After leaving Berlin we headed northeast, went into Poland far enough so that Sharon could bag another country but not far enough for me to run afoul of the vignette police, and then up to the Baltic shore for a couple of days of typical Baltic weather (rain). We then drove about 200 miles down to Hamburg because I needed to find a Mercedes Sprinter service facility to get our 10,000 mile service done. We dropped by and got an appointment, but we had a week to kill waiting for it, so we decided to sit on the banks of the Elbe upriver from town until they were ready for us.
Hamburg is a huge port city on the Elbe, the river we have been camping alongside since we got to the Czech Republic. Prague is on a tributary, and Dresden is on the Elbe itself. Down here near the mouth the Elbe is of impressive size and has large tidal variations – fifteen feet or so in Hamburg itself, and a good ten feet up where we were, 25 miles upriver. There are also winter storms where winds from the north push water upriver and threaten to flood the entire countryside. Our campground, Camping Land an der Elbe, was right on the river, but you had to drive up and over a dike to get to the riverbank, the office being judiciously located behind the dike. There was a bathroom on the river side, but it was actually a trailer, so they evacuate it when the river rises.
As you would expect for late July/early August, the campground filled up for the weekends, mostly families with towables and those tent rooms that attach to the side. over the course of a few days we took advantage of our campervan mobility to sneak closer and closer to the water, until we were in the front row. There aren’t assigned spots, which allowed people to space themselves out when it wasn’t crowded. We had one incident where some rookie tent campers tried to set up too close to us, but the campground staff diplomatically redirected them and it was resolved. Campground personnel have excellent facility in English, there are fresh rolls for sale every morning in the office, and everyone is very helpful and accommodating.
The main show were the riverboats, huge by inland waterway standards, carrying coal, containers, and some unidentifiable cargoes up and down the river. There were also pleasure craft, jet skis, and fishermen. When the tide was low the riverbank turned into a huge sandy stretch for the kids to play in, dig holes, and splash around. Fiona liked to poke around in the woods and antagonize all the dogs nearby, including one couples’ four(!) huskies.
By the time our service appointment rolled around we were ready to pack up and head into town, get the work done, and be on our way north before the Friday afternoon traffic got bad. It was great to have the big city amenities while spending our waiting time in such a nice campground.
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