Hamburg & Lübeck, Germany
Before exploring Hamburg we drove straight to a caravan park, quite far out from the city. Our washing had been building up for a while so our first priority was to put on a load. When I returned to the machine expecting to pick up our freshly cleaned clothes, I discovered the machine had stopped halfway through the cycle and was full of water. Apparently it was out of credit. I added all the coins I had, which drained the water but left our clothes completely soaked. I tried to find the manager but reception had shut up shop for the night and wouldn't answer my knocks. With no other choice we hung up our dripping clothes outside and hoped it wouldn't rain overnight.
Well, it didn't rain but our clothes were still saturated in the morning. As we were leaving the caravan park that morning we had to hang them up inside our van, where they dripped over everything. To add to the fantastic start to the day, I was emptying the chemical toilet and spilt half of the filthy liquid down my leg. DISGUSTING! After de-peeing myself (which left me with wet jeans for the next hour or so) we managed to get away without further incident and make our way into Hamburg.
We exited the train at a large lake in the middle of the city and the first thing we could hear were protesters. As we turned around we were confronted with thousands of people protesting about nuclear power or something of this nature. They were loud. Really loud. There must have been dozens of loudspeakers among the crowds to make that much noise. We quickly headed in the opposite direction.
We walked along the lake for a while, but other than the cutest baby geese we had ever seen it wasn't the prettiest lake going around. Instead we wandered through the town and down to the river and canals in an area known as Spreicherstadt. Along the way we passed a building apparently shaped like a ship, a pretty cool Rathaus and several pedestrian areas lined with cafes. We looked into balloon flights over the area but they weren't running today because of "high winds" (it wasn't that windy). Spreicherstadt was fantastic, mostly old factories turned into apartments to give it a modern industrial look. If we lived in Hamburg we could see ourselves spending a large amount of time around here.
We paid to take a lift to the top of a church but the line was so long that we opted for the stairs instead. Both of us underestimated how tall the steeple was. 450 steps later, we made the viewing platform. The overcast day didn't make for the best viewing conditions, but did allow us to see just how large Hamburg was.
From the church Danny went to check out the Reperbahn area (red light district; apparently he didn't see much) while I wandered through the city gardens. The gardens were beautiful, dotted with odd-looking fountains and offering peaceful places to relax on the grass. Afterwards, I searched for a supermarket for what seemed like ages, knowing that they would be closed tomorrow. In the end I gave up and asked a man at an information point. Of course there was one only 50 metres away, within eyesight of where we were.
I met Danny back at the car where we ate sausages, mushrooms and a packet of pasta and sauce for dinner (bit of a mishmash but we couldn't be bothered cooking properly). Danny had found a local beer for himself and a ginger beer for me, which went down a treat. We decided we should drive to Lübeck tonight rather than tomorrow morning, so we made the hour's journey north. Amazingly, we found a car park only 700 metres from the centre and stayed there for the night.
Our perfect car park turned out to be on a busy, cobblestone road. All the cars that passed sounded like freight trains, which was not conducive to a good night's sleep. I guess that's why it was easy to find a car park so close to the city.
In the morning we walked into Lübeck, through the slightly crooked front gate and ran straight into a dozen tour groups. Apparently Sunday was the day to go sightseeing in Lübeck. It was not a big town and it seemed that the whole place was taken over by tourists. We managed to squeeze through the crowds to see a couple of churches, including one that was dominated by skull sculptures, skull-themed stained glass windows and a huge broken bell on the ground that had been there since it fell in World War II. Danny found a marzipan shop (tons of marzipan in Lübeck) and stocked up on marzipan goods. I can't stand marzipan, so I didn't share Danny's enthusiasm. Overall the town wasn't as exciting as I had hoped.
Germany, part one, was complete.