Hamburg to Munich in the Porsche 911S, 2.7
Hamburg to Berlin
Hamburg? Yes, it’s pretty cool. They have a harbor there and the Reeperbahn where you can do stuff. The cranes in the harbor look nice, especially when seen from the luxurious architectural apartments of Hafenviertel; the habitat of Hamburg’s football players.
If you ever go to Hamburg to start your tour, to do stuff, to immerse yourself or just to stay for a while, stay at the Gastwerk, the George or the 25Hours. Maybe you should go to all of them. Yes, Hamburg is pretty cool and any other day I’d stay. But not today, today is for driving.
My companion is a 1977 2.7 litre Porsche 911 dark green with nonpareil tartan seats. It is so strikingly beautiful that passers by can’t help but to wave in appreciation. If you leave Hamburg and your destination is the South, very roughly, you’ve got to go to the Lüneburger Heide. The Heide is one of the early testimonies of mankind’s destruction of nature, something you wouldn’t believe if you get there. Once there grew trees, but they were felled to build boats and cities and armour. And yet with its splendid fields of many colours the Heide proves that things could have been a lot worse. We cross the river Elbe at Bleckede by ferry and we’re lucky to find a soulful café on the riverbank where hikers, bikers, and locals meet for coffee and cake or a beer with a Bratwurst. Don’t expect anything you wouldn’t get at any super-market around the corner. But do expect a big smile and a friendly welcome.
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Am I already back in the former GDR or is it still Western Germany? Sometimes you notice, sometimes not. To me it matters less as time goes by, but still, seeing that I mentio it, it’s obviously something I care about. The Porsche gobbles up village after village between its headlights. Sometimes the green of his bodywork is blends perfectly with the dark foliage of the woods while moments later the brown of his seats are matched by the ripe grain fields of August. This engine is just … ahhh. No way I’ll join the millions of writers who tried to use words to describe what it does. Just go and get one and try for yourself.
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We’re approaching Berlin, the capital of the 20th century.
It is futile to give hotel recommendations for Berlin, as there are just too many to mention. If you don’t have any idea at all, get a room at the Axelhaus, but remember they don’t have a car park. This time, I chose Ku-Damm 101. It has a garage and it’s pretty damn cool as well.
Whenever I visit Berlin, I get up as early as possible, 5 am in the morning seems manageable. I start the engine, wait for it to arise from its night’s rest and then cruise through the empty city. Try this yourself. I’m sure it will become one of your most valuable memories.
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Heading further south, we cannot ignore Leipzig. Bach’s city has undergone a stunning transformation in the past decade and today it ranks among top 3 coolest places to study, according to German students . Driving from Berlin to Leipzig is quick so the day’s journey is a short one leaving plenty of time to explore the city. If you have any interest in aircraft at all and if you would like a glance at East-Germany’s tremendous recent history, go and explore one of the dozens of former military air bases of the GDR. All of them will have an airfield museum, the most extensive one in Gatow, where you will meet fellow enthusiasts.
Again, we cross the majestic Elb river this time by ferry between Prettin and Dommitzsch.
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It’s time now to leave the “new federal states ”, as the politically correct German media calls the former GDR, with the Porsche in stark contrast to an abandoned production plant in Dölau. Soon we pass the highlands of the Fichtelgebirge which are densely wooded. The high percentage of pine trees with dense undergrowth makes the landscape appear dark and sinister. Any moment now you expect little red riding hood to appear between the trees, hunted by the evil wolf.
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Bavaria. Are you waiting to marvel at amazing mountain ranges and green alpine meadow spotted with cows? Well, yes, this is not even a cliché, but the point is: only a fairly small strip of Bavaria right next to the Alps is where you’d find this scenery. The area north of Munich is much less spectacular, though of course there are regions and sights well worth visiting. As we’re into motoring, a region named Holledau between the rivers of Danube and Isar entices us with beautiful country roads, little traffic and an undulating landscape. From early July to late August this region is ruled by hops growing on spectacular support constructions. Urbanism has not touched the villages here and you will always come across a Maypole, a church, mostly baroque style, and finally an inn to have lunch.
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