridden 300 km , and the cycling distance from Magdeburg to Dresden was about 295 km, so we were basically at a halfway point. Magdeburg was also the train nexus for the regional trains in the area, and although there was no nonstop train direct to Hamburg we could do it in two legs by taking a regional train to Uelzen and then changing to another regional train that would take us directly to Hambug.
But thank goodness the trains from Magdeburg to Uelzen all left from Track 1, because there were absolutely NO elevators to any of the 8 tracks at that station. When we bought our tickets we had scoped out the situation and finally found a driveway at one side of the station where we could push our bikes up onto the platform for track 1 (but not any of the other tracks!). I was very relieved because our ebikes are quite heavy, especially when packed, and I just can't lift them up stairs anymore.
We had been worried about having enough space for the bicycles, but the train to Uelzen was well equipped for bicycles, even having leather straps that held our bikes against a steel bar and kept them from falling over or or sliding around. As we watched the scenery go by, we relaxed a bit and had the aforementioned Broetchen for lunch.
The train from Uelzen to Hamburg was even better equipped, having the entire lower floor of a carriage empty except for U-shaped steel tubes where you could lift up your front tire and hook it on and then lock it up--I think they could have secured at least 20 bicycles that way. BUT, we had a devil of a time getting into that car because the elevator up to that platform was out of order! Argh!
It was two flights of stairs up to the platform and we knew we couldn't accomplish that in the 5 minutes we had available , but two very nice Germans came to our rescue. First, a friendly and decently strong lady grabbed one side of my bike and together we hauled it straight on up the stairs. Then a young man told Monika, "Let me help", Monika said, "I can take the back", but he said " I can do that" and grabbed her bike. But when he felt how heavy her bike really was, he said "Why don't you help with the rear wheel some!" But in the end we both got onto the platform and into the train carriage on time, thanks to the kindness of strangers. Phew!
We had to change again in Hamburg's Hauptbahnhof, but fortunately the elevators there were working both to come up to the main level from our arrival platform, and then to get back down to the platform for the S1 local train to Ohlsdorf, where we once again signed in at the Best Western Armedia Hotel right beside the station.
After unloading our saddlebags and carting that all upstairs to our room, we rode our now much lighter bikes over to Heinke and Gustl's place to store them in the basement. After a nice, relaxed Kaffeetrinken, we picked up the luggage we had also left in their basement at the beginning of our bike trip, and they were kind enough to drive us back to our hotel so we didn't have to fool around with bus and train links. Once back in our room, we sorted all our clothes into clean versus dirty piles, had an evening snack, and then just collapsed for the night. The tedious job of repacking all our stuff for the next few days in Hamburg and then Berlin, we left for another day.
Saturday, April 22: Hamburg, March for Science
Today we were going to the March for Science in Hamburg with Judson and Detlef. Detlef and Susanne had invited us for breakfast, so we hied ourselves over to their house around 10:00, and joined them and our son for breakfast. Susanne had to work that day as she holds down two jobs, but Detlef decided he could skip one day of work and come with us to the "March for Science" that was scheduled for 2 pm in Hamburg.
In between, though, we decided to show Judson the Petrie Kirche just up the street from the main city hall square where the march was scheduled to begin. Although bombed during WWII, the Petrie Kirche has been fully restored, and the stained glass behind the altar had been replaced with modern, but very high quality stained glass windows. My back was aching after carrying my bicycle up those stairs the previous day, so I just sat down in a pew to enjoy those stained glass windows while the other three essayed a climb up a LOT of stairs way up into the church steeple.
The steeple has a winding staircase inside it that goes almost all the way to the top, but the whole climb is 544 steps (!), which is probably as many as the Washington Monument in the USA. Monika and Judson set off with Detlef and for the first few hundred stairs they all did well. Judson and Monika had to stop due to leg fatigue, but were most of the way up and still had a pretty good view out over the urban center of Hamburg, with the Rathausplatz (English: City Hall Plaza) to one side and the Alster to the other.
In the end, though, it was Detlef who persevered all the way up. (I think he is still working out at his health club!) When he got back down, he reported that way at the top the windows were just tiny portholes, but you could get a great view! However, but the stairway was also very, very narrow up there. In fact, one child was so afraid that he had to edge down the stairs backwards! (Just in case you are curious, "Rauchen Verboten" in German means "Smoking Forbidden", and I think you can see why when you consider that the entire interior framework of the steeple is old, dry wood!) (Germans generally don't put up warning signs unless it is absolutely necessary, so if you see a warning sign in German, please do take it seriously.)
Around 1:30 we joined the marchers who were starting to gather at the Rathausplatz. Detlef and I got a sign, since we had not brought any and Judson got a white armband declaring he was an orderly. Monika looked around to see whether she could spot any of her old friends, but the crowd grew quickly and I wanted her to stay with us.
At 2 pm the show started with three long-winded speeches before we finally were set loose to march down Jungfernstieg boulevard and then on to the center of Hamburg University after a stop for yet more speeches. We were surprised how many people showed up, later estimates were for over 2000. We knew the march was supposed to be a "Big Deal" in the USA, but even here in Germany that many people thought it was important to march for freedom of science.
The march ended with yet another set of speeches, but by this time all three of us were really hungry, so we headed for the nearest student restaurant and had a belated lunch. We had to laugh when our drinks were brought. My coke was smaller than Monika's beer, but cost more!! The difference is almost enough to make me want to drink beer!
We went shopping for some food on the way back to Detlef's place, and then had a nice conversation followed by dinner together with Susanne. But after that, we old folks were getting tired, so we left the younger generation to go out and party some more while we quietly took the bus and train back to the Armedia for the night.
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