Week 4 –Hamburg to Berlin
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Start of week 4 – and it sounds like its getting close to home time! We rose early to head to Hamburg Fischmarkt – about a 2 mile hike from where we stayed. The market was really quite large – very impressive and lots of bargains. We foolishly bought loads of fruit that we could only just carry for €10 – then wished we hadn’t as our arms were twice as long when we got back. There seemed to be a live gig (classic rock) going on in the auction house and wondered if we’d see “The Hoff” – but didn’t. It was around 9am and clearly been going on all night – and considering our guidebook says “Germans like drink but it is rare to see a drunk” – well we can assure you – there were a fair few around here – still drinking! After a little more site seeing in a stunning city we decided we’d had enough of cities for a while and escaped to the coast.
Our Gaslow meter was just entering the “yellow” which should have meant about 30-40% left – so thought we’d better top up and actually see how accurate it was. We manually routed TomTom via a few stretches of motorway with some nice roads in between – and headed to a site in Ziewro near Wismar on the north coast via an LPG filling station. Well the LPG Euro adapter didn’t fit, but the Italian/French one did – we then connected the pump (and obviously could not read the instructions) and managed to get about 0.02 litres in. Oops – had to go and ask for it to be reset. After fluffing a bit more and a few more “moments” – we got it working and got 7 litres of LPG in for around €5 and filled our 6kg bottle – and we now know the gauge is accurate enough.
After our walks we were pretty knackered and decided to have a chilled afternoon once getting to site (it started raining and everything closed on Sundays anyway!) and do the laundry and listen to music. On checking the site, there was an impressive (and I mean impressive) facilities block with showers to beat all showers; and a nice little bar/restaurant just outside! Not bad for a fiver a night, just what we needed! We ventured to the nice bar and restaurant to be greeted by a scary lady who thrust the menus at us. We only wanted a beer but were too scared to decline the food. After being asked 3 times in 5 minutes what we wanted, we chose quickly translating only the odd word. Ryan had a lovely meat & mushroom dish (Pork steak) – and Mel had a lovely fish meal covered in bacon! Needless to say, Ryan didn’t go hungry.
The following day we decided on a day off – and simply cycled into the nearest nice town, Wismar, about 6 miles away. Wismar was rather nice and pleasant – but nothing really special. We found a quiet internet cafe and caught up on business and made a few more plans. Annoyingly we had to pay for the first time ever – the Germans seem to have far better configured WiFi than anywhere else!
Following a good nights sleep we set off towards Nationalpark Muritz, and a town called Waren. We set a route via the country roads – and this time we really enjoyed the drive. The roads were as smooth as glass, nice fast and sweeping, some technical corners, and quite good fun to hack along on! We brits have something to learn from their road repairs – in places they looked like a patchwork quilt – but were smoother than the painted white lines! A pleasure to drive on. We have decided though its not just BMW drivers who can’t use indicators – its all things German! They use them when overtaking on the Autobahns, but never in towns, roundabouts or even turning off a main road! That explains more the BMW mentality in the UK then….
The views were more of what we expected, lovely countryside of all autumnal colours and quite picturesque villages on the way through set alongside one of the many lakes along the way. We camped literally two feet away from the lovely Muritz lake and explored the amazing town of Waren. We can only imagine what it would be like in the heat of summer – something that would fit right in on the med! It is full of old character, but well maintained with all (and we mean all) buildings neatly painted and colourful. The only downside was autumn turned to winter and it was bitterly cold!
At this point we were torn between what to do – on one hand on a tour you want to see as much as possible, but on the other hand you don’t want to simply wiz through everything just to tick the box. On this trip, one of the key objectives was to see Berlin and Dresden – and we’d pencilled in the coming weekend for Berlin, the following weekend in Dresden, and the last week we’d amble west back towards home. Unfortunately this meant missing some bits out rather than simply rushing through, so the North East corner of Germany, Rugen, will now have to wait for another trip – and to be honest it’d probably be much nicer in the summer!
After Waren, and knowing Berlin was coming, we thought it wise to enjoy the countryside and national park a bit more, so we headed to Lake Wobiltzee and stayed a couple of nights – planning some running, hiking and cycling through the national park. We can still only manage short runs (still recovering from the Amsterdam race) which is a shame. The second day in the forest we awoke to rain and it was chucking it down – so opting for a lazy start to the day instead and simply a took a small walk in the afternoon past the local shop and stocked up with goodies before settling down with Schindlers List.
The following morning turned out to be sunny and warm with a lovely glow over the lake. After sorting out, Mel drove a fine drive into Berlin to a motorhome park right in the centre (10 min walk from Checkpoint Charlie). Driving in the city was quite mental but Mel kept her cool and TomTom was, as ever, spot on. As we were staying two days, we spend the first day in East Berlin, with the Jewish museum and Checkpoint Charlie, followed by a tour of the main eastern sites. We found a shopping centre which just had multiple car showrooms in (VAG?). Bugatti had a showroom we looked around with the showpiece being the stunning Bugatti Veyron. A very impressive toy – maybe one day!
Our second day started in superb (but chilly) sunshine, so we set off early to continue our tour of the sites. Brandenburg Gate is hugely impressive as is the Tiergarten park with its Siegessaule (Triumphal column). We ventured back to the Eastern side to see their exquisite buildings and managed to get some free wifi over lunch and massive hot chocolates. We ventured back to Checkpoint Charlie and went into the large museum there and spent a fair few hours looking around. It provided a very informative, educational and moving experience – well worth a visit.
The central part of the city is stunning, but just outside and especially the suburbs it appears to be a bit of a dump (and sometimes smells like it). Lots of high-rise flats, old looking and semi-derelict buildings, tatty roads and unfortunately quite unappealing. That said, Berlin is most definitely worth seeing – but be prepared for a few days of knackered legs or do as we didn’t – take a tour bus. We just wore ourselves out and prepare ourselves for our penultimate week away.