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Day 46 and 47 – Hamburg to Rødby

cycling to the Baltic sea

 Day 46 – Hamburg to Scharbeutz.

It was a sunshine and birdsong day as we joyfully rolled out of town, the three of us on our eeeee-bikes. It took us most of the morning to get going. City exits are complicated. Once you’re out into the lushous countryside cycling is a breeze.

This cycle path was a railway in the past, so an easy level chuffing along the now smoothly tarred surface. My companions are much faster than me with their lightweight overnight bags. We speed along the flashing green tree-lined path.

Instant coffee at a supermarket around mid-afternoon where some caffeine relief had Regina smiling once again. One becomes acutely aware of circadian, nutritional, and sleep rhythms on a long distance journey. I have become a completely different creature compared to my home self. It became obvious now, in the company of other humans, just how the body finds a rhythm and a rut that suits the individual for best success. When travelling in a group one must make compromises to stay together, and that makes a difference to your natural fitness.

In Lübeck we sat down at a busy bar for a celebratory sundowner glass of Prosecco. Surprised to hit my 3000 km mark right here in the center of this delightful town. I’m surprised because I thought I would be in Oslo by now.

We decided to ride a bit further north before calling it a day. There is a tunnel under the Trave estuary which is forbidden to cycle through. In Germany you can be sure there is a solution. Along came a shuttle bus dragging a trailer made especially for bikes. Not only that, there is also a ramp so you don’t need to lift your bike up. You ride on, snap the lock, jump into the bus and off you go through the tunnel.

This evening the three of us tired girlies are sharing a room at the ArtHotel in Scharbeutz. We rode here in the dark along the fabulous promenades. The elite have magnificent houses on this riviera. Regina rubbed deep-heat cream on her legs before hopping into bed because her knees hurt. Unfortunately she’s allergic to it, so she hopped right out again. Her legs turned a fiery red and burned all night while I snored!

106 kms.

See the route map here

Day 47 – Scharbeutz to Rødby.

My brother and niece are in Copenhagen. According to them my plan to ride up to the north of Jutland to catch the boat to Norway is NOT acceptable. That would be cheating. I am to catch a ferry at Puttgarden to Denmark. They will take a train south with their bicycles and meet me halfway. We’ll spend a night somewhere on the coast then ride together into Copenhagen. (May take a ferry directly to Oslo from Copenhagen – but don’t dare mention that). They say “From there you must ride up the west coast of Sweden to Norway. No shortcuts, if you say you’re going to ride to Oslo then you must ride all the way.” –

Slow start on Friday, but fun riding all day towards Puttgarden with my two enthusiastic friends. Crossed over a mighty high and windy bridge. Access via a tiny gate in a security fence. Then we rode like witches on broomsticks to reach the last train of the day at Burg. Waved a sad goodbye to my friends Regina and Zoe, then dashed across to the other side of the island to catch the last ferry. Many huge trucks on the ship and one solitary bicycle.

Forty five minutes later the boat pulled up to Rødby and I staggered into the first hotel called “Stop and Sleep” right in the middle of the truck stop turning circle. Delectable dinner and good clean room.

96 kms

See the route map here

End of part two – Thoughts on bike seat with a view!

I have spent two thirds of this journey tripping across Germany. Two thousand kilometers by bike from the Alps all the way up to the coast of the Baltic Sea. It has been such a privilege to use the vital infrastructure, cycle lanes, paths and safe hotels with bicycle storage. Solid breakfasts and dependable service all put together by generations of hard working, thoughtful people.

In my experience the northerners make little attempt at small talk but they do like to share practical information. They enjoy high levels of education and culture, create logically designed systems, build organised towns, grow pretty forests and control beautiful rivers. There is no time for meaningless chatter.

They’re also good at making never-ending road-works.

The enormous volume of construction and farming is quite overwhelming. Much of the land is being plastered with more roads, more cement and mono crops. The economy is booming to the sound of earth moving machinery, cranes, trucks, bigger ploughing tractors or harvesting machines and factories.

My wish for Europe is more flowering fallow land for the bees, magical wild forests for children, and a ban on bulldozers and cement for everyone. I think we have enough roads, enough car parks and supermarkets. Cities are like scabs on the Earth’s skin, if we stop scratching the ground then cities will heal up and the face of the Earth will look lovely again.

Leanne

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Day 44 – 45 – Zeven to Hamburg

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, watercolour by Leanne Talbot Nowell

The day began at Zeven.

Cycling happily between perfectly manicured and manured farms. Paved cycle paths travel parallel to the main roads towards Buxtehude.

In town the tranquil pedestrian zone is decorated with copious flower baskets. I make a reconnaissance mission into a shop to buy a lightweight jacket. It’s the first time I’ve been in a shop, other than two brief escapades into an ebike store, since that supermarket when my glasses and hat were stolen. It feels really weird to be in a woman’s dress shop. I feel neither woman nor man, I’m a fusion these days.

From Buxtehude apparently there is a pleasant route directly into Hamburg. Ignorance is NOT bliss. Following the googley girl’s directions turn out to be a noisy road along the edge of the highway to Harburg (har har) and then north into a spaghetti of bridges and intersections where my phone battery expires and leaves me stranded.

At a rough place that sells soda someone told me it is possible to go into town from all directions (?)

One direction will do please. Thank God for church steeples. They have a higher purpose.

Hamburg is a stunning port city with a difficult history of fire, plague and war. But obviously the population is clever and resilient so they have created a splendid city once again.

Not terribly difficult to find the way to Regina and Mica’s place. They have kindly invited me to spend the night at their lovely apartment in the most swish part of town. Regina is an interior decorator and it shows.

She has hired ebikes so she, and her fifteen year old niece Zoe, can ride with me tomorrow. Looking forward to some company. But the clouds have gone berserk and rain is falling in buckets.

Day 45

After an abundant breakfast we decide not to ride out until the rain subsides a bit. I’m happy to have a day of rest to tell you the truth. It has been a solid week of riding all day and my butt is in agony.

Regina drives us around to explore all the most interesting and beautiful sights in Hamburg. She is an expert on all the most secret, best and most enticing places. We visited the sparkling new Elbphilharmonie, a shining architectural crown and took a ferry around the harbour. Then walked along the waterfront looking for milkshakes. Rain didn’t matter.

Finally got to eat a proper Hamburger with sweet potato chips. The day ended with a night walk in the Speicherstadt, a UNESCO world heritage site, where the huge old brick warehouses have now been transformed into luxury estates. Hamburg certainly has a wealth of history. Not short of contemporary wealth as well.

See the map route here

hamburger.jpg
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Buxtehude and surrounds

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Going into Hamburg, on this bridge for bikes
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outskirts of Hamburg
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Regina and Michael
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There is a shortage of photography to the disastrous crash of my hard drive. Hope to have them professionally retrieved soon.