T he rock group Queen sure had it right. I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride it where I like. In my family we like to ride our bikes just about everywhere so it is safe to say that our favorite Hamburg haunt is pretty much all over the city. The possibilities are truly limitless because Hamburg is so green and its bike paths so well maintained that you can ride from west to east and north to south without having to spend too much time on actual roadways.
Close to our home in Bönningstedt is the Niendorfer Gehege so we bike there quite often. It is very green, has nice, wide paths, a fairly large playground and a small pony corral where our girls went on pony rides when they were younger
Another nice bike trip is to the Ohlsdorf cemetery near the airport. This is the largest green area in Hamburg and the largest “park cemetery” in the world. It is absolutely serene in the spring, summer and fall - we haven’t attempted any bike trips there in the winter, yet! The cemetery administration has prepared a few tours, which you can download from their website www.friedhof-hamburg.de, that guide you past many interesting statues and grave markers that really are wonderful pieces of art. The paths are lined with blooming plants and large, beautiful rhododendron bushes, some of which are over 100 years old. Even if you don’t have a bike, it is well worth visiting Ohlsdorf for a leisurely walk.
Starting in St. Pauli at Landungsbrücken and ending in the west in Wedel is the Elbe hiking trail (Elbewanderweg). As its name implies this is a trail that follows the Elbe, along the northern bank. In some spots there is heavy pedestrian and bike traffic so you will need to use your bell quite often to get through, but there are some other areas where you will be one of only a few bicyclists using the trail. For you non-bikers there are many parking possibilities along the Elbe if you would like to enjoy only a small section of the trail. The Elbewanderweg is only a small section of the much more extensive North Sea Cycle Route. For more information visit their website at www.northseacycle.com.
For those of you who want to venture a bit further afield, just jump on the A1 AKN line in Eidelstedt with your bike and get out at Quickborn-Süd. After a quick ride through town you will find the Himmelmoor. This bog area is one of only a few that had a narrow gage peat railway that was still in use up into the 1970’s. (Ever wonder how peat moss made it from the ground into those large bags? Schleswig-Holstein was a leader in peat production – but that is another story). Located on the B4 between Hasloh and Quickborn just north of the Hamburg neighborhood Schnelsen, Himmelmoor is a biker’s delight. Here there is almost no car traffic, just kilometers and kilometers of bike paths through a nature preserve. A farm or two will pop up around the corner and groups of seniors and other families out on their bikes will cross your path. Sun shining on fields of bright yellow rapeseed plants will make you so cheery you will forget how much your behind aches from your bike seat after a four hour bike ride! This is one of our favorite places to get away from the hectic pace of work and school. We are still exploring other biking possibilities in and around the city. Next on our list is a trip on the ferry across the Elbe to the Altes Land in the springtime when the apple trees are in bloom. After that we will tackle a bit more of the North Sea Cycle Route. If you have any favorite bike trips you would like to share, give me a call and let’s trade trail tales.
originally published in Currents June/July 2008