rod mclaughlin

I don't know why it's called Bad Barmstedt - it's actually quite good (30 jun 18...02 jul 18)

I worked out I had to get to Hamburg in two days to get to Hirtshals by July 6 to get the ferry to Norway. Though midsummer, there was a strong, rainy northerly against which I had to pedal all day.

At Bleckede, I arrived on the north side of the Elbe after 80 km against the wind, and saw a sign for camping, 0.1 Km. But it was closed. So I crossed the river on the ferry. I was so tired, I stayed at a hotel. I only found out the next day there are campsites just down the road. Anyway, the only good thing about the hotel is the woman went down from €70 to €50, including breakfast. But it was a crap room. They had to get someone to come and fix the shower. Luckily, there was a balcony (with an ashtray full of cigarette butts in it), but I could cook the food I'd bought for camping. In the morning, the breakfast was not so great. It was the first time I'd encountered cold fried eggs since a hospital in Thailand. The waiter was impolite. Don't stay at the Elbhotel.

At Campingpark Gartow I was the only camper in the tent area - I was able to use kitchen to get dry after three days of rain.

I went through an interesting town called Lauenburg. It's a pre-Victorian port - and the river is deep enough here for modern ocean-going ships. It's built of bricks. Some of it looks like the 1920's and some mock Elizabethan. I crossed the river to get to it by hauling my bike up some steps, only to find out that I could have walked across a railway line to get there. 

When I got to Hamburg, I couldn't find a hotel, but one guy in the Imperial gave me a "token" to use the internet, and checked out other hotels for me. He sent me to the Commodore. It is opposite St Pauli football ground. I met some interesting people, including a Ugandan receptionist and some bartenders in an Antifa bar. I missed watching Germany getting knocked out of the world cup, though it was on a telly in a public square. I hadn't done the maths, and didn't expect South Korea to stuff the Germans.

Bad Barmstedt was nice. Except for the lack of connectivity. No wifi anywhere, and one cafe, Cafe Tilda, had it, but when I asked for the password, having ordered a beer, the woman said "Nein". Just like that. I left without the beer.

Denmark looks a lot more promising. The first ATM machine accepted my card, the first campsite had wifi, and everyone speaks English. But even early in the morning, when no-one else is using it, the wifi can slow down to more than two seconds per Google ping.

From the Sudetenland to the Danish border, there were no hills. Denmark seems hilly in comparison! I'll need to get a bit fitter, or Norway will be a shock.

The pictures are - rainy river crossing, Lauenburg, a memorial near Bad Barmstedt commemorating the fallen of the wars of 1848, 1871, 1914 and 1939 - Germany won the first two of these - a bar in St Pauli and the football club, and connectivity in Denmark.

Portland London