Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hamburg 21 June 2007

A change of plans and only two nights were spent Poland. From the very
picturesque lake area in Poland we headed for Gdansk, a beautiful old city
on the Baltic Sea. Along the way we called into Fiat Service centres, and
in Gdansk they rang everywhere and were only able to come up with a
secondhand axle.

Lang made a request to the Fiat 500 contacts we had in Europe and a flood
of help came back. As a consequence we are now in Rellingen, a suburb of
Hamburg at the workshop of Torsten Hanekamp, and judging by the Fiats in
his yard and the stacks of spare parts we are in the best place possible.

Enroute we had another night in Poland at a rather crass seaside resort
town, Mielno. I would have loved to spend more time in Poland as it is a
fascinating country with the most incredible history. For hundreds of
years the whole country was non-existent, and now it appears as a thriving
very modern country. We crossed the border with no hassle into Germany at
Szczecin, and then straight down the wonderfully smooth autobahn into
Hamburg. The autobahns are pretty boring but a very efficient way to cross
the country quickly.

The work was started on the car first thing Wednesday morning and unlike
its two elderly owners our little bambino (now we are in Europe I can only
think of it as our "Bambino") has had a full going over with nothing left
to chance. I will leave it to Lang to detail the work done but I know we
will depart here with the car in the best condition possible for the rest
of the trip.

I know Lang feels we have got over our biggest hurdle so far, if not the
biggest of the whole trip. Having made it to Germany under our own power
we now have a car that will be more reliable and he understands better.
After the pounding through Russia we knew anything could break at any

At Torsten's workshop there are a number of people preparing their 500's
for he trip to Italy, and the festivities in Milan and Garlenda.

Yesterday while the work was underway I took the opportunity to go into
Hamburg on the train. I did the tourist thing and did a two hour double
decker bus tour of the city. In a short space of time it is the best way
to see and get he feel of a city. The city is shaped by water. Three
rivers – the Elbe, the Alster and the Bille, traverse it, as does a grid
of narrow canals called Fleete. The port is huge –one of the largest in

Every Sunday since 1703 in St Pauli on the banks of the Elbe there has
been a Fish Market where you can buy not only all types of fish but
flowers, fruit and vegetables. Hamburg's Reeperbahn is a world famous red
light district that the Lonely Planet describes as becoming gentrified. It
is a mixture of restaurants, pubs, cafes, bars, sex clubs and variety
acts, something for everyone.

We will be leaving Hamburg this afternoon and as we have until the 27th to
be in Kiel, which at present is only 77kms up the road, we have decided to
detour into Denmark to visit some friends. The Danish 500 club have
invited us to join them to start the tour on the 26th.

We are getting lots of well wishes from clubs and individuals around
Europe, so are really looking forward to the trip into Italy next week,
and the opportunity of meeting up with everyone.