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Getting around

Part 2: Hamburg, Lübeck

Map of trip across Germany 6.6: Munich -> Hamburg
7.6: Hamburg
8.6: Hamburg -> Lübeck -> Puttgarden -> Copenhagen
14.6: Copenhagen -> Malmö -> Trelleborg -> Binz (Rügen island, Germany)
15.6: Binz, Sellin (Rügen island)
16.6: Königsstuhl and Stralsund
17.6: Binz
18.6: Binz -> Stralsund -> Berlin
19.6: Berlin
20.6: Berlin -> Potsdam -> Berlin
21.6: Berlin -> Wittenberg -> Dessau -> Bayreuth -> Munich

6.6: Munich -> Hamburg
Hotel Norderstedter Hof by Centro Comfort. Located in Norderstadt, 17km north of Hamburg. 109 Euro for a small room. The hotel overall is ok.  The room is not too big, but adequate.  It has a big flat screen TV, a toilet, a shower, some furniture. No A/C, and you can see that the room is quite old, i.e. the hotel must have been built many years ago. The main problem with this hotel is its distance from Hamburg. No WLAN in the room, breakfast not included.
Weather: beautiful sunny weather, blue sky, warm, not really hot, beautiful sunset.

We start driving to Hamburg at 3:30pm. Beautiful sunny weather, blue sky, warm, not really hot, beautiful sunset.

The traffic is not too bad considering that it's the day on which the school holidays begin in Bavaria.  There are a few jams on the motorway, mostly caused by the high traffic and occasional road works. We make a number of stops, reaching a top speed of 170 km/h when the situation allows it.  In the end we need 9 hours and 20 minutes to reach the hotel in Norderstedt, arriving at 00:50am in the night.                                 

The guy in the reception immediately hands out the room key, after I tell my name and mention the booking.com reservation.

7.6: Hamburg
Hotel Norderstedter Hof.
Weather: sunny blue sky in the morning, in the evening some clouds layer. 27°C in the afternoon.

In the morning we leave the hotel room around 11am, then walk to the nearby shopping area, where we buy some groceries.  Then I have a brief chat with the hotel staff and enquire about parking options in central Hamburg.  The guy strongly advises to get into town with public transport, explaining that it will take one hour and a half to get into town by car and that we won't find a parking. 

This sort of conflicts with the impression I got from Hamburg when I examined it in Google street view. Anyway because we are carrying quite some stuff with us I decide to drive into town by car. 

It turns out that getting into the city centre and finding a parking is very easy (half an hour to get into town).

At 1:15pm we park the car close to the Jungfernstieg (very near the town hall) and start exploring Hamburg.

This is a very chic area full of expensive cars, shops, hotels etc.  Surprisingly also lots of pretty young girls, of the top model type: tall, thin, long legs and hair. It's as if a fashion show was taking place. Also lots of people dressed very nicely, getting around with expensive accessories, kind of showing off. 

Overall this part of Hamburg is very photogenic.  Canals, nice old buildings, well choreographed environment.  And the weather today is very nice.  Sunny blue sky, 27 degrees.

We have some lunch in the food court of the Europa Passage, a nice modern shopping mall near the townhall.  Here there is a multitude of small restaurants, many ethnic ones, quickly serving food.  The food is not too impressive but fills the stomach. 

After this there is the problem that it's almost 3pm and my ladies are a bit tired, especially the small six years old one, given that yesterday we spent over 9 hours driving to Hamburg. So I leave them in the mall and explore a bit the area.  Actually I'm looking for the boats which do the city cruise because this could be a relaxing way to explore Hamburg.

After some searching I find some services.  Prices are 14 to 18 € per adult, half of this for children. The duration of the tour seems to be 2 hours.

Since the sun is a bit strong right now, I change plans and instead decide to visit the St Michaelis church, which has a tower with a nice view of Hamburg. 

So I fetch the car, pick up Shirley and the kids  and drive to this place.

The St Michaelis Church is an impressive piece of architecture, probably baroque style in the interior.  The ticket for the tower is 5€ for adults, 3.50€ for kids. There is an elevator which brings you to the top, but there is also a staircase. The view from the top is good, although the best viewing hours are the early morning and the late evening because the interesting view is towards the south (the harbour area).

