Elbe Bike Path - Day 1
It is about 11°C in Manchester, 20°C inside the airport and probably some 27°C in Hamburg. How should I dress for the day? Linen is the only answer, with multiple jumpers. The flight goes very well and we land early at Hamburg. Once out of the aircraft we have to walk for miles to get to baggage reclaim and there the bikes are, laid out on the floor next to the main exit. Perfect service. I move them against a wall out of the way and unpack them. Then we have to wait 15 minutes for the pannier containing the tools to come off the conveyor. After an oily 20 minutes per bike I have them rebuilt and we wheel out into the sunshine.
There is always a moment when the queue of people at Arrivals do a double-take at two bikes coming through the door. "Can you take a bicycle on a plane?" crosses their minds. Yes, you can. We go outside and then have that moment of fear of getting onto a bike that might not be perfectly reassembled, but no problems.
We have a map of the airport (pre-printed), but getting out still proves a little tricky. Luckily on the road we meet a cycling family who help us out. It is clear that bikes are allowed to ride on the pavement everywhere and that there are bike signs showing how to get to local highspots. We followed a series of canals to the south of the larger Alster lake, then down to St Georg (a local town area). Going further is more difficult as the whole of the south of Hamburg is made up of canals, harbours etc. Luckily, using a Blackberry in GPS mode helped us find the crossings and we passed the entrance to a massive rave taking place on an Elbe canal bank.
The path very quickly left the city and we followed the dyke road to Eichbaumsee and hotel "zum Eichbaum". This proved to be a busy restaurant with rooms. We got a large clean duplex room for €95 and a good filling meal for €45 for two. This is one of the most expensive nights but Hamburg is famous for its high prices.
The bikes have proven comfortable, the paths well separated from cars and the locals friendly.
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