Hamburg, 8 February 2012
The first measurements of the Alster ice in the morning showed 19 to 22 cm thickness. The city was fevering with anticipation. Would the "Alster Ice Amusement" be permitted by the authorities. The ice shall have a minimum thickness of 20 cm without air inclusions to carry the tenth of thousands of people that are expected at such an event. Actually they are expecting 1 million people during the weekend incase the event takes place. The decision was postponed till the early afternoon.
2:30 pm: Yes, we will have the "Alster Ice Amusement" this weekend for the first time since 16 years the ice is strong enough. 40 concessions for stalls will be given out now. Those who are lucky enough to obtain one will probably earn the wage for 3 month of a common office worker. This weekend might be the only chance to go there for next week temperatures above 0°C are expected.
Already on Monday the authorities announced that the ice of the Alster thick enough to go onto the lake on your risk. In general the thickness lay between 14 to 18 cm but at the navigation channels of the Alster ships and at the eastern shore it was only 8 to 10 cm and people were asked to be careful. However two additional frosty days raised hope in the heart of Hamburg's citizens.
Today was supposed to be a sunny day, so I packed my camera and left work early to get to the Alster before sunset. It was gorgeous. At four o'clock a pastell coloured sky already announced the dusk.
Numerous people were walking across the ice, but compared to the ant hill that is expected on Saturday and Sunday it was nearly empty. Many people were skating, others pushing their baby buggy. Lots were just strolling and a few even cycling over the polished surface. Only little snow covered the for we have had decent cold temperature but hardly any snow at all these days. It needed just a few minutes on the ice until the child in each man and woman was awakened. No matter what age children, adults and pensioneers were slithering forwards, many of them taking a run-up. I enjoyed the bubbling laughter, stopped to watch some ice hockey players, listened to some music coming from a distant café.
While the sunset turned the southern and western sky golden dark clouds were building up in the north. A promise of snow? Dusk was setting in in earnest but the ice was still well visited. However the cafés at the shore were filling up too. Steaming hot chocolate and mulled whine was balanced through the spaces between folks to find a place that was offering a good view of the lake. People were thickly wrapped in mantles, scarves, mittens and hats and many prefered to stay outside to enjoy the christal clear evening air.
After 2 hours I returned to my starting point at the hotel Atlantic. Walking across the ice in the darkness gave me a little thrill. I heard more and more sounds the less I saw.
When I finally reached the shore I was ready for a hot beverage and while sipping at my cup I enjoyed watching the shadowy people and twinkling lights on and around the lake.