Monday, September 29, 2014

Bill's Bike Tour: Helgoland, Germany

Bill's Bike Tour: The Hamburg Fishmarket and Helgoland.
This is the second installment of my research trip to Germany!

You could buy just about anything that comes from the sea at the Hamburg fish market.  Eels, pike, rainbow trout, smoked cod roe, shellfish, whole octopus, pickled tentacles, oyster shooters, crab claws, fresh fish, smoked fish, fish sandwiches, herring rolls stuffed with i-don't-know, already filleted fish carcases and heads... did i say pickled tentacles yet?  My ferry to Helgoland was leaving at 9am, so I had plenty of time to explore and look for some breakfast.  The market is only open on Sunday morning - it opens at 5am.

 If i were a crab at the Hamburg fishmarket, I would be nervous too. 

I was walking around the displays trying to decide what to buy when a seller behind one of the counters unexpectedly handed me a bag of smoked fish.  He took it upon himself to solve my indecisiveness with a smoked fish sampler for 5 euros.  Not a bad deal really.  It wasn't the nicest cuts of fish, but it was a very generous portion.  I was quite pleased. In fact, it was more than I could eat for breakfast. I ended up sharing with Timo and a couple of his friends, who happened to stumble by me as I was eating my fish at the end of the pier. They had been up partying all night and gladly took a few smoked fish samples.

They sold much more than just fish at the fishmarket.  The flowerstand at the bottom of the picture was actually a live auction.
And of course there was coffee with your choice of liqueur. 

At 9am, I caught the ferry to Helgoland. It was a fairly long trip - around 4 hours.  Do not the let the photo below fool you. The weather was actually very windy and rainy. Several folks lost their breakfast in an unpleasant way once we left the Elbe river delta.

Helgoland is comprised of two islands. A larger main island and the smaller "Dune". The Dune is home to the airport, cute seals, and nice beaches. The mainland has a lower and upper portion - separated by 184 steps.

  Oddly enough, I ended up in what is likely the only place in Europe that doesn't allow bikes... no cars or bikes are allowed on the island (only a few small electric cars for trash/deliveries). So unfortunately, I cannot give you a bike tour.  However, the island is only a few kilometers across so walking is not a problem.   Pictures of Helgoland from the upper level.

The north end of the island is uninhabited, besides a few sheep. The island is famous for its red cliffs. 

 During WWII, the British bombed the crap out of Helgoland. This was to prevent Germany from setting up a large naval base. The entire island is covered in craters. Some are very large!

I am here on the island as part of the Alfred Wegener Institute summer school course on time series analysis.  Clearly, it has been a blast so far.  The course has been very informative and will help me as I work towards completing my PhD.  As part of the summer course, we did a quick u-turn trip on the UThorn (U-turn in German) to take some ocean samples. 

We also explored the Dune!  

The Dune is famous for its blood red flint. It cannot be found anywhere else in the world.  Most of the stones on the island are actually flint - but the red variety is very rare. I was fortunate to find a couple of pieces (I did search for a bit). Many of the shops on the main island sell polish red flint as jewelery.

The island is a very popular getaway destination for Germans so there are tons of tourist shops.  ALL of them sell alcohol (no taxes on Helgoland).  You can only buy perhaps 3 types of beer, but ANY type of hard liquor.  No joke. The tourists stock up. Although, it isn't cost effective to visit just to buy booze since there is a limit on how much you can carry back and the ferry ride is ~83 euro.

 I hope you enjoyed my photos!
I wave good bye.

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