Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Water and Eis

Hamburg is a major port city in northern Germany, and connected to the North Sea by the Elbe River. It's crossed by hundreds of canals, and also contains large areas of parkland. For more information check out http://www.hamburg.com/sights/

Markus works for Customs here at the port and was proud as punch to show us a copy of the local newspaper last night that highlighted the recent haul of 3.8 tonnes of cocaine with a street value of €800 million found in a container packed with BBQ brickettes.

This morning we all slept in a little later, children included! We shared a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon, rolls and meats and cheeses and pickled cucumber and honey - strange but oh so good.  I'll make some when I get home. Today Markus and Inga have suggested that we all go by train into Hamburg (because with the present roadworks around the city, the traffic and parking will be a real problem) and spend the day near and on the Elbe River and visiting a new park for the children to play.  I gave Finn a couple of euros to buy his eis (ice-cream) today so he is excited.

We leave here about 12 noon with Michael and Markus walking the children to the station while Inga and I drove down.  It took all of 3 minutes in the car and perhaps 5 minutes more to walk. We parked very close to the station in a free area. The all day group ticket that covered the train and ferries (and buses if we wanted to use them) that covered all 6 of us cost less than €20!  Bargain.
At the main station, we come across the statue of the water carrier - a former Hamburg resident that carried water for a living.  Young children used to tease him and because he could not chase or smack them he would famously say "you can lick my a**e"!
Photo opportunity for Michael of course.

The train takes 30 minutes into the main station in Hamburg and we then change to a U-Bahn (Metro) train for a further 3 stops which puts us very close to this new playground. It is a combined playground and water park that friends had told them about - and Finn in particular just loved it here. We drank coffee while he played to his hearts delight in the water and sand and genuinely enjoyed ourselves too. Later we went to an ice-cream shop that Markus sometimes visits from work. You choose your ice cream and a number of toppings and they are then all mixed together.  We had vanilla ice-cream with cherry sauce, cornetto chips and white chocolate flakes - SO GOOD.  Finn bought his kinder (child) sized vanilla with cornetto flakes. Lena being a baby was just happy to be in the sun, well fed and being ogled at by us all.
We were all happy.  We are now sitting harbour-side and looking across to the ports where Markus works. He explains about the traffic light system of coding ships depending on their origin and some of the ways that drugs, or cigarettes, are hidden. Very interesting.

From here we then walked around to the other side of the harbour to catch a ferry up the Elbe. One ferry takes us half-way and before we board the next ferry to take us to the mouth of the river, we stop to have 'fish burgers'. 

This is Markus favourite and he chooses the Bismark - which is basically rollmops and pickled onions and peppers, I have the walnut bread with smoked salmon and cream cheese, Inga has the Thunfish toast and Michael ordered the Merlan fish (whiting) that was served warm.
We ordered frites for Finn, but most were eaten by the adults!

The Salmon was great, Michael enjoyed his Merlan and Inga said the Thunfish was great. But Markus, well, he relished that burger though none of the rest of us could stomach the thought of it.  We had lemon and mint water - but were badly disappointed after the amazing ones we had in Romania. 

We tried to catchup with another couchsurfer - Anya today who is also living in Hamburg, but her plans and ours just didn't mesh. Oh well, next visit!

We spent the afternoon on and off ferries and walking through parts of old Hamburg around the docks. Fascinating and really gorgeous architecture. We are waiting for the ferry to begin the trip home and I commented to Inga how lovely the light is at this time of the day when the shadows lengthen and the harsh rays of light are gone. Thinking it was about 5, we are horrified to find that it is now 6:40 pm.  No wonder the children are tiring (and me!)

We head for the station - about 200m Markus assures us.  Huh. Maybe as the crow flies. We actually walked about 2.5 kms!  Inga reminded me that when they travelled in Australia, Markus favourite saying was that it was "just around the corner" or "not far to walk" and it didn't seem to matter how far it was.  Told him later that his sense of distance was totally crap!!!

Still, it has been a great day.  We had planned crepes for dinner, but the consensus on the way home that delivered pizza was to be the order of the night!  Easy, quick and we could order it en-route so that we could eat soon after we get here.  Great idea as we are all knackered.

We got some great pics - I'll put some more up on FB.
Tired as now at 12:17am and needing to go to bed as we have a 7 - 8 hour drive back to Steph and Felix tomorrow.

So Inga and Markus have had their first couchsurfers (literally).
All worked out very well indeed.  Guess we will have to leave a very positive comment!

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