It took us a few days to walk from Lübeck to Hamburg, and despite the pleasant surroundings and almost non-stop sunshine, we could hardly wait to finally arrive in one of our favorite cities. Hamburg had been on our mind for quite a while, as we could stay with friends there and also because it would mark our change from the summer- to the winter season. Once we were there, we almost didn’t want to leave, and that wasn’t only because of the beautiful weather. The hiking trail within the city boundaries alone is more than 40km long, so we spent almost a week between rest and hiking days in this fantastic city, where we were so well received.
It would be unfair not to mention the beautiful scenery we encountered on our way to Hamburg, on hiking days 150 to 154; the tranquil Elbe-Lübeck Canal, the glittering waters of the lake of Ratzeburg, the morning mist slowly fading away to let the sun come through, the medieval town of Mölln, well known in Germany for the tales of witty Till Eulenspiegel, green forests, majestic manors and traditional countryhouses.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. On the night from September 27 to 28, our alarm clocks rang at 3.00 AM and we were ready to get dressed and go outside in the cold to watch a very rare spectacle: A total lunar eclipse with a blood moon. Fortunately, leaving the room wasn’t necessary, as our window was conveniently facing the moon at the time of eclipse.
In the afternoon of day 154 of our trip, we reached the outskirts of Hamburg and, after feasting on a proper döner kebab, took a suburban train to the city centre. No, not to the posh area around the town hall. From the neat and calm suburbs, we had been transported into the colourful, busy, multicultural Schanzenviertel. Moiken took her trousers to a Turkish seamstress, José had his hair and beard trimmed by an Arabic barber, and afterwards both of us sat down and enjoyed bica com pastel de nata (espresso with custard tart) at a Portuguese pastelaria.
In the evening, we walked to Geelke and Michael’s apartment, where we would stay for the next five days. Geelke and Moiken know each other for more than 25 years; after an exchange year during their secondary school time, their group of exchange students has kept in contact until today.
The following day was our laundry and shopping day. It was time to change our spring/summer wardrobe for some warmer clothes and we found everything we needed in a five-storey outdoor paradise in the city. Moiken could use some of her own winter stuff, which her brother had shipped to Geelke’s address (and which luckily had arrived exactly on that morning), but we still needed thicker shirts, gloves, knit caps and trousers.
We had the evening for ourselves, so we decided to take in a bit of culture and went to see an independent Brazilian movie at the film festival. Even the director of the movie “Neon Bull” was present to answer questions from the audience. Sipping fancy cocktails served by bearded hipsters in an underground bar rounded up our urban day.
We saw a very different face of the city the next day, when we hiked from the green neighborhood Bergedorf to the city centre. Until the very last kilometers of our hike, we were surrounded by fields, dunes, forests and parks. Did you know there is an airfield for gliders within the city boundaries?
In the evening, we enjoyed a delicious Portuguese dinner in the harbour district with our hosts and went for a stroll underneath the river Elbe to admire the city lights from the other shore.
Another rest day followed, which we started with a genuine Portuguese breakfast in the company of Geelke and Sonja, who has spent her exchange year in Brazil. We loved the fact that many Germans were queuing up at the pastry shop and asked for the coffees and pastries using the Portuguese names! Sonja gave us a tour to another vibrant neighborhood, St. Pauli, and left us with a lot of good tips about what to see and do in the city.
On day 158, we started our hike in the still sleepy and foggy city centre. Except for the urban harbour area, we were walking in midst of parks and green areas, the mighty river Elbe always at our side. Different from what one would expect in Northern Germany, we had to climb up and down quite a number of hills to get to our destination, the distant neighborhood of Hamburg-Sülldorf.
On our last evening with Geelke and Michael, we had a wonderful surprise: A home cooked local dish from Geelke’s childhood, followed by a very smooth and aromatic gin, offered by Michael. This drink has a lot to do with us: Gin Sul is manufactured in Hamburg with ingredients from the Costa Vicentina, so it has already made the journey that still lies ahead of us.
It was hard to say goodbye to our friends, but we had to move on. There was quite a bit of Germany waiting for us.