We stay in the church until 6:20pm, to rest a bit. Then we walk to a park below the church where there are an open air music festival and some recreational activities, spending about half an hour there.

As we are close to the harbour, we drive to the riverfront, looking for a spot from which to take a photo of the Elbphilharmonie, but can't find a suitable one. So we drive back to the city centre and leave the car near the townhall (about five minutes spent looking for a free parking).

It's now 7:45pm and the Europa mall is about to close. We quickly grab some dinner in the food court, then around 8:15p make our way back to the hotel.

It takes now a while to drive back, as there are many traffic lights along the way. It's 8:50pm when I drop off Shirley and the kids at the hotel.

Immediately after that I drive back into town, to get some blue hour shots of Hamburg. This time I use a different route, one more to the west which avoids the urban centres. In fact it takes less time now to get into town (I arrive at 9:20pm).

There is lots of life on this Saturday evening in Hamburg. Lots of people in the streets, lots of night life. I'm back in the hotel quite late at 11:40pm, because the sunset is late on this June day and the blue hour lasts long.

8.6: Hamburg -> Lübeck -> Puttgarden -> Copenhagen
Park Hotel, Glostrup (suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark). 97 Euro for a large room with lots of furniture. Hotel located about 13km from the centre of Copenhagen. Big nice room with attached bathroom, good furniture. Free fast WLAN in the room. Breakfast included in the price. Only problem is that the A/C seems not to be working (25°C in the room in the evening) and there are just thin, light curtains on the windows, which means that at 4am the room will start to be bright.
Weather: sunny with clouds in Hamburg, quite warm (26-27°C). After about 3pm the sky closes and it rains a bit. More rain in the evening. In Denmark more fresh in the evening and the sky opens up.

We leave the hotel after 11am and start driving towards Lübeck. The idea is to avoid visiting again Hamburg and instead focus on Lübeck, a city listed among the UNESCO world heritage sites, which should be more interesting. Also, I'd like to avoid getting again into and out of Hamburg. Good idea, because on this Sunday the motorways are quite locked up with traffic, while the secondary land roads which we use qre quite free.

After a couple of stops along the way (one at the picturesque Peter Paul church in a village at 12:35pm and one in another small village where a band is playing (nice scenery with lots of nature and old historical houses), we reach Lübeck at 1:30pm. We easily find a free parking near the Holstentor, the famous twin conical tower gate.

We spend the next three hours exploring Lübeck and having lunch in a restaurant. We climb on top of a church tower from which there is a good view of the historic core of the city. From here it becomes apparent that the historic core is not intact and in fact consists of patches of old houses mixed with modern buildings. Cute patches mixed with not so cute patches.

It might be possible to spend more time in Lübeck, but after three hours we have had enough of Lübeck and head back to the car. It's around 4:45pm, still too early to drive to Puttgarden (our ferry leaves at 8:15pm), but perhaps the island of Fehmarn is interesting and worthwhile having a look. So we drive there and reach the ferry harbour at 6pm.

Small check on the homepage of Scandlines. It says that if you have a booking and arrive early you must purchase a new ticket. Not keen to do that, given that the ticket costs 87 Euro. So we drive to the nearby beach. Not much of a beach actually, so after just 10 minutes we drive to another beach. Actually we don't quite make it to this other beach, i.e. we stop at a parking and have a look at the area.

Fehmarn turns out to be not so interesting, at least not the small part we see of it. It's also difficult finding a tourist restaurant. We check out a couple of places, then head to a small restaurant near the ferry harbour. It's about 7pm and for some reason this place is already closing. So we just have an ice cream and and then get back to the car.

It's about 7:20pm and we drive to the automatic gates of the ferry. The next ferries are 7:45pm and 8:15pm. For some reason we are automatically put on the 7:45pm (perhaps because it is half-empty).

The ferry is a small drive through vessel with a restaurant and duty free area. After 45 minutes, a 8:30pm we reach Rodby, the Danish harbour. Then we start driving towards Copenhagen.

Copyright 2014 Alfred Molon