Lubeck to The Netherlands                    July 2 to 7

Meiendorf, about ten km north of Hamburg. The end of a hot day, one of my handful of 'sunglasses days'. The Meiendorfer Park is a workingman's gasthaus: truckers, journeymen, commercial travelers.

I held my own at the bar, managing to explain my journey with some German, some English, and some Point-&-Grunt.






Hamburg's backyard

  I chose not to go into Hamburg Zentrum (centre) and, instead, skirted through the old industrial east side of town. The area is in much the same situation as London's docklands were a generation ago — you don't see a whole lot of boats, do you.    Hamburg is still the country's busiest port, but the action is downstream at the bulk terminals and container docks.    
  In the Hamburg docklands, something for the Big Plane enthusiasts.       A custom-built truck heading off for the south of France carrying a component for the Airbus 380, the new double-decker airliner, built in pieces all over western Europe, then taken to Toulouse for assembly.      

























      The quays on the river Weser have been extensively redeveloped for visitors . I rode through town aound noon on the 5th.








This building is typical along the quayside.      
In past centuries it would have been a merchant's house, the business and warehouse below, the family dwelling above.

This house, Robinson Crusoe Haus, specialized in the cocoa trade. Lots of call for chocolate in Germany.


















  South of Bremen a wealthy countryside. Riding stables and hobby farms.    



      And then there was this : an auto dealership, way out in the countryside, that handles all makes, all models..... as long as you're talking about makes and models 150,000€ and up. In one site, Bentley, Rolls, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Maserati, Ferrari, ... and way down at the bottom of their list, your ordinary Porches, Mercedes, and BMWhatevers (they keep those out the back).
      What better indicator could there be of the locality's economic well-being?











    Not for me though. Just because of my preference for two wheels rather than four, I kept riding. On down the road to a horsey enclave called Helgenrode.
  I cannot go on without mentioning that, after trying for two hours to find accomodation in and about Helgenrode, and being told "Sorry, we're full" by four different hotels (all above my budget anyway) , I had for the first time in four summers, come upon a place that was too good for a sweaty, dirty vélotrekker.  




  So I continued on, another 15 km and came into Bassum at 6:30 (latest end-of-day for the whole trip) after a 101km day (longest ride for the whole trip). Was very well received at the Hotel Brokate. Got to use some German too, for the second time in three days. It really is quite rare to find a non-English hotel.    

















All along the Berlin to baltic leg I saw only wheat and corn. In this part of the country, though, the crops were more diversified.

Here's a potatoe field that stretched from my toes out to the horizon.












    ...and strawberries.
Actually, the reason for this picture is the logo on the outhouse. I thought it was 'cute'























  The village of Colnrade. Trim & tidy, like all the towns between Bremen and the Netherlands.    

















                              I suppose I could have said   "this is a sheep".
























    Hogenbögen, that way.  
      I noticed the name Hogenbögen on my map and decided that, with a name like that, it was one place I didn't want to miss. Unfortunately, the place was so small, I rode through without noticing. I must have blinked.

Anyway, here's the sign, pointing back where I had just come from: Hogenbögen. For my collection of odd placenames.

The bottom half of the sign tells you that houses numbered 1 to 40 are down the road.

































  Sunday at noon coming in to Haselünne, I came upon what appeared to be a gathering of the citizenry at a crossroads
about 2 km out of town. It was explained to me that this is an annual event, a procession celebrating the end of planting
and a break for farmers before the beginning of harvest later in the summer.

There were speeches by dignitaries, music by the band, blessings by the priest and then everyone marched off to town.
The Canadian guy tagged along at the rear, pushing his bike.












  Lingen, my last night in Deutschland    
    I arrived late afternoon and found the town square all barricaded with two-meter-high hoardings. There was just enough room to get around the perimeter on foot. Evidently they were setting up for a concert or festival of some sort that evening.

I listened as the orchestra and some singers did a few sound checks and put some polish on, practicing a few passages. They sounded like remarkably good talent for such a little town.

I found a hotel on the outskirts of town. Everything closer in was booked solid.

"Oh, yes, they're all here to hear Carreras this evening", the lady at the desk told me.

The "rather good" voice I had heard doing the sound check earlier was Jose Carreras.
  So here's the concert I didn't attend in Lingen.    




















    July 7 , summer-camp kids on the river Vetche at Nordhorn, just 2 km from the Dutch border.













At the Netherlands border, lots of big box stores.

       Here's why they're called "big box".
       The merchandise is rather big.

I don't know what the reasoning is behind this. There aren't supposed to be any price differences among EU countries.

I didn't see any corresponding stores on the Dutch side. The only thing I saw that was different were the pot shops.













Next:     The Netherlands