Friday, 6 September 2013

Friday 6 September. Hoopte Ferry to Hamburg.

On Wednesday we picked up the walk from Tespe, where I took a 'sickie,' and walked to the Hoopte Ferry (18.6km). We used local buses and trains to get to and from starting and finishing points (we had a hotel booked in Hamburg before I became ill).  An enjoyable walk with a lot of activity on the river. We will post the photos later.

Thursday was a Mr Bean day, will tell all later.

Today, Friday, after a stressful start (to be explained) a pleasant but long walk to the main station in Hamburg:- OUR FINISHING POINT FOR THIS YEAR. Have got photos and will blog, 27.1km!

The entry into Hamburg was much more beautiful than either Shiel or I expected, especially for such a large city.

We hope to do the final Hamburg to Cuxhaven bit next year. It should take about 7 or 8 days but will be tricky to organize.

To be continued.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Friday 30 August. Neu Darchau to Bleckede.

Our pension in Neu Darchau was very good and only the second we have had without ensuite facilities. The only downside of this is that we can't leave our walking clothes, that we normally hand wash every day, dripping dry in the shower.

The family were friendly and our bedroom  was off the family computer room. They kindly gave us access to their wifi, only the second time we've had really good internet access on the walk.

The data link via Vodaphone is virtually unuseable in all but the really large towns. Our rule of thumb is that if you can't find a Vodaphone shop in the town/village you are in then you won't have useful data access via your phone. As a result this blog will not be posted until I get a reliable data connection. In the Czech Republic, even in small hotels, we had the bandwidth to Skype video!

We had an excellent breakfast with good orange juice and yoghurt, as well as the usual breads, cheeses and boiled egg. Because we had said we didn't care for cooked meats she gave us a double supply of cheeses!

We never managed to eat the yoghurts and she offered to let us take them with us but we don't nomally eat during the day and neither of us want to carry extra weight. We enjoyed our stay.

We decided to stay on the south bank of the Elbe, to save two ferry crossings, and the landlady showed us a short cut to the high street. The route was largely beside the main road but latterly on a cycle track beside a forest. The first photograph shows a warning sign we saw. We thought it was about spiders, we saw some big ones, but it was about hairy caterpillars that live on oak trees and later become moths. Apparently the hairs on the caterpillers can set off allergic reactions in people.

We did see some big spiders though and I've included a photo of one for my sister. Sadly it is out of focus.

We stopped at a town called Alt Garge, at about the halfway mark and then we were hoping to get onto the stop bank to walk beside the Elbe, but the route was blocked (see photo). Our planned route would have made for a longer walk.  We did however get two coffees in a Greek restaurant.

This whole area had a lot of flooding and they were working on repairing the stop bank. The result of the diversion was that we arrived at our B&B much earlier than expected, just after 1pm. However although they normally only open at 15:00 they saw us waiting and kindly gave us access to our rooms. We showered, did our washing and then had a rest. (We're getting old!)

About 15:45 we got up to go to town and very kindly the landlady offered us a lift. What was amazing was that she immediately understood that whilst we could accept a lift into town for an evening meal we couldn't accept lifts whilst walking beside the Elbe (and they don't see many walkers). Perhaps though few in numbers, long distance walkers stay in the memory because of their eccentricities.

The daughter took us into town in a large car. The landlady followed in a small compact. For some reason the daughter did not want to swap cars with her mum, she was however quite happy to try out her English with us.

Although there are one or two very old houses Bleckede gives the impression of a new town, much like Exeter but much smaller. However for a small town Bleckede has an unbelievably large number of restaurants and they look pretty good. We ate in a very good Italian restaurant. No cassata though. Almost as difficult to find as cannelloni.

This cycle route would be ideal for OMJ and Elaine. The cycling for OMJ and the ballroom dancing for Elaine. In 1983 we lived in West Germany, near the border with the DDR, and we could receive East German TV. The East German TV was always showing ballroom dancing competitions.

We only walked 14km beside the Elbe today, tomorrow will be nearly double that!

Sunday 1 September. Honstorf to Tespe.

This blog was written up 24 hours late. As you read on you will see why.

We started off about 9:15 after a good breakfast. It was colder than we've become used to so we both put on our wind/waterproof clothing. It was good weather for walking it being cool but sunny. First we got a good view of Lauenburg, on the far side of the Elbe whilst on our side we passed a very nice thatched farmhouse. The day had a much better feel to it than yesterday. For our NZ readers we've enclosed a photograph of some interesting brown sheep. Probably useful fleeces for weavers.

We passed through Artlenburg making good time and paused to photograph an old windmill and a nearby marina. Nearby there were modern windmills generating electricity. It would be interesting to convert the old one to do the same.

With the sun still shining we passed two horses in a field and I had to take a photograph as one of them had a similar coat to Flame. It was really glowing. The poor horses here are terribly tormented by flies. Some lucky ones have got head nets. 

There seem to be lots more flies here than in NZ and you should see the wasps in the baker's shops! They have to be seen to be believed. However we've also heard much more bird song here than in NZ.

There was also plenty going on on the river today with boats and barges moving up and down. I took a photograph of two barges approaching each other from opposite directions. Note the trees in the foregound, they were shortly to play a useful function in our story.

So far the day had been brilliant. Much better than yesterday. Then it started. It started with a small burning in the stomach. I took a sip of water from my backpack. All was OK for about 15 minutes. I then started wretching and had to quickly grab a toilet roll, no long distance walker goes without one, and dash for cover of bushes on the banks of the Elbe to defacate. Similar to the ones you saw earlier.

On trying to return back up the stop bank I had to drop down on the grass and rest. I was sweating and felt absolutely knackered. After a rest I did manage to get back to Shiel on top of the stop bank. That's when I really started vomiting. I struggled on for about 1/2 km but fell down to be sick again at the side of the road. I had also started shivering.

A woman living opposite heard her dogs barking and came to see what was wrong. She saw me puking on the grass. Remarkably she let me use her toilet which saved me a lot of embarassment. However I sadly lost it on the way out and threw up on her drive. We have yet to go back to apologise. She insisted on calling an ambulance and I was taken to hospital. We really appreciated her concern and generosity. A lot of people would have 'passed by on the other side'

For Paul's benefit, although sick in the ambulance, I  thought of him and managed to keep it in the trays I was given.

I have been put on a drip for dehydration and given an injection to stop the vomiting. Shiel is in the room with me. I have to stay in overnight.

I have never before experienced such a rapid change in wellbeing. The last photo was taken by Shiel whilst I was asleep. I had asked her to take one for the record.

The medical staff were very good and decided to keep me in overnight because of the dehydration. The top people could all speak English.

I will write up today's blog tomorrow as I am still a little tired and want to go to bed.

We were intending to walk to the Rennbahn but alas it was not to be.

 It is ironic that Shiel has battled on day after day with a swollen ankle, so we kept to schedule and the I go and ruin it all with a sickie.