Blogging from Hamburg…

I woke up at 6AM, got myself ready and the bike loaded up, and was out of Berlin at 7AM. I wanted to get through the freeway slog early in the day and arrive in Hamburg early enough that I still had most of the day to enjoy the city.

I made a brief stop at another section of the Berlin Wall at the east end of the city. This section was not cordoned off like the one from the day before had been. It was painted with all kinds of street art and graffiti which I slowed down to look at. I pulled over at one section and took a picture of the bike with the Wall in the background.


This done, I got onto the freeway to head out of Berlin. It was about 270km to Hamburg. The ride was pretty uneventful. I kept a good 125kph clip, the monotony broken only by the recurring need to pass semis. I stopped for one quick gas stop at the 210km mark.

10 km outside of Hamburg, I saw a motorcyclist pushing his bike on the side of the road and slowed down and pulled over. He was riding a beautiful, old vintage BMW, which had stopped running for some reason. It turned out that one of the cylinders wasn’t firing and the spark plug kept getting fouled for some reason. He was going to need a tow. He looked relieved and happy that I had stopped, although I wasn’t sure that I could really do much to help him. I certainly couldn’t help him fix it, but I know that at times like this, it helps to just have someone with you and not feel like you’re alone. He spoke a little bit of English and expressed his gratitude at my having stopped. I told him that we should try to get off at the next exit where we could decide what to do. He said okay and I told him to get started so that I could follow him. He could ride the bike on one cylinder for a short while and at least go that distance.

He rode in the shoulder while I got back on the freeway. He was going really slow though and I didn’t think it was safe for me to go at that speed, so I picked up the pace and turned off at the next exit (which incidentally was my exit after all). I found a safe place to pull over on the side of the road and I waited. I took my gloves off and drank some water as I waited for him to catch up. About five minutes later, he blew past me waving his arm. Huh… well, I guess he was fine after all. Glad that he didn’t need my help, I too took off on my way. (A few miles down the road, I saw him pulled over again, but it was too late for me to stop. I felt bad, but I wasn’t familiar enough with the area to find my way back around, and I figured he was close enough to help that he would be okay.) That was a really nice bike though. I wish I had taken a picture. I mused to myself that that’s the kind of vintage bike I’d love to race someday.

I rode to BMW Hamburg on Onnakamp, missing the small entrance the first time. BMW occuped the entire set of blocks on that street, but only a small section was for motorycles. Almost the entire store was dedicated to their cars. I went around the block and turned in at the right entrance this time. The service guys pulled my bike over into the garage area and had the lowbeam bulb swapped out in the minutes (like James had said, the rubb covers at the back of the headlamp came off and there was some kind of elaborate clip mechanism that released the bulb). In all honesty, I could probably have figured this out on my own with instructions. but at nowhere the speed at which they did it. The also didn’t charge me, so it was probably a good thing I decided to let them do it.

From here, I called Alex and asked him to meet me downstairs, since my mobile phone minutes were over by now. I found his place without any trouble, pulled in to his garage and parked next to his Honda Shadow. We walked up four flights of stairs to his flat to put away my gear and luggage. Next we went to the train station where I bought tickets to Copenhagen and Stockholm. We had a very tasty lunch at a Turkish restaurant, before heading back to his flat. I was feeling a bit dizzy and needed to lie down for a little bit.

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Later on in the evening, we decided to go out for dinner and a small tour of Hamburg. I was still feeling dizzy and a bit out of it, so I rode on the back of his bike. Chalk that up to be the second time this month that I’ve ridden on the back of a guy’s bike. ;) The control freak in me appears to be taking a bit of a backseat. I have to admit that it is a little nice to not have to worry about riding and just enjoying the ride instead, as long as it’s just a short 30 minute ride.

I soon found out the immense advantage of seeing the city through the eyes of a local. Earlier in the afternoon, Alex took me to a kaffehaus where I got some excellent cappuchino. Now we went to a pizza place where I got some delicious thin crust pizza and a local beer.


After concluding a delicious meal, we went for a ride through the city where he called out the most significant sights that might or might not be on a typical tourist’s map. The most impressive one was the city’s inner harbor and the historical warehouse area.

I was beat by the end of the day and it was all I could do to climb into bed and read a bit of my book before falling asleep. The next day, I’d leave my bike behind and take the train to Copenhagen.