The passage upstream the Elbe river is certainly a highlight of every cruise, no matter the weather conditions. But to do it in the mild autumn sunlight of this Sunday morning is a gift. Gentle pastures, the odd village here and there, forests and clearings are lining the slow, yellowish stream in the beginning. Further up we are getting more and more indications for a big city coming up, huge electricity masts, a power plant here, an aluminium factory there, Airbus' landing strip - and ships, ships, ships. The city of Hamburg is one of the old domains of the Hanseatic League, seamanship is its middle name. The port of Hamburg is not only big, but world famous for the old storage houses, all set in red brick, the fish market - and recently for the opera house, an ambitious, shiny project that will break all records for miscalculation and poor planning. But it looks nice, and if it is ever going to be ready it will be a fine place…
Hamburg's reputation as a sophisticated, proud place shows best when you take a walk into town; elegant shops, pleasant cafés, posh boutiques, art and culture are the dominant impression. Together with the sturdy architecture of a harbour city it creates a very unique atmosphere, so a stroll on a day like this is a sheer pleasure.
The sea is the beating heart of this place, pumping its water in and out, for the river has quite a bit of tidal difference. At low tide muddy channels emanate a bit of a stench, at high tide you have to avoid certain places for reasons of being flooded.
Short is the time to take in all the impressions, in the afternoon there is a large number of "fresh" guests arriving, looking forward to our journey southbound, eventually ending in Las Palmas. Check-in is done, the mandatory exercise is conducted, pilot on board - aaaaaand off! we go, lines are cast and FRAM is on her way!
Weather hasn't changed a bit, so everybody gets to see river Elbe at its best. And we had even faithful friends greeting us with the Norwegian flag from there Elbside balcony…! Of course that earned them a short blast from the chip's horn.A wonderful beginning of an exciting journey!