We took a week long road trip from our apartment in Loosdorf, Austria with two friends, Jutta and Pedro (whom we previously met while diving in Honduras) from the bottom of Germany right through to the top and then back again. Our first stop was the port city of Hamburg, way up on the northern shore of Germany.
Half the fun was getting there
We drove all the way from Salzburg, Austria. Most of the 10 hours was fortunately spent on the famous German Autobahn. The Autobahn, of course, is famous for its lack of speed limits. However, it should probably be equally famous for its summertime construction which frequently imposes speed limits of 60 km/hr, which seems really, really, really, slow after cruising at 170 km/hr. It was fun, fast, slow and frustrating all at the same time, but with three eligible drivers in the car it was really no problem at all.
We spent two nights in Hamburg, and really didn’t accomplish much outside of the “free” (as in – you don’t have to pay, but you will be guilted into leaving a tip for the unpaid guide) city tour. It was actually a really good tour. We learned about the two major disasters that the city has faced: the great fire of 1842 and the destructive allied bombings during WWII. We saw many, many brick buildings that actually look good, and toured the harbour which is apparently a “free port” meaning tax-free (no wonder that shipping is the major industry of this city).
The tour ended with a pirate story about the famous German Pirate named Klaus Störtebeker. He makes for an entertaining story, his name essentially means “down in one” and refers to his legendary ability to down a 4L mug of beer in one gulp. When he was eventually captured, it was in Hamburg that he was executed. Again the story grows interesting. During his execution, he is said to have struck a bargain with the mayor, to the effect that, the mayor would free any of his men that he could walk past after being beheaded. According to legend, after his head was removed, his body got up and walked past 11 of his men before being tripped by the executioner, who was being paid on a per-head basis. In the end the mayor reneged on the deal and executed everyone anyways, but what a story